News | Washington Commanders -

#HailMail: Addressing the RB Situation, Draft Options And More


With the Redskins in the midst of an internal evaluation, fans have questions about free agency, the draft and the 2020 campaign. Here's what Redskins nation wants to know:

Are the seriously going into next season with the same running back corps? -- @SouthBeachDad

A lot could change between now and minicamp in June, but as of now the Redskins' top 2 running backs will likely be the same.

Derrius Guice will definitely be back, while Adrian Peterson has a second-year option that the Redskins will probably pick up before the March 18 deadline.

Perhaps the biggest difference will be who handles third-down responsibilities. Chris Thompson has assumed that role since being drafted in 2013, but he's set to become a free agent in a few months. The Redskins will also welcome back 2018 fourth-round pick Bryce Love, who missed his entire rookie campaign because of a knee injury but was a Heisman Trophy finalist at Stanford two years ago.

Christian McCaffrey and Bryce Love are similar running backs and both had success at Stanford. As much as McCaffrey was used in the Panthers' offense, I would suspect there are some high hopes riding on Love to do some similar things in Washington. My question is how will the Redskins use Bryce Love? Is he viewed as a situational player like Chris Thompson, or are there hopes he could become part of an "every down" rotation with Guice and Peterson? -- Troy L.

A complimentary role seems more likely, especially early on in Love's career. If any Redskins running back turned into an every-down workhorse, it would probably be Guice based on what he's shown in limited action during his first two NFL seasons. Running backs coach Randy Jordan is in agreement.

"He has the hands. Now part of that is learning protections, understanding where safeties and nickels rotate and being able to break a defender down like a [Christian McCaffrey], Marshall Faulk type," Jordan said during a Q&A about Guice in December. "He has the potential, but he has to work at it. He has all that at his disposal. I think the thing is that he has elite traits, but it takes work for him to get to that."

That being said, Jordan was visibly excited when asked about Love on "The Rundown" on Wednesday. Love is a sizable back, Jordan noted, with the ability to bounce around the outside or wedge himself between the tackles. He has good speed, vision and balance, which combined with a humble nature and an "incredible" work ethic make for an intriguing young player.

"The thing I love about him, he's smart. I like smart guys. It's OK to be smart," Jordan said. "He's been in all the meetings, he knows how we operate in that room, so it should be an easy transition in terms of going from the classroom onto the grass."

Where are we with signing Brandon Scherff long term? -- Mike C.

Nothing has been said publicly about the matter, but that's understandable considering the Redskins coaching staff began fully evaluating the roster on Monday.

Head coach Ron Rivera has talked at length about needing to "set the core," which means identifying key playmakers to build around. And upon watching film of Scherff, they'll likely consider him as one of those players.

The bigger question is Scherff's price tag. He just made his third Pro Bowl, and is regarded as one of the best guards in the NFL, so he's going to expect a big contract. He may want to test the open market to maximize his value.

As of now, though, he's still under contract with the Redskins and will be until the new league year ends on March 18 at 4 p.m. Rivera and company will have the first crack at getting Scherff to return to the burgundy and gold.

Can you speak to how Ryan Kerrigan fits into the team moving forward? -- Dave J.

It remains to be seen what will happen to Kerrigan before the start of the 2020 campaign.

Kerrigan is under contract until 2021, so if the new staff wants him he'll be back. And there are reasons to still be excited about the 31-year-old. He's been the Redskins' best pass rusher since the turn of the century and currently sits 1.5 sacks away from breaking the franchise record. He's also a respected veteran leader who has been a consummate pro since being drafted in 2011.

But if the Redskins use their No. 2 draft pick on edge rusher Chase Young -- a move many draft experts expect to happen -- they could line up Young and 2018 first-round pick Montez Sweat on the outside. In that case, Kerrigan may be too expensive to keep as a reserve.

Would it be better if we have a veteran quarterback like Phillip Rivers to lead the team? -- Ren P

The Redskins will most likely add a veteran quarterback in free agency, but it remains to be seen if that signal-caller competes for the starting job or is just a backup.

