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#HailMail: Wrapping Up The Redskins' Virtual Offseason Program

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Washington's virtual offseason program recently wrapped up, and the scheduled start of training camp is only about a month away. Here's what Redskins fans want to know:

Is there a set date when the whole Redskins team will be able to get together and start practicing? -- Nick S.

The Redskins' virtual offseason program ended June 12, so the first time the team will be able to get together and start practicing will be during training camp, which is scheduled to begin in late July. A specific start date has yet to be released.

Aren't NFL teams that change head coaches entitled to an extra minicamp? Since Coach Rivera has been unable to hold this face-to-face, can the Redskins petition the league for an extra minicamp to occur sometime before training camp? -- Tim F.

That's correct. Teams with new head coaches are afforded an extra voluntary veteran minicamp. The Redskins held theirs virtually from May 11-14.

Even if the Redskins could petition the league for an extra minicamp, it would be of no use because players are still not allowed in club facilities due to the novel coronavirus.

The coaches were allowed back starting June 5, but there is no timetable for the entire team to return. As I mentioned, training camp will likely be the first time everyone is allowed back.

One of the areas where the Redskins have very little depth is left tackle. Even though Saahdiq Charles would seem to be a great pick, why hasn't Jason Peters been brought in for a more veteran presence at a critical position? -- David P.

Peters is one of several veterans, along with wide receiver Antonio Brown, cornerback Logan Ryan and guard Larry Warford, who could be worthwhile additions based on the Redskins' current personnel.

But before the team considers signing anyone, head coach Ron Rivera said it needs to see what it has in its younger players.

"We have a group of young guys that we have to find out whether or not they have the ability to be football players," Rivera said in a videoconference June 10. "If you bring in a veteran right now, you are going to stunt the growth of someone young. We have to see, and that is the beauty right now. We have some young guys at tackle that we really like. We have some young guys that have showed you potential over the last season and now into the offseason. You haven't really had a chance to watch them."

During a typical offseason, the Redskins would have a decent sense of what they have in third-year Pro Geron Christian Sr., newcomer Cornelius Lucas and fourth-round rookie Saahdiq Charles. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, training camp will likely be the first time the coaching staff sees these players on the field.

If none of these players prove serviceable, the Redskins would then pursue a veteran to potentially start at left tackle. But until they evaluate their current options, Rivera said, that will not happen.

With the drafting of Chase Young and the changing the defensive scheme, where does this leaves Ryan Anderson? -- Bill P.

Ryan Anderson is in an interesting situation. He played outside linebacker in the team's 3-4 defense in 2019, so theoretically he should line up at defensive end in Jack Del Rio's 4-3 scheme.

However, the team already has five former first-round picks along the defensive front, and that's not even including reigning sack leader Matt Ioannidis. So, if Anderson moves to defensive end, he'll likely struggle to earn playing time.

The other option is for him to stay at linebacker, which seems likely to happen.

"Defensively, you would have loved to see how the linebackers have gone," Rivera said. "Ryan Anderson is a guy that we obviously have to find a home for. We have to find how we can use Ryan with his particular skillset."

Linebacker is crowded, too, with Jon Bostic, Cole Holcomb and Thomas Davis Sr. all in solid position to earn starting roles. If healthy, Reuben Foster would certainly be in that mix as well.

But Anderson, who shined at the end of last season to set career highs in several categories, could fit in as the team's strongside linebacker. That would allow him to rush the quarterback more and play in coverage less.

Anderson is a talented defender whose best football seems to be ahead of him. The coaching staff just needs to figure out how to utilize him.

"We're excited about him getting more opportunities," Del Rio said during a videoconference May 28. "Looking at the film, he did some nice things. So yeah, we're looking forward to getting Ryan involved."

With all the talent that you now have along the defensive front and at linebacker, how do you plan to rotate guys in and out while trying to keep everyone happy about playing time? -- Sean S.

Great question, Sean, and it's something Del Rio has already been thinking a lot about.

"You're getting right to the part that is not so comfortable," Del Rio said. "You're fired up for having all of these guys, but then they can't all go on the field at the same time. So that is part of it, like being able to deal with that aspect of it, having guys understand, 'Hey, you're not going to play all the time,' or, 'You're not the starter.'"

Del Rio, who related the situation to a star-studded basketball team with not enough balls, said competition will ultimately decide the rotation and that all of the players know that. This will ensure the best possible product when the Redskins take the field.

"We have good players in our front, guys that were well thought of coming out of the draft and they were taken high," Del Rio said. "We should expect them to be really good players for us and be a really solid foundation for us to build around, and that's how we're going to approach it."

I'm still concerned about our lack of speed in the secondary and being able to keep up with speedy receivers around the league. Have we addressed this? -- Robert P.

This is a complicated question because there's are different ways to measure the speed of defensive backs (straightaway speed, recovery speed, lateral quickness, change of direction, etc).

Since your question refers to staying with wide receivers, let's compare the straightaway speed of the defensive backs the Redskins added versus the ones they traded or released. Luckily, there's a simple way to compare: the 40-yard dash.

NEWCOMERS:

Table inside Article
Player 40-yard dash time (seconds)
Ronald Darby 4.38
Sean Davis 4.46
Kendall Fuller 4.48
Average 4.44

DEPARTURES:

Table inside Article
Player 40-yard dash time (seconds)
Montae Nicholson 4.42
Quinton Dunbar 4.44
Josh Norman 4.61
Average 4.49

As you can see, the average of the newcomers is faster than that of the departures, though Norman's 4.61-second 40-yard dash is certainly an outlier in the data.

