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Spags makes his case

Spags makes his case

In his three hires of head coaches, Dan Snyder has taken one from each of three major categories. He has gone the retread route in hiring Marty Schottenheimer. Then he went into the college ranks to get Steve Spurrier. Four years ago it was returning legend Joe Gibbs. The results have ranged from a cut or two above mediocre to downright embarrassing.

Now, he has a chance to go into a fourth category—the hot coordinator. And rarely has there been a coordinator more smokin' hot than Steve Spagnuolo.

Spagnuolo, born December 21, 1959 in Whitinsville, Massachusetts, currently is the defensive coordinator of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants. In case you haven't heard, his defense held the highest scoring team in NFL history to 14 points. According to Joe White of the Associated Press, Spagnuolo will interview for the Redskins head coaching job on Tuesday.

Holding the best offensive team in NFL history to two touchdowns in the Super Bowl does not, in and of itself, qualify a coordinator to be a head coach. Neither does running a defense that beat Tony Romo, Bret Favre, and Tom Brady along the road to the title. And it takes more than being a fiery, intense presence on the sidelines. Spagnuolo has all of that. It takes having a plan for the whole team, for how the units will mesh together. A coordinator generally has to deal with the media but those responsibilities grow exponentially when moving up to the level of head coach. When a practice squad offensive lineman gets into a barroom fight the head coach gets a phone call at 2:30 AM. He's responsible for setting the tone, setting the mood for the entire 53-man roster.

Can Spagnuolo handle all of that? Snyder will try to get a feel for that during Tuesday's interview (and perhaps a second one a day or two later). But, until a coach does it, there's no way of telling whether or not he'll do it well. All Snyder can do is try to calculate what the chances are that he will be successful.

And if Snyder determines that there is a reasonable chance that Spagnuolo will fill the bill, he might well choose to offer the job to him. If that happens, it seems likely that he will accept it. It's likely that the Giants will come back with to offer some more money and an Assistant Head Coach title. But there is no guarantee that there will ever be another top job offer for Spags. The Giants could well follow the route of many Super Bowl champions and wallow in mediocrity for a few seasons. Nobody wants the DC of a 9-7 or 8-8 team that went one and done in the playoffs, which is where the Giants were the last two years.

Spagnuolo may not get his choice of coordinators, but he may have been sending a signal that he would be OK with that when he spoke to the media during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. When he came to the Giants as their DC at the beginning of this past season, the team had decided to retain almost all of the defensive position coaches. Spagnuolo didn't have a problem with that, as he was quoted as saying in this article from the Arizona Republic:

Inheriting a staff wouldn't be an ideal situation for some assistants, but Spagnuolo viewed it as a positive.

"In some regards, when that happens you're relieved of having to go find (coaches)," he said. "It didn't take long for me to realize that I was lucky they all stayed, in all truthfulness."

Will he feel lucky inheriting Jim Zorn and Greg Blache? We will see.

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As injuries linger at WR, Jay Gruden believes a trade might help Redskins

As injuries linger at WR, Jay Gruden believes a trade might help Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys traded for Amari Cooper on Monday, and with that, alarms go off around the NFL that it's wheeling and dealing season. The trade deadline hits in one week, and for teams looking to bolster their squad before the second half of the year, it's time to see what areas could improve. 

For Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, the injury situation at wide receiver means that his team could use help at the position. 

"We could probably use one more there if we could," Gruden said Monday on the Redskins Talk podcast. 

Asked if there was one area the team could bolster via trade, the coach explained that if wideouts Jamison Crowder or Paul Richardson could come back from injury right away, the Redskins would have no need to trade for another receiver. Unfortunately for the Redskins, neither injury situation is very clear, and some reports show that Crowder could miss a few more weeks working back from an ankle injury. 

"I think if you look at our team right now with the injuries to Crowder and obviously the uncertainty with Richardson you might want to add another receiver, but I like what [Michael] Floyd’s done coming in here," Gruden said. 

Floyd had one catch for 20 yards in the Redskins win on Sunday over the Cowboys, but he's a physical veteran that has the coach excited. Gruden also complimented what Maurice Harris and Brian Quick have done in the absence of Richardson and Crowder.

While the Cowboys struck first in the receiver trade market, more players remain reportedly available, including Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas and Dolphins WR DeVante Parker. 

Thomas is a five-time Pro Bowler in Denver, but at 30 years old and with some trade value, it makes sense for John Elway to consider his market. The Broncos are 3-4 and have an underperforming offense. 

Parker was a first-round pick in 2015 but has not had a 1,000-yard season in Miami. Making matters more complicated, Parker's agent Jimmy Gould called Dolphins head coach Adam Gase "incompetent" to a host of different media outlets. Parker has only been active twice this season though he contends health is not an issue. 

Gruden remains confident that 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson will get going, and he is a similar big target as Thomas and Parker. Should Richardson miss significant time, the Redskins would lack a true speed threat.

There's certainly no clear indication that Washington will make a move before the NFL trade deadline, but as things stand now with injuries, there is a need. Remember, too, the Redskins are long on 2019 draft picks with 10 selections in seven rounds.



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A day after loss to Redskins, Cowboys trade for Raiders WR Amari Cooper

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A day after loss to Redskins, Cowboys trade for Raiders WR Amari Cooper

The Dallas Cowboys are in desperate need of a playmaking wide receiver. The lack of talent at wide receiver has been evident throughout the first seven weeks of the 2018 NFL season, with wide receivers accounting for just five of the Cowboys' eight passing touchdowns.

Following the 20-17 loss to the Redskins on Sunday, the Cowboys decided to make a quick fix, trading a 2019 first-round pick to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for star wide receiver Amari Cooper, according to multiple reports.

Cooper, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, has just 22 catches for 280 yards and one touchdown in the first six games. The former Alabama star had an equally disappointing 2017 campaign and has grown frustrated with his role in John Gruden's new regime.

Cooper will instantly become the Cowboys best deep threat and will allow Cole Beasley to shine both in the slot and spread out wide. Beasley leads the Cowboys with 33 receptions for 350 yards and two touchdowns.

Rookie Michael Gallup, who scored the Cowboys' only passing touchdown against the Redskins, has the second most targets among Dallas receivers, hauling in 10 of his 22 targets for 190 yards. Tight end Geoff Swaim has 19 catches for 205 yards and running back Ezekiel Elliott has 25 catches for 175 yards.

Prescott is averaging just 202.2 passing yards per game, and while Cooper may not be a true top-tier wide receiver, he is the next best thing and will allow the offense to be more dynamic in its play-calling.

Cooper will make an estimated $13.9 million in base salary in 2019, meaning the Cowboys will have to pay a pretty penny to keep him.

The move makes it clear that the Raiders are shifting toward a full rebuild. It also shows that Dallas understands it didn't have enough firepower to compete for a divisional title.

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