The Past vs The Future

     When this season starts for the Washington Redskins, there will be a new QB under center, as Kirk Cousins, to put it in Lebron James terms, took his talents to Minnesota to join the Vikings after 3+ years of being the starting QB of the Redskins, in his place comes former 49ers #1 overall pick and Kansas City Chief QB Alex Smith. cousins vikingsThe question is, are the Redskins improving or making a lateral movement at QB. In my opinion, to accurately determine this, you must take look at his stats through the same time period for each player, so in this case, we have to look through both players
first 57 starts.

Through 57 starts:

Kirk Cousins: 65.5% completions 16,206 yards 99 TD 55 INT 26-30-1 as a starter

Alex Smith: 57.6% completions 10,400 yards 59 TD 55 INT 25-32 as a starter

     Through first glance at Alex’s stats, it seems like it would be a step back compared to Kirk, but Alex didn’t have the right coaches around him, his first head coach in the league was Mike Nolan who was fired during his fourth year in the league and then smith1dealt with 2+ years under Mike Singletary. He was thought to be a bust, that was until the Niners hired a college coach who never had NFL coaching experience in Jim Harbaugh. Fortunately for Smith, it was the first time in his career where he had the right leader and was able to find success.

     In his first season under Harbaugh, Smiths stats were 3144 yards with 17 TD’s. Career highs for Smith, and then Smith was sent to KC where he learned under Andy Reid and became the player he was supposed to be when he was drafted. He comes to DC after a super successful run in KC where he helped lead the Chiefs to the playoffs 4 of the last 5 years, whereas Cousins has been to the playoffs once as a full-time starter back in 2015.

     I believe that when it comes to which Alex Smith we will get, we will get the Kansas City Chiefs version, the most successful version of him especially with Jay Gruden leading the team. My prediction for next season is that we will be between 9-7 and maybe 11-5 with a playoff berth. I do believe that it is an improvement at the QB position for the Redskins even if it is just a tiny bit of an improvement.

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Free Agency Mayhem

     As the first week of free agency in the NFL ends, many teams gained certain pieces to help push them toward contender and others lost pieces and fell toward mediocrity. The biggest winner of the first week has to be the Minnesota Vikings once cousinsminnesotathey signed top free agent QB Kirk Cousins from the Redskins for 3 years and $84 million. This move did not shock many people around the NFL or the fans, since it was well publicized that Cousins would be on the move especially with the Redskins acquiring Alex Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs for Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick, what did shock a lot of people was that the contract was fully guaranteed. With this contract, it would make him the highest paid player in NFL history on a per season basis with him earning $28 million a year.

     The first couple of surprises come from one player, Richard Sherman. The first surprise was the Seattle Seahawks released their star player. With this move, it sherman49erseffectively ended the Legion Of Boom. The next surprising move for Sherman was that he decided to sign with the San Fransisco 49ers, a team that Sherman and the Seahawks have owned in the recent years. Sherman signed with the 49ers for three years and $27 million. I believe that this is the best team the 49ers have had since Harbaugh was there. They are also taking momentum into next season since they ended the season on a 5 game winning streak and winning 6 of 7 after starting the season 0-9, it also helps that they have a good QB cemented as the starter for the next five years with Jimmy Garoppolo after he signed the extension in February.

     Another big free agency move was the Arizona Cardinals releasing the Honey Badger Tyrann Mathieu after he would not accept a pay cut. The Cardinals took a honeybadgerchance on him in the third round back in 2013 after he was kicked off the football team at LSU. While in Arizona, Mathieu has impressed many with his ability to find the ball. As a Cardinal he had 307 tackles, 11 interceptions, 4 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 41 passes defended. Shortly after his release from the Cardinals, Mathieu signed a one year $7 million contract with the Houston Texans to help bolster that secondary.

Other notable free agent moves:
-QB Sam Bradford one year deal with the Cardinals worth $20 million coming over from Minnesota, Bradford is now on his fourth team in four years after spending his first four years in St. Louis where the Rams took him 1st overall out of Oklahoma.

