Quick Links

Let's Beat This Horse One More Time

Let's Beat This Horse One More Time

Let’s Beat This Horse Just a Bit More

There seems to be a lot of confusion over what transpired in the wake of that game-changing penalty call on Sunday. After the touchdown, there was a brief conversation between the line judge, Bill Spyksma, the man who made the call and referee Tom White. Here is what White said over the PA in “explaining” the call: Illegal motion. The man in motion was going forward prior to the snap. It’s a five-yard pentalty, fourth down (quickly realizing that the penalty didn’t carry a loss of down) third down. That started the confusion. As I said yesterday, that was not the infraction. Clearly, James Thrash was not moving at the snap of the ball. Thrash had gone in motion from left to right and the he stopped in the slot, apparently looking to pick up a blitz. When he stopped his motion had become a shift and he was required to stop for a full second before the snap. It was clear that he did not.

The TV announcers seemed to think the call was against Chris Cooley, even though the ref had said that it was on the “man in motion” and Thrash was the only one who was moving on the play.

As if the picture needed to be any more muddled, Joe Gibbs asked who the penalty was on: "That is an absolute mystery to me," Gibbs said. "I asked for an explanation. All he [the referee] said to me was the R-back [running back]. The R-back is Clinton Portis. The R-back didn't move. Don’t know if “R-back” is zebra speak for the running back or if he thinks that’s what an end in motion called in Gibbs’ system.

A few more points before putting this one to rest:

  • I pointed this out yesterday, but it’s worth another mention. The flag came out of Spyksma’s pocket very late. It wasn’t out by the time that Portis caught Brunell’s pass. I’ve been told that it came out as late as when Portis began his celebratory takeoff from around the five yard line. I don’t know about that, but certainly it was a very, very late flag for such a call.
  • On Harris’ interception on the next play, he had a pretty good grip on Rod Garnder’s jersey at the shoulder pad as the receiver went into his cut. That allowed Harris to get position to step between Gardner and Brunell and make the killer pick.
  • All that being said, if you believe that there was some sort of payoff involved or that the line judge is an operative of the Kerry campaign, as I’ve heard some complain, I would suggest that you just stop watching the NFL. Why watch a fixed sport?
  • The thing lost in all of the controversy is this basic question: Where has that play been all year? Against a blitz, Portis getting the ball in the open field with a chance to build up some steam is a recipe for success. We should see that one again.

Quick Links

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was Pro Bowl type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know we’re 7-9. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 


Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!