KEEP in mind, when these predictions come out, no one knows who will be drafted by which team. So this is an assessment of the team as it is staffed by veteran players with track records.
Rookies may contribute heavily to their team, but they don’t usually shake up the NFC East as a division. That being said, there’s a pretty good chance that what you see here, will be how it shakes out for the year.
Now let’s look at 2021:
If you’ve read all of the articles leading up to this, you’ll understand my conclusion. Good job! If you didn’t, you’ll likely be annoyed because you did a bad job of preparing. The fact is, I gave NO team’s overall offense a passing grade, and I gave NO team’s defense one either.
Instead of rating units (offense, defense, special teams), this year everyone was so weak in key areas, that I was forced to award points for positions. So if this year’s report feels different than another year’s, rest assured, it is.
Strongest Offense: PHILADELPHIA
Yeah. I was surprised too. I gave no team points for QB, as everyone either has to prove themselves (Prescott, Hurts), or they’ve been trash historically (Fitzpatrick, Jones). Of all the teams here, Philly is the only one without an immediate need for offensive line help, as they are the only team in the division who doesn’t need help at OT, and even have competition there. They also have the best TE situation in the division by far, and a complete stable of RB’s. What they lack is WR firepower, but that’s more of a playoff problem, than a regular season issue.
Weakest Offense:NEW YORK
They have one OT and a C. Everything else is in a state of unnecessary upheaval. This team’s offense used to run through RB Saquon Barkley, but that can’t happen this year, as he’s just getting back from a torn ACL. QB Daniel Jones has to step up and prove that he can carry the… Sorry. I had a laughing fit. Jones is on his last leg as a starter, and it’s the worst kept secret in all of sports. Sadly too many of the pieces just don’t complement each other. It’s awkward. It boxes lefty. This offense was ruined in the front office, and it gets worse every year.
All four teams have issues in the secondary. That can’t even be debated. Of all the teams, Washington has the least issues and the best front seven. They can play their base 4-3, but they can easily flex to a 4-3 under, or to a 3-4, without changing personnel. NY wants to be multiple, and still can’t pull it off as well as Washington can.
They not only have everyone’s coverage problem, they also can’t rush the passer. They have a pair or good young LB’s in the heart of their unit, but that wasn’t enough last year, and won’t be enough this year.
Strongest Special Teams: DALLAS
They have a pair of reliable legs. Nothing fancy, but reliability is how you win field position battles. Which in turn is partly how you win games. Especially close ones.
Weakest Special Teams:PHILADELPHIA
A Kicker who seems to be rotting away on the inside, and a Punter who’s entirely an experiment from another part of the world.
Projected Winner: WASHINGTON
Having the most solid defense in the division cannot be ignored. Their offensive woes are partly due to focusing on adding defensive talent, and partly due to a scheme which relies too heavily on being cute, instead of being smart. Last year they went 5 – 1 (out of 7 wins), under game managing QB Alex Smith. This year their starting QB likes to gamble with house money. On it’s own, this team can’t win the division. But they could get by, with a little help from their friends.
New York is a team rotting on the vine, and Dallas doesn’t think they need a defense. Besides, whenever the Cowboys see something they don’t like in the mirror, they just cover it and add another WR. QB problems be damned, there is no way a team with so much talent on it, should have finished 6-10. I meant the Cowboys of course. There is no way I could have been talking about the giants.
After taking a looooooong look all four teams over this last month, I’ve noticed that Philadelphia is not nearly as far away as many people, (including me initially) might think. Currently, they have the most complete offense, and the second most complete defense in the division. If they end up putting things together at the QB position, the Eagles will have people treating them like a team that’s missed the playoffs for the last decade, instead of the team that has won the East, two of the last four times.
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.
GENERALLY when I talk football, it’s about my Eagles. I tend to keep mum about our rivals, unless we have a game coming up against one of them. Otherwise, I’ve reserved most talk about them for my Pre-Draft Preview,which drops each April. (Look for it).
