FOOTBALL is back!!! Well, maybe. If Washington can’t field enough players because of the Covid outbreak on their team, we may be awarded this one by forfeit. Last time I checked, they had 21 players in the Covid Protocol. Sheesh!
Provided that we do get to play, is there a way we can make Washington play in hazmat suits? And can they bring their own benches? We don’t need Covid leaving any Redskins residue on our furniture.
And don’t give me any flack about “dead-naming” the Redskins. When they get around to getting an actual name, I’ll get around to actually using it. Currently what they have, is an adjective, and an adjective should never be a name. Isn’t that right Negro Man, and Menopausal Woman?
With a win, we get to 7 – 7. We’ll likely be just on the outside of the playoff picture, in 8th place. Many speculate that we’d move into 7th place, but they’re ignoring or forgetting that if Minnesota beats Chicago (extremely likely), they’d also be 7 – 7 , with a 5 – 4 conference record to match ours. The difference would be their 3 – 1 division record to our 1 – 2 division record.
To move into the 7th place, we need to win, and for the Vikings to lose.
With a loss, we’d fall to 6 – 8. Even though that would still not mathematically eliminate us, we’d need a lot of things to break our way to qualify. Best to take care of business ourselves.
The point of Four Things isn’t to predict a winner, it’s to discuss which tactics will practically guarantee our Eagles this win. CAUTION: I don’t have the faintest clue as to what a point spread is, and I know even less about how it works. I know football and that’s IT. If you use FT as a gambling tool, you are trying to lose your money, and will deserve it when you do.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to focus on this week versus the Redskins:
1) Use the 12th Man:With a ton of new starters on both sides of the ball for Washington, there are bound to be communication errors here and there. We can magnify that, and make it 100 times worse. Keeping the crowd pumped, will help drive opponent mistakes, which will in turn help excite the crowd, and in turn, make it harder for our opponent to communicate well, etc.
2) Run the Ball: First, running has become our identity. During a playoff push and a playoff run, a team really needs to be in-touch with who and what they are. Second, getting mauled, punked, bullied, rag-dolled, beat-up, and pushed around is demoralizing. We need to break their will to fight back, by punishing them when they do. Passing won’t get that done as viciously.
3) Blitz from our right: Our right is their QB’s left. It’s his blindside. He’s already going to be uncomfortable relying on a makeshift offensive line. Serving him hits that he didn’t see coming, will wreck his focus, and cause him to rush passes, and make mistakes more frequently.
4) Don’t force-feed Reagor: Honestly, the kid is trash. He’s straight-up caustic, burning garbage.
However, with #2 WR Quez Watkins out due to Covid, our remaining WR’s are Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Slim pickings at a time when we needed someone to step up and be the Robin to Devonta Smith’s Batman.
With Watkins out, the Eagles don’t have a second outside threat. Second year WR John Hightower might get called up from the Practice Squad. He has 4.4 speed and he gets open quickly, but his hands are suspect. Or at least they were last year. However, if he plays Sunday and shows that he can hold onto passes…
If we do these Four Things,
We’d better win this damned game! If Washington manages to beat us, we need to deep-six any hope or talk of the playoffs.
We average 25 points per game. Washington is 2 – 4 this year, when their opponent scores 25 points, and those wins were over the giants and Falcons.
Let. Me. Re-iterate.
Washington had to win shootouts, to beat the Falcons and the giants. So if we put up 25, we should be good, right? I’m looking at youJonathan Gannon! And so is this brick that I’m holding. So we’re gonna win, right? Right?! My man!
Oh by the way! Check out what Head Coach Nick Siriannisaid!
Remember the guy who told you about this in June, before we traded for QB Gardner Minshew? And again in September, soon after we traded for Minshew? And again in November?
Of courrrrse. That guy was meeeee. And here we arrrrre.
Exactly where I told you we’d be.
The last time this coaching staff tried to experiment, it led to Jalen Reagor tea-bagging everyone who believed in him. We need to run the table here, so this is no time to get cute or “clever”.
This week is being served up like a softball pitch. It’s practically tee-ball. If the Eagles botch this, we have no right to use the word “playoffs” until the next time we actually qualify.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 27 – Redskins 12
Check back in a couple of days for Four Things Reviewed, and we’ll discuss how it went.
LAST year Washington went 7 – 9 overall, and 4 – 2 in the division. Their record was enough to win a historically bad division, after which they were unmasked as frauds, and given the bum’s rush from the first round of the playoffs. Still, winning a division beats finishing in second place, missing the playoffs, and blaming a rival team for not sending you. So they have that much going for them.
In any case, here is how Washington’s roster looks, about a week prior to the 2021 NFL Draft.
QB:Taylor Heinicke finished off the 2020 season by throwing for 300 yards in a 31-23 playoff loss. His gutty performance had many Redski- Washington fans excited to see what the kid would do in 2021. So the Reds- (Fuck.) Washington of course, went right out and signed free agent Ryan Fitzpatrick, to a one year, 10M$ deal. Proving once again, you can take the ‘R’ off the helmet, but you can’t take the mentally challenged out of the Football Team. It is worth noting that of the EIGHT previous team he’s been on, he doesn’t own a winning record as as starter, with ANY of them. Kyle Allen? Washington brought him back on a one year deal. Meanwhile he continues to rehab his broken/dislocated ankle. Careful Kyle! You coming back from a leg injury, may not be in Washington’s long-term plans. Right, Alex?
