Chris Cooley, the sometimes out-spoken starting tight-end for the Redskins is at it again.
Cooley, speaks honestly – which I have no problem with, and generally doesn’t say out-landish or off-the-wall, but his latestas a guest on the “NFL Network” is confusing to say the least, and lacks a little bit of rational thought in my opinion.
Cooley’s comments on the Redskins quarterback situation, are summed up nicely here http://bit.ly/jRIF0Tvia CSNWashington.com – and while I understand he is speaking with some uncertainty as to what will shake out after the labor situation is resolved, the biggest issue I have – really has very little to do with that.
Cooley said, “You can definitely look at John (Beck) and say he’s No.1, but that’s basically a process of elimination. He’s the only guy on the roster. Obviously, we’re going to have to bring someone else in.”
Prior to that, Cooley talked accurately about Rex Grossman wanting to be back and participating in the players-only practices, as well as the bleak future for Donovan McNabb.
I get all of that – however – what I don’t get is this. Cooley’s comments come off making Beck look bad – even though I am sure that was not Cooley’s intentions.
It makes it look like the Redskins are desperate (maybe they are) and that Beck is only getting a chance because it is a hopeless situation. In other words, the quarterback situation is a disaster.
The other issue and my focus – is Cooley saying “obviously, we’re going to have to bring someone else in.”
Cooley explained further on ‘NFL Network,’ saying “obviously, they passed on a lot of guys that they had a chance to draft, so either they really like John Beck and RexGrossman or they have someone else in mind.”
OK then, as Cooley said – package ‘A’ is the “Rexy and Becksy” tag-team duo, and that obviously is understandable and makes complete sense.Everybody knows the Redskins will have to provide Beck with a legitimate challenger, and the one that makes the most sense is Grossman. It’s not what the fans want, but it’s the most realistic.
The other scenario is, Cooley said the Redskins might have to bring in a veteran quarterback that is a free-agent, like a Matthew Hasselbeck or a Marc Bulger type.
Working with that theory – I just don’t get it. The Redskins can not afford to bring in a veteran quarterback, a mercenary, a hired gun – with any intention of playing him during the early part of the season. Can they?
It backfired miserably last year, when Donovan McNabb clearly could not get comfortable with the offensive terminology and the execution of Kyle and Mike Shanahan’s system.
Cooley admitted that as well, saying in part, “it was apparent right away, it was going to be a big job for him to take on.”
I agree completely with that. It was very difficult for McNabb, who was completely lost at times, according to sources inside the organization.With that being the truth, how in the world could anyone – least of all – Mike Shanahan - want to go potentially through that again?
Keep in mind, the new quarterback would have no off-season or organized team activities to learn and digest the system. Donovan McNabb struggled with the terminology and execution with a full off-season (mini-camps, OTA’s, etc)
Taking it one step further – if the Shanahan’s brought in a new signal-caller – they would basically be saying “anybody can pick up this system, it’s not hard at all” and that would really make McNabb look terrible.
It would also be a huge mistake. Sorry, I don’t believe that Donovan McNabb was an idiot and couldn’t learn the system. I have talked with Rex Grossman and John Beck at length and it takes months of practicing and studying to really get a good grasp of it.
Beck, told me in January – he would feel much more comfortable with the system if he had a complete off-season with it, and that’s basically what Rex said as well.
Rex did have that after being with Kyle Shanahan in Houston in 2009 and then following the offensive coordinator to Washington, which gave Grossman a huge advantage. Beck still has not had anything close, arriving during training camp last August and obviously doing whatever he can on his own during the last few months.
So are Beck and Rex slow in picking up the system as well? Or is it legitimate to think it takes a while to be comfortable? I could be wrong – but I think everyone on the Redskins offense that was here last year – will benefit greatly this season, because they are more comfortable with every facet of the scheme.
For those that are clamoring for a new veteran quarterback, you have to think about the risks involved. If you are bringing in a proven guy, you are not signing him to slowly develop.
