Q&A with Redskins Hog Heaven

We exchanged Questions and Answers with Anthony Brown of Redskins Hog Heaven.  The first set of questions we sent were from Wonder, and they were really arrogant.  As in 4-12 arrogant.  Wonder thinks the Skins will s*ck this season, so his questions were not kind.  I modified them with Q6-Q10, which are essentially toned down questions 1-5, which point to the same conclusions..

Q1) Besides Orakpo, is there really anything to get excited about this season?

We expect big things in the pass rush from rookie Ryan Kerrigan as a counter-weight to Orakpo. CB Josh Wilson and S OJ Atogwe are better matches for Jim Haslett’s defense than the men they replaced.
Q2) Grossman almost led the team to a victory against the Giants in the final game of the season.  Does he have enough to QB this team?
I projected Grossman to a 24th through 30th-ranked performance this season. McNabb would have been marginally better. The takeaway is that the Redskins did not get worse with Grossman than they would have with McNabb. The issue with Grossman is turnovers. He had eight of them in three games and two minutes of play last season. He knows that has to stop. The big threat to Grossman is not opposing defenses. It is Mike Shanahan’s quick hook. 
Q3) How is the transition to the 3-4 going?  Are things better w/o the Haynesworth distraction?
The Defense will move up 10 places in defense ranking this season. The carry-over player are comfortable with the defense now. Most of the players who did not fit (looking at you, Mr. Haynesworth) are gone and replaced by players who do fit. Players say they can focus on their roles now that the Haynesworth distraction is outta here.
It was a mistake for Shanahan to keep Haynesworth on the roster last year. I do not believe it was Shanahan’s decision to keep him.
Q4) Are you really thinking about the Andrew Luck sweepstakes?
I don’t believe the Redskins or any NFL team would tank the season to get the first draft pick. Trading into the position keeps faith with fans better than throwing games. 
Q5) Can Shanahan win another Super Bowl?  Has Shanahan won anything w/o Elway and Davis? 
Can Dan Snyder win a Super Bowl? Has he learned that swapping coaches every two years–as he has done with eveybody but Joe Gibbs–knocks him further away from the Super Bowl? Mike Shanahan is in his second year. Will there be a third? I do not know the answer to these questions.

supplemental question for Anthony, duh, can’t believe I forgot to ask this earlier…

Q6) Why is Cofield, a 4-3 DT, signed as a FA for a 3-4 defense?  Is he really going to play NT? I think he is too small to play NT. He’s certainly not fast enough to play DE.

Jim Haslett has every intent to play Cofield at the nose. And yes, we know he is light for the position. Jim Haslett has not returned my calls on this, so I’m making some guesses. The Redskins will model their front seven on the Steelers defense, where D-linemen tend to be smaller, to penetrate the one-gap for pressure. (Albert Haynesworth would have loved this system if he gave it a chance.) This can work if the linemen are quick enough. Cofield impresses everyone coming out of preseason.
The Shanahan plan appears to favor quickness over heft, or speed. Washington released 360-pound nose tackle Anthony Bryant in favor of rookie Chris Neild who, at 319 pounds, isn’t much heavier than Cofield. 

Cofield and the defense pressured the Ravens in preseason game three. That impressed me because the Ravens mirror the Giants. I think the scheme can work early until there is enough game tape for OC’s to work a counter to it.

and some macro thoughts about the Skins from Brown..
Washington gets no respect nationally because of the over-focus on the quarterbacks and that Monday night beatdown by the Eagles last season. But this team beat the Eagles, Bears and Cowboys in their stadiums and beat the Packers at home. They came within two late missed field goals from an eight-win season. The Redskins are the trap game of the week, every week of the season.

Last thoughts by UltimateNYG- if I am the Giants I will test Cofield as the Nose all day.  Cofield will be playing on adrenaline early, so don’t be fooled by some of his stops in H1.  The test will be in H2 when he gets worn down.  And similarly, in the second half of the SEASON, when he has been taking a beating by 600+ lbs of meat, week after week.  I’m not making a call, but this is the Giants game to win or lose.  They are favored, and rightly so, not because they are good, but because the Skins are the mediocrity that is the softer underbelly of the NFL. 

Q&A with Redskins Hog Heaven

Today we exchange Q&A with Anthony Brown of Redskins Hog Heaven, the Washington Redskins football blog here on Bloguin. 

Here are our questions about the Skins and Anthony’s answers:

Q1) Your OL has had so many troubles for quite some time.  Can you give us a recap and tell us how it is going to get fixed?

A) There were holes on the line everywhere after Joe Gibbs left (2007). The replacements haven’t panned out. RT Jon Jansen gave way to Todd Wade, Stephon Heyer and Jammal Brown. RG Randy Thomas gave way to Jason Fabini, Todd Wade and Artis Hicks. C Casey Rabach should have been replaced this season by a younger, stronger player. LG Derrick Dockery doesn’t seem to fit Mike Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme. He’s been replaced by journeyman Cory Lichtensteiger. First round draft pick Trent Williams follows six-time Pro Bowler Chris Samuels at left tackle. I say “follows” because nobody replaces Samuels. G Chad Rinehart (2008 Draft) didn’t pan out and was released this year. Nobody picked him up.

