From RG3 to Roberts, Redskins make performance-based moves
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) The most talked-about and obvious move, of course, was the benching of Robert Griffin III in favor of Kirk Cousins as the starting quarterback.
Turns out that was only the beginning of what is perceived, at least, as a whole new way of doing things around the Washington Redskins, with an emphasis on on-field accountability and merit-based decision-making.
In sum, if a player doesn’t produce, he loses his status or, perhaps, his job.
With Jay Gruden in his second season as an NFL head coach, and general manager Scot McCloughan in his first season with the team, there have been a series of moves that helped the Redskins (2-2) share first place in the NFC East heading into Sunday’s game at the Atlanta Falcons (4-0), while creating a certain vibe in the locker room.
”In a way, it does wake you up a little bit. If you’re out there busting your butt, and you’re showing in practice that you deserve to play, then they give you that shot. It does energize people, it does motivate people, especially the guys who maybe haven’t gotten a significant amount of playing time,” Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams said.
”It breeds competition. And obviously, when you’re dealing with athletes, competition brings out the best in everybody,” Williams added. ”So I believe it has a positive effect on everybody as a whole, not just those who are being affected by the (particular) situation.”
Going from Griffin to Cousins at the end of the preseason represented a shift from a QB that Gruden was never shy about criticizing last season. Which, of course, raises the question: Why was RG3 playing to begin with?
This season, it doesn’t seem to matter how highly a player was drafted or how expensive he was to acquire or how secure his spot on the roster was thought to be.
McCloughan’s initial draft pick for the Redskins, Brandon Scherff at No. 5 overall, was initially slotted as the starting right tackle. Early in training camp, he moved to guard – and it didn’t matter to the GM that folks said it didn’t make sense to have selected a guard that high.
After Week 1, Kai Forbath, whose field-goal percentage is the highest in club history, was cut. His replacement, Dustin Hopkins, is 6 for 6 on field goals and, unlike Forbath, manages to turn kickoffs into touchbacks regularly.
There have been other such decisions.
Cornerback David Amerson, a second-round draft pick under the previous Redskins regime, was let go last month. Wideout Andre Roberts, signed to a hefty free-agent contract before last season, was inactive Sunday, replaced as the starting slot receiver by rookie Jamison Crowder, a fourth-round draft pick, who responded with seven catches in Washington’s 23-20 victory over Philadelphia.
Defensive end Chris Baker got a chance to start instead of Stephen Paea, an addition by McCloughan in free agency, and had two sacks against the Eagles.
”We’ve had to make these decisions with a lot of different positions,” Gruden said. ”You try to play the best player, and I think the players understand that, and they appreciate that, and they understand that every day they have to earn the right to be a starter on this football team.
”Every game, they have to perform to keep their job. That’s the only way it can be. That’s the only way it should be in pro football – and I don’t think this is the only place that handles it like that. I think every football team, every baseball team, basketball team does the same thing.”
Notes: CB Chris Culliver missed practice again, but an MRI on his bothersome left knee showed no structural damage. ”Just some things he’s got to deal with from a pain standpoint,” Gruden said. ”I can only go by what he says.” … TE Jordan Reed (concussion) and CD DeAngelo Hall (right toe) also were out of practice; WR DeSean Jackson (left hamstring) was listed as a limited participant.
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