Cousins to start for RGIII for Redskins vs. Browns

December 16, 2012

cousinsKirk Cousins will start Sunday’s game in Cleveland against the Browns. Robert Griffin III’s knee sprain will keep him on the sideline, and Rex Grossman will be the backup.

To see my articles on this and last week’s 31-28 OT win over Baltimore, click below:

http://www.examiner.com/article/redskins-qb-cousins-to-start-place-of-injured-robert-griffin-iii-vs-browns

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1446564-redskins-backup-qb-kirk-cousins-will-start-for-robert-griffin-iii-vs-browns

http://www.examiner.com/article/rookies-lead-redskins-over-ravens-31-28-ot-robert-griffin-iii-sprains-knee

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1439093-redskins-31-ravens-28-rg3-injured-cousins-forbath-lead-washington-to-ot-win

Photo by Bill Bride.

Michael Wilbon calls D.C. a “terrible” sports town

October 5, 2012

Michael Wilbon, formerly of the Washington Post and now of ESPN, hates the Redskins and D.C. He now has called D.C. a “terrible” sports town. Sounds like Wilbon is upset now that D.C. teams are finally doing well again. He was on the bandwagon in the 1980s and early 1990s when the Skins were winning Super Bowls. I guess Wilbon just has to project his own personality onto other people. He is a sorry, no-account fraud who rips D.C. because he thinks it’s not cool to be from here. Wilbon, we’re sick of you kissing up to athletes. You’re past your prime. You’ve jumped the shark. 

If you want to read about D.C. as a sports town, click here.

 

Is Robert Griffin III the biggest sports star in D.C.?

October 2, 2012

All of a sudden, Washington, D.C. is home to some of the biggest stars in sports. No other city in America has four overall number one picks since 2004, and the No. 1 star in D.C. would have been picked first overall in the draft most other seasons. No other city has four of its top five stars under the age of 25. D.C. tried it with other teams’ stars who were past their prime in Michael Jordan, Jaromir Jagr, and Donovan McNabb. That didn’t work, but now the most powerful city in the country has its own home-grown stars in each of the four most popular American sports leagues.

It has been a rough couple of decades for Redskins fans. Hardly anyone under 40 remembers the last time the Bullets won the NBA title. And the Caps, while they usually make the playoffs, may be the most underachieving playoff team in the history of American sports. But with a baseball team in the playoffs for the first time since 1933, things may be turning around for D.C. sports fans.

With the five stars on this list, D.C. fans have a future most cities can only dream about. The top stars on this list aren’t necessarily the best players in that order, but they’re pretty close. Without further ado, here are the five biggest sports stars in Washington, D.C.

To read the rest of this article on Examiner.com, click here.

RGIII and Redskins: Future is Now

August 26, 2012

The time for Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins to win is now.  The Washington fans and media are throwing words like “development,” “progress,” and “potential” around as if the Redskins are turning into the Wizards, who don’t try to win and only look to the future.  This “We’re not worthy” attitude is getting tiresome.

Photo by Bill Bride.

It’s true that expectations were often unreasonably high in the early and mid 2000s when Dan Snyder spent unwisely on veterans and the team drafted poorly. But the pendulum has swung, and the team has invested in youth while ensuring continuity among the coaching staff for the second time in the last three regimes.

It’s time for D.C. to get rid of its loser inferiority complex and demand results. Sports is about production and winning, not about “progress.” A writer for the dominant paper in town wrote a month ago that the Redskins shouldn’t expect to contend until 2014, and that two more losing seasons, for a total of five consecutive, would be acceptable. Sorry, that’s loser talk. Things can and do turn around overnight in the NFL.

The writer went on to say that RGIII’s development is all that matters. Hogwash. Winning is all that matters. What about the other 52 players on the team? What about the fans?

