All posts by Matt Terl

The 10 Most Disappointing Redskins Of The Past 20 Years Or So

enhanced-624-1396452012-5

Brian Orakpo’s season ended this week, another torn pectoral muscle ending another underwhelming campaign. That likely ends his time with the Redskins, too.

He had some decent seasons — including a few Pro Bowl campaigns — but I’ll always think of him as somewhat disappointing, because he wasn’t supposed to be decent. He was supposed to be a dominating sack machine, the missing piece to the pass rush, and somehow there was always some excuse why that never happened.

So this depressing news got me thinking about disappointing Redskins players. I immediately convened an emergency meeting of the Mr. Irrelevant Redskins brain-trust to determine who the MOST disappointing Redskins player was.

(Note: This is not to be confused with Dan Snyder’s top 10 offseason champs. That is a different but related thing.)

This turned out to be a very long meeting. There has been a LOT of disappointment in the last 20+ years.

We briefly considered dividing the disappointments into various subsets — draft busts separate from free agent disasters, or failed wide receivers separate from failed defensive superstars — but in the end decided that one consolidated list was the way to go. Here’s the top 10, along with others receiving votes.

(Note: There was some talk given to including RG3 pretty high up on this list, but I … I just can’t. Not yet. I’m unilaterally moving him back to others receiving votes for at least a little while longer.)

When you get to the end, you can vote for your own biggest disappointment, or write in someone we missed in the comments.

10. Patrick Ramsey

Arrived as the 32nd overall pick in the draft. Started 24 games in a four-year Redskins career. Somehow signed with seven other teams over the next five seasons but never started another game. Continue reading The 10 Most Disappointing Redskins Of The Past 20 Years Or So

Redskins-Buccaneers Winners & Losers

Handing out labels after Skins games, this time a game against the Buccaneers that existed, but really who’s going to quote the score or brag about a fourth preseason game.

Oh.

WINNERS

All of us. Preseason is over, everyone. We made it. RG3 didn’t burst into flames. Trent Williams is still going strong. Nothing horrible happened to any starters. Next time we see this football team take the field, it will be for a real game. Great job, everyone. Way to stay tough.

Continue reading Redskins-Buccaneers Winners & Losers

Redskins-Ravens Winners & Losers

Handing out labels after Skins games, this time a oh god I don’t know what am I doing with my life 23-17 loss to the Ravens.

WINNERS

Keenan Robinson – Was all over the field, living up to the generally favorable reports he’s been getting all preseason. Notable plays included a 4th & 1 stop on the Ravens first drive and shutting down an end-around on the next drive. Looks like a major upgrade over the last year of London Fletcher.

Jason Hatcher – Finally got on the field post-surgery, and immediately helped lead to Joe Flacco looking pressured and harassed. So for at least one preseason game, he looks like exactly the kind of impact free agent signing the team was hoping for.

Trent Murphy – Bull-rushed his way into a sack and basically made a nuisance of himself all night.  Promising preseason continues for the rookie.

Andre Roberts – Had just one punt return for 23 yards, but it’s been a long drought between decent punt returners, so it seemed disproportionately incredible.

Kirk Cousins – I guess. I dunno. He went 14 for 20 for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns, but the Ravens’ top 3 corners were already out to start the game, so lord only knows who Cousins was throwing against. But … sure. He moved the ball. RG3 didn’t (SPOILER: see “Losers,” below). I dunno. I am so glad I don’t have to field emails and comments about the team this week.

People With Hot Takes About RG3 – Possibly the biggest winners of the whole night.

LOSERS

First-team offense – These guys were terrible, almost without exception. They opened with a strong Alfred Morris run, then threw an interception negated by penalty, had a bunch of no-gains, and settled for a field goal. They still haven’t scored a touchdown this preseason. There were good plays negated by penalties. Miscues. Oddities. False starts. Another near-interception (which also would’ve been negated by penalty), and then an actual interception. Oh, and Griffin was sacked 3 times. I am basically clinging to Bill Barnwell’s “preseason is meaningless” article like it is a floating door and I am a spunky, ahead-of-my-time rich girl who doesn’t want to marry Billy Zane.

Tress Way – Is a punter. Punted poorly.

