This week, for our Five Good Questions segment, we turn our eyes East to the Nation’s Capital. Well, actually we turn to the Far East, as in Bangkok. Bill-in-Bangkok is one of the contributors for Hogs Haven, the SB Nation site that covers all things Washington Redskins. I would work in a joke with the ‘One Night in Bangkok’ song here, but Bill was kind enough to answer my questions for this week’s segment, and I answered his, so that would be incredibly rude. Admittedly, it IS a great song, but yeah, still rude.
Anyway, thanks to Bill and the good folks at HH. Here’s to a good game, with no injuries! We hope you enjoy his answers. When my answers to his questions are published, we’ll cross post it to DN.
1. Who are the Washington Redskins? On one hand, they beat the Los Angeles Rams in LA, and the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle. On the other hand, they got drilled at home to Dallas, have lost to Philly twice, and were in a dogfight with winless San Francisco at home. 4-4 at the turn is by no means out of it, but Washington is 0-3 in the division, and barring a collapse by Philly a wildcard spot seems like the best you can hope for in a post season seeding scenario. Are the Redskins a playoff team, or no?
I believe that the Redskins are a playoff team. Most of the national analysts who write Power Rankings seem to agree that the Redskins are at least a contender for a wildcard spot, as they are almost universally the highest ranked 4-4 team, and most polls have Washington ranked above several 5-3 teams.
It’s pretty widely accepted that the ‘Skins have played the toughest schedule in the NFL through 9 weeks, and it won’t get any easier until Week 12.
Here’s a quick look at the NFL.com Power Ranking top-10 for this week, as an example. By Week 11, the Redskins will have played 7 of the current top 10 teams (Eagles twice). That will be 8 of 11 games against the top-10 teams in the league.
The Redskins have already played the teams ranked 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th and 10th. We’re the only NFL team to have played the #1 ranked Eagles twice so far. After this brutal run, the Redskins have a respectable 4-4 record, yet the schedule doesn’t get any easier in November.
In the next two weeks the Redskins face the teams ranked 5th and 6th on that list (Vikings & Saints), and we play Dallas again on 30 November.
The Redskins have lost 4 games – two losses to the best team in the league, the Eagles, a tough loss to the Chief in Arrowhead, and the Cowboys. In three of those four games, the Redskins had the ball inside two minutes to play, with a chance to tie (Cowboys) or win (Eagles, Chiefs).
The fact is, the Redskins lost those games – that’s a fact. We are who the record says we are; but like many .500 teams, the Skins are literally 2 – 3 plays away from being 7-1 or 6-2.
The Cowboys game was a ridiculous parade of injuries that was hard to believe (ED Note, in Morgan Freeman narration voice: It’s not that hard to believe...for Vikings fans). On the injury report that followed the game, the Redskins had 21 players listed. Fourteen of them had significant injuries, including 5 of the top 6 Offensive Linemen. The team also has ten players on IR, 5 or 6 of whom would have been starters. A week later, against the Seahawks, the Redskins were only able to dress 43 healthy players for the game.
The surprise isn’t that the Cowboys were able to win that game – the surprise is that they weren’t able to blow out a team that was mostly third string backups, and that Kirk Cousins was still playing for the win after the two-minute warning.
The Redskins have played 3 ½ games with worsening injury situations each game since the end of Week 4. With a normal level of injury, the Redskins can play with anybody in the league; hopefully the recovery from injury starts to show a positive trend this week.
2. Washington has been hit with a slew of injuries this year. Su'a Cravens is out for the year. LT Trent Williams is questionable, as are literally all of your tight ends. The one most Vikings fans are interested in is Trent Williams, because if he can't play, former Vikings LT T.J. Clemmings will start. Sooooooooooooooo....you guys fans of Clemmings, or not? And how do you expect him to fare against Everson Griffen if he does play?
First of all, the backup swing tackle is Ty Nsekhe, who was injured in the Week 3 game against the Raiders. He had surgery the week following the game, and estimates were for a 3-6 week recovery. He was limited in practice last week, and I think there’s a fair chance that he’ll be able to play against the Vikings this week if Trent Williams can’t go. Clemmings is the #3 or #4 OT on the roster, and the fact that he had to take the field as a starter last week says a lot about the health of the offensive line.