There’s a myth out there perpetuated by some of the screamers who do sports talk radio that says that other than Cam Newton (4,051 yards, 24 passing touchdowns), rookie quarterbacks don’t flourish in the NFL. Nothing could be further from the truth. Today, the college game produces NFL-style quarterbacks. In fact, we should amend that statement to say, “Other than Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Sam Bradford, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, and Mark Sanchez…”

All of those quarterbacks led their teams to big turnarounds their rookie seasons. In fact, each one of them led their teams to at least four more victories than the previous season, while Sanchez’ Jets had the same record but advanced to the AFC title game.

What about Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons? Matty Ice improved Atlanta from 4-12 to 11-5 in 2008 while throwing for 3,440 yards. That same season, the Baltimore Ravens, who have been infringing on Redskins territory for more than a decade, went from 5-11 to 11-5 under Flacco.

In 2010, Bradford’s St. Louis Rams improved from one win to seven while he threw for 3,512 yards. Last year, Dalton helped the perpetually pathetic Cincinnati Bengals to a 9-7 playoff year after finishing 4-12 the year before. And Newton led the Carolina Panthers to six wins after the team won just one in 2010.  Newton and Dalton did it without the benefit of minicamps. (Dalton, it should be noted, was a second-round pick).

To be fair, three rookie first-round quarterbacks didn’t set the world on fire last season, including Jake Locker (Tennessee Titans), Blaine Gabbert (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Christian Ponder (Minnesota Vikings). And Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos didn’t play much until the final three games of the 2010 season.

The only other first-round quarterbacks since 2008 who didn’t lead their teams to major turnarounds their rookie years were Josh Freeman of Tampa Bay and Matt Stafford of Detroit in 2009. But Stafford is now an elite quarterback, and Freeman is considered an upcoming star by many NFL experts despite a poor season in 2011.

So of the 11 quarterbacks selected in the first round between 2008 and 2011, five of them led their teams to significantly better seasons than the previous year. Add second-rounder Dalton and half of the quarterbacks picked high fall into that category. So it’s inaccurate to say that rookie quarterbacks always fail. Let’s also remember that RGIII was the second player picked overall in 2012.

None of this means that RGIII is going to turn around the Redskins in one season by himself. But let’s not give the team a eulogy and give up on them like Wizards players, coaches, ownership, media, and fans do every year, giving them a free pass to lose as much as they can.

The Charlie Brown attitude in D.C. is so prevalent that virtually nobody in Washington predicted the playoffs for the 2012 Washington Nationals, who are running away with the best record in the majors. Anyone could see this team had an excellent starting pitching rotation. But the sports radio “experts” were afraid to predict the playoffs, expecting a season slightly above .500, with 2013 a target for the postseason.

Fans and media whine all the time about the Redskins’ offensive line and secondary. The team hasn’t done as much as it could have to address the line, but Washington was hamstrung by the salary cap penalty the NFL levied last spring.

The fact is that most NFL teams are flawed. The way to overcome the offensive line is to shorten plays so they aren’t slow developing like they were during Donovan McNabb’s season with the Redskins. If the Shanahans haven’t figured that out by now, they should be fired at year’s end.

Washington has good talent at the most important positions on the field. After quarterback, pass rushing defensive ends or outside linebackers are among the most important positions with the emphasis on the passing game in today’s NFL. While Stephen Bowen and Adam Carriker are solid if unspectacular, Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are excellent pass rushing linebackers. Second-year defensive end Jarvis Jenkins should add some extra push along the line.

Left tackle is also considered one of the most important positions. While Trent Williams won’t make anyone forget Joe Jacoby, Jim Lachey, or even Chris Samuels, the first round pick is probably at least better than average.

Kicking gets no respect, but with talent levels fairly even in the NFL, kickers can make a huge difference. Neal Rackers should make the team over Graham Gano. If he does, the Redskins will have a kicker whose career field goal percentage of 80, while less than the league average, is considerably higher than Gano’s career average of 73.8. That right there is good for at least one more win per season.