The TV broadcast – Was apparently engaged in a duel to the death with the starting offense to see who could be worse at their jobs. Probably lost that competition, but not by much. In the first half, the broadcast spent an inordinate amount of time talking about how much Griffin has improved — stepping into his throws! working with Terry Shea! — while he put up terrible numbers. Joe Theismann repeatedly claimed to be unable to distinguish between Steve Smith and Santana Moss, and then compared Nick Williams to Wes Welker, Danny Amendola, and Julian Edelman, inexplicably failing to mention dozens of other famous white people. And Ken Harvey remains the worst sideline reporter in recorded human history, which is saying something if you remember Eric Dickerson’s work in that role.

Robert Griffin III – No way to spin it. He looked awful. Indecisive, inaccurate, overwhelmed, and maybe overcoached. But worse than losing a preseason game, he has now doomed us all to a week of lunatic quarterback controversy.

MEDIUM

Brandon Meriweather – Started off seeming active, and possibly improved. Made a nice stop in the backfield. Then he turned back into Brandon Meriweather, got called for a helmet-to-helmet hit, then fell down in coverage to give up a long gain. But he’s medium because, honestly, this is who he is, and he did a perfectly average job of being Brandon Meriweather.

#RedskinsFacts – Put together a well-produced, genuinely compelling commercial supporting their near-lunatic insistence on keeping the team name. On the other hand, its primary argument also seemed to boil down to “The Redskins name isn’t nearly as big a problem as poverty, alcoholism, or sub-par health care,” which … I mean, sure, that’s one approach you could take, but it’s not setting yourself a particularly high standard to match.

Redskins-Patriots Winners & Losers

Handing out labels after Skins games, this time a 23-6 preseason win against the Patriots. Yayyyyy football! Booooooo preseason! Via @BurgundyBlog, let’s all yawn at preseason along with Santana Moss.

Mossyawn

Winners

Redskins Running Backs — Originally I had them all listed separately, but that seems silly, for the most part. The RBs rushed the ball 42 times for  177 yards, a solid 4.0 average. Alfred Morris looked trucklike and Morris-y in deliberately limited action. Roy Helu Jr. looked like a more-than-capable #2. Evan Royster looked unremarkable, and bizarre in a #26 jersey. (Every true Redskins fan knows that will always belong to Ifeanyi Ohalete.) Chris Thompson continues to look more like Brandon Banks and less like Darren Sproles. And then there were the two new guys.

Lache Seastrunk — Looked every bit as electric as advertised, rushing 12 times for 63 yards (admittedly against New England’s 11th-string defense).

Silas Redd — Wearing the #24 jersey of preseason legend Marcus Mason, Redd took 9 carries for 45 yards and added 2 catches for 18 yards. Running back is looking crowded this year.

Colt McCoy — Wearing the #16 jersey of Redskins preseason legend Babe Laufenberg and the first name of Redskins preseason legend Colt Brennan, McCoy is a strong front-runner candidate for “player that some idiot fan will advocate for ahead of an actual top-line starter”. (Ed. note — And also the Redskins Preseason HOF!) Continue reading Redskins-Patriots Winners & Losers

18 New Redskins Names Inspired By Marvel Comics

Comic book guy

We’re approaching the point where literally every person in America with a soapbox of any kind will have weighed in on the Redskins name. As part of staking their flag into a small square of this hotly disputed rhetorical soil, most of those people will suggest possible alternate names. Eighty-five percent of those names will be the goddamned potato joke, and the remaining 15 percent will be terrible.

The current front-runner for worst in the clubhouse comes from Fortune Magazine managing editor Andy Serwer, who suggests in a Politico column (for a section of the site, it’s worth noting, that is literally called “Soapbox”) that the team be renamed the Washington All-Americans.

Serwer’s argument hinges on three points. First, the obvious squishy liberal inclusiveness the name implies. Second, “All-American” has a positive connotation in a sports context. And third … well, I’ll let him tell it:

I did some digging around and discovered that “All-American” used to be an obscure Marvel comic book super hero back in the 1980s. And get this, he was a football player! The All-American character was ‘really’ Giovanni “Jack” Magniconte, star quarterback of the fictional New York Smashers, nicknamed “Mr. Magnificent” by the press.

And … yeah. Hoo boy. Using this as an argument for choosing a team name is like naming your baby “Ishtar” because it was the title of a big-budget movie with some big-name stars. Let me get my geekhat on so we can do a deep nerd-dive on this.

Magniconte was the star of a doomed book called Kickers Inc., which was one of the launch titles in an equally doomed Marvel sub-imprint called the New Universe. Launched in 1986, the New Universe was meant to be “the world outside your window!” — a more realistic look at people with super powers running in something like realtime, basically — as an attempt to recapture the IP-generating lightning in a bottle that was the launch of the original Marvel Universe 25-ish years prior.

