Monday, May 12, 2014

Redskins Make Surprise Draft Choice in Second Round

Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen and recently hired head coach Jay Gruden officially completed their first NFL draft together last week.  

So, how did this duo fare with their draft picks? Expert opinions vary, with grades ranging from C to an A. The truth is, there's no reason to grade a team's draft prior to the season. Every year there are the can't-miss players that turn out as busts and the late-round players that surprise everyone with dazzling rookie seasons—Richard Sherman, Alfred Morris, Keenan Allen, to name a few.

Let's focus on who the team felt was top priority on their list.

With their first pick, coming in the second round, Washington decided to trade out of the No. 34 spot—swapping with Dallas' 47th pick. In the process, the Redskins gained another third-round choice.

At No. 47 overall, they chose a player that many fans and analysts considered a reach—Trent Murphy, a linebacker from Stanford.

Murphy, 23, is versatile at the defensive end or outside linebacker positions, much like Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo.

"I think he's a tough, hard-nosed kid" said former player Charles Davis.

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock had Murphy rated as the fifth best defensive end in the draft.

Murphy has excellent instincts, toughness, a high motor, and outstanding sack production. He led the NCAA in sacks (15) last year as an outside linebacker. In 2012, he led his team with 10 sacks.

Checking in at 260 pounds, he isn't suited to play the end spot in the 3-4 scheme. The 6-foot-6-inch Murphy is too big to play inside linebacker and is limited in coverage. Kerrigan and Orakpo currently hold the outside linebacker positions. So, where does Murphy fit in exactly?

Gruden addressed this question in a post-draft press conference

"Coach Haslett has a lot of plans for him, but coming in right now, he's going to line up obviously at outside linebacker, back up Ryan [Kerrigan] and Brian [Orakpo] and provide us with some depth at that position. Anybody [who] knows the 3-4 [knows] you need to have depth at linebacker because those guys are working their tail off. They're dropping [into] coverage, they're rushing the passer, so it's very important in this day and age with no huddle that you keep these guys fresh and you're able to filter in guys in and out and make sure you can continue to get after the quarterback."
Insurance may be another reason for adding Murphy to the mix since Orakpo was not happy about being slapped with the franchise tag this offseason. He has made it very clear he would like to stay in Washington on a long-term deal. If the team does not offer him a lucrative contract before the 2015 free agency period begins, he could leave and sign elsewhere for a team that's willing to splurge.

Orakpo could potentially become the highest-paid defensive end in the NFL—or at least one of the highest paid linebackers.

Whether fans believe Murphy was a reach or not, they most likely agree that he is a better choice than Washington selecting Josh LeRibeus with their second pick in the 2012 draft. I'm speaking to you, Mike Shanahan.

Friday, February 28, 2014

'Skins and RFK Stadium Could Reunite

The Washington Redskins could be coming back to the District. Imagine that—a team actually playing in the city that they are named after.

Three months ago, six council members revealed a plan for a sports and entertainment complex in D.C. The plan examines "to see whether or not it makes sense to develop a 100,000-seat RFK domed stadium complex," said D.C. Council member Vincent B. Orange.

Other people involved have a different idea for the stadium; 75,000 seats and a retractable roof. Meanwhile, FedExField, the Redskins' current stadium, consists of 85,000 seats.

Mayoral candidate Jack Evans also shared his thoughts on the proposal.

"I would love to see a new stadium on the site where RFK currently exists," Evans said. "The transportation, the subway, the road system, the parking, everything is there for a football stadium."

Also under the plan, the DC Armory would be remodeled into a sound stage while the Langston Golf Course would become a PGA Championship golf course. Council members say the improvements would make the city a feasible option to host Super Bowls, golf tournaments and perhaps the Olympics.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fred Davis in Trouble Again

Washington Redskins tight end Fred Davis was arrested Thursday afternoon in Fairfax County and charged with driving while intoxicated.
This comes just one day after Davis was suspended indefinitely for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. 

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, Davis was stopped around 3:45 p.m. near Gallows Road and Leesburg Pike, located in Tysons Corner. The police would not go into further detail.

"I'm disappointed for Fred," general manager Bruce Allen told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Allen did however have something positive to say about Davis. "He had to overcome a hurdle a few years ago, and he did it. He got injured and he worked hard to come back, and so it's up to Fred what his future holds."

Davis has managed to assemble quite the track record for himself. In 2011, the league suspended him for the remaining four games of the season after failing multiple tests for marijuana use.

The 28-year-old was set to become a free agent in March after signing a one-year contract with the Redskins last season. 

Davis, a once promising tight end, now with six seasons under his belt, has totaled 162 receptions for 2,043 yards and 13 touchdowns. To put these numbers into perspective, New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham managed 171 receptions for 2,197 yards and 25 touchdowns in the last two seasons. 

Washington attempted to trade Davis before the deadline, but no team had much interest. At this point, he may want to start filling out applications for a summer job before the high school students do.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Will the Redskins Coach Please Stand Up?

   There has been much speculation about who will be the next coach of the Washington Redskins. Big-name coaches, of course, were tossed around as possible candidates for the job—Jon Gruden, Lovie Smith, Bill Cowher, to name a few. However, those rumors got quiet rather fast once Gruden and Cowher both announced they have no plans to coach again, and then Smith signed a five-year deal with Tampa Bay.
   Then there were the Art Briles rumors that multiple "experts" believed to be a sure thing. Briles and the Redskins' coaching vacancy was a hot topic, causing as many negative arguments as positives ones. Yet, he will not be in the fold for the team because he has stated that his coaching days will continue at Baylor. There seems to be a pattern here. But, the truth is, it does not matter who everyone predicts will be the next man in charge; only Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen will have the final say. But hey, it does not hurt anyone to speculate.
   Mike Shanahan seemed qualified enough for the job, giving fans reason to be optimistic for a return to the promise land. That did not work out as planned. In fact, it has been too long to remember since a coach for this team has worked out as planned. Past achievements or fun personalities do not necessarily equal a winning formula, ah hem, see Shanahan, Jim Zorn, Joe Gibbs. Therefore, the 'Skins organization appears to be looking in the direction of NFL coordinators and college coaches, rather than has-been coaches and anyone that has strong ties with Robert Griffin III. 
   The list of candidates is quite long, at 11 total to date. Some of the names will have fans scratching their heads, with the likes of Rich Bisaccia and Perry Fewell. Neither one appears to be the next head coach of this franchise. But, that could be the type of thinking that has plagued the 'Skins when searching for someone in the past. 
   Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, brother of Jon Gruden, has jumped ahead of the coaching line and seems to be the front-runner for the job. On Tuesday night, Allen took Gruden out to dinner at a restaurant in Reston, Va. While this does not assure a hiring, it certainly shows interest among the two sides. Perhaps Allen will buy him dessert to sweeten the deal.