In Part 2 of the Washington Redskins mailbag: An undrafted favorite; Matt Cavanaugh's impact and play calls for Robert Griffin III. Enjoy.
As of now, running back Trey Williams
. But he still has to show more in my opinion to earn that spot. The coaches like Thompson; the general manager is a Williams fan. I really like his footwork, but the same is true with Thompson. The problem for Thompson, of course, has been durability. I don't see another undrafted player (from this spring, that is) making the roster unless a tight end emerges. Not sure Devin Mahina
is at that level. And linebacker Houston Bates
has flashed in the games, but still has a long road.
That's something that we'll see more over the long haul. But one thing I did hear earlier this camp, and wrote about, was that he had helped them simplify the reads - by actually giving them more of a manual to follow. In other words, they would memorize in greater detail what to do on a play whereas in the past it was a Cliffs Notes version. It led to some indecision in the spring, but it should be helping now. Also, the attention to detail such as footwork has been big. Good coaching helps players, but it doesn't solve all ills; even the best ones aren't miracle workers.
I thought Johnson would eventually emerge as the starter, but secondary coach Perry Fewell really seems to like Ihenacho just a little more. Johnson was a good special teams player in Seattle, but I wonder if it would be harder to accept here considering he did come here to start. But guys like him always have a chip on their shoulder and play one way. I don't know if he's an ace, but he would be a good core special teamer and they need guys like him in this area.
Yeah, I'm not worried about that side of the ball yet because I like what they've done with the front seven. Lots of depth along the line and another good pass rusher in Junior Galette
. Until we see this group on the field and see how they'll be used in games that matter, it's tough to be concerned. I do have worries about the secondary as the corners need to get healthy - and DeAngelo Hall
needs a lot of work - and the safeties have to prove they either still belong (Dashon Goldson
) or should be a starter (Duke Ihenacho
). But I want to see how Galette works with those up front.
I don't think it's been ignored, but it certainly has been overshadowed. The single biggest story to emerge from Thursday's game vs. Detroit was Robert Griffin III's night. Yes, it stinks for them to lose Adam Hayward
, Griffin's play will have a greater impact on the season. However, Hayward's loss will sting and combined with Niles Paul
it's a blow to special teams. Not sure who the third kick cover guy you're talking about; Logan Paulsen
helped special teams, but as a blocker. Paulsen was not a lock to make the team, but had he done so he would have helped in other areas on special teams. For a team struggling to improve this unit, all are tough losses. Also, with Paul and Heyward, they lost two guys who were vocal leaders on special teams - and players who understood the value. Even though Paul would have played a lot from scrimmage, he never lost his special teams mentality.
The coaches spend hours and hours in meetings with players and analyze, and over-analyze, game and practice tape. They know what players can do well - and what they can't do. They aren't perfect by any means, but they're paid to win and the better Griffin does, the more chance they have of job security. But there's this ridiculous notion floating around that Gruden is somehow sabotaging Griffin (not saying this is what you mean, but it is something I heard too often Friday). Griffin ran two bootlegs in the preseason opener (had been told in the past he was just average running this play; being mobile does not mean you do well all the time on the move) and they've used a lot of play-action. They did so twice Thursday, but the problem in that game was constant bad down-and-distance situations. I would do more zone read; if he even just gains five yards it can help (it's what Nick Foles
used to do in Philly). What Griffin throws well are the quick passes and deep play-action (should be a bigger part of the game plan this year; would like to have seen more last season). The Redskins also likely will use more screens this year, too. Griffin had no chance on a number of throws the other night - even on quick passes. And on other ones he again failed to help himself, whether by not throwing to open targets or by moving into pressure.