I try not to outright pick on players, but I was probably Will Montgomery’s most consistent critic last time this blog was active. Many commentators described him as at least adequate for a backup, a view which I tended to protest. Of course players improve with experience all the time (and the new offensive approach does wonders to help out O-linemen) so I wasn’t entirely shocked when he looked much better last year. I at least noticed that he wasn’t jumping off the screen as a liability each play, but Pro Football Focus gave him an outstanding +21.3 grade for the season. I strongly respect PFF’s work and find their grade’s informative, though they are not necessarily definitive and I feel free to disagree with them. So now that I am back to doing more detailed analysis I am looking forward to finding out whether Montgomery is as good as they seem to think.
No one disputes that the age finally started to show on London Fletcher’s performance last year, but my evaluation was darker than most. Of course with the blog inactive I was not re-watching games or doing any serious analysis, so I am open to the possibility I was too harsh on him. Doug Farrar, who wrote the Redskins chapter of the Football Outsiders Almanac and is an analyst whose opinion should be respected, acknowledged decline but clearly thinks the good still outweighs the bad:
“… London Fletcher proved once and for all that he has found a way to beat the hell out of the NFL’s age curve… led the Redskins with five interceptions, and his play recognition skills often showed that he was the smartest guy on the field.”
@StayMediumBlog Decline in some areas was evident, but he also took great angles in pass coverage & got to places an old guy shouldn't have.
— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) July 17, 2013
I mostly talked about Fletcher as if he had become an outright liability last year, so I am wondering if my view will become more forgiving now that I am back to more detailed study.
If you read my blog before you know I am prone to adopting pet role players, and Niles Paul was one of them due to his outstanding punt coverage skills and his willing blocking as a receiver. The transition to tight end did not go as smoothly as anyone hoped – he did not contribute as a pass catcher and the blocking that was nice for a receiver did not improve enough to be adequate for a tight end - so I am hoping to see evidence that that was just a learning curve and he can grow more comfortable in the role.
Because the Redskins safety position has been a problem since Sean Taylor died, but I have been around long enough to know not to get too excited about a guy who excels in offseason practices. I also know better than to read too much into preseason performance, but if he looks good on the field I may not be able to restrain a little optimism.
The Redskins nearly signed Pashos a couple years ago before he ended up with Cleveland and I remember being extremely frustrated when he got away. I have frankly never been a fan of Tyler Polumbus’ work, so I will be watching closely to see if Pashos shows he can be a sufficiently reliable right tackle option to push Polumbus off the field.