Mike Shanahan was able to do that with John Beck, a guy he coveted out of BYU – because he valued Beck differently then Baltimore or Miami – under Bill Parcells did.
If Shanahan brings in competition that is unfamiliar with the scheme – you put yourself in a position to grow slowly or even get worse.
A distinct possibility, if you think rationally – like I hope I am doing.
So that's what it is supposed to look like. Alright - maybe that's a huge reach, but at least it was something.The Redskins held a players-only practice at anundisclosed Northern Virginia location on Tuesday and had over 40 players (old and new) attend.
It was the first of three sessions this week -- and it felt like training camp (kind of) because of the early morning heat.
That's about the only comparisons you can make when it comes to what Redskins players tried to do on their own, as opposed to what normally happens this time of the year.
No helmets, no shells, obviously no pads, no jerseys, and perhaps -- more important -- no coaches.
I'll seperate this post, in to a few categories. The impressive; the not-so impressive; and a grouping I'll call "how can it get better."
First the impressive -- from Tuesday.
1. Rex Grossman showed good velocity, good spin on his throws, and pretty good accuracy overall -- with no pass rush and a vanilla defense in 7-on-7 situations. Grossman, hooked up with #1 target (for now) Anthony Armstrong in stride on the far side of the field and also hit Brandon Banks on a perfect sideline out route.
2. Fred Davis lost 10 + pounds, and told us he changed his eating habits and doesn't drink alcohol as much. Obviously, he had the one off-season incident a few months ago, so maybe that was the wake up call he needed. Davis caught everything I saw thrown towards him, with the exception of one deep post that he had to stretch out a good deal for.
3. Terrence Austin as usual jumped out to me. I know he is challenged size wise, and might not be as explosive as you would like -- but last year in camp and in the preseason, plus the limited opportunities in the regular season, and again on Tuesday -- the 2nd year UCLA product always does something to make me go hmmmm. In a good way. He catches everything and from my view, always runs polished routes.
Now the "not-so impressive"
1. John Beck - as you may have read already - was throwing some wobbly footballs and looked tired. Perhaps, it was the fact that his flight did not arrive according to Beck until the wee hours of Tuesday morning, from his off-season home in San Diego. On one particular throw, right in front of the assembled media -- Beck threw a ugly duckling that was easily picked off by CB Kevin Barnes.
2. I know they all have their reasons -- but it bothers me and I am sure others -- that Donovan McNabb, Albert Haynesworth, Santana Moss, Carlos Rogers, Phillip Buchanon, OJ Atogwe, LaRon Landry, Trent Williams, Phillip Daniels, Adam Carriker, Reed Doughty, Robert Henson, Nick Sundberg, Graham Gano, Artis Hicks, Jammal Brown, Stephon Heyer, Jarvis Jenkins and Aldrick Robinson (am I missing anyone?) did not make it.
I understand the free agents to some degree, but Rex Grossman and Rocky McIntosh are both in that situation and getting work in.
Vacations I suppose, could have been pre-planned -- but a lot of these players that I mentioned -- did not show up to the first workouts. Some of them have perfectly legitimate family reasons such as Doughty and Carriker, who both became new fathers recently -- but where are the other guys? It's not mandatory obviously, but would have been nice.
Now "how can it get better"
1. If/when the Redskins players do this next month, because the lockout is still in place while we are awaiting the final decision of the 8th circuit,they might want to consider hiring a couple of officials and perhaps, even going so far -- to hire an out-of-work coach or a quarterbacks coach like George Whitfield, who directly worked with Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger. Terry Shea would have been a perfect choice, but he is now assisting the Virginia Destroyers in the UFL. Just a thought.
2. DeMaurice Smith, the so-called NFLPA Executive Director showed up -- and chose not to talk to the media -- but did update the Redskins players the current status of the NFL's labor situation. It would have been nice to give us some time to ask a few questions, but more important --it would be really nice if De Smith spent more time trying to hammer out a new deal, instead of making bombastic statements like he often does or using every bit of leverage to force litigation, instead of negotiation.