The Redskins line couldn’t be fixed in one year. Washington didn’t (still doesn’t) have enough draft picks to backfill with well selected young players who can grow into starters over two or three seasons. If the Redskins can mimic the Patriots or Eagles and shed players for draft picks, we might have a shot at a long-term solution.  
Q2) Is there anyone healthy that can run the ball for the Redskins?

A) If you mean at the level of Clinton Portis, the answer is no. If you mean warm bodies who can come in and fill a role, then yes, absolutely. I think Keiland Williams is a find. He has been effective as a rushing and receiving threat. Shanahan went away from him in the Vikings game. I’m not sure why. Shanahan likes James Davis, dropped by Cleveland, who was pressed into action on short notice last week. Back-up FB Darrel Young has run at tailback.

I have faith in Shanahan on this one. He has a well-earned reputation for taking just a guy and turning him into a serviceable tailback. 
Q3) Is Santana Moss helping this team in the passing game?

A) Moss is healthy and is having his best season in two years. Moss is trending to 90 receptions for 1100+ yards. The entire offense is scoring-challenged, so Moss is looking at five or fewer touchdowns.

The theory behind the McNabb trade was mobility to cancel out O-line issues and the arm to lift a below-average receiving corps. The passing game lives or dies with him.

Q4) DeAngelo Hall exploits QBs in Cover2 underneath but otherwise cannot play on an island in man to man.  Hall got lots of highlight reel exposure for his INTs of Cutler, but isn’t he a defensive liability when it counts?

A) Eh. True, but not the big deal people make of it. Hall is the only real ball hawk in the secondary. That is his primary role in a defense designed to pressure quarterbacks into bad throws. S LaRon Landry’s absence hurts the entire defense. Brett Favre was not pressured into bad throws and the Vikings game plan called for him to throw less anyway. Thus, fewer opportunities for Hall to hawk the ball.

Against the Eagles, the ‘Skins were still reeling from the McNabb pull in the Lions game and the two weeks of incredible excuses for it. I suspect they were still reeling from that going into that Monday night debacle.

The ‘Skins can scheme for Hall’s flaws. Critical injuries (Landry, Rodgers) are killing us.  
Q5) Will the real Albert Haynesworth please stand up?  Is the system such a mismatch that it marginalizes his skills?  Can’t he play DE in a 3-4?  What is going on?

A) He lacks confidence. Shanahan and Jim Haslett envisioned Haynesworth as a nose tackle in the 3-4. Big Al says he doesn’t have the talent to play nose tackle as well as journeyman D-lineman Ma’ake Kemoeatu. If Indiana Jones can be afraid of snakes, Big Al can be afraid of double-teaming offensive linemen, I guess.

Haynesworth and the coaches have found their level. Big Al plays DE in the 4-3 packages and on third down in pass rushing situations. He’s still good at that. It’s not the Redskins base defense, however, so Haynesworth is off the field for over half the defensive snaps. Make note that we don’t see Big Al sprawled on the ground gasping for air as much as last year.  
Q6) Shanahan, from our perch, seems to have made some big boners this season.  Is he a retread who is 2 decades removed from what works, or does he have another title in him?

A) Look at this from our side. Shanahan is exponentially better than Snyder and Cerrato. Nothing he’s done has been worse than those guys. I’m not comfortable with the Redskins going away from East Coast smashmouth Beastball, but I’m old. West Coast, spread offense passing is as modern and those handheld thingies and Shanahan is a thought leader in that offense. The 3-4 alignment is the defense to throw at 21st century offenses. The 2010 Redskins are what you get when you match new schemes on both sides of the ball with aging, hold-over talent.

But Shanahan has set the table for a 10-win season next year when he rolls more of his guys onto the roster. I’m confident enough to predict that now. 
Q7) How do the Giants attack the Redskins on offense and defense?

A) Go through the middle. On (Redskins) offense, the guards and center are vulnerabilities. They have to get to the linebackers for the running back du jour to get four or five yards per rush. On passing plays, they’ve had match-up problems with strong front fours so the pocket collapses about a half-second sooner than McNabb needs to step into his throw. That’s a challenge.

Washington’s defense couldn’t stop the Vikings on the ground even when Adrian Peterson was on the bench. Now here you come with Jacobs and Bradshaw. Need I say more?    
Q8) Final Score?

A) I’ve given up on predicting outcomes for these guys. I leave that to my Magic 8 Ball now. (“As I see it, yes”) I am sure of two things. First, the Redskins will be competitive and the game close with the outcome uncertain until late in the fourth quarter. Second, the Giants won more than three games this season, therefore we are going to split with you. I don’t figure that to happen in Jersey. Although…Carlos Rogers says that FedEx Field now has the feel of an away game for the players. So maybe the Redskins will be victorious on their second visit to the New Meadowlands (beat the Jets 16-11 in exhibition game three).

Thanks Anthony!