With Fitzpatrick’s deal being 6.5 times Heinicke’s, it tells you all you need to know about 2021’s pecking order. This position is currently a mess, with no clear path beyond this season. That alone may be enough to keep Washington from repeating as the division winner. (-)
RB:Antonio Gibson led the team in rushing with 795 yards and 11 rushing TD’s. Both his 100 yard games, and 4 of those TD’s, came against defenseless division rival Dallas. Gibson, having converted from college wide-out, was a rather pedestrian RB as a rookie. Strangely enough, he also didn’t excel as a receiver out of the backfield. J.D. McKissic (also a college wide-out) saw 85 carries and 80 receptions, for 365 and 568 yards respectively, representing nearly 1,000 (954) yards from scrimmage. Peyton Barber is the “big back”. Interesting fact: He’s averaged less per carry, every year, for four straight years. As a rookie he averaged 4.1 per tote. Last year, just 2.7 on 94 carries. He also doesn’t catch passes. Lamar Miller was added to the roster, possibly to challenge Barber for his role. Miller tore his ACL in preseason 2019, and made Chicago’s practice squad in 2020. He saw one game, catching 2 passes for 6 yards. After which he was demoted back to the practice squad. Bryce Love is also on the roster. They got yardage and scores out of this hodge-podge in 2020. There’s no reason it can’t happen again in 2021. (+)
WR: On 134 targets, Terry McLaurin posted 87 catches for 1100 yards in 2020. Not bad numbers in year where 4 different guys were throwing him passes. In three years Cam Sims has yet to impress the staff in Washington. This is likely why they added free agents Curtis Samuels and Adam Humphries. Samuels is a guy that Carolina demoted, then let walk. Two teams have allowed Humphries to just walk . Both are guys who made their name on short area quickness, but seem to have loss their edge. As a result Samuels and Humphries need an awful lot of targets to be productive. Let me put numbers to that. Again, in 2020 McLaurin saw 134 targets, while Cam Sims saw just 48. Steven Sims was next closest with 37 (27 catches, 265 yards). In 2018 Humphries needed 105 targets to see 816 yards and 5 TD’s (both career-highs). In 2020 it took 97 targets to get Samuels to 851 (career-high) and just 3 TD’s. So neither Humphries nor Samuels may have been the smartest choice to improve this group. Even on paper they still look like they have a hole. (-)
TE:Logan Thomas snagged 72 passes for 670 yards and 6 scores in 2020. Not head turning numbers, but he’s more of security blanket than a weapon. He’s also a violent blocker, so keep your head on a swivel.
Back-ups include Marcus Baugh, Temarrick Hemingway. Tightening their bike helmet, Washington also signed a Chilean basketball “star” (averaging 4.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 0.5 assists), turned football player, named Sammis Reyes. The guy is an obvious workout warrior, ticking all the boxes on the Mike Mamula/Tony Mandarich scale. It’s even been reported that he posted a 4.65 time in the 40. But just look at him with a ball in his hands:
He looks like he couldn’t run the 40 in 40! You know, I wonder if he’s ever caught a pass over the middle, or read a blitz. So no. There is no depth here. (-)
OT:Geron Christian started 6 games at LT before his season was cut short. Starting in his stead for the remaining 9 games, was veteran Cornelius Lucas. RT Morgan Moses is the best of this bunch, which isn’t saying much, as this line allowed 50 sacks in 2020, and 1 passer to be put on Injured Reserve. So there’s probably some room for improvement. Which is exactly why the Rrr- Football Team, hasn’t made a move here. At least not yet. (-)
G: Pro Bowler Brandon Scherff was slapped with the franchise tag, for a second straight year. He’s a cornerstone player, and Washington is smart not to let anyone get a crack at him in free agency. They’d be smarter to ink him to a 6 year deal, and effectively lock him down for the remainder of his career though. Wes Martin and Wes Schweitzer are why Washington drafted Saadiq Charles last year. Charles was inactive for 5 weeks, then after playing two downs in Week 6, was promptly placed on season-ending Injured Reserve. So this position is praying for a big bounce back, plus a leap forward, from their second year man. Until then they can keep heading out Wes. (+)
C: Chase Roullier just inked a four year deal to remain in D.C., so they must think more of him than their rivals do. For his part, he’s been durable. Oh, and Adrian Peterson ran for 1,042 yards behind him in 2018! Tyler Larsen comes over from Carolina, to be Roullier’s back-up. Yeah, me neither. (+)
IN A NUTSHELL: Every year Fitzpatrick has a handful of OMG type good games, and OMG type horror shows. Most of the time he’s a competent, mid-level game manager. That will not win you the NFC East. Doesn’t matter though. Washington’s weapons won’t scare anyone anyway. Honestly. How many washed-up Slot receivers does one roster truly need? Their top two RB’s are actually WR’s, running behind an interior line with no true mauler on it. Making their run game
Worse than that, Scott Turner is returning as the OC. So his division rivals will likely have a better handle on his offense, than his new QB. So expect less success from Washington’s offense, than they had last season. (-)
DE:Washington fans whenever you mention this position:
Chase Young won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and was selected to the Pro Bowl roster. His 7.5 sacks don’t tell the entire story of his contributions. Things like his leadership, and his energy. His passion, and his pride. Young looks like the real deal. Meanwhile, Montez Sweat quietly racked up 9 sacks, despite playing less than Young. The loss of Ryan Kerrigan means that the meaningful depth right now, is James Smith-Williams, who plays with the same flare and imagination that his parents displayed while naming him. The starters are very good, but this position is a sprained ankle away from the whole defense going off a cliff. (+)
