Tonight, the Cleveland Browns take on the Washington Redskins for their first preseason game of the year. To help preview this week's game, I reached out to Alex Rowsey from Hogs Haven and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!
Chris: "Do fans still have faith in Robert Griffin III being their quarterback of the future? Also, between Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy, has there been a clear No. 2 guy in camp?"
Alex: "This fan-base is incredibly divided on the Redskins QB situation as a whole. It seems most are either staunch supporters of RGIII or have completely given up on him. Regardless of where on that spectrum a fan is, most all agree that it's put-up or shut-up this year. Do or die. There's a $16M qualifying offer on the table from the team to pick up the fifth year of RGIII's contract next year, but he'll have to earn it this year. If he can perform at least as well as an average starter, he'll probably be back. Another year like the last couple... well the 'Skins would probably have a new QB in 2016.
Furthermore, the divide in the fan-base goes even deeper... beyond just RGIII. There are a pretty good number of fans who firmly believe Kirk Cousins is the best QB on the roster and should be the starter. What's more, you have plenty of fans that think Kirk Cousins should be the QB3 behind McCoy. It's a mess. As for whether Kirk or Colt are actually distancing themselves from one another, that simply hasn't been the case. These guys are neck-and-neck right now. They've alternated between running with the 2's and/or the 3's throughout camp and neither has really stood out. Kirk is listed as the backup on the first unofficial depth chart (for whatever that's worth) and he'll be the guy coming in to replace RGIII tonight. It's expected that Cousins will play the second and third quarters tonight with Colt playing the fourth. Then, next week, that's expected to switch with Colt getting a chance with the 2's and Kirk finishing the game."
Chris: "The DeSean Jackson signing was somewhat controversial last year, as was the signing of Junior Galette this year. What has been the fan perception for both players to this point?"
Alex: "The Redskins fan perception of DeSean Jackson has been just about universally positive. During our abysmal 4-12 season last year, D-Jax was one of the very few consistently good players on the team. He just produces. There have been no attitude issues and zero events that would make anyone second-guess the signing. He's a great player, our best WR, probably the best deep threat in the world, and put up numbers on a garbage team without a peep. Everyone likes him... for now.
The feelings about Galette are a little more mixed as he hasn't actually done anything for the team, yet. Most of our fans are really turned off by his off-the-field stuff and don't like the idea of signing a guy who has that much, and more importantly that kind of baggage. Fighting, hitting a woman with a belt, traffic violations, and then of course the Twitter rampage after being released from the Saints are all big problems. The thing is, he hasn't actually been convicted of any of that stuff. For now, it's just all "allegedly this" and "allegedly that." However, the fan-base universally trusts new GM Scot McCloughan and he has really been vouching for this guy. Plus, he's signed to just about the least risky contract ever. One year at the league minimum, and we have the rights to retain him by matching any offer he receives next year if we so choose. Very low risk and a very high potential reward. With that contract and the trust in McCloughan, most fans are on board. As with just about every controversial signing though, it'll basically come down to whether he produces or not."
Chris: "Things went pretty south in Jay Gruden's first season as the Redskins' head coach. What is the confidence level among fans heading into this season, with respect to Gruden's ability to turn things around?"
Alex: "Your line of questions is really making me realize how divided this fan-base is. Jay Gruden is another one of those divisive topics. Obviously, his first year was terrible and no one is OK with that kind of performance. But it was his first year. Fans need to see significant improvement this year or I think most will be calling for his head. And it's not all about the wins and losses. Jay caught a lot of flack last year for publicly blasting RGIII in a way that was unprofessional. RGIII was terrible, but Jay called him out publicly and it rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way. Most fans are OK with giving him another shot and have hope that he can do better, but it won't take much for the fan-base to turn on him, especially since we have a new GM and Jay isn't the HC he picked, just the one he inherited. We'll see."
Chris: "Let's touch on a few fantasy-related questions: Is Alfred Morris a good get in PPR leagues? We've heard he’s been working on catching it better, but he says that every offseason. Also, what is the deal at tight end -- if someone were to draft a Redskin, should it be Jordan Reed or Niles Paul?"
Alex: "In my opinion, Alfred Morris is a good get in any fantasy format. As with most fantasy players, if the team does better, Morris will, too. Another major problem that fans had last year with HC Jay Gruden was that he didn't run the ball enough. Redskins fans absolutely love having a stout OL and just running the ball more than any other team. We crave it. It excites us. If Jay wants to stick around, he needs to decide to run the ball... a lot more. Not only should that really benefit our team (and RGIII), but it would help Morris' fantasy value, too. When we get behind, Morris hasn't gotten nearly as many touches. I'm guessing the reason you specifically asked about PPR is because Morris is a great runner, but doesn't really contribute with receptions. He claims to have been working on that, and most fans would like to seem him get some more chances as a receiver, but it's still probably not going to be his thing. Matt Jones and Chris Thompson are both better receivers and figure to get more PT is our team is behind and throwing a lot. I'd say he'll be a solid starter in PPR. Nothing like top five, but probably like a top 35 fantasy player in PPR. In that format, I'd say he'll be one of the top 15-20 RBs.
As far as the TE situation goes, I wouldn't really want to draft/rely on either of those guys in fantasy. Niles Paul is the "starter" and Jordan Reed is permanently banged up. I figure they'll basically split the stats. If you had to go with one, I'd probably go with Reed based on his upside as a receiver. I might take him as a TE2. But basically, I wouldn't want either of them this year."
Chris: "Are there any impressive late-round draft picks or undrafted free agents who Browns fans should be aware of when the backups enter the game?"
Alex: "I'll give you four guys on either side of the ball. Some guys to keep an eye on on offense are OT Takoby Cofield, C Austin Reiter, WR Evan Spencer, and RB Trey Williams. Cofield was a prized UDFA who we gave a signing bonus to. He's a prime PS candidate who could theoretically make the roster with an impressive preseason. Reiter was our seventh-round choice and fans are really hoping he can be the C of the future. Spencer was a sixth-round choice and is a big WR who is known as an excellent blocker and special teams ace. You'll know Trey Williams when you see him tonight. He's tiny and as quick as they come. He could be the most fun, exciting guy to watch during the preseason.
Defensively, watch for DE Corey Crawford, ILB Martrell Spaight, ILB Terrance Plummer, and S Kyshoen Jarrett. Crawford is an UDFA who has stood out so far in camp. Our team is pretty stacked along the DL, so he's not going to make the 53, but he might be able to get onto the PS. Spaight was a fifth-rounder our of Arkansas who is a tackling machine and excellent on special teams. Terrance Plummer has stood out as an UDFA who is an excellent tackler. Jarrett is a guy we're all very excited about. He's a sixth-round rookie who can play either S spot and has also been working as a reserve nickle corner in camp. He's a great tackler, a dynamo on special teams, and had a great INT in practice just a couple days ago."
Thanks again to Alex for taking the time to answer my questions.