ASHBURN, Va. -- Why don't the Washington Redskins run more bootlegs for Robert Griffin III? Are they headed in the right direction (hint: they have the same number of wins)? And more questions on Griffin, plus who of last year's failed free agent class might be candidates to get cut? Enjoy.
@John_Keim: The Redskins ran bootlegs last week, too. And they have run them in other games for him. But: Griffin needs to develop as a pocket passer. You can't run bootlegs all the time and consistently cut down half the field. Some defenses are susceptible to that tactic (the Giants absolutely were, based on how their backside ends played the run). Now, the key is for Jay Gruden to find a way to make it work with Griffin -- how he can meld his dropback offense with Griffin's style. It's not a great fit, and if they are both going to remain, they will have to do something different with Griffin. Gruden almost forced the dropback game on Griffin, and that was a mistake. Still, at some point, every single good quarterback in the NFL must become good in the pocket, including Griffin. By the way, in 2009 (the first year ESPN Stats & Information measured passing in the pocket, and Rodgers' second year as the starter), he threw from the pocket on 453 of 541 passes. No NFL QB makes their name with just bootlegs.
Keim: When you follow a three-win season with a three-win season, hard to say they are trending anywhere positive. They were a bad team last year. They are a bad team this year. They went from having issues between the head coach and the quarterback to a situation where there are issues between the head coach and quarterback. They needed help on defense at the end of last season. They need more now. They are not better than they were a year ago, except for the fact they have all their draft picks, including one that likely will be in the top five. It's a start.
Keim: I can't imagine Gruden wanting to go into next season with Griffin as the automatic starter. He hasn't earned it, and there is no way Gruden would want to enter what could be a make-or-break season for his own career with a guy in whom he doesn't have confidence. So, yes, if Griffin returns then he will have to win the job (barring management forcing him to start). As for Darrel Young, he served in that role a couple times last week as a blocker and did well. But they would want someone more dynamic catching the ball. Roy Helu, for example, is a much more dynamic runner after the catch than Young, especially in traffic. Most of Young's work comes when the defense is fooled and he's left open. I like what he adds as a fullback, but I'd want a more explosive runner on third downs. So do the Redskins.
Keim: I was told last season that A.J. Smith was much more involved when it came to the draft than anything else. He's been around quite a bit the past month, but so, too, have others who have been out scouting colleges. I'm sure he's had some input on players; it would make sense.
Chances the Redskins cut any of this year's disappointing free agent class this offseason (Hatcher, Lauvao, Porter, Roberts)? #jkmailbag— John Mathai (@JohnnyUnleashed) December 18, 2014
Keim: Those are discussions the team has after the season. So I don't know what the chances truly are at this point. With a post-June 1 designation, Jason Hatcher would save $3 million (without that designation, they would lose $1.5 million of cap space). But if healthy, he can at least help, so I wouldn't cut him. I advocated for more youth at this spot last year; instead, they got older and when you get older, you get more durability issues. Still, they can cut Stephen Bowen and save about $5.5 million. If they cut Tracy Porter, they would save $2.3 million. There is no real savings for Andre Roberts next season, and though he hasn't been great, he's still better than those behind him. If they somehow cut Shawn Lauvao with a post-June 1 designation they would save about $3 million (without that designation it would be $1 million). There is little doubt, though, that last year's free agent class has been underwhelming with the exception of DeSean Jackson, who has done about what I expected. By the way, this failed class is one reason blaming everything on the salary-cap mess was wrong. Maybe they would have found players to help, but there were no guarantees.