Sunday, September 22, 2013

Woes and Worries in Washington

   The 2013 season has gotten off to a horrific and unexpected start for the Washington Redskins. There does not seem to be just one glaring problem, but many. Even Scooby-Doo and the gang could not solve this mystery.
   Robert Griffin III is not the same dynamic player he was before his ACL injury against the Seahawks. This does not mean he never will be the same RGIII we all love. But, it means that he needs to be honest about his health status and should not be playing unless he is near full strength.
   His road to recovery was the hottest topic this past summer. Coach Shanahan took precautions by keeping the franchise quarterback out of all preseason games in order to keep him from taking any more hits. While this may have seemed like a wise decision at the time, the slow start to the regular season has proven otherwise. Anyone watching the games can see he is uncomfortable, rusty, and lacking some of the confidence he usually has. Still, despite his throwing issues and lack of ability to run past defenders, the blame should not be solely on his shoulders.
Photo: Washington Post
   The running game has been decent, but nothing spectacular. Alfred Morris had a couple mistakes in the first game and does not seem like the 1,600 yard rusher he was a year ago. RGIII is not worrying opposing teams with running the ball, let alone throwing the ball. Roy Helu Jr. is the quickest running threat they have, but he's best for third down situations. Unfortunately, the problems don't stop there.
   Defense was supposed to be improved from previous years. On paper, it looks good. Brian Orakpo is back and his dominant play is noticeable. Ryan Kerrigan appears better than ever. David Amerson, the tallest of the cornerbacks, was the team's first pick in this year's draft to help out the secondary. Madieu Williams is no longer starting at safety, which is great! In fact, he is not even on the team anymore. Instead, 23-year-old Bacarri Rambo, also a draft pick from last year, is the new starter. Yet, with all of those upgrades, the defense still cannot stop anybody. They made LeSean McCoy and James Starks (a backup) look like the best running backs in the league.
   However, there is no reason to panic. RGIII improved in the second half of both games and looked sharper all around in the Green Bay game. Fans should look for him to gradually bounce back to his explosive form. As a result, Morris should also return to his mistake-free self that we are accustomed to. The defense is still going to have some questions. Jim Haslett recently took the blame for his unit's lackadaisical performances. Maybe he is partially to blame, but the fact is, they have rookies starting at two positions in the backfield and are without starting defensive end Jarvis Jenkins. The hard hitting Brandon Meriweather can not seem to stay healthy for more than a game, which also hurts the defense drastically. DeAngelo Hall, the ten year veteran, needs to take a leap forward himself to make it easier on the rookie defensivebacks.
   Let us not forget how the 2012 season  began for the 'Skins with their 3-6 record. There is no time for panic. In RGIII we trust!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Chris Cooley The Broadcaster

   Chris Cooley is back with the Redskins, but not as a tight end. After spending his entire nine-year career in Washington, Cooley has decided to hang up his cleats and retire from the NFL. So how exactly is he still with the organization if he is retiring?
   Cooley, a fan favorite, will be joining the Redskins' radio broadcasting team as an analyst—something he had hoped to add to his legacy. "This is a great deal for me. I really want this job, and I want to do it for a long time," Cooley said during an interview with the Washington Post.
   He signed a multi-year deal with the team's flagship station on Tuesday. There will be a segment, called "Cooley's Corner," where he will provide analysis for the listeners after every quarter of play. As part of the deal, he will also appear on television and Internet shows.
   Despite everything, there is still a small possibility of him returning as a player. "That door will be open a crack," Cooley told the Washington Post. "But do I plan to play? No. I'm not officially retiring, mostly because I'm a procrastinator. But my plans are to be done. I don't plan to play."
   Assuming he does not pull a Brett Favre about this, Cooley will retire a 31-year-old tight end with two Pro Bowl appearances. Cooley finishes with 429 catches for 4,711 yards and 33 touchdowns. The receiving yards total is a coincidental number— his jersey number was 47 and his birthday is on July 11. Put the two together and voilĂ . Maybe these digits would serve him well as lottery picks.
   Regardless of his plans, the fans embrace him for being a consistent player when the team was struggling. With his charitable work, artistic skills, and sense of humor, it's hard to dislike Captain Chaos.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

