Posts Tagged ‘Washington Redskins’

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.

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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.

Former Redskins LB Chris Hanburger, the “Hangman,” finally makes Pro Football Hall of Fame

August 9, 2011

Former Redskins linebacker Chris Hanburger is the latest Redskin to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Hanburger was enshrined into the Hall Saturday in Canton, Ohio. The humble Hanburger gave his Hall of Fame speech one week shy of his 70th birthday.

Hanburger’s son Chris presented him into the Hall of Fame.  The modest Hanburger started by mentioning former teammates in attendance Billy Kilmer, Ron McDole, Brig Owens, Pat Fischer, and Larry Brown. He also congratulated the other inductees, and even thanked the volunteers at the Hall of Fame. Hanburger went on to thank men and women who are members of the armed forces, firefighters, and law enforcement, calling them the the true Hall of Famers.

“I don’t consider myself a true Hall of Famer,” Hanburger said. “It’s not so much what I did. I look at it as what the people around me did on the field that let me try to be somewhat of a loose cannon out there.”

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

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.

Former Redskins linebacker Chris Hanburger elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame

February 7, 2011

Former Redskins linebacker Chris Hanburger was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday.

Former Redskins linebacker Chris Hanburger is the latest Redskin to make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Hanburger was voted in as a senior candidate, 32 years after the outside linebacker retired.  Hanburger played 14 seasons for the Redskins, making the Pro Bowl nine times and winning the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Year award in 1972 when Washington made it to the Super Bowl.

In the 1970s, Hanburger was part of George Allen’s “Over the Hill Gang,” a group of veterans who led the Redskins to five playoff appearances and seven winning seasons in a row from 1971 to 1977.

Hanburger intercepted 19 passes in his career, returning two for touchdowns, and recovered 17 fumbles, returning three for scores. He was named All-Pro four times.

Hanburger becomes the fourth Redskin in the last four years to make it to Canton, Ohio.  Last year, guard Russ Grimm made it to Canton.  Two years ago, receiver Art Monk and cornerback Darrell Green were enshrined.

Hanburger, like Monk and Grimm, was a humble player who did not promote his accomplishments during or after his career.

Modesty may have hurt them in being overlooked for the Hall for a number of years.  Like Monk (inducted in his eighth year of eligibility) and Grimm (inducted in his 14th year of eligibility), Hanburger was bypassed for many years, making it 27 years after he was first eligible.

Is there an anti-Redskins bias that prevents players from making the Hall of Fame in favor of players from Pittsburgh and Dallas?

There are many other Redskins who should be in the Hall of Fame and others who at least deserve consideration.  Click here to read the rest of my article on Examiner.com to find out which other Redskins may belong in Canton, Ohio.

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.

Free Mike Vick

July 29, 2009

I think Michael Vick deserves a chance to play the entire season.  I also hope it’s with the Washington Redskins, and I think there’s a pretty good chance of that.

Let Vick Play

First, what Vick did to those dogs was obviously terrible.  I like dogs, and they like me.  But Vick paid a huge price, spending two years in prison, missing two full NFL seasons, and losing all of his money.  The whole idea that the NFL is suspending Vick on top of the jail sentence doesn’t make sense to me.  The NFL suspended Vick two years ago, so he has already been suspended for two full seasons.

The NFL has left the door open for Vick to come back right away, with its ambiguous ruling, but Vick may also have to wait until week 6 to play.  The NFL wants Vick to miss the opening week of the season so the story doesn’t dominate the headlines.  They also are concerned with reaction from extreme animal groups as well as a society that seems to place more value on the lives of animals than people.  Other players did worse and got lesser punishments.

  • Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis pleaded guilty to a charge of obstruction of justice in a murder trial in 2000.  Lewis was originally accused of having a role in the deaths of two people but he never received even a fraction of the vilification that Vick did.  In fact, he became a hero.  Lewis was not suspended by the NFL but was fined $250,000.  The next season, Lewis led the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory.  Lewis has consistently been one of the most praised players in the NFL since the incident.
  • St. Louis Rams defensive end Leonard Little was suspended for only 8 games by the NFL after he was convicted of manslaughter in 1998, killing a woman while driving drunk.  Vick has already missed four times as many games as Little.  (Little spent 90 days in jail).  In 2004, Little was arrested again on charges of driving drunk.
  • Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth is on indefinite suspension from the NFL after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges in April after killing a man while driving drunk.  Stallworth only spent one month in jail and will likely be reinstated to the NFL after this season.

