Redskins

In final week, Cardinals have QB issues, as usual

201212231816657965111-p2.jpeg

In final week, Cardinals have QB issues, as usual

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Cardinals entered the final week of the season with uncertainty at quarterback.

How fitting for a team that's misery on the field has been defined by poor play at that position.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Monday he wasn't ready to say whether Brian Hoyer would be the choice. It seems a pretty good guess considering the problems Ryan Lindley has had, and the fact Hoyer was active and John Skelton inactive Sunday, when Chicago handed the Cardinals (5-10) their 10th loss in 11 games.

Hoyer, claimed off waivers by the Cardinals from Pittsburgh two weeks ago, would be making his first NFL start if he's the choice for Sunday's game at San Francisco, where the 49ers will be looking to clinch the NFC West.

With the 49ers certain to be cranky following their one-sided loss at Seattle, it's not exactly an ideal location for an opposing quarterback to make his debut.

But after spending three seasons as a backup in New England and a mere three weeks with the Steelers this season, Hoyer would cherish any chance he gets. He had some good moments, and one very ill-advised throw, in relief of Lindley on Sunday.

In what he considered an audition, Hoyer completed 11 of 19 for 105 yards with one interception and no touchdowns. In fact, the Cardinals have failed to throw a TD pass in the last six games.

``Anytime you're out there on the field, it's your resume,'' Hoyer said. ``You have to go out there and take advantage of every opportunity you're given. In New England I didn't get many opportunities to get on the field. I was excited to play the game (Sunday). It has been a while since I got to play and play an extensive role.''

It's not overly simplistic to say that Arizona's season could have been far different with consistently solid quarterback play, rather than just the opposite. Kevin Kolb had the most success. From the time he took over late in the season opener against Seattle to the moment he went down with a rib injury that ultimately ended his season in Week 6, Arizona went 4-2. He threw eight touchdown passes with three interceptions.

The trio of Skelton, Lindley and Hoyer has a combined two TDs and 17 interceptions. Several immediately became touchdowns. In the last five games, Arizona quarterbacks threw 11 interceptions and four of them have been brought back for scores. The latest, a 10-yarder by Charles Tillman, sent Lindley to the bench in favor of Hoyer early in the second half Sunday.

``There's no question that we've got to have more consistency from the quarterback position, that's the No. 1 thing,'' Whisenhunt said at his weekly Monday news conference . ``You look at last night's (Seattle-San Francisco) game and what a difference Russell Wilson has made in Seattle with all the plays that he makes. That's what you have to have.''

Quarterback will be near the top of the to-do list when the season is over, and just who is in charge of that list is an open question. Cardinals President Michael Bidwill says he will assess the situation after the final game to determine if Whisenhunt comes back for the last year of his contract. General manager Rod Graves also might be gone. If Whisenhunt stays, some of his assistants almost certainly won't.

Kolb, plagued by injuries in his two seasons in Arizona, probably would have to take a pay cut to return.

Running back is another issue.

Will the Cardinals stick with Beanie Wells one more time? Plagued by injuries much of his pro career, Wells handed the Bears their first touchdown when he slid to his backside near the Arizona goal line and dropped the ball although no one had touched him. Zack Bowman gathered it and lunged across the goal line for the score.

Wells barely played after that, although he said he wasn't hurt. His gained 3 yards, helping to cement Arizona's status as the worst running team in pro football.

Whisenhunt agreed with the characterization it was a ``strange'' play by Wells.

``If you have the ball, that's your responsibility. You can't turn it over. I don't care who you are. I don't care what position you play,'' Whisenhunt said. ``In the NFL, if you turn the ball over, you're not going to play. That's the way it goes. That's been through history. There have been guys who have been good players that couldn't hold on to the football.''

It would be helpful if Arizona could ease out of its season against a team that had secured all it could and might be resting some of its best players. The 49ers' loss in Seattle ruined that.

Now safety Kerry Rhodes said the Cardinals could be in for an embarrassing afternoon if they just go through the motions to get the season finally over.

``You'd better come ready to play. You'd better be prepared,'' he said, ``or it could be another Seattle episode.''