RGIII Marries College Sweetheart

  Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III excels at nearly everything he does; academics, college and pro football, public speaking, and now recovering from injury. It must be the Superman socks he wears.
   Last week, he added marriage to that list of achievements. He and longtime girlfriend Rebecca Liddicoat tied the knot near her hometown in Colorado.
   Naturally, in attendance were their families and friends, as well as their beloved NFL family. This included owner Dan Snyder, GM Bruce Allen, coach Shanahan, and some of his teammates. It was quite the affair. In fact, at one point during the celebration, Griffin let every guest in attendance know that they are now family.
   The newlyweds are starting their life together as husband and wife by moving into a recently purchased five-bedroom home in Loudoun County, Va. Best wishes to the happy couple!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Josh Morgan Day

Photo: Washington Redskins Facebook
   Washington Redskins receiver Josh Morgan has accomplished something that most NFL players will not—getting a day named after them. Morgan was honored in ceremonial fashion for not only his commitment and play on-the-field, but his actions off-the-field as well. The Washington, D.C. City Council voted in favor to recognize Thursday, June 20, 2013, as "Josh Morgan Day" in the Nation's Capital.
   "I would like to thank all of my family, friends, and everybody that is close to me for just raising me to be the type of man that I am today," said the humble Morgan through "Just always supporting, raising me the right way, teaching me the right things."
   Morgan has been a lifelong Redskins fan as he grew up in Southeast D.C. near RFK Stadium. His career began by getting drafted in the sixth round of the 2008 draft by the San Francisco 49ers, where he played for four seasons. During the 2012 free agency period, Washington was quick to sign the hometown player.
   Last season, Morgan battled through hand and foot injuries, yet still played all 16 games. He ended the year with 48 receptions for 510 yards and two touchdowns. After having surgery, he looks to bounce back and put up stronger numbers in 2013. A healthy Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss should also aid Morgan into what is hopefully a breakout year.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Washington Adds New Receivers

   After a rather quiet offseason, the Washington Redskins recently added two veteran receivers in Donte' Stallworth and Devery Henderson. These moves won't make headlines like Tim Tebow heading to New England or Aaron Hernandez being associated with a homicide, but that doesn't matter.
   Stallworth was a member of the Redskins back in 2011, playing in 11 games and putting up mediocre numbers. He appeared in only one game a season ago for the Patriots. There will be no more references to the Patriots in this post, it has purely been coincidence thus far.
   Devery Henderson, 31, and Donte' Stallworth, 32, already have a few things in common—both of them were originally drafted by the New Orleans Saints, they're similar in size, and the number of receiving yards for each is almost uncanny.
   Unlike Stallworth, however, Henderson has played his entire career for one team. The majority of his nine seasons with the Saints has been as a starter. As this past season showed, his effectiveness on offense is slowly declining, for he merely caught 22 passes for 316 yards and a touchdown in nine starts. Nonetheless, he still has the ability to stretch the field; he's gained 17.9 yards per catch since entering the league. For the fans that want Santana Moss gone, take a moment to think. Now, which receiver would you rather have between the three of them? Moss hauled in 41 receptions for 573 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2012.
    The interesting thing about these two signings is that the Redskins are well-stocked at the wide receiver position. Sure, it never hurts to add depth to any position, especially when there is virtually no risk involved. But, it's hard to see room on the roster for either of these veterans when Pierre Garcon, Joshua Morgan, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, and Aldrick Robinson are already on the team. Perhaps they will somehow keep Stallworth and Henderson for insurance reasons in the event there is another case of the injury bug next season. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Should Orakpo Get Mo' Dough?