Vick is a Quarterback

One of the problems with 24-hour sports talk, ESPN, and the sports blogosphere is that people don’t do much thinking for themselves.  They just repeat back what everybody else says (It’s the same with news).  I’d say 90% of the so-called NFL experts have said over the last two years that when Vick comes back, he will come back not as a quarterback, but as a wide receiver, kick returner, or situational quarterback.  The thinking goes that Vick wasn’t that good of a quarterback in the first place, and two years away from the game would not enable him to recover and play the complex position of quarterback.

Here’s why all those people are wrong.  Vick may have been one of the fastest players in the league during his first few years, but after 6 years of playing QB in the NFL, the wear and tear on Vick probably left his speed at merely faster than average for an NFL wide receiver.  Now after two years of inactivity, he may be just middle of the road as far as speed for NFL receivers.  Plus, he has never played receiver.  If you have Vick at wildcat QB, ok, then he can throw the ball, run with it, catch it, or be a decoy.  But he’s too talented to just play 10 plays a game long-term.

As I’ve said before in my other blog (www.mikefrandsen.org – click “Quarterbacks”), people don’t place a high enough value on quarterbacks who win.  It’s why quarterbacks like Vick (38-28-1 record as a starter) and Vince Young (18-11) get underrated, while quarterbacks like Jay Cutler (17-20) get overrated – because people care more about stats than wins.  Gee, I wonder what else it could be? The way the talking heads talk about Vick and Young makes you wonder if they have an axe to grind – as if they actually dislike them.

Vick’s 71-52 touchdown to interception ratio isn’t that bad despite the fact that he never had good wide receivers, and his WRs dropped a lot of passes his final two years.  Vick also led the Falcons to a 27-7 victory over Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field in 2003, at a time when the Packers had never lost a home playoff game.  The media constantly harps on Vick’s low completion percentage, (53.8%) as evidence that he is a bad QB, but you could take every player’s worst stat out of context if you ignore his good stats.  Who would you rather have, Vick, or a one-dimensional immobile QB with a high completion percentage?  They talk about Vick’s low passer rating, but quarterback ratings don’t take into consideration how well QBs avoid sacks and how many yards they gain on the ground.

Also, it’s not as if the Falcons from 2001 to 2006 were known for having great defense, or great anything, really.  What could Vick have accomplished on a good team?  Vick has 3859 career rushing yards and averaged 7.3 yards a carry.  In 2006, Vick rushed for over 1000 yards and had 8.4 yards a carry, an NFL record!  Great rushing quarterbacks have succeeded — look at Steve Young and Steve McNair.  The dimension that Vick has of running with the ball scares a defense a lot more than overrated quarterbacks who throw tons of interceptions.  Vick has never thrown more than 13 interceptions in a season.  Again, that’s not spectacular, but it’s not as bad as the so-called experts would have you believe.

The fact is that Vick is better than just about all of the backup quarterbacks in the NFL, and better than a lot of starters.  Maybe not this minute, but after he’s spent the month of August and the early part of the season practicing with a team he will be.  At the absolute worst, in my opinion, these are the only quarterbacks who are better than Vick (I put them in order of where I believe they rank).  And within a year, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Vick ends up starting somewhere and moves up to Tier 4, and maybe even up to Tier 3 after a couple of years if he gets into the right situation.  So that means that right now, or by the early part of the season, Vick would be better than nearly a third of the starting quarterbacks in the league.

Tier 1

Peyton Manning

Tom Brady

Tier 2

Drew Brees

Kurt Warner

Donovan McNabb

Ben Roethlisberger

Carson Palmer

Eli Manning

Philip Rivers

Tier 3

Aaron Rodgers

Tony Romo

Matt Ryan

Jay Cutler

Matt Hasselbeck

Chad Pennington

Kerry Collins

Tier 4

Jake Delhomme

Matt Schaub

Matt Cassel

Marc Bulger

Joe Flacco

Vick to the Redskins?

I believe that the Redskins should sign Vick.  They are the perfect team for him.  The team is already established and will have a huge fan base no matter what.  The higher than usual minority population will support Vick more than in other cities, and Vick is also somewhat local, as he is from southern Virginia.

