Posts Tagged ‘Joe Theismann’

Best Redskins of Super Bowl era: Monk, Jurgy, Riggo, Taylor, Theismann

July 26, 2011

Art Monk received the longest standing ovation in the history of the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 2008. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

The Washington Redskins have one of the greatest histories of any NFL team.  Picking the Redskins’ ten best players is nearly impossible, so here’s a list of the ten best Redskins of the Super Bowl era, based on one observer’s opinion.  Receiver Art Monk tops the list, Sonny Jurgensen comes in second, and John Riggins rounds out the top three.

Sammy Baugh was the greatest Redskin, but this list only includes players who played since 1966. Sam Huff and Bobby Mitchell didn’t make the list, only because by the time the Super Bowl era had begun, their Hall of Fame careers were almost over.  Only two defensive players made the list, though Dave Butz, Pat Fischer, Chris Hanburger, Dexter Manley, Charles Mann, and Wilber Marshall would have likely made the next ten.

Special teamers Brian Mitchell and Mark Moseley also warrant consideration.  Among Redskins from the past decade, Chris Cooley, Santana Moss, and Chris Samuels would probably make the top 30, but just barely.  So without further ado, here are the ten greatest Redskins of the Super Bowl era.

1. Art Monk

When Art Monk was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008, he received the longest standing ovation ever at the Hall, lasting more than four minutes before he stopped the crowd.

Monk played 14 of his 16 seasons for the Washington Redskins and led them to three Super Bowl victories and four appearances. His 106 catches in 1984 were an NFL record that stood for eight years.  At one time, Monk also had the records for most catches in a career and most consecutive games with a catch.

Monk was nicknamed “Money” for his uncanny ability to make crucial catches in big games. If there were a statistic kept for most critical first downs receiving, Monk would surely be at the top of the list. Monk had excellent hands, speed and height, ran precise routes, and was a fearsome blocker. He sacrificed his body to get the tough yards over the middle.

Monk was one of the most respected players on a three-time Super Bowl winning team. In 1990, with the Redskins’ season on the line, the normally reserved Monk called a now legendary team meeting that lit a fire under the Skins. The Redskins went on to win four of their next five games to make the playoffs and won the Super Bowl against Buffalo the following year. Washington’s record was 6-5 before the meeting and 22-4 after.

In the playoffs, Monk had four 100-yard games as well as seven touchdowns for an average of 26 yards per catch for those touchdowns.  In Super Bowl XXII against Denver, with the Redskins down 10-0, Monk caught a critical pass after missing the previous two playoff games with an injury.  Monk caught a 40-yard pass on a 3rd and 16 play.  Without that catch, history might have been different, but the Redskins went on to win, 42-10. In January 1992, Monk had seven catches for 113 yards as the Redskins beat Buffalo 37-24 in Super Bowl XXVI.

If coach Joe Gibbs gets credit for three Super Bowls with three quarterbacks, Monk should too. He didn’t play with a Hall of Fame quarterback, but he was a Hall of Fame receiver, and the best Redskin of the Super Bowl era.

2. Sonny Jurgensen

Sonny Jurgensen has been called the greatest pure passer in the history of the game.  Longtime Redskins fans say Sonny would heave the ball long, get sacked behind a porous offensive line, and then dust himself off to learn that Charley Taylor, Bobby Mitchell, or Jerry Smith had come down with the ball.  The 1964 trade that brought Jurgensen to the Redskins from Philadelphia for Norm Snead was one of the most lopsided deals in NFL history.

Jurgy passed for more than 3,000 yards three times as a Redskin, in an era that did not favor aerial attacks and led the NFL in passing three times.  Jurgensen set NFL records for yards, attempts, and completions in 1967.  By the time the Redskins became a playoff team in the 1970s, George Allen had given the job to the more conservative Billy Kilmer.  But in his prime, Sonny was one of the game’s great signal callers. Today, Sonny is still one of the most recognizable Redskins, three decades after first calling games on the radio.

3. John Riggins

Riggins, a former track star at Kansas, possessed a rare combination of power and speed on the way to rushing for 11,352 yards and scoring 116 touchdowns. Riggo played like a runaway truck, and his nickname of the “Diesel” was never more fitting than during his famous run through the playoffs in January 1983.  Riggins’ iconic bow to the RFK Stadium crowd after rumbling for 185 yards in a playoff win over Minnesota is etched in the minds of Redskins fans everywhere.