Kickers Inc. was arguably the stupidest book in the line, and was one of four launch titles canceled at the end of its first year. The imprint as a whole lasted just two more years, flailing around in increasing desperation before being mothballed. In those two years, Magniconte resurfaced as a supporting character whose role is basically “government stooge.” Not exactly a pop-culture icon to name a football team after.

Just to drive the final nerd-nail into the coffin of this idea, there’s this: The New Universe popped back up in 2008 as an even grittier “re-imagining” of the concept. This time around, Magniconte’s powers manifest while he’s on the field mid-game, which results in a graphic, on-panel depiction of him stiff-arming a dude so hard that he explodes in a spray of guts and bones. This is EXACTLY the kind of association the NFL is trying to draw in these days of concussion awareness and increased player safety concerns. (For a fun thought experiment, try to imagine the league’s earnest “don’t use super-powers on-field” ad campaign following that disaster!)

In summary, the “Washington All-Americans” idea is every bit as terrible as you think it is, and dragging in this stupid Marvel reference only makes it worse.

Which is not to say that the idea of borrowing some of the names or concepts from the Marvel Universe is inherently terrible. Here are 18 other Marvel-inspired potential names that are marginally less awful, or, at least, better thought-out. Continue reading 18 New Redskins Names Inspired By Marvel Comics

Redskins-Giants Winners & Losers

Handing out labels after Skins games. This one a 20-6 miseryfest against the Giants.

Winners

Sav Rocca — Recovered from a terrible first punt to hit a couple of good ones, then recovered from certain disaster on a mishandled snap in his own endzone to get the ball away.

Keith Burns — Made it through the entire season, which seemed unlikely at times. (Look, this was the end of a horrific season that’s going to see everyone fired. The bar for “Winner” is low.)

Kai Forbath — Made both his field goals, including a 49 yarder to end the first half, and scored all the Redskins’ points. Did not hideously embarrass himself. (Again, low bar.)

London Fletcher — Tipped a Curtis Painter pass in the end zone into the waiting arms of Reed Doughty. That’s reason enough to put him into the Winners column one last time. So long, LFB. Sorry it couldn’t end better.

Pierre Garcon — At times appeared to be the only competent offensive player wearing a burgundy helmet. It was just 6 catches, 56 yards, but on a day like today it looked good.

Chris Cooley — After a genuinely impressive first season in the radio booth (as ably chronicled by Steinz), Cooley called this one accurately as well: “This is quickly becoming the worst football game I’ve ever watched.”

Robert Griffin III — Didn’t have to play in this clownshow. Gets to put the worst year of his football life behind him and come back (presumably) healthy next year, with (presumably) a new coaching staff and (hopefully) some new supporting castmembers. And without any kind of a QB controversy, thanks to three sub-mediocre starts for Kirk Cousins.

Rex Grossman — Managed to add a new category to The Dark Knight axiom about “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain,” as he hung around long enough to become the “Hey, why not put this guy in the game!” backup again.

Chris Baker — I mean, I dunno. He seemed to tackle a lot of people. He knocked Eli out of the game. Got called for a horsecollar tackle penalty that seemed bogus but honestly, who cared by that point.

Medium

Josh Wilson — Looked terrible in coverage, but somehow managed to be on the business end of two takeaways. Left the game with a calf injury and just had to watch the second half, which is probably an argument for putting him the Winners column.

Losers

All of us — For continuing to care, at all. There were things I could’ve done with my life instead of watching this Redskins season. I could’ve played with my kids more. I could’ve gotten better at Rainbow Loom, or brushed up on some cooking techniques. Hell, I could’ve sat around reading old Marvel comics and drinking grape soda and it STILL would’ve been a better use of my time than this was.

Washington Redskins — Secured the second overall pick in the draft, which will be going to St. Louis. Also, lost, making them “losers” by any definition.

St. Louis Rams — NO FIRST OVERALL PICK FOR YOU GUYS. SO THERE.

The Redskins Media Corps — Had to sit in the rain and cold and pretend to care about the game while knowing that the real story — and, likely, a few 22 hour workdays — would be coming only after it ended.

Nick Williams — Inherent scrappiness unable to overcome lack of football ability.

Kirk Cousins —  Terrible day: 19-of-49 for 169 yards with 2 interceptions and a fumble lost. To make matters worse, as his trade value dwindles the likelihood of another year (or more) stuck as backup in D.C. increases. This is not how Kirk Cousins thought his career was supposed to go.

