There are times I even wonder why I bother to get excited about the Washington Redskins. My favorite NFL team has made a habit of consistently letting me down on the field since The Reign Of Joe Gibbs (1981-92), save for a modestly successful return by Gibbs from 2004-07 (two playoff trips) and the electrifying NFC East title run keyed by Robert Griffin III to end the 2012 NFL season.
Although even Gibbs’ second term was saddled with a pair of 6-10 years and the magic of RG3 was quickly squandered when he tore up his knee in a first-round playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. But this past offseason was just more raised hopes followed by bad decisions and I fear that yesterday in the 2014 NFL draft was more of the same.
The Redskins were making their first selection at the 34-spot, with no first-round selection due to the trade to get in position to draft RG3 in 2012. Players I liked ranged from Florida State corner Lamarcus Joyner to Wisconsin middle linebacker Chris Borland. Both players filled positions of need. I liked the notion of grabbing Joyner at 34, and then taking Borland with the second selection of the third round.
Even when Washington decided to trade down with the Dallas Cowboys, I was happy. The ‘Skins would still get the 47th pick, and they added the 78th pick. It was a great opportunity to still get Borland at 47 and have an extra pick. Borland was an ideal fit for the Redskins—he could step into a position that was being vacated by retiring London Fletcher. Borland was also known for his sure tackling, his heart and his mental toughness while in college. All three of those virtues are badly needed on the Washington defense.
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Instead, Washington drafted an offensive lineman from Virginia (Morgan Moses), an outside linebacker from Stanford (Trent Murphy) and another offensive lineman from Nebraska (Spencer Long). The only area of the defense the ‘Skins addressed was the OLB spot—and with Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan in those spots, it happens to be the one area the defense actually looks pretty good. Borland ended up with the San Francisco 49ers, taken with the #77 pick.
There are any number of defenses that can be made of the Washington Redskins’ decision-making. Here are a few I’m trying to hang my hat on this morning (by “hang my hat on”, I mean, not run screaming from the house in a suicidal rampage). Here they are…
*Offensive line is a significant area of need. In fact, if a recording could be made of me each Sunday last fall, I would have been found repeatedly griping about the line play, from the inability to get Alfred Morris holes consistently, to RG3 seeing the interior of the pocket collapse almost immediately upon the snap.
*Murphy was an excellent player at Stanford, and this program has become one of my favorites in recent years, for their blue-collar toughness. Furthermore, I’ve been a believer over the years in getting the best player available, even if it doesn’t meet an immediate need. You never know what’s going to happen, from injuries to trades. And if this were another organization, you could hope for some strategic creativity to get three outside linebackers on the field if Murphy really proves he can play.
*Since I live in Wisconsin and follow the Badgers, it’s well possible that some hometown bias is inflating my opinion of Borland.
All of these things are possible, and I’m hoping that those are what prove to be true. If the front office had built any credibility over the years, I’d even given those thoughts the benefit of the doubt. But one quote from Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen, who had final say on this selections sent me over the edge.
Allen said the Redskins had a roster “with no holes.”
Are you bleepin’ kidding me!!!!!!
The Washington Redskins just went 3-13 and over the past six years (since Gibbs’ last season of 2007) have shown that the only way they can win is if a healthy Robert Griffin III can basically lift the entire team and carry them, with some help from Morris. If RG3 is slowed even somewhat with a brace, the team loses 13 games. The only way this qualifies as a roster with no holes is if Allen is taking the literal interpretation of those words and is assuring the fan base he has enough players to field a team this fall.
Washington had a chance to hire a quality head coach—either someone with a track record that knew defense like Lovie Smith, or one of the well-established young coordinators with an established resume, like Greg Romans with San Francisco. Instead, they opted for Jay Gruden, who was the second-best coordinator on his own staff in Cincinnati (defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, the new Viking boss being the best).
Now they had a chance to get a talented corner and a solid middle linebacker in the draft and screwed that up. I really hope I’m wrong, and it certainly wouldn’t be the first time. But the fact we have a general manager who thinks his 3-13 team has a stacked roster at every spot doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the people making the decisions.