Riggo’s Rag Redskins Mailbag: Veterans vs. youth, left tackle battle, more
Scott D.: With all the changes to staff and players, who do you see as the best mentors for the added youth?
JC: This is an excellent question, Scott, and one that will be increasingly important as the start of the year draws nearer.
As has already been pointed out a couple of times, the Redskins are a young team and they’re not expected to have a great year. This season is more about finding a direction. And if the squad can do that and get themselves positioned well for the coming years, then the year will have a silver lining. But to do that, they’ll need their mentors to help coach their young players and allow them to improve.
From a coaching staff perspective, I think Rivera is the biggest potential mentor in the fold. During his time in Carolina, he had a natural connection with his players and should be able to get through to the younger players in Washington. If he can get them to buy in and help them to improve in 2020, that will be a good start to his tenure.
In terms of player mentors, there are a handful of options on each side of the ball. But these are the ones that stand out to me.
LB Thomas Davis. He played under Rivera for eight of Rivera’s nine years with the Panthers. He’s in his late 30s, but he knows what it’s like to be a part of a great culture, like the one that helped the Panthers reach Super Bowl 50. He should be a great locker room presence and will help bring along younger linebackers like Cole Holcomb, Shaun Dion Hamilton, and Khaleke Hudson on the defensive side of the ball.
RB Adrian Peterson. The future Hall of Famer is 35, but he has posted two great seasons with the Redskins. He should be a valuable resource for the talent the squad has in the running back room and will have a chance to lead both by example and by taking some younger guys under his wing, something that he has already done during his Redskins career.
DL Jonathan Allen. The third-year player should continue to emerge as the leader on a young and talented defensive line. If he continues to ascend after an eight-sack season, he could quickly become one of the best players on the defense. But he is already a vocal leader and that’s part of the reason that he was voted a team captain last season.
EDGE Ryan Kerrigan. Kerrigan is one of the team’s longest-tenured members and has averaged 10 sacks per year during his nine-year career. He’s a tough player and that will hopefully rub off on other members of the defensive line. Kerrigan may not play as much as he previously had in 2020 due to the presence of Chase Young and Montez Sweat, but if he can help mentor the two recent first-round picks, that would be huge for the ‘Skins.
QB Alex Smith. Though he’s still injured and may not play, Smith has a lot of experience to offer. From struggling to start his career with the 49ers to being replaced twice on playoff teams by younger passers to the catastrophic leg injury he suffered with the Redskins, he has been through it all. His comeback from that injury has been inspiring, to say the least, and if he can tutor Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, and Steven Montez this year, the three young passers could see substantial growth in 2020. Smith’s presence would simply uplift the team and teach them a thing or two about facing adversity.
Those are the five players I see as being the best fits as mentors with this squad. Landon Collins just missed the cut, but he could emerge as a leader in the secondary. Either way, the ‘Skins have plenty of veteran voices around to help get this team pointed in the right direction, so hopefully, they’ll utilize them properly in 2020.