Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Quest for 53: Thoughts on the Current Roster, Practice Squad

The Redskins still have issues. That's my first thought when I look at the final roster. Not much would have changed that (barring some major trades) and they will have to cover up their problems with scheme and other positions stepping up to help the weaker parts. But the big question is whether this team has gotten better from 2011.

Or are they the same?

Or are they worse?

Let's look at the final 53, the new practice squad and look at the positions of strength, weakness, surprise and if the position is better than last year.

QB
Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins
- No real surprises here.
Is this position better? Yes, even if we're only looking long term. RGIII and Cousins will be leading the Redskins offense for years (hopefully). There will be growing pains for both of them but in particular for RGIII this year. My hope is that the fans can deal with his mistakes as he grows into his potential.

RB
Alfred Morris, Evan Royster, Roy Helu Jr.
- Tim Hightower was a surprise cut, but after what I had heard from the Colts game (Hightower was seen limping badly post game and it is believed he re-aggravated his injured knee) I can understand why the Redskins made the move.
- Alfred Morris made the roster from his performance in the third game. It's not that he ran well (he did) but it was the improvement in his pass blocking that made him a lock. With Hightower gone, somebody in the backfield will have to be a good blocker......maybe it's Morris.
- Roy Helu Jr. got back onto the roster after a good performance against Tampa. Again, it wasn't that he ran well (with exception to the first carry he did), it was that he was able to take hits without getting hurt or re-irritating his injuries. Helu looks like he's always is going to be an injury issue but he's the Redskins biggest threat in the backfield when he's healthy.
Is this position better? Tough call, but I would say no. Morris looks like he could be a better RB in this scheme than anybody Shanahan has had since he came to the Redskins. That said, he's a rookie. Royster and Helu are also practically rookies as well. Hightower was a true jack of all trades who excelled more as a third down back/draw RB/ pass catcher/ pass blocker. He had a good deal of experience.

FB
Darrel Young
- After Cooley being cut, it was clear that the Redskins was only keeping 1 FB.They'll use a TE or maybe Morris at FB if needed, but they don't need a FB on every play so there was no need.
Is this position better? I'll just say it's the same as last year. Mike Sellers isn't here anymore but the Redskins lose more at special teams than at the FB position. If anything one less FB means one more player at a position of greater need.


WR
Pierre Garcon, Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Dezmon Briscoe, Aldrick Robinson, Brandon Banks
- The top 6 WRs make total sense to me. Austin and Armstrong never seemed to be able to do enough to win jobs. Although I think that both can play in the NFL and could be on another team.
- Banks will again be the KR/PR specialist who occasionally will play some O. With RGIII's arm and a good running game, Banks could be a good deep threat if used sparingly and could be a danger in some end arounds or reverses.
Is this position better? Yes. Moss is lighter and healthy. Garcon and Morgan are much more dangerous targets than Gaffney and Stallworth. I love Briscoe and Hankerson's size (something the Redskins have bee lacking for a long time).

TE
Fred Davis, Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen
- My opinion on Chris Cooley in 2012: He wasn't fast enough or was a deep enough threat for what the Shanahan's want in a starting TE. At best Cooley would have been the #3 TE getting paid #1 TE money.
Is this position better? At worst it's a push. Paulsen and Davis were here last year. Paul is the wild card in all of this. If he can get better at blocking, route running and catching he could be a legitimate threat for the Redskins. Paul is another mismatch type of player with good size and WR speed he will be hard for LBs or S to cover.

OL
Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus, Adam Gettis, Maurice Hurt, Josh Leribeus, Jordan Black
- This roster didn't surprise me much at all when all was said and done. Still on the Willie Smith Bandwagon over Jordan Black, but according to reports Smith was dreadful early in camp. Black has been consistent from what I've heard. Although I'll be scared silly if Black has to start at LT.
Is this position better? Believe it or not the answer is yes. This all depends on health again though.This is the same five that started a portion of 2011. Maurice Hurt is better than he was last year. I feel better with Gettis and Leribeus than Cook.

DL
Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen, Adam Carriker, Jarvis Jenkins, Chris Baker, Kedric Golston
- This lineup has been determined for awhile.
Is this position better? If Jarvis Jenkins comes close to playing at the level he did prior to his injury than yes. Either way, the Redskins should have more depth at this roster spot.

OLB
Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Chris Wilson, Rob Jackson
- Markus White was the odd man out of one of the team's stronger units. Chris Wilson had the better pre-season and is better than White at STs.
Is this position better? Yes. It is deeper and more experienced. The bigger question at this point is which players will be inactive on game day.

ILB
London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Lorenzo Alexander, Keenan Robinson
- I was surprised to see Brian Kehl not make the final 53 man roster.
Is this position better? I'm going to say yes as long as London Fletcher is healthy. Lorenzo Alexander looks like he has picked up the position well and should provide quality depth as the #3 ILB.

CB
Josh Wilson, DeAngelo Hall, Cedric Griffin, Richard Crawford, Crezdon Butler
- I was surprised that the 'Skins didn't go after veteran Drayton Florence when he hit the waiver wires.
Is this position better? No. Beyond Josh Wilson there are serious question marks. D. Hall is on the decline and struggles in man coverage.Griffin has been beaten repeatedly throughout pre-season. The final two players are fast but are mostly rookies. This is the Redskins weakest unit in a division with three good passing QBs.

S
Brandon Meriweather , Jordan Bernstein, Madieu Williams, Reed Doughty, DeJon Gomes
- The Tanard Jackson suspension was the biggest surprise as I had him as the team's starting FS.
- I was also surprised to see Jordan Bernstein make the roster as well, but at this point I think the Redskins are desperately using the quantity over quality approach for this position.
Is this position better? Yes at SS. Meriweather can provide the skill set similar to LaRon Landry which is exactly what the Redskins want in a SS that attacks the box but can occasionally cover. No at FS. There are reasons why Madieu Williams has been mostly a reserve S and we saw that in a few games this pre-season. Gomes and Bernstein may also take a crack at FS but both are inexperienced.

K
Billy Cundiff
- major surprise as we saw Gano beat Rackers and then get cut for Cundiff who is mostly known for a major miss for the Ravens in the playoffs last year.
Is this position better? Yes on kickoffs. Cundiff has lead the league in touchbacks for the past two years. No on FGs. Gano seemd to have the better leg on kicks beyond 45 yards last year. Also if you take out the 5 blocked FGs, Gano missed less FGs (5) compared to Cundiff (9). Although to be fair, Gano has had the worst FG% in the league for the past 3 years.

- no comment needs to be made on LS or P. Same players, no real change there.

Practice Squad
#NAMEPOS.HT.WT.AGEEXP.COLLEGE
18Arceneaux, EmmanuelWR6-2215241Alcorn State
34Bailey, AntwonRB5-719522RSyracuse
68Compton, TomT6-530823RSouth Dakota
53Gamble, DarrylLB6-2255242Georgia
40Hughes, RobertRB5-11235231Notre Dame
87Peterson, DeangeloTE6-324323RLSU
93Shirley, JasonDT6-5345263Fresno State
90Worthington, DougDE6-5311251Ohio State
This group seems to have some significant NFL playing experience for guys who can qualify for the practice squad. At least if there is an injury the Redskins should be able to bring in a reserve with little problem.

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