Dan Snyder will get a lot of criticism if he signs Vick, but Snyder should not let that bother him.  People will talk about Snyder’s past signings of “fantasy” players, but those decisions are a sunk cost.  You can’t ignore Vick’s upside.

The Redskins have an established starter in Jason Campbell, but he still hasn’t proven that he is here to stay.  This is Campbell’s fifth season, so he will need to produce.  He has only been on average teams and has had several coaching changes in terms of offensive systems, but the time has come to be more consistent.  He has poise and a strong arm, but we’re still waiting for him to live up to his first round draft selection.

The Skins have two relatively weak backups.  Todd Collins is 37 and has started 3 games in the last 11 seasons.  Colt Brennan is a second year QB and former 6th round draft choice who played great in the preseason last year, but is unproven.   I actually think he has great potential, but it’s still too early to tell for sure.  The other QB on the Skins roster is Chase Daniel, a winner out of Missouri but a rookie who went undrafted.

Ironically, even though Vick is a huge name, the expectations are low for him – a lot of people are assuming he won’t play QB or if he will then he will only be a backup or a situational player.  Take away the off the field problems Vick had and there is no way the Redskins can afford not to sign Vick.  The upside that Vick has compared with the Redskins backups is much greater.  Expect the Redskins to sign Vick and for him to possibly play occasional series once the middle of the season gets here.

Again, obviously what Vick did with dogfighting was terrible, but he paid his debt to society and deserves a second chance.  That chance may be with the Washington Redskins.

***

Update August 8 – It appears unlikely that the Skins will sign Vick.  The league probably wants him to go to a small market like Green Bay, Kansas City, or St. Louis.  That way, the animal protest groups will have a harder time getting out there, whereas in DC they would have an easier time protesting.  Secondly, I have a feeling Snyder may be sensitive to the criticism of him signing big name players.  But those signings – and some worked out okay – are a sunk cost and Snyder or any other owner would be wise to consider someone like Vick who is likely better than their backup QBs and may eventually challenge for the starting job.  I think Minnesota makes sense.

Art Monk and Darrell Green inducted in Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2008

July 29, 2009

By Mike Frandsen

A year ago I went up to Canton, Ohio to see former Washington Redskins wide receiver Art Monk inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  It was a long wait – eight  years after Monk was first eligible, he got in.  The good side of that is that Art learned how much the Redskins fans really supported him.  In fact, the support Monk garnered was unprecedented as far as athletes getting into a Hall of Fame.  I wrote an article stating that Art was truly worthy of being in the Hall of Fame at http://www.coachmike.net/artmonk.php.   There were many other articles, emails – even a highlight film.  All along, the vast majority of voters were for Monk – it was just a couple of influential voters who held him back, and they finally admitted they were wrong.

Darrell Green and Art MonkOf course, Darrell Green also made it.  He was a great cornerback for 20 years – a shut-down corner, and could have played even longer if he had wanted to, but I write this mainly about Monk, because he was my favorite player, and because he had to wait so long.  Monk was such a great team player, with a legendary work ethic, and was so humble, that sometimes it gets lost on people that he was simply one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play the game.

Monk held three NFL records at one time – most receptions in a career, most catches in a season, and most consecutive games with a catch.  He had seven playoff touchdowns for an amazing average of 25.5 yards per catch for those TDs, and the Skins were 4-1 in those games.  He had a game-changing 40-yard catch vs. the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII when the Skins were down 10-0 that helped change the course of the game, even though he was coming off an injury.  He had at least 38 catches of 40 yards or more.  He had the ultimate respect of his teammates and the players he played against.

Art Monk and his son James
Art Monk and his son James

The induction ceremony itself was amazing, and it was highlighted by Monk’s speech.  There was an unbelievable amount of electricity in the air when it came time for Monk’s speech.  The moment was finally here.  I snuck forward and stood right next to former Skins receivers Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders, who were there cheering on Monk. Monk was presented by his son. Monk’s standing ovation lasted more than five minutes and surely would have lasted longer had he allowed it to continue.  It was the greatest standing ovation I’ve ever seen.

“The reality of getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame didn’t really hit me till a few days ago,” Monk said.  “And then to see the magnitude of all of this, and all of you, it’s been something amazing.”

