MCM preview part II: Miles 14-26.2

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MCM preview part II: Miles 14-26.2

Continued from MCM preview: Miles 1-13

Boom! By this point you're half way to the Finish Festival! Pick up Mile 14 on your way out of Hains Point and get ready for some big crowds and beautiful views of the National Mall.

You'll catch a glimpse of the Jefferson Memorial as you round the Tidal Basin and pass the Mile 15 marker. From here you'll make your way to the National Mall: a five-mile stretch of great fans and great views. Your trip down Independence Avenue includes the Lincoln Memorial after Mile 16 and the Washington Monument just beyond Mile 17.  Just a half mile later you'll enter the MCM Gauntlet at 14th Street and Madison Drive --the first of two time requirements. Marathoners must reach this point by 12:20 p.m. lest they be diverted to an unofficial course.

As you make your way through the Gauntlet you'll pass some of the nation's premier museums, the U.S. Capitol building and the Smithsonian Castle while moving through perhaps the longest stretch of spectators along the race course. Turning back down Jefferson Drive look out for plenty of photographers stationed along the course and even lying in the street to catch the perfect shot of you with the Capitol backdrop. You'll also find the third food station, Jelly Belly Sport Beans, between Miles 18 and 19.

When you exit the Gauntlet and take a left onto 14th Street towards the bridge of the same name, you'll pass the second time requirement at Mile 20: Beat the Bridge. In order to complete the race you need to reach this point by 1:05 p.m., which means maintaining at least a 14 minute/mile pace.  You're so close.  Remember that.  Because the next two miles are going to be lonely as you cross the bridge back into Virginia and make your way down the exit ramps to Crystal City.

You'll be 22 miles in when you reach Crystal City, which features a new 1.5 mile loop this year.  Some of the most colorful and enthusiastic fans line Crystal Drive as they cheer you on before your final push to the finish. To make your home stretch a little sweeter Dunkin Donuts will be set up at Mile 24.  Munchkins of the pumpkin, jelly-filled, chocolate, cinnamon and glazed varieties will be available for runners, inspiring jealously in all spectators nearby.

In your final two miles you'll pass the Pentagon and the MCM Start and continue on as the roar of the Finish Line crowd grows louder in your charge toward the Iwo Jima and U.S. Marine Corps War Memorials. Be prepared for one last hill between the 26th mile and the finish line --the MCM course designer seems to have a cruel sense of humor.

Congratulations: you've just finished the 37th Marine Corps Marathon!  Grab your medal and enjoy the Finish Festival!

Be sure to check back here after the race to see yourself cross the Finish Line.

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Report: Cousins won't sign with Redskins before getting tagged

Report: Cousins won't sign with Redskins before getting tagged

There may not be much drama when the March 1 franchise tag deadline comes around. It appears that a Kirk Cousins tag is inevitable.

According to a Pro Football Talk report, Cousins will not sign a long-term deal prior getting tagged by the Redskins. PFT cited a source with knowledge of the situation.

This is not exactly a surprising report. The situation has seemed to be destined to reach this point since minutes after the Redskins’ final game of the season when Cousins, whose one-year franchise tag deal expired when the game ended, was asked if he wanted to remain in Washington.

 “It’s really not my decision to make,” he said. “They chose to tag me and the same is true this year, so if they don’t choose to tag me then I think that question is answered at that point, but right now the ball’s not in my court.”

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

Actually, the ball is in his court; he could instruct his agent to hammer out the best deal he can get to stay in Washington and then sign it. But apparently, he will choose the tag, a solid business decision for a number of reasons.

For one thing, if he gets tagged and quickly signs the tender as he did last year he would guarantee a salary of $23.94 million, a 20 percent raise over the $19.95 million he earned last year. If he plays out the season on the tag he would be virtually guaranteed of never getting tagged again since such a move would give him a 44 percent raise over his previous year’s cap number. The number is designed to make a third tag cost prohibitive and it does.

For the team’s part, there have been scattered reports that some in the Redskins organization pushed for letting Cousins hit the open market and letting his value be determined there. But that changed after Kyle Shanahan, the Redskins’ offensive coordinator for the first two years of Cousins’ career and a big Cousins fan, became the head coach of the 49ers. There is no question that San Francisco would make a strong play for Cousins and the most likely scenario now is that the will tag him.

More Redskins: Under the radar issues

Where does this go after Cousins is tagged? The Redskins would have until July 15 to sign him to a long-term contract. It would still take a strong offer for the team to keep Cousins around for the long term.

