On Monday, the Cleveland Browns will take on the Washington Redskins for their second preseason game of the year. To help preview this week's game, I reached out to HogHunter from Hogs Haven and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!
Chris: "The Redskins are fresh off of several years with Kyle Shanahan as their offensive coordinator. Tell us about the good and the bad when it comes to Shanahan's playcalling. Are you sad to see him depart?"
HH: "The opinions on Kyle Shanahan were a roller coaster in Washington. When the team was winning, he was pegged as the heir apparent to take over for his dad in Washington, or he would definitely get a head coaching job within a year somewhere else. When the Redskins were losing, which was 3 out of his 4 years here, Kyle was a stubborn, frustrating OC who abandoned the run far too often and hated the screen game and loved 2-WR sets. Kyle has a knack for getting people open in his offense with his play designs, but he also limits what the offense, and especially RGIII, could do by not providing enough easy options when his receivers didn't get open fast enough. He helped design a great offense for RGIII's rookie year, but that same offense also limited his development long-term.
The run game was usually always effective, but his father and RB coach Bobby Turner will always get credit for that until Kyle shows that he can get solid rushing production in his own offense. Kyle did not use the screen game very much in his last few seasons here, but he LOVED the toss play. Even if the Redskins were at their own two yard line, the toss play seemed like a great option.
I think Shanahan will be effective early if he is able to craft an offense to use Manziel's (assuming he's the starter) strengths, but he needs to work on making him a complete QB. Shanahan didn't put audibles in or allow RGIII to make changes at the line. Whether that's a control thing, or a trust thing, it limits the QB's development and control of the game. RGIII and Manziel talked about what Griff liked and didn't like about the offense recently, so he should have some idea of what to expect."
Chris: "Former Browns QB Colt McCoy appears to be the Redskins' third-string quarterback right now. How good of a camp is he having, and do you expect him to make the roster?"
HH: "From all reports, McCoy has had a very good camp, but he is also getting the snaps of a 3rd string QB. Coach Gruden really likes McCoy and has said he will make it tough to cut him at the end of August. When Gruden was with the Bengals, they only kept two QBs, with one on the practice squad, but Gruden said they got very lucky with no injuries at QB.
Robert Griffin III has only missed 1 start due to injury (vs the Browns in 2012), but he did get injured several times in his rookie season, and needed ACL surgery following the playoff loss to Seattle. Last season his mobility was limited, but he still made plays with his legs. The problem was the constant amount of pressure the Redskins OL allowed up the middle, and Griffin's reduced mobility resulting in him taking hits, alot of hits, inside and outside of the pocket. The story that Mike Shanahan fed everyone was that RGIII was benched the last 3 games to protect the franchise for the future due to the hits he took. Gruden is looking to reduce those hits on Griffin this year by getting the ball out of his hands quicker, bringing in more weapons, beefing up the OL, and reducing the designed runs.
Back to McCoy and his chances of making the roster. McCoy is the most experienced QB on the roster now that Rex Grossman III is no longer around. I think Gruden keeps a 3rd QB on the roster this year as insurance, and due to the possibility of Cousins still being shopped for trade. Former Redskins TE, and current Redskins radio broadcaster Chris Cooley laid out the potential plan for McCoy in a recent article published in the Washington Post. He believes that McCoy was brought in to be the long-term backup to Griffin, with Cousins being traded either during this season, or before next year's draft. The Redskins reportedly got an offer of a 4th rounder for Cousins from the Browns this year, but they want a 2nd to make it happen. I think McCoy is making the team this year, but that is definitely not the consensus among fans."
Chris: "The Redskins signed former Browns OG Shawn Lauvao this offseason. Is he expected to start for Washington?"
HH: "Lauvao has been tagged to start at left guard since the team made him a priority signing in free agency. I know Browns fans have mixed opinions on Lauvao, but Gruden obviously saw something he liked in the 3 years he was with the Bengals. Lauvao was someone I had tagged as a cheaper, low-end starter to very good backup, so I was a little surprised with his contract. But if he is a solid starter for a few years he will be worth the contract in the long run. The Redskins OL was built to run Mike Shanahan's zone blocking scheme, and he seemed to always go small and quick with his linemen. Kory Lichtensteiger was the Redskins LG for the last few seasons and he was the lightest OL on the team at 284lbs. Now he is moving over to his natural position of Center, and has put on 15lbs during the offseason.
Gruden is looking to keep a similar blocking scheme (although you will see some man blocking added), but with bigger linemen, and that's where Lauvao comes in. During OTAs he struggled, and Gruden had no problem pointing that out. The Redskins have several young Guards on the team and also drafted Spencer Long in the 3rd round this year, so there was some skepticism early about Lauvao. Since training camp has started, Gruden has called Lauvao the most improved player in camp. He continues to train with LeCharles Bentley at O-Line Performance to improve his game, and has been joined by LT Trent Williams this season. Expectations are high for the left side of the line this year."
Chris: "Which starting spot in Washington currently has the strongest position battle going on?"
HH: "I think the starting lineup is pretty locked in at most spots. The only spot were there is a big question mark is at kicker. The Redskins used a 7th round draft pick to take Arkansas kicker Zach Hocker which was a surprise to most since incumbent kicker Kai Forbath has been efficient at kicking field goals in his two season here. But if you look deeper, you'll notice that Forbath has one of the worst touchback percentages in the league and constantly struggled to kick it out of the end zone. He also injured his groin last season from adjusting his kickoff technique. A kicker battle is thrilling I know.
The real battles are happening at the depth positions, and the best battle right now is for the 3rd RB on the roster. The Redskins have Alfred Morris and Roy Helu, Jr. locked in as the 1st and 2nd backs. They also have Evan Royster and Chris Thompson returning. Then they drafted Lache Seastrunk and signed Silas Redd as an undrafted free agent this year. Evan Royster is an average RB who is probably on the bubble right now, and Chris Thompson has had injury problems for the last 3 years and they are showing up again. Thompson has an outside shot if he can get healthy, but that really leaves Seastrunk and Redd battling it out for possibly one spot. "
Chris: "Tell us about a second- or third-stringer who Browns fans might not know about, but who has been a "stud" in camp for the Redskins."
HH: "Ryan Grant is the name that most fans will say right away when asked this question. He's a 5th round WR out of Tulane, who wasn't the fastest or the biggest receiver in an absolutely loaded WR class. The things that he does well, and the things that got the attention of the Redskins are running precise routes and catching everything that comes his way.
During OTAs Coach Gruden said he played like a 10 year vet, and during training camp last week he called him a surgeon on the field. He is a fixture on the daily practice reports for his route running and his body control. While the Patriots media was praising their secondary players up and down, they forgot to mention Ryan Grant breaking the ankles of one of their corners who they promptly traded to Dallas the following week. The Redskins are set with their top 3 WRs, but Grant's preseason performance, and offseason work has made it pretty clear that he will be pushing to find playing time sooner than later.
Keenan Robinson is probably someone that most NFL fans have forgotten about, but who is set to be a fixture on the Redskins defense this year. He was a 4th round pick out of Texas 3 years ago, but his rookie year was cut short when he tore a pectoral muscle. The following year, he tore his pec again on the first day of training camp. Robinson is now returning to take over the Mike linebacker role that future Hall of Famer London Fletcher held for so many years. Robinson may have been injured, but he's been studying the role, and learning from Fletcher. He is also taller and faster than Fletch, which should help in some of the areas that were a problem last season lie covering tight ends."
Thanks again to HogHunter for taking the time to answer my questions.