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Taylor Must Sit

Taylor Must Sit

Taylor Should Sit

I was going to write an entry strongly questioning Joe Gibbs’ decision to bench Sean Taylor for Sunday’s upcoming game. DWI is a serious offense besides being a dangerous, dumb thing to do. However, it’s not like he robbed a bank or committed a violent act (albeit the potential for a violent collision in the car is certainly present when driving impaired). His violation of the law is a matter that will be dealt with by the law. My original line of thinking was that the authorities should be the ones to punish Taylor, not Joe Gibbs and the Redskins.

I mean, most of us would be permitted to return to work without penalty after such an incident. Why not Taylor?

As more details of what happened yesterday came to light, though, it became apparent that the decision to make Taylor inactive for the Packer game was the right thing to do.

In politics, they say that what gets officials into hot water isn’t whatever wrong doing they may commit, it’s the cover up. Taylor’s problem wasn’t so much the DWI, but what he did—or didn’t do—afterwards. He was arrested at about 2:45 AM and after being booked and posting his bond, he was released from the Fairfax County jail at about 10 AM.

At that time of day, it’s about a 30-minute drive to Redskins Park at the most. Perhaps he might have wanted to duck in to Fair Oaks Mall and get a change of clothes, so add 15 minutes. Regardless, he could be at Redskins Park by 11 AM. But as of the time that practice ended at 1:30 PM, Gibbs said that he hadn’t heard from Taylor.

"I haven't had a chance to talk with him. In fact, we don't know where he is," Gibbs said at the time. "He wasn't here for practice today. I think it's a serious thing. We'll just have to deal with it as best as we can."

Even if for some reason he couldn’t make it to practice, there’s a new invention called a telephone that he could have used to notify the team that he was alive, if not doing so well.

The bottom line is that Taylor was absent from practice without having been excused. Whether the absence is due to having been in the drunk tank or simply having overslept, there must be consequences. Assuming that Gibbs enforces the same standard in the future—you miss practice, you sit out the game—then it was the only way to go.

October 28, 2004

The “In’s” Root For the Skins

I wanted to get to this before the rest of the media did, but it’s too late. Since I didn’t talk about it first, I’ll have to do it better.

“It” is the streak involving the result of presidential elections and the fortunes of the Washington Redskins. I’ve received a few emails about it and why not do what the Redskins beat reporters have done and rip out a thousand words or so on the subject.

For those of you who have not yet heard of the phenomenon, here’s the deal: In every presidential election since the Redskins moved to Washington in 1937, the result of the team’s last home game before the quadrennial vote has been the same as the result of the incumbent party in the White House. In other words, if the Skins win that last home game before the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in leap years, the party in power in the executive branch has remained in power. If Washington does not protect its house in that game, the incumbent party loses the house on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Again, you’re probably read the generalities of all of this in other places. What you don’t get elsewhere are the details. That’s why I’m here:

    • 11/2/40—Frankie Filchock and Sammy Baugh team up to go 14 for 15 passing to lead the Redskins over the Steelers 37-10. Two days later President Franklin D. Roosevelt easily defeats Wendell Willkie 449 electoral votes to 82.

    • 11/5/44—Washington was outgained by the Cleveland Rams 407 yards to 197 but they scored two TD’s in a four-play span in the second quarter to pull out a 14-10 win. FDR’s win was not as close as he outgained Thomas Dewey 53% to 45% and out scored him 432-99 in the stat that counts, the Electoral College.

    • 10/31/48—This one was close in the early going, but a 14-14 tie at the end of the first ended in a 59-21 Redskins win. The election was much closer and Dewey didn’t defeat Truman much to the chagrin of the Chicago Tribune and others as the incumbent won 303-189.

    • 11/2/52—Washington’s attempted fourth quarter rally fell a point short at the Steelers won 24-23. Adali Stevenson didn’t show nearly as much game, trailing Dwight Eisenhower all the way in a 442-89 loss.

    • 10/21/56—This was the first time that the Redskins didn’t have a home game on the Sunday immediately preceding the general election. Sixteen days before election day Eddie LeBaron led the Redskins past the Browns 20-9. Ike beat Stevenson in the rematch by over 9 million popular votes and an electoral count of 457-73.

    • 10/31/60—The first of 17 consecutive losses of two seasons for coach Mike Nixon’s Redskins came at the hands of Cleveland 31-10. The loser for the GOP was another Nixon, Richard, by a much closer margin to John F. Kennedy. 303-219.

    • 10/25/64—Sonny Jurgensen’s fourth touchdown pass of the day went to tight end Pres Carpenter with a minute left to play. Lyndon Johnson didn’t have to sweat out his win over Barry Goldwater nearly as much with an electoral tally of 486-52.

