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NFC East


Something to think about re: Cowboys firing Rob Ryan

To most people’s surprise the Cowboys parted ways with Rob Ryan, their loud mouthed legacy hire Defensive Coordinator. At the end of yet another failed-to-make-the-playoffs season, Cowboys owner/general manager/team terrorist Jerry Jones promised that uncomfortable changes would lie ahead.

If I can presume to know the mind of most Cowboys fans, the most welcome uncomfortable changes that come to mind are the end of Jason Garrett’s short and shoddy tenure and an exit strategy to get QB Tony Romo out of there. Romo has become toxic and indicative of the team’s middling mindset. That’s not to say that I think Jerry Jones is content to swim in mediocrity’s room temperature waters but much like his irresolute division rival Jeffrey Lurie keeping Andy Reid past the 2007 season his decisions indicate otherwise. If Lurie is the helpless Mayor from the Powerpuff Girls than Jones is the ever plotting and failing Mojo JoJo. 

Speaking of the Eagles, firing Rob Ryan strikes me as very similar to firing Juan Castillo. Sure, it probably needed to be done at some point but not before this, that, that, and that other thing over there. Yes Ryan has some odd ways of communicating and conducting a defense, and no he was not consistently effective or disciplined, but were the Cowboys a more functional organization with strong leadership, I could see Ryan being managed better and outliving this current crop and being fired as the last part of methodical overhaul if necessary.

But the Cowboys are not particularly methodical when it comes to these things. Or, at least, it doesn’t seem that way.  One thing to remember is that, although the emerging storyline is that Rob Ryan never got the defenses of any of the dysfunctional teams he coached for into the postseason, only Head Coaches  (and front offices) are truly judged on wins and losses. And that may have factored into Ryan’s firing.

Jones’ golden choice Jason Garrett was given a pass last season as Jones informed us all in October that Garrett really hadn’t been given a chance as he hadn’t coached 2 full seasons yet.  Jason Garrett was hired January 6th 2011. Rob Ryan was hired January 11, 2011. Maybe Garrett was all for hiring Rob Ryan but 5 days in between the “official” hiring of a big name doesn’t seem like a lot of time for a nobody head coach, albeit one very well liked by his boss, to choose “his guy.”  Rob Ryan’s hair and last name scream “Jerry Jones hired me.” 

If I’m Jason Garrett, and Rob Ryan is not my guy, I’m going to go to Jerry and make a case about why I need to put together my own lineup in order to be judged. I’d also make the case that if we’re “stuck with” solid but catastrophic-accident-prone Romo we simply cannot have a defense led by the most maniacal Ryan twin despite the bang up job he did with a defense full of players nobody had heard of before mid-season. 

Garrett has to be judged on his own merits which will be hard enough with Toxic Tony and MoJo JoJo surrounding him like an island. But if Ryan’s firing is an attempt to get control where allowed, it totally makes sense to me looking from the outside. Nobody wants to be a failed experiment. 



Shanahan and at least one Seahawk thought Fed Ex field looked fine before game

I live in DC, so I saw quite a few Redskins games this season and I definitely did not notice the field being in poor condition before yesterday’s contest with the Seahawks. But yesterday it looked horrible — grass was flying, guys were slipping and getting stuck.

Apparently, Fed Ex field is made up of Bermuda grass and there was some talk of having it re-sodded. I’m actually surprised that the Redskins play on grass because my understanding is that grass may be a bit more upkeep and it’s well known that Skins owner Dan Snyder is a fan of cutting corners.

Coach Mike Shanahan was asked about the re-sodding and he had this to say:

“Sometimes resodding is good. I’ve had resodding that’s worked quite well. I’ve been on some resods that were very, very poor. We rushed for a lot of yards last week and the surface was good enough to not slip, so that’s a pretty good sign. I know it doesn’t look that good but relative to the footwork, I didn’t think it was bad at all from a running back standpoint as well as the wide receivers. I didn’t see people slipping and so that’s a good sign. Anyway, both teams have to play on the field.”

This interview was just a few days before the game and obviously by then the field was quite slippery as cleats kept getting stuck in the grass. In fact, Seahawks Chris Clemons may have torn his ACL when his cleat got stuck.

After reading these comments, I remembered that Seahawks Safety Kam Chancellor had tweeted about Fed Ex Field when the Seahawks got to the stadium on Saturday. I’ve heard lots of players say they enjoy grass much better and look forward to playing on it, but Chancellor went a step further and also said the field looked great.



Update: has reported that the Seahawks have filed a claim with the league regarding the condition of Fed Ex Field.


Redskins Handling of RG3 Shows Just How Far NFL Hasn’t Come

This photo is from the Washington Post. I think it sums up yesterday’s game quite effectively.