Maybe then -- we would be at Redskins Park -- with helmets, shells, jerseys, a full team and oh yeah -- the coaches.
How will the Redskins Quarterback battle play out? Nobody knows for sure, but I'm guessing -- a lot of the decision will be made between 10:30 and 11:30 every morning after practice. (Don't worry, I'll explain)
'Sexy Rexy' or Rex Grossman, took his step up to the plate on Wednesday afternoon, just like John Beck has a few times of late, and hit a home-run.
Good for Grossman, who appeared on the "Sports Fix" on ESPN-980 on Wednesday to chime in on the recently anointed King of Washington DC, John Beck, (I am guilty of it to a large degree) and the "Donovan Disaster" as I like to call it -- along with what he feels his own chances are to be brought back (he is an unrestricted free agent) to the Redskins; as either a starter or a # 2 signal-caller.
Here's my spin -- obviously Rex is more familiar with the terminology of the offense, because he has been absorbed in it for two full years with the benefit of having played three full games at the end of last year, and a full off-season last year, partially in Houston & partially in Washington.
He is supposedly "Kyle's guy" for whatever that means -- where as Beck is thought of -- as "Mike's man" because of how the head coach threw down lavish praise, which was slightly out of character for the normally reserved and measured head coach of the Redskins.
Either way, this is not getting settled now. It's not going to get settled before a new labor agreement, and even if/when -- one of the two distinguishes himself to win the starting job in Week 1 -- it is highly unlikely that ONE guy will take all or most of the snaps. It just isn't going to work that way.
The bottom line is this -- assuming that Grossman resigns -- to which he said "We had positive discussions. My agent had talked to Bruce Allen and things never evolved into a contract, but it was positive. I’m not quite sure what all that means, but I’m assuming it’s all good," we have a major quarterback drama on our hands in training camp.
With the complete zoo and circus that Redskins Park has become over the last two seasons, we really haven't had a true battle for the starting quarterback job in training camp. Donovan McNabb was the clear-cut choice last year, Jason Campbell had a firm grip on the job -- even in Jim Zorn's final year, after the Redskins tried to trade for Jay Cutler and draft Mark Sanchez.
In other words, it's been way too long since we had a quarterback saga in the searing heat. Remember, last year -- the soap opera did not really start until late October and then of course, went full throttle in December.
Grossman was asked on ESPN-980 what he believes and was forthright, "I definitely feel like I’m the starter, but I’m not even signed yet so I’m assuming a lot of things here."
The bottom-line is no decision is going to be made by Mike Shanahan for a long time. He might be leaning towards Beck, at least publicly, but the proof should be in the pudding.
The Redskins probably will have four pre-season games to get a good look -- and the job will probably go to the best and most consistent performer.
However, don't be fooled by just what you see in the games. Obviously -- what Mike and Kyle Shanahan see in practice will count just as much, if not more then what you will see on your TV.
Last training camp, Shanahan would go back and pour over the 'main' practice tape from the morning session to gather his thoughts and get a better feel for what he saw with his eyes -- before even speaking with the media.
If you don't think this staff takes every snap (public and not public) seriously - you are nuts. The decision is very likely to be befuddling one way or the other -- when it is made for Week 1. The reason I say that -- is it probably will come down to something technical that even the trained every day eye of the media does not see, or something hidden in the tape.
For my two cents - I believe that Grossman has the slight edge going in too camp, because of his experience overall in the NFL, playing time last year and extensive familiarity with the terminology of Kyle Shanahan's offense.
I think there is a better then even chance that Grossman actually IS the man under center when the Redskins finally play for real, hopefully on September 11.