    •10/27/68--Jurgensen had one of his worst days as a pro, going 7 for 25 passing but Washington hung close and nearly rallied before losing to the Giants 13-10. Dick Nixon’s comeback, on the other hand, was a success as he beat Vice President Hubert Humphrey 301-191 in a contest that was much closer than the final score indicated.

    • Finally, a significant game to talk about. Larry Brown had one his greatest days as a Redskin as Washington rallied to beat Dallas 24-20. Nixon, who had suggested plays to coach George Allen the previous season, rode to coattails of the Washington win to a 520-17 trashing of George McGovern.

    • 10/31/76—Pete Wysocki, out of Michigan, was blocking as Eddie Brown returned a punt for Washington’s only score in a 20-7 loss to Washington. Former Wolverine football player Gerald Ford, who finished up for Nixon after his term expired before the end of regulation, also lost. Jimmy Carter won 297-240.

    • 11/2/80—The Redskins started a five-game losing streak that knocked them out of playoff contention by falling to the Vikings 39-14. The Republicans launched a three-election streak for the White House with the Gipper, Ronald Reagan, routing Carter 489-89.

    • 11/5/84--In a Monday night game that ended as election day was dawning, the defending NFC champion Redskins prevailed over Atlanta 27-14. Reagan had a much easier time with Fritz Mondale, defending his office by a score of 525-13.

    • 11/6/88—Politicians are infamous for using dirty tricks to win elections and Dexter Manley pulled one off to help his Redskins win. The Saints were in position to kick a game-clinching field goal, but their tackle Jim Dombrowski took a swing at Manley and the ensuing 15-yard penalty put the kick out of Morten Anderson’s range. It turns out that Manley had spit (he says he “sneezed”, but we know better) in Dombrowski’s face to provoke the punch and the Skins won 27-24. Some would say that the Willie Horton ads were the political equivalent of Dexter’s expectoration as it helped George H. W. Bush rolled up a 426-111 win over Michael Dukakis.

    • 11/1/92—The New York Giants had possession for nearly 40 minutes and ground out a 24-7 win over Washington. The incumbent Super Bowl champs were on their way out as was President Bush the elder. Bill Clinton won as convincingly as the Giants had 370-168.

    • 10/27/96—The Redskins ran their record to 7-1 with a 31-16 win over the Colts. The early returns from the season had them projected as the winner of a playoff spot but they would later collapse and finish out of the money. Clinton also won easily over Bob Dole, 379-159. He would encounter some rough sledding later on, too.

    • 10/30/00—The Tennessee Titans built up an early lead and held off the Redskins for a 27-21 win. Tennessean Al Gore rallied from behind and took George W. Bush into overtime before losing by one fewer than the Redskins did, 271-266.

Of course, it’s all ridiculous. There is no possible cause and effect here, just a crazy coincidence. There will be a lunar eclipse tonight and the Boston Red Sox may win their first World Series since 1918. Should it happen, there will be exactly the same linkage between those events as there is between gridiron results and hanging chads—none.

Still, it’s a coincidence that defies the odds and it’s something to talk about. No doubt, Skins fans who lean to the right will be rooting extra hard for a Redskins win. While very few wearers of the burgundy and gold who are Democrats will actually be rooting for the Packers on Sunday, they might find some consolation here should the Skins lose.

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The Redskins are going to draft the best available player, unless they aren't

The Redskins are going to draft the best available player, unless they aren't

When their turn comes up in this draft, the Redskins are going to pick the best available player on the board. Unless they’re not. 

That is the mixed message delivered on Tuesday by Doug Williams, the team’s senior vice president for player personnel during his pre-draft press conference on Tuesday. 

Williams was asked what nearly every NFL personnel executive has been asked during this round of draft press conferences: Will the Redskins take the best player on the board or would they draft for need?

And Williams gave an answer similar to the ones that all of the other personnel guys gave. 

“You hear this cliché all the time, it’s always going to be the best player available, because at the same time if you’re looking for a need, the player you’re looking for a need might not be graded as high as the guy that’s on that board,” he said. 

That makes some fans crazy as they believe that you must fill needs in the draft. But reaching to fill needs is a good way to have a mediocre, disjointed draft. 

But there are times when the best available player is not the player the Redskins will pick. The topic of injuries came up and Williams talked about the situation at offensive tackle. Morgan Moses and Trent Williams currently are rehabbing from injuries and they won’t take the field during OTAs and minicamp. 

