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Washington Redskins season preview: Dan Snyder’s undrainable swamp

Washington Redskins season preview: Dan Snyder’s undrainable swamp

Before the Eagles set off on what is sure to be a 100-year-dynasty of NFC East Championships, we’ll take a look at each of their divisional rivals and what they’ve got that could potentially derail the Birds seemingly sure-fire destiny.

Today, we’ll cover Washington, a franchise whose fan base would rather openly root against it than have any sort of long-term success, which appears to be a recurring theme in D.C. these days.

Washington 

What Happened Last Season: Washington choked. Not in epic, headline-grabbing fashion like the Cowboys choked. Not even in regional-camaraderie fashion like the Nats or the Caps. No, Washington had an old-fashioned playoff berth choke, dropping four-of-their-last-six to miss out on the postseason. Which is just a total epic party foul on the part of Kirk Cousins. Even Tony Romo kept his acid-reflux in control until the Wild Card round.

Sure, thanks to a tie with the Cincinnati Bengals, Washington technically had their first set of consecutive winning seasons since Dan Snyder bought the team in 1999. Bragging about that accomplishment would be like Blackberry announcing they’re rolling out a smartphone in 2018 that is entirely touchscreen — no keyboard! YOU LIKE THAT! This franchise has set the bar so ridiculously low, which is great because Donald Trump’s approval ratings could use some company.

What About The Offseason? No team in the NFL had a worse offseason than Washington, and that is not hyperbole. Sure, the Cowboys star player got suspended, the Giants sat on their hands, and the Iggles traded away a beloved role player for the sole purpose of (presumably) hurting my feelings. None of that compares to Washington, which somehow, after all these years, still finds a new foot to shoot.

Washington let DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and Chris Baker walk, and their most significant addition was former Cleveland Brown Terrelle Pryor. If as a fan you find yourself uttering the words “the guy we got from the Browns could be huge,” you may need to seek professional assistance. Pryor probably won’t help this team improve over 8-7-1, but that’s not why this summer was an utter disgrace.

Team owner Dan Snyder, presumably self-aware of his reputation as the most horrible person to own a sports franchise, decided to lean-in to that persona with more tilt than Melania Trump wearing stilettos on her way to a hurricane relief site. Despite their most successful (ha!) two-year run in a generation, Washington unceremoniously fired GM Scot McCloughan for the crime of being credited with his own success. Those who remain in the team’s front office then spent weeks slamming McCloughan on his way out, calling him a drunk and telling him “nobody liked him.” The Washington Front Office Exit Interview is apparently being conducted by a group of nine-year-olds over Instant Messenger. The former GM lasted three years in D.C., or as they call it inside the Beltway, “99-and-a-half Scaramuccis.”

The team's only real accomplishment this summer was somehow being only the second most dysfunctional organization located in Washington D.C. But hey, there are good people on many sides. MANY SIDES!

On top of all that, Washington completely bungled their contract negotiations with Kirk Cousins and will be paying him nearly $24 million, which is coincidentally or not the same number of people who have quit or been fired from Donald Trump’s White House. And this organization (Snyder’s, not Trump’s) has been just so good to its soldiers in the past, I’m sure Cousins is beaming with confidence that if he just does his job, Snyder will finally give him that long-term contract he’s so justly owed. Cousins is essentially Bronn from Game of Thrones, just with less charisma. That would make Snyder the Lannisters, and it doesn’t take much to imagine Danny Boy sitting across a negotiating table saying “the Snyder’s always repay their debts.” 

What’ll Happen This Season (Best Case Scenario): Cousins plays well enough to prove his success wasn’t a product of having Jaccpot and Peter Waiter. The defense improves under new coordinator Greg Manusky, proving the last three times he failed as a defensive coordinator totally weren’t on him at all. And Jay Gruden wins a lifetime achievement award for somehow dragging a Dan Snyder owned organization to three consecutive winning seasons. 

Oh, and they’ll sweep the Eagles. Because for some inexplicable reason, Washington has beaten the Birds in five consecutive contests, and I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that my younger sister is dating a Washington fan. THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, MATT! DM me for his home address, Philly faithful.

What’ll Happen This Season (Worst Case Scenario): Cousins stays healthy the entire year and plays just well enough to earn that multi-year contract -- only to plummet back to Earth in 2018. Or WORSE, he plays absolutely lights out, but when given the chance to sign a long-term contract with the team that franchise-tagged him twice, Cousins instead decides to go to a less dysfunctional franchise, like the one in Cleveland. Or EVEN WORSE THAN THAT, he plays absolutely terrible, prompting Washington to let him walk, and then goes to Cleveland on the veteran minimum where he leads the Browns to six consecutive Super Bowls. I’d like that.

Conclusion: No matter what happens, this franchise will screw it up. Even Reince Priebus looks at their staff and thinks “man, I’m glad I didn’t get stuck working there.” This fish stinks from the head down, and its demise seems an inevitable question of “when,” not “if.” That seems to be a recurring theme in D.C. these days.

Previously: Dallas Cowboys season preview: new faces but with same choking hazard

Philly won weird Super Bowl bet with Brockton, Massachusetts

kenney-rocky.jpg
Mayors of Philly/Brockton

Philly won weird Super Bowl bet with Brockton, Massachusetts

Mayor Jim Kenney doesn't seem to fully understand the concept of a sports wager.

