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The Caps' Stanley Cup win puts the pressure on Redskins to start winning

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The Caps' Stanley Cup win puts the pressure on Redskins to start winning

The Redskins are now on notice that their ownership of the city of Washington and the surrounding suburbs is not as ironclad as it once was. 

When Lars Eller poked the puck into an open net in the third period and the Capitals were able to hang on to take the Stanley Cup, the Redskins were no longer the team in town that had last won a championship. 

That team is now the Caps, who came into existence in 1974, the year after the Redskins made their first Super Bowl appearance. When the Caps made their debut, the Redskins were in the middle of a 10-4 season. They would make the playoffs, but they were one and done when they got there. 

In fact, they were in the midst of a run that before this year could be called Caps-like. They made the playoffs five times in six years. They were one and done four times, getting their only two playoff wins on the way to their Super Bowl VII loss to the 17-0 Dolphins. 

It wasn’t until the 1982 season that the Redskins broke through, winning the Super Bowl in January 1983. A couple of months later the Capitals, who had needed a “Save the Caps” campaign to stick around in Washington, made the playoffs for the first time. 

In fact, the Caps made the playoffs every year during the Redskins glory run of three Super Bowl wins in 10 years. But, like the 70’s Redskins, they didn’t do much when they got there. The furthest they got was the conference final and they got swept by the Bruins. With the Redskins rolling out championship parades every few years, they easily owned the town. 

The Redskins have fallen on hard times on the field since then. Since their last Super Bowl win following the 1991 season, they have won just three playoff games and haven’t made it to the conference final. But they still have managed to occupy the most print space, talk radio time, TV time, and web traffic around Washington. Part of it had to do with the holdover from the glory years and a lot of it had to do with the fact that the NFL was the undisputed king of the sports world. 

But perhaps most importantly, no other team in town took the leap that would grab the attention away from the Redskins on a long-term basis. The Bullets/Wizards won a title 40 years ago, returned to the NBA Finals the next year, and haven’t advanced as far as the conference finals since then. The Nationals came along in 2005 and while they have been a great regular-season team since 2012, they have been unable to win a playoff series. And while the Caps did make one Stanley Cup Final, they were promptly swept by the Red Wings. 

So, the Redskins have been able to remain atop the sports heap in the DMV despite persistent dysfunction that generated much more drama off the field than on it. Their TV ratings have declined, and fans of the visiting team routinely invade FedEx Field in large numbers. The NFL’s perch atop the sports world looks vulnerable, with the anthem controversy, concussion concerns, domestic violence situations, and other factors eroding the league’s popularity.

Are the Redskins vulnerable? Can the Capitals ride their championship to the top of the DC sports heap?

Even with the Stanley Cup to stand on as a head start, it would be a difficult battle for the Caps to capture the level of year-round attention that the Redskins get. It’s not all their fault; they are an entertaining, likable team. But hockey is at best the fourth most popular sport in America, perhaps lower if you split football and basketball into the college and pro levels. Hockey is much more than a niche sport but there are fewer die-hard fans of the sport than there are of football, baseball, and basketball. One title is unlikely to vault the Caps to superiority in the market. 

However, this does not mean that the Redskins can keep on frustrating fans indefinitely, displaying dysfunction while their peak seasons are near .500 without a playoff win. If the city sees Alexander Ovechkin skating around a rink with the Stanley Cup held over his head one or two more times in the next several years, if the Nats can start to play as well in the playoffs as they do during the regular season, or if the Wizards can get it together, the Redskins will find their relevance severely diminished. 

And by the time that happens, it may be too late. If the Redskins want to remain the kings of the DC sports scene—and trust me, things like that matter to key decision makers in Ashburn—they need to start now and function like a normal, successful NFL team. Now is not the time to outline what they need to do to accomplish that, but I think most of you know anyway.

Congratulations to the Caps for setting the bar high. It’s high time the Redskins and the other local teams to get busy trying to meet that standard. 

More 2018 Redskins

- OTAs: Crowder and Smith connect often
- OTAs: Some questions answered, others remain
- The draft: Guice has caught the eye of Alex Smith

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

 

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2020 NFL Mock Draft 7.0: College football's elite well represented

2020 NFL Mock Draft 7.0: College football's elite well represented

The College Football Playoff committee announced the four schools selected for this playoff, and each program is full of NFL talent.

So it's not a shock to anyone that in our latest mock draft, LSU, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma all have multiple players projected to go in the first round.