Josh LeRibeus — Made it through the entire season inactive, which is … not good for a thrird-round pick at what would seem like a position of need. Actually, the big loser here isn’t LeRibeus, but the people who drafted him and the fans who have to sit around and think about all the other ways that pick could’ve been used.

Jose Gumbs — Honestly, singling people out feels sort of ridiculous at this point, doesn’t it? He did some more dumb crap, drew a terrible penalty, and generally didn’t play well. Frankly, he fit right in.

Image via @recordsANDradio.

Redskins-Eagles Winners & Losers

Handing out labels after Skins games. Tonight, a 33-27 loss to Philadelphia.

Winners

People Who Like Subway – Subway spokesman RG3 made his return to his non-Subway second job of “quarterback”, and the @Redskins twitter account gleefully touted a Subway coupon in a loss. With exclamation points! Eat your feelings after the loss, Redskins fans!

FedExField – Crowd was loud. Turf didn’t cripple any franchise players. Grass looked more or less like a grass.  By this stadium’s standards, those are all huge wins.

A bunch of Eagles guys, notably LeSean McCoy – After a first quarter where the Chip Kelly offense did everything that all the breathless articles said it would, they settled down notably over the course of the game. But they also racked up really unpleasant numbers in the stat columns and walked away with the win. Hence: winners. Sad but true.

Perry Riley – Even during the awful first half, Riley was a bright spot. Sacked Vick, recorded eight tackles on the evening.

Ryan Kerrigan – Looked Kerrigan-esque.  Motor! Heart! Grit! Swatted passes! Left the game to be evaluated for concussion symptoms and should thus probably be downgraded to Medium, but heck with it. I’m hard up for Winners on this one.

Dr. James Andrews – The details of RG3’s performance are irrelevant to the good doctor’s rankings, as are his dumb hat and the vacant look on his face whenever they show him on the sidelines. The fact of the matter is this: when Griffin crumpled to that field back in January, I was terrified that he’d miss this entire season or worse. He didn’t miss a single regular season snap.  That is the kind of doctorin’ that makes someone a Winner around these parts.

Losers

Aldrick Robinson – Kept not catching the ball in crucial situations, including a late 4th down. Also did not seem to know how to effectively notify the officials that he was being mugged by the Eagles defenders.

Alfred Morris – Fumbled the first time he touched the ball. Failed to handle a (somewhat off-target) pitch-out from RG3, leading to an Eagles safety. Rushed 12 times for 45 yards. Subjected us all to the announcers telling the story of his Mazda AGAIN. I am so over that Mazda.

Chris Thompson – Looked less like preseason Brandon Banks and more like regular season Brandon Banks.  Hopefully it’s just a learning curve and once he recovers from his latest injury he’ll figure this whole “punt returning” thing out.

DeAngelo Hall – Played pretty much the quintessential DeAngelo Hall game: a long defensive touchdown, a couple of decent plays, a couple of … um … less-decent plays, a loooooooooooooootttttt of jawing, and at least one major penalty.

Kyle Shanahan – Sure, the team got it together a bit in the second half, against an Eagles defense that was giving much more of a cushion.  But last year’s offensive genius was pretty plainly overshadowed by Chip Kelly’s shiny innovations and crazy tempo.  Unleashing the four-QB offense next week will put him back in the guru column.

The Redskins defensive backfield – I don’t have any fancy John Keim details to give, but this group did not look good to my untrained eye. Occasionally they did not even look present on the field.

The fleeting hope of the end of speculative RG3 injury talk – “Should the team have played him in preseason” is the new “should the coach have pulled him out of the playoff game,” and I am already sick of it.

Common sense and human decency – People were apparently actually suggesting that Kirk Cousins be put in the game, possibly with an eye toward starting next week. People are the worst.

Medium

Robert Griffin III – Looked absolutely awful in the first half — probably as bad as he’s looked as a pro, definitely as bad as he’s looked as a pro with two functioning legs. On the other hand, for a guy who just had one leg rebuilt with bits of the other one, and who hadn’t taken a single preseason snap, he got it together relatively quickly. By the end of the game he seemed to be holding out the promise (LOL SHEININ PUN!) of another season of RG3-ness. I’ll take it.  (Numerically, this translates as 329 yards passing, 2 touchdowns, 2 picks, plus the terrible pitch to Morris.  And 24 yards rushing.)