Photo: ESPN
   Vinny Cerrato, now a former GM, made a surprisingly smart move in the 2009 draft when he and the Redskins organization selected defensive end Brian Orakpo with the 13th overall pick. Many desperate fans wanted a quarterback in the first round such as, ahem, Mark Sanchez a.k.a. The Sanchize, or Josh Freeman. Both of these players are currently on the bubble with their respective teams for inconsistency and turnovers. Sanchez was chosen eight spots ahead of the 'Skins and has developed a give and take relationship with opposing defenses; he gives and they take. Kudos to Cerrato for not pulling the trigger on either of them. Instead, he made a solid choice with Orakpo.
   The two-time Pro Bowler (2009, 2010) has dealt with some nagging injuries over the last couple of seasons, however. He recently spoke to the media in regards to his health and off-season workouts. According to Orakpo, he is 100 percent and ready to play at a high level again after tearing his pectoral muscle early into the 2012 season. The injury originally occurred in the 2011 season finale. But, he insists it was a freak accident and nothing more. "I'm ready to wreak havoc," he said on Comcast SportsNet. "I'm ready to get my crown back as far as putting hell to these quarterbacks in the NFC East and all over the NFL."
   Assuming everything he said is true, does he deserve a long-term contract extension? Orakpo is entering the final year of his contract with the 'Skins and would certainly command a nice payday if he became a free agent after this season. He is not an injury-prone athlete and, when healthy, is a pass-rushing nightmare for opposing teams. If the referees would start calling holding penalties on offensive linemen like they should, Orakpo's sack totals would be even more impressive. Nonetheless, when healthy, the presence of him in the lineup improves the defense tremendously. Having the duo of Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan rushing from the outside linebacker spots will be fun to watch this upcoming season.
   Now that the Redskins are no longer punished with a cap penalty, they are going to have a fair amount of money to shell out on free agents and expiring contracts. Orakpo has stated that he would like to be a Redskin for life, but talks of a new contract are in the back of his mind right now. There should be little reason to believe that Dan Snyder and company won't offer a generous deal to the 26-year-old before the 2014 season ends. Orakpo is a team player and could mean just as much to their defense as a healthy Robert Griffin III to the offense. I would expect Romo, Eli and Vick are going to be Orakpoed a lot for years to come.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Skins or Tails?

   It would seem out of nowhere, select few are trying to change the Redskins' name. David Grosso, a member of the D.C. Council, is only adding fuel to this fire. He is planning to submit a resolution to the council for the Redskins to change their name, calling it "racist and derogatory."
   Grosso suggests the name be changed to the "Redtails" because it would honor the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American aviators who served this country in World War II. However, if we want to get technical about racism, the Redtails could be even more offensive — since they were a group of all black pilots, that must mean Grosso thinks all Redskins players are black. Maybe he should reconsider this idea of his. Mayor Vincent Gray is probably his best friend on this subject, for he too thinks the name should be changed.
   Acting as if he owns the team, Grosso later said, "You can still sing the song and everything," as if that will make his plan sound more enticing. But no, it does not end there with his marvelous ideas — Redtails was just one suggestion he had in mind. He later added that, "you can still keep the feather." Embarrassing himself even further, he modified the team's fight song by singing, "Hail to the Redtails." Apparently he's a singer and song writer now.
   Robert Griffin III had something to say about this absurd proposal. He tweeted, "In a land of freedom we are held hostage by the tyranny of political correctness." A few hours later, he added, "Tyranny- 'a condition imposed by some outside agency or force < living under the tyranny of the clock' or political correctness...." While it's not written on the walls, it is fairly obvious that he is referring to people attempting to make his team's name more politically correct.
   Dan Snyder owns the team, nobody else. Therefore, he will call the team whatever he wants — and that will be the Washington Redskins. Perhaps Mr. Grosso should focus on more important matters that need attention. Hail To The Redskins!

Monday, April 29, 2013

RG3 Trademark Dispute

Photo: Washington Post
   In 1998, a motorcycle suspension parts business was founded. The basis of the company is to sell parts and services to professional and amateur riders. Rob Henricksen, the founder, came up with the name Research Group 3 for his company. This name has long been known by the initials of "RG3," however. Now think about football in this case. Notice anything familiar? Franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III also has the nickname of "RG3," which means there is a problem.
   As Robert Griffin III was transitioning from a college star into a professional starter in the NFL, he made sure to protect his brand by filing paperwork with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the phrases "RGIII" and "RG3" for use on all apparel. Henricksen is now filing an extension of time with the Trademark Office to oppose both of Griffin III's filings.
   "We don't want to have any confusion in the marketplace, and we're sure he doesn't, either," said Catherine Holland, an intellectual property lawyer who is representing the company. She also says that the company is not trying to profit from the quarterback and wishes him the best in his career.
   The situation is quite complicated and could get very sticky. To any football fan, especially living in the DC area, the phrase "RG3" means only one thing; Robert Griffin III — not a suspension parts company. Hopefully a settlement will be reached between the two parties very soon.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

