Washington Redskins: 3 Biggest Takeaways from the 1st Week of Camp
The start of training camp means that football season is upon us, and it’s been an eventful week for the Washington Redskins.
Expectations for the team have been rising since the drafting of Robert Griffin III, but there has been no real way to assess the team until now. Training camp offers a chance to see how in-sync the players are with each other—particularly the offense—allowing to make some meaningful observations based on individual performances.
Even this isn’t enough, however. It won’t be until the first preseason game against the Buffalo Bills that an accurate assessment can be made. Real-time game experience is the only thing that will reveal the strengths and weaknesses of this young team and its rookie quarterback. But nonetheless, there have been some interesting developments in the first week of Redskins camp.
Note: Bleacher Report’s NFC East lead blogger Brad Gagnon touched upon this subject last week, and in the interests of avoiding overlap, I have omitted the three items he explored in his post. Gagnon’s original article can be found here.
3. Dan Snyder Seems to Have Learned Some Patience
Rob Carr/Getty Images
For so long, Dan Snyder was a “win now at any cost” kind of guy. Notorious for throwing draft picks at teams in exchange for faded superstars long past their prime, he emerged from his office and quickly addressed the media following fan-appreciation day at Redskins Park on August 4.
In stark contrast to his previous attitude, Snyder had faced the media in order to preach patience and temper some of the wild expectations. John Keim quoted Snyder for the Washington Examiner:
Everything takes time, as you know. We’re excited to have him, and with coach [Mike] Shanahan, everything we’ve built, we feel good about the future.
It’s obviously exciting for everybody, and it’s a big deal. We’re thrilled with him as a person and what he stands for as a Redskin. It’s exciting for all Redskins nation. This is [a] top pick in the draft and a Heisman winner and a quarterback. It’s a big deal for everyone, and for Redskins nation, it’s as good as you get. It’s exciting for us.
Any level of patience shown by Snyder is a breakthrough, and the fact that he mentioned Shanahan in the same breath as “the future” bodes well. While it’s clear that the results have not been ideal from Shanahan’s first two seasons in charge, the turnaround in attitude, age, salary and depth has been remarkable.
It seems that Snyder finally understands that consistency is what makes football teams winners, and stability forms a huge part of that. He knows that Griffin’s rookie year will not lead to a parade through Washington and that his initial development is inextricably linked to his coaches.
Regardless of the record, at the end of this season, he would do well to remember his own words.
2. Robert Griffin III Is Inconsistent, but He Learns Fast
Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
Early reports from the week stated that Griffin was having some trouble rolling out to his left and making accurate throws; they also stated that he was holding onto the ball for too long—a luxury he would not be granted in the regular season.
Rich Campbell reported for the Washington Times that this particular throw is being practiced much more this year in Shanahan’s offense, so it is likely to be a stock throw in the new playbook.
Griffin is only speaking to the media on Monday of each week, but he addressed the intricacies of rolling to the left in his session last week:
The problem is when you have [linebacker] Brian Orakpo running right after you and you can’t get your shoulders around. We worked on when you can get it all the way around and get downhill and make the throw, and then, if you’ve got a guy like [linebacker Ryan] Kerrigan or Rak running after you, and you have to turn sideways, just how to position your body to make that throw as well. Via Rich Campbell, Washington Times
Of course, these things come with practice. Repetition is Griffin’s friend right now, and he improved throughout the week. His reactions were quicker, and by Saturday, Campbell observed that he was getting the ball out faster and running though his progressions faster and making good reads.
It remains to be seen how he will fare when the opposition is allowed to take him down, but right now, it seems like Griffin learns very quickly from his mistakes, which will serve him well in the NFL.
1. Injuries Will Play Their Part Again This Year
Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
The most interesting insight of the week came from Mike Shanahan. When asked about Griffin’s current tendency to hold onto the ball too long, Shanahan responded by saying that this sort of thing usually takes three years to master. (via Mike Jones, Washington Post).
It goes without saying that the Redskins hope Griffin picks it up significantly quicker than that, as his development will be stunted if he fails to adjust to the pace of the NFL. I happen to think that Shanahan threw that quote to the press to further temper the hysteria that has so far greeted Griffin’s presence in DC.
However, Jones also reported that Shanahan said it was somewhat dependant on the supporting cast, which is where the concern for this year lies.
Injuries to Kory Lichtensteiger and Jammal Brown initially left Shanahan unmoved, and when asked about bringing in veteran depth as cover, he responded by saying, “Those guys aren’t out there. If they were out there and we thought somebody was better than the people we had, we’d try to get those players” (via Grant Paulsen, CBS Washington).
However, on July 30, it was revealed that veteran OT Jordan Black had been brought in from the cold, with Black admitting to Mark Maske at the Washington Post that he had almost given up on football following his year out of the NFL. He’s got good experience in a zone-blocking scheme from his Texans days, and it will be interesting to see if he can push Tyler Polumbus for the starting job at right tackle.
The offensive line has now started to look very similar to the one that finished the season last year, which is the result of a gamble not paying off in the wake of the cap penalty. Although Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis were brought in via the draft, the scenario would have been to allow them this year to get NFL-ready before bringing them into the fold in 2013.
There’s no denying their talent—Gettis in particular has looked sharp and smart in camp—but they are not yet ready to be full-time starters.
Lichtensteiger is expected back for the game against the Saints, and then it is a matter of hoping that he stays healthy. The disintegration of the line after his injury last year was startling to see, so a healthy Lichtensteiger would be a huge boost to the team. As I outlined in my previous article, a lot now depends on Trent Williams. Luckily, he’s proving more than capable so far.
There are advantages to all this, of course. The fact that the team went through the same problems last year means that the backups have priceless starting experience and should be better prepared for what lies ahead. The guys that finished the season last year showed noticeable improvement as the year ended, and they also have the advantage of being young.
A young offensive line that can grow together would be a great asset for the team, definitely—it’s just that right now I’d feel a lot better if I knew Lichtensteiger was lining up each week.