Skins DEFENSE vs The Cowboys (II)

Formations

Versus this two tight end set we went with a Nickel front instead of the usual 3-4.  There are five guys playing at linebacker depth and I think it may have screwed with the Cowboys’ zone blocking.  Fuller (lined up over the near TE) is playing as a quasi-safety.  It was effective but ended up being just a one off.

Defensive Tackles: In the Nickel front McGee and Ion got the start on early downs, while Lanier and Ion got the start on late passing downs.  Hood was used later on and finished the game with the second highest snap count behind Ion.

Linebackers: Vigil and Brown on early downs, Harvey-Clemons and Brown on late passing downs.  As the game went on Vigil took some snaps from H-C.  Spaight came in when Brown had to leave with an injury.

What Happened

In the first half Offense and Special Teams screwed us.  Defense played phenomenal despite the other two-thirds of the team acting as saboteurs.

In the second half, zone double teams wore us down.  Ion and Francis struggled some while Hood and Lanier struggled a lot.

(FWIW Anderson needed to stay inside his block.) This half was the sequel to last game with most of the same characters up front.

After they softened us up they went to the air and picked on Breeland.

Continue reading “Skins DEFENSE vs The Cowboys (II)”

Who’s Coming Back: Inside Linebackers

Previously:  Defensive Tackles, Defensive Ends

This is the third part of a series in which I list who will make our 53-man roster next year. Having watched and charted almost every snap this season I feel somewhat qualified to blog an amateur opinion on the matter. Today’s position group is Inside Linebackers.

Washington kept four Inside Linebackers on their roster this season so that’s the number I’m assuming we will keep for next year.

Holy Lock To Come Back Next Year:

Spaight: Can play all three downs, had tackling issues early but seems to have overcome those.  Even if Brown and Foster come back his experience and knowledge of Manusky’s defense should guarantee him a spot on the depth chart.  He only counts $764,000 against the cap.

Josh Harvey-Clemons: [EDIT:  After reviewing the Cowboys game I’m going to have to bump him down to ‘Most Likely’]  A college safety that has freakish size and speed.  A project player who is currently relegated to late passing downs and has the ability to blitz.  He has 3 years remaining on his rookie contract and only counts $576,000 against the cap.

He’s behind Zach Vigil in playing time but long term I figure the coaches would rather teach a coverage guy to fit gaps than teach a gap fitter—like Vigil and Compton—coverages.  You can coach reads but not speed.

Will Most Likely Return Next Year:

Zach Brown (Resigning Zach Brown): The only thing standing between Brown and ‘Holy Lock’ status is his agent. Manusky schemed the entire run defense around Brown.

Brown also showed that he is the only guy in our front seven with the instincts and speed to chase down a mobile NFL Quarterback.

50/50:

If we don’t make an offseason acquisition, then one of the following,

Zach Vigil: Used on early run downs; a younger stronger version of Compton.  Unfortunately has Kerrigan type speed in coverage.

Will Compton: Knows the playbook inside out. Quintessential locker room leader. Excels at absorbing blockers and creating a path for Brown.

Compton’s serious downsides include lack of strength, pass coverage and inability to get off of blocks. His 2017 salary was almost $2 million, we could outfit a full two-deep around Zach Brown with that kind of cash. Even if he takes a pay cut we would still have younger, faster, stronger and cheaper options. He’s closer to 30/70 than 50/50, but he put on a clinic in that Seattle game and that’s preventing me from slotting him in the section below. I’d be surprised but not shocked if he stayed.

Mason Foster: If he’s healthy I think he comes back.  There are some rumblings about his Tweetstorm offending the FO guys, but he might be the best all around linebacker we have.

Best of Luck In Your Future Endeavors:

Otha Peters: Signed to the practice squad last month after Compton went to IR.  Hasn’t seen the field and lots of young guys are ahead of him which doesn’t bode well for his chances.  Might be able to hang onto a PS spot.

Who’s Coming Back: Defensive Ends/Outside Linebackers

Previously: Defensive Tackles

This is the second part of a series in which I list who will make our 53-man roster next year.  Having watched and charted almost every snap this season I feel somewhat qualified to blog an amateur opinion on the matter.  Today’s position group is defensive ends (in our system they also double as outside linebackers.)

Washington kept six defensive ends on their roster this season so that’s the number I’m assuming we will keep for next year.

Holy Lock To Come Back Next Year:

Kerrigan: The only thing that would cause the team to part ways with Kerrigan is his base salary.  In 2018 it will be $9 million and then it goes up to $10.5 million in 2019 and $11.5 million in 2020.  His guarantees work to about $7 million against the cap next year so any initial discussions about a departure won’t happen until 2019.

Smith: He’s been quiet the last few weeks, but a low cap number plus his overall body of work places him as a safe bet to get at least a share of starter snaps.

Anderson: Has an easy to digest rookie contract and continues to pack on strength.  His initial role seems to be a rotational player that sets the edge against the run.

Will Most Likely Return Next Year:

Murphy: On IR, obviously his future depends on how well he heals.  His ability to stop the run was a plus.  If he shows the capacity to recreate his nine sack effort from 2016 he becomes a holy lock to come back.