In 2017 however, I decided to try something new, and give our fan base a running commentary of what the division is doing around us. This ensures that Eagles fans actually are the NFL’s best informed, and most knowledgeable fans. (Provided you visit this site often.) These updates will come out three times during this season: After Weeks 6, 11, and 15.
When last we left off, Dallas was 2 – 4, and leading the division. Wow right?
You know, just twelve weeks ago, this team was talked about as being a Super Bowl contender. They were simply gonna walk away with the NFC East. Just walk away with it! Today the talk is about whether or not they’re ditching injured QB Dak Prescott, to select a QB in the top five.
So that’s how that’s going.
Replacing Prescott is QB Andy Dalton. And then QB Ben “Bring It On!” DiNucci. And then QB Garrett Gilbert. And then Uncle Rico. And then QB Andy Dalton. And then…
They are a team ravaged by injuries. Aw.
Being beat to shit by injuries, just means playing in the 2020 NFL. Nobody cares. Work harder.
On defense, they aren’t playing any. No, that’s not fair. At the time of our last installment, they weren’t. Since then they’ve stopped allowing 36 points per game and now have it down to 32.6 per game. IMPROVEMENT! Did I mention the 23 – 9 loss where they got FOUR turnovers? I didn’t? Well they suffered a 9 – 23 loss where they got FOUR turnovers. And were still nearly blown out!
Washington: 4 – 7, 2nd place in the NFC East
QB Kyle Allen was lost for the season with a dislocated ankle, vs the same giants team that dislocated QB Dak Prescott’s ankle. Have no fear! QB Alex Smith will be the starter for the final leg of this journey. Thus far, he’s 2 – 1 as a starter over these last three games, despite being far from spectacular at either moving or protecting the ball.
Defensively, their last two opponents were Cincy and Dallas, both playing with back-up QB’s. Washington’s dance card is a bout to stiffen a little, so we’ll get to see just how many of these improvements were improvements, and how many were just games against stumbling opponents. To their credit, for a hot five or six minutes, this Football Team (ick) actually recaptured the top spot in the division.
Now they’re back to playing for Draft position.
New York: 4 – 7, 1st place in the NFC East
New York is out here breaking so many ankles, that maybe we should call them the New York Iversons. Frankly I’m glad that we’ve already seen them twice, and escaped with our QB. QB Daniel Jones is playing acceptable football, in the sense that he is no longer a turnover fountain.
The real story for these last few weeks, is RB Wayne Gallman. He isn’t flashy, but unlike injured starter RB Saquon Barkley, Gallman’s more consistent from one carry to the next. Barkley is one big play, and a lot of loss, no gain, short gain. Gallman’s 4.0 per carry is more like 4 yards on this carry, 3 on that one, five on this one, and so forth. That sort of production keeps 3rd downs more manageable, and doesn’t put the QB in tight spots. Gallman’s style stabilizes the offense, and makes Jones viable . The giants have a real conundrum on their hands once Barkley is healthy again.
Flying under the radar is a defense that has held opponents to 25 points or fewer for the last 6 games (20.0 ppg). I made this team my dark horse to win the East in 2020, and so far it seems like I had it read pretty well.
So that’s the state of our division rivals as our Eagles head into game 12.
GENERALLY when I talk football, it’s about my Eagles. I tend to keep mum about our rivals, unless we have a game coming up against one of them. Otherwise, I’ve reserved most talk about them for my Pre-Draft Preview,which drops each April. (Look for it).
In 2017 however, I decided to try something new, and give our fan base a running commentary of what the division is doing around us. This ensures that Eagles fans actually are the NFL’s best informed, and most knowledgeable fans. (Provided you visit this site often.) These updates will come out three times during the season: After Weeks 6, 11, and 17.
This is where things are today:
Football Team: 1 – 5, 4th place in the NFC East
Their opening week victory looks like the only one they’ll get this year. Since that game they’ve allowed 29.0 points per game on defense. On offense they decided to not only bench their starting QB Dwayne Haskins, but to demote him to their Practice Squad. The new starter, QB Kyle Allen, has so far done a pretty good impersonation of Haskins during games.