DT:Daron Payne is the big load in the middle who started 16 games, producing 54 tackles and 3 sacks. Which is pretty much the exact stat line he’s delivered for each of his three seasons. Jonathan Allen again delivered over 60 tackles, but is clearly diminishing as a pass rusher after assuming a more traditional interior role, than the one he played for his first two years. Matt Ioannidis tore his bicep in Week 2. He tried to make it work during Week 3, but it wasn’t to be. So he missed the remainder of the season. At 310, Ioannidis will likely be asked to play inside in a 4-3, as he was asked to do in 2020. Prior to that he played end in a 3-4. Due to the injury there is no way to predict what level of Ioannidis will return in 2021. Tim Settle played limited snaps in 2021 and still led the position with 5.0 sacks. If Ioannidis returns to top form, this group is going to be a massive headache for rivals. And even if he doesn’t return to top form, it’s still a formidable mix of power and veteran savvy. (+)
OLB:Cole Holcomb had a nice rookie year playing inside, but his 2020 move outside was a mixed bag at best. Given that he’s got the most in-game experience of any player at this position, Washington needs him to be better in 2021, because they have no choice but to start him. Shaun Dion Hamilton went from being a moderate role player on the 2019 defense, to a Special Teamer who saw spot duty in 2020. Khaleke Hudson is a tweener, who was born for kick coverage duty. Gun to my head, I’d start Hamilton, but there’s probably going to be a rookie manning this spot. Josh Harvey-Clemons opted out last year due to Covid. He previously never defined a role for himself, so to keep his roster spot, he may have to change position. (-)
MLB:Jon Bostic had a career year in 2020. He either tied or set a new record for himself in EVERY statistical category. That looks like a player being as comfortable as a motherfucker in the scheme he’s playing in. David Mayo was brought in to back Bostic up, but don’t be surprised to see Josh Harvey-Clemons here as well. (+)
S:Landon Collins yet again was having a good year playing LB, when he tore his Achilles tendon, ending his 2020 season. Rookie Kamren Curl stepped in, and offered help by actually covering receivers. Given how well he preformed, nobody sane would start Collins over Curl at this point. Right? Right, Washington? Hellooo…? Back deep, Troy Apke and Deshazor Everett, were so lackluster in 2020 that… Ohhhhh. It’s going to be Collins AND Curl isn’t it? Not ideal, but still the best two out of this four. For the record, Apke and Everett have been in D.C. since at least 2018, and each have been ass, in each of those years. There’s experience here, but only one player who’s really good against the pass. (-)
CB:Kendall Fuller’s return to D.C. saw him match his career-high of 4 interceptions, and start two more games (14), than he did in his first stint with the Redsk- (ugh!) Football Team. New addition William Jackson comes over from Cincinnati to hold down the opposite side. Jackson has just 3 interceptions in 59 career games (48 starts), so teams will start the year off targeting him heavily. Depth consists of Jimmy Moreland (10 career starts), and Darryl Roberts formerly of the Lions, with 4 interceptions in 67 career games (31 starts). Avoid Fuller and pick on the other side. Get ready for 17 games of that unless someone surprises us. (-)
IN A NUTSHELL:
Opponents won’t make a very good living trying to run vs this front. However, Washington practically invites teams to throw the ball on them. This team can rush the passer, but can they cover long enough for the rush to get home? Seems like a fairly critical question, given that the current NFL is a passing league. This team has plenty of talent, just not really where they need it. (-)
K:Dustin Hopkins made a career-low 79.4% (27/34) of his field goal attempts. Most concerning was his 15/21 performance (71.4%) from 40 yards and longer. He also went 30/32 (93.7%) on extra points. His missed factored directly into two losses (NYG, DET). However, given that Washington won the division, this position may be overlooked as an area of need. For a team built like this one is, a reliable toe isn’t a luxury. This toe looks shaky, and they just inked him to a an extension. (-)
P:Tress Way averaged 48 yards per punt, with a 44.1 yard net, helping his unit keep returns to 5.8 yards per crack. The only knock is that on 73 punts, only 23 were downed inside the 20. (+)
IN A NUTSHELL: This isn’t exactly a crackerjack unit, loaded with clutch dynamite. In a salary cap strapped year, Washington’s attitude seems to be: “Meh…We’re dancing with the devil that we know.” (-)
The defense won’t be able to capitalize on it’s great front, because it was sabotaged in the secondary. There are no heroes on special teams. They flat out need to make an offensive splash in the Draft, or the offense will take a step back. This is a last place team in any other division. However, in this division there are three other teams still trying to find their footing. This gives Washington a real chance to repeat as division champs. Possibly even posting a record of 9 – 8.
I hear you asking, “What about all the stuff that stats don’t reveal?” Well, that’s the reason for the Four Things articles. It’s to point out what we need to address BEFORE the game. Then AFTER the game, there’s a no-bullshit assessment of whether or not the Eagles did any of what they needed to do, to ensure the win.
