Inside Redskins Park

Inside Redskins Park

As much as old coaches like Greg Blache – when he was talking to the media – contended that the NFL remained a run-first league, the current landscape is about 1. Quarterbacks; 2. Receivers; and 3. Quarterbacks throwing to receivers.

The impetus on the passing game is why the Redskins signing of cornerback Fred Smoot is important. Even if the Redskins rush the passer better, their safeties and linebackers cover better, Shawn Springs returns to the team and stays healthy and Carlos Rogers plays like a first-round draft pick, the addition of Smoot is a good move because of the numerous 3-receiver sets run by NFL teams.

Teams with three starter-quality corners face a better chance of slowing down offenses than teams with two starters and a retread playing the No. 3 corner spot.

That's how the Redskins approached the No. 3 spot the last three seasons. In 2004-05, they had journeyman Walt Harris. He played just bad enough to get cut last year and although he had a Pro Bowl season with San Francisco, nobody is questioning the Redskins for cutting ties with him. Last year, Kenny "Turnstile" Wright was signed and well, he stunk. How he got a contract with Cleveland is a great mystery.

More often than not, Harris and Wright struggled in their roles. The Redskins, finally realizing this, and also acknowledging that Rogers' progress has been disappointing and they might have to cut Springs because of a salary dispute, brought back Smoot.

SHOWING RESTRAINT? HARDLY

Some media outlets have complimented the Redskins for showing restraint during the opening weekend of free agency and not lavishing free agents with millions upon millions in guaranteed money. What these people are missing: The Redskins didn't have the money to do their normal free agent thing, which is overpaying for players.

The Redskins didn't show restraint. They didn't have enough money to pay Leonard Davis. Period. If the Redskins had not acquired so many players in March 2006, that would have shown restraint. Where the Redskins will show restraint is during this year's draft. Will they have the sense to trade down from No. 6 to acquire more picks and build depth? Or will they become infatuated with a player and stick with their four picks?

LELIE/LLOYD COMPARISON

The way the Redskins do business is uniquely different than most teams in the NFL. The latest example is Brandon Lloyd (whom the Redskins acquired in a trade last March) and Ashley Lelie (whom Atlanta acquired in a trade last August).

Both players were traded in the final year of their contracts.

The Redskins rushed to sign Lloyd to an extension worth more than $25 million rather than let him play out his deal to see if he was worth re-signing.

The Falcons let Lelie – who forced a trade from Denver by holding out for a new deal – play out his contract. He had one touchdown (which was one more than Lloyd had). The Falcons made little effort to re-sign him and he went to San Francisco.

The moral of this story: Atlanta was smart. The Falcons were desperate for a receiver help and took a chance on Lelie. But they made him prove himself worthy of a new deal. He had a bad year and moved on.

The Redskins, for some reason, gave Lloyd his money before he had done anything on the field for him. As a result, what did Lloyd have to play for? Nothing.

HELPING OTHER TEAMS

Draft picks originally belonging to the Redskins continue to help other teams around the NFL, even years later.

* The second-round pick in 2004 that the Redskins gave Denver in the lopsided Champ Bailey-Clinton Portis deal was used to draft running back Tatum Bell. Earlier this month, Bell (who helped beat the Redskins in Week 4, 2005 with two long touchdowns) was traded to Detroit for cornerback Dre Bly, whom the Redskins were also interested in acquiring.

The trade as it stands: Portis (a running back whose coming off major shoulder surgery) to the Redskins for Bailey (a future Hall of Famer) and Bly (a solid starting corner).

* The second-round pick this year the Redskins gave the Jets to move up in last year's second round to draft linebacker Rocky McIntosh was also used in a trade. New York gave the pick to Chicago in the deal for running back Thomas Jones.

* Since Joe Gibbs returned to the Redskins: In four drafts, counting the 2007 draft (which could change due to trades), the Redskins have had 20 picks. From the 2004-06 drafts, only S Sean Taylor, TE Chris Cooley, CB Carlos Rogers, QB Jason Campbell and DT Kedric Golston have been regular starters. And people wonder why the Redskins don't have depth.

HOW OTHER SIGNINGS EFFECTED THE REDSKINS

The Redskins signed London Fletcher and Fred Smoot to help their defense. Here's how moves from other teams in the league helped/hurt the Redskins.

* Dallas signs Brad Johnson to back up Tony Romo. A very good signing by the Cowboys. Johnson's days as an every-week starter are over and he knows it. He will serve as a fine mentor for Romo along with another former Viking, new quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson. If Romo goes down, Johnson will be able to hold down the fort for a few weeks.

* Philadelphia loses Jeff Garcia to Tampa Bay. The Eagles stood no chance to retain Garcia. That's good news for the Redskins. But Garcia is likely to start for the Bucs, who host the Redskins in 2007 for the third straight season. That's bad news for the Redskins.

* Nate Clements goes from Buffalo to San Francisco. The Redskins host the Bills this season. That's one less quality corner to account for Santana Moss.

* Ahman Green leaves Green Bay for Houston. Good news for the Redskins' run defense, which plays at Green Bay this season. Now only if they can pressure Brett Favre.

* New England adds LB Adalius Thomas. The Redskins travel to Foxborough and they'll encounter an improved Patriots team. Thomas will create all kinds of match-up problems for the Redskins.

* The Jets trade for Chicago RB Thomas Jones. The Redskins' run defense will be tested during this game at the Meadowlands.

RANDOM REDSKINS THOUGHTS

* If I'm WR David Patten and K John Hall, I'm surprised to still be on the roster. Releasing the two players would have freed up $4.98 million in cap space, enough to add another starter. Patten clearly isn't in the Redskins' plans and Hall could have been brought back at a lower price since he has no leverage after being plagued by injuries the last three seasons. Patten should have been given more of a chance next year, but since he wasn't, it was time to release him.

* If I'm Joe Gibbs, I'm waiting until the mid-June mini camp before setting a training camp start date. Coach Joe put the onus on his veterans when he allowed them to work much of the spring on their own instead of at Redskin Park. When they arrive for the mini camp, Gibbs and his staff will evaluate what kind of condition those players are in before setting a training camp start date. If they come in well-conditioned, I think camp starts 4-5 days early.

* If I'm CB Shawn Springs, I stand my ground in taking a big pay cut. After giving up his body for three seasons with the Redskins, he's earned that privilage.

* If I'm RT Jon Jansen, I might be wondering, "Why didn't I become a guard?" His contract was for five years and $23 million; Derrick Dockery's contract in Buffalo: Seven years, $49 million.

* And if I'm CB Carlos Rogers, the Smoot signing tells me the coaching staff thought I wasn't very good last year and aren't very durable so I better step it up this year if I'm going to start in Week 1.

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