However, my guess is - Rex who has always struggled taking care of the football -- if you combine interceptions and fumbles -- along with his lack of mobility and an offense that will take a while to gel (because of young receivers and running backs) -- will NOT be the starter after the Redskins visit the St. Louis Rams in early October, and then hit the bye week.
That's when the John Beck era, for better or worse, begins.
**Congrats all around to Redskins Safety Reed Doughty who published the following on his twitter account Wednesday; "RT @doughty37 :Baby boy 3 is here. Samuel James Doughty. 8lb 7oz born 4:05pm. Both mom and baby are healthy, praise God!"
**Also - the #16 pick overall and the Redskins choice to book-end on the pass rush with Brian Orakpo -- Ryan Kerrigan had a pretty good day on the golf course. Kerrigan tweeted the following; "RT @RyanKerrigan94 - Just aced hole #7 at the Players' Club in Muncie! HOLE IN ONE!!!! #ACE!!! http://yfrog.com/h3akuekj
**Hope to see everybody at the 4th Annual "True Heroes" Charity Golf Tournament on Thursday at Evergreen Country Club in Haymarket, VA. The event, benefits the great people at the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation (www.purpleheart.org). I will be co-hosting the "Sports Reporters" show with Andy Pollin from 4-7. Can't wait! If you can't be with us in person for this great event, please listen right here on www.espn980.com
Even though we are yet to hit mid-May or free agency (as of this moment) it's never too early to speculate and fuel the debate of what the 2011 Washington Redskins Opening Day starting lineup and 53-man roster will look like.
I have been on the 'beat' for two years -- and the organization's record during that time -- a not so sparkling (10-22) in the regular season. YUK.
So, with the help of a creative imagination, some fearless forecasting, and perhaps an ounce of common sense, here is my best attempt at being Mike Allen or Bruce Shanahan or hell, just a guy who is always trying to think about things before they happen.
*Warning - This is similar to the "Sports Fix" segment, "You Heard It Here First" which Kevin and Thom do so well on ESPN -980 from Noon to 2 PM weekdays.
As a result - I am trying to predict -- some bold, daring things that MIGHT happen, combined with trying to be realistic. Not always easy, but I'll give it my best shot.
Because it is undetermined as to what the eventual free-agency system rules will be, I am using the current system in place -- where only free agents with six accrued season are unrestricted. In at least one case, I am projecting free agents that are likely to leave based on scheme fit & reported information -- regardless of the system in place.
As I look into my not so shiny crystal ball -- here is how I see the Redskins starting lineup & full roster, looking on Opening Day 2011; scheduled for September 11, 2011 vs. the New York Giants at Fed Ex Field.
OFFENSE: (Traditional Pro-Style 2 WR formation) (Starters in BOLD)
QB - John Beck , Rex Grossman (2)
RB - Ryan Torain, Keiland Williams, Roy Helu Jr., Evan Royster (4)
FB - Mike Sellers, Darrel Young (2)
TE - Chris Cooley, Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen (3)
WR - Anthony Armstrong, Leonard Hankerson, Niles Paul, Terrence Austin, Brandon Banks, Aldrick Robinson (6)
OL - LT - Trent Williams; LG - Kory Lichtensteiger; OC Casey Rabach; RG - Will Montgomery RT - Jammal Brown; Ryan Harris*****; Erik Cook; Artis Hicks; Stephon Heyer. (9) - Practice Squad OL - Maurice Hurt, Selvish Capers, Clint Oldenburg
DL - DE - Adam Carriker; NT - Abrayo Franklin**; DE- Jarvis Jenkins; Vonnie Holliday, Anthony Bryant, Jeremy Jarmon, Kedric Golston, Phillip Daniels (8)Practice Squad: Chris Neild, Markus White
LB - OLB - Brian Orakpo; ILB- London Fletcher; ILB - Perry Riley; OLB - Ryan Kerrigan; Lorenzo Alexander, Chris Wilson, Robert Henson, Rob Jackson (8)
DB - RCB - Ike Taylor**; LCB - DeAngelo Hall; SS - LaRon Landry; FS - OJ Atogwe; SCB - Kevin Barnes; Byron Westbrook, Reed Doughty, DeJon Gomes, (8) Prac Squad/PUP - Anderson Russell , Brandyn Thompson
PK - Graham Gano, P - Brad Maynard**, LS - Nick Sundberg (3)