1) Run the football: We handed the ball off just 16 times today. Compared with 42 passing attempts, and 1 QB sneak. Play-calling like that (71.1% pass) will get a defense not respecting the run, and teeing off on our QB to the tune of 8 sacks. Especially against a makeshift Offensive Line that took on more injuries during the game. No attempt at establishing a rhythm on the ground was ever attempted. (NOT DONE)
2) Blitz off our right: There were a couple of these after the half, but most of the game was spent with no pressure or contain on our right side. This is particularly damning given the absence of DE Derek Barnett, and the subsequent injury to DE Vinny Curry (1 – 0.5 – 0 – 0). No attempt to shore up that side was ever made. (NOT DONE)
TE Dallas Goedert hits paydirt on a 34 yard strike from QB Carson Wentz.
3) Throw aggressively: This was done to the point of foolishness. There were some very nice downfield throws and reads. However, when it became apparent that Wentz wouldn’t have the time to stand in the pocket, shorter routes for the WR’s were not called.(DONE)
4) Make tackles:There were some misses, but nothing egregious, or atypical of standard football. For the most part the Eagles defenders reliably wrapped up what was in front of them. Nobody got put on a poster today. (DONE)
That makes this weeks Four Things score, 2 of 4, and puts us at 2 of 4 on the year. These were easy marks to hit. The fact that we were on 50/50 on them, indicates that somebody (Head Coach Doug Pederson) was being cute today.
Here’s hoping we get some of this stuff ironed out by next week when we face the 1 – 0 Rams. The killers of Cowboys.
On The Whole:
I’m not going to harp on injuries, or use them as an excuse. We’ve been dealing with those for years. We’ve been saying “Next man up” for years. As fans, we’ve been crowing the words “Despite injuries…” for years. So we don’t get to hide behind them now. If a man is paid, he should be able to do his job.
I’m on record as saying that Boston Scott is more of a Screen guy and less of a legit RB. That showed today when he did get carries. When a defender meets him, the play is over. If RB Miles Sanders misses anymore time, we need a better response than Boston Scott.
Eagles WR’s barely showed up today. Part of it was a lack of protection. Part of it was just rookies being rookies (8 targets, 2 completions). Detail stuff like, not coming back to the ball on Curl routes. Nothing to panic over. It’s why you call a rookie a rookie. This was their first NFL experience vs. guys not on their team. Understanding how to leverage a teammate that you see everyday in camp, is different than leveraging guys you’ve never seen. This will get fixed.
The O-Line is a nightmare. On Tuesday I had no idea that RT Lane Johnson would miss this game. For some reason C Jason Kelce was a game-time decision. No one on the right side of our line had ever started an NFL game. You cannot dangle a Franchise QB, on 42 pass attempts, behind a duct taped O-Line IN WEEK ONE! Unless you’re trying to kill him, or get him injured.
Defensively we seemed to pick up where we left off:
Too much room with the cushions.
Too much Nickel.
An unwillingness to blitz.
An inability to generate turnovers.
Our Defensive Line can never reach it’s full potential, if the Secondary keeps allowing receivers to uncover quickly.
There is a great deal that needs addressing this week. Injuries be damned.
PERENNIAL laughingstock. That’s the best way to describe the team formerly known as the Redskins. Every year for the last quarter century, you fans get geeked up in September, only to end up moaning “We’ll get ‘em next year.” by mid-October.
And as if that wasn’t bad enough, this year, owner Dan Snyder renamed your team “The Washington Football Team”. In one fell swoop, he literally turned your fan base into a fucking Abbott and Costello routine. It’s hilarious! I have to love it.
JOURNALIST: So sir, who is your favorite football team?
FAN: Football Team.
JOURNALIST: Yes. Who is your favorite?
FAN: The Football Team.
JOURNALIST: Yes, but which one?
FAN: That one!
JOURNALIST: Which one?!
FAN: The Football Team!
All across America, there are probably thousands of conversations just like that, going on every day. Fans who know your team is doing something stupid, yet trying desperately to defend it anyway. Which I suppose is habit by now for Washington fans.
JOURNALIST: Sir it’s a simple question. Which football team is your favorite?
FAN: I’m a fan of the Football Team!
JOURNALIST: From which city?
FAN: Technically they don’t represent a city.
JOURNALIST: Okay then. Which state?
FAN: It’s not really a state either.
That’s true by the way. The District of Columbia is a federal district. It technically neither a city, nor a state. Like the Redskins who technically do, but don’t have a name. They exist in a perpetual state of “Yeah, but not really. Absolutely, but not at all.”
I’m also enjoying how suddenly “woke” you all are, while still trying to justify what you’re now woke about. That irony is rich enough classify as a dessert.
JOURNALIST: Who owns your favorite team?
FAN: Dan Snyder.
JOURNALIST: Wait! You’re a Redskins fan?
FAN: Don’t call them the Redskins! That name is racist.
JOURNALIST: How long did you root for them?
FAN: All my life! Thirty-two years.
JOURNALIST: And the name just became racist?
FAN: Once they changed it, yeah. Fuck that name.
JOURNALIST: But it was okay before they changed it?
FAN: Oh yeah! Got it tattooed on my chest here. Over my heart.
JOURNALIST: And until then, you didn’t care how Native Americans felt?
JOURNALIST: Native Americans.
FAN: Which team is that? What city do they come from?
JOURNALIST: They’re indigenous people…
JOURNALIST: You used to call them Redskins!
FAN: HAIL! I mean, fuck them! I mean, fuck that name! I mean, go Football Team! Hey-yah, hey-yah!
This is what you’ve been reduced to. This is what you’ve become. Remember being proud? Yeah, that’s in the past now. You’re the Geoffrey Owens of football fans. And do you know the BEST part? Still, in all of this, you all actually think your team has a shot at winning the division. That is SO cute!