Another factor to consider is the players who will be competing for playing time in 2020. For example, free safety Troy Apke and cornerback Fabian Moreau and could each become full-time starters this season after serving more as reserves last year. Apke ran a 4.34 at the NFL Scouting Combine, while Moreau ran a 4.35.

Taking all of this into account, it appears that the Redskins have enhanced their speed in the secondary. It remains to be seen how that will affect its success rate.

Since Washington already has Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice, Peyton Barber, J.D. Mckissic and Bryce Love at running back, would it be better if Antonio Gibson was exclusively a wide receiver his rookie season? -- Herbert M.

Just because the Redskins have several capable running backs does not mean they should strictly play Antonio Gibson at wide receiver.

Despite having five more receptions than rushing attempts in his last season at Memphis, Gibson went through the pre-draft process as a running back and is listed as one in his Redskins' player bio.

Kyle Smith, the team's vice president of player personnel, explained how Washington could use Gibson shortly after drafting him in the third round.

"Speaking with Coach Turner and how he's going to utilize him along with the other backs, it's not just like a normal running back that you're like, 'OK, here's his skillset,'" Smith said. "You can put him on the field with Adrian Peterson, with Derrius Guice, with J.D. McKissic. You can use this guy in a lot of different ways, so it opens up a lot of different options for our offense."

Gibson could turn out to be a better NFL wide receiver than running back, or vice versa, but playing him at one position limits his potential. And in listening to the coaching staff talk about Gibson, it seems like they want to get him involved in any way possible.

"He's a guy that you can look for matchups, you can create matchups and you're not necessarily always putting the ball in his hands. They have to honor him wherever he's aligned," Rivera said. "It is going to open up things for his teammates, whether they be wide receivers, tight ends or other running backs. This is a guy that is really, as Kyle said, he's a little bit of a Swiss army knife. We're excited about what his impact can be for us."

Going into the draft, I was a big fan of quarterback Steven Montez and tight end Thad Moss, so I was very happy to see the Redskins pick them up as undrafted free agents. What is the likelihood of either/both making the final roster? Or are they both more likely to be practice squad players for us? #UKRedskins -- Ben N.

The Redskins only signed four undrafted free agents, which is fewer than past years and less than other teams around the NFL.

While I don't know for sure, I think the reason for this may be because in-person offseason workouts were wiped out and the franchise only wanted to add players who had a chance to make the active roster after training camp.

Taking this into account, I think both Steven Montez and Thaddeus Moss will be with the team in Week 1. Montez has by far the easier road -- he is one of three healthy quarterbacks on the roster and is almost assured a practice squad spot if he performs well -- but I also believe Moss' blocking prowess and overall upside will help him stand out in a room of seven tight ends.

When considering if either could make the 53-man roster, I think Moss has a better shot because even if Montez wows the coaches, the Redskins will likely carry just two quarterbacks: Dwayne Haskins Jr. and Kyle Allen.

What do you think are Turner and Del Rio's biggest strengths/weaknesses and where do you see them taking this team? -- Connor W.

Turner and Del Rio were hired for vastly different reasons, but they will both be essential to building a consistent winner in Washington. I believe Turner's biggest strength is that he's spent his entire life around NFL offenses. When Turner was 3 years old, his father, Norv Turner, began his NFL coaching career as the wide receivers coach for the Los Angeles Chargers. When Turner was 11, his father became the head coach of the Redskins -- a job he held for seven years.

Turner, 37, began his own coaching career in 2005 and broke into the NFL as an offensive quality control coach for the Carolina Panthers in 2011, Rivera's first year as head coach. Turner then followed his father to Cleveland, Minnesota and back to Carolina, where he became the quarterbacks coach in 2018.

"I always just loved football ... and it didn't take me long to realize I was gonna have to stop playing at some point," Turner said shortly after being hired in January. "So the natural process was to get into coaching. As soon as I got done playing [at UNLV], I just got right into coaching."

Turner's biggest drawback is his lack of experience in his current role. Though he's entering his ninth NFL season, his only coordinating experience were the final four games of last season in Carolina. But with a young core and the trust of Rivera, Turner should be able to substantially improve the Redskins' numbers from 2019, when they ranked second-to-last in total offense and last in scoring offense.

As for Del Rio, his experience is his biggest strength. His NFL coaching career spans more than three decades and includes two stints as a defensive coordinator and two as a head coach. Before taking the Redskins job, he was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders from 2015-17.

Del Rio also has a track record of turning around defenses quickly. In 2002, he took over the league's worst defense in the Carolina Panthers and transformed it into the second-best. A decade later, the Denver Broncos went from 20th to second in his first year as defensive coordinator. He'll now try and do the same in Washington, where he takes over one of the worst defenses in terms of points allowed in 2019.

It is not easy to pinpoint a weakness for someone as accomplished as Del Rio, but I guess the absence of in-person offseason workouts will hinder his effectiveness, at least early on. But as the season goes on, the defense should begin to look more and more like the units Del Rio led in the past.

I know the focus has been getting back into normal football operations given our current situation with COVID-19, but has there been any movement to hire a GM? -- Dave H.

There has not, at least not publicly.

The last time Rivera was asked about it was on the The Kevin Sheehan Show on The Team 980 in late April. Rivera said he is not the main person in charge of making that decision, though he has praised Smith several times since Smith was promoted to vice president of player personnel in January.

"That's really not up to me," Rivera said. "That's something that Mr. Snyder and I will talk about."

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