Thursday, June 26, 2014

Top 5 Storylines Heading Into Training Camp

Bon Secours Training Facility
    Hail RedskinsNation!!! We all know this is the slow time of the off season but its also the last month of the off season without football. THANK GOD!!!! The OTA's went  by smoothly with 100% participation, no new injuries, and a good overall feeling. Which is a breathe of fresh air for this team and this new coaching staff headed by first time  head coach Jay Gruden. I'm anxious to see how it will all play out in this 2014 football season. After a 3-13 season where it seemed everything that could go wrong did go wrong at some point during last season. My expectations are tempered but still optimistic that this team can be one of the most improved teams going into 2014 and possibly make a playoff push. In 2012 when the Redskins were playing a last place schedule they shocked the world with two rookies Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris. Division championship, plenty of records and accolades plus a home playoff game (and that's all I'm gonna say about 2012). Now going into 2014 and once again playing a last place schedule there is a new rookie in town looking to shock the world. Not a rookie player but a rookie head coach in Jay Gruden brother of Super Bowl winning  head coach Jon Gruden.
Jay Gruden working with Aldrick Robinson during OTA's
I believe his laid back but serious when need to be attitude is just what the doctor ordered for this team. It's a thin line from being a player's coach and  being too easy on your player's and being too controlling and nonconforming. From what I've seen and heard of Jay  he has a perfect blend of old school, hard nosed work ethic and laid back approachable coach. Can't wait until they get the pads on at training camp and see what the newest version of the Washington Redskins has to offer to the NFL next season. Here are my Top 5 storylines heading into training camp:

The New Offense and DeSean Jackson's Impact: 
  2013 was a up and down season on offense. The offensive attack was too inconsistent and sometimes couldn't get out of it's own way but the one thing that stayed constant was the rushing attack. One of the lone bright spots of last season was Alfred Morris and the fifth best rushing attack in the league. The passing attack with only one true weapon in Pierre Garcon was ranked 22nd in the league. The run game will use some of the zone blocking principles that's having major success for this team but will also have a power running game aspects also (which I love). With a legitimate deep threat in DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon the league leader in pass  
Jay Gruden breaking down to DeSean Jackson how to run a certain passing route
receptions in 2013, second year standout tight end Jordan Reed causing match up problems and the free agent Andre Roberts ability to play inside and outside will make this offense one of the hardest to defend in my opinion. The one player who will benefit the most from all these weapons in this new offense is Alfred Morris. With the ability to stretch the field with any one of those players I don't think the third year running back will see as many eight man fronts to try to slow the ground and pound workhorse. If you put eight in the box RGIII will beat you with the passing game. If the defense drops the safeties deep then Morris will eat up chunks of yards and punish more defenders after first contact on the ground. Try to play man to man or zone against these quick,strong,shifty receivers and its curtains either way. I'm waiting to see how and what opposing defenses will try to take away from this potent offense....on paper. As long as RGIII develops his talents, not repeat the same mistakes from his previous two seasons and fully grasps the playbook(which the said he has been) I don't see how this offense isn't Top 5 next season.
Who Will Emerge as the Backup Running Back:
  We all know who the starter is at running back but who will be his backup in 2014. This is a position of depth but the question is the quality of the depth. Roy Helu Jr. had a pretty good season as a third down back and occasionally spelling Alfred Morris but Jay Gruden would like more production and speed out of his backfield. Evan Royster is still on the roster but played special teams more then running the
ball on offense. I like his running style but he needs carries to get going and unfortunately with No.46 firmly as the starter that isn't gonna least here in Washington. Now we have the speedy new guys, both who are an unknown quantity. Second year running back Chris Thompson and rookie speedster Lache Seastrunk. Both showed burst and elusiveness in their college careers but how will that translate into the NFL. Chris Thompson has durability issues coming out of college and it followed him to the pros. His rookie year which landed him on the injured reserve and never really got a chance to see what he could do. Seastrunk's questions lie with his hands in the passing game and his blitz pickup skills since he did both rarely in his college days. Baylor didn't ask their running backs to do much of either. They both have speed, moves, and the ability to take it to the house anytime their hands get on the ball but how will it transfer onto a NFL football field and will either of them be able to knock Helu off the roster.

