Redskins chat with Rick Maese

Aug 08, 2011

Washington Redskins reporter Rick Maese answered reader questions about the team's post-lockout moves and how it's looked during training camp.

Hey Rick, Don't you think the Skins are still a year or two away? I love all the moves of undrafted, drafted, and veteran players, but they have a new team on defense that has to completely learn the Haslett 3- 4. Also, no real QB. Beck, Grossman, and Clemons are a very short-term solution. Do you agree?

Hello, everyone. I see a lot of questions already. I'll try to get to as many as possible. The first preseason game is Friday against the Steelers. I'm sure we'll know a lot more after that game. But let's start here...

In short, yes, I think the team is likely at least year away. Probably more. I think they've built this roster knowing that it'd probably take a year or two to see it running on all cylinders. They've rebuilt the defense, and you'll see six -- maybe seven -- new starters. The biggest question mark for me is still the quarterback position. I think coaches are hoping Beck shows that he's not a one-year stopgap solution. But the jury will be out on that one... If Beck isn't the solution, then we're talking about a team that could be a couple of years away...

Is it me or have we signed a ton of linebackers but not many offensive linemen. Won't that be important considering we have two unproven QB's? After all those injuries last year, we could see how thin our depth is at OLB's.

Any concerns on the o-line, to me, are very valid. The line wasn't particularly good last year, and there's only one new face on the starting five -- Chris Chester. Will Montgomery will slide over and play center, which will probably be an upgrade. Coaches have a lot of confidence in Lichtensteiger -- more than a lot of fans do. Yeah, they appear to have upgraded two starting spots, but depth is always a question on the line. 

Artis Hicks is better as a reserve. Sean Locklear was a starter who will likely be a reserve. So that's two guys who started a season ago and will now be coming off the bench. That's a bit of depth, but not sure they're deep enough or that it's high-quality yet.

Do you sense, as I do, a certain demeanor with John Beck? I feel like his insecurity is belied in his nervous chatter. When I've seen him interviewed he tends to ramble on, expressing more than I'd expect a self-confident QB might. If you notice this, too, then I'm not being a curmudgeon.

Interesting. I'm not a psycho-analysis, so I'm mostly posting this to see what others think. I'll tell you that Beck is very thorough in interviews. He was asked last week about changing his number to 12. His answer took us back to his childhood and Ty Detmer and how he had to switch numbers as a young quarterback and Terry Bradshaw's name popped up, yada, yada. I'm not sure I'd read into that that he's too confident or too insecure. He's definitely eager to impress - perhaps on the field and off it.

With an 86% career kicker in S. Graham, why on earth would Shanny go another season with the Shankmiester Gano? The Skins will play in many close games, like last year. What say you?

I think the Redskins are open to a change. Otherwise, Shayne Graham wouldn't even be here. It's still probably Gano's job to lose. The kicking competition really begins Friday. Today marked the first day we saw any real kicks in practice. Gano was 3-of-4, missing 40-plus yarder that went wide left. Graham was 2-of-4, missing to the right both times. Graham will need to look a lot better in game situations than he did today in practice to unseat Gano.

Which of these guys has the best chance to play as receiver. Is Paul doing any return work on special teams?

If I was betting, my money would be on Hankerson. Not only was he the higher draft pick, but he's a bigger body and offers the Redskins something they don't otherwise have at the receiver position. (Gaffney is also 6-2, though.) I think they need someone like Hankerson.  He's been hit or miss in camp. His hands -- which can wrap around a watermelon probably -- are suspect still. That's not to say Paul can't make it. His best shot might be impressing coaches as a kick returner and edging out someone like Brandon Banks for a roster spot.

Which rookies are looking like they will play this year? Helu?

If Jarvis Jenkins isn't starting Week 1, I think he'll be starting pretty early in the season. He looks good. He's getting work on both the left and right side. Haslett likes rotating D-linemen and Jenkins will get a lot of work even if he doesn't start.

Kerrigan was working with the starters today during team drills. The team will expect him to start right away.

Helu is an interesting one. He's certainly looked impressive in camp. I'd like to see him in live action and he's a guy I'll definitely be keeping an eye on him in Friday's preseason game. 

What on earth do this staff see in M. Kelly thats keeping him here.... Please enlighten me

Well, if he isn't able to return to the practice field soon, I'd suspect his days might be numbered. He seems like a good candidate for an injury settlement. Coaches see the same thing in him now that they did when he was drafted: potential. At some point, he has to show that he can realize it. And he hasn't done that yet. If his time hasn't run out here, you gotta think that it will very soon.

If the Redskins have another 6-10 season, how much of the blame goes to the Shanahan and how much is because the cupboard was bare when he arrived?

I'm not sure Shanahan will be judged based on wins and losses this season. They've changed so many things in the personnel department that I think in January we judge him by looking at the foundation. What pieces has he put in place that will be part of the long-term solution? They can't enter next offseason and expect to make this many changes. Regardless of wins and losses, by next offseason, the team should be aiming to upgrade a few specific positions. This offseason -- and last offseason, too, for that matter -- was about addressing plethora needs. That said, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect more wins. Shanahan has now had two offseasons to specifically pluck players who will fit in his system. They should be better than last year. I just don't think it's the end of the world if it's another 6-win season, especially considering the quarterback position.

any idea if they will be bringing in some more free agents? seems they still have some decent room left to spend and the oline -- for starters - seems to still have holes.

I think we'll see more roster turnover. The team is about $10-11 million below the salary cap right now, so they have some flexibility. As camp continues and we see some actual preseason games, Shanahan will continue to assess his needs. There are a ton of free agents out there still.