I felt a little bad for some of the other inductees – Gary Zimmerman, offensive lineman for the Broncos and Vikings; Fred Dean, defensive end for the Chargers and 49ers; Andre Tippett, linebacker for the Patriots; and Emmitt Thomas, cornerback for the Chiefs (and former Skins Assistant Coach) – because almost all the fans there were Redskins fans cheering for Monk and Green.HOF 093

Clark actually deserves to be in as well but the committee would never put another Redskins wide receiver in who played with Monk, although there is precedent as both Lynn Swann and John Stallworth of the Steelers are in.  In my previous blog entry, I note that Clark’s statistics were nearly identical to Michael Irvin’s, and Irvin got in several years ago.  In fact, it was insulting to see Irvin get in ahead of Monk, especially since Monk had more yards, catches, and touchdowns than Irvin, and Monk didn’t get to play with a Hall of Fame quarterback.  Anyway, it was great to see Clark, along with Sanders, cheering on Monk.

Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders Cheer on Monk
Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders Cheer on Monk

A bunch of former Redskins players and coaches made it to cheer on Monk and Green.  Here’s my unofficial list:

  • Gary Clark, Wide Receiver
  • Joe Gibbs, Coach
  • Tim Johnson, Defensive Tackle
  • Jim Lachey, Offensive Tackle
  • Charles Mann, Defensive End
  • Mark Moseley, Kicker
  • Mike Nelms, Kick Returner
  • Ricky Sanders, Wide Receiver
  • Joe Theismann, Quarterback
  • Rick “Doc” Walker, Tight End
  • Don Warren, Tight End

Two of the original Hogs, Tight Ends Don Warren and Rick "Doc" Walker
Two of the original Hogs, Tight Ends Don Warren and Rick “Doc” Walker

I’m sure there were a bunch of other players who were there that I didn’t see.  I was a little disappointed that John Riggins didn’t show up from the standpoint that he was the only other Redskins player in the Hall of Fame from those teams.  It’s pretty amazing that until last year, no other Redskins from those teams that went to four Super Bowls and won three between the 1982 and 1991 seasons made it in.  Especially because that 1991 team, though underappreciated by the national media, was one of the greatest teams of all time.  Excuse me while I sprain my arm patting myself on the back here:  On January 1, 2008, after the Patriots had completed their regular season undefeated, I wrote on www.coachmike.net, “The 1991 Redskins only outscored their opponents by 17 points a game, better than every team in history except for the 2007 Patriots and the 1985 Bears. (It’s unfair to compare the 2007 Patriots to the 1991 Redskins, though, because the Skins were so much better.”)

Me with former Skins Kick Returner Mike Nelms
Me with former Skins Kick Returner Mike Nelms

Anyway, it was cool seeing some of the former Redskins.  I saw former Skins kick returner Mike Nelms and got a photo with him.  I told him I remembered a punt he returned against the Eagles.  He didn’t score on the play but it was an unbelievable run.  He ran into a pack of defenders, it looked like he was down, and with just about the entire Eagles special teams surrounding him, he broke out of the pack and got an extra 20 yards.  Maybe it was my imagination, but mark Moseley had a look on his face like, “Why is he getting a photo with Nelms instead of me?”

Jim Lachey Redskins
With former Redskin Jim Lachey

I saw Redskins left tackle Jim Lachey after the ceremony and told him that he should be in the HOF too and he would be in a few years.  He thanked me and seemed like he genuinely appreciated it.  He was definitely good enough – anyone who is good enough to move Joe Jacoby from left tackle to right tackle was good enough – and Lachey had the athleticism to go along with size – he was the prototypical left tackle.  He helped QB Mark Rypien have a great season in 1991 that resulted in Rypien being Super Bowl MVP.  But in reality, Lachey probably won’t get in because his career was cut a little short because of injuries, and if any Hogs get in it’ll be Russ Grimm or Joe Jacoby.  I definitely think the Skins should have at least one representative from the Hogs – one of those three, maybe two.

After the ceremony, Skins fans went to the NFL Network set to support Monk and Green as they were interviewed along with Gibbs live on TV.  Art Monk on NFL Network SetFormer NFL Coach Steve Mariucci was there along with Michael Irvin for the NFL Network.  Mariucci seemed to be marveling at the fact that so many people were singing “Hail to the Redskins.”  The crowd was pretty hostile toward Irvin, but he took it in stride.   John Elway was there to support Gary Zimmerman – a few fans reminded Elway of the Skins win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII.

