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Helped and Hobbled Causes: Colts

By Mark Solway | August 26th, 2012

After the Redskins impressive 30-17 dismantling of the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, Redskins coaches got a further look into how the Redskins 53-man roster is going to break down in a few weeks. Here are a few guys that either helped or hobbled their causes:

Chris Wilson – had the best game of any Washington Redskin on Saturday, at least in my opinion. After sitting out 2011 and not playing football, Wilson looks hell bent on being employed in 2012. On top of Wilson’s sack that resulted in a safety, he also had three quarterback hurries and seem to be wreaking havoc in the Colts backfield nearly every time he rushed. If he wasn’t on the fringe of people’s 53-man before Saturday, he should be there firmly now. Wilson’s raw pass rush ability is very valuable depth, especially with Brian Orakpo knicked with an injury to the same area that limited him last year.

Alfred Morris – Some of us have been saying for a few weeks that they thought Morris would make the roster – but he all but guaranteed it would happen against the Colts. It doesn’t matter if Indy’s defense isn’t all-world, when a rookie hangs up 100 in a half, you keep him – especially when 2/3 of the rest of your RB stable is either injured or recovering from injury. He played so well that if Roy Helu’s Achilles’ aren’t ‘heeled’ soon, he may find himself on the injured reserve lis for the whole year. Morris finished with 107 yards on 14 carries, and on top of that, he was much more sound in his blocking assignments. Give the sixth-round pick from Florida Atlantic his jersey.

Offensive Line – Oh what a difference a week makes. Could Chris Chester really make that much of a difference to the whole unit? It certainly seemed that way on Saturday as the offensive line not only played better, they played well. Other than a couple of late blitzes that weren’t picked up, RGIII stayed pretty clean and was protected very well (we all winced when the LB came free on the late blitz and buried Griffin). Not only did they pass protect well, but they also paved the way for Morris’ aforementioned 100 yards rushing in a half. What looked like an awful problem before the weekend, at least now looks like with a little luck on the health side, at least the first unit can be effective. Now the question becomes – can all five guys stay healthy and what happens at the next level of depth?

Tanard Jackson – got the start for the injured Brandon Meriweather, and I thought he made the best of it. His coverage was good against Indy’s top receivers, and he laid the wood a couple of times. With Madieu Williams struggling against the Colts, Jackson made a good case for himself to keep starting at safety.

Rex Grossman – 8 for 8 to a shower of boos from his home crowd. Pure class Redskins Nation. Well the boos produced a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3 and anyone who thought that Cousins was just going to be handed the back-up reins should sit down and re-evaluate. Mike Shanahan isn’t going into a season with two rookie quarterbacks as his only option, and Grossman gave the coaching staff the peace of mind of knowing that he deserves the slot until Cousins is much more ready than he likely is right now – REGARDLESS of what happens in the last preseason game.

Also mentions: Dez Briscoe / Markus White

Also worth mentioning is that there were no significant injuries to report – that’s real good!


Madieu Williams – burnt several times, including on the T.Y. Hilton 31-yard touchdown from Andrew Luck. In light of Jackson’s aforementioned performance, Williams slid to third on the depth chart if based solely on Saturday’s performances. He will have a chance to redeem himself in the last preseason game, but if he can’t, I expect Jackson and Meriweather to be the two opening day starters.

Anthony Armstrong – One catch. When you’re on the bubble and just coming off weeks of inactivity before cuts, this just isn’t enough. Aldrick Robinson lit it up last week, and that put a really strong onus on AAA to come up big for the rest of the preseason. After Saturday, half of his opportunity to show something is gone, and he didn’t show anywhere near enough to warrant a roster slot for himself.

Brandon Banks – But he wasn’t given any opportunities you say? Exactly. They want him to make the team as a receiver but aren’t giving him a lot of reps to do so. That should tell you something. Banks is an amazing special teams talent, but it is 99% likely that he will be employing those skills elsewhere in 2012. The Redskins are too deep this year, to throw away roster slots, and having to keep three quarterbacks on the roster, will virtually guarantee BB’s release.

Tristan Davis – 6 carries for 9 yards when you’re trying to crack a roster? Any NFL roster? Not going to cut it. Unfortunately for the young man, opportunity blown.

