Washington Football

No action on Cardinals coach until season ends

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No action on Cardinals coach until season ends

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwill said a decision on whether Ken Whisenhunt remains as coach will be made after the season.

Bidwill called the team's 58-0 loss at Seattle on Sunday ``unacceptable'' and said he has been evaluating the situation on a week-to-week basis as the losing streak has grown to nine games.

``I think not making a rush decision is the right way to go,'' Bidwill said Monday in his first comments on the matter.

He said he and fans have been ``living and dying with each one of these losses. It's extremely hard to watch.''

``We know we can do better,'' Bidwill said. ``I know that there is a lot of emotion around what happened yesterday but I don't intend to make any decisions based on emotion.''

Bidwill said ``there is plenty of responsibility to spread around'' in the losing streak.

``Obviously, injuries have been a factor but I think even with that we expected a much different season than what we've got going on right now,'' he said.

Bidwill, whose father Bill Bidwill owns the team, runs the franchise. He said finances would not figure in the eventual decision.

``Winning football games and staying focused on what's best for winning football games is what we're going to stay focused on,'' he said.

Whisenhunt is due about $5.5 million in the final year of his contract next year.

The evaluation of the entire organization will be more thorough than usual, Bidwill said, adding that's why it's important to have ``a complete set of facts.''

Earlier Monday, Whisenhunt said he knows only one way to respond in the face of increasing speculation that his sixth season in Arizona may be his last.

``I was a college walk-on, a 12th-round draft pick in the NFL,'' he said, ``so I've always been in situations where you had to fight.''

With three games to play, beginning at home Sunday against Detroit, Whisenhunt said he would ``stick with'' what has been successful in the past.

Whether the players are with him remains to be seen.

In the locker room before the Monday team meeting, defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said he would keep playing hard for defensive coordinator Ray Horton and fellow defensive linemen. But for Whisenhunt? Dockett said, ``No comment.''

Perhaps it's not a surprising answer since Whisenhunt fined Dockett somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000 for his behavior at the end of the previous week's game against the New York Jets.

But it's nonetheless revealing about the reality bubbling below the surface in the locker room, where the defense that had been the team's strong point caved to the tune of 493 yards - 284 on the ground - in Seattle in the face of yet another awful show by the Arizona offense.

Whisenhunt once rode a wave of popularity for leading the Cardinals to a stunning run to the Super Bowl following the 2008 season, then got the team to the NFC West title the following year. But Kurt Warner retired and nothing has been the same since.

Whisenhunt knows his job is on the line.

``I control things that I can control,'' he said. ``Like I said, I understand this business. I have a job to do. I feel disappointed that we haven't done it, but my greatest disappointment is for our fans. They've been so good to me and to us. I feel like I've let them down for not being able to do what we want to do, but it's not for lack of effort and it's not from not wanting to do it the right way.''

The 58-0 loss was one point shy of the NFL record for the most one-sided shutout defeat and the franchise's losing streak is its longest since World War II. And that 1944 team, which lost 10 straight, was merged with the Pittsburgh Steelers due to the shortage of players because of the war.

So, how do you pick up the pieces?

``I don't know,'' safety Adrian Wilson said. ``You tell me.''

Whisenhunt said he felt mistakes, not a lack of effort, led to Sunday's debacle. He said that players must rely on professional pride from here on out.

``They've got to understand that they're going to be watched and monitored,'' Whisenhunt said. ``They're going to be on tape, and that's one of the things that when you're evaluating players you look at. You see how they handle those things, so we're going to continue to work. I think that we have enough of the right guys on our team, especially good young guys that want to do it right that are hurting, that it shouldn't be an issue.''

Defensive end Vonnie Holliday, in his 15th NFL season, said players are ``playing for a job, be it here or anywhere else in the National Football League.''

The coach wouldn't say whether John Skelton or rookie Ryan Lindley would start Sunday. The team added a third quarterback on Monday by claiming Brian Hoyer off waivers from Pittsburgh.

Skelton, three games after being benched, returned and threw four interceptions and fumbled the ball away once. Lindley came on and fumbled, too. Two other turnovers came from Patrick Peterson on punt returns.

Overall, Arizona had just two more first downs (10) than it had turnovers (8).

``After a 58-0 loss like that it's hard to come in to work,'' Skelton said. ``But whether we like it or not we're playing those next three games, and I think guys have enough pride to come out and still work and still try to get better for the rest of the year.''

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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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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. 

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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.

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