Washington Football

Playoffs? Rex, surging Jets won't talk postseason

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Playoffs? Rex, surging Jets won't talk postseason

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Those big, bold playoff predictions from Rex Ryan and the New York Jets are a thing of the past.

Ryan's swagger made for plenty of headlines during his first three seasons in New York. Now, it's what the coach doesn't say that raises some eyebrows.

``I'm not going to guarantee a playoff spot,'' a toned-down Ryan said Monday. ``I think part of that is, look, the fact that we're one game under .500, I think you're probably not in the playoff conversation.''

The only thing is, the Jets suddenly very much are. New York (6-7) is a game behind Pittsburgh and Cincinnati - both 7-6 - for the final playoff spot in the AFC with three games remaining. Not that they're talking about it.

``Our next `playoff' game is Tennessee,'' defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson said. ``All we can focus on is the next game. We can't worry about any playoff pictures. We've just got to worry about our next opponent, and that's Tennessee on Monday night.''

The Jets have won two straight since being routed 49-19 by New England on Thanksgiving night, a loss that appeared to have the potential to derail the season and send New York into an offseason of uncertainty.

Instead, things are looking up for the Jets, who have put themselves right in the playoff mix despite having a sluggish offense and a struggling starting quarterback in Mark Sanchez. They must win each of their remaining games, a scenario that isn't so unrealistic, given that Tennessee (4-9), San Diego (5-8) and Buffalo (5-8) all have losing records.

``We just need to keep our head down and keep winning games,'' Ryan said. ``We know the only way we can affect it is to win our games and then we'll see what somebody tells us.''

That's a far cry from the guy who once declared that the Jets would meet President Obama after winning the Super Bowl or writing ``Soon To Be Champs!'' on the outside of an ESPN bus during training camp.

This is the new and maybe more realistic Ryan, who earlier this season acknowledged that his previous declarations put more pressure on his players than he imagined. He's also aware that his team has not looked much like a playoff team in their two most recent victories: pulling out a 7-6 win over Arizona last week after pulling Sanchez in favor of third-stringer Greg McElroy, and then making just enough plays Sunday to beat Jacksonville 17-10 despite the Jaguars being ranked second-to-last in the league in offense and defense.

``We are where we are,'' safety Yeremiah Bell said. ``We're 6-7 and we've still got some work to do. We're not looking ahead at anything. We're just taking it game by game and we'll see what happens at the end.''

That was the running theme in a low-key locker room, once considered one of the league's chattiest.

``The most important game is the one that we can control,'' nose tackle Sione Po'uha said, ``and that's coming up this week.''

``I don't do well when I start thinking ahead,'' defensive end Mike DeVito said. ``The focus is on Tennessee.''

Get the picture?

The Jets don't control their own destiny, either. Even if they win out and finish 9-7, they'll need help elsewhere to get into the postseason. The Steelers are basically two games up because of a 27-10 win in Week 2, which means New York likely needs Pittsburgh to lose two of their last three against Dallas (7-6), Cincinnati (7-6) and Cleveland (5-8). The Bengals have Philadelphia (4-9), the Steelers and Baltimore (9-4) left.

In what would appear to be an unrealistic scenario, New York could also surpass Indianapolis (9-4) for a playoff spot if the Colts lose their last three, including two games against Houston sandwiched around one against Kansas City. The Jets beat the Colts 35-9 earlier this season.

``I have no idea about all that business,'' center Nick Mangold said. ``I just know that we've got Tennessee coming up and it's going to be a tough challenge for us.''

The Jets certainly haven't made it easy on themselves the past two weeks. Despite facing a third-string quarterback in Ryan Lindley on a slumping Cardinals offense last week, the Jets needed McElroy to come in and save the season with the game's only touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

That set off a few days of debates about whether Sanchez should remain on the sideline in favor of McElroy. Ryan, however, decided to stick with Sanchez against Jacksonville.

Sanchez did little to quiet the critics Sunday, going 12 of 19 for 111 yards and losing a fumble. But the Jets went heavy with the run game, as Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell combined for 155 yards rushing. Still, there's no question who the quarterback will be this week.

``I think it's Al Woodall this week,'' Ryan joked, referring to the former Jets quarterback in the early 1970s. ``Nah, we'll go with Mark.''

The defense was also solid for the second straight week, holding the Jaguars to 2 for 16 on third-down opportunities, making opponents 2 for 31 in those situations against the Jets the last two games. After the loss to New England, New York was ranked 19th in overall defense. Two weeks later, the Jets are eighth - just three spots out of the top 5, where they have finished in each of Ryan's first three seasons.

``It's like, `Oh, one loss, it's the end of the world and one win, they're going to win everything,'' DeVito said. ``It's kind of the way the atmosphere is around here. You have to recognize that and realize that the worst thing you can do is when things like that are happening is to pack it in and really believe that either way. You just have to continue each week to be consistent and get better.''

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NOTES: LB Bryan Thomas has a strained pectoral muscle and is day to day, while an MRI exam revealed that WR Stephen Hill has a sprained lateral collateral ligament in his right knee. The team will know more about his availability later in the week, but it is believed he will not need surgery. Ryan said defensive back Aaron Berry has a hamstring issue. ... Ryan told 98.7 ESPN New York that he would have played Tim Tebow in front of his hometown fans in Jacksonville if the game had been a blowout, but would have had him only hand off the ball. Tebow was active, but didn't play for the third straight game while dealing with two broken ribs. Ryan was also asked if he thought Tebow might be disappointed he came to the Jets given the circumstances. ``That's probably a true statement,'' he said. ``As a competitor, you want to have success, you want to have probably more opportunities and the fact that we're one game below .500, so we haven't had success as a team I'm sure he was anticipating. But, again, I think he's happy to be a Jet. I truly believe that.''

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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.

RELATED: DEL RIO EXPLAINS WHY HE'S SO ACTIVE ON TWITTER

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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