To answer the question about Clemmings; Redskins fans are not Clemmings fans. He was eaten alive last week against Seattle, and I think that Everson Griffen would not only eat his lunch, but steal his lunch money and tweak his nose on the way to sack the quarterback.
There’s a feeling that Clemmings needs coaching on technique, and that in a year or two he may be a competent backup. Our offensive line coach (Bill Callahan) has the reputation of being a great teacher and one of the business. If he sees potential in Clemmings, most fans are ready to believe that he has a future. Right now, though, he’s seen as a project that should be kept behind glass labeled, “Use only in case of emergency”.
By the way, the injuries don’t ‘literally’ affect all of the Redskins’ tight ends. We have 4 of them, and against Seattle, the #1 & #3 guy were out. That still left Vernon Davis as the starter. So far this season Davis is averaging 16.7 yards per reception, with 23 catches for 384 yards and a TD. One journalist wrote this week that it looks like Vernon Davis is trying to make his case for a gold jacket, and doing very well in that effort.
3. In your questions to me, I described Redskins owner Dan Snyder as the 'moron who utterly botched signing Kirk Cousins long term'. That seems to be a majority opinion outside of the Nation's Capital, but is that what most Redskins fans think? Do most fans want Cousins back with a long term deal, or not? Is Cousins in Washington next year, or playing somewhere else?
Redskins fans mostly share your opinion of Dan Snyder, though he has been slowly rehabilitating his image, doing two good things for each stupid thing for the past three or four years. He has a long ways to go before anyone wants to celebrate him as an owner.
The vast majority of Redskins fans want Kirk signed to a long term deal. The split in the fan-base (and apparently in the front office) is over how much Kirk should be paid. Some feel that Kirk should be signed at all costs – even if that means making him the highest paid player in the league ($30m per year). Others feel that Kirk should be willing to accept a more modest deal (in the $25-27m APY range) because he his good-not-elite, and that if he wants more than that, then the team should move on to the next option.
Somebody will pay Kirk next season. I’m a bit ambivalent about how much money the Redskins should commit to him. The Redskins have done well with Kirk’s contract so far; he’s been a relative bargain over the past two seasons, playing on the franchise tag at an average of $22m per season, which is well below his market value. The first free agent long-term contract he signs will define his career, so he needs to make it count. He and his agent have played things really smartly so far, and I suspect they have a well-defined strategy for getting Kirk what he wants contractually.
No way would I bet money on the question of whether Kirk plays for the ‘Skins again in 2018 or beyond, but my feeling is that he will. Kirk has a very unique personality; at the root of it, he is a creature of routine, he is a deeply faithful Christian (his father is a minister), and Kirk has a desire to be accepted among the elite quarterbacks in the league as a peer. I think that this leads him back to the Redskins in three ways:
i. He has been with Washington for 6 years, and enjoys a lot of success in Gruden’s system. Changing teams would mean starting over. Aside from football, he has a newborn baby, and again, changing teams would upset routines (something that would affect Kirk in a way that is uncommon for pro athletes).
ii. God’s will is likely to be a bigger factor in Kirk’s decision-making than the size of the contract. Kirk is practical, of course, but I don’t think a team can get him simply by outbidding the others. Kirk will listen to the voice of God within him and go where it takes him.
iii. Kirk constantly models himself on the elite quarterbacks who have gone before him. He has adapted the WWTDD? concept to WWDBD?, with DB being Drew Brees. Kirk has commented several times that nearly every great quarterback has spent his career with one team, so that is part of the model that Kirk is hoping to follow, I think.
4. You also asked me what most Vikings fans think of Washington, and I said mostly nameless and faceless in recent years. As I was looking at your roster and season statistics, the only names that really jumped out at me is Kirk Cousins and Josh Norman. Besides them, tell me the one guy on each side of the ball Minnesota has to worry about and game plan for, and what are the Redskins doing really well that should worry the Vikings?
Offensively, one player on the Redskins has been the star in 2017: Chris Thompson. He is the Redskins 3rd down & long yardage back. He didn’t have much of a game against Seattle, but in the 7 games before that, he was a monster, and he’s at the top of the league in most statistics for running backs in the passing game. Let me quote James Dorsett, a Hogs Haven writer who detailed CT’s performance through the first 6 games, then updated it after Week 8:
The Game 6 Report on Chris Thompson:
Chris Thompson, a late round draft pick in 2013 who started his career on IR and practice squad, has been a revelation this season. He is tied for the team lead in receptions (18) and leads the Redskins in first downs (14), receiving yards (340) touchdowns (4) and yards from scrimmage (515), and currently leads all NFL running backs in receiving yards (340), receiving yards per game (68) and yards per reception (18.9).
