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Posted at 09:10 PM ET, 01/27/2015

Redskins add Mike Clark as strength and conditioning coach

The Washington Redskins have hired Mike Clark, the former strength and conditioning coordinator for the Chicago Bears, as their head strength and conditioning coach.

Washington’s front office confirmed Clark’s addition to the staff Tuesday night while making official the hiring of former New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell as its defensive backs coach.

Clark was on the Bears staff from 2013-14 and previously served as the strength and conditioning coach for the Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks. He replaces Ray Wright, who was not retained following a 4-12 season in which 13 players ended the year on injured reserve, including several key starters. Wright was in his fifth year in the job and was well respected by players.

Before entering the NFL, Clark spent 23 seasons in the college ranks, including 14 seasons at Texas A&M from 1990-2003. He was twice named Strength Coach of the Year, in 1993 and 2000, by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association.

Fewell, 52, is familiar to Washington’s front office, having interviewed last season for the head coaching job that went to Jay Gruden.

A native of Gastonia, N.C., Fewell boasts nine years of experience as a NFL defensive coordinator with the Buffalo Bills (2006-2009) and the Giants, who hired him in 2010. In 2009 he served as the Bills’ interim head coach for seven games.

While he was in charge for the Giants’ 2011 Super Bowl championship season, his defenses struggled in recent years.

The Giants defense allowed 375.8 yards per game this season — 29th in the NFL — en route to a 6-10 record. Washington’s defense, under former defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, was 20th, allowing 357.0 yards per game.

Before rising to the ranks of defensive coordinator, Fewell coached defensive backs for Jacksonville (under current Giants Coach Tom Coughlin), St. Louis and Chicago. He also spent 13 years in the college ranks, with stops at North Carolina, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Kent State and Vanderbilt.

By  |  09:10 PM ET, 01/27/2015 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 03:09 PM ET, 01/27/2015

Redskins hire Perry Fewell to coach defensive backs

Former New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has agreed to join the Washington Redskins’ coaching staff, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Fewell will serve as the Redskins’ defensive backs coach, according to that person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced by the team.

He replaces Raheem Morris, who left for a job on the Atlanta Falcons’ coaching staff.

Fewell reportedly also had interviewed with the San Francisco 49ers.

He was fired by the Giants following the just-concluded season. Fewell is a former defensive coordinator and interim head coach with the Buffalo Bills.

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Follow:  @MikeJonesWaPo | @lizclarketweet | @JReidPost | @Insider

By  |  03:09 PM ET, 01/27/2015 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Perry Fewell

Posted at 01:40 PM ET, 01/27/2015

Which interior linemen should the Redskins bring back next season?

With defensive coordinator news and the Senior Bowl, it’s been a while since we highlighted a particular position and asked Insider readers who should be back. Mark Bullock reviewed the interior linemen’s play back on Jan. 14.

Most folks who follow Washington would agree that there’s no one irreplaceable here, and many would only want center Kory Lichtensteiger back next season. But the question is rarely as simple as ‘bring back this guy, let this guy go.’ For every starter jettisoned, there needs to be a replacement. Money is always a factor, and players who are making a lot and aren’t delivering are among the first to go.

According to overthecap.com, Washington could save $4 million by releasing guard Chris Chester, $2.65 by letting Lichtensteiger go and $1 million by cutting Shawn Lauvao. But saving that $7.65 million would create more than $5 million in dead money, which is bonus money that has already been paid out, but hasn’t been counted against the salary cap yet. Normally teams spread a signing bonus over the length of a contract; when players are cut, the remaining balance immediately hits the cap. That money that counts against this year’s cap but the team is getting nothing for it, so it’s wise to limit it. So while Chester could be cut for $800,000 in dead money (currently, for 16 past bonuses, Washington has accumulated only $1.05 million in dead money), cutting Lichtensteiger would create $1.65 million in dead money and Lauvao $3 million.

And then Washington would still need starters at both guard spots and center.

More than likely, Lichtensteiger will keep his job. The team might be more or less stuck with Lauvao, who didn’t stand out in 2014 but is expensive to cut. Spencer Long could be given a chance to win Chester’s job; Free agents or 2015 draft picks could be part of the mix too.

Certainly, an improved line would increase the team’s chances of improving its shaky quarterback play.

