In Part 1 of this week's mailbag, the topics addressed: Robert Griffin III's accuracy, the kicker battle, differences between Jay Gruden and other first-year coaches I've covered and more. Enjoy.
Underrated? Maybe underpublicized is a better word for now. But that's because, in part, it involves kickers and there's not a whole lot to write about until camp begins. You can record their accuracy in practice - and we will, trust me -- but it's the games that matter (unless you're Shayne Graham
and look horrible in practice, too). I think that's when it will become a bigger deal. Yes, a rookie kicker is a gamble. But Kai Forbath
had never attemped a kick in an NFL game until signing with the Redskins in the 2012 season.
Concerned? Not sure I'd go that far. I don't think he's going to turn into a Peyton Manning
pinpoint accuracy guy (have said this before, but one general manager I spoke to before the '12 draft was worried about Griffin's intermediate accuracy). Griffin can succeed without being that sort of quarterback because of his ability to extend plays. He also can be a big-play quarterback with his ability to throw deep (which was not a strength last year, but was in 2012). But I think the concern would be if the Redskins want him to become just a pocket passer. They said that's not the case, and though that's what they did this spring, part of that was done because he needs to develop in this area. He will miss some throws, as he did his rookie year (he left a lot of yards on the table that season, too; some by not throwing the ball). But if he hits the deep ball with regularity and if the offense creates good running lanes after the catch, it will offset any accuracy issues.
I've been around two other first-year coaches in Norv Turner and Jim Zorn (Steve Spurrier at least had been a college head coach). Gruden is a better communicator than both Turner and Zorn. Like those two, he's a nice guy who would make a terrific neighbor. But Gruden might have a better feel for being a head coach, though it's hard to compare considering he hasn't coached a game yet. Zorn was just a bit goofy and always seemed overmatched as a head coach. At 6-2, I remember him talking about getting players back healthy for the playoffs. Whoops. Turner had a terrific offensive mind but he also was insecure and often blamed others for losses or bad plays. I don't see Gruden being an excuse-maker; have not heard the same things about his offensive mind as I did about Turner's. Gruden surrounded himself with solid coaches. He seems to coach with less of an ego and that's to his benefit and I think that separates him. One knock on Gruden was his lack of organization; I think the other two were better in this regard. Still, when coaches think they have it all figured out, it can lead to, oh, three last-place finishes in four years. I don't know that any of the three first-year coaches I've covered are great disciplinarians. Definitely not the first two; we'll find that out about Gruden.
Sure. It's not as if the defense that season was great; what they did was cause turnovers (and they did improve in most areas in the second half). And if the offense is scoring well, then it probably means they've cut down on turnovers, which will greatly help the defense. Also, if the offense isn't always playing from behind, then the defense could have better pass-rush opportunities. They bolstered the rush this offseason (they hope), so that should play into their hands. By the way, they had suspect inside linebackers last season, too. It was not a strength. The big difference has to be the pass rush. Otherwise, they will be in trouble and be forced to rely on an explosive offense and causing turnovers.
He'll have to hope the Redskins keep six corners, because that appears to be his only chance (barring injuries to others). And then it depends on how Richard Crawford
looks in his recovery from the knee injury. Crawford's chances would be better if he shows he can still be effective as a punt returner, but the Redskins might just opt for Andre Roberts
in that role. That would improve Minnifield's chances. He showed last summer that he could help in press coverage, but struggled in a variety of other looks. He's feisty, and my over/under on camp fights involving him is three. As for practice squad eligibility, yes, he still has some.
Hmmm, tough one for the offensive side and it depends on if they keep nine or 10. If they keep nine, I'd expect the backups to be Mike McGlynn
, Morgan Moses
, Spencer Long
and Josh LeRibeus
. But if there's 10, or if one of those four win a starting job, I could see Tom Compton
making the roster as well. Defensively, if everyone is healthy and assuming the starters are Chris Baker
, Barry Cofield
and Jason Hatcher
(and that's subject to debate), then the backups should be Jarvis Jenkins
, Stephen Bowen
and Kedric Golston
. If Bowen is healthy, the Redskins could opt for him at right end and save Hatcher more for rush situations. I think this group is fluid because of health situations.