26 - Offense +
24 - Defense +
3 Specialists = 53
**Signed as Unrestricted Free Agents, because they have more 6 accrued seasons.
*****Signed a restricted/unrestricted free agent - partially because Denver has reportedly decided not to bring him back under either system, per published reports.
Projected Current Redskins from 53-man roster/IR last year predicted to not make 2011 Week 1 roster...
They must love John Beck. That's the obvious answer to the Skins' decision to pass on a quarterback in the draft. However, deep breath....I'm not jumping completely to that conclusion quite yet. Shanahan had glowing remarks yesterday when asked about Beck. "Highest rated quarterback on my board in 2007. I've got a lot of confidence in John Beck." He also said that they have a quarterback plan that he won't discuss but all options are open including free agency and undrafted rookie free agency. Shanahan is a tough read so let's consider the facts we know to be true and then speculate on the rest of it.
Fact...they traded for Beck and gave him a longer-term deal than the one he had. Fact...Shanahan said he was the highest rated QB on his Denver board in 2007. Fact...Shanahan emphasised that he has all the things you look for including "loves football" and "first guy in, last to leave" and "gives you something with his 4.65 speed that others don't". Fact...he's the only QB on the roster that is likely to be here next year that is currently under contract. Fact....they didn't draft a quarterback with 12 opportunites to do so!
Speculation...their plan all along was to sign someone in free agency, maybe Marc Bulger. Speculation....their plan all along was to take Locker or Ponder at #10 or further back after trading down but they didn't have the chance to do it when Tennessee took Locker and Minnesota shocked everyone by taking Ponder at #12. Speculation....their plan all along was to take Dalton or Kapernick in the 2nd round at #41 or trade up if they had to but no trades were available. Speculation....Grossman is their guy. Speculation....McNabb is coming back (no chance). Speculation....they didn't like any of the quarterbacks in this draft, they don't like any free agents so they'll go with Grossman or Beck in 2011 and select a QB next year when the draft is expected be QB-rich with Luck, Barkley, Landry, etc.
It's wait and see time. Next up, free agency whenever it happens and the conclusion to the McNabb saga. We'll know much more by then.
Picture this -- September 11, 2011, Fed Ex Field in Landover - not far from the Pentagon on the 10-year anniversary of a day that will live in infamy, but a day that -- perhaps -- made us stronger.
The New York Giants taking on the Washington Redskins. The weather hopefully will be great, a mostly national TV audience will open the year on FOX at 4:15, with in all likely hood, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. You will hopefully have the Redskins Radio Network locked in on ESPN 980, 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM - this website -- SIRIUS XM -- a radio network affiliate, whatever & however you have to do it.
Eli Manning will be under-center taking snaps for the Giants, as they try and get back into the NFL playoffs and save Tom Coughlin's job, but just who will be the Quarterback for the home team?
Donovan McNabb? Highly unlikely. A rookie draft pick named Locker, or Newton or Mallett? Very doubtful. Rex Grossman? Very possibly -- the safest option. Kind of. Alright, who are we kidding. Safe and 'Sexy Rexy' does not exactly flow together like peaches-and-cream.
One name -- that doesn't exactly jump off your tongue, that can not be discounted by any means is -- brace yourself Redskins Nation -- is John Beck.
&^%&(* #$%@! -- is what your saying right now. I know, I know. However, just calm down and take a deep breath.
Look -- it's not like I am saying Beck would start over Peyton Manning here. It's not exactly like the Redskins have many good options, so why not Beck?
He's responsible, extremely intelligent, athletic, super-diligent and has a monster chip on his shoulder to prove you and everyone wrong.