-QB Mike Glennon two year deal with the Cardinals worth $8 million coming from Chicago after one year.

-WR Michael Crabtree three year deal with the Ravens worth $21 million coming over from Oakland.

-QB Aj McCarron two year deal with Bills worth $10 million coming over from the Bengals. Buffalo was in need of QB after trading starter Tyrod Taylor to the Browns. (I’ll go over that in another post)

-WR Allen Robinson three year deal with Chicago worth $42 million coming over from Jacksonville.

-RB Carlos Hyde three year deal with Cleveland worth $15 million coming over from San Fransisco.

-QB Case Keenum two year deal with Denver worth $36 million coming over from Minnesota.

-RB LaGarrette Blount one year deal with Detroit worth $4.5 million coming over from Philadelphia.

-TE Jimmy Graham three year deal with Greenbay worth $30 million coming over from Seattle.

-RB Dion Lewis four year deal with Tennessee worth $20 million coming over from New England.

-CB Malcolm Butler five year deal with Tennessee worth $61.25 million also coming over from New England.

Franchise savior or same stupid front office mistake?

     Late Tuesday night, the Washington Redskins shocked the NFL with trading for Kansas City Chiefs QB Alex Smith in exchange for a third-round pick and rising staralexsmith Cornerback Kendall Fuller.

     With the acquisition of Smith, it means that the era of Captain Kirk for the Redskins is over. It also means the end of a period of speculation among fans and sports reporters on is Cousins going to resign or not. Later that night, it was reported that Smith and the Redskins have agreed to a 4-year extension to go along with the 1 year left on his current contract.

     For his career, Alex has a 62.4% completion with 31,888 yards 183 touchdowns and 96 interceptions. Hopefully, he will be able to duplicate his success in Washington that he had in Kansas City. With this signaling the end of the Kirk Cousins era, “Captain” Kirk finishes his Redskins career with completing 65.5% of his passes to go along with 16,206 yards, 99 touchdowns, and 55 interceptions.

     As a Redskins fan myself, I have mixed emotions regarding this trade. I am happy that there is no question about our starting QB position and that we have a committed QB. I am upset about this trade, like many other Redskins fans, due to the fact that the Skins gave up a young talent cornerback in Kendall Fuller. Kendall isfuller coming off the best season of his young career when he led the team in interceptions with 4 picks.

     As many people around the league and the fans know, the defense of the Redskins is not good at all. Yes, the defense is below average. So it doesn’t make sense to me to trade one of your best young defensive players to get a QB that is about to turn 34 years old. Yes, the team needs a solid option at QB, but I believe that it shouldn’t cost you one of your best young players, especially when it comes on the side of the ball that has hurt your team for years.

     I will not be 100% sold on this trade until I see Smith lead this team past the Wild Card round of the playoffs and have continuous success. This isn’t the first timesadrg3 that the Redskins have traded for a QB. Before the 2010 season, they traded for rivalsadmcnabb QB Donovan Mcnabb from the Eagles, two years later, the Redskins traded the farm to get the second overall pick from the then St. Louis Rams to select RG3 out of Baylor. The only difference between Mcnabb’s time in Washington and RG3’s time in Washington is that RG3 got us to the playoffs, but after that, it went downhill fast. Hopefully, third time is the charm and Alex Smith can be what the Redskins were looking for.

     Let’s hope that the front office got this trade right and finally got the right QB, or it is going to be a long season next year and potentially a long few seasons.

Redskins training camp interviews part 2: Terrelle Pryor Sr.

                In part 2 of my interview series, my spotlight is on the new Wide Receiver for the Redskins, Terrelle Pryor Sr. Pryor came into the league, as a QB out of Ohio State, in the third round of the supplemental draft when the Oakland Raiders picked him. He would spend three years in Oakland, where he would pass for only 9 TD’s and 12 INT’s. After his time with the Raiders, he would go on to be on the Seahawks, Chiefs, and Bengals, before converting to wide receiver for the Browns. In his first full season as a WR, Pryor would catch 77 passes for 1,007 yards and 4 TD’s. If he could put up a 1000-yard season with as many QB’s as the Browns went through, imagine what he could do with a Pro Bowl QB who is secured in the starting position.

             pryor

   What went into deciding to leave Cleveland and come to Washington?

