The Sports Daily > Redskins Hog Heaven
Lets blame Mike Shanahan and London Fletcher for Tanard Jackson and the hole at safety

Yeah, I’m trolling for hits, but that’s how this works. You blame the fired guy for all that goes wrong, even the one decision that showed loyalty and heart to a beloved player past his prime.

Everybody applauded when Mike Shanahan kept London Fletcher for one last hurrah in 2013. However, it forced the 2014 Redskins to take a chance on safety Tanard Jackson when they had few options.

Hog Heaven did the blogger version of counting to 10 before writing about the former ex reinstated then suspended again Jackson.

It was a test of character, not of Jackson’s but my own.

Stories about Jackson ought not to be the “I knew it; I told you so” kind.

Addiction is a bitch. First dalliances with drugs may be a test of character. Compulsion is a pathologic.

Jackson’s ego needs help to overcome his id. I hope he finds it and makes something of the rest of his life. I hope there is something in the CBA or Obamacare he can turn to…somewhere else.

What now?

The depth chart on www.ourlads.com shows Phillip Thomas, Bacarri Rambo, Trenton Robinson and Justin Blake backing up savvy but aged Ryan Clark at free safety.

The Redskins defense is no worst off with Jackson gone; nor will Hog Heaven criticize the team for giving him a last and final, we-mean-it-this-time chance. That same sentiment led Mike Shanahan to re-sign a fading London Fletcher and not ask him to accept a lower deal in 2013.

Fletcher’s dead cap

We need the money now. Fletch today is a $2.1 million dead cap anchor against Washington’s salary cap. Without that burden, the Redskins might have been able to compete for free agent safeties Jairus Byrd or T.J. Ward.

Byrd and Ward count for $3+ million in salary cap on their new teams. The Redskins have $2 million cap room.

Forcing Fletch into a new deal, or releasing him and taking the cap hit in 2013 would have struck both Redskins fans and coaches as heartless. It did not happen, but then Washington had to take some risks at safety.

Jackson was a veteran performer, but a long shot to make the active roster on game day, if he even made the team. I did not count on that to happen.

Washington went where they needed to go with their second and third round Draft picks – a pass rushing linebacker (Trent Murphy) and two O-linemen (Morgan Moses and Spenser Long). After that, you get to prospects who matched talent already on the roster.

Thomas is now the Jordan Reed of the defense. He has to show us recovery from the Lisfranc injury that torpedoed his rookie season. This is rookie do-over. The Redskins need him to play over his head, like a player going into his second active season in the NFL.

Rambo’s level of play matched his Draft position (6th round, 191st overall). That is not criticism. Sixth round picks usually need two or three seasons to become game-smart. Alfred Morris is a huge exception.

Even if they step up, the 2014 Redskins have an unlocked back door at the safety position and three NFC West teams on the schedule well suited to exploit it.

Yet, the Redskins made the 2012 playoffs with a defense no better than this one. That defense was complimentary to what was happening on offense. It was disruptive more than destructive. They forced turnovers while Robert Griffin III was exceptional at avoiding them.

The defense does not have to be great. They have to be good enough, because Washington’s best defense is an exceptional offense.

Point after

WR Joshua Morgan counts $3 million in dead cap. That dead weight hamstrings the Redskins more than Fletcher’s does. In 2013, we did not see Morgan as a risk like Fletcher. We expected more of Morgan than we got. He tried. It did not work out.

We knew Fletcher was fading. Like everyone else, Hog Heaven saw his deal as reward for past service and believed his leadership would offset his physical performance. That didn’t work out, either.

Art Monk’s last days with Washington never went down well with me, though it was the correct business decision. Decisions have to be made about ageless Santana Moss, but they are easier than with Fletch.

Moss counts $635,000 against this year’s cap. He is a free agent in 2015.