Washington Redskins stand pat as trade deadline passes

Photo Source: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America

The NFL trade deadline provided the perfect opportunity for the Washington Redskins to address deficiencies at key positions. Two positions that come to mind are running back and wide receiver. The Redskins have struggled so badly at these skill positions that third down back Chris Thompson leads Washington in rushing and receiving yards.

This isn’t to disparage Thompson by any means. He has proven to be worth the two year extension he signed before this season started. However, Washington has other players that were supposed to solidify the offense, namely wide receivers Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson, as well as running back Samaje Perine. That hasn’t materialized, as Pryor, Doctson, and Perine have had their own individual issues with ball security.

Excessive dropped passes and fumbles have plagued the aforementioned players. These are issues that reduce a quarterback and head coach’s confidence in certain players.

Miami Dolphins’ wide receiver Jarvis Landry was rumored to be on the trading block. The Redskins know about Landry’s game breaking ability. He returned a punt for a touchdown that helped Miami beat Washington in their 2015 season opener 17-10. That season, Landry caught 110 passes for 1,157 yards. On their current 2017 pace, the Redskins’ top wide receivers will be hard pressed to reach that total collectively.

Jay Ajayi.jpg

Photo Source: Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe

In a surprising move, the Dolphins traded running back Jay Ajayi (above, carrying football) to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 2018 fourth round pick. Ajayi rushed for 1,260 yards for Miami last season while averaging close to five yards per carry. Word from Miami is that Ajayi didn’t get along with teammates and coaches,  making him expendable.

There’s no word of Redskins’ running back Robert Kelley not getting along with his teammates. In contrast to Ajayi’s production in Miami, Kelley lead Washington with only 708 yards rushing last season. Kelley missed two games this season with a rib and foot injury, as he has yet to solidify himself as Washington’s starter.

Landry and Ajayi could have helped Washington considerably. The Redskins were justified in standing pat and not trading for them. Washington has a history of trading draft picks for some veteran players that have severely underachieved. It’s best to build a franchise through the draft, as young players can learn and grow within a particular system. The current Redskins’ roster is devoid of consistent offensive playmakers, which makes a trade impossible.

Washington will continue their season with their current crops of players in the hopes that they will develop the chemistry and cohesion necessary to become a good team.

This question should be asked of management regarding Kirk Cousins

Photo Source: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America

As most NFL fans know, the Washington Redskins and quarterback Kirk Cousins have yet to agree on a long term deal. Cousins led the Redskins to a combined 17-14-1 record over the past two full seasons, the best two year standard the franchise has seen in 20 years. Washington won the NFC East title in 2015 and were one game away from qualifying for postseason play in 2016. Cousins has statistically been the Redskins’ best quarterback in their franchise history, passing for 9,083 yards, 54 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. He was also named to the Pro Bowl in 2016.

That wasn’t enough, as Cousins is playing under the franchise tag of almost $24 million for 2017 after playing under the franchise tag for $19 million in 2016. Cousins is using his 2017 season to make a strong case for Washington to pull the trigger and sign him long term. Cousins’ stats are stellar this season, throwing for 1,900 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. That suggests that Cousins is the solution for the Redskins at quarterback.

Cousins’ stats haven’t dictated real success for Washington, whose resides in third place in the NFC East with a 3-4 record. The Redskins’ latest game saw Cousins commit two turnovers against the Dallas Cowboys, the last an interception that was returned for a touchdown while trying to lead Washington to a game tying score. Instead, the Cowboys won the game 33-19, raising doubts about Cousins’ ability to be clutch during critical games.

Washington’s next game will be against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 9. The Seahawks boasts one of the NFL’s best defenses. It also features one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in Russell Wilson, who led Seattle to a Super Bowl title after the 2013 season. Wilson’s resume dwarfs Cousins’ by a long shot, yet Cousins could get a long term deal more lucrative that Wilson currently has.

That raises a seldom asked question regarding a long term deal for Cousins: what exactly does Redskins’ management need to see in 2017 to give Cousins that long term deal? There have been many theories supporting and not supporting a long term deal for Cousins. The one man who could end all the speculation would be Redskins’ team president Bruce Allen. He could sign Cousins right now if he wanted to. Then again, he could have signed Cousins two years ago. For now, Cousins and his teammates need to focus on somehow beating the Seahawks to even their record at 4-4. After that, everything else will take care of itself.

