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The best beefs from recent D.C. sports history

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The best beefs from recent D.C. sports history

BY PETER HAILEY

The past handful of days have had radio listeners and social media users asking the same question as that old lady from those 1980s Wendy’s commercials: “Where’s the beef?”

That's because the ongoing battle between rappers Drake and Meek Mill has totally taken over the Internet as of late. The dispute started when Meek Mill accused Drake of not writing his own lyrics, and went on to spawn three diss tracks that were greeted with various levels of excitement. (A full summary of the Drake/Meek Mill feud can be found here). 

Besides forcing us to check Twitter every six minutes and causing us to look at the deeper, deeper meaning of every lyric from the two artists, the fight between Drake and Meek Mill got us thinking: What have been some of the most notable beefs in recent D.C. sports history?

Below, we answer that question by examining some of the best beefs involving each of the four major sports teams in the nation’s capital over the past year. These issues may not have involved Nicki Minaj or ghostwriting, but they still mattered quite a bit to fans from the DMV.

The Redskins

DeSean Jackson vs. Basic people

That awful Bucs game from last year didn’t just ruffle the feathers of Gruden: it sparked a feud between DeSean Jackson and people who are ordinary, too.

After the game, Jackson took to Instagram and posted this picture to (presumably) call out his teammates after their dismal effort against one of the NFL's worst groups. Nothing really came of it in the end, though, except for the realization that #11 doesn’t get along well with basic people.

This beef may very well resurface if Washington gets off to a slow start this year, however, so 'Skins supporters must be wary of that.

The Wizards

Paul Pierce vs. Drake

As it turns out, Toronto’s favorite rapper doesn’t limit his beefs to those inside the rap game; he got into it a bit with Pierce during a February contest between the Wizards and the Raptors, too.

Before the game’s final play, Drake tried to get all buddy-buddy with Pierce on the sidelines as #34 prepared to throw an inbounds pass. The Truth, however, wasn’t in the mood for fun and games, and he gave the rapper a nice shove to let him know he was too busy to joke around. 

Keep an eye on all Clippers-Raptors matchups next year to see where this feud goes next.

The Wizards backcourt vs. The Cavaliers backcourt

Before the 2014 NBA season, an argument between Washington’s John Wall and Bradley Beal and Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters broke out over one subject: Who is the league’s best backcourt?

It began when Beal said him and Wall were the Association’s premier guard pairing. But Waiters disagreed with that statement, and called it “nonsense.” Wall came back with a vengeance, though, and ended the beef with a terrific response: “You gotta win a playoff game first before you can talk. You gotta be a starter first.”

Chalk that one up to the Wizards.

The Nationals

Bryce Harper vs. Every MLB homeplate umpire

The Nationals’ stud right fielder and the guys behind homeplate have been going at it all year long: Harper’s been ejected three separate times for arguing balls and strikes, and each time he got the thumb from the umpire responsible for judging the strikezone.

Watching Harper get in the faces of the umps is pretty exciting, but in the end, this is a beef that needs to stop -- with the NL East race now as tight as ever, #34 can’t keep getting thrown out and leaving his teammates hanging.

Nationals fans vs. Jose Tabata

Back in late June, Max Scherzer had gotten himself within one out of throwing the 24th perfect game in major league history. But Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata -- and his elbow -- prevented the Nats’ ace from completing the feat on a very controversial hit-by-pitch.

There was much debate about Tabata’s actions -- did he make enough of an effort to get out of the way? -- but there’s no debating this: he’ll be the enemy of Washington baseball fans for the rest of his career. The very next day proved that fact, as Tabata was booed heavily every time he came up to hit or made a play in the field.

Scherzer said he had no issue with what Tabata did, but it’s obvious that his fans don’t feel the same way. This beef could last a long time.

The Capitals

Tom Wilson vs. New York players, media and fans

Back in the Capitals’ first round playoff series against the Islanders, Tom Wilson delivered a hit on New York defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky that fired up just about everyone associated with the Islanders’ organization.