CT also leads the NFL with 329 yards after the catch (YAC), which is 77 more yards of YAC than the second place player in that category. His 18.3 YAC average is also tops in the league. If Thompson continues at this pace, he will become the fourth player in NFL history to gain 1,000 yards receiving in the same season that they had 100 rushing attempts (Marshall Faulk, Roger Craig and Lionel James). Faulk was the last running back with over 1,000 receiving yards in a season, and he did it in 1999, the year Dan Synder bought the Redskins.
Updated after Week 8
Chris Thompson (Rushing)- He continued to be unimpressive as a runner. He had the team’s longest rush of the day (16 yards) and averaged 4.5 yards per carry; but nearly 90% of his yards came on that one run. His three other rushes all went for 2 yards or less (25% success rate).
Chris Thompson (Receiving)- Thompson caught a career-high 8 balls for 76 yards and 4 first downs on Sunday, with half of those first-down receptions coming on third or fourth down.
He earned the best PFF grade on the Redskins’ offense (80.1).
Chris Thompson (The GOAT)- This section of the article may be getting smaller, but it’s still alive and kicking.
- Thompson is still the only player in the NFL that leads his team in both rushing and receiving yards. He leads the team in those categories by margins of 65 yards and 130 yards, respectively. Thompson now also leads the team in receptions (31).
- His 442 receiving yards are the third most by any running back through the first seven games of a season since 1999. Only Marshall Faulk (494 yards in 2000) and Charlie Garner (449 yards in 2002) had more yards in that span.
- Thompson became the 22nd running back to hit 1,000 career yards as a member of the Redskins.
- Thompson is still on pace to crest 1,000 yards through the air this season. If he keeps up this pace he will finish the year ranked 6th all time in career receiving yards by a Redskins running back. He would also become the first RB in team history with a 1,000-yard receiving season.
Defensively, I would have said Matt Iaonnidis, a 5th round draft pick in 2015 who has been producing at a pro-bowl level in his second season as an interior defensive tackle, but he broke his hand in the Cowboys game, so you probably won’t see him on the field on Sunday.
There are three names I’ll tell you to watch out for:
Outside linebackers #91 Ryan Kerrigan and #94 Preston Smith. Smith will rush against your left tackle, and Kerrigan comes from the other side. They have been getting consistent pressure on quarterbacks all season long, and Kerrigan, who was the Redskins 1st round draft pick (16th overall) in 2011, has started over 100 consecutive games for the Redskins and has been to 2 pro-bowls. I guarantee, while you may think he’s nameless and faceless, the right side of your offensive line, and your quarterback, will know exactly who he is.
The third name is Zach Brown. Unlike Smith & Kerrigan, he is not a home-grown talent. Zach Brown went to the pro bowl last season as a member of the Buffalo Bills linebacking corps. He’s 6’1”, 244 pounds, and ran a 4.5 sec 40 at the combine. I’d tell you to look for #53 on the field, but you won’t be able to miss him. He’s the fastest guy on the defense; he plays sideline-to-sideline, and is a sure tackler; in fact, he’s the leading tackler in the NFL. Your offensive skill players will be well-acquainted with him by game’s end.
5. Dan Snyder and the Redskins are making rumblings about a new stadium. Public financing for new stadiums is a hot button topic, but I haven't heard of a threatened relocation. Is there going to be a new stadium built, or is this going to get really acrimonious before it's all said and done?
Yes, there’ll be a new stadium built. FedEx was never a good stadium and it isn’t aging well. The Redskins really need a new one. It could be located anywhere in the DMV area, but is probably most likely to end up in Virginia, I imagine. The Redskins won’t leave the DC area, where they’ve been since 1937.
The current stadium deal doesn’t expire until 2027, so the team is just doing political groundwork at the moment. They’ve got 10 years before they need a new stadium, and probably 7 or 8 years before they need to break ground on it. There’ll be a ton of developments on the stadium over the next ten years, but at the moment it’s on the far back burner on very low heat.