Another bitter pill for Washington Redskins to swallow

Photo Source: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America

Even the most ardent Washington Redskins’ fan had to admit that beating the Dallas Cowboys at Fed Ex Field would be a tall task. The Redskins were without three of their starting offensive linemen, and fielded an offense that has regressed considerably in 2017. A win over their biggest rival would send a statement that the Redskins are a team to be reckoned with. It would also make the sub .500 Washington teams a thing of the  past.

Unfortunately, special teams miscues and three Washington turnovers propelled them to a 33-19 loss, sending their record to 3-4. A blocked field goal by Cowboys’ defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford was returned 85 yards by Dallas cornerback Orlando Scandrick. The Cowboys made the Redskins pay as star running back Ezekiel Elliot scored on a one yard run to put Dallas ahead 14-13.

The injuries would continue for Washington as they lost tight ends Jordan Reed and Niles Paul in this game. The defense was put into several tight spots, trying to keep the Cowboys out of the end zone after Redskins’ miscues and offensive inefficiency. However, the defense employed a bend but don’t break approach, keeping the prolific Dallas offense out of the end zone in the second half.

Washington’s main problems are their lack of consistency. Many felt the team made a mistake letting wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Desean Jackson leave via free agency. The Redskins gambled that wide receivers Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson would provide near similar results to the over 2,000 receiving yards that Garcon and Jackson produced for the Redskins in 2016.

So far, it’s been a gamble that hasn’t paid off. Pryor has been invisible, seeing very little action against Dallas (he had zero catches). Doctson dropped a key third down pass that would have earned Washington a first down. While Doctson did catch a one yard touchdown pass, it was too little too late as that was Doctson’s only reception for the game. It’s par for the course for Doctson, who’s been an underwhelming presence at wide receiver for the Redskins.

This was a game that Washington had to win to not only save their season, but to gain confidence in themselves. Three Redskin turnovers and overall offensive inefficiency doomed them once again. The schedule doesn’t get any easier, as Washington must travel to face the Seattle Seahawks next week. The Seahawks recorded a thrilling 41-38 victory over the Houston Texans in Week 8. Washington is in need of a quality win to regain some confidence. For now the banged up Redskins will take this time to heal and get ready to head for the great Northwest.

 

It’s more than the gesture or comments that are reprehensible

Photo Source: Bob Levey/Getty Images North America

The last two weeks have produced two incidents that are unfortunate reflections of the times we currently live in. At the NFL owners’ meeting in New York last week, Houston Texans’ owner Bob McNair made a comment about “the inmates running the prison” that was construed as a reference to the season long protests orchestrated by a handful of NFL players. Simply put, the protesting NFL players are looked upon as the inmates bringing unrest to the league by not dutifully standing for the national anthem.

Yuli Gurriel

Photo Source: Justin Heiman/Getty Images North America

On Friday, a second incident occurred, this time in a different sport. Houston Astros’ first baseman Yuli Gurriel (pictured, above) received a five game suspension to start the 2018 season. Gurriel made a racially insensitive gesture in the dugout after hitting a second inning home run against Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Yu Darvish. Gurriel pulled the sides of his eyes downward, the ultimate slight of the Japanese born Darvish, as well as Asians everywhere.

On Saturday, McNair explained that his comment referred to the relationship between the league office and team ownership. McNair and Gurriel each apologized for their actions. And there’s where the reprehension is created. I can’t imagine either of them being truly apologetic for their actions. McNair’s affiliation with President Donald Trump is in direct opposition with the stance that kneeling NFL players are taking. In September, Trump referred to kneeling NFL players in a pejorative manner.

I really don’t have to go into how disrespectful and reprehensible Gurriel’s action was to any person with true self respect and respect for others. As a Cuban immigrant, it would seem reasonable that Gurriel would be sensitive towards Darvish. If someone made fun of Gurriel’s accent, that would be a problem. His lack of sensitivity is a real disappointment.

McNair is a billionaire that won’t suffer any financial repercussions for his remark. Gurriel will lose five game checks to begin the 2018 season, which will not cripple him financially. However, McNair and Gurriel’s respective apologies were self serving because of the social backlash contained within the aftermath of their incidents. They would have been better off doubling down on their seemingly genuine in the moment expressions.

McNair and Gurriel’s sentiments are protected under the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression (making what they did legal, albeit reprehensible). Expressing those type of sentiments within an America striving to project an image of unity and love for all people to the rest of the world isn’t a good look.

Whether or not public opinion accepts the apologies tendered by McNair and Gurriel is irrelevant. We can only hope that these incidents serve as a teachable moment for all of us in an effort to promote sensitivity towards those different from us.