Will The New Aggressive Approach On Defense Be Effective :
   Well I know we've all heard about how Jim Haslett wasn't able to run his defense the way he wanted or chose the assistant coaches that were on his staff but now the buck stops with him. In order for this defense to improve the pass rush and secondary MUST be better. With Brian Orakpo signed under the franchise tag
Hopefully we'll see more of these big play celebrations this year from Brain Orakpo
and with something to prove, signing Jason Hatcher  from a  hated division rival, second round draft pick Trent Murphy and the addition Brian Baker outside linebackers coach I believe they are addressing the pass rush big time. By making the pass rush better that usually helps the secondary and this defensive backfield can use all the help it can get after a inconsistent 2013 season. I'm not too sure about the Tracy Porter signing but with Richard Crawford injury status unknown, Chase Minnfield not being able to get on the field and E.J Biggers is decent at most things but not outstanding at any so I guess it's better safe than sorry. The safety position is still a question mark but with Brandon Merriweather playing his true position at SS and FS Ryan Clark coming back home I believe this unit is improved already. I really didn't mention either of  the 2nd year safeties Phillip Thomas or Bacarri Rambo. I hope for the best out of these two but coming off a tricky foot injury Thomas has a lot to prove and Rambo...well let's say if he makes the roster after last year's performance I'd be shocked. If Haslett can dial up the right pressure, the secondary can communicate better and create some turnovers this could help this potent offense run the score up on some upcoming opponents. With the flexibility of this defense I can't wait to see what type of exotic formations and blitzes Haslett brings this year. Any sack numbers less then 35 will be a disappointment to me.

Will The Special Teams Be Special In A Good Way: 
  This is gonna be short and sweet because I hate to think back to all the horrible special teams play. By hiring Ben Kotwika formerly of the New York Jets, this unit is gonna be more disciplined strictly because of his military background and attention to detail .There has already been more emphasis put on special teams play this season, from the draft picks that excelled in college at
Coach Kotwika discussing special teams with
 Larry Micheal on Redskins Nation
special teams. Some of the first players signed in free agency were regarded as special team standouts. Adam Hayworth, Akeem Jordan and Darryl Sharpton were bout in to specifically help this unit. With the unreliable Sav Rocca finally gone and Kai Forbath getting some competition from the seventh round draft pick kicker Zach Hocker the unit is gonna be better just from the improved quality of players and the dedication to special teams play this unit will be better....but it really could it get worse.

Can Practicing Against New England Have a Lasting Impact On The Team:
  This is one of the more intriguing developments of this offseason. Jay Gruden has experience with training with and scrimmaging against another team. Last year while he was offensive coordinator in Cincinnati they had the Atlanta Falcons there before their preseason game for live practice and believed it helped his then team greatly. I just love the fact that an elite team in the NFL will practice against the Redskins who are trying to get to where they are. The added bonus of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady being around and the
Maybe Gruden and RGIII can get on the same page like Brady and Belichick
and have similar successs

players and coaches can see how a proven team practices and handles themselves can only be a plus. This change of pace for the teams by going against other players instead of their teammates will always liven up practice. It helps the coaches grade and evaluate the 90 man roster that they are trying to trim to 53 to make a quality football team that can hopefully make a run to the Super Bowl in 2014.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

   The Name Change Debate and My Two Cents
After winning the NFC East Title and RG III's O.R.O.Y campaign the Redskins and their name was put back in the mainstream media thus making them a target for this name change debate.