Doug Williams said that both players should be ready for training camp. He didn’t mention it but Trent Williams and Moses are signed for the next three and five years, respectively. That means that there is no need for a tackle in at least the first two rounds, and Williams agrees. 

“We can’t go into the draft drafting tackles, you know,” he said. 

So if, say, offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey of Notre Dame has the highest grade on the Redskins’ board when pick 13 comes up, they will not be taking the player with the best grade. They will “reach”, perhaps only slightly, to take a player at another position. 

The Redskins have a similar situation at quarterback. They are committed to Alex Smith for at least three seasons and it would be foolish to spend a high pick on a quarterback. Williams said that the Redskins are not in the quarterback business this year. If there is a top QB still on the board at pick 13, it’s likely that Williams and Bruce Allen would be looking for phone calls from teams that want to trade up and get their signal caller. 

The true test of how the team chooses needs vs. best available could well come this year. Let’s say that Da’Ron Payne, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Tremaine Edmunds are all on the board when the Redskins’ pick comes up. While each team has its own grades, you probably won’t find many that don’t have Fitzpatrick and Edmunds a clear cut above Payne. The Redskins have needs on the defensive line, not so much at inside linebacker or in the secondary. Picking Payne at that point could be interpreted as reaching to fill a need while leaving more talented and more versatile players on the board. Going best available would almost surely mean choosing between Fitzpatrick and Edmunds. 

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

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Need to Know: Final Redskins seven-round mock draft

Need to Know: Final Redskins seven-round mock draft

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 25, one day before the first round of the 2018 NFL draft.  

Final seven-round Redskins mock draft

Here we go. No trades. If you like big guys you’ll like the first four picks. 

Round 1, DL Da’Ron Payne, Alabama—I think that Vita Vea will be off the board; it’s looking more and more like he will go the Raiders at 10 or Miami at 11. Payne might be the better player anyway, assuming that Jim Tomsula can coach some pass rush out of him. If Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James is on the board the Redskins may have to adjust their thinking. 

Round 2, OL Billy Price, Ohio State—I had a running back in mind here but the run at the position came earlier than expected. Derrius Guice, Ronald Jones, Sony Michel, and Nick Chubb were all off the board. The decision was to get a guy to insert at left guard and complete a home-grown O-line that can hopefully create running room for whatever back takes the handoff. 

Round 4, RB Kalen Ballage, Arizona State—I’m going with the best available running back here. The analytics types really like his combination of size (6-1, 228) and speed (4.46 in the 40 at the combine). Also, he shared carries with the Sun Devils so is a relatively low-mileage back (450 carries in four years). Ballage scored eight touchdowns in a game as a junior so he could be what the team needs in the red zone. 

Round 5, DL R.J. McIntosh, Miami—The Redskins have spent so little draft capital on the defensive line over the past two decades that it’s easy to justify doubling up there in one draft. McIntosh is a project, but he has high-level athleticism and quickness and those are traits you can’t teach. It might take him all of this year and next offseason in the weight room to build up his core strength and to add some weight onto his 286-lb. frame. 

Round 5, CB Nick Nelson, Wisconsin—While working out for the Lions last week, Nelson suffered a torn meniscus. That dropped his draft stock from perhaps being a Day 2 pick to one who should still be on the board on Saturday afternoon. The rehab for the 2017 All-Big Ten selection has been estimated at three to four months, meaning that he could be ready for the start of training camp. One more note: he was the Badgers’ punt returner last year and he averaged 8.6 yards per return with one touchdown. 

Round 6, TE David Wells, San Diego St.—While Jay Gruden and Doug Williams both seem to be confident that Jordan Reed will be healthy and ready to go by the time the regular season starts the truth will emerge in the draft. If they take a tight end early, they are very concerned about Reed. If they wait until this point in the draft and take a project like Wells, they are only moderately worried. 

Round 7, WR Auden Tate, Florida State—He’s coming off of a separated shoulder and that might push the 6-4 Tate down the board. Tate would be a project; he only caught 65 passes in 22 game at Florida State. He doesn’t have blazing speed (4.68 in the 40) but he competes for the ball and he could be a good red zone asset. 

Round 7, CB Greg Stroman, Virginia Tech—You can’t have too many corners or edge rushers and since there aren’t enough of the latter to go around in this draft I took a corner here. Stroman doesn’t have ideal size at 5-11, 182 but he paid attention during his four years with the Hokies and he plays with good technique. 

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

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In response to a suggestion that former kick returner Devin Hester should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer:

Timeline 

Days until:

—Rookie minicamp (5/11) 16
—OTAs start (5/22) 27
—Training camp starts (7/26) 92

The Redskins last played a game 115 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 137 days. 

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