2013 NFL Draft Recap

   Now that the 2013 NFL draft has come and gone, only time will tell if the selections the Redskins made will pan out. On paper, nearly all of the players look good and have a legitimate shot at making the roster. 
   With their first pick, coming in the second round, the reigning NFC East champions addressed a position of need. They picked up defensive back David Amerson from North Carolina State. He possesses the size and physicality to be a starting NFL cornerback. His speed will certainly be a welcomed asset to the current secondary that gets burned by players such as Victor Cruz. Some analysts believe he may be too much of a gambler on the field, however. In 2011, he recorded a whopping 13 interceptions to lead all college players. The following year, his interception total fell to five as he tried to chase his high expectations. Regardless, those numbers are better than any of the Redskins' defensive players and he should make an impact for them right away.
   Most fans expected the third-round selection to be a safety or right tackle. Mike Shanahan does not base his decisions on what the fans think, however. Instead, he went with Jordan Reed, a tight end out of Florida. This is not a position of need for the team, but Reed must have been ranked high on Shanahan's draft board. Reed led his team in receiving with 45 catches for 559 yards last season. Depending on how Fred Davis plays in his contract year, Reed might get an opportunity to show off his pass-catching ability. Perhaps he is the future tight end of this organization.
Photo: Washington Post
   Safety had the biggest question mark coming into the draft, and that question did not go unanswered. The team was very fortunate to have Phillip Thomas fall into their laps in the fourth round. He was projected to go in the second or third round. On April 10, he had visited Redskins Park, which had many fans speculating he may be wearing a burgundy and gold uniform someday. Thomas led the nation in picks last season with eight. Growing up, he was a Redskins fan after watching their games on television. His favorite player was Sean Taylor, and he hopes that he can fill the shoes of a Pro Bowler like Taylor.
   With the 154th overall pick, the team selected speedy running back Chris Thompson of Florida State in the fifth round. Thompson dealt with injuries throughout his college years, playing only five games as a junior and eight games as a senior. However, when healthy, he is an explosive player that can catch the ball out of the backfield. When asked about where Thompson could fit, Shanahan said, "He could be that third down back. He's got great hands. He's got great elusiveness. He's the type of guy who can do it all." For a late-round pick, Thompson could have great reward.
   After taking one Florida State player in the fifth, the team decided to add another in the same round with outside linebacker/defensive end Brandon Jenkins. Like his fellow Seminole mentioned above, he too will have to prove his health as he is coming off a season-ending injury. Through 40 games, he made 22.5 sacks, which could help improve Washington's pass-rushing depth.
   Apparently landing a talented ball-hawking safety in the fourth round was not enough to satisfy Shanahan's draft appetite. Luckily for him, Bacarri Rambo was sitting there in the sixth round. Rambo is a natural playmaker and has lots of potential to be a star for this team. His numbers were good; recording 235 tackles and 16 interceptions at Georgia. His draft stock plummeted due to previous drug-related suspensions at school. However, after conducting an extensive background check, Shanahan said he feels comfortable with him. Rambo described his long wait by saying, "I was sitting here, praying, asking God to give me one team that liked me, and the Redskins called. It's just a blessed moment and I just thank the organization for believing in me."
   Washington used their last selection in the 2013 NFL draft by taking another running back in Jawan Jamison of Rutgers. He has yet to be told exactly how he will be utilized, but he is expected to compete with the other backups on the team. Jamison is not the quickest guy, but if he does not find a place on the roster, at least he was only a seventh-round choice.
   Besides the obvious impact of Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris from last year's draft class, this most recent draft could be the best since Shanahan and Bruce Allen took over the regime. Every position of need was attended to besides the offensive line. No one should have to worry about either safety position anymore now that two highly talented ball hawks were selected. Shanahan has stressed the importance of turnovers since he got here, and he explained that usually the team to excel in turnovers, wins championships. Again, time will tell if these athletes are studs or duds.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Draft Decisions