         Hail Redskins Nation!!!! It's been a LONG offseason , a LONG time since I've posted and a lot has happened since the end of the dreadful 2013 football season. There has been some good things and some not so good things happen this offseason. Let's get to the not so good first. The Shanahan Era came to a early close after a bad season on and off the field and once again this proud franchise looked like they had no idea how to run a successful operation. I don't feed into all the negative media spin put on the situation I'm just glad we have a new coach with a fresh perspective and looking like a team that is finally headed in the right direction. That leads us to the
Redskins biggest offseason acquisition DeSean Jackson
good parts of the offseason. Hiring a new coach in Jay Gruden, also naming Bruce Allen GM and President of the team, picked up a game breaking wide receiver in DeSean Jackson and in my opinion had a very productive draft. Now generally the good would outweigh the bad but then there's this #NameChangeDebate subject that is putting another dark cloud over this proud franchise and looks like it won't go away or will it... These opinions expressed are mine and mine alone. Feel free to express your opinion in the comments section or at my twitter handle @TattooedScorpio .
         Now by me being a black man living in America I understand hot button words and phrases that are meant to offend or upset certain groups of people as in the "N" word or the new "R" word. I take the stance when the "N" word comes into play that I'm not one so why am I going to take offense to that word. For the record I have been called that word a time or two before. If you've been on social media or the internet lately and  I'm sure you have, you've seen where this New Jersey woman was calling a black man the "N" word over and over again because he started his car and it startled her kids. Now he could've taken offense and retaliated and got himself in trouble but because he didn't identify himself as the N word he felt no need to go in that direction and didn't feel offended. But that's just my view of it. I just find it funny with the timing of this push for the team to change their name is right after they finally get a franchise QB, win the NFC East and once again thrust on the forefront of the NFL and sports media in general. The 20 plus years that the team has been stuck in mediocrity and spinning it's wheels there was no mention of the name change but once RGIII had the most popular jersey and revenue grew then all of a sudden this topic becomes more important to the Anti-Redskins and Congress. Somehow its more important then raising the minimum wage health care and gun control. Not to mention that one of the lawsuits the Anti-Redskins group has tried was strictly financial. The latest attempt was to strip the trademark infringement designation that is granted to all sports teams to protect their logos and likeness was thrown out. Now the only reason you try something like that is to get financial compensation not to try to change the name because it's offensive.
Offensive maybe????

     I understand that the name does cause some Native Americans a problem but it also gives some Native Americans a source of pride and we all know the saying " Can't please all the people all of the time" but how do you decide who is right or wrong. I would like to speak to some of these folks and ask them what is more offensive? The name Redskins or the Tomahawk Chop that is used as a rallying cry at the MLB's Atlanta Braves and the NCAA's Florida State Seminoles games? Is it more offensive because the Redskins make more revenue then both of those teams combined? What other teams need to change their names: Braves, Indians, Blackhawks, Seminoles ? One word has been said about these other teams changing their names. Has a poll been taken asking if some Native Americans find those depictions and names offensive? Doubt it. None of  them are the 5th highest grossing sports franchise in the world but guess who is???
Offensive or no???

  I have a few options that I believe will either solve this great debate or it will show that truly these Anti-Redskins campaigns are just about one thing and one thing only .....the money. My first suggestion is to just shorten the name to the Skins keep the logo (that's my to hell with them all response). My second suggestion has already been done by the organization, which was to start a foundation to give back to the community that the team is representing and that could definitely use the help. The response was mixed. The politicians and Anti-Redskins folks said that Daniel Snyder and the Redskins were just trying to throw money at the issue which is what they were trying to do with their lawsuit. As for the actual Native Americans that live on the reservations and that are dealing with the issues such as: no running water, no internet access, vehicles to get people to and from the doctors, proper health and medical supplies,books and educational supplies for the under funded schools etc. etc. really loved that their issues and living conditions are finally being addressed. My final solution which I think is best for everyone involved is put a Native American Museum in FedEx Field and give most of proceeds to the Native Americans. The stadium has already been approved for over 20 million dollars in upgrades for the stadium so it makes sense to do it now. By doing this the Native Americans can educate and inform all types of people that come see our beloved team play. I'm not even gonna get into why Congress is involved but I believe that my last solution would be a win win for everyone.

   Once again I state that these are my opinions and views expressed and please feel free to share your thoughts if they are the same as mine or different. Feel free to share and retweet the article. Love all your feedback, support and once again thanks for reading. As always HTTR. More articles to come with mini camp and training camp around the corner.

Let's do it again in 2014 #HTTR
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