Mailbag: Trade possibilities, safeties and defensive packages

Jairus Byrd, Brandon Bolden

Jairus Byrd, a safety drafted with the 42nd pick in 2009, has been a two-time Pro Bowler for Buffalo. (Gary Wiepert/Associated Press)

The Redskins are back from their bye, and we’re back with another edition of The Mailbag.

Thanks again for taking part, and as always, send your questions to me via e-mail – mike.jones@washpost.com – by next Tuesday morning, and I’ll tackle as many as possible.

We’ve got a wide range of topics in today’s bag with everything from safety prospects, to punter Sav Rocca, to defensive packages and injured players, to Robert Griffin III (of course) and Tanard Jackson (of course, again).

Here we go …

What do you think it would take for the Bills to trade Jairus Byrd? I know the Redskins don’t have a ton of picks to trade but do they have enough to make a play for Byrd, who could step in and start (when he’s healthy/ready)? He is a difference-maker and the Redskins don’t really have many of those in the secondary (if any at all).

– Jay Rotell

There have been reports about the Bills being open to entertaining talks regarding trading the disgruntled Byrd away. (He’s reportedly unhappy because he hasn’t been able to work out a contract extension with the team). But so far, there hasn’t been any public discussion regarding what the Bills want in return for the two-time Pro Bowl safety. A person with knowledge of the situation said that the Redskins have not expressed any interest in acquiring Byrd, however. It should be noted that Byrd has yet to play this season because of plantar fasciitis.

Each week most NFL teams work out a variety of free agents but the Redskins haven’t at least publicly brought in punters to audition. Sav Rocca is 30th or worse in nearly every measurable stat in the kicking game. Why the loyalty to a guy who can no longer flip the field? And why no interest in return guys like free agent Josh Cribbs? 

– Steve Kistulentz

Rocca does rank last in the league with an average of 41.1 yards per punt and 30th with a net of 37.0 yards per attempt. But the Redskins still see him as a solid punter. Not all of his numbers – or those of the punt coverage unit – are poor. Rocca he does have a 63-yard punt this season (10th longest this season). And, he has eight fair catches (which ranks fifth in the league) and only six of his punts have been returned (tied for fifth). The Redskins’ punt coverage unit has allowed a total of 44 punt return yards (7.3 average), which ranks among the top 10. Those numbers probably matter the most to the Redskins. On Cribbs, the Redskins haven’t expressed interest in him. He is coming off of injury, remember. He had signed with the Raiders this offseason, but wasn’t able to overcome a knee injury. He remains unsigned.

The “speed package” we heard a decent amount about in the preseason with Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo, Brandon Jenkins and (now off suspension) Rob Jackson all on the field together: Is this something that you have heard anything further about recently? Is Haslett thinking of using this or was it just an idea he bandied about but never really intended on using come real games?

– Josh Porter

For now, the Redskins seem to have gone away from that package, which at times even had Darryl Tapp on the field along with Kerrigan, Orakpo and Jenkins as well as inside linebackers London Fletcher and Perry Riley Jr. Although that six-linebacker package puts all of the team’s top pass-rushers on the field. The problem with that package was it also meant that the Redskins were without their top run-stoppers. Washington, in its first two games – which was when we saw that package, gave up an average of 201 rushing yards per outing. Jim Haslett has instead gone with his base package (three defensive linemen, two outside linebackers, two inside linebackers), and the Redskins have had much better success against the run, limiting the Lions and Raiders to an average of 83.5 rushing yards per game. I still think there could be times where Haslett breaks the package out for a different look, but for right now, he realizes that his defense isn’t at its best in this look for extended stretches.

So, with two people returning to the team from suspension; what kind of roster moves eventually will be made? Also at what point do we just cut players like Adam Carriker and Tanard Jackson? They both want to get back out there and play, but Jackson will probably never play again and Carriker is not progressing quick enough to be beneficial. Will Phillip Thomas be a player that will be a Meriweather-type of player once he is healthy?

– Benjamin Fry

Washington’s coaches and players have a lot of respect for Carriker and his work ethic. They could’ve cut him already, but instead, team officials want to give him a chance. He’s working hard, but we’ll see if it’s this season or next season that he comes back. At this point, although 12 weeks remain, it seems rather bleak that he will have fully recovered in time to make contributions after not playing in more than a year. The Redskins aren’t sitting on the edge of their seats waiting to see what will happen with Tanard Jackson like their fans are. Coaches tell me they rarely think about him. Haslett said the main time he thinks about Jackson is when he’s asked about the suspended safety’s status. Because he’s still on the suspended list and not reinstated, he’s not costing the Redskins anything. It’s still hard to say what kind of player Thomas will develop into once healthy. Based on his college tape and action in practices before his season-ending foot injury, he was a big hitter, smart and instinctive. He isn’t as strong in downfield coverage, but coaches believe he is smart enough and athletic enough to grow into the complete package.