Photo: Washington Post
   Who the Redskins choose with the 51st overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft is anyone's guess. They lack a first-round pick due to the blockbuster deal they made with the St. Louis Rams to acquire Robert Griffin III. While nobody can really argue with the outcome, it still hurts a bit to watch round one of the draft and not see Washington's name on the clock.
   Luckily for the fans and the organization, Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen are not amateurs at finding talent in the draft. In fact, Shanahan is known for picking diamonds in the rough out of the later rounds. Last year is a great example of this when they chose running back Alfred Morris in the sixth round. Morris was a candidate for Rookie of the Year and finished second in the league in rushing yards and touchdowns. Now the front office needs to work their magic again in this year's draft.
   So, what position should they consider? The response to this question is almost always unanimous; defensive back. Let's take a look at the cornerback position first. Washington brought back DeAngelo Hall while also signing E.J. Biggers to the group. There have been reports recently that the team has interest in adding Quentin Jammer to that mix as well. However, none of those players are elite defensive backs, which leaves the team room for improvement at this position.
   Jamar Taylor out of Boise State could be an option if he is still available at 51. He had a strong senior year and impressed scouts at the combine. The only real issue with him is his smaller size and fairly short arms. Still, he has potential to be a long-term starter in the NFL with his physical traits.
   Now let's consider the safety position with the Redskins. Ever since the passing of Sean Taylor in 2007, the team has been in desperate need of another playmaker. Fortunately for them, the quality of talent and depth in this year's draft is strong. NFL Network draft analyst was quoted as saying, "It's a great safety class — best safety class I've seen in years."
   Florida International safety Jonathan Cyprien would be an instant starter for just about any team. Cyprien is the complete package with his speed, natural instincts, strength, and big-play ability. He just happens to still be available after not getting drafted on the first day. Perhaps the Redskins will trade up to get him because of his superb talent. He has too much upside to roll the dice on and hope he falls into their laps at the 51st pick.
   Shanahan and Allen will take the best player available at any position, but hopefully that player ends up being a starter in the secondary unit this upcoming season.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Chris Cooley: A True Redskin

   While tight end Chris Cooley once again finds himself no longer on the Washington Redskins roster, he still speaks highly of the team and participates in charitable work sponsored by the organization. His latest involvement in the community was reading to students at Glenridge Elementary School.
   Cooley was interviewed by different reporters at the elementary school. He discussed his off-season as a free agent and the non-football related opportunities that are in front of him.
   He recently spent a month back home in Wyoming doing carpentry in his house, building a shower and making concrete countertops. In addition to that, he stays busy with his art gallery, appropriately named The Cooley Gallery, located in historic Leesburg, VA. An upcoming event at his store is to help out Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA). Cooley is making 400 ceramic dog bowls and donating them to the foundation.
   When asked what he will do if another team of interest calls him, Cooley replied, "They're not" he said with a laugh. "Whatever, I have an agent, I know what's going on in the world," he said. There is no doubt he truly wants to play for the Redskins this coming season, but if they do not contact him about a return, that is fine with him as well. "I don't want to play for another team," he said. Cooley went on to explain that he will always be a part of the Redskins because he is part of the community from the way people embraced him as a player.
   Cooley said he has a million other things he could do, including some TV involvement or even the possibility of getting some cows and farming on his 600 acres in Wyoming. Regardless of what comes his way, he has a great career to look back on, and that is something to be proud of.

Chris Cooley Reads to Third Graders

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Redskins Free Agency: The Good and Bad

   The past two seasons, the Washington Redskins have been penalized for the way they structured certain contracts in 2010 when there was no salary cap for the NFL. The penalty imposed by the league and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) was a $36 million reduction over the span of two years. 
   The team went to court last year and challenged the cap penalty, but in the end, the case was dismissed and the ruling stood. One person involved in the ruling just happens to be the owner of the New York Giants (one of the Redskins' division rivals) and to no surprise, he voted in favor of the punishment. In fact, he said, "What they did was in violation of the spirit of the salary cap. They attempted to take advantage of a one-year loophole, and quite frankly, I think they're lucky they didn't lose draft picks."
   All hope should not be lost though. The organization was able to bring back almost all of their own free agents that helped contribute to their playoff run and NFC East title last season. One of the only key losses was letting linebacker and special teams extraordinaire Lorenzo Alexander sign with the Arizona Cardinals for more money.
   According to, if next year's cap remains to be $123 million, the Redskins have about $80 million committed to that figure. That would leave them with $43 million to spend next season on bolstering the talent on the roster. To put that number into perspective, they began this current offseason about $3 million over the salary cap. Therefore, they were already in the hole before the start of free agency in 2013.
   On one hand it could potentially mean they go back to their old ways of spending money left and right. The other option is they will continue to be smart and spend wisely without offering bloated contracts. Perhaps in the end, this will be a valuable (no pun intended) lesson for the organization. The best way to show the league and the fans that this punishment won't affect their original plan, is to go out and win.