The score of that one just two weeks ago, should anyone have forgotten, was Seattle 58, Arizona 0, the most one-sided loss in Cardinals history.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

---

Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx

Quick Links

Does Adrian Peterson want Case Keenum to start at QB? Sure sounds like it

dcslpeterson031319.jpg
USA Today Sports

Does Adrian Peterson want Case Keenum to start at QB? Sure sounds like it

The Redskins coaching staff intend to use their practice time in Richmond to determine the team's starting quarterback for the 2019 season, but for Adrian Peterson, that determination has been made. 

"Offensively, we really look good with Case Keenum back there. He’s a veteran," Peterson said last weekend at SportsCon in Dallas

Peterson's comments came just 10 days before the Redskins open training camp with what's expected to be an open battle at quarterback between Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins, not to mention Colt McCoy if he's healthy. Of that group, Keenum has had the most success in the NFL, particularly his excellent 2017 campaign in Minnesota where he completed 67 percent of his passes for more than 3,500 yards with 22 touchdowns against just seven interceptions in 14 starts.

It's important to point out that Keenum has only hit that level of play one year out of eight seasons in the NFL. The rest of his career has been marked with more interceptions and a lower completion percentage. 

Still, watching Redskins minicamp in early June when Keenum and Haskins got the majority of the snaps, it was clear the offense ran smoother with the veteran instead of the rookie.

"He’s been in the league for a long time. He’s a gunslinger. He’s a guy that’s going to throw the ball and spread it around," Peterson said of Keenum.

That doesn't mean the future Hall of Fame running back didn't speak well of Haskins, or more accurately, Haskins' potential. 

"I'm looking forward to seeing what he'll do in training camp," Peterson said of the rookie from Ohio State. "Once he gets more under his belt and becomes more comfortable, he'll be able to play faster as well."

In minicamp, the pace of the NFL - calling plays, adjusting at the line of scrimmage, and most of all, the speed of the pass rush - seemed to overwhelm Haskins at times. Those are all things he can learn, and his arm is already the best on the team. Once the mental game catches up, his physical traits are absolutely capable of winning big in the NFL. 

What might make the most sense in listening to Peterson's comments is how he looked at the 2018 season. Last year, Washington lost a lot of talent to injuries, including their top two QBs in Alex Smith and Colt McCoy, and still finished in the playoff hunt. 

"The most important thing for us is guys staying healthy. Last year we had 22 guys on IR, and was still one game away from making the playoffs if we would've won the last two," Peterson said. "That's the thing that impresses me the most. We really went through a grind in losing our first-, second- and third-string QB throughout the year, and still had a chance to make the playoffs. I feel like the mindset is there."

For a team with the mindset of grinding wins and getting into the playoffs, Keenum makes more sense than Haskins. At least it does for Peterson. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

On a night celebrating women’s soccer, a tale of two Roses

roselavellenbcsw.jpg
NBCSW

On a night celebrating women’s soccer, a tale of two Roses

Rose Lavelle met the future of American soccer. Her name is Rose Lavelle.

Two Roses convened on the field Saturday night at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds - one a celebrity at age 24 after helping the United States women’s national team to a World Cup title this month, the other a seven-year-old girl who shares a name and a love for soccer with her favorite player. 

A National Women’s Soccer League match between the Washington Spirit and the Houston Dash brought the Rose Lavelles together. It’s one of the two big questions facing women’s soccer in the United States: Can the nine-team NWSL become a viable league after two of its predecessors failed? And will the women’s national team players prevail in their lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, the sport’s governing body and their primary employer, demanding equal pay and an end to what they call institutionalized gender discrimination? 

One of those issues will be decided in a courtroom, the other on nights just like this one when an announced sellout crowd of 5,500 fans showed up to watch nine players who played for their countries in the recent World Cup in France. It would have been 10, but Lavelle’s hamstring injury kept her on the bench.

If the crowd was disappointed, it didn’t show. Despite withering heat that pushed the game time back an hour to 8 p.m. and never relented, fans banged drums, waved flags and cheered for Lavelle as she worked with a team trainer before the game. Not even an hour-long lightning delay at halftime dampened the mood. Many fans returned from the safety of their cars to finish watching a game that didn’t end until 11 p.m. 