           “Jay, funny, funny as hell. And that’s from being around his brother Jon, but I just knew, I was with Andrew Hawkins in Cleveland and all he did was rave about Coach Jay Gruden. And then you meet some [people], I had a couple Redskins buddies that I had on the team – not here now – that I talked to about him and they [were] like, ‘Man, Jay, he’s one of the best coaches I’ve played for.’ And now that I’m here, he’s up there in terms of mine. You know, I love talking to the guy. We talk a lot. I love… I just enjoy him. I enjoy being around him. I can’t wait to get to meetings to kirkterrellehear him talk because he’s just so funny. And, you know, you’re tired, your legs are tired, but it’s good to have a coach that’s amused and he’s a team’s and a player’s coach. You know, it’s a blessing to have a coach like that. In terms of Kirk, I just think he’s just an exceptional quarterback. I mean, there’s nothing much more to say. I mean, the guy, he’s been through some tough times as well. He sat a long time, really got to be able to view the game from a different perspective. To see him come out and the way he played, I was always a fan of him. I loved watching him play, even when he was playing for the Redskins. I just enjoyed watching him. So, I was like, ‘That’s the type of guy I want to be around, you know?’ And he does that crazy thing ‘You like that,’ but that’s that fire he has. And I want to be around a guy that has fire, a guy that’s a leader, a guy that wants guys to be accountable and wants to trust you, but you’ve got to earn his trust. I like guys like that. That’s why I like… I saw Kirk and from that standpoint, I wanted to join him and play with him.”

 

On playing for Cleveland and now playing for a team that is “set at quarterback”:

           “A lot of people ask me, ‘How was Cleveland?’ and ‘Did you enjoy Cleveland?’ I enjoyed Cleveland. I loved Cleveland, just from the standpoint of I loved playing football. It doesn’t matter where it’s at. It’s still a little kid’s dream. There’s no exception, just because you get to the NFL that you should down a team just because the team’s not very good or whatever or they don’t have many quarterbacks. But I enjoyed that. I tried to make the best out of the situation. I think they are going to be cousins2a good team over there. I don’t want to down them. They have a great organization, but at the same time, it’s good to play with a guy like Kirk, like I was just talking about. A guy that loves the game, a guy that has got fire, a guy that guys trust, a guy that guys look up to and want them to lead. It’s just different and when you have a guy set in place like that, there’s structure here. I can’t wait. It’s getting better and we’re getting timing down. We’re having a great time, a blast, having fun and talking a lot. I’m bothering him in meetings, sitting right beside me. So, it’s going to be a fun time.”

    In part 3 of the training camp series is the head man himself, Jay Gruden, and how he feels about this team going into the season with new coordinators.

Redskins training camp interviews Part 1: Kirk Cousins

           During training camp for the Washington Redskins in Richmond, I passed along questions for certain players to Adam Winkler, a reporter for WTKR in Norfolk Virginia. I will be breaking the questions and answers into multiple posts separated by who the questions were for. This series includes Kirk Cousins, HC Jay Gruden, Terrelle Pryor Sr, and DJ Swearinger.

           The first in my training camp interview series is “Captain Kirk” himself. Looking back at his season last year, Cousins completed 67% of his passes for 4917 cousins2yards, 25 TD’s and 12 INT’s, which culminated in an appearance in the Pro Bowl. So, the expectations are high for the 5th year QB out of Michigan St, and the whole team. Especially since the team has back to back winning seasons for the first time in over ten years.

 

Do you see any differences so far from throwing to crowderGarçon and Jackson last year to throwing to Pryor, crowder and everyone else.