The Redskins actually have good talent at the skill positions. With young receivers Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan and Leonard Hankerson to go along with old reliable Santana Moss in the slot, RGIII should have plenty of targets. Fred Davis is one of the better tight ends in the NFL. At running back, Roy Helu and Evan Royster have quick feet and better pass catching ability than recent Redskins running backs. If Tim Hightower is healthy that’s a bonus, and rookie Alfred Morris has been a pleasant surprise.  Teams don’t need a 1,000-yard rusher anymore. It’s better to have several options.

The defense improved from 31st in 2010 to 13th in 2011 under Jim Haslett, and this will be the team’s third season under the same offensive and defensive systems.

The NFC East is overrated. There are no bad teams, but no dominant teams. The New York Giants finished with a 9-7 record, the same as the non-playoff Tennessee Titans. The Giants gained a potential star running back in rookie David Wilson but lost a top receiver in Mario Manningham. The Eagles still have questions surrounding the offensive line and the health of Michael Vick. Dallas is an 8-8 team despite its mystique.

Yes, the time for the Redskins to begin winning is now. Anything less than a 9-7 record will be a disappointment, and the players, fans, and media should treat the team that way.

Forget “development” and “progress.” Those are words for losers. Winning is the name of the game.

Redskins acquire draft rights to Robert Griffin III from St. Louis

March 18, 2012

The Washington Redskins and St. Louis Rams have agreed on a trade that will enable the Redskins to move up to use the Rams’ second pick in the NFL Draft to select Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, according to FOXSports.com.

The Redskins’ bold move signals the start of a new era for Washington. The Redskins may just be back to their winning ways after a drought of nearly two decades.

Giving up first round picks in 2012, 2013, and 2014 and a second round pick this year to get the St. Louis Rams’ second pick in this spring’s draft is a steep price. But it appears Cleveland was ready to pull the trigger on a deal for RG3.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

1991 Washington Redskins: Best team in Super Bowl history

February 6, 2012

In an era with Super Bowl teams that have shoddy defenses, inconsistent ground attacks, and mediocre records, it’s easy to forget that decades ago, many Super Bowl teams not only had outstanding individual units but were balanced in every area.  In fact, five of the greatest Super Bowl teams of all time played in the 20 years from 1972 to 1991.

The somewhat subjective rankings are:

  1. 1991 Washington Redskins
  2. 1985 Chicago Bears
  3. 1972 Miami Dolphins
  4. 1989 San Francisco 49ers
  5. 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers

Twenty years ago, the greatest team of the Super Bowl era, the 1991 Washington Redskins, dominated the league from start to finish. The 1985 Chicago Bears had the most stifling defense, while the 1989 San Francisco 49ers possessed an unstoppable offense.  The 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers were balanced on both sides of the ball as were the 1972 undefeated Miami Dolphins, but the Redskins faced a tougher schedule than all of them.

The Redskins of 20 years ago aren’t usually regarded as the best team of the Super Bowl era, and part of that is because of the quarterback, Mark Rypien. Though Rypien had a mostly pedestrian career, he did have a truly great season in 1991, and the numbers prove that. Rypien, an excellent deep passer, threw for 28 touchdowns, second in the NFL.

Rypien was second in passer rating, and he threw 14 TDs of 25 yards or more, most in the NFL. Rypien led the NFL in yards per pass completion, ahead of Hall of Famers Steve Young, Jim Kelly, John Elway, Dan Marino, and Warren Moon. Plus, Rypien’s 28 TDs were nearly twice as many as Bears quarterback Jim McMahon’s greatest single-season output of 15.

Washington had a strong running attack with Earnest Byner, Ricky Ervins, and Gerald Riggs combining for nearly 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns.  Byner was the workhorse, Ervins provided elusiveness, and Riggs served as the short yardage back. Incredibly, the posse, Hall of Famer Art Monk, Gary Clark, and Ricky Sanders, combined for more than 3,000 yards receiving.

