One of our favorite weekly features is when we get to chat with the blogger from our opposing team, and this week, we sat down with Kevin Ewoldt from Hogs Haven to figure out just what in the world is going on in the nation's capitol.
1- Washington's front office has a colorful history, but seems to be leveling out a bit in the last few years. Dan Snyder is the owner, but has given most of the power to GM Bruce Allen and HC/ Executive VP Mike Shanahan. They seem to be splitting the duties pretty well, at least from an outside perspective. Can you tell us a little about the dynamic of that front office, and how it's working out for Washington? Oh, and as a footnote, what the hell does A.J. Smith do, exactly?
Kevin: After Mike Shanahan's brief tenure as Head Coach with Al Davis and the Raiders, he demanded that any time he is head coach from there on out, in his contract he wants full control of the roster. The Broncos met that request and so did the Redskins. Dan Snyder handed full control over to Gibbs, and he actually prefers to do that, but as he told me, there was no quality coaches after Gibbs retired and things got bad quick. Bruce Allen's father was the Redskins Hall of Fame coach, George Allen, so he grew up in the Redskins locker room. Bruce has reunited the Redskins alumni to the team and fanbase, which has been great to see. Bruce Allen handles all the contracts, salary cap, and free agency recommendations, but just like in Denver, Mike Shanahan makes every single personnel decision. As for AJ Smith, nobody knows what he does. Offensive Assistants are such a quiet role. (Editor's note: Smith was hired as, and listed as 'Senior Executive' in the Redskins' front office)
2- Statistically, Washington has a top-10 offense and a bottom-10 defense... Is that an accurate representation of the team for the first part of the 2013 season? What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses on each side of the ball?
Kevin: Yes, although the Redskins don't feel like a top 10 offense. The Redskins have been outscored 76-44 in the first half of games in 2013, so a lot of their points and yards have been playing catch up against prevent defenses. RGIII sat out the pre-season, so the first four games have been tough to watch. Last week both RGIII and the offense resembled 2012 with the read option and even QB rushes up the middle. Before the Cowboys game last week, there was none of that which makes for quite the one-dimensional offense. The defense has been straight up atrocious. They have scored a few TDs, but the lack of a Free Safety on the roster is back-breaking. The Redskins have been subbing in backup safeties to fill in and have not found an answer. The team was hoping 6th round pick Bacarri Rambo would be that guy but he was benched early in the season after poor tackling and taking bad angles on plays.
3- Who are some rookies and sophomores that are making the biggest contributions this year? What are your thoughts on the last two or three drafts for your team?
Kevin: Rookie TE Jordan Reed from Florida looks like a super star in the making. He will certainly stand out this Sunday. Rookie CB, David Amerson, has shown flashes of greatness (pick 6) but also has had some rookie mistakes. Either way, he looks to be a solid player for the future, too.
4- Who are a couple of under-the-radar players that we should keep an eye on this weekend that could really make an impact versus the Bears?
Kevin: As I mentioned earlier, Jordan Reed. He has hands, speed, and power. His blocking skills have improved which means he has received more time on the field. Ryan Kerrigan has also really progressed. He's tied for 2nd in the NFC with 5 sacks. His biggest strength is getting into the backfield, so whether or not he records the sack, the play gets disrupted. It is needed because the Skins secondary cannot hold WRs long when there's no adequate safety help.
5- The NFC East is always competitive, and generally fun to watch during the year. What was your preseason prediction for that division, and how has it changed after the first few weeks?
Kevin: Well damn, you had to ask this question!! I predicted 11-5 because I bought into all the hype of continuity. The Redskins finished the 2012 season 7-0 for a 10-6 record and they returned 23-24 starters, including the kickers. Adding fresh draft picks and multiple offensive threats, common logic leans toward at least a similar 10-6 record. Well, that has blown up in my face. RGIII has needed a month of in-game action to build the mental confidence in trusting his reconstructed, plant knee. The lack of a free safety has also killed this defense, which played well last season. Despite being 1-4, the Redskins turnover ratio is only -1. So, it's not like the team sucks. They just haven't put together 60 minutes. Penalties and poor special teams have hurt as well. It just came out this week that players have not bought into Keith Burns' scheme (a new coach this year after Danny Smith left to PIT).
5b- I don't want to wade too far into the subject, so will just ask you to make a prediction: When will the team change its name, if ever? Less than 5 years from now, greater than 5 years from now, or never?
Dan Snyder says it'll never change, but the NFL and Goodell recently got involved to hear more on the Native Americans beef against it. I don't see it changing any time soon, but five years sounds like a good estimate to me. D.C. lost the best mascot name ever when the Bullets changed to the Wizards, so it won't be hard on me. Redskin Hall of Famer, Bobby Mitchell, who played in the 60s told me Native Americans would come up to him on the streets then asking him to get the owner to change the name, so I think a lot of die-hard Skins fans are missing the fact this name change debate is something that dates back to the civil rights era and maybe further. The team can keep their colors, fight-song, etc if they changed the name to something like "Warriors," so there is a middle ground there somewhere.
Big thanks to Kevin Ewoldt of Hogs Haven for taking the time to chat... Good stuff!