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

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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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