Leonard Hankerson – Stat line looks great: 5 catches, 2 touchdowns, 80 yards. But he is Leonard Hankerson, so of course there were also the uncaught balls (including one that could’ve been a crucial third down) and double-clutched catches. A good game for him, but still medium.

Kai Forbath – Missed a kick, which he is not supposed to do. Hit all his extra points, which he is definitely supposed to do. Kicked off for touchbacks, which he had not previously done all that much.

I’m sure I missed a ton, because this game was weird and I am easily confused. Toss ’em in the comments! Top image via @recordsANDradio, of course.

Blame Mel Kiper For Some Of Those Bad Redskins Draft Picks

During the barrage of NFL Draft content recently, Deadspin posted a couple of infographics with the totally non-confrontational headline You’re Better Off Guessing Than Listening To Mel Kiper.

The infographics are tough to reproduce because, being infographics, they rely in part on being ridiculously oversized and somewhat baroque, but basically what they show is this: on one side, the top 20 of Mel Kiper’s predraft rankings. On the other, where those players would rank in a list organized by actual production from members of that draft class (along with a few notable players whom Kiper left unranked). Aside from Mel’s top 20 and the other notables, the list is unpopulated, so the impact of the graphic comes from the long stretches of blank space, demarcated by the blank lines where the ranks would be.

Deadspin produced two of these infographics, one for 2003 and the other for 2008. On each one, the bottommost player — the guy who makes you wear out your mouse’s scroll wheel (or your wrist muscles, if you’re trying to look at the thing on a tablet) — is someone drafted in the second round by the Redskins. More specifically, the bottommost player is a wide receiver drafted in the second round by the Redskins. Or, not to put too fine a point on this, the bottommost player is a wide receiver drafted in the second round by Vinny Cerrato.

Also, each of those wide receivers — the estimable Taylor Jacobs and the legendary Devin Thomas — had fewer than 40 receptions in his entire career with the Skins.

Continue reading Blame Mel Kiper For Some Of Those Bad Redskins Draft Picks

Let’s Talk About That Infamous 2004 ‘Redskins’ Poll

Another day, another round of skirmishes over the Redskins name. Today’s sally is led by Tom Garrett, founding father of a “culture and society” blog called TheAxisofEgo.com, whose post for that site got a signal boost by being re-posted as a “Special to” over on Hogs Haven.

Garrett offers a lengthy, sesquipedalian defense of the Redskins team name, marshaling various avenues of attack on those who want change, and I recommend that you go read the entire thing to understand the subtle nuances of his myriad points, because I’m not recapping them here.

Especially since, for me, all those carefully reasoned points are completely undermined by one paragraph in the middle, which I’ll reproduce below:

Then what do we make of the fact that the only comprehensive survey conducted among the Native American population as to the offensiveness of “Redskins” showed very little opposition? The poll, from 2004, found that 91% of Native Americans found the name to be acceptable, while only the remaining 9% found it to be offensive.

Making the same assumption that Garrett does in his following paragraph –- that the math has not changed in the intervening years –- here is what we make from that information: 9% of a minority group finds the name offensive. If we use 2010 U.S. Census data and assume that the folks surveyed were representative of the entire population, we can further make a specific number of Native Americans that consider the name offensive –- something like 469,000. Continue reading Let’s Talk About That Infamous 2004 ‘Redskins’ Poll

The Danny Smith Paradox

For some reason, I decided that what the world really needed was thousands of words about Danny Smith. Jamie was nice enough to publish them here.

Arguments about the NFL tend to involve subtle gradations. The question of if Eli Manning or Joe Flacco is “elite” can occupy a nearly infinite number of segments on sports talk radio. Despite the fact that “elite” as a concept isn’t actually objective or even quantifiable, fans, pundits and (occasionally) players will spend endless hours fine-slicing gradations of “really good” to decide whether a player has earned the imaginary right to use a particular adjective.

Which makes the case of former Redskins special teams coordinator Danny Smith somewhat bizarre, because it requires virtually no fine-slicing whatsoever: There are the people who feel that Smith has been a terrible special teams coach, people who think he’s one of the best at his position and folks who try to walk the (admittedly enormous) line in between.

And, not to overgeneralize, but those three categories can respectively be split pretty cleanly into fans, NFL players (and decision-makers) and media members. What’s more, each group can make a pretty compelling argument in support of their point of view.

Still, it seems impossible that all parties involved can be correct. So I figured I’d talk to each faction and see if I could figure out if there’s some core truth underneath all the impassioned rhetoric.

Continue reading The Danny Smith Paradox