Part of their offensive woes stem from insisting that they can turn college WR Antonio Gibson, into a RB. He’s a big slot WR who was born to catch middle Screens, and hot reads off of blitzes. Any other coaching staff would have seen that. The Redsk- Oops! The Football Team, wastes possessions trying to force a square peg, into a cement covered sphincter.
On defense they made a big splash getting 8 sacks, against an injury decimated Eagles Offensive Line in Week 1. Since then, they have all of 8 sacks in 5 games. They do have 7 interceptions, half of which (4) belong to CB Kendall Fuller.
giants: 1 – 5 , 3rd place in the NFC East
The giants spent 4 weeks getting worse, then had an offensive explosion vs the Cowboys last Sunday. They continued to ride that wave of confidence to their first win of the season over the Football Team. That win officially enters them into the “Win The NFC East” raffle.
To add injury to insult, the team lost RB Saquon Barkley for the year, with a torn ACL in his right knee. That placed all the weight for carrying the offense on QB Daniel Jones. Jones has so far responded by leading the team in rushing, with 204 yards through 6 games (34.0 ypg). Throwing the ball he has 3 TD’s and 6 picks. So there’s that.
On defense they’re allowing a 70% completion rate, and 8 TD’s to 3 picks. They’re also good for 110 yards on the ground per game. On the up-side, Green Bay refugee LB’s Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell are leading the team with 2 and 3 sacks, as well as 5 and 6 tackles for losses, respectively. Martinez leads the team in tackles.
Dallas Cowboys: 2 – 4, 1st place in the NFC East
This team was 1 – 3 before losing QB Dak Prescott for the year, during a Week 5 win over the giants. The road ahead doesn’t appear any easier. Six games in and RB Ezekiel Elliott has yet to see 100 yards rushing in game. What’s more, he has 5 fumbles already this year. The offensive line is an injury ravaged mess.
Defensively they give up 36.3 points per game. Allowing at least 34 points in each of their last 5 games. They’ve surrendered 14 passing TD’s and have just 1 interception this season, with just 2 total takeaways. Their best defensive player (DE Aldon Smith) is a guy who spent the last 4 years out of football.
Worse than all of the statistical woes, this team doesn’t appear to be weathering the adversity well. The sideline body language, and lack of eye contact between players, is indicative of a powder keg.
Oh yeah, and there’s also the little matter of players throwing the coaching staff under the bus, after just 6 weeks. This is where Dallas needs their men of high character to step up and lead.
So that’s the state of our division rivals as our Eagles head into Week 7.
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.
EAGLES vs “Football Team”. My god. How does Washington not see how stupid that looks?
The 2020 season sees last year’s Division Champs, your Philadelphia Eagles, return with a bigger, beefier QB Carson Wentz. Back comes DT Malik Jackson. Added was NT Javon Hargrave. Now DTFletcher Cox will see more one-on-one blocking. The same Fletcher Cox who beats double-teams! We added the power to control offenses.
Then we realized that we needed speed. Speed was our need. Greasy, fast speed!
So we added it. WR DeSean Jackson returns! Instead of making him our only source of speed, the Eagles also added WR Marquis Goodwin. Then WR John Hightower. Then WR Quez Watkins. Goodwin opted out of 2020, due to Covid-19 concerns. That leaves us with “only” three players who can blow the lid off of the defense, this Sunday.
A badly wounded Eagles team won the division in 2019. Then we lost in the first round of the playoffs. That made the team angry. And hungry. So they spent the offseason, sharpening, honing, their edge so fine, that you can hear a breeze splitting against it. If the Eagles could defend in 2019, they can hunt in 2020.
Win the division and we’re in the playoffs. No nonsense about being the 7th team, or getting help to qualify. Win and we’re in. Beating 2020 means winning the division. So that’s the mission: Beat 2020.
The first Adam’s Apple that even now, trickles blood at the point of our sword? Washington.
Settle your affairs Washington! The Eagles are coming.