Gary Clark watches Art Monk's Hall of Fame Induction Speech
Gary Clark watches Art Monk’s Hall of Fame Induction Speech

So the long wait is over.  Art Monk is in the Hall of Fame.  As I said when I finally finished my MBA to a few classmates, “Now what?”  What do we do now?  Even if the Skins get back to the Super Bowl several times like they did in the 80s and early 90s, it’ll never be the same because of free agency as well as the type of players the Skins had back then.

I think everyone should try to be more like Art Monk.  Great, but humble.Art Monk NFL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

NFL Hall of Famer Art Monk

January 30, 2009

Now is a good time to reflect on former Washington Redskins receiver Art Monk making it to the NFL Hall of Fame last year after an 8-year wait. He should have been in on the first ballot, but it was better late than never. The majority of the voters supported him all along, making him a finalist for so many years.

Monk’s numbers stack up favorably against all the wide receivers in the Hall of Fame, he was a crucial part of four Super Bowl teams, and the Skins haven’t been the same since he left. Monk was nicknamed “Big Money” for his ability to make the critical catches in big games.(See http://www.coachmike.net/artmonk.php for the article I wrote a year ago).

Art Monk makes his speech at the NFL Hall of Fame, 2008
Art Monk makes his speech at the NFL Hall of Fame, 2008

The NFL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony last summer was a great time for Redskin fans. One of the greatest teams of all-time, the 1991 Washington Redskins, who went 17-2 and won the Super Bowl, didn’t have any Hall of Famers until Monk and Darrell Green made it last summer. Those Skins outscored their opponents by a greater margin than any team except the 1985 Chicago Bears and the 2007 New England Patriots, but those were incomplete teams. I’m going to write about that Hall of Fame ceremony in another blog entry and include some great photos, but for now, let me say that the standing ovation Monk got – 5 minutes long (and would’ve been longer had he not ended it), was the greatest ovation I’ve ever seen.

One stat that jumps out at me is the 7 touchdowns Monk had in the playoffs for a 25.5-yard average for those TDs. The longest of his playoff TDs was 40 yards; the shortest was 16. The long distance from the goal line on those receptions says to me that without those TDs the Skins might have had to settle for field goals or possibly even come away empty on some of those drives. Plus, the Skins won all but one of those games. Two of those TDs were against the Bears a year after they had the greatest defense ever. Another was against Buddy Ryan’s Eagles, one of the best defenses of the ‘90s.

Other highlights from Monk’s stellar career:

  • Monk had 3 NFL records at one time – most catches in a career, most in a season, and most consecutive games with a catch.
  • Monk had more catches, yards, and TDs than Michael Irvin.
  • Monk averaged 15.4 yards a catch in the playoffs.
  • Monk had at least 38 catches of 40 yards or more.
  • In 1990, with the Skins at 6-5, the normally reserved Monk called a legendary team meeting, asking the Skins to rededicate themselves.The Skins finished 10-6 and made the playoffs, and went 17-2 in 1991 and won the Super Bowl.
  • Monk got the tough yards over the middle – he dished out a lot of hits too as his blocks sprang some big runs. Monk still averaged more yards per catch than Marvin Harrison or Cris Carter. In fact, as I write this, I’m looking at the list of the AFC’s top receivers (ranked by number of catches) for the 2008 season. Monk’s career average was better than the average of any of the top 14 receivers in the AFC this year except for Reggie Wayne. This despite the fact that receiving stats are way, way up in 2008 as opposed to where they were in the 1980s.
  • If the 1980 draft were done over again, Monk probably would have been selected first overall. Or third at the worst if you want to argue for Anthony Munoz or Dwight Stephenson, but almost all would say a HOF wide receiver is more valuable than a HOF offensive lineman.
  • Monk did it all without a HOF quarterback, with Joe Theismann, Jay Schroeder, Doug Williams, and Mark Rypien throwing to him.Imagine what Monk’s numbers would have been if he had had a HOF QB (like Montana, Young, Aikman, Bradshaw, or Kelly) for his whole career, or even part of it. (In fairness, Theismann was the NFL MVP in 1983).
  • He did it on a team that ran the ball a lot with a conservative coach.At the end of games the Skins were killing the clock, not padding WR stats. He did it during an era in which receiving stats were much less prolific than they are today (there were 3 individual 100-reception seasons from 1980-1993; there were 50 from 1994 to 2007).
  • In 1985, of Monk’s 91 catches, 32 occurred on 3rd down. 31 of those 32 went for first downs. Think about that.
  • Miscellaneous excerpt from the Redskins 1987 Press Guide: “Art exploded in Week 3 (of the 1986 season) in San Diego. He exploded for catches of 58, 41, and 38 yards. All three plays set up a score.” So for those people who say Monk should have had more TDs, keep in mind that he also set up a lot of TDs.
  • Here’s something that I missed in my 10,000 word article last year about Monk. In 1984, with the Redskins down 27-26 to the St. Louis Cardinals late in the final regular season game, Monk converted a reception on a 3rd and 19 play, setting up a game winning field goal that put the Redskins into the playoffs. Monk had 2 TDs in the game along with 11 catches and 136 yards in the game.
  • In 1985, first year starting quarterback Jay Schroeder completed 6 passes over 40 yards, all to Monk.

