Sports Illustrated's Peter King issued a "fantasy alert" last week onalmost Redskins receiver Eddie Royal, now with the San Diego Chargers.Normally I wouldn't waste precious time or website space letting folks know about a single projection of a non-Redskin or NFC East fantasy player, especially one that has been off the radar in recent years. King's take is Royal could catch 75 passes now that he's with Philip Rivers and the Chargers. I actually kind of like Royal as a late round sleeper, butI'm simply usingKing's latestforay into the world of fantasy footballas an excuseto remind of folks of one of his previous touts: draft Danny Wuerffel, "big numbers" coming.It's been nearly 10 years since among the things King thought he thought was that Wuerffel, who joined the Redskins in 2002 when Steve Spurrier brought pitch 'em and catch 'em to Washington, was one to own. Not just own, build your draft plan around. In this MMQBentry from August 2002, King informed readers of his then recent participation in a football panel and how he received some strange looks from the crowd regarding some of his suggestions. I wonder why.After saying go all in on Randy Moss in round one (more on this in a second), King offered up his quarterback strategy."Number two, I said if you couldn't get one of the stud quarterbacks -- Warner, Manning, Garcia, Favre, Gannon -- then solve your running back and receiver needs in the first two or three rounds, then pick Danny Wuerffel. You'd think I'd have recommended they pick the Pope. One guy piped up from the audience, and I quote: "You're smoking crack!" "I realize most of you have just vomited on your PCs, so let me explain. I can't swear Wuerffel will be the starting quarterback for the Redskins, though it would shock me if he were not. I can't swear that he'll be the starter for 16 weeks even if Steve Spurrier anoints him the starter on opening day. I do know, however, that Spurrier is going to enjoy proving the NFL wrong on Wuerffel, and that he will throw the ball early and often, and that by sheer force of will he will find a way to make the Washington passing game one of the league's best. It is conceivable that Wuerffel could throw for 3,600 yards and 26 touchdowns. Big fantasy numbers."It's not Monday morning quarterbacking to say this call was laughable from the word go. In five previous NFL seasons with three different teams, the weak-armed Wuerffel had done squat. Maybe King was, like many media members of that era, charmed by the Ol' Ball Coach Spurrier, who could not wait to reunite with his former University of Florida star . MaybeKing just thought Wuerffel's potent preseason play in Osaka was a sign of things to come.We all know what happened. Wuerffel began the year on the bench behind Shane Matthews, eventually started four games and threw three touchdown passes with six interceptions. The Redskins finished with a losing record, Wuerffel never played again in the NFL and Spurrier was out of Washington one season later. (As for Moss,the then Vikings starcaught a bunch of passes, butit turned out to be the only of hisfirst seven NFL seasons where he caught fewer than 10 touchdowns.)Faulty projections and picks are commonplace. Been there, done that. This one might have been the mother of such gaffes. Does this mean you should ignore King's take onRoyal or any other fantasy footballer he might take a shine toward this season? No, but don't forget it about either.
NEW ORLEANS—The Redskins’ game against the Saints, and perhaps their whole season went from hope to despair in the span of just six minutes.
When Kirk Cousins threw a touchdown pass to tight end Jeremy Sprinkle, the Redskins were up by 15 points with 5:58 to play. Some Saints fans departed the Mercedes Benz Superdome, figuring that their team’s seven-game losing streak was about to end.
But Drew Brees and the Saints weren’t going anywhere. The Redskins defense was loose, to say the least, as the Hall of Fame quarterback completed seven of seven passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. The drive took just 3:05 and it seemed that the Saints barely broke a sweat.
“We gave up too quick a score on the initial one,” said Jay Gruden.
But the Redskins were still in control of the game. After two Samaje Perine runs, the Saints were out of timeouts and Washington had third and one with 2:38 to go. The lined up and then called a timeout.
“We actually lined up with a tight end on the wrong side so we had to get that fixed up,” said Gruden.
It’s week 11 and the tight end can’t line up on the right side of the formation on a critical play. Perhaps they should be beyond these issues by now?
Even with the tight end properly aligned, the play had no chance as Perine tried to go off the right side and he was hit for a one-yard loss. The clock wound down to the two-minute warning and Tress Way boomed a 54-yard punt that was fair caught at the Saints 13. The Redskins had to defend 87 yards of turf for 1:53. They couldn’t do it.
Brees again took on the role of the hot knife and the Redskins still were the butter. Four for four passing, each throw gaining 17 yards or more. The touchdown pass to Alvin Kamara and the two-point conversion tied the game at 31-31.
When asked what happened, linebacker and former Saint Junior Galette said that while he respects Brees and the Saints, this one was on the defense.
“In two minute, he’s one of the best I’ve seen but still we’ve got to bow down and tighten our defense up,” he said.