We all know the league has done nothing in the Tanard Jackson case. How does that response compare to the response to other players similarly suspended in the past? That is, is it normal for Goodell to ignore reinstatement requests like he’s done in this case? Has the players’ union done anything about it? Are the players union’s actions (or inactions) typical? How has the union supported other suspended players before? I know it’s a long shot that he’d be able to help, but given the crappy play of our secondary, I’d love to see if Jackson could help.

  – Walter Crain

This definitely isn’t the first time a player has had to wait a while to learn his fate. Remember, the league suspended Jackson “indefinitely.” The ruling at the time was that he wasn’t eligible to apply for reinstatement until after a year. But that didn’t mean he would get the green light then. The last time Jackson was suspended indefinitely, it wound up being a year and four more games. In the case of a player that seems unable to learn his lesson, Goodell certainly is in no hurry to make a ruling.

Say the Cowboys cut someone at the last roster cutdown of the preseason. Can the Redskins hire this guy for $10,000 for one week to give them advice on schemes or codes? Not that I hate the Cowboys, but I might chip in for that.

– Albert O.

There have been times when a team will sign a player that was recently cut by an upcoming opponent. The Redskins did that with Tashard Choice year before last a couple weeks before they faced Dallas. He was active for only one game – against Dallas – and was cut after that. Now, there’s no way of knowing if that’s the only reason why the team signed Choice. The Redskins were indeed looking for running back help with Tim Hightower injured. But Choice that week did say he was ready to share whatever knowledge he had. For the most part, however, coaches have a good understanding of their upcoming opponents’ concepts and philosophies after spending hours upon hours on video study.

I have noticed that the Redskins are keeping safety Jose Gumbs on the inactive list. I took a large interest in him in preseason specifically because of his physical play and ability to tackle, and was hoping to see him make the roster. Do you think there is any chance he will see any playing time this year especially with how mediocre the tackling and secondary has been? I feel as if given the chance he could prove to be a great asset to us in rotation.

 – Daniel Pulis

For now, Gumbs – who during the preseason did prove himself to be a physical player with decent coverage skills – is at the bottom of the depth chart. He still is learning the free safety position. Until this year, he had always been a strong safety. But the Redskins had him working exclusively at free safety. It probably would take an injury for Gumbs to get on the field, at least as of right now. Coaches like his potential, but for now, they see him as a developmental player.

I’m tired (as I’m sure RGIII is) of the questions on the health of his knee. Can you help people understand the difference between being ’100 percent healthy’ and being at peak athletic effectiveness?  It’s clear that he’s not as fully explosive and instinctive as he was last year but that has to do with 1. Rust, 2. Confidence, and 3. Reaction/Response time. Wouldn’t you agree? Can you give some perspective to the Chicken Littles about realistic recovery, perhaps referencing Peyton Manning’s and Adrian Peterson’s first six or so games last year coming off of their respective injuries? 

– John Little

I think this is what I’ve been saying for the last four weeks – that it takes time for a player to work his way back into the groove, and that each week, we have seen Griffin make strides. The Raiders game was probably his most complete effort thus far. He looked confident and comfortable. It was his first turnover-free game. Does that mean that he has turned the corner and is due for a big game this week? Hard to say. But there’s a good chance. He’s had two weeks to rest, and the Cowboys defense certainly gives up a fair amount of yards. As far as Manning and Peterson … Every player is different, but yes, it did take them time to return to their top form. Manning wasn’t his sharpest in his initial return to action after a year on the sideline because of neck surgeries. In his second game, he threw one touchdown and three interceptions and had a passer rating of 58.5. The following week, he completed a season-low 50 percent of his passes and had only a passer rating of 83. He turned the corner after that. Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson didn’t have his first 100-yard game until Week 4. In that game, he rushed for 102 yards on 21 carries, and then had an 88-yard game and a 79-yard game. Then, from Week 8 on, he turned into a monster, rushing for 153, 123, 182, 171, 108, 210, 154, 212, 86 and 199 yards, respectively.

(Bloomberg)

(Bloomberg)

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesday.

What’s ahead:

● More from Mark Maske at the owner’s meetings, an Outsider post on the secondary, and the day’s news.

More on the Redskins and NFL:

Owners approve funding for FedEx Field renovations | No action on team name

D.C. Sports Bog: QBs say RGIII has been humbled | Whiskey for Romo picks | More

Tribe pushes for franchise name change as NFL owners gather

Wise: Never may be coming soon | Milbank: What’s in a name for Redskins? Plenty. 

At a crossroads under Shanahan: Will the real Redskins please stand up?

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @MarkMaske | @Insider | Insider on Facebook

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Owners approve league funding toward FedEx Field renovations [updated]