Monday, April 19, 2010

Taking stock of the offseason

A brief recap of offseason activity, by position, to assess the situation going into the draft:

Interior Line - Kory Lichtenstiger and Artis Hicks were brought in to provide some nice versatile depth.  As such, and given that Casey Rabach and, I think, Chad Rinehart can play effectively in a zone blocking system, I am comfortable with the situation in the interior.

Offensive Tackles - Not a thing, aside from Stephon Heyer and Mike Williams apparently being brought back (I shivered when I wrote that).  Hicks has played all four non-center positions in the past, but if he was an effective tackle I figure he never would have been moved to guard.  We all hope that the first round pick is spent on a tackle.  In the absence of any sort of trade-down scenario that nets us extra picks, it looks like the starting RT job could be a competition between Heyer and Hicks, which I find pretty scary.

Quarterback - Yep, I'd say this one's been taken care of. The main question now is whether decent trade value can be found for Jason Campbell.  If Shanahan still intends to draft a quarterback, I assume it will be a strictly developmental guy in the later rounds, because McNabb should be around for a few years.  If Campbell can't be traded, does Rex Grossman survive and one of them gets stuck in the #3 job?

Running Backs - This has been addressed, but in a thoroughly confusing fashion.  The young talent that was gotten rid of was flawed but showed it may be worth developing (I'm especially thinking of Quinton Ganther here).  The old talent - Betts - was at least quietly reliable and well-rounded even if he was generally unexciting.  I can't help but feel that Larry Johnson and Willie Parker are downgrades here, and one of them is also a headcase in addition to being washed up.  But here is where I figure Mike Shanahan knows what he's doing and he has a plan, so let's go with it.

Wide Receivers - Nothing - including Brandon Marshall.  I don't have total confidence in our receiving corps, but Shanahan seems to think he's better off developing Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly, and squeezing a little more productivity out of Santana Moss, than investing significant resources into this position.  Given the other needs I'm okay with this, at least for this year.

Tight Ends - Everyone's still here, but obviously we don't know if Chris Cooley or Fred Davis will be traded until the draft.  But it's such an obvious area of surplus (especially given that we have a very adequate backup TE in Todd Yoder [nope, see the comments section, which for neither the first nor last time provides a forum for me to be corrected by someone who actually know what he's talking about]) that a trade is just too reasonable to dismiss if some team with a need is willing to give up any real draft value.  Given Shanahan probably doesn't give a damn who the fan favorite is, I would speculate that Cooley would be the more likely trade bait because Davis is younger and, in my opinion, a relatively more effective blocker.

Defensive Line - This one's complicated despite the lack of major moves.  Albert Haynesowrth is pissed off, in my opinion with some justification.  If Shanahan wants to make an example out of someone I wish he could choose another guy.  I have a feeling Haynesworth will be right here, and I am eager to see whether he is used in a way that maximizes his pleasantly destructive capabilities or if he is made to be a 2-gap space eater on principle.  You know my preference.

Linebackers - Rocky McIntosh wants out, which would probably be best for both parties because I can't figure out what his role would be in a 3-4.  To briefly recap, he struggles enough with blockers that I don't think he can hold up as an ILB and he's not enough of a pass-rush threat to excel at OLB.  Lorenzo Alexander and (I think) Jeremy Jarmon have been converted to OLB, but you're guess is as good as mine who would be the starter opposite Orakpo.  Andre Carter at first seemed like an obvious answer, but early indications are he's not being converted.  Which means he's about as useful as Rocky McIntosh.

Cornerbacks - Carlos Rogers is still around thanks to being horribly, unjustly screwed out of free agency by the current labor dispute.  That's terrible him but good for us, because cornerback is one of those positions where you can never have enough depth.  And unlike many Redskins fans, I think Rogers is a pretty good player.  Philip Buchanon was brought in as a nice, solid, unnoticed signing that provides even more depth and a little security in case Rogers isn't as good as I think he is, or if Justin Tryon takes a step back and Kevin Barnes fails to develop.

Safeties - A situation very similar to the tight ends - no moves yet but an obvious source of trade possibilities.  We have three very good in-the-box run support strong safeties: LaRon Landry, Reed Doughty, and Chris Horton.  In my opinion Doughty is the best of the three.  It is well known that we Landry is not developing well in pass coverage, so there is alot of speculation about adding a free safety.  Although Doughty is best in the box (I think of 2009 as not only a solid season but a breakout year for Doughty) he is also the most reliable in coverage - so it could be that he would man the free spot and Landry and Horton would split time at strong.  Of course given our depth at corner - see above - we could probably find other ways to cover the deep zone and keep Doughty up in the box to do what he does best.  That means either Doughty Landry [that's it I'm firing my editor] or Horton spends alot of time on the bench, or gets moved to a willing partner who needs to beef up their run defense.


  1. I thoroughly agree with all of the above, although Touchdown Todd Yoder was released at the same time as Randy Thomas/ARE/Ladell Betts. I don't agree with that, given his blocking skills and ability to play FB in a pinch, but he was getting older.

    I'd be interested to hear your reactions to both the Adam Carriker acquisition and the position Kedric Golston is expected to play: a combination of 3-4 NT and pass-rusher 4-3 DT in nickel situations. I could see Golston as a Jay Ratliff type NT, more of a penetrator and pass rusher...interesting possibilites, in any case.

  2. Dammit you're right - Yoder was "declared free agent on 3/5" and I missed it in the shuffle. That makes me sad because I always found him to be gloriously adequate.

    As for the D-line - Carriker, Peterson, Kemoeatu, Anthony Bryant - as much as Shanahan insists we will be using multiple fronts, they keep bringin in guys who clearly fit best in a traditional 3-4. I hope you're right about the NT role - using him in a Ratliff-ish fashion would probably be best for Golston but especially for Albert Haynesworth.

  3. Excellent point about Haynesworth--he's always been happiest when he's allowed to cut loose and blow plays up from the backfield. Even if he does outmass Ratliff/Golston by quite a bit, he's the same type of player with that much more brute strength.

    As far as the 'multiple fronts' claims, that's not so different from the league norm. Most 3-4 teams use a four-man line in nickel situations (Steelers and Cardinals, for example).
    Most of the new guys could play on a 4-3 line too; some combination of Haynesworth, Kemoeatu, Golston, Alexander, Daniels, Carter, Orakpo, Jarmon, Carriker, etc. would make a pretty good line. What Haslett's 3-4 might let us do is put five or more of those guys onfield at once. THAT would be a good thing, I think.