All the grass roots support for Monk by fans was a true phenomenon. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like it again. I wrote my article atwww.coachmike.net January 1, 2008. But many people had been sending letters and emails to the voters for years. Along the way, there was occasionally a little bit of bad blood from some of the fans aimed at some of the voters.

I’ve never communicated with Monk, but I’m certain that he was embarrassed by all the attention, and didn’t approve of any of the negativity. (Monk’s foundation is the Good Samaritan Foundation). To show how modest Monk is, on his bio on the website it doesn’t even mention that he is in the Hall of Fame (elsewhere on the site there is one mention of it). The fact is, Monk should have been in on the first ballot, and none of the extra stuff should have been necessary. But the outpouring of support says a lot for him.

Art Monk’s playoff touchdowns

Season

Opponent

Yards

Result

1983

L.A. Rams

40

51-7 victory

1983

L.A. Rams

21

1986

Chicago

28

27-13 victory

1986

Chicago

21

1990

Philadelphia

16

20-6 victory

1990

San Francisco

31

28-10 loss

1991

Detroit

21

41-10 victory

Finally, I don’t want to sprain my arm by patting myself on the back here, but a year ago, on January 1, 2008, I wrote:

“The 1991 Redskins only outscored their opponents by 17 points a game, better than every team in history except for the 2007 Patriots and the 1985 Bears. (It’s unfair to compare the 2007 Patriots to the 1991 Redskins, though, because the Skins were so much better. They had one of the best running attacks in the NFL while the Pats have one of the worst). Those Redskins took teams that spread the field with multiple wide receivers – the Atlanta Falcons and the Buffalo Bills – and shredded them. The average score of the two playoff games and the Super Bowl that year was Redskins 34, opponents 14. And that team doesn’t have one Hall of Famer.”

With former Redskins receiver Gary Clark

With former Redskins receiver Gary Clark

Gary Clark was a great receiver, and deserves to be in the Hall as well, and if he played for the Steelers or the Cowboys, he’d be in. He doesn’t stand a chance, though, but to his credit he was Monk’s most vocal supporter to get into the Hall. Take a look how similar Clark’s stats were to Irvin’s:

Catches per Year

Yards per Year

Total TDs

Years

Clark

64

962

65

11

Irvin

63

992

65

12

One final note – the Redskins, who won three Super Bowls and went to a fourth, helped make offensive linemen famous with the Hogs. They won Super Bowls with three different QBs, and three different running backs gained more than 1000 yards. The Hogs were known as devastating blockers. They should have at least one offensive lineman represented in the Hall of Fame.

Joe Jacoby was one of the first of the mammoth offensive tackles at 6-6, 315. He set a trend for left tackles that size. Russ Grimm was also there for all the Super Bowls, and he and Jacoby would pull toward the opposite side of the field, another trend that changed the game. Then later, Jim Lachey took over at left tackle and had the size of Jacoby and also possessed ridiculous athleticism, a precursor to players like Tony Boselli.

(And how come nobody talks about Russ Grimm, the Cardinals offensive line coach, as a possible NFL head coach? He almost got the Bears job in 2004, and was a candidate for the Steelers coaching job in 2007. Then he helps the Cards to the Super Bowl and no one talks about him as a potential head coach?Just another example of anti-Redskins bias by the media).

Anyway, it’s fitting that Monk is now in the HOF alongside former Redskins great Charley Taylor. Congrats to Darrell Green too.