The Redskins (6-5) head north for a showdown Monday night against the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles (5-6). Washington needs a win to keep pace with Dallas in the NFC East and maintain position in the NFC playoff race. The game is also the team’s first since the signing of linebacker Reuben Foster, who was released by the San Francisco 49ers last week after he was arrested for the second time on a domestic violence charge.
Ahead of the game, The Washington Post spoke to former Redskins scout director of pro player personnel (2001-07) and current ESPN analyst Louis Riddick about the state of the team — both on and off the field. The following transcript has been edited for length and clarity.
The Post: Let’s start with the Monday night matchup. The Eagles have a beat-up secondary that New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. thought his offense should have exploited more last week. Can Colt McCoy and the Redskins take better advantage?
Louis Riddick: It’s something they can try to do — something they should try and do. But their [modus operandi] isn’t really as a team that throws the football and tries to exploit the opposition through the air. If they had more firepower and they were more sophisticated, I would say go for it. . . . The fact that the Giants didn’t bludgeon Philadelphia through the air is beyond me. But it’s something the Redskins should try to exploit, but it also means they have to step out of who they really are in order to do it. I don’t know if that’s worth it to them. Maybe it is.
The Post: So if throwing the ball is a tough proposition, can the Redskins run the ball behind a depleted offensive line?
Riddick: We’ll see. The rotations of their defensive line for the Eagles haven’t been as good as they were last year. So there’s a lot of issues that Philly is contending with that work in Washington’s favor. I just don’t know if Washington has enough talent to consistently exploit it that they win. They will pop a few runs and make a few good throws, but I don’t know if it will be enough.
The Post: A season ago, the Eagles lost their starting quarterback Carson Wentz to injury and went on a Super Bowl run with backup Nick Foles. Is there anything Washington can learn — with Colt McCoy in for Alex Smith — from how Philadelphia adjusted?
Riddick: It’s tough because there’s so much that goes into a backup being able to sustain the performance of a starter. Nick Foles was someone Doug Pederson wholeheartedly believed in; they had a good, strong running game; they had some good perimeter weapons. And they had a dominating defense and a dominating front seven rotation. They were dialed in pretty good. Do you think Washington has those things going in their favor? I would say no.
The Post: Do you think Washington has a shot at the playoffs?
Riddick: I just don’t see it. I mean the offense is too hamstrung, too weak at critical positions. They don’t have enough firepower. With the way Dallas is playing — and Philadelphia may or not be hitting its stride — there’s no way they’re winning the division, and I don’t see them getting a wild card. So I think it’s one of these things where they were on the right track. They are on the right track in some of the ways they’ve been trying to build that roster, and I’ve been one of the people who has been very complimentary of them. But the run this season is over.
The Post: What do you make of the Reuben Foster signing?
Riddick: Given how much there is for them to do before you can ever get back on the football field, claiming him was unnecessary, number one. Number two, not having made any calls — which is my understanding — to the authorities to try and figure out exactly what happened prior to claiming him is just asinine. I don’t understand that at all, in any way, shape or form. [Redskins Vice President of Player Personnel] Doug Williams is a friend of mine, but for him to make some of the comments he made on Doc Walker’s show regarding their feelings about what Reuben is alleged to do in this instance or what he’s alleged to have done in the past and how it stacks up to other people’s behaviors in our country is just inappropriate. It lacks awareness, lacks sensitivity. It’s just very disappointing.
They’re compounding the problem more and more and more every time they open their mouth. At the most basic level, there are many, many teams that wouldn’t touch Reuben regardless of what has been rumored to go on with this young man . . . because obviously his decision-making does not seem to be able to get a good grasp as far as what is right and what is wrong. . . . All of these things are adding up to the Redskins once again getting that reputation of being that team that doesn’t quite get it. I know that they have tried to dispel that opinion . . . over the past couple of years by the way they’ve built that football team. I don’t want to say it’s all come crashing down, but they have done some serious damage to themselves with the way they’ve handled this. It’s all self-inflicted in terms of their ability to make sound decisions. It’s just so unnecessary and asinine on so many levels. I’m shocked.
The Post: Having worked for Daniel Snyder and this organization, do you have insight into how a decision like this gets made?
Riddick: According to what they said — and when you’re talking about something this explosive where you knew he was arrested and accused of domestic violence — it’s at the highest levels of the organization. Ownership, team president, coach and the top levels of personnel. And ultimately it has to be an ownership call — or should be an ownership call. What [Snyder] is doing — the owner is charting the course of the franchise and he wants everyone else to carry out his vision of what he wants his team to be, how he wants his organization to be thought of, and ultimately that decision should rest with that person.
People ask how me how is that decision made. It’s not like there is a revolutionary process where they’re doing something no other organization would do. They talk about it, weigh the pros and cons and see if it fits with what they want to stand for and be known for. This is no different.
The Post: Do you sense any frustration around the league with Washington, that this signing [along with the case of Kansas Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt] gives the league a black eye? That the NFL has struggled to handle and adjudicate issues of domestic violence with its players and this signing thrusts the league back into a place they’ve been before?
Riddick: I don’t know if it’s frustration. I think it’s a feeling of, “Which team claimed him? Which team is in the news for doing something stupid? Oh, it’s Washington.” That’s what I think is being is said. It’s not frustration, it’s “Oh, it’s Washington. Same old Washington.” I don’t know if everyone else feels like it’s a black eye on them because it’s this team. It’s Washington.
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