Redskins fans will always remember “70 chip,” the 4th and 1 play In the Super Bowl against Miami, when Riggins ran for a 43-yard touchdown to seal a 27-17 victory.  Riggins finished with 166 yards rushing and took home the MVP trophy. Riggins was one of a kind, once telling former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to “loosen up, Sandy baby.” After Riggins sat out the 1980 season in a contract dispute, Washington’s new coach, Joe Gibbs, traveled to Kansas to convince Riggins to return. “I’m bored, I’m broke, and I’m back,” said the running back upon returning to the nation’s capital.  The rest is history.

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

Best of Ex-Skins on TV and radio: Jurgensen, Matich, May, Mitchell, Theismann, Walker

October 13, 2010

 

 

Joe Theismann, at the 2008 Hall of Fame induction ceremony of Art Monk and Darrell Green, is one of the best ex-Redskin analysts working on TV and radio. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

 

The Redskins may have more ex-players working on TV and radio than any other NFL team.  I made a list of all the former Skins with a brief summary of what they’ve done as well as a critique.  Click here for my complete article on Examiner.com.

Overall, the best in my opinion are Sonny Jurgensen, Trevor Matich, Mark May, Brian Mitchell, Joe Theismann, and Rick “Doc” Walker.  In my opinion, John Riggins is overrated as a commentator but some may disagree.

A couple of interesting ones — Dexter Manley has his own show, “Dexter’s Rush Hour,” which is irreverent, sometimes pretty bad, and other times, surprisingly must see TV, even though it’s only on the web; and a long-forgotten kids TV show called “It’s Elementary,” by former Redskins receiver Roy Jefferson (view the vintage video here).

Lavar Arrington, LB (2000-05) – Arrington has come into his own as a broadcaster, doing afternoons on 106.7 FM, “the Fan.” Arrington’s personality comes through and his knowledge of the Redskins is excellent. Arrington also shows enthusiasm for basketball, and he’s working on hockey, though baseball is an area in need of major improvement. The former linebacker has recently begun writing snippets for the Washington Post, and he’s showing a knack for writing as well.

Unfortunately, neither L.A. nor his co-host know enough about Redskins history before, say, the mid-1980s, which is a glaring oversight because the Redskins have such a great history from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Needless to say, Arrington’s knowledge of D.C. area sports before 2000 is sorely lacking.

Roy Jefferson, WR (1971-76) – Jefferson hosted a children’s show in the late 1970s called “It’s Elementary.” See the vintage video here. This show was similar to “Wonderama” and “It’s Academic,” and Jefferson was such a good host, many children didn’t even know he used to play for the Redskins.

Sonny Jurgensen, QB (1964-74) – Jurgensen has been doing color commentary on Redskins games on the radio since 1981 with Huff, and for 24 seasons was part of the “Sonny, Sam, and Frank” team. Jurgensen is uncanny for his ability to call a play before it happens. Jurgensen is the dean of Redskins on the air. In the late ’70s and ’80s, he co-hosted the interview show “Redskins Sidelines” with the late Glenn Brenner, and also interviewed players and coaches with Brenner in the ’80s. Jurgensen also did games on CBS in the ’80s.

Dexter Manley (1981-1989) – Dexter has resurfaced after being out of the spotlight for many years and has a show called “Dexter’s Rush Hour” on the web. The irreverent show features skits, puppets, interviews, and predictions. His personality comes through and he makes some surprisingly astute observations. Before the season started he predicted LaRon Landry would have a great year. Before the Dallas game he said that the Cowboys think they’re better than other teams. “Redskins vs. the Dallas Cowgirls…,” Dexter rambled on. “You must be willing to run over your grandmother, your mother, your sister, and your little sister, and all your other sisters out there, you got a lot of illegitimate kids, run over them, run over dogs, cats, whatever it is, you run over them to go beat the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.” The show can be a little cringeworthy at times, but it’s also refreshing to see Dexter being Dexter again, and good to have a Redskin call out the Cowboys as the rival that they are.

Trevor Matich, C (1994-96) – Matich works on Comcast SportsNet’s excellent Redskins post-game show and also provides analysis on college football for ESPN on TV and radio. Matich’s attention to detail is very thorough and he has quickly become on of the best football analysts in the country.

