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HOF: Another Year, Another Disappointment?

HOF: Another Year, Another Disappointment?

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Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins.

Two star players from Joe Gibbs' first stint as coach of the Redskins, Art Monk and Russ Grimm, made the list of 15 finalists that will be considered for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next summer. Monk has been eligible for induction for five years and has made it to the round of 15 every year, while Grimm has been eligible for nine years and this is the first time he has made it this far.

Don't expect either to get in.

It's not that they're undeserving; in fact, their credentials are impeccable. In addition to their well-chronicled individual accomplishments, the fact that just one player from the team that had that 10-year run of greatness from 1982-1991 is in the HOF, John Riggins, defies logic. Sure Gibbs himself is in, but he wasn't that good a coach that he could do what he did without some Canton-quality players. Grimm and Monk are two of those.

So why won't they get in when the Board of Selectors meets in Jacksonville the day before the Super Bowl? For one thing, the competition is pretty stiff. From the Washington Post: Quarterbacks Dan Marino and Steve Young made the list in their first year of eligibility and seem virtually certain to be enshrined in August in Canton, Ohio. They are joined among the finalists by two other players in their initial year of eligibility, wide receiver Michael Irvin and late linebacker Derrick Thomas.

The other finalists are Harry Carson, Richard Dent, L.C. Greenwood, Claude Humphrey, Bob Kuechenberg, Roger Wehrli, George Young and the two previously announced nominees of the seniors' committee, Fritz Pollard and Benny Friedman.From this list, a minimum of three and a maximum of six can be selected. As the article says, Marino and Steve Young are slam dunks (Marino deserves to be a first-ballot enshrinee, I'm not so sure about Young). I could certainly see the esteemed board selecting the two QB's, one of the senior nominees and/or George Young and then calling it a day. If that's the case, Monk, the only player ever to hold the all-time career receptions record that's not in the HOF (excluding, of course, the still-active Jerry Rice) and Grimm, one of the two best guards of the 1980's, will still have to buy tickets to get into the museum.

This certainly doesn't mean that Grimm and/or Monk getting in is impossible. The decision-making process used by the Hall is what's known as BOGSAT, an acronym for Bunch of Guys Sitting Around a Table. Compromises could be made for the sake of getting the discussion over with. For example, a vote for one Pollard or Friedman could be held hostage in exchange for one for Monk. Grimm could sweep in simply on the basis of a good case made by a writer who feels strongly that he should be inducted and nobody can come up with a good counter argument.

Most Redskins fans are anywhere from annoyed to angry that Monk hasn't gotten in yet. There is one scenario, however, that would send them all ballistic:

Irvin in and Monk out.

There is simply no justification for this based on career stats (Monk, Irvin), character, championships (they both have three SB rings, Monk also has an NFC title), or any other HOF criteria one could come up with.

If Irvin gets in and Monk doesn't, it will clearly be due to a media bias. Irvin always freely talked with the press during his career and has a prominent post in the media now with ESPN gig.

My stab at it as of now is that the first scenario I presented, Marino, S. Young, G. Young, and one between Pollard and Friedman, is pretty likely, say a 40% chance. I'd say that a group that includes Monk has a 25% shot, Grimm has about a one in ten chance. The Redskins fan's nightmare scenario, Irvin and no Monk, has about a 5% shot.

If one or both get in, the enshrinement will be on Sunday, August 7, 2005. See you there, and dust off your Hog noses.

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Redskins need a winning streak to convince legion of skeptics

Redskins need a winning streak to convince legion of skeptics

If you want to, you can find plenty of things wrong with the Redskins’ 23-17 win over the Panthers. The home team was up 17-0 in the second quarter and yet had to hang on as the Panthers reached the red zone with a chance to win in the last minute. The game got tight because the Redskins continued their second-half scoring problems, putting up just six points. Alex Smith passed for just 153 yards. 

But you can’t poke holes in the fact that the Redskins are 3-2 and in first place in the NFC East. Sure, there is a long way to go. But consider this—a Redskins schedule that looked rough at the beginning of the season doesn’t look quite as tough. In fact, right now the Redskins have a better winning percentage than any team they will play in their remaining 11 games. 

Yes, that’s right. They have six games to play in the division, two each against the Cowboys and Eagles, both now 3-3, and the 1-5 Giants. Their two remaining games against the NFC South are against the 2-3 Bucs and the 2-4 Falcons. The schedule is rounded out with games against three AFC South teams, the Titans, Texans, and Jaguars. All three of those teams are tied atop the division at 3-3. 

Of course, you can’t expect all of these teams to still be wallowing around .500 when they face the Redskins. It looks like the Eagles and Falcons are on the upswing and in today’s NFL any team can get hot at any time. 

