Redskins

Dunlap preaches patience amid 16-game losing skid

201212262109761908292-p2.jpeg

Dunlap preaches patience amid 16-game losing skid

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) It would be easy for Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap to tear up the blueprint amid a 16-game losing streak and come up with an entirely new plan.

But Charlotte's first-year coach has no plans for any such radical paper shredding.

Instead he's preaching patience.

When Dunlap looks at his team's struggles since opening the season 7-5 he recalls the growing pains Kevin Durant, Michael Westbrook and the rest of the Oklahoma City Thunder endured a few years ago before becoming Western Conference champions.

``Durant and Westbrook took a pounding in those first two years,'' Dunlap said. ``My point is I look around the league and see how those seeds were born, what those guys did and how did that culture take off? Well it didn't take off right away, so I remind myself and my staff of that. It's incumbent on us to stay the course.''

So Dunlap will stick with playing youngsters like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker, Byron Mullens and Jeffery Taylor. They will make mistakes. They will learn on the job.

Dunlap will also continue to stress things like pressuring the ball, help defense, pushing the ball up the floor, getting to the basket and drawing fouls as staples of the foundation he hopes to build.

Sure, the 16-game skid isn't fun.

The Bobcats know all too well about lengthy losing streaks.

They lost their final 23 games of last season to finish 7-59 under former coach Paul Silas. They added Ramon Sessions, Ben Gordon and Brendan Haywood during the offseason, bringing some veteran experience to an otherwise young team.

After an offseason where Dunlap stressed conditioning during marathon three- and four-hour practices, the Bobcats came out of the gates winning seven of their first 12 games matching last season's win total.

But things have gone downhill ever since a 45-point shellacking at the hands of the Thunder on Nov. 26.

It was a game the Bobcats said going in would be a great measuring stick for how far they'd come. But reality threw them for a loop and Dunlap's gang has struggled to get back on ever since.

Sixteen games. Sixteen losses.

They've lost them in a variety of ways, once blowing a 17-point lead with less than six minutes to play. They've been blown out of a few games, but for the most part have remained competitive.

The one consistent during the stretch is the lack of defense. The Bobcats have allowed 109 points per game during the losing streak.

``That's not good, is it?'' Dunlap said, pointing out the obvious.

Dunlap said the problem revolves around a lack of ball pressure and poor rotation.

``In the NBA you have to cover guys that are getting beat off the dribble,'' Dunlap said. ``The only way you can do that is to leave your man and that is a hard habit to break at this level because you're depending on the trust factor. If you lose games there is an undermining of `Should I leave my man or not?' There are question marks in the eyes.''

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said things aren't as dire as they might seem in Charlotte.

In fact, he sees plenty of promise in what Dunlap, president of basketball operations Rod Higgins and general manager Rich Cho are building with the Bobcats.

He said it's only a matter of time before the Bobcats are turning close losses into wins.

``It's always tough when you're going through a year like they are,'' Spoelstra said. ``But they are getting great experience for the young players. Their players are as good as anybody's in the league - they just don't have as much experience. But they can hurt you on any given night. The thing is they compete and play hard. You notice that on film.''

On Tuesday night, the Bobcats hung with the defending champion Heat for three-and-a-half quarters. Charlotte trailed by two points with 7:16 left in the game before Miami went on a run and pulled away for a 105-92 victory.

Of Charlotte's 21 losses, 12 are by 10 points or less. That's a far cry from last year's team which wasn't even competitive, losing more than one-third of their games by 20 points or more.

Dunlap said he sees ``promise amid the adversity.''

Still, Walker doesn't take much satisfaction the Bobcats are more competitive.

``Losing is losing,'' said Walker, the team's leading scorer. ``Hopefully we can stop it soon. But it's no different at all from last year. We lost last year and we're losing this year and it's not a good feeling at all.''

Walker realizes the Bobcats don't have a roster with a ton of proven NBA experience, but he refuses to use that as an excuse.

``We have young guys, but at the same time it's the NBA,'' Walker said. ``So we have to find a way to win. That's what we're going to try to do - find a way.''

