Welcome to Hail Mail, Week 11, where Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman answers your questions ahead of the division battle with the Philadelphia Eagles at the Linc. Need an answer? Tweet @Redskins, #HailMail.
What do you want to know?
Question: @Redskins #HailMail what's the pulse in the locker room? Is it tension and the feeling of giving up or is there a bonding forming?
--Brad Jones, (@skitamax)
Answer: The true answer to your question will not be revealed until Sunday afternoon, but I can certainly tell you what I've observed.
The postgame locker room after the game in Minnesota was one of the most dejected, disappointed locker rooms I've ever attended. It wasn't the glass half-full approach that the team had taken all season. It was a fall-from-ahead loss to one of the worst teams in football and everyone knew it.
The plane ride back to Dulles was somber. Not funeral progression, but definitely a time for reflection. Guys were physically worn out after playing two physical games in four days and it was a late night with a bad result.
But over the next 24 hours, as players retreated to their fortresses of solitude for a long weekend, the attitude changed. By the time the team reconvened on Monday, the fallout from the loss had been put on the back burner. Not forgotten, but no longer the focus.
I wrote an article earlier this season, perhaps prematurely, wondering if this was a team that thrived off adversity. At the time, the Redskins could not have imagined they would fall to 3-6, but they were already putting together a storyline similar to last year.
Some teams are built to win always, and in time, the Washington Redskins may be counted among them. Some teams are fast starters, like the New York Giants from last season and the Kansas City Chiefs this season.
Some teams are built to succeed when most other teams are fading down the stretch. The Redskins got stronger with time last year, finishing with the most punishing performance of the season over Dallas in Week 17.
Adversity is a polarizing force that either pulls together or rips apart. This is a team that is built to pull together.
Question: #HailMail in terms of W-L record, we are in the same place where we were last year. Do you think the Skins can pull it off last year again?
--Jonathan Lipata, (@J_Lipatz)
Speaking frankly, I was a doubter last year after watching the Redskins lose to the Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers in rather humbling fashion headed into the bye week.
Going into the Week 11 contest against the Philadelphia Eagles, the New York Giants were red hot, the Dallas Cowboys were in the mix and the Washington Redskins still had five division matchups and the Baltimore Ravens on the schedule.
Possible, but not likely to run the table. And I was wrong.
So I stand before you a reformed man, one that believes that this team is built for long odds. Some teams and some players don't perform particularly well in the spotlight, and that may have been one of many factors in the team unraveling in the playoffs last year (besides the knee).
If that is the case, this team can officially count themselves out of the spotlight. Time to shine.
As a fan, you can never count on any team winning seven games in a row every year, but if there's a team that knows how, it is this one. They have the mentality, they have the history and they certainly have the talent to get the job done.
Everyone has talked the good talk this week, but the critical approach it to take everything one game at a time, one snap at a time. Minimize the big picture and focus on the minute details. If they can go 4-6 this week, then anything is possible.
As a side note, I don't think it will take a 10-6 record to win the NFC East this season. There are not likely to be any wild card teams out of the NFC East this year, but look for 9-7 to likely get it done.
Question: #HailMail why did we release pat white,devry Henderson and the o line pasto and true blood
Answer: Various reasons, but the results likely speak for themselves.
The Redskins have been successful taking flyers on undervalued veteran free agents in recent years, picking up the likes of Nick Barnett, Bryan Kehl, Tyler Polumbus and Brandon Meriweather in recent years. Each has made a profound impact that exceeds the value of their contracts.
But that's not to say that every tryout or signing is destined to work out. Just as the Redskins took unsuccessful flyers on Ryan Grant, Donte Stallworth and Tashard Choice in recent years, not every signing is a homerun.
Devery Henderson is a very accomplished receiver and technically still leads all active receivers in yards per reception. But he's a 10-year veteran whose best route has always been the deep ball, a skill with which the Redskins are stocked. He doesn't factor into the team's long-term plans, so unless he is a significant upgrade, he would be blocking the development of guys like Aldrick Robinson.
Combine that with the fact that Henderson showed up to training camp out of shape and dealt with the passing of his grandfather and Henderson wasn't going to be an impact player.
Tony Pashos and Jeremy Trueblood were signed before the team re-signed Polumbus, as both insurance and comeptition. If you remember, Trueblood lost his starting right tackle position in Tampa Bay in 2012, but had a relationship with Bruce Allen and Raheem Morris that landed him an opportunity here. Pashos was an accomplished right tackle in the mid-2000s, but was out of organized football in 2012.
Neither one of these guys got up to speed in the system and neither was a necessary piece after Polumbus re-signed.
Pat White is an interesting case because of the nature of his position and the fact that he played so well in the preseason. Clearly the coaching staff loved his talent, as he made the initial cut to be the team's fourth quarterback. That's unheard of in today's NFL, and was unlikely to last past the team's first need or injury.
Cutting White was not an indictment on his play, but rather a reflection of the team's situation at quarterback. By this point in the season, no one is questioning the return of Robert Griffin III to form, and Kirk Cousins has been his backup since Day 1. If necessary, the team has Rex Grossman, a player-coach with five years in the system as opposed to White's five months.
Given the team's salary cap constraints, keeping veterans around for the veteran minimum is still more expensive than giving a few youngsters a chance. None of these players had a chance to be impact players, so unfortunately there was no room for them to stay.
Question: @redskins why isn't RGIII running more on the read-option as much as he did last year? Is he just not 100% ready to do that yet? #Hailmail
Answer: I would argue that the Redskins aren't running that many fewer read-option plays this year. Rather, it's more to do with matchups.
Last year was the year of the read-option, as NFL defenses were unprepared for the successful proliferation of the system from Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick and others. But the offseason provided an opportunity for defenses to even the playing field.
Combine that with the physical recovery and NFL development of Griffin III and it has been a process working it back into the offense. Even at its height last year, the Redskins only ran the read-option on 12-15 plays per game and chose situations in which it was advantageous.
Kyle Shanahan is committed to exposing what the opposing defense chooses not to defend. If a given team commits to stopping the read-option, who are the Redskins to disagee? They will mix it in where they can, but ultimately will rely on other facets of the playbook.
With that being said, Griffin III is showing signs of increased comfort each week, leading to a more aggressive gameplan and more creative playbook. As the Redskins have little to lose in the next seven games, look for the offense and defense to get reasonably more aggressive as they did last season.