The general rule I like to follow: if you win a bet, you GET SOMETHING OF VALUE in return.

Now, the Mayor of Philadelphia won a bet with the city of Brockton, Massachusetts, and he has to SEND THEM STUFF.

Makes no sense.

Anyway, I guess the city of Brockton now has to dress their Rocky Marciano statue up in Eagles gear. Lulz. So Mr. Kenney is shipping them some goods. I hope the people of New England had to pay for it.

As Eagles fans know all too well, the official Eagles gear is not cheap.

Did the Sixers Really Win That Game II: The Portis vs. The Process

Did the Sixers Really Win That Game II: The Portis vs. The Process

Geez, if you only watched the ends of the last two Philadelphia 76ers games, you'd think they were owed years' worth of good karma from getting perpetually screwed in the fourth quarter or something. That's right, the basketball gods may have finally approved the Sixers' line of credit: One game (and eight days) after Brett Brown's squad came back from 20-plus down to squeak one past the Miami Heat, the team again pulled out a miracle last night in Chicago, coming from five down in the final minute against the Bulls to win 116-115. 

And boy, did this one feel like a loss, too. After surging out to a 25-7 lead in the first, the Sixers quickly relinquished the majority of their lead to the Bulls, who pulled even in the third and kept the Sixers from ever running away with it. They hit an absurd 18 threes, tying a season high, and two role players posted career highs: starting wing David Nwaba (21 points on 9-14 shooting) and bench forward Bobby Portis (38 points on 15-26 shooting, including a stupefying 6-9 from three). 

Meanwhile, the Sixers went cold down the stretch; Robert Covington missed a clean look at a three, Ben Simmons missed two of two from the line, Joel Embiid dribbled the ball off his foot. When Zach LaVine hit a tough pull-up three to put Chicago up five with a minute to go, and then Cov missed an open baseline two, it almost felt a merciful end to our suffering. 

But somehow, that wasn't it. Portis shot a long two a little too quickly at the other end and missed, and Simmons put back his own miss at the other end for a quick two to cut it to three. LaVine bricked a tough jumper with 17 to go, and J.J. got fouled at the other end to prevent a possible tying three. He made both, and then good ball denial on the ensuing Chicago inbounds led to an Embiid steal and pass to Simmons, who got fouled. 

After going just 4-9 from the line to that point, Simmons calmly nailed both his free throws to put Philly up one. Embiid stonewalled a Portis attempt near the basket at the other end with seconds to go, Denzel Valentine's putback attempt missed, and the game was over, with the Philly outscoring Chicago 6-0 in the final minute to seal the W. 

It was beautiful, man. There aren't going to be many games in this life where you give up 18 threes, allow two opposing players to go for career highs, miss 14 free throws and go down five with 60 seconds to go and still somehow manage to win the damn thing. 

But there also aren't gonna be many teams in this life with a one-two punch as potent as Simmons and Embiid. The latter picked up where he left off at the All-Star Game, scoring 30 (on 11-17 shooting, including 3-3 from deep) with 13 boards, five assists, three steals and two blocks -- just a few box score tallies away from his first 5x5 game. And the former picked up where he left off before the All-Star Game, scoring a career-high 32 (13-18 shooting) to go with seven boards, 11 assists a steal and a block. And maybe most impressive of all? The two had just three turnovers between them in 69 combined minutes. 

Ben and Jo were nothing less than dominant on offense all night. They couldn't turn the faucet off on the Bulls defensively for most of the game -- though aside from a couple slow-ish rotations in the first half, I'm not even sure they played all that badly, rather just paying the three-point defense regression to the mean that Liberty Ballers writer Sean O'Connor had long been warning fans about

But in any event, Embiid finally got the best of Portis in the final minutes, shutting him down on a couple crucial possessions (including the final one), and he made the play of the night on that inbounds steal. When you have two transcendent talents -- as Embiid and Simmons undoubtedly have proven they are, even this early in their careers -- you win a lot of games you probably shouldn't, and gravity was finally on the Sixers' side tonight. 

Of course, the Sixers might not've needed such combined brilliance from their two best players if their supporting cast was able to pick up the slack a little. But no one else was really cooking for Philly last night, and as is becoming a distressingly frequent occurrence this season, Covington hit a couple shots early and then went flat for the rest of the game. Even on the Bulls broadcast, they were talking about how Cov was gonna have to hit shots in the playoffs for the Sixers to have a chance, and they're probably right: We need Rock's defense and smarts out there, but if he's gonna routinely brick open looks in big moments, he's gonna be a liability -- and he's now 6 of his last 29 from deep. 

But that's a concern for another day -- one that seems more and more likely to actually be upcoming at this point. In the meantime, Philly is 31-25, having won six in a row, and with a creampuff game coming up next at home against Orlando, before a three-game roadie against East playoff teams (Washington, Miami and Cleveland) that represents the only really tough swing remaining on the Sixers' schedule. The playoffs seem increasingly probable, and with Simmons and Embiid playing at this level, just about anything seems possible if we get there. Pity the foolish rival execs who still don't trust the process at this point.