The hit -- which was deemed worthy of a charging minor but nothing more -- knocked Visnovsky out of the rest of the playoffs, and led to Islanders players calling Wilson an “idiot” and many media members questioning Wilson’s integrity. Wilson, meanwhile, defended the hit, and did a good job of not pouring too much more fuel on the fire.

With that being said, there’s a decent chance that Wilson gets the Tabata treatment from Islanders fans the next time the two teams play -- and every time after that as well.

MORE DC SPORTS: Which team is closest to winning a title? Feinstein weighs in

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Need to Know: Tandler's Take—The best- and worst-case scenarios for the 2018 Redskins

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Need to Know: Tandler's Take—The best- and worst-case scenarios for the 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 20, two days before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.  

Best- and worst-case scenarios for the 2018 Redskins

Last week I took a stab at figuring out what the best-case and worst-case scenarios were for the key players on offense and defense. While individual stats are fun to track, it’s what the team does that really matters. What range of outcomes is realistic for the 2018 Redskins? While anything is possible, here are my thoughts on the best they are likely to be able to do and the worst. 

In both cases, I am assuming that the Redskins have reasonably good fortune when it comes to injuries and that the good and bad bounces of the ball equal out over the course of the season. 

Worst case: 6-10, last in NFC East

This is based mostly on Alex Smith having a tough time adjusting to Jay Gruden’s offense, his new teammates, and the NFC. Thinking he could struggle is not just negative thinking, there is history to back it up. 

Smith was traded from the 49ers to the Chiefs in 2013. In his first nine games, he completed just 59.7 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and four interceptions He had an adjusted net yards per attempt of 5.23. Had he finished the season there he would have ranked 28th in the NFL. His passer rating was 81.4, which would have ranked 25th. It’s safe to say he was off to a very slow start. 

But the Chiefs went 8-1 in those nine games. It is doubtful that the Redskins could survive such a slow start. In the past three seasons, with Kirk Cousins at quarterback, they were 4-17 in games where Cousins’ passer rating was under 90. If you drop the ceiling to 81, the record drops to 0-14. 

Kansas City managed to start 9-0 in 2013 because of a running game that produced at least 100 yards rushing every game and a defense that got at least one takeaway every game and got three or more turnovers in a game five times. 

Could the Redskins duplicate that and survive a slow start by Smith? It’s possible, but this is the worst-case scenario. And there is no guarantee that the Redskins will significantly improve a running attack that was 27thin the league last year or a rushing defense that was dead last. 

Offensively, the hope is that Derrius Guice will improve the running game. But rookies are, well rookies. And being a high draft pick is no guarantee of success. In the past three drafts, 20 running backers were drafted in the first three rounds. Of those players, four rushed for 750 yards or more as rookies. Maybe Guice will be one of the productive players but the odds are not in his favor. This isn’t saying he will be a bust; however, he may not have instant impact. 

One other note about the rushing game. It’s important to remember that both tackles are coming off of surgery, the right guard was injured last year, the center has all of six starts under his belt, and left guard remains up in the air. Maybe everything will hum when the season starts but that seems like a tall order. 

Improvement in the stopping the run also relies at least in part on rookies. Daron Payne will have an adjustment period as will Tim Settle. The inside linebacker spot should be stronger but it’s hard to say that it will be a strength. The rushing defense probably won’t be last again, but it may not climb out of the twenties in the rankings. 

The Redskins haven’t been awful at getting takeaways, but they have not done it at a consistently game-changing level. They have three or more takeaways in a game five times in their last 30 games. I don’t see any reason to think that this will change dramatically. 

To put the 6-10 worst-case scenario onto the schedule, the Redskins could go 2-4 in the division with splits against the Cowboys and Giants and getting swept by the Eagles. Against the NFC South, which had three teams with 10 wins or more last year, they might be 1-3. That leaves a split with the AFC South (two of the final eight teams in the playoffs last year) and of their two other NFC games for a 6-10 record. 

Best-case scenario: 10-6, Wild card, win a playoff game

This scenario doesn’t require a whole lot of explanation beyond flipping the elements of the worst case into more positive outcomes. 