And, as the Redskins demonstrated in their Week 2 loss to the Colts, they are capable of losing to a weak team. They still have plenty of issues they have to correct if they plan on maintaining their winning record and staying in contention for the division title. They won’t survive if they continue to have difficulty scoring in the second half (their only second-half TD this season came in garbage time against the Saints). They need to get more sacks from Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith, who have one combined. Plenty of details need to be ironed out. 

But the fact that they are a flawed team doesn’t take away from the fact that they got a quality win over the Panthers. Carolina was 3-1, coming off of an 11-5 playoff season. On top of that, the Redskins had not beaten the Panthers since 2006, a stretch that included an 0-4 record against Cam Newton. They didn’t commit a turnover for the first time this year and they got a season-high three takeaways. Christian McCaffrey came into the game averaging 83 yards per game and left it averaging 70 after picking up 20 yards on eight carries. 

With all of that said, the Redskins still have to overcome their inconsistency. They have won two games in a row just twice since the beginning of the 2017 season. Nobody is going to believe that anything is different about the Redskins until they can string together three or four wins in a row. Until then, skepticism will abound. 

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

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The five key plays in the Redskins’ win over the Panthers

The five key plays in the Redskins’ win over the Panthers

Every play in an NFL game is important but some matter to the outcome more than others. Here are the key plays in the Redskins’ 23-17 win over the Panthers.

1. Q1, 10:41 — Tress Way punts 51 yards to CAR 21, D.J. Moore to CAR 22 for 1 yard (Shaun Dion Hamilton). FUMBLES (Hamilton), RECOVERED by WAS-Jeremy Sprinkle at CAR 21. Sprinkle to CAR 22 for -1 yard. 

The Redskins did not get off to a promising start on offense as they went three and out on their first possession and punted. Panthers rookie D.J. Moore fielded the punt and tried to find some running room. He found Hamilton, who stripped the ball away and Sprinkle pounced on it.

It only took one play for the Redskins to cash in as Alex Smith found Vernon Davis wide open—as in nobody else in the picture open—for a touchdown to put the home team up 7-0. 

2. Q1, 8:50 — Alex Smith pass short middle to Jordan Reed to WAS 45 for 7 yards 

The Redskins were looking to add to their lead on their possession following the Davis touchdown. On third and eight at their own 38, Smith threw for Reed in the middle of the field. The pass was high and inside, forcing Reed to jump, reach back and stab the ball with his right hand. It was a true one-handed catch because he never touched the ball with his left hand. 

The only thing Reed did wrong on that play was to signal for a first down. It was short, but Smith got the first with a sneak on the next play. Some Adrian Peterson runs and a 21-yard pass from Smith to Davis helped get the Redskins down to the two-yard line. On third down from there, Smith found Paul Richardson for a TD to make it 14-0.

3. Q2, 11:32 — Cam Newton pass short middle to Moore to WAS 37 for 17 yards (Josh Norman). FUMBLES (Norman), RECOVERED by WAS -Mason Foster at WAS 33. 

Norman got his first interception since 2016 earlier in the second quarter but the offense couldn’t do anything with the possession. The next time the Panthers had the ball, Newton went to Moore on a crossing Pattern. He had some running room and it looked like the Panthers would advance well into Redskins territory. But as defenders converged on Moore, Norman reached in and stripped the ball out. “He never saw me coming,” said Norman. Foster recovered, and the Redskins drove for a field goal to go up 17-0. 

4. Q4, 13:43 — Alex Smith sacked at CAR 46 for -6 yards (Julius Peppers). FUMBLES (Peppers), recovered by WAS-Trent Williams at CAR 46. Williams to CAR 38 for 8 yards.

The Panthers had rallied to make it a one-score game at 17-9. On third and seven from the Carolina 40, Smith was immediately swarmed by the pass rush. The ball popped out and it fell into the hands of Williams to the left of the scrum. Going on sheer instinct, Williams headed upfield. Starting from six yards behind the line of scrimmage Williams rumbled eight yards for a net gain of two. That’s not much but it was enough to have Jay Gruden send Dustin Hopkins into the game to attempt a 56-yard field goal. The boot just made it over the uprights and Hopkins’ career-long kick had the Redskins up by two scores at 20-9. 

5. Q4, 0:38 — Cam Newton pass incomplete short right to Jarius Wright.

After the Redskins kicked a field goal to go up by six, Newton led a final drive that kept everyone on edge. Starting with 3:15 to play, Newton was sharp, completing six of seven passes for 50 yards to move the Panthers from their own 16 to second and five at the Washington 16. The Washington defense finally stiffened, and Newton’s next three passes fell incomplete. The last one went harmlessly to the ground, not particularly close to Wright or any other receiver. The Redskins and their fans could finally exhale and celebrate.