              “Height is an advantage if you can use it to your advantage, I guess. You know, you’ve got to be able to put the ball in the right spot where your guy can catch it, and he’s got to be able to adjust to the football and make those tough catches at a high point. So, that’s what the reps in practice are all about is developing that rapport and learning how to do that very consistently against tight coverage. But, it certainly can be used to our advantage if we get better at it, and well see, you know, if we can do that over the next six weeks.”

 Do you feel like you and the offense are in a good place for this season with new weapons at your disposal, having Jackson and garcon leaving in free agency and having a new coordinator in place?

pryor

              “Turnover is a part of this league. I think about eight out of 32 head coaches get let go every year and players are constantly changing so you’re going to have a lot of attrition. We’ve been fortunate to have some continuity, but this year we do have some changes so we’re going to show, hopefully, that we’re a mature football team and that we handle those changes well and we’re able to keep moving forward in the right direction. I feel good about where we are in terms of talent that’s there on the field and I feel good about Jay calling plays and running this offense. So, there’s enough firepower there and there’s enough people in place that we just have to fine-tune and all get on the same page and use this time — these next six weeks behind the scenes — to build that so that come Week 1, we’re a well-oiled machine and ready to go.”

gruden cavanaugh

 

             In the next piece, I will be showing the interview with the new WR for the Redskins, Terrelle Pryor Sr, and what it’s like to play on team with a stable QB situation compared to the revolving door in Cleveland and what went into his decision to come to DC.

The importance of this next season

           This upcoming NFL season is a big one for the Washington Redskins’ organization.  Why, you might ask. Well, looking back in the history of this crazy franchise, the last time they had back to back winning years was ’96 and ’97 where the team also went cousinsa combined 17-14-1. Which is just cuckoo to think that it has been 20 years since they last had back to back winning years, but you have to look even farther back to see when they had 3 straight winning years. The last time they had 3 straight winning years was back from the ’90 to ’92 season where they went a combined 33-15 with one Super Bowl win.

           This coming season will be a big one for the coaching staff and the players, because they have to prove grudenthat they can compete consistently. In this century, the Redskins have made the playoffs only 4 times with only one win coming back in ’05 under Joe
Gibbs. No coach has lasted long in D.C. under Snyder. The longest tenured coaches under this ownership are Joe Gibbs and Mike Shanahan, both coached 4 years with the team. Now Coach Gruden is about to start his 4th year at the helm joining those two. This coaching staff needs to prove that they can lead this team deep into the playoffs or they will be shown the door like so many coaches before them.gibbs

            Not only is this season important for the coaches, but it is also important to Kirk Cousins. As many know, the Redskins franchise tagged him for a second straight year.  The starting QB must prove that he is worth a big payday with smart football next year and help lead the team to the playoffs again but also must lead them deep. He also has to be careful with the ball especially in big time moments. Kirk has the talent to lead this team, but can he harness it and be the elite QB after showing a few flashes of brilliance.

           The biggest part of the team that needs a good year would be the defense as a whole. This year the team is on their 3rd defensive coordinator in the last 8 years. The best year this defense had in that time period would be 2011 when they ranked 13th in the league at 339.8 ypg.  Every other year since 2010 the teams defense has been toward the bottom of the league.

Year       Defensive            Avg ypg

                         Rank                       Allowed

2016       28th                         357

2015       28th                         381

2014       19th                         357

2013       17th                         354

2012       28th                         378

2011       13th                         340

2010       31st                         389

 

          The offense has had to keep the team in the game the last few years, thanks to the defense’s poor performance. The last two years for the offense they have been ranked 3rd this past year at 403.4 ypg and in 2015 they were ranked 17th with 353.8 ypg.

          No matter what, this team faces one of the biggest years that they will ever face. If this team has another losing season, many people will be out of a job, and then the team will be rebuilding once again and fans will not come to the game.  In the game against the Chiefs a few years ago under Shanahan less than half of the stadium was filled. They must find the formula to winning consistently, or they will lose more fans and lose support and the most important thing, money.