Mark May, T (1981-89) – May has been a regular on ESPN’s “College Football Scoreboard” for the last 10 seasons. He knowledge about college football is extensive, and his pairing with Lou Holtz works exceedingly well. May is one of the premier college football analysts in the country. It’s fitting that the former Outland Trophy winner is also a standout analyst for college football instead of the NFL, though May was a very good guard for the Skins.

Brian Mitchell, RB (1990-99) — Mitchell does a superb job of analysis on Comcast SportsNet’s Redskins post-game show. Mitchell has always been outspoken and brutally honest. In the early years after his retirement, he almost seemed to enjoy the Redskins’ poor play, probably because owner Dan Snyder let Mitchell go a few years too early. That bitterness is mostly gone, but Mitchell has clearly become the most knowledgeable former Redskin about the team. Mitchell tells it like it is. He also has worked for both D.C. sportsradio stations and puts in a fair effort at covering other sports.

John Riggins, RB (1976-79, 1981-85) – Riggins worked as a panelist on George Michael’s “Redskins Report” for many years, co-hosted a daily show on Sirius NFL Radio, and in recent years has hosted various radio and Cable TV sports shows such as Riggins Post Game Xtra. This show appears to be on MASN as well as the web. Riggins has often been entertaining and outspoken with a strong personality, but also lacks depth and insight into the technical aspects of football, especially for a former player. Think Mike Ditka. (However, many fans disagree with this assessment and love Riggo as a media personality). Finally, here’s Riggins’ YouTube video in which he says former Skins coach Jim Zorn is a high school coach. It was a little unnecessary to pile on like that.

Joe Theismann, QB (1974-85) – Theismann has been one of the most articulate, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable ex-players in the NFL since he retired after the 1985 season. In fact, in January 1985, while still active for the Redskins, Theismann did color commentary on Super Bowl XIX on ABC. From 1988 to 2005, Theismann worked on Sunday Night Football telecasts on ESPN, and called Monday Night Football games the following season. In 2007, Theismann was replaced by Ron Jaworski on MNF, a questionable decision despite the fact that Jaworski is a one of the best game analysts around. Theismann surely could have continued to be one of the top color commentators on NFL or college games but declined offers. He currently does Thursday Night games on the NFL Network and contributes to various radio sports talk shows. Theismann is still one of the best NFL analysts and could easily step into a top position calling games and wouldn’t miss a beat.

Rick “Doc” Walker, TE (1980-85) – Walker got his start as soon as his football career ended, as a reporter for Channel 4 under George Michael. In those days, Walker was overly enthusiastic, as he tried to ham it up for the camera with a little too much Hollywood. Within a few years, Walker developed a more authentic delivery with substance to go with his style, and he has been a regular co-host on Sportsradio WTEM for most of the past 20 years. Walker, like Mitchell, is honest in his opinions. He’s an expert on the Redskins, and, like Riggins and Theismann, is a link to the glory days of the 1980s. Walker has also done ACC football and a variety of local cable TV shows. His basketball knowledge is passable. Along with Mitchell and Matich, Walker does a first rate job of analysis on the Redskins Postgame show on Comcast SportsNet, currently the best of all Redskins shows.

To see the complete list, click on the Examiner.com article.

Washington Redskins get better with Donovan McNabb trade, Philadelphia Eagles get worse

April 5, 2010

By trading quarterback Donovan McNabb to Washington, the Philadelphia Eagles just made themselves much worse, and made one of their greatest rivals, the Redskins, much better overnight.

New Redskins coach Mike Shanahan gets a quarterback with a strong arm, good mobility, great experience, and excellent leadership skills.

Meanwhile Eagles coach Andy Reid has given the keys to the offense to Kevin Kolb, a quarterback who has thrown four touchdowns and seven interceptions in his career.

McNabb could mean the difference between six wins and nine wins. And nine wins can make the playoffs. Heck, nine wins can even make the Super Bowl – see the Cardinals from two seasons ago.

Ok, let’s not get too excited. Nobody expects that to happen, but it has been said that the NFL stands for “not for long.” These days, teams get better – or worse – fast.

Look no further than last year’s Super Bowl champs, the New Orleans Saints, who finished 8-8 the previous year.

When Redskins general manager Bruce Allen made this move, he could have quoted a phrase made popular by his late father George, the Redskins Hall of Fame coach from 1971-77: “the future is now.”

But those who think that McNabb is part of a new “Over the Hill Gang” should look at Brett Favre. If Favre can play past the age of 40, then McNabb at 33 may have several good seasons left.