Most impressively, the 1991 version of the Hogs allowed Rypien to be sacked only nine times all season.  The feat is even more remarkable because Rypien was anything but a mobile quarterback. The Hogs’ only Hall of Famer, left guard Russ Grimm, was a backup to Raleigh McKenzie that season. The two best linemen on the team were tackles Jim Lachey and Joe Jacoby. Brian Mitchell ran back two punts for touchdowns to lead Washington’s excellent special teams, and kicker Chip Lohmiller made the Pro Bowl.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Robert Griffin III, Peyton Manning, Rex Grossman, and 5 myths about the Washington Redskins

January 12, 2012

Should the Redskins move up in the draft to select quarterback Robert Griffin III, make a trade for Colts QB Peyton Manning, sign free agent QB Matt Flynn, or draft a different quarterback?

Is Rex Grossman a terrible quarterback or did he play well at times considering the Redskins’ injuries and relative lack of talent?

Should the Redskins have played the young guys and tanked the season to go for a higher draft pick? (Of course not – I can’t let you wait to get to the article to find the answer to this one).

To read my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Is Graham Gano of the Redskins the worst kicker in the NFL?

November 23, 2011

Graham Gano, the latest in a long line of mediocre kickers for the Washington Redskins, missed 2-of-3 field goals in a 27-24 overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys Sunday at FedEx Field.

Dan Bailey kicked a 39-yard field goal to give the Cowboys the win in overtime.

Rex Grossman led Washington on an 89-yard drive capped off by a 4-yard touchdown pass to Donte Stallworth to tie the score at 24 with 14 seconds left. Grossman had one of his better outings, connecting on 25-of-38 passes for 289 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. Grossman also ran for a touchdown.

Jabar Gaffney contributed a strong effort for Washington with seven catches for 115 yards and a touchdown.

Meanwhile, the Redskins’ overrated bend and break defense allowed Tony Romo to throw for 292 yards and three touchdowns.

Gano could have won the game with a 52-yard kick in overtime, but the kick sailed to the right. In the third quarter, with the Redskins up 17-10, Gano missed a 49-yarder. Both misses were long field goals, but the fact is that Gano has been the most inconsistent kicker in the NFL during his short two-year career.

Much of the blame for the Redskins’ six-game losing streak will be again focused on the play of the quarterbacks, running game and play-calling, and rightfully so.  But the Redskins’ kicking game is once again among the worst in the NFL.

The Redskins have had six key offensive players injured for parts of the season, and three starters are out for the year. Still, if the Redskins had a better kicker, they might have another two wins.

Gano has made just 16-of-24 kicks in 2011, a rate of less than 67 percent, good for 31st in the NFL. Only Jay Feely of Arizona is making kicks at a lower rate than Gano.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Don’t just blame Rex – blame Kyle Shanahan too

October 21, 2011

Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan will start John Beck at Sunday at Carolina while Rex Grossman goes to the bench. Beck, 30, will start for the first time since 2007 when he started four games as a rookie for the Miami Dolphins.  The move had been expected by many observers after Grossman threw four interceptions in a 20-13 loss to Philadelphia Sunday.  Beck led a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter against the Eagles.

Rex has the experience, while the unproven Beck provides more mobility and perhaps more upside. But lost in the background is the fact that no matter who the quarterback is, if questionable play calling continues under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the Redskins won’t reach their offensive potential.

Fans and media have been quick to criticize Grossman for his performance in Washington’s 20-13 loss to the Eagles. To say that Rex was less than stellar against the Eagles would be a gross understatement.  He had a terrible game.  However, Grossman is being made a scapegoat for the loss to the Eagles as well as for inconsistent play in games against Dallas and St. Louis.

To see the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Rex Grossman leads Skins to 28-14 win over Giants at FedEx Field

September 12, 2011

At least for now, Mike Shanahan’s decision to start Rex Grossman over John Beck has turned out to be a good one. Grossman led the Redskins to a 28-14 win over the Giants at FedEx Field. Grossman was 21-of-34 for 305 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

To read my article about Shanahan’s decision to start Rex on Examiner.com, click here.