Quick Links

Late push for McGlinchey, Landry and Davenport would help Redskins at 13

Late push for McGlinchey, Landry and Davenport would help Redskins at 13

For months, draft conversation suggested that there wasn't an offensive tackle to pick in the Top 10. And after Bradley Chubb, there wasn't an edge defender worth a Top 10 pick either. 

All of a sudden, that conversation is changing. 

Late charges from Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey, Boston College defensive end Harold Landry and University of Texas San Antonio pass rusher Marcus Davenport are starting to influence mock drafts.

On Wednesday, NFL Network's Peter Schrager predicted the 49ers to take McGlinchey with the ninth overall pick. Charley Casserly, in a mock draft with NBC Sports Washington on Monday, predicted the Chicago Bears take Davenport with the eighth overall pick. Reports on Landry are all over the place, but some guess he could break the Top 10 as well.

The thing to remember about the NFL: It's a passing league. Positions tied to the quarterback are the most important, and that means protecting the QB and getting after the QB is in high demand. No position will ever get over-drafted like quarterback, but it's not a surprise that teams might reach for players at tackle or edge rusher.

What does this mean for the Redskins holding the No. 13 pick?

It means great news. 

Washington will already benefit from four QBs going in the Top 10. That will likely push down an elite talent to their draft spot.

If McGlinchey, Davenport or Landry also crack the Top 10? Even better.

The Redskins need help at just about every position group on the defensive side of the ball. It's well documented how the team struggled against the run in 2017, but the defense also lost Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller this offseason. 

There will be a number of weapons available for Washington at 13, and that could include players like Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James in addition to Vita Vea or Da'Ron Payne. It might mean Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan Smith lasts to 13 too. 

For the Redskins, Fitzpatrick or James at 13 seems like a steal. Both players present elite potential at the evolving position of nickel cornerback. They can play some corner, some safety, and James might even be able to play some linebacker. 

Regardless of the eventual destination for James or Fitzpatrick, if more surprise players sneak into the Top 10 on Thursday night, the better Washington's options become. And that includes the possibility of trading down, Vea or Payne, Smith or Edmunds.

More elite options at 13 only helps the Redskins. 

Redskins fans should be rooting for Mike McGlinchey, Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport early Thursday night. The folks in Ashburn will be. 

MORE 2018 NFL DRAFT:
- Mock Draft 9.0: Almost draft day
- Top Prospects: RB options for the Redskins
- Top Prospects: WR options for the Redskins
- Need To Know: Rich Tandler's Seven-Round Redskins Mock Draft
- Mega-Mock Predictions: DC Media choose No. 13 pick

#REDSKINSTALK PODCAST:
Want more Redskins talk? Of course you do. Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

Once undrafted, how Trey Edmunds found his way as a rookie in a crowded backfield

Once undrafted, how Trey Edmunds found his way as a rookie in a crowded backfield

NBC Sports Washington’s four-part digital series ‘E-Boyz’ -- chronicling the illustrious past, decorated present and bright future of the Edmunds family -- is NOW LIVE. Check out a new episode daily, leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft. Watch the third episode above and more here.

A position change. A school change. A season-ending injury. 

Those are the kinds of things that prevent an NFL career from ever starting. But none of those things stopped Trey Edmunds from reaching the league and contributing for the Saints as a rookie in 2017.

Trey, the oldest brother in a family that features 2018 prospects Tremaine and Terrell, came out of high school as a linebacker, but became a running back after enrolling at Virginia Tech. After three productive seasons with the Hokies, he transferred to finish up his career with Maryland, yet his senior season was cut short after fracturing his foot five games in to the schedule.

That injury was a big reason why the 2017 NFL Draft came and went without a phone call for Edmunds, so he signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent in May. There, he played spot duty on special teams for much of his rookie campaign before his breakout moment in November:

Now, heading into his second pro year, Edmunds will reportedly have to fight for a roster spot in New Orleans again. But hey, adversity is something the 23-year-old is very familiar with, so don't bet against him.