You guys should start small. Focus on developing a QB who finishes games before he starts taking pictures with the crowd. Focus on not running off a Pro Bowl caliber LT. Focus on hiring a head coach who you don’t fire every other year.
Your team is just awful. How awful? Ron Rivera signed with your team, and then was diagnosed with cancer. Actual fucking cancer! I’m not blaming your team but yes I totally am. And then to make his life easier, your team let go of a Hall of Fame caliber RB in Adrian Peterson, so that they can start J.D. Mickissic. If you didn’t know that Mickissic was your starter this Sunday, YOU’RE WELCOME!
These are all REAL things. I would make some up, but I could never match the idiocy with which your team is being run into the ground. Honestly, I think if Dan Snyder counted his balls ten times in a row, he’d never get the same number twice. That level of incompetence deserves some sort of prize. So the Eagles will give it to you.
Keep in mind, when these predictions come out, no one knows who will be drafted, and by which team. This is an assessment of the teams as they are staffed by veteran players with track records.Rookies don’t usually shake up the NFC East division, so there’s a pretty good chance that what you see here, will be how it shakes out for the year.
Yikes! Last year showed a couple exceptions to the general rule cited in the above Preamble. The first example was the Dallas Cowboys. They powered their way to the top of the division behind the play of two rookies, one of which was a QB forced to make 16 starts, when the long-time incumbent pulled up lame. (Again.) The Philadelphia Eagles were the second exception. They thought so much of their rookie QB that they traded away their Starter, and let the rook do his thing all year long. While that may have cost them a game or two last year, it was clear to fans, media and Free Agents alike, that the Eagles may be onto something.
Now we separate the men from the boys:
While Dallas is returning all of their skill position Starters, they suffered a couple of hits to their offensive line. Those hits are simple enough to patch over, but where those hits will show up is in depth. Last season when La’el Collins went down, there was a player of Ron Leary‘s caliber to step in for him. This year they have no such luxury.
Will the Cowboys be who they were last year? No they won’t. Teams have film on them now, and the system they run is so simple, it shouldn’t take much to slow them down. That said, each of Dallas’s rivals have some issue that keeps their own offenses from being complete, let alone scary. The Cowboys are the only team in the division who are not suffering from a key deficiency.
I can tell you firsthand that the loss of WR DeSean Jackson changes the way teams play against your offense. It also takes away a number of easy underneath options that a QB comes to think of as their’s for the taking. Jackson was on the roster when Kirk Cousinsbecame the Starter, so he is coming into a completely new reality in 2017. (Assuming that his mind is on 2017, and not on preserving his body for a long-term contract in San Francisco next year.)Washington’s one-dimensional run game won’t be of much help either, since most of it is derived from what the offensive line creates, instead of what the RB creates when the line gives him an opening.
While they have a good offensive line and a TE situation worthy of envy, they don’t have the glue to hold it all together. Their losses on defense will require them to throw more, and may yield more yards and touchdowns, but if you look under the surface at the end of 2017, you will see a clearly less effective and diminished offense on this team.
Dallas’s junior GM, Stephen Jones is on recordagreeing that his team is worse off since Free Agency. Washington was already in the toilet before they lost DE Chris Baker. New York losing DT Johnathan Hankins and not being settled at MLB, puts a hole right down the center of their run defense (ranked #3 in 2016). Also, nothing so far has been done to bolster their 23rd ranked pass defense. Philadelphia on the other hand has added depth up front, but still hasn’t clearlyaddressed their Secondary concerns. However, their 2016 pass defense was ranked 13th not 23rd. (Note: There isn’t a team in this division that doesn’t have issues with it’s Secondary)
This isn’t a question of the strongest of the weak. There is no doubt about the Eagles strength at every level of their defense. Particularly on the Defensive Line. Better still, they have depth in most places. Last year the Eagles weakness was at CB, and so both starters are no longer on the roster. Patrick Robinson was to added to play slot CB, not as an outside starter. The remaining CB’s aren’t household names, but given the way Jalen Mills played in 2016 (his rookie season), he might become one soon.
They literally have problems at every level of their defense, and in every facet of it. Talent, depth, experience, andeven health coming into OTA’s. Everything is wrong here.This defense is going to allow too many games to turn into shootouts, and force their offense away from the run just to keep up. Barring every other team in NFC East suffering a rash of injuries, this team has no shot at 12-4 again. The GM responsible for creating this mess should be fi– oh wait… Never mind.
Strongest Special Teams: PHILADELPHIA
This isn’t even close. Kicking, Punting, Returns and limiting return yards, The Eagles are the only team in the division that is good in all of these areas. Not just okay, or passable. Legitimately good. They are proficient across the board, where the other three teams have at least one deficiency.
Weakest Special Teams:NEW YORK
Playing musical Kickers as you habitually post lackluster numbers, while also making no attempt to improve neither your personnel nor your coaching staff… That says in plain language that the organization doesn’t give a damn about this facet of the game.
Projected Winner: PHILADELPHIA(10-6)
After being 0-2 these last 2 years picking the Eagles, it scares the hell out me to be picking them again after a second 7-9 season. I kept going over this to make sure I wasn’t overlooking something, or missing something, because I have no interest in wearing 0-3. However, the fact is, right now, before the Draft, as these teams are staffed today, the Eagles are the team best equipped to survive the 17 week meat grinder known as an NFL season.