Smith could pick up where he left off last year when he completed 67.5 percent of his passes and was third in the league with 7.2 adjusted net yards per attempt. Maybe the yards per attempt will drop some as he tries to find a consistent deep target.

A healthy Jordan Reed would help Smith out tremendously. If Reed can participate in most of training camp, the two could hit the ground running. Smith’s ability to connect with Josh Doctson on some 50-50 balls also will be important. 

As for the running game, Guice could break out early behind a line that gels quickly. It’s not out of the question for him to gain 1,000 yards (that’s just about 65 yards per game), maybe a little more. A healthy Chris Thompson could kick in over 1,000 yards from scrimmage. 

Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis could pick up right where they left off last year before Allen was lost for the season with a foot injury and Ioannidis missed two games with a broken hand and was hampered by the injury for a few weeks after that. That would let Payne and Settle, well, settle into the pro game. 

The Redskins also would need at least to maintain the solid pass defense they had last year. And they would benefit from fewer turnovers on offense (27 last year, 26thin the NFL) and by adding a few takeaways to the 23 they got in 2017.

So how could they pull this off? The would need to go 4-2 in the division, with a sweep of the Giants and splits against Philly and Dallas. They then would need 2-2 records against the NFC South and AFC South. That part of it is probably the toughest task. To get to 10 they would need to beat the Cardinals on the road in the season opener and then have a good day against Aaron Rodgers and get a win over the Packers. It’s not an easy road but if enough pieces fall into place it’s not out of the question. 

A 10-6 record should be good enough for a wild-card spot. If they get through their fairly tough schedule with double-digit wins, they should be good enough to go on the road and take out the three or four seed. 

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

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 23
—Training camp starts (7/26) 68
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 82

The Redskins last played a game 139 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 113 days. 

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Rookie camp report, Guice a fan favorite

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Rookie camp report, Guice a fan favorite

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 19, three days before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Five key upcoming free agent decisions for the Redskins—Some may say it’s too early to talk about 2019 free agents but the key to Redskins keeping their own players has been to lock them up before they hit free agency. It will be interesting to see what unfolds between now and the start of the season regarding Preston Smith, Jamison Crowder, and a few others. 

Redskins 2017 draft picks who must step up this season—While the focus is on the newly acquired draft picks and free agents if the Redskins are going to improve this year some of the players already on the team will need to contribute more. The bulk of the members of that club are from the 2017 draft class. Who will this year’s versions for Kendall Fuller and Matt Ioannidis? 

A post-draft look at the possible Redskins defense three years from now—I was a little wary of posting a look three years down the road but after I wrote it I’m glad I did. And the posts did fairly well (you can find the post on the offense here) so that was a bonus. The best thing I found out while putting this together was the possible 2021 defensive; you can find it at the bottom of the post).

Redskins rookie camp practice report—The draft picks and other rookies get introduced to the NFL game, the rookies get introduced to the coaches, the media, and each other, and everybody (at least all of the draft picks) looks good. There are a few good takeaways to be had—Troy Apke’s makeup speed, Trey Quin’s ability to put a DB on the ground—the real action starts when they put the pads on down in Richmond. 

Tweet of the week

Perhaps I was late to the party. It looks like Guice already is a fan favorite and the hype train is starting to roll. He’s not anywhere near where RGIII was in 2012 but the dynamic is the same. 

It easy for everything to be great now. Guice is hustling and being a leader among the rookies and all is well. All of those red-hot draft day rumors about his character have vanished. The test will come if he fumbles at a key moment in a regular season game or if he has a three-week stretch where he averages 3.1 yards per carry. Then his upbeat personality might not play as well. Or it might not be as upbeat. And if he doesn’t take criticism well things could deteriorate further. 

This is not a prediction that things will not go well for Guice, just that the road could get bumpy. It often does for NFL rookies. 

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

Timeline  

Former Redskins linebacker London Fletcher was born on this date in 1975.

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 25
—Training camp starts (7/26) 69
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 83

The Redskins last played a game 138 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 114 days. 

In case you missed it