Also remember that McNabb has become the Eagles all-time leading passer in victories, completions, yards, and touchdowns despite only twice having a great receiver.

The first time was when the Eagles had Terrell Owens and they made the Super Bowl, losing to the New England Patriots 24-21 in 2005.

The second time the Eagles had a great receiver during McNabb’s tenure was last season when DeSean Jackson came into his prime and the Eagles ended up with 11 wins.

The Redskins now have a franchise QB and depth at running back with Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson, and Willie Parker. One of those three may go. All four of these players have something in common, though – they have something to prove.

Obviously the Redskins need to address the offensive line through the draft. They also need a third-down running back who can catch the ball. Another receiver or two would be nice to complement starters Santana Moss and Devin Thomas. McNabb and Chris Cooley should connect for at least 70 passes.  The defense is already solid.

But quarterback is the most important position on the field. And the Redskins finally have a great one.

McNabb is the best Redskins quarterback since Joe Theismann, and yes, it has been 25 years since Theismann’s last season. Mark Rypien was the Super Bowl MVP after the 1991 season, but Ryp had a relatively short career.

It’s not out of the question that the Redskins will still take a quarterback in the draft. McNabb could leave after the season.

Or, McNabb could be the Skins’ starter for the next five years.

Don’t underestimate the power of motivation. It can go a long way. McNabb will be pumped to play against the Eagles and to prove that Philly was wrong.

As for the Eagles, they will now likely be a few games worse than the 10 or 11 wins they usually get.

McNabb is not Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, or Drew Brees. But he’s clearly a top ten quarterback, and he’s a top five QB when he’s at his best. The only knock on McNabb is that is accuracy is sometimes a little off.

But overall, McNabb is a franchise quarterback – a sure thing. If history shows us anything, it’s that playing an unproven quarterback is a crapshoot.

For every Manning, there has been a Ryan Leaf. For every McNabb, there has been an Akili Smith (drafted one spot after McNabb in 1999).

Don’t forget, Heath Shuler, Patrick Ramsey, and Jason Campbell were all first round picks, and only Campbell has become a regular starter, and a mediocre one at that.

Campbell, who started three and a half seasons for the Redskins but struggled with different systems and shaky offenses, will likely go to another team.  Newly signed Rex Grossman should be the backup.  Colt Brennan, who was on injured reserve last year, may also be headed elsewhere.

Kolb did play well last year while filling in for McNabb for two games, throwing for over 300 yards each game and going 1-1.

But with McNabb, the Eagles were always on the verge of getting to the Super Bowl. How often does a quarterback lead a team to a Super Bowl in his first year as a starter? Hardly ever, except for Brady.

The Eagles also let a top ten running back, Brian Westbrook, depart this year although Westbrook had a couple of concussions last season.

Did Reid outsmart himself? Is he trying to prove he can win with a new quarterback?  Is it ego, or is the economy so bad that the Eagles were trying to save the money from McNabb’s salary?  Did the decision come from the owner’s box?

Say what you will about Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, but he will pay to put a winner on the field.

Ever since Eagles fans booed McNabb when Philadelphia drafted him second overall in 1999 instead of Ricky Williams, McNabb has never been fully accepted in Philadelphia.

But those fans miss the point. The object is to put your team in a position to win, which McNabb has done year after year.

We’re talking about a city that booed the greatest third-baseman of all time, Mike Schmidt.

These are fans who booed Santa Claus.

McNabb is too good for Philadelphia.

Welcome to Washington, Donovan.

To see my article on examiner.com, click here.

Too Many Cowboys on TV – Sick of Them

September 13, 2009

I am so sick of getting either Troy Aikman or Daryl Johnston as our game color commentators.  It’s bad enough that for years we had to listen to Michael Irvin on ESPN, and then Emmitt Smith and now Keyshawn Johnson.  You can’t get away from them.

The former Skins are a lot better on the air — so much more intelligent — whether it’s Mark May or Trevor Matich for college football, or Rick “Doc” Walker or Brian Mitchell on the radio about the Redskins.  Jim Lachey does Ohio State broadcasts.  I would imagine he’s pretty good.  Joe Theismann was a great color commentator on NFL games.  Of course, Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff are great on the local radio broadcasts.

The fact is the Skins have been average for a long time so we always get the average announcers like Aikman and Johnson.  To prevent this the Skins will have to start playing a lot better.