The Eagles are the only team in the NFC East that didn’t get worse in some regard, duringthis offseason. While it has yet to be proven that they fixed their 2016 offensive problems, those problems weren’t ignored (like the giants pass defense for example). The Eagles attempted to fix their problems, and so they run the risk of actually improving in 2017.
The same cannot be said for the defenses of the Cowboys, Redskins and giants. Dallas’s defense is so bad that their Front Office is already making excuses. Now that they have definitely lost Hankins at DT, New York’s run defense (ranked 3rd) is likely to fall steeply. Their pass defense was already an issue in 2016, and so far, they‘ve done nothing to fix or even upgrade it.Washington’s defense was already crap in 2016, and now they have offense to match it. In fact, their offense (both in the long and short term), have football pundits shaking their heads from coast to coast.
Look Out For: DALLAS
I don’t think they stand a chance in Hell, of upsetting the Eagles, but it would h ave been tacky to write “NOBODY” as the team to look out for. Since the Pokes won the division last, I figured they were owed the respect of a write-in.
LAST year…The Redskins finished 8-7-1 overall, and 3-3 against the division, while allowing a division worst 383 points. The original idea was to build on winning the division in 2015 behind their 9-7 record. Instead, 2016 saw the ‘skins hit a number of bumps in the road. Many of those problems were self-inflicted wounds from a team that bought into their own hype.
That was last year. The following is how the team looks today, prior to the Draft….
QB: Good news ‘skins fans! Kirk Cousins didn’t go to San Francisco, and you leased him for another year! That means that the ‘skins have a reliable QB. At least for the 2017 season. This is more than some teams (like San Francisco) can currently boast right now. Who knows who the 49ers may sign next year, right? So at least in this regard the ‘skins are okay. In 2017 at least. The concern comes in the form of Cousins’ chemistry with his revamped receiving corps, and whether he’s even interested in developing such a thing with new players on this team. For reasons that will unfold as you keep reading, he may spend 2017 thinking about his next team in San Fr- As far as depth, Colt McCoy is a proven, veteran back-up. (+)
RB: Matt Jones began the season as the Starter, then he got hurt in Week 7, missed Weeks 8 and 9, was deactivated Week 10, and then demoted to 3rd string. He would never play another down for the remainder of 2016. The guy who took over for him is Rob Kelley, who came on with fresh legs, and he played like gangbusters. For a couple of weeks, that is. Then he came back down to Earth as the one dimensional, downhill runner that he is. They also have Chris Thompson who used to be the 3rd string, but now is ahead of Jones, who used to be the Starter. They have no idea what they’re doing there. (-)
WR: Last year the ‘skins boasted two WR’s (Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson) who went over 1,000 yards. Today both players are on other rosters. Bright spot Jamison Crowder did grab nearly 70 balls for over 800 yards in 2016. Of course some of that had to do with the room created by teams respecting Jackson’s deep speed. Crowder may find 2017 more…crowded. This year’s bunch also includes second year man Josh Doctson, QB-turned-WR Terrelle Pryor, and former Ram Brian Quick. Pryor himself caught 77 balls for over 1,000 yards last year, in Cleveland. There is some talent here, but this group won’t scare anybody. (-)
TE: This team is set at this position. Jordan Reed is more of a receiver than a blocker, but his prowess as a receiver keeps teams from loading the box. That means Washington is able to run the ball, regardless of whether or not he’s on the field. (Yes, you did detect a note of envy.) Behind him the team has Vernon Davis, who found the Fountain of Youth last season. This team has no worries here. (+)
OL: The ‘skins return all five Starters from a unit that allowed only 23 sacks and managed to carve out 4.5 yards per rush, from a stable of underwhelming RB’s. I’d give this unit two pluses if it wouldn’t be a violation of protocol. (+)
In a nutshell:
Man, oh man. What none of these positional breakdowns can tell you is, this franchise is drowning in dysfunction. They fired their GM on the doorstep of Free Agency ‘s beginning, and given their player losses, it’s clear that his firing has had a negative impact already. What remains is a mixed bag. On offense they have a really good offensive line, protecting a QB who is likely eying the door. Cousins must be thrilled about losing two 1,000 yard receivers, and having them replaced with question marks, (in what for him, is yet another contract year). Had he known that was going to happen, he may not have agreed to let Washington rent his body for another year. Their decision to keep a RB on the roster that they demoted, and then made a healthy scratch for over half the season was priceless. An absolute stroke of genius. Or maybe just the result of a stroke. This unit is clearly less than it was a year ago. Barring brain damage, even the most devout ‘skins fan would have to admit that. Nice TE’s though. (-)
DE: This position is a mess. The loss of Chris Baker has left the cupboard bare at DE. Ziggy Hood is the anchor right now at this position, which has to be depressing for anyone who genuinely cares about this team. Former Temple Owl Matt Ioannidis, (barring a draft pick here), has to be the guy in line to step into the void left by Baker, even though Ionaiddis is more of a DT. There’s also a guy named Anthony Lanier, who can now be glad that something (this article) comes up when he Googles his name. (-)
DT/NT: So many bodies at this position and– Hey! Wanna hear a joke? Phil Taylor is on this roster. Phil Taylor…Yeah, him. The former Brown who can’t stay healthy and hasn’t played a down since 2014. That guy. Washington is giving him money for some reason. They also poached(?) Terrell McClain from the Cowboys, and Stacy McGee from the Raiders. Between the two, they recorded 24 starts, 57 tackles and 5 sacks last year. (Shrug.) There is also A.J. Francis who seems to specialize in getting cut from teams. Odds are strong that all of these guys will see time being moved around between NT and DE, to see who gives the team the lowest failure rate in each position, along the ‘skins three man defensive line. (-)
