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Best of the Best: The case for Sonny Jurgensen


Best of the Best: The case for Sonny Jurgensen

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

You can use numbers to help make a case for Sonny Jurgensen as the Redskins’ Best of the Best. He led the NFL in completions four times, completion percentage twice, and in passing yards on five different occasions. Sonny is in the top two all-time for the Redskins in pass completions and passing yards.

But the numbers don’t do him justice. He played in an era when the rules favored pass defenses, with bump and run cornerbacks hindering his receivers all the way down the field and head-slapping defensive linemen working against linemen encumbered by very restrictive rules against offensive holding. Teams with strong running games usually ruled the day but the Redskins didn’t have one. All they had was Sonny.

Jurgensen engineered 14 fourth-quarter comebacks for the Redskins. The Redskins were never out of a game with Sonny behind center and he provided a lot of fun moments during some pretty dismal seasons in the late 1960’s. Here is the tale of one of them, in 1965 against the Cowboys in at RFK Stadium. The Redskins trailed 21-0 in the second quarter but rallied on a TD pass from Jurgensen to Charley Taylor and a Jurgy TD on a quarterback sneak.

Dallas quickly snatched the momentum back when Dave Edwards intercepted Jurgensen near midfield and quarterback Don Meredith threw a 53-yard TD to wide receiver Frank Clarke with six minutes left to put Dallas up 31-20. The comeback appeared over, especially when Dallas answered Jurgensen's 10-yard touchdown pass to Bobby Mitchell with three and a half minutes left with a 56-yard kickoff return to the Washington 41. The defense stiffened, however, and Jurgensen and the Redskins had one more chance from their own 20 with 1:41 left.

The Redskins scored quickly to take the lead—almost too quickly. Jurgensen recovered his own fumble and gained nine yards in the process. He then went back to the air, hitting tight end Jerry Smith first for 22 yards and Mitchell for 35 yards to the Dallas 5. On first down, receiver Angelo Coia ran towards the middle, faked a block and cut to the corner where Jurgensen hit him for the TD to make it 34-31 Redskins with 1:04 remaining. That would be the final after Lonnie Sanders blocked a 44-yard field goal attempt at the final gun.

MORE REDSKINS: Best of the Best (Semifinals): Darrell Green vs. Sonny Jurgensen

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Landon Collins is thrilled to be with the Redskins and can't wait to get revenge on the Giants

NBC Sports Washington

Landon Collins is thrilled to be with the Redskins and can't wait to get revenge on the Giants

You may not know the exact dates of the Redskins' two matchups with the Giants this season, which will take place Sep. 29 and Dec. 22 in 2019. But Landon Collins sure does.

"I'm gonna circle it for the next six years," the 'Skins new safety told ESPN in a recent interview. 

No, Collins isn't circling those dates from now until 2024 because he wants to be very organized and ensure he doesn't have any scheduling conflicts. He's doing it because he's dying to get revenge on his former team, who let him leave as a free agent in part because of their "culture change," according to him.

"All we wanted to do was win, and we spoke up because we had to get them to listen to us," Collins told ESPN, referring to himself and other now ex-Giants like Odell Beckham and Damon Harrison. "I think we were too vocal, and that platform was bigger than the Giants... If it's not good media, they don't want that kind of media."

In addition to the organization wanting to go in a different direction culture-wise, New York didn't want to pay the amount of money the Redskins ended up paying for Collins because he wasn't an ideal fit in their defense. The 25-year-old pushes back against the idea that he's strictly a "box safety," though, as do current and former players.

Interestingly enough, Collins isn't the only member of the Redskins' secondary who's in D.C. thanks to a decision by Dave Gettleman. Gettleman was also the same guy who decided the Panthers needed to move on from Josh Norman in April 2016.

Collins, for one, doesn't sound like he'll miss Gettleman at all. The defender didn't love how the GM consistently failed to make an effort to connect personally with his players. 

"I don't know him, he don't know me, that's kind of how it just kind of was," he explained.

All that, however, doesn't matter anymore. Collins is going to be the foundation of the Redskins' defense for quite some time, and that's a challenge he's ready to accept.

"I'm on a team that loves me and wanted me here," he said.


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These hidden factors could make Brandon Scherff less interested in an extension with the Redskins

These hidden factors could make Brandon Scherff less interested in an extension with the Redskins

In Brandon Scherff, the Redskins have a 27-year-old guard who has delivered on his first-round status, a lineman who has become one of the best in the league at his position and should have many more years of production and defender-mauling left.

Therefore, it's in the Redskins' best interest to extend Scherff this offseason, and the veteran confirmed on Monday there have been talks about getting that done

But during a discussion on the Redskins Talk podcast, J.I. Halsell, a salary cap expert and former agent, laid out something that could force those negotiations to stall.

"There are some things you have to take into consideration because 2020 is the final year of the collective bargaining agreement, so there are some things you have to work around when structuring the deal," Halsell said.

Not only is that deadline approaching, but another one is, too. In 2021 and 2022, the NFL's TV deals with Monday Night Football, FOX, CBS and NBC expire as well.

So, there's a very real possibility the league's salary cap could look much, much different in a few seasons. And that, according to Halsell, may make Scherff much less willing to accept an extension now.

"If you're Brandon Scherff, in 2021, with a new collective bargaining agreement, the salary cap might be $250 million or something crazy like that, with all the new revenue coming into the league," he explained. "And so why would I take a deal today and preclude myself of taking advantage of a very lucrative and larger revenue pie?"

Essentially, it comes down to whether Scherff wants to take a present risk that could pay off down the line (kind of like how Kirk Cousins did a few years back with the Burgundy and Gold). He could probably lock something in over the next few months — Halsell's projection was an agreement for five years, including $45 million guaranteed and a $14.5 million average per year — or step away from talks now and try to cash in later.

Haslell told Redskins Talk he'd probably advise the lineman to take the second route.

"You would say, 'Look, you're a former first-round pick. You've made a decent amount of money in your career thus far,'" he said. "You have the financial wherewithal to not take the bird in hand today that may not be as lucrative as what is out there in 2021. So, bet on yourself and play out the last year of your rookie deal, force them to tag you in 2020 and then see what this new NFL salary cap world looks like in 2021."

Now, who knows truly how much these factors will play into Scherff's back-and-forth with the 'Skins. Nevertheless, you can see why the Pro Bowler's next contract may not be as much of a no-brainer as previously thought.

"If the kid is willing to bet on himself," Haslell said, "then it could be very lucrative on the back end."