You've heard that before -- and all athletes for the most part -- believe in themselves and use motivational techniques to power their performance. I get all that.
However, with Beck -- I get a different feel, that I never saw in Jason Campbell. Or Donovan McNabb. I see it a little bit with Rex Grossman. Colt Brennan had a touch of it. It's a swaggar, a confidence without being cocky, or arrogant.
"I want to be the guy. In my head, that's the way I'm preparing and that's the way I'm planning. Rex knows that," Beck told a group of media that attended the Redskins players-only workout at a Northern Virginia high school field on Wednesday.
He's more talented then he gets credit for. I think Mike Shanahan and Kyle Shanahan know a little something about the quarterback position. At least their track record suggests that they do - despite last year's "Donovan Disaster."
Beck, was a high (40th overall) 2nd round pick in 2007, who never got a true chance in Miami -- because of sweeping regime changes.
Beck, wound up back with Cam Cameron -- who drafted him with the Dolphins, in Baltimore -- stuck behind Joe Flacco.
Last August, Mike Shanahan finally got a guy he coveted -- going all the way back to his BYU days. The Redskins traded DOUG DUTCH (Who?) for a player that could possibly start in Week 1 and with some improved play around him, lead the Redskins to at least a respectible start and 2011 season.
Is it that far-fetched to buy in? I don't think so. I'm still very much aboard the Colin Kaepernick bandwagon and believe strongly the Redskins will address the QB position in the first two rounds a week from now.
However, that doesn't mean Beck can't play. It also doesn't mean that Beck has lost the confidence of the coaching staff. Very much the opposite, based on what I hear at Redskins Park.
The Redskins traded for him, signed him to an extension and promoted him as the # 2 quarterback ahead of Donovan McNabb late in the regular season -- for whatever that means.
Beck is very comfortable after a full regular season and a small part of the pre-season with the terminology and language of Kyle Shanahan's offense, despite not being able to actually work on it in a team practice session, since January.
"I don't feel behind right now. This entire off-season -- I've been reviewing tape, going over scripts. I feel comfortable," said Beck.
The night the season ended - January 2nd - at his locker, I spent about a half-hour just talking football with Beck, and diagnosing where he was in his comfort with the scheme and terminology, knowing full well that he would at the very minimum have a chance to compete for the starters job.
I walked away -- thinking at the very minimum the guy gets it. You could see it, you could hear it with football terminology and reasoning that served as my proof.
Wednesday, after he met with a group of media -- and went through a players-only workout -- I got a chance to pick his brain even more for well over an hour.
We talked about his career, life, his goals and why he thinks he can succeed. I don't think he would mind (at least I hope he doesn't) if I shared with you something pretty interesting.
He's read his Head Coach Mike Shanahans book "Think Like a Champion" twice. Why? Because he wants to think like the Redskins czar of football operations, and he wants to know what seperates one player from another.
The book he's currently reading, one of the late great Bill Walsh's books. Why? Not only because Walsh was one of the great coaches in our lifetime -- and the man who made the West Coast offense what it is -- but also because he knows that a lot of what Shanahan preaches about men, football and life -- is rooted from Walsh.
And then there is this -- he works out regularly in the off-season with some pretty good guys to learn and get better from. When asked who they were on Wednesday -- I think we were all somewhat surprised to hear the answer.
"Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers," said Beck to the group of invited reporters. "Pretty good company," Beck added.
Here's something we didn't know just to add to the mix. Beck has been working out with Brees for a few years, after things dissolved with the Bill Parcells led - Dolphins regime. He told us, what he told Brees "I called Drew and said, Hey - I want to do everything you do. I'm trying to get to where you are at."
"After the next off-season, I decided I have one opportunity in life to be a starting quarterback for an NFL team and to try and win a Super Bowl," Beck told us.
Maybe - just maybe that chance will come beginning on September 11th, under center for the Washington Redskins.