Washington Football

Goodell: Dialogue 'constant' with substance abuse

201212121758647213773-p2.jpeg

Goodell: Dialogue 'constant' with substance abuse

IRVING, Texas (AP) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met with the director of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers the night before Wednesday's owners meetings in the Dallas area, where a Cowboys player was charged with intoxication manslaughter in a weekend crash that killed a teammate.

Goodell also spoke Tuesday with players union boss DeMaurice Smith over issues of drinking and driving.

The commissioner said those meetings would have happened even without the death of Dallas practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown, who was killed when police say Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent was speeding and flipped his vehicle early Saturday in Irving.

``It's a constant dialogue,'' Goodell said.

Brown died exactly a week after Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend before driving to the team complex and shooting himself in front of his coach and general manager. Both deaths were the day before games.

The deaths were the latest difficulties in a year that included the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal and a lengthy labor negotiation with the game officials that led to three weeks of increasingly chaotic games involving replacements.

``Anything that brings a negative light, whether it's bounties or whether it's the tragic circumstances we've seen over the last two weeks, that's not good stuff for the league,'' Goodell said. ``We have to work hard to make sure we avoid those situations and represent the NFL the way our fans expect us to do it.''

Goodell said the NFL wants to increase the penalties for first and second offenses in drunken driving cases, and Brown's death has brought new scrutiny to a safe ride program. The union says the program works, but one player representative, Jacksonville's Rashean Mathis, has said players don't use it because they're concerned about confidentiality.

``If somebody has a better idea, they need to tell us,'' Jaguars owner Shahid Kahn said.

---

HERE'S THE KICKER: Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay says the NFL's competition committee will consider the idea of eliminating kickoffs this offseason.

It remains to be seen whether those discussions will be any more productive than they were when the league moved kickoffs up to the 35-yard line before the 2011 season.

``We just moved the kickoff 5 yards to reduce kickoff returns, but it was because we really couldn't come up with a better way where we knew we could move the needle on the injury number and on the concussion number,'' said McKay, the committee's chairman. ``That doesn't mean somebody won't have a more creative way to deal with it in the evolution of it.''

Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano already has one. He has suggested giving the team that normally would kick off the option of punting from its 30 or going for a first down on fourth-and-15. Goodell has called Schiano's idea ``interesting.''

While he coached at Rutgers, Schiano witnessed one of his players, Eric LeGrand, get paralyzed on a kickoff in 2010.

McKay said the increase in touchbacks under the new rule would be secondary to safety concerns.

``I have no question that when get to the offseason that idea will be fully vetted,'' McKay said. ``When we talk about the kickoff play, one thing we try to do a good job of as a membership is letting the data and the tape, meaning the way the game is played, drive the decision as opposed to the emotion of the moment.''

---

QUICK HITS: The league is combining NFL Charities and the NFL Youth Football Fund into one entity called the NFL Foundation. The league named Cowboys executive Charlotte Jones Anderson its chairwoman. Anderson is the daughter of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and runs the team's charitable arm. ... Goodell said the league would spend the next few months exploring playoff expansion to 14 or 16 teams. Currently, 12 teams make the playoffs - eight division champions and two wild cards in each conference. ... Owners got a demonstration of new thigh pads that will be mandatory again next season. The NFL quit mandating thigh pads in 1995 because players complained about the quality were resisting their use. The league estimates only 30 percent of today's players wear thigh pads.

---

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

---

Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter athttps://twitter.com/lschuylerd

Quick Links

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.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TALK PODCAST

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. 

Stay connected to the team with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL NEWS:

Quick Links

Bradley Beal thinks Rui Hachimura will be a small forward long-term

Bradley Beal thinks Rui Hachimura will be a small forward long-term

Whether it actually matters is debatable, but what position Rui Hachimura best profiles for long-term has been a point of contention among fans and media members ever since he was drafted by the Wizards ninth overall last summer. He is what not long ago would be described as a 'tweener,' or somewhat of a cross between a small forward and a power forward.

Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal has put some thought into it and has now weighed in. He thinks Hachimura will be a small forward.

"Honestly, I think Rui is going to end up being a three. When his career is over with, he's going to end up playing the three," Beal explained during Sunday's Wizards-Nets broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

"I don't know what that's going to look like next year or what we're going to jump to, but you can see spurts of it. You can see he can handle the ball, he's comfortable with handling the ball. Obviously, we can improve that and make that better. He shoots the three comfortably."

That last point could probably be picked apart a bit and it does hold some importance in the argument. If Hachimura is indeed going to be a small forward, he will need to add some perimeter skills to his game.

Three-point shooting would be included in there and so far there certainly seems to be room for improvement. This season, he is shooting just 27 percent from three on 1.7 attempts per game. 

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE WIZARDS TALK PODCAST

In the three games the Wizards have played in Orlando, Hachimura is 0-for-1 from long range. He didn't attempt any threes at all in their first two games of the restart.

The reason why it is an interesting debate is Hachimura doesn't fit the traditional norms for either the three or four position. And that could be a good thing, as former teammate C.J. Miles pointed out in November. When you don't match up perfectly with opponents in any specific position, sometimes that means you are a mismatch for anyone who is guarding you.

Beal himself went on to rave about Hachimura's versatility.

"He's super athletic, so he can use his size to post up. So, the versatility is there. It's just a matter of what we want to mold him into," Beal said. "I think the sky's the limit. He has the ability, he has the work ethic, so I'm definitely excited to see."

RELATED: NBA PLAYERS BRING UP KAWHI COMPARISONS DESPITE RUI'S ROUGH GAME

Hachimura not having a true position could be an advantage. What the Wizards will need to determine, however, is how to complement his skillset with other players as they continue to build their roster. 

Whether Hachimura is a three, a four or even a small-ball five, the best way to maximize his strengths will be to fill in the gaps around him. Putting a rim protector alongside him, for instance, would allow him to roam and switch on defense. Having teammates who space the floor will create openings in the midrange, where he is very effective scoring the ball.

Those involve more important questions than what position Hachimura will ultimately be defined by. But it's still a fun debate to have and now even Beal has been drawn into it.

Stay connected to the Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: