As he's known to do, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith ranted about the Redskins, calling the team losers. Players and coaches took exception to that, personally.
The fuss started in the immediate moments after the Redskins beat the Eagles last Sunday. Chris Baker and Ricky Jean François celebrated the win in the tunnel with cameras rolling, and Smith eventually watched the video. From there, Smith made some tremendous leaps, determining that celebrating a big division win equated to a loser mentality and showed why the Washington franchise has struggled for the better part of two decades.
On Wednesday, the Redskins fired back, though prudently. Jay Gruden made clear that there is no upside for his players to get in public quarrels with members of the media, but that Smith's also comments went too far. The coach's best quotes:
- I like our guys being confident. I like them being upbeat and excited about winning football games. As far as being NFC East champs, defending champs, we are. You know, I’m proud of that and our guys are proud of that. It’s something that we have to defend. And it is an honor to be an NFC East Champion. We have a longer way to go. We want more from our football team than that. But, I really don’t want people to get in bickering matches with the media. You can’t win. Just can’t win. But, I know Stephen does a good job with what he does, but he doesn’t know our team. He doesn’t know our coaches. He doesn’t know our fan base. And for him to call us all losers is out of line by him because he doesn’t know Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed, Morgan Moses, Brandon Scherff and Will Blackmon and Ryan Kerrigan. He doesn’t know the type of work these guys put in, the type of players they are, the type of people they are, the coaching staff that we have.
- We do take it personally – you have to if people call you out like that. But you also have to understand that when someone calls you out like that and they don’t know anything about what we’ve done and what we’ve been through together and the work that they’ve put in, you don’t really take too much account in it. It bothers me because he’s calling my guys that. If he wants to call me that, that’s fine. But when he starts talking about the players and the staff and the ownership, all the people who work so hard in this building, it bothers you
Chris Baker - who got into it with the ESPN personality on Twitter - also talked about Smith's comments.
I think it's very disrespectful, we are the defending NFC East champions...We work our butts off to continue to get better each week.
People are going to talk trash every day, you kinda got to tune it out...I probably should have ignored it...I still don’t want anybody disrespecting me or my teammates.
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In some circles of modern culture, producing shocking commentary or content seems like the top goal. Being shocking gets clicks, gets attention, and in turn, gets dollars.
On NFL Draft night, nothing should be shocking. Remember, last season there was no way Jonathan Allen would fall to the Redskins at 17. There was no way Kansas City would trade up for QB Patrick Maholmes. There was no way Chicago would trade up for Mitchell Trubisky. But all those things happened.
Sure, for months draft experts have expounded about what will happen, but the truth is, once the Browns are on the clock, nobody actually knows anything.
With that in mind, let's look at a bunch of options that should not shock Redskins fans.
- Don't be shocked if Washington takes Minkah Fitzpatrick. They want him.
- Don't be shocked if the Redskins draft Da'Ron Payne over Vita Vea. Washington loves Payne's potential to be a disruptor in the pass game and his incredible strength.
- Then again, don't be shocked if the 'Skins take Vita. Plenty of folks like him too.
- Don't be shocked if a team makes a move for Louisville QB Lamar Jackson. That could happen after the Redskins pick at 13, but Washington's pick could also prove important in the race for the former Heisman Trophy winner.
- Derwin James will be on the 'Skins list, but don't be shocked if he goes off the board before the Redskins pick.
- Don't be shocked with a trade back, but remember that isn't the goal. With four QBs expected in the Top 10, an elite talent should make it to Washington at 13. If that happens, the Redskins should take advantage of adding a blue chip to their squad.
- Don't be shocked if Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds ends up wearing the Redskins draft hat. Also, don't be shocked if he plays some outside linebacker in the Washington 3-4 scheme, not just the inside LB role most project for Edmunds.
- Don't be shocked if a seemingly sure thing slips all the way to 13. Perhaps that's Quenton Nelson? Or Denzel Ward? Remember, there was no way Jon Allen was supposed to fall to 17 last year.
There are some things Redskins fans should be shocked by.
- Washington should not trade up.
- Washington should not draft a running back at 13 unless Saquon Barley is available. He won't be.
- Washington should not draft a wide receiver at 13.
- If one of the top four QBs is available at 13, Washington should vigorously work the phones to move the pick. Move down a few spots and get Payne should be the exact plan in that scenario. Arizona at 15 needs a QB.
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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 fourth episode above and more here.
After this weekend's NFL Draft, the Edmunds family will go from having one son in the league to three.
Trey is already on the Saints, but Tremaine and Terrell aren't pros just yet. So, when will they be taken? Here's a collection of predictions from NBC Sports Washington's NFL crew regarding the middle and youngest Edmunds brothers.
JP Finlay: The Niners at nine. John Lynch won't be able to get past Edmunds' combination of size and speed, and the elite potential of the just 19-year-old. Remember, too, San Francisco might not have Reuben Foster this fall.
Rich Tandler: Eighth to the Bears. Physically, he is a double for Brian Urlacher and he worked out well enough for the Bears that he is headed for the Hall of Fame this year.
Mitch Tischler: No. 9 to the San Francisco 49ers. We all know Kyle Shannahan loves him some offensive threats but getting an edge rusher that could tally double digit sacks and play both inside and out is going to be too tough to pass up at nine.
Pete Hailey: No. 10 and the Raiders. Jon Gruden won't let the dynamic Edmunds fall any further.
JP Finlay: Kansas City in Round 3. They could use additional depth in the secondary and that franchise knows value when they see it.
Mitch Tischler: The Steelers in Round 3. He fits their scheme, has an nfl body and measured very well at the Combine.
Pete Hailey: Round 3 to the Cardinals. Terrell can learn from Antoine Bethea then fill in for him once Bethea moves on.