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Sean Taylor: Scared Straight?

Sean Taylor: Scared Straight?

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

The news that Sean Taylor has reached a plea agreement with Miami prosecutors that will keep him out of jail and land him an NFL suspension that will be minimal if there is one at all certainly was welcome among all those who follow and, especially, who are employed by, the Redskins. The situation, which has been going on for a year, isn’t quite concluded yet. Taylor has to do some community service type things in Miami area schools and he’ll be on probation for 18 months. But it’s just about over and there are a couple of things that need to be said about it in retrospect.

First, most of those who are complaining that this was a case of someone with money get off easy don’t know what they’re talking about. And I’m not claiming that I know what I’m talking about in this instance either. I wrote here a while ago that the charges against Taylor didn’t seem to fit what had transpired on that day in West Perrine, the depressed community near Miami. If felony charges carrying mandatory jail time were pressed every time there were threats and punches exchanged on the streets of places like West Perrine, the courts and prisons would be jammed to the gills.

Regardless of that, if you want to say that Taylor bought his justice or got off easy because he’s an NFL player you need to demonstrate that others, less rich and famous that Taylor, got more severe treatment for committing similar offenses. It’s my educated guess that many, many more such perps end up with community service and probation than go to jail. I don’t have any statistics to back that up, mind you, but neither do most of those crying foul in this situation, either. If anyone has any information to the contrary, please feel free to forward it to me.

The most important thing about this whole affair, however, is not the celebrity justice aspect but the mere fact that it happened. That fact may well have saved Sean Taylor’s life.

A year ago Taylor was not anywhere near where he needed to be and what he was doing did not remotely resemble what he needed to be doing. He was blowing off phone calls from Joe Gibbs and that was the least of his problems. According to this excellent article by Robert Andrew Powell, he possibly carried a gun into a club. Taylor was hanging out in West Perrine with a buddy who was up to all sorts of activities ranging from unsavory to illegal if the contents of the buddy’s house after he moved out are any indication. Instead of spending his days at OTA’s in Ashburn, working out and polishing his knowledge of the defense he was cruising around the housing project in an ATV.

Obviously, this is not a path that a young man who is very talented in his profession and is worth millions of dollars should be on. In fact, it was incredibly stupid for him to be where he was doing what he was doing. Taylor, though, didn’t see it that way. He was bulletproof and he could do whatever he wanted to do, the consequences, if any, be damned.

The consequences came in the form of a felony arrest warrant. Sean Taylor was facing the possibility of spending a good chunk of the rest of his life in jail. No matter how flimsy the charges may have seemed or how much the prosecutor may have seemed to be overreaching in pressing such serious charges, the time behind bars was staring him right in the face.

It appears that he has been scared straight. On the first day of training camp last summer Taylor stayed out in the hot sun and signed autographs for all of the kids who wanted one. While he wasn’t exactly glib with the media he was much more accommodating than he had been in the past. The more cynical out there might say that this was just PR, an attempt at image rehabilitation. While they might be right to an extent, it does appear that he genuinely has changed for the better.

This could well turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to Sean Taylor. Had Joe Gibbs known what path Taylor was on last year, he himself could not have written a better prescription to knock him off of that path and get him onto the right one. Taylor certainly would not have listened to any lecturing. It took something like this to give him a shot at turning his life around. We will see whether or not he completes that turnaround.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game the Redskins played from when they moved to Washington in 1937 through the 2001 season. For details and ordering information, go to http://www.RedskinsGames.com

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Need to Know: Should the Redskins draft Vita Vea in the first round?

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: Should the Redskins draft Vita Vea in the first round?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, January 24, 51 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 41
—NFL Draft (4/26) 92
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 228

Fan questions—Surprise cuts, finding a playmaker

I put out a call for questions on social media and I got so many good ones that I’m splitting them up. Here are Facebook questions today and I’ll hit the best Twitter questions later this week.

 

Spencer Long could be gone but he is a free agent, so he could not be cut. As far as players under contract, a lot will depend on who they draft and sign in free agency. If they go heavy on the defensive line, Ziggy Hood and Terrell McClain could be in danger of being cut. An influx of defensive back might have Josh Holsey and Deshazor Everett headed out of town.

There won’t be any cuts that save a major amount of cap space. Thek players with the top 15 cap numbers per Over the Cap are all vital to the operation with the possible aforementioned exception of McClain.

The rub is that if you want an instant “bona fide” playmaker you are going to have to invest either a lot of cap dollars or high draft pick. They have invested cap dollars in Reed and, to a lesser extent, Thompson and a No. 1 draft pick in Reed. The plan needs to be to make sure that Reed stays healthy (as best you can) and hope you get 12-14 productive games out of him, get Thompson back in the swing of things, and continue to work with Doctson. Perhaps they can get a mid-round find like the Saints did with Kamara to add to the mix. But for the most part, the Redskins will have to make do with what they have.

The way things stand right now, I’m seeing Vea regarded as more of a late first-round pick than a player who should go in the top half of the round. That could change as the draft process goes on. I think the Redskins need to continue to strengthen their defensive line and if Vea moves up to a high first-round grade or slides to a second they should take a long look at him.

The player I’m keeping my eye on is Jordan Matthews, who spent three years with the Eagles before being trade to Buffalo. He had over 800 yards receiving in each of his three seasons in Philly before a knee injury hampered him last year. He’s 6-3 and still young (26 in Week 1). Sammy Watkins of the Rams is intriguing but he had just 593 receiving yards in 15 games in a Sean McVay’s very productive offense. An older but less expensive option might be Eric Decker of the Titans, who had just 30 fewer receiving yards than Watkins and would be much a much less expensive acquisition albeit as a stopgap.

I see them addressing other needs in the first round. That could change if there is someone there who is just too good to pass up.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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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. 

"No." 

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. 

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