If you watched the Seahawks/Redskins wildcard contest yesterday then you saw RG3 struggling to play with only one working leg on grass that looked more like a dog park than a place where a 9 billion dollar professional sport is played. Both of those factors made yesterday’s game very painful to watch and also brought up some even more painful questions about how the Redskins handle business as well as whether the NFL has changed as much as we think.

The events of yesterday’s game had a storyline to remember — a black rookie QB who had taken the nation’s capital by storm  was appearing in a playoff game-torn LCL-and all against another black rookie QB (only the 2nd time two rookie QBs have met in the playoffs with the first time being last year). Both teams had exceeded all expectations with each one looking to break a playoff drought - the Redskins at home, the Seahawks on the road.

As the game went on with both QBs running more than they should have as their actual monster running backs played second fiddle, cleats getting stuck in disastrous turf, defensive lines getting pressure on most plays RG3 wore down with every snap until that fearful moment when his knee completely gave out. But before that,  millions of viewers watched the dust kick up in between RG3′s visits to the secret room he’d dip into to speak with his doctor, James Andrews, a surgical magician who has built a reputation of mythological proportions and never cleared his QB patient to play in the last game much less this one. If RG3 is never the same Quarterback again, these are the images that will haunt the success-starved Redskins fan base. 

If all of this sounds old school to you, you’re not alone. The NFL has made a point of emphasizing player safety whether it’s cracking down on head to head contact or taking backdoor measures to attempt to reduce the number of kickoffs. Such changes have caused many of the sport’s couch-ridden yet audaciously bloodthirsty fans to decry the sport as “getting soft.” I’ve always found those claims to be utter crap even as players often repeat the same refrain. The truth is, although the NFL may be making efforts to become less cumulatively dangerous a soft sport this is not. In fact, despite efforts to progress, the league’s proverbial cleats are stuck in shoddy sod somewhere between 1960 and 2013.

If the NFL were soft, new comers to the league wouldn’t have the same attitudes as guys who played in the 70s. RG3 was born in 90s but to hear him talk about why he played yesterday you’d think he was Ray Lewis’ peer and not young enough to be his offspring from a teenage love affair. And Mike Shanahan’s approach to decision making-including RG3′s previous concussion in which he was dazed out of his mind and still played a week later-proves that new school thinking isn’t in his written playbook or his fancy league-issued ipad.

The Redskins, unlike a lot of teams, had zero expectations put upon them coming into the playoffs, a more than capable back up QB, and every reason in the world to protect an investment that cost them dollars and draft picks to acquire. Nothing the Redskins did this year should have been more important than preserving their QB who manages to be both intelligent and charismatic, a runner and a gunner in an environment that tries to force black QBs to choose 2 and 3 and avoid 1 and 4 at all costs.

But true to the thinking of old, RG3 played in a game agains the Cowboys that Kirk Cousins, his backup, probably could have won easily with  Cowboys QB Tony Romo’s mistakes picking up whatever slack existed. With the way the Seahawks started yesterday’s game - confused, miscommunicating and unable to consistently connect, putting Cousins in when the score was 14-0 might could have saved the Skins season. But even if not, RG3 wasn’t just hurting, he was hurting the team. Only good old fashioned willful blindness would cause anyone to say different.

Admittedly, doctors and players and even coaches are often put in ridiculous predicaments when big games call for bigger decisions. There’s not one doctor, player or staff member on any team that can be accused of always making the safest or best choice when it comes to players’ fitness or health.  This isn’t a league where that is possible due to the legitimate grey areas that exist in a sport where every player is dealing with some kind of injury or condition.But when leadership can’t be relied upon to make the most obvious choice, someone should be called onto the carpet to answer for it. 



Eagles Fire Defensive Coordinator After Catching Him on Tape Stealing Boxes

While I was on vacation from blogging in beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Eagles blew their opportunity to win against the Detroit Lions (or the Lions found their mojo in the 4th quarter, depends on how you look at it). Right after that, Eagles coach Andy Reid checked the security cameras at Novacare and noticed defensive coordinator Juan Castillo on tape stealing boxes. Yesterday morning, the Eagles made it official - Castillo was fired on his day off.

[To read my opinion on the Castillo scapegoating click Read More]



Redskins WR Josh Morgan Won’t Be Disciplined for Throwing Ball at Cortland Finnegan


That’s right Josh, a Wide Receiver catches the ball he doesn’t throw it. Now you’ve got it.

Just a brief update on Redskins WR Josh Morgan who lost his cool after  Cortland Finnegan slapped him on the head. Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said he won’t punish Josh Morgan for the mistake. He also said that he didn’t even pull Josh aside to talk about it rather addressed the issue of “poise” with the entire team. 

I liked that Shanahan said this:

[To finish this post click Read More]


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