Team president Bruce Allen seems to be optimistic about getting a deal done eventully.

"I don’t think it’s as complicated as everyone wants to make it,” he said earlier this month. “And we’ll get together with his agent, and I’m sure we’ll come to an agreement."

That remains to be seen. The only thing that seems certain in this saga is that it won’t be coming to a resolution any time soon.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Morning tip: Looking back and ahead with Wizards coming out of All-Star break

Morning tip: Looking back and ahead with Wizards coming out of All-Star break

NEW ORLEANS -- The Wizards are the NBA’s most surprising team going into the All-Star break. No one expected them to have 34 wins regardless of how this season shook out, but that was especially true after a 2-8 start. Now that we’re 55 games into an 82-game season -- and with the trade deadline approaching Thursday afternoon -- my takeaways on what's transpired, why and what has to happen next to solidify their standing and advance deep:

-- Bradley Beal has avoided injury. The revamping of the medical staff was headed up by VP Tommy Sheppard and has worked. The system that the Wizards put in place to be more clinical in dealing with how to treat injuries and be more forward-thinking has kept him stress-reaction free in his lower right leg. Beal missed three games with a right thigh strain early in the season and one game after rolling his ankle but he has played 51 of 55. Twenty-three more appearances and he sets a career-high for games played. And this is the healthiest that John Wall has been this deep into a season in several years and he had surgeries to both knees May 5.

-- The evolution of Jason Smith. He was all thumbs when the season started, so much so that Brooks joked that he was starting to question his spot on the roster (pre-emptive strike: It was said in jest so do NOT hastily extract this nugget to fashion into your own blog post that misrepresents the tone). Smith has grown into a fan favorite because of his effort, hustle and energy he brings off the bench. He’s hitting the mid-range jumper when he pops on the pick-and-roll and is flashing some of his underrated athleticism with highlight-reel blocks and dunks diving to the basket. Most nights, he’s the best player off the bench.

-- The second-biggest free-agent acquisition, Andrew Nicholson, is completely out of the rotation. He has the old-man game but appears out of place when the game is played at a faster pace. Nicholson is a bench player so there was no mystery as to what his role would be. But he has accrued 25 DNP-CDs (did not play coach’s decision). Nicholson last played double-digit minutes Jan. 14. Given the length of his contract (four years), moving him will be next to impossible unless the Wizards sacrafice a  draft pick to do so.

-- Wall’s decision-making late in games or at the end of quarters has gone through the roof. He’s had his hero-ball moments but that was early. As his judgment has become more sound, so has everyone else’s. The Wizards late-game execution is a strength and it’s why they’re 11-4 in games decided by six points or less since Dec. 1.

-- The diversity in the offense has taken the ball out of Wall's hands more often but he's actually more productive.  generates 108.1 points per game (seventh). Since Dec. 1 when the turnaround began, the Wizards average 110.4 points (fifth), shoot 49.1%  from the field (second) and 39% from three (tied for second). They're 28-10 in that stretch. For the season, Wall is 15th in the league in passes made per game at 59.8 and third in passes received at 76.3. Last season, Wall made 70.9 passes and recevied 83.9 which was the most per game of any player in the NBA in both categories. He created 24.7 points which was second-best in the league then. By involving more players in the offense, even though Wall handles the ball less to pass and receives fewer passes per game, he's actually averaging more points created at 25.3, second only to James Harden (Rockets).

-- Kelly Oubre has had an up-and-down season, but the 6-7 forward being inserted into the rotation with Otto Porter as the "stretch" option is what led to the surge. So Oubre's stat line (6.2 points, 29.6% three-point shooting) isn't neccessarily indicative of his importance to the Wizards. When he was dispensed to defend Isaiah Thomas in the fourth quarter of the last meeting with the Celtics, it solidified his spot as three-position defender. He held Thomas to four points in the fourth. His 7-2 wingspan and athleticism can't be duplicated anywhere else on the roster.

-- Beal isn’t an All-Star is one thing, but that he received so little respect in the initial voting process was stunning. He was 14th among fans and eighth among media voting. It shouldn’t have come down to a commissioner’s pick as to whether or not he made it. Defensively, he's been the most consistent perimeter defender all season.

-- If Sheldon McClellan or Marcus Thornton has to fill void behind Beal as a scorer, a trade has to happen. Tomas Satoransky has had mixed results, but