OLB: I like Ryan Kerrigan. I wish he could be a very good DE in a 4-3, instead of being a one-dimensional OLB in a 3-4. He of course was the model of reliability with his 6th straight year of 16 starts, while tossing in 11 sacks for good measure. On the other side, second year man Preston Smith also started 16 games but notched just 4.5 sacks. Trent Murphy didn’t log a start all year, but notched 9 sacks, which was 3 more than his prior career total of 6. What’s disturbing is that not one of these players reached 50 tackles, and in a combined 48 starts, there were only 6 pass break-ups, and 1 interception between them. This position is staffed by players who are more like DE’s and less like true OLB’s, ultimately trading effectiveness for statistics (i.e. sacks). It is this position’s one-dimensional nature that is really keying the ‘skins slide. (-)
M/ILB: Mason Foster was a tackling machine last year, pulling down a career high 124. Will Compton added 106 stops of his own. If the stops are there to make, you have to give the players credit for making them. (Though it does raise the question of why so few stops get made by the line.) They also added Free Agent Zach Brown, so I’m guessing that Compton will now serve as depth or play situationally on the outside. Rookie Su’a Cravens filled in for three starts missed by Foster last season, and came nowhere close to filling his shoes out there (thus the addition of Brown). Cravens’ small frame may be ill-suited for finding a starting role in the defensive scheme currently favored by this team. His best days may be a coaching staff away. (+)
S: This may be the worst Safety corps in the NFL. While Duke Ihenacho and Donte Whitner weren’t great, losing them without replacing them leaves the ‘skins relying on a bunch of question marks and whatever is left of CB turned FS, DeAngelo Hall. If you’re a giants, Cowboys, or Eagles fan, this is great! If you root for the ‘skins… you have to be hoping for a Safety in the first round. (-)
CB: Between Josh Norman being moved around to protect him from having to cover #1 wideouts, and with Bashaud Breeland being beat like a dusty rug, it seems easy to give this position a failing mark. Funny thing is, other sports outlets (PPF, Fox Sports, etc.) seem to view them favorably. This only seems funnier when you realize it’s a steep amount of praise for two players who keyed a 25th ranked pass defense. (But what do I know, right?) Kendall Fuller looks like he’ll be the Nickel again. Unless he’s unseated by Tharold Simon or Quinton Dunbar. (Yeah, me neither.) In my heart of hearts, I think this is a subpar unit. However, as gesture of humility, I won’t post my (-). Instead I will post the grade set by “professional evaluators”. However, it’ll be interesting to see whom fans think was right, at the conclusion of the 2017 season. (+)
In a nutshell:
This was a bad unit that was made worse through key losses. It would be different if veterans were jettisoned to make way for promising youth, or if the Redskins had a bunch of early round draft picks, but that isn’t the situation. This situation is so bad that I just posted someone else’s ranking of a position, because it won’t mean dick to the overall unit’s outcome. It’s a one-dimensional group of sack hunters, that can be had easily on the edges. Without a ball control offense to hide behind, Washington’s defense is going to get skinned in 2017. (-)
P: Tress Way regressed for the second straight year in a row. Average punt, longest punt, net average… all of these came down again for him. Luckily, he only needed to punt 49 times last year (vs 70 times in 2015, and 77 in 2014). What was alarming however is the percentage of his punts that were returned last year. 49 punts vs 27 returns (55%), vs 2015’s 70 punts and 30 returns (42%). The more opportunities he provides opponents, the more likely it could cost the ‘skins. (-)
K: Dustin Hopkins saw his FG accuracy tumble by more than 8 points (89.3 to 81.0), and missed 3 extra points on the year. Novice fans would say that he’s just a Kicker, but those kicks win and lose games. Their loss last year to the Lions and their tie with the Bengals are two examples that very thing. (-)
RS: This is where it gets a little weird. Jamison Crowder would seem to have a lock on the PR spot, but that’s only if they screw him over at #1 WR, a spot which he earned last year. Trying to make him do both will only grind him into dust. As for KR, five guys across 16 games got a shot at the job, and as a team they amassed a meager 570 yards. Not a dangerous unit. (-)
In a nutshell:
Special Teams across the board took a tumble for this team. This all but screams a lack of emphasis by the coaching staff. Seeing as there was no competition brought in at either K or P, you have to assume that the ‘skins have decided to live with what they have. This is not the way you inspire improvement. (-)
There is far more wrong with this team, than there is right with it. Had they let Cousins leave, they’d at least be able to claim that they were rebuilding. Instead, Washington remains a team with high external expectations, that is rotting internally. Expect them to be a 6 win team this year.
THERE is so much to hate about this schedule that I hardly know where to start. It seems almost as if it was designed to trip the team up, regardless of how well we’re doing at any point in the year. I have to say the schedule makers showed true artistry and absolute mastery in subtly, yet thoroughly, fucking us over this year. I almost have to stand back and admire the job they’ve done.
Right at the top of the schedule is a home game on 9/11. Granted, most teams are playing on that day as well, but we open at home that day. So basically you can throw out the purely celebratory vibe that would normally accompany a home opener. Nothing throws an air of triviality onto watching sports like a national day of mourning. Thanks NFL!!