<<CLICK HERE FOR 2020 NFL MOCK DRAFT 7.0>>

LSU, the No. 1 seed in the playoff, also has on its roster the likely Heisman Trophy winner and consensus No. 1 overall pick in quarterback Joe Burrow. The Tigers have multiple players in their secondary expected to go in the first round, such as safety Grant Delpit and cornerback Kristian Fulton. Where will they end up?

While Burrow may be the consensus top pick, Ohio State has whom many consider to be the best player in the draft in edge rusher Chase Young. Could he be an option for the Redskins at No. 3, where they would select if the season ended today, or will he be off the draft board by then? 

The Buckeyes defense is a lot more than just Young. Cornerback Jeffrey Okudah is widely considered the top cornerback in this year's class, and safety Jordan Fuller would likely be a first-round pick in past years.

Clemson's offense deserves a lot of credit, but perhaps their best NFL prospect comes from the defensive side of the ball in linebacker Isaiah Simmons. He has the ability to go after the quarterback, but also make plays in coverage and is all over the field.

A little undersized, Simmons will be an impact player for any team right away. Where does he land?

<<CLICK HERE FOR 2020 NFL MOCK DRAFT 7.0>>

Oklahoma has had the NFL's No. 1 overall pick the past two seasons in quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. While Jalen Hurts has had a spectacular season, he's not the prospect either one of those signal-callers was.

However, the Sooners do arguably have the best wide receiver in the draft in CeeDee Lamb. In a deep wide receiver class, can Lamb jump over Alabama's Jerry Jeudy or Clemson's Tee Higgins to be the first receiver selected?

The 2019 College Football Playoff will be without Alabama for the first time in history. Although the Crimson Tide won't compete for a National Championship, the amount of NFL talent they have on their roster is impossible to ignore.

In our latest Mock Draft, the Crimson Tide have nine (!!) first-round selections, by far the most of any school. 

A lot can change between now and April, but college football's elite programs are expected to dominate the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

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Derrius Guice's latest injury left the Redskins both dejected and concerned

Derrius Guice's latest injury left the Redskins both dejected and concerned

Redskins running back Derrius Guice has shown plenty of promise when he's been on the field.

But staying on the field has been the hardest part for the second-year veteran. In his first NFL preseason game, Guice tore his left ACL against the Patriots, forcing him to miss the entire 2018 season. In Week 1 of 2019, Guice tore the meniscus in his right knee. He landed on injured reserve and missed the next eight games.

In Sunday's 20-15 loss to Green Bay, Guice was forced to leave the game in the second quarter with another knee injury, one in his ACL repaired left knee. After breaking off a 23-yard run down the right sideline, Guice was upended on a direct helmet-to-knee collision.

The result of the hit is unclear, as Guice will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of the injury.

Interim head coach Bill Callahan, as well as multiple Redskins players, were asked in the locker room about Guice's injury. They were both dejected and concerned for the young running back.

"Just his reaction to it, it was kind of frightening. I know what he's been through," running back Adrian Peterson said. "That's the last thing that he needs is another serious injury. I told him, 'Take the positives. I know you wanted to be out there and finish the game, but it could have been worse than what it was.'"

Guice finished the game with 42 yards on just five carries.

"That's my guy. That's like my little brother," Chris Thompson said. "To see this continually happen to him, it sucks. Every time he's getting, showing what he's able to do, something happens."

Entering Sunday, Guice was coming off the heels of his best game as a professional. In Week 13, the LSU product finished with a career-high 129 yards on just 10 carries to go along with two touchdowns.

While the team has yet to announce the severity of the injury, sports medical analyst and longtime Chargers' physician Dr. David Chao believes that Guice suffered a mild MCL sprain, which would be a positive sign for Guice, if true.

Callahan seemed to be a little more concerned.

"Right now, I'm just worried about where he is currently," the interim head coach said. "Overall, it's unfortunate that he's been banged up and nicked up. I'm just curious to see how he comes out of this game with whatever injury he sustained."

Callahan's concern is certainly warranted. After all, Guice told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay "all is well" following the Patriots game in 2018, the same game he tore his ACL in. After Week 1, then-head coach Jay Gruden did not report an injury to Guice in his postgame press conference. Later in the week, the team announced he was being placed on injured reserve.

So, if Guice's injuries in the past are any indication, nothing is for sure until the MRI results come back.

"It sucks that it keeps happening to his knees," Thompson said. "That's how he makes his money. Just to see that, it's rough, but I know he's going to do everything, work his butt off to get back."

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