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.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to focus on this week versus the (ahem) “Football Team” :
1) Run the football:That means at least 24 handoffs this week. Washington’s defense is sporting a new scheme. That’s true. Still, their interior is the same guys that our Offensive Line has physically been pushing around for years now. This year however, they’re smaller at DE and OLB. That won’t fare well vs our 2-TE sets. Especially if we don’t give them a strong-side to read easily. I guess they could always walk the SS into the box. Right, DeSean?
2) Blitz off our right:The loss of LT Trent Williams was massive. So Washington is attempting to plug the hole with OT Geron Christian Sr. Yes, Senior. He’s just 24 years old, and he’s already listing himself as “Senior”. I suppose it’s so he isn’t mistaken for his 3 year old son. In any case, he’s basically Halapoulivaati Vaitai, in a Redsk- Football Tea- (Lord, give me strength), Washington jersey. Overload his side. Confuse him. Force their RB to give blitz help on the edge, and take away one more receiving option. Let’s get their QB holding that ball a little bit longer.
3) Throw aggressively:SS Landon Collins is one hell of an ILB. Too bad that’s not what they signed him to play. That has led to one the most flammable secondaries you’ve ever seen.The funniest part was this offseason, when they gave CB Ronald Darby a boatload of money to pretend he’s hurt after blowing some more coverage assignments. This couldn’t be happening to a better team, and I mean that sincerely. A better team wouldn’t pay him. Get that ball down the field, Carson!
4) Make tackles: Seems like a silly thing to say, but winning has a great deal to do with confidence. Start out by doing things right, and the confidence will bloom. Not just that, but missed tackles might make Washington’s suck-ass players feel like they have a chance. Take a chainsaw to that shit while it’s still in the cradle. Make those tackles.
If we do all these things we should win, with a score looking like…
ENVELOPE please. The award for the 2020 Stupid Football Team of the Year goes to…the Football Team! Hey Coach Ron Rivera, could we get a statement from you?
You know how other bad teams realize that they’re a shit-show, fire everyone, and start to rebuild? They get a new President of Football operations. Then that President and the Owner either hire a General Manager, or a Head Coach who doubles as the GM. In cases where a GM is separate, they help hire the new Head Coach. From there they assemble the roster. Often taking a swing at drafting a Franchise QB.
The 2020 Redskins said to their fan base: “Hold my beer and watch this.”
The Redskins exited 2018 with a 7 – 9 record, and knowing that head coach Jay Gruden was on the hot seat. So of course, in the 2019 Draft, they selected QB Dwayne Haskins seventh overall. Now that he had a rookie to groom and grow, Gruden found job securit- He was fired before the 2019 season came to a close. Haskins didn’t win Rookie of the Year.
Enter former Carolina Panther head coach, Ron Rivera. Rivera is a defensive coach, but he’ll get the young QB on the right track. All Haskins needed was a sense of stabili- Say whaaa? Rivera did what now? His first move was to bring in his back-up QB from the Panthers?
Damn. I mean, I get it. But damn. That was some cold-blooded shit, right there.
So, top ten drafted QB? CHECK! New head coach who doesn’t give a fuck about the prior regime’s draft pick? CHECK! So what else did the Football Team need? What else should they add just one month before this weird Covid-addled season kicks off?
How about a new team President? AWESOME!
And you know what? He needs to be Black. To prove that the Redskins, sorry, the “Football Team”, isn’t racist. And make him frightfully young for the position, at just 38! And woefully inexperienced, having never even been any sort of NFL executive! Now start him immediately, in a situation where he can’t put his stamp on the team, because kickoff is in 3, 2…
You realize that when President Jason Wright fails (and he will), no one will cut him any slack because he was the president when the season started. Besides, NFL fans don’t generally consider context. So when this minority hire bombs, folks will say “Well, they did give one a chance…” Even though nothing of the sort ever happened. He never had a chance.
The Redskins totally built this thing inside out, upside down, and backwards. It’s the most stupid thing ever done by a football team, or by a football team named Football Team. Pretty strong statement given that we all remember the Cleveland Browns.
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.