Washington Football

Charles starring for Chiefs after tragedy

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Charles starring for Chiefs after tragedy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Jamaal Charles took the handoff on the first play of the game, skipped to his right and found a crease. He slipped through the hole, made a subtle cutback and then raced to the end zone.

On that 80-yard touchdown run against Cleveland, Charles looked as good as ever.

What he's gone through made it even more impressive.

This is a running back coming off a torn ACL last season, and who is going against defenses every week that know the Chiefs are dependent almost solely on him. He's a guy operating behind a patchwork offensive line for a team that's lost 11 of its first 13 games.

He's also a guy running with a heavy heart.

Charles was friends with Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, and helped introduce Belcher to wife Whitney's cousin, Kasandra Perkins. Two weeks ago Saturday, Belcher fatally shot Perkins in a home not far from Arrowhead Stadium, then drove to the team's practice facility and committed suicide as general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel watched.

Charles hasn't spoken publicly since the incident, and may not for the remainder of the season, but he's been able to perform at an All-Pro level despite everything that has transpired.

``I think it speaks to the character of him as a man, how he's able to have an optimistic perspective despite all the things he's been through right now,'' Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn said. ``It really speaks to who he is as man.''

As a player, Charles leads the AFC with 1,220 yards rushing. His 91-yard touchdown run against the Saints is the longest in the league this season, and his four carries of 40-plus yards are tied for second-most in the NFL behind the Vikings' Adrian Peterson.

``We've leaned on him all year, as you look at it,'' Crennel said. ``He's been the consistent staple in our offense, because he gains yards and he's the guy who has the potential to run for a touchdown. We kind of lean on him.''

Especially the last few weeks.

Charles ran for 107 yards in a loss to the Broncos, the week before the murder-suicide that rocked the franchise. The day after it, when there were questions of whether the Chiefs would even play the Panthers, Charles ran for 127 yards in an emotional 27-21 victory.

Highlighted by his long TD run last week, Charles piled up 165 yards in a 30-7 loss to the Browns, providing a silver lining for a game - and a season - shrouded in darkness. Charles figures to have a big role in the game plan this week, too, and probably for the rest of the season. The Chiefs' only reliable wide receiver, Dwayne Bowe, has injured ribs that could keep him off the field for the final three games.

That means the Chiefs could become even more one-dimensional headed to Oakland this weekend.

``Everybody knows we can run the ball,'' Crennel said. ``The thing we have to look at is they're going to load up the box to stop the run, and we've made some plays as a result of teams doing that against us. And Bowe has been a part of that. That's why I say other receivers have to step up, so we can throw the ball or do something different to back them off the running game.''

Oakland was one of the few teams to have success in stopping Charles this season, though part of that was because the Raiders never really had to worry about him.

When the teams played at Arrowhead in late October, Chiefs offensive coordinator Brian Daboll only gave Charles five carries in the entire game, netting a whopping four yards.

He carried only 12 times for 39 yards the following week against San Diego.

It was at that point in the season that Crennel, who had been running the defense in addition to his head coaching duties, turned that side of the ball over to Gary Gibbs. Crennel said at the time that he wanted to have a bigger role in overseeing the offense, but he might just as well have been saying that he wanted to ensure Charles was getting touches.

Charles only averaged about 16 carries over the first eight games of the season. He's toted the ball nearly 22 times per game over the past five.

Crennel said he's not worried about Charles' durability, either, despite the devastating knee injury he sustained last season in Detroit. The former Pro Bowl running back has proven that he can carry a heavy load, stand up after taking a hit and prepare to do it all over again.

``Jamaal is a tough guy, even though he looks like the wind could blow him over sometimes,'' Crennel said. ``He's pretty tough, and he's been here every day in practice, working hard, trying to get better and trying to help this team. You have to give him some kudos for being able to do that week-in and week-out. You take a pounding at the running back position.''

The physical toll this season has taken has been enormous. So has the emotional toll.

Through it all, Charles has remained one of the few bright spots for a Chiefs franchise in turmoil, one of the rare reasons to cheer in a season that long ago spiraled out of control.

``He's a tremendous player, and for whatever reasons, obviously teams in the hunt, or have a little better record, get a little more recognition,'' Quinn said, ``but that kid is obviously blessed.''