Below, Liz Clarke weighs in on which players will be back next season; In the poll, you can weigh in as well. (Here are the poll results from when we did safeties and cornerbacks)

player contract status Liz Clarke’s analysis
Kory Lichtensteiger Signed through 2017 The former guard did yeoman’s work in his new role at center, starting all 16 games, and should only improve with more time to develop a rapport with a stable, starting quarterback.
Chris Chester Signed through 2015 The veteran right guard, who turns 32 on Jan. 12 and counts $4.8 million against the cap, is a prime candidate for being cut with one year remaining on his contract.
Shawn Lauvao Signed through 2017 Signed as a free agent, the left guard didn’t have the impact team officials had hoped and could be cut from a unit that needs upgrading.
Spencer Long Signed through 2017 The third-round pick from Nebraska was used only sparingly, spending most of his rookie season on the inactive list, but will return for Year 2 given the investment in his development.
Josh LeRibeus Signed through 2015 A third-round draft pick in 2012, LeRibeus has never established himself as anything more than a backup lineman and will likely be cut.

Your turn:

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Follow:  @MikeJonesWaPo | @lizclarketweet | @JReidPost | @Insider

By and  |  01:40 PM ET, 01/27/2015 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Chris Chester, josh leribeus, Kory Lichtensteiger, Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long

Posted at 09:33 AM ET, 01/27/2015

Why is Alfred Morris a more productive receiver in the Pro Bowl?


In three seasons, Alfred Morris has never caught more than three passes in a regular season game. The Redskins workhorse has never had more than 36 receiving yards in a single contest before January.

But in two Pro Bowls, Morris has registered four catches for 29 yards and four catches for 69 yards, respectively, which begs the question: Why isn’t Alfred Morris having that kind of production in the passing game during the regular season?

Is it because of the Pro Bowl format? Throwing a bunch of all-stars together with a week of lackadaisical practices and meet-and-greets produces a pared-down offense, so Morris might run more checkdowns than he would in the Redskins’ scheme.

Is it because Washington passers don’t trust him to catch the ball? Morris has often talked about improving his receiving skills, and it’s not a slight to say he’s the third best pass-catcher in the team’s backfield with Roy Helu Jr. and fullback Darrel Young combing for seven scoring receptions in the past two years. The Redskins have the luxury of giving Morris a blow if they want to feature a back in in the passing game.

Is it the quarterback’s fault? In his Pro Bowl appearances, Morris caught four throws from Cam Newton, three from Andy Dalton and one from Drew Brees. Robert Griffin III has drawn criticism for failing to get to his second and third reads and locking in on primary targets.

This is likely a non-issue, but it does make you wonder. Why is Alfred Morris a more productive receiver in the Pro Bowl?

Opening Kick engages regular readers with a morning conversation starter, quick observation or poll. Click here for previous installments.

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By  |  09:33 AM ET, 01/27/2015 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Alfred Morris

Posted at 12:05 PM ET, 01/26/2015

Raheem Morris is joining Atlanta Falcons coaching staff

Washington’s defensive staff has lost another key member, with defensive backs coach Raheem Morris accepting a larger role with the Atlanta Falcons, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The move, which will make Morris assistant head coach and director of Atlanta’s pass defense, will reunite Morris with the Falcons’ incoming head coach Dan Quinn, who’ll complete his duties as Seattle’s defensive coordinator in Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Morris had played for Quinn during his collegiate career at Hofstra.

Morris is the third member of Washington’s defensive staff to depart since former San Diego linebackers coach Joe Barry was hired Jan. 20 to succeed Jim Haslett as the team’s defensive coordinator.

Outside linebackers coach Brian Baker, who helped Ryan Kerrigan to a career-high 13.5 sacks, was informed soon after Barry’s arrival that he would not be retained. Defensive line coach Jacob Burney was also let go. That leaves inside linebackers Coach Kirk Olivadotti as the lone holdover from Haslett’s staff.

After Haslett parted ways with Washington, Morris was among seven candidates to interview for the defensive coordinator’s job. Morris also interview for the defensive coordinator job with the New York Giants.

While Morris had hired Barry as a member of his own staff when he was head coach at Tampa Bay, the opportunity at Atlanta represents a step up, conveying more responsibility and input into the defense.

Washington’s secondary was a weakness of the team throughout the 4-12 season, but personnel issues were largely to blame. The corps of cornerbacks and safeties was hard hit by injuries and from the outset, relied heavily on aging veterans and unseasoned youth.

Quinn is expected to call Atlanta’s defensive plays, but Morris is expected to have responsibility beyond the defensive backs.

In addition to Morris reuniting with Quinn, former Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is expected to have the same role on Quinn’s staff.

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By and  |  12:05 PM ET, 01/26/2015 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Raheem Morris

 

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