50/50:

Galette: He has gotten a couple of nice pressures over the previous two weeks but his overall body of work is wanting.  His best attribute is his low base salary.  If we skip on bringing in a high dollar FA and forgo drafting an edge rusher, I could see Galette sneaking back on the roster with another short term contract that pays close to the veteran minimum.

Pete Robertson: Just signed a three year deal for $1.5 million last month.  It’s a small cap hit if we cut him but his contract firmly slots him as a special teams guy.

Best of Luck In Your Future Endeavors:

Chris Carter: Gruden went out of his way to praise his special teams contributions but he only has a one year deal and is the first man out if we make any offseason acquisitions.   If Murphy can heal and we bring back Galette his circumstances are not favorable for a return.

Who’s Coming Back: Defensive Tackles

This is the first part of a series that lists who will make our 53-man roster next year.  This is one blogger’s opinion born from having watched and charted almost every snap this season.

Washington kept seven defensive tackles on the roster so that’s the amount I’m assuming we keep for next year.  I’m also assuming injuries revert back to normal because we are good fans and good fans deserve normal things.

Holy Lock To Come Back Next Year:

  • Allen
  • Ion
  • McGee: The only player signed through 2021 along with Morgan Moses and Jordan Reed. Can get under tackles and take on double team blocks from Tackles and Tight Ends.
  • McClain: His performance dictates he should be let go but because of his contract he will be back in 2018.  Not the case for 2019 when the opt-out kicks in; if he performs comparable to this year he will likely be gone.

Will Most Likely Return Next Year:

  • Hood: Quick up front.  He had a strong showing in November against the Saints, Vikings and Giants.  He showed an uncanny ability to close down gaps on zone runs:

The main chinks in his armor were his early season struggles and stopping the run against Dallas.  His salary will be $1.4 million against the cap next year which is a bargain for his role as a rotation piece that could play 15-20 snaps per game and start when injuries require him to do so.

50/50:

If Hood comes back and we pick up an interior lineman in the offseason, at least one of the following guys should be gone.

  • Lanier: He is a liability against the run which should disqualify him but he is the only one that can generate interior pressure other than Allen and Ion.
  • AJ Francis: Stout against the run which makes him my choice to return next season. Non-existent versus pass.

Best of Luck In Your Future Endeavors:

  • Arthur Jones: An emergency signing to fill in for the Seattle game where he charted a -3 prior to winding up on IR.  He was our first choice in the case of an emergency but his body appears to be near Mr. Glass on the injury spectrum.
  • Caraun Reid: A fifth round draft pick that was waived twice by the Lions and Chargers and has done nothing since coming here.  He was passed over by emergency fill-ins and his contract expires at the end of this season.
  • Phil Taylor: By the start of next season he will have not played a meaningful snap in almost four years.  He is signed to a one year deal and is healing from a quadricep injury while pushing close to 350 pounds.  Unless we refuse to invest in anyone else I don’t see a spot for him on our roster.
  • Ondre Pipkins: The former Michigan and Texas Tech product found a home on our practice squad this season.  It’s not a good look that he’s been passed over by multiple emergency fill-ins.  His best case scenario for 2018 is looking like the PS again with a shot to start if injuries take a similar toll on our roster.

FFODC Looks at Resigning Zach Brown

Most people who follow the Skins are saying the number one priority for the defense is to resign Zach Brown.  But what would that contract look like?

In order to get a better idea of what we should pay Brown I looked at two parameters:

  • What Brown’s peers in ‘on the field production’ are being paid.  I defined ‘on the field production’ by Tackles and PFF grades.
  • The current top 10 contracts for Inside Linebackers.

(All salary figures come from Over The Cap.)

Projected Salary Based off On The Field Production in 2017:

It’s not too hard to figure out that the Skins will be paying Brown to stop the run.  Inside runs, outside runs, quarterback scrambles, whatever the run we will want him to track it down.

A statistic people bring up when referencing Brown’s run defense is his NFL lead in tackles.  It’s not the strongest indicator of success but if you want to reference the tackling metric, here is what the top 5 looks like:

  1. Zach Brown (6th year)
  2. Joe Schobert (2nd year)
  3. Bobby Wagner (6th year)
  4. Blake Martinez (2nd year)
  5. C.J. Mosley (4th year)

From that list only Zach Brown and Bobby Wagner are under non-rookie contracts.  Rookie contracts tell us nothing about Brown’s value on the market but their are two contracts on that list we could use to see what a veteran linebacker leading the NFL in tackles should get paid.

The first, obviously, is Bobby Wagner who has two years left on his contract and the second is CJ Mosely whom the Ravens picked up a 5th year option on for 2018.  Their cap numbers are as follows,

  • C.J. Mosely: His 2018 cap number is $8.7 million, not under contract for 2019.
  • Bobby Wagner: His 2018 cap number is $13.6 million, his 2019 cap number is $14.1 million, not under contract for 2020.