“They’re a really good team but I honestly feel that we beat ourselves today,” said Galette. “It’s a really good team, one of the better teams we’ve played all year but if you watch that game you know we beat ourselves.”
Safety D.J. Swearinger echoed Galette’s viewpoint.
“They came back and beat us fair and square,” he said. “But at the end of the day we didn’t do our job. We beat ourselves for sure. We for sure beat ourselves.”
In case there was any doubt about it, Swearinger then said that they beat themselves twice more in the next sentences.
The good part of the Saints drive was that it consumed just 48 seconds, leaving the Redskins with 1:05 to try to get a winning field goal. Cousins threw three passes to Jamison Crowder and all of a sudden the Redskins were on the New Orleans 34, close enough to at least attempt a game winning field goal.
But then it fell apart. With 31 seconds left, Cousins took a snap from behind center and immediately threw the ball out of bounds on the right side with no receiver nearby. The officials conferred and dropped a flag for intentional grounding.
The flag never should have been thrown because the rule says that the quarterback must be in imminent danger of getting sacked. Cousins was not. But the way the play went down it certainly gave referee Walt Coleman the opportunity to make a mistake and you never want to do that.
The explanations for the throw offered by the coach and quarterback were somewhat confusing and didn’t really line up. But for the record, here is the gist of what each of them said:
Gruden: “I was trying to get his [Cousins’] attention and hand signal a bubble screen out there. If we get it out there and get it out of bounds, we get another play called. Unfortunately, Jamison didn’t get it.”
Cousins: “I looked over to the sideline out of the corner of my eye and I just saw the coaches saying, ‘throw it’. They wanted potentially an audible, get to an actual pass play. I thought they were saying throw it to Jamison, in the general area of Jamison, there was an eligible in the area and there’s no penalty.”
There is little point into going into the minutia of what they said. There seems to have been some confusion in the loud Superdome and perhaps Gruden will clarify it in his Monday press conference.
Again, it should not have been grounding but you can’t give them a chance to make that mistake.
And the Redskins still had 18 seconds (after a 10-second runoff that perhaps should not have happened) to try to get back the 10 yards and maybe a few more to get a shot at a field goal. But he was sacked (the Saints’ first sack of the day) and he fumbled. Morgan Moses recovered but the clock ran out.
Although they had a 10-minute overtime, it felt like it was over and it soon was. The Redskins went three and out. Brees didn’t even have to drop back to pass as runs of 20 and 31 yards set up the field goal that applied the final gut punch.
NEW ORLEANS - Jay Gruden and the Redskins choked away a terrific opportunity for a much needed win on Sunday. They collapsed. Disappeared. Crumbled. Crumpled. Caved in.
Whatever word you choose, the result was terrible. Washington held a 31-16 lead with less than five minutes remaining. That score should absolutely result in a Redskins victory. Only it didn't.
Gruden deserves plenty of blame for the loss, as does the Redskins defense that gave up back to back late touchdowns to allow Drew Brees and the Saints to come all the way back. The offense also couldn't get a yard, one yard, when they needed it, for the second time in two weeks. There's lots of blame to go around, and deservedly.
But, stop talking about Gruden's future with the Redskins.
He's not going anywhere. The loss in New Orleans drops the Redskins record to 4-6, and very likely, eliminates Washington from the playoff picture. With a favorable schedule remaining, it's possible the Redskins could win out, but that would be a tall order. A finish around 8-8 seems most likely.
So, the naysayers will shout, why does Gruden get to stay? Let's count the reasons:
- For starters, the Redskins just signed Gruden to a two-year contract extension in the offseason. That means he's under contract through 2020. Gruden makes roughly $5 million a year, and to get rid of him would cost the organization eight figures. Not gonna happen.
- Beyond the money and the contract, Gruden has been good. The Redskins were awful when he arrived, going 3-13 in 2013. Awful. And the team has had steady improvement under Gruden. They won the NFC East in 2015, narrowly missed a playoff spot in 2016, and this year, when healthy, competed with the best teams in the NFL.
- This year's Redskins team is wildly beat up. The defense lost three starters before the first snap of the year, and the offense just lost their best player when Chris Thompson broke his leg against the Saints.
- Gruden is also getting better, and more competent. The coach overhauled his defensive staff this offseason, and the team has responded. He has a growing role in scouting and personnel, and largely, the results are working.
It's easy to be upset after a colossal sinkhole of a game like what happened in New Orleans. Gruden needs to be better. He knows it.
"It's terrible," Gruden said after the game, correctly. "We laid it all out on the line. We came out to a hostile environment against a team that has won seven in a row. You don't get anything for close."
Remember, however, that Jay Gruden has brought the Redskins from terrible to good. Crazed fans that want him gone need to remind themselves of that.
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