Logan Paulsen – Zero catches. Paulsen didn’t do anything wrong, but in a dog fight at tight end, and with only two more opportunities to earn your spot, it’s tough not to point out the bagel on the scoresheet. Chris Cooley and Fred Davis both had catches and with Cooley additionally backing up the injured Darrel Young at fullback, Paulsen is really on the hot seat in my opinion. And it brings up a related rant…

For some reason there is a new faction of Cooley haters that think he can’t stay and that his skills have diminished; but I think he will stay. His skills may very well have waned slightly through age and injury, but he’s still way too valuable even as depth, to give up. We aren’t in need of finding any new cap money because there aren’t any ‘money players’ to sign in August anyway.

Fred Davis couldn’t block a twitter follower, let alone an NFL would-be tackler, and he’s a joint away from a one-year suspension. I don’t care how over-emotional Redskins Nation wants to get over Cooley, you can’t go into a season with Davis as your only option on the roster. Niles Paul isn’t ready to be an every down tight end yet IMO, and Paulsen isn’t anywhere near the option that Cooley is at tight end anyway. Don’t try tell me that he blocks better either – please stop – he doesn’t. Just because he’s bigger, doesn’t mean that he blocks well – he actually doesn’t block any better than Cooley, and blocking better than Davis is a foregone conclusion.

Despite the CONJURED controversy, the facts of the matter are:

Fred Davis is our most dangerous receiving tight end on the roster. Cooley is likely second, but I will concede that if Paul can continue to learn the position, he will definitely soon move into this slot. For now, Cooley is second, Paul is third and Paulsen fourth. And Cooley is still tougher underneath than Davis is – a nice outlet for a rookie quarterback like RGIII.

As for blocking, Cooley is the best of the four listed. I think Paul is already second best in this regard and will move ahead of Cooley in this regard as well if he continues to learn the position. Paulsen third. Davis fourth.

Money. Cooley is 6.2M, Davis is 5.4M, Paul is 510k and Paulsen is 490k. Cooley can be re-worked and keep in mind that the Redskins don’t need to save any cap money for anything as all players are under contract, they have cap space, and there is nobody available or coming available, that would require a big cap allocation in 2012. So other than it rubbing the peanut gallery the wrong way that maybe the pay isn’t commensurate with the duty, Cooley making 6M in 2012 really is a complete non-factor. In fact, cutting Cooley loose now would likely cost money NEXT year when the Redskins are still cap penalized, and that might be even worse than eating it this year.

If the Redskins wanted the cap money and were thinking of getting rid of him, why wouldn’t they do it when he had an opportunity to catch on elsewhere and more importantly, when the money could have been used elsewhere. They didn’t.

Why even bother mentioning that the Redskins only fullback on the roster hasn’t played yet because of a hamstring injury, and Cooley has been the one seeing time at fullback?

It’s my opinion that Chris Cooley will not only be a Redskin in 2012, but play a valuable role.

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2 Responses to “Helped and Hobbled Causes: Colts”

  1. Hey Mark… enjoyed your blog. I pretty much agree with your thoughts and observations, especially regarding Banks, Cooley and the TE competition. I agree Cooley is still extremely valuable to the organization and that Paulsen may be the one on the bubble. And although he may not be fully there yet, I believe Niles Paul is coming along with his transition to TE. Niles is a versatile player and is also hugely valuable on special teams as well, both on punt coverage and as a punt/kickoff returner, as evidenced in the Colts game. Paul was a celebrated and honored punt and kickoff return specialist at Nebraska and has the speed and size to break off long returns. This is why I agree with you that Davis, Cooley and Paul should be locks at TE. With a 53-man roster, versatility is huge, and is something a one-dimensional player such as Banks can’t offer. Cooley is still valuable as a TE, but is also valuable as a back-up FB, and playing the h-back position to present a more diverse offensive attack. With regard to the return game, there are other versatile and multifaceted players who can contribute both on offense/defense and on special teams. For example, we’ve seen the coaches use Moss, Paul, Crawford and Robinson in the return game during games, and even Hall in practices. I believe with the limited roster spots available, the coaches are looking for the value of versatility from certain players. Banks has a 0% chance of making this team as a WR, and with others able to contribute in multiple areas including special teams, I agree Banks may be employing his return skills elsewhere in 2012. Anyways, enjoyed it… thanks for the read.

  2. Cheers, and I agree with everything you said. 😀