Wagner’s 2018 salary will rank first and Mosely’s would rank ninth.  Averaging the two gives us around $11 million, good enough for the fourth highest contract in 2018.  Because Mosely’s contract only hits veteran status in 2018, these two contracts together can really only tell us what Brown could ask for if he was to get a short term 1-2 year deal.

To get an idea of what a longer term deal would look like we would need to look at PFF’s Linebacker grades.  PFF looks at each play and gives us a better idea of on the field production compared to the generic ‘tackling’ metric.  Unfortunately they have not posted a public list of their top Inside Linebackers but they have tweeted out their top four Linebackers through 12 weeks of play:

If I’m assuming our expectation for Brown is to be a top tier run stopper then this metric is a good reference since you wouldn’t be a top tier Linebacker if you weren’t also a top tier run stopper.  I do think these yearly numbers will be higher than what Brown should expect since these guys have also shown the ability to defend against the pass, and that is an area Brown has struggled in.

Contracts for the players in the pic above:

  1. Bobby Wagner:  4 years $43 million, $22 million guaranteed ($10.75 million per year.)
  2. Lavonte David: 5 years $50.2 million, $10.7 million guaranteed ($10 million per year.)
  3. Luke Kuechly: 5 years $61.8 million, $34 million guaranteed ($12.4 million per year.)
  4. Telvin Smith: 5 years $44.4 million, $15.5 million guaranteed (~$9 million per year.)

The contract value for a top graded Linebacker this season is 4-5 years at around $10 million per year, with 20-50% of that money guaranteed.

To recap, based off of production:

  • A short term 1-2 year deal would be about $11 million per year.
  • A long term 4-5 year contract would be about $10 million per year, with up to 50% of that guaranteed.

Projected Salary Based off Current Contracts:

If we do away with Brown’s contemporaries in production and just look at the current top 10 salaries for ILBs:

we get an average of $8.3 million per year with around $3 million of that guaranteed.  Over the course of 5 years that would be $40 million with $12 million guaranteed.

What Should Brown Get Paid?

The last thing left to factor in is the expected cap increase which is about 7% each year.  So adding 7% to the numbers listed above gives us,

If it’s a short term deal:  If we assume Brown is getting a short term 1-2 year deal then we are looking at ~$12 million per year.

If it’s a long term deal:  If we assume Brown gets a longer term deal, let’s say a five year contract (which is what three out of the top four LBs were given) and factor in the 7% increase, then Brown would stand to receive:

  • Lowest possible deal (Posluszny’s base, Johnson’s bonus percentage): years $26.25 million, $5 million guaranteed ($5.25 million/year.)
  • “Average” deal: 5 years $42.5 million, $15-20 million guaranteed ($8.5 million/year.)
  • Highest possible deal (Kuechly’s base, Trevathan’s bonus percentage): 5 years $65 million, $31 million guaranteed ($13 million/year.)

The highest possible deal looks to be reserved for a more complete all-around linebacker, while the lowest possible deal would be a slap in the face.

We have four guys slated to make over 10 million in 2018–five when Kirk gets resigned–and most teams tend to keep a maximum of five guys on their roster with salaries over 10 million per year.  It’s tough to see a scenario where we make Brown, whose shown to be a liability in coverage, the sixth.

Final Verdict: Anything close to an “average” deal (average of top tier contracts) and both sides come out looking good; this here blog expects 4-5 years at $8.5 million per year with close to half of that in guarantees.

Dallas 38, Washington 14 (Skins 5-7, 3rd NFC East)

Postgame:

Washington Redskins on Twitter

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden live at the podium after #WASvsDAL. https://t.co/XhNGbvz9Bx

Q:  After Crowder fumbles that [punt return], you’ve said multiple times this year ‘that’s his last one’…do you consider making a change their?

We don't have anybody to put back there right now, ok.  We just don't.  Mo Harris is in a concussion protocol, I don't have anybody else to return a punt.

Looking ahead, the Skins travel to Los Angeles with what remains of their roster.  Washington is currently tied at fifth for most players on IR with seventeen.

PFF Top 5:

  1. G Brandon Scherff, 82.8 overall grade
  2. LB Zach Vigil, 80.1 overall grade
  3. DI Stacy McGee, 79.4 overall grade
  4. T Trent Williams, 78.5 overall grade
  5. S D.J. Swearinger, 78.1 overall grade

Your Moment of Zen:

Skins DEFENSE vs The Giants

Formations

Because Eli likes to dink and dunk we loaded our underneath coverage with up to five guys.  In the above pic we rushed three and dropped our defensive ends to get five in underneath coverage along with three deep.

Safeties:  Everett subbed in for the injured Nicholson and played a lot of press coverage over their Tight Ends:

Against I-Formation that left him as the target of a Fullback Iso block.  He got points for sticking his nose in there against the run.

Linebackers:  Foster/Compton/Spaight’s replacement was handled by two guys:

  • Vigil got the early downs
  • Harvey-Clemons did a reprise of the Cravensbacker role on late passing downs; he was basically a hybrid between Safety and Linebacker.

What Happened

Continue reading “Skins DEFENSE vs The Giants”