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Best of the Best: The case for Darrell Green

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Best of the Best: The case for Darrell Green

In our ongoing Best of the Best series, Rich Tandler makes a case for all four of the semifinalists.

From the moment he chased down Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett from way behind in his NFL debut game in 1983, we knew all we really needed to know about Darrell Green. He was fast and he never gave up on a play. His speed and tenacity served him well for 20 NFL seasons, all of them with the Redskins. 

Green never picked off a lot of passes. His career high in a season was five, a total he achieved in 1986 and again in 1991. But he was consistent, getting at least one interception in 19 straight seasons. Green’s signature moments are limited because opposing quarterbacks generally avoided throwing to his area. 

The one play he made that sealed his legacy after just a few seasons in the league came not on defense but on special teams. The Redskins were playing the Bears in Chicago for the right to host the 1987 season NFC championship game. Jim McMahon and company jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter but Doug Williams led two touchdown drives to tie it up at the half. Then in the third quarter, Green dropped back deep to field a punt. A Bears tight end named Cap Boso ran down in coverage not knowing that he was about to become a footnote to Redskins history. 

Green fielded the punt at his own 48 and headed towards the goal line. It appeared that Boso would either tackle Green or knock him out of bounds at around the Bears’ 30. That was until Green hurdled the would-be defender and, while in the air, changed direction back to the middle of the field. 

The jaw-dropping move cost Green a torn rib cartridge that would keep him out the rest of the game, but it gained the Redskins the go-ahead touchdown as he glided into the end zone, clutching both the ball and his rib cage. Washington had a 21-14 lead. All Chicago could muster was a field goal later in the third period. Washington was headed home to host the NFC title game.

—From The Redskins Chronicle by Rich Tandler

The Redskins went on to play the Vikings at RFK Stadium the following week. A late Vikings bid to tie the game ended when a fourth-down pass from the Washington six bounced out of the intended receiver Darren Nelson’s hands and Green made sure it would fall harmlessly to the ground by delivering a hit to Nelson. Two weeks later, the Redskins were Super Bowl champs after beating the Broncos.  

MORE REDSKINS: Best of the Best: The case for Sonny Jurgensen

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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

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Redskins schedule preview: Weeks 7 and 12 vs Cowboys

Redskins schedule preview: Weeks 7 and 12 vs Cowboys

We’re previewing every game of the 2018 season with a look forward and a look back. Up today, it’s the two games against Cowboys. 

Week 7 October 21, FedEx Field

Week 12 Thanksgiving, November 22, AT&T Stadium

2017 Cowboys: 9-7, second in NFC East 

Projected 2018 wins per Westgate SuperBook: 8.5

Early line: Week 7 Redskins -1, Week 12 Cowboys -6

Key additions: LB Leighton Vander Esch, WR Allen Hurns

Key losses: WR Dez Bryant, TE Jason Witten, LB Anthony Hitchens, G Jonathan Cooper

Notable: Witten retired shortly after the draft to become the lead analyst on Monday night football and Bryant was cut a month after free agency started.

Biggest questions: 

  • How will quarterback Dak Prescott respond to the loss of his security blanket tight end Witten?
  • And regardless of the availability of his targets, is Prescott more like the QB he was his rookie year (7.3 adjusted net yard/attempt) or what he was last year (6.0 ANY/A)?
  • Was the 14.5-sack season by Demarcus Lawrence, who had nine sacks in his first three years on the league, a contract-year fluke or something he can produce consistently?

Series history

Cowboys lead all-time series 70-44-2; Dallas has won the last four in a row and six of the last seven.

Series notables

The first time: October 9, 1960, Griffith Stadium—Ralph Guglielmi completed just 10 passes, but they were good for 257 yards and a touchdown in the Redskins’ win. Bobby Khayat provided the margin of the 26-14 victory by kicking four field goals.

The last time: November 30, 2017, AT&T Stadium—The wheels were starting to fall off of the 2017 Redskins when they took the field for this Thursday night game. The Cowboys, who had scored a total of just 22 points in their previous three games, scored 17 unanswered in the second quarter to take command of the game. They were able to keep the Redskins at arm’s length the rest of the way thanks in no small part to old friend Alfred Morris rushing for 127 yards and a touchdown. The game was really as close as the 38-17 final indicated. 

The best time: NFC Championship Game, January 22, 1983, RFK Stadium—Looking to avenge their only defeat of the year and advance to Super Bowl XVII, the Redskins jumped out to a 14-3 halftime lead over the hated Cowboys on the strength of John Riggins’ running and Joe Theismann’s passing. Adding to the delight of the frenzied crowd was the fact that Dexter Manley had knocked Danny White, Dallas’ starting quarterback, out of the game and any Cowboy comeback would have to come from the arm of the untested Gary Hogeboom. 

There were echoes of Clint Longley as Hogeboom moved his team up and down the field and Dallas cut the home team’s lead to 21-17 going into the fourth quarter. It would take two key defensive plays put the Redskins in the Super Bowl.

The first, less remembered play was Mel Kauffman’s leaping, over-the-shoulder interception of a Hogeboom pass that set up a 29-yard Mark Moseley field goal. The seven-point lead was better, but the crowd was still uneasy. Relief—and ecstasy—would come on Dallas' next play from scrimmage.

From the Dallas 20, Darryl Grant sensed a screen pass, a play that had worked well for Dallas earlier in the game. He stopped rushing and drifted off to the right side, around the 10 yard line. Manley, sensing another quarterback kill, went right after Hogeboom and tipped his pass high in the air. Grant caught it and high-stepped the 10 yards into the end zone as a roar of sonic boom proportions exploded from the RFK stands. That made the final Redskins 31, Cowboys 14

The worst time: November 5, 1989, RFK Stadium—The Cowboys came into Washington winless in its previous eight games and they would not win another game the rest of the season. But the Redskins let Paul Palmer run wild as the Dallas back gained 110 yards on 18 carries, including a 47-yard jaunt to set up the game’s only touchdown in Dallas’ 13-3 win.

“It’s a real low point for us,” Joe Gibbs said afterward, speaking not only for himself and the team but Redskins fans everywhere. The loss turned out to be especially brutal as the Redskins finished the season 10-6 but out of the playoffs on tiebreakers. 

Redskins schedule series

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Three up, three down
- The draft: Grading the Redskins' draft
- The future: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- The buzz: Redskins part ways with long-time executive

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 @TandlerNBCS.