I have the Eastern Motors rap jingle, complete with visions of Lavar Arrington and Clinton Portis head-banging, stuck in my head. Any suggestions for alternative earworms?

This Friday is Steelers-Redskins. Whenever I'm trying to get hyped up for a Friday, I Google Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert and "Friday." You're welcome.

Rick, I'm drinking the koolaid Redskins go 9-7........what do you think? lol

I think your Kool-Aid is spiked.

I kid. It's not out of the question, I suppose. I need some proof that Beck or Grossman is the answer at QB -- even if it's temporary. I haven't seen that evidence yet.

Best-case scenario is that Beck exceeds expectations and becomes a legitimate starter. Problem is he's already 30. I know he's had no wear and tear, but how long can he legitimately play? 3, 4, 5 years? I sure the Skins would take that right now, but they'll be right back in the hunt for a franchise QB in a year or two... How much of this is Shanny legitimately thinking Beck is possibly the guy? And how much of it is a semi-reasonable way to tank the season and get a franchise QB in the next draft?

Zero part of me thinks Shanahan would tank a season. Ninety-nine percent effort at practice is unreasonable to him, so there's no way he's giving away any games.

I think they really, sincerely believe Beck could be the answer. And if not, I really believe they're confident in Grossman can run the offense competently. 

I will be curious to see what the team does if Beck and Grossman botch the preseason games, which is a very real possibility.

The Redskins were 30th in rushing, and 26th in stopping the run. Do you see either number improving this year? Why?

It's reasonable to expect both to improve. I look at the defensive front seven and think they're improved everywhere (though we still have an ILB spot up for grabs). Cofield and Bowen should be big upgrades. Even a guy like Carriker says he feels much more comfortable in the defense. If the defense struggles, I don't think anyone can use personnel as an excuse.

As for the running game, too often last year the team fell behind in games and had to abandon the run. That's a big reason we saw so few carries and yards. Plus, injuries forced them to go with Keiland Williams and James Davis. That's some bad luck. If they stay healthy, Torain + Hightower feels better than Portis. 

If Trent Williams got in a wrestling match with a real silverback Gorilla, who do you think would win? My money is on the gorilla, especially if the prize were bananas.

If it's Greco Roman, I'm taking Trent in a heartbeat. If it's freestyle, though, I gotta go with the silverback. And if it's WWE, I think it's a double disqualification cuz Vinny Cerrato jumps in and tries to trade Trent for bag of M&Ms.

So, there is no way to entice Cincinnati to trade us Palmer to play QB this year for the 'skins?

Cincy has given zero indication they're even interested in even listening to trade offers. What a bizarre situation that is...

Who will be the starting RB to start the season? Will Helu and Royster have a legitimate shot to make the roster?

If Torain is healthy, I think he'll have the job in Week 1. Will he be healthy? No one knows the answer to that one. That guy has a frequent visitor punch card to the local hospital... it's too bad.

Last year Banks amazed everyone. Assuming he gets his health back, I'm still picking him to make the team simply because he brought so much excitement whenever he touched the ball. So watching camp so far, see any surprising sparkle from unknowns this year?

Kareem Moore and Anthony Armstrong also impressed last year. 

Good question. Hard to say before we've seen any games. I think Helu is a good candidate. The guy has moves, and I can definitely see him breaking loose in a preseason game. Among the receivers, I think Aldrick Robinson has been under the radar. He could surprise fans, especially if he returns a kick or something. I expect Fred Davis to do well, though I'm not sure that'd qualify as a surprise.

You're around the team a lot, do the guys in the locker room really support John Beck? Regardless, i think the Skins are in a win-win situation. If John Beck is better than advertised it will probably result in more W's than the experts are predicting. If he is a total bust then we'll be in line to land one of the top QB's next year. Just maybe the Skins "luck" is finally turning the corner. No pun intended. Thanks for taking my question. Frank

A lot of quarterback questions...

We haven't polled the offensive players, so there's not a definitive answer here. We have heard from a few guys in the lockerroom, though, who expect Grossman to win the quarterback competition. I think it means a lot that Grossman knows the system as well as he does. Outside the coaching staff, I'm not sure anyone knows it better. That said, there are probably some guys in the lockerroom who think Beck might win. I know this: either quarterback will earn a ton of confidence from his teammates by performing in game situations.  

Will Palmer be a free agent next year?

It's my understanding that even if Palmer wanted to come back, the Bengals would retain his rights. I could be wrong, though...

My optimistic thought is that the skins were in alot of close games last year that they lost with all of the o line problems and a terrible defense and it appears the defense is better with no reason to think the offense is worse and might be better. They also finally won some conference games. Doesn't that seem to indicate that they will be better?

What if their quarterback is worse?

How do the offensive and defensive lines look. It appears that the defensive line has all the components to be good and deep. The offensive line has lots of potential and lots of questions especially after the starting line up.

It's early, and I think this early in camp it's normal for the defense to be a step ahead of the offense. In 1-on-1 drills, the D certainly appears to have the advantage. But I try not reading too much into that so early. 

I'm ok with rebuilding, but how long do you think Shanahan will stay with the Skins? I really don't want him to put in one or two more seasons and then quit, for someone else to come in and blow up the team again.

Shanahan will be with this team at least through 2012, I'd think. Dan Snyder has given him the keys and is letting Shanahan make the moves he feels he needs to make. I think he has at least two more seasons to post some results.

That's it from me. Thanks for all the great questions. Chat soon...

In This Chat
Rick Maese
Rick Maese is a Redskins beat writer for The Washington post. Follow him on Twitter at RickMaese
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