After three games (two non-conference), we get a Bye Week for some reason. I hate early Bye Weeks. They occur before the real wear and tear sets in enough for that week off to mean something. Also it means that in the event that we do win the division, we have to do it on a 12 week dead-run, with no chance to get a breath along the way.
Even more fun is not getting to play back to back home games until the last two weeks of the season. The traveling we do during weeks 5 through 9 would be enough to fatigue some teams. Add to that that 3 of those 5 games are road games against division opponents, and you get an idea of how a simple thing like scheduling can de-rail a season, or at least put it in jeopardy early on. See what I mean by subtle artistry?
Since half of our division games are in the last 4 weeks, there is no way for us to run away with the NFC East unless we head into Week 14 undefeated; and with a Seattle, Green Bay, Cincinnati sandwich (Weeks 11-13), that’s not at all likely to happen. So even if the Eagles are 8 – 4 heading into Week 14, the division will still likely be very much up in the air. That means that Head Coach Doug Pederson likely has to run the team into the ground in order to secure a playoff spot.
Look, I expected that the schedule makers wouldn’t do us any favors, but this is almost like they put a contract out on us. That’s not to say that we can’t win the division. We can, we should and we likely will. Especially since our opponents themselves (excepting our recent history vs Seattle and Green Bay) all look very beatable. But gall dang! This year’s schedule is of no help to us whatsoever.
EAGLES fans, we’re about to find out a lot about our team this weekend. This is not the same pushover, “see them on the schedule and write two wins down in ink” Redskins from the last few years. These Redskins plays with a bit of a chip on their shoulder on both sides of the ball. This game will serve as an early season measuring stick for our Eagles.
It’s the same as the last two years. We’re fine against the run (7th), but we still rank among the bottom feeders against the pass (24th). Our defense gets turnovers, but they play too many minutes. (And yes I said minutes, not snaps.)
This week we get an opponent that relies heavily on the run, so unless they decide to give us a big dose of their passing game, or our guys get gassed out there, stopping the opponent should be right in our wheelhouse this week
Guess who the ranks dead last in the NFL in yard per game? That’s right, the Rams (274.3 yards per game). And who is just above them? Us (285.3 yards per game). We are 30th in the NFL at rushing yards per game, and so far we have a 2.7 yards per carry average. Our passing attack is ranked 23rd.
Some blame QB Sam Bradford, some blame our WR’s for the 10-15 drops so far. The truth is it’s the Offensive Line. Specifically the Guards. Notice how last week the O-line played better and we still won, despite a pedestrian 50%, 118 yard performance from our QB? When we committed to a basic power running approach (keeping it simple for our Guards) early on, it set a tone and allowed us to dictate the action. It’ll be interesting to see if we try that again this week or if we try to go back to what wasn’t working two weeks ago.
Keep in mind that while the ‘skins are ranked high across the board, they also have played three offenses that rank very low or have consistency issues. That having been said, this is a feisty bunch. If you were in a bar fight and the Redskins defense had your back, you’d be in good company. Whatever we get from this team we’ll have to take, because they will not give us anything. They have a 69.4% stop rate on 3rd down, and in three games have only given up 4 first downs due to penalty. (We’ve given up 8).
The Redskins have allowed more QB hits (63) than any team in the NFL (even though the Steelers and Ravens have each played one more game). QB Kirk Cousins is nothing special, but he’s a low level starter/high level back-up who can manage a game. Just don’t ask him to put a team on his back. The bread and butter of this unit is the run game. That 4th place run game is no mirage.
This game will be a fight. Two 1-2 teams, who are division rivals looking to avoid the basement. Two QB’s trying to legitimize themselves as starters. Two coaches trying to prove that their way is the right way. Ascension in the division and pride are on the line. However, on the road, in nasty weather…Bad weather doesn’t favor fast paced offenses. In fact it tends to magnify miscues. (Remember how bad we looked for ¾ of the Snow Bowl? Thank god we were facing a dome team!) I think Mother Nature teams up with D.C. this weekend.
WHEN the Redskins cut QB Robert Griffin III the Eagles should sign him immediately. Not only does that mean we can move on from the Tim Tebow fiasco, but maybe Matt Barkley and Mark Sanchezas well. (Although I would seek to package Sanchez with a draft pick and trade him to a QB needy team like Houston, or as an insurance policy to a win now team like Arizona.)
Griffin as an Eagle gives the front office leverage in keeping QB Sam Bradford’sasking price reasonable. Though Griffin is no longer the runner he once was, he still has more than enough wheels to give the team the two-point conversion weapon the head coach craves in Tebow, while not sacrificing having a legit QB on the field. After all we aren’t talking about replacing Bradford here. We’re talking about replacing Tebow, Barkley and maybe Sanchez. The signing would be a no-lose scenario.
The only drawback would be for fans to get used to rooting for a guy they’re used to rooting against and mocking. All the best Redskins memes on social media and on this site, would have to stop. Then again if it makes this team deeper and more dangerous, I’m more than willing to learn to mock Cuddin’ Kirk and his head coach Fatty Jay.
If they cut RGnumber, or even (oh I don’t know) ask for say a 4th or 5th rounder, I say jump at it. I mean seriously what are we losing in that gamble? Look at our draft picks after round 3 for the last 3 years. Even a trade of a 4 or a 5 would be like stealing the guy; and who among you wouldn’t like to see us fleece the Redskins?