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Redspears or not these uniform designs are a great option for Washington

Redspears or not these uniform designs are a great option for Washington

When looking at the endless amounts of fan concepts and designs out there for the Washington Football Team's next name and logo, it's important to remember that not every idea belongs to the name suggestion of the designer. 

Once Washington makes its final decision, you can bet they'll be looking at a number of different options, and if they want to take a look at the fans' work, they could take a Red Wolves logo and match it up with a Red Tails uniform concept and tweak both to match whatever name they choose. 

In that case, whatever name and logo they choose should have these uniforms, plain and simple. 

 

Mike Joseph created these uniforms as part of his Washington Redspears project and did an exceptional job mocking up a number of different modern uniform designs.

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Redspears isn't a likely name change due to reports saying the franchise plans to stay away from Native American imagery, but that doesn't mean we should ignore these designs.

 

These use the burgundy and gold really well and have a unique number font that has worked for NFL teams like the Ravens, Broncos, Bears, Titans and Steelers in the past. 

The great part about this design is it could be easily rebranded to a different. All the franchise would have to do is lose the spear logo and use whatever logo they settle upon. They could even keep the numbers on the helmet as they have currently. Everything else is versatile. 

Between the sleek design, use of colors and the unique number fonts, this has to be one of, if not the best fan-generated uniform mock-up out there. If the Washington Football team uses these but with a different team name and logo, it'd be hard to complain about that decision. 

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Recent numbers indicate just how hard it could be for Antonio Gandy-Golden to help as a rookie

Recent numbers indicate just how hard it could be for Antonio Gandy-Golden to help as a rookie

There were already some decent expectations placed on Antonio Gandy-Golden for 2020 — and then Kelvin Harmon went down. Now, the Day 3 selection is being labeled as someone who needs to really contribute to the Washington Football Team.

But is that too much to ask for a rookie who went on Saturday in the draft? Recent numbers indicate that answer may be yes.

From 2015 to 2019, 25 wide receivers were chosen in the fourth round, which is where Washington nabbed Gandy-Golden a few months ago. Here are some takeaways from looking back on how all of those guys performed in their first professional seasons:

  • Only one target topped 50 catches and 600 yards, and coincidentally enough, it was Jamison Crowder. Crowder caught 59 passes for 604 yards and two scores as a rookie for the Burgundy and Gold in 2015. The only other guy who came close to either of those marks was Antonio Callaway, who had 43 grabs for 586 yards and five touchdowns for Cleveland in 2018. Those are easily the two best performances by a fourth-round rookie wideout since 2015, so keep that in mind when discussing Gandy-Golden.
  • Out of that group of 25, 15 suited up for double-digit games for their teams during their first taste of the league. The average stat line for those 15 rookies was 17 receptions for 182 yards and one touchdown in about 14 contests. That's meager. 
  • Just nine out of the 25 recorded a touchdown catch as a rookie, and only four (Crowder, Callaway, DaeSean Hamilton and Malcom Mitchell) visited the end zone multiple times.

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So, judging solely off of that data, it would appear that Washington shouldn't be prepared to lean heavily Gandy-Golden. And once you combine that history with other factors, such as the huge transition he's about to make from Libery to the NFL and the very limited offseason he's had thus far, then the outlook for Gandy-Golden becomes even dimmer.

There is a super simple counter argument, however, at least when it comes to comparing him to his past fourth-round peers, and it has to do with his potential playing time.

While the 22-year-old has to fight through a pandemic, something none of the above rookies can relate to and something that could be detrimental to his early career, he also may be in line for a massive share of snaps right away. Most players who go off the board where Gandy-Golden did are usually worried about simply making the team; he, on the other hand, very well could be a starter across from Terry McLaurin in Week 1.

That alone means Gandy-Golden could end up having enough involvement in the offense to come up with a Crowder-like, impactful debut. In 2019, McLaurin far surpassed other third-round rookie receivers due largely to the amount of opportunity he got with Washington (his ridiculous talent was a bonus of course, too). Gandy-Golden is tracking on a similar path. 

A fairly general rule for any franchise is that it's not exactly prudent to need a Day 3 pass catcher to immediately act as one of your primary weapons. Stats from 2015 to 2019 seem to back up that general rule.

Every rule has an exception here or there, though. Maybe Gandy-Golden, with his outstanding physical traits and possibly featured role in 2020, will be that next exception and make all this math and comparing a totally moot issue. 

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