During Super Bowl week in Miami, Rivera said the team does not have a concrete answer at quarterback but has two options, which, based on his previous conversations, are presumably Dwayne Haskins and Alex Smith.

However, Smith is still recovering from a gruesome leg injury and does not have a definite timetable to return. He said that "without a doubt" he plans to play in 2020, but that remains to be seen.

Whether the Redskins pursue a veteran starter in free agency will largely depend on their evaluation of Haskins. If he keeps the starting job, they'll be looking for reserve options such as Case Keenum and Colt McCoy, who are both set to become free agents.

If they determine Haskins is not the answer, then free agency is the first place they'd look before contemplating taking another signal-caller in the draft.

But even if the Redskins are looking for a veteran starter, Rivers does not seem like a good fit. At 38 years old, he's surely looking to join a contender. And while the Redskins are hopeful for the 2020 campaign, they are more focused on establishing a consistent winner rather than just "winning now."

Do you believe that by bringing almost the entire Carolina coaching staff to Washington D.C., they are going to win the Super Bowl? Are these people going to be necessary to the team? -- Shenica M.

Rivera wants to win the Super Bowl more than anything. In his opinion, it's the only reason you become an NFL head coach.

Rivera also believes the best chance to accomplish that goal was to bring in people he has worked with. So yes, each former Panthers coach will be necessary in turning the Redskins around.

"Those are guys that know how I want it done," Rivera said during Super Bowl week in Miami. "That's the most important thing. They know how we need to do it to give ourselves a chance. I know the last two weren't the years that we wanted, but there are reasons we couldn't control in terms of the injuries. But again, they understand what I want more so than anything else."

Familiarity also was not the only determinant during Rivera's coaching search. Those he hired from Carolina had immense success with their respective position groups, and he expects more of the same with the Redskins.

I know everyone is thinking Cincinnati will pick a QB, but what if they pick Chase Young. What do the Redskins do then? With all the talk about how good Chase can be, Cincinnati may think, 'Hey, we need him and let Dalton play another year and then draft their QB.' -- Gale H.

Every mock draft has Cincinnati drafting LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, but for this mailbag we'll entertain the possibility.

Should the Bengals take Chase Young, who nearly everyone expects to go to Washington, the Redskins would most likely trade back a few spots to acquire more draft capital.

Aside from Burrow or Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, every other player the Redskins would want would be available at the fourth or fifth position.

Chase Young may be the best player in the draft, but our front seven is full of young talent already. How are we gonna bolster up the secondary? -- Henoch K.

Well, Okudah is definitely an option. The Redskins could also address the issue in the later rounds of the draft.

The most-likely scenario, though, is that they bolster the secondary in free agency. Possible additions include free safeties Anthony Harris and Justin Simmons and cornerbacks Byron Jones and Chris Harris. A pair of Panthers, corner James Bradberry and safety Tre Boston, will also hit the open market.

I've been a loyal Skins fan since the 1970s, and for the last two decades I feel the team lacks an identity. What's the focus, have a great offense or defense? Maybe just stay mediocre at both? -- Trenton G.

First off, both the offense and defense will likely be much improved in 2020. There's too much talent, both on the field and along the sidelines, not to.

As for finding an identity, that will extend far beyond the sides of the football. In his introductory press conference, Rivera said this franchise will be built on accountability, physicality and discipline. He's hellbent on creating a sustainable, winning culture that requires the entire organization to buy in.

Once everyone is on the same page, they'll shift their focus to personnel and game plan around their strengths. There are a multitude of ways to win in the NFL, and that could change by the day, week or year depending on circumstances. However, philosophies and principles must be consistent throughout.

Do you guys think the Redskins have a chance to win the division and host a playoff game by adding a few pieces here and there? -- Chris T.

There's always the possibility of a massive turnaround. Just look at the San Francisco 49ers; after going 4-12 in 2018, they earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC and made the Super Bowl.

The Redskins have a lot of young talent who played significantly last season, which will only benefit them under the new coaching staff. But going from 3-13 to winning the division seems will be difficult to do, even if they do add playmakers at key positions. 2021 NFC East champions seems much more realistic.

Related Content