Everywhere you looked there were young girls in the crowd wearing Spirit and national team jerseys. Sometimes it was their dads who bought the merchandise. 

Juan Reyes sported a blue and grey “Lavelle” t-shirt bought online moments after she scored in the World Cup final against the Netherlands while his eight-year-old daughter, Sia, admitted her favorite player is actually Alex Morgan, the long-time United States national team star who plays for the NWSL’s Orlando Pride. 

This was their first Spirit game, a short drive from their home in Montgomery Village. Sia is playing club soccer for the first time this year. On the drive up father and daughter even talked about the pay disparity issue. 

“The boys weren’t even chosen for the World Cup!” Sia Reyes said. “And they still get more money.”

“It’s a very important subject and it’s a great way to broach that subject,” Juan Reyes said. “We want to come out and support the league. Buy the shirts, get the hats, get the interest going.” 

Lavelle will be the Spirit’s star attraction when she returns. A relative unknown to casual fans before the World Cup began in June, Lavelle became a household name during it. She scored a goal in the 69th minute of the final against the Netherlands to give the United States a 2-0 lead. That ripper of a left-footed shot, after an electric run from just inside midfield, ended any hope of an upset and ensured the United States’ fourth World Cup title. 

Lavelle scored three goals in the tournament and did wonderful work as a central midfielder. At 5-foot-4, she’s not an imposing physical presence. She wins with exquisite skill and footwork and by thinking a few steps ahead of most everyone else on the field. That style of play quickly turned her into a fan favorite. 

On Thursday, Lavelle was honored at halftime of an MLS game in her hometown of Cincinnati. On Friday, hundreds packed downtown Fountain Square to celebrate her achievement and she received a key to the city and the day named in her honor. It’s been a whirlwind since returning from France a World Cup champion. 

Sitting on a blanket with her parents on the grassy hill behind one of the SoccerPlex nets, seven-year-old Rose Lavelle was entranced. She wore a red and black striped Spirit jersey with her name stitched on the back. It didn’t matter that the other Rose wasn’t playing. 

Asked if she wanted to take part in a postgame ceremony honoring the five Spirit players just back from the World Cup, she beamed. 

“Can I?” Rose Lavelle said, not quite believing. Minutes later, after a 2-1 Washington loss, she and her father, Shawn, walked onto the field with a bouquet of flowers in hand to present to the players. 

You could be skeptical about Saturday night. The U.S. women’s national team captivated the country in 1999 when it won the World Cup with a roster full of legends, but 20 years later we’re on a third professional league that has made a limited impact in seven seasons.

In a country infused with cynicism, smothered by it, it’s always easier to just assume the worst. Next year the women will make another splash at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. But will the sport retreat again until the next World Cup comes around? Will the NWSL struggle to draw crowds and television exposure? Will a court victory only create a caste system between the haves on the national team and the have-nots left off it? 

The NWSL has already lasted longer than the first two professional women’s soccer leagues combined. After the World Cup, ESPN picked up 14 games to broadcast nationally. Budweiser announced a multi-year sponsorship. The true test is replicating nights like this in cities across the country, expanding that base of support, not rebuilding it every four years. But the world we inhabit so rarely exists as we’d want it to. And, yes, the cynics are sometimes right. 

But see little Rose jump up and down when she’s told she can go onto the field to meet her namesake. Hear her say “I’m a brave girl” when asked if she’ll be nervous. “I didn’t even cry for my flu shot.”

And she will be brave. She will accidentally be called up to hand her flowers to a different player than expected and, for a moment, it looks like the Roses will not meet after all. 

The ceremony ends and Big Rose is pulled in different directions, quickly signing a few autographs for the kids on the field before she must attend other duties. Little Rose waits her turn patiently, holding a folded program, expectant, hopeful, as the adults around her fret that a major disappointment is coming. But then Rose Lavelle sees the young girl, smiles broadly and bends to greet her. 

“My name is Rose Lavelle,” the child says without hesitation because she is brave.  

NBC Sports Washington’s Anna Witte contributed to this story.