WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — The Redskins want a quarterback. They need a quarterback. If that player is on the roster already then that is for the best, but he might not be.
Still, new general manager Scot McCloughan has preached patience with quarterback Robert Griffin III. He hasn’t sounded like an executive ready to cut ties with a former No. 2 overall draft pick.
But it’s also clear Griffin has much to work on before next season and that a decision on his 2016 option is upcoming in May, that Colt McCoy is a free agent and that Kirk Cousins has turnover issues.
So McCloughan has also emphasized a prudent shift in philosophy when it comes to building a roster: Surround whomever the next Redskins quarterback is with enough talent that he won’t have to carry the team.
How do you go about doing that?
“The core of your team is built from 5 to 35,” McCloughan said during his introductory press conference last Friday. “Those are the guys that are passionate, intelligent, consistent, competitive as all get out and all they want to do is win.”
McCloughan emphasized size. Football is a big man’s game, after all. Size on the offensive line for a power running game that can help win bad-weather games in January and size at cornerback, where physicality is vital in a pass-happy league. But a front office also must be smart enough to know when to toss aside its metrics and preferences.
As an executive in Seattle, McCloughan recommended the Seahawks draft 5-foot-10 quarterback Russell Wilson even though he didn’t fit the position’s prototype. He had the elusive “it” factor. In his case, performance and leadership trumped his height.
But threading that needle between preference and performance is the hard part. That’s where communication in a front office and with a coaching staff becomes paramount.
“I’ve been around Mike Holmgren to Mike Nolan to Mike Singletary to Pete Carroll. When we’ve had success it’s communication on a daily basis,” McCloughan said. “It’s not about one individual it’s the sum of the parts and that’s not just dealing with [Redskins coach] Jay [Gruden], but dealing with coordinators, dealing with position coaches and sitting with [team president] Bruce [Allen] and talking contract wise and all that.”
“It’s a whole process that takes time, but the one thing I do know and the one thing I’m going to strive for is communication on a daily basis, what we can do to make this organization stronger. There will be disagreements and that’s part of it.
“But there’s enough people in this building with enough backbone to say ‘Let’s watch some more tape. I see this. You don’t see that. Let’s do it because that’s what we’re here to do.’”
That same nuance applies to free agency. McCloughan learned from longtime NFL executives Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson that you can’t build a team through free agency alone.
There is too much you don’t know about a player: His medical issues, his personality. Handing out big contracts to players in their early 30s is a recipe for disaster.
The Redskins did exactly that last season with defensive end Jason Hatcher, who performed well early in the year, but who needed knee surgery in the summer and struggled just to stay on the field after September, let alone play at a high level.
But a front office still has to pick and choose its spots to compensate for missed draft picks and when a team is ready to contend a key free agent can push it over the top.
“I honestly think the draft is the lifeline of your organization. But also, you’ve got to understand, with free agency that’s a tool that you can use and you can use it in a positive manner,” McCloughan said.
“I think the best-case scenario is you draft and mold your own and re-sign your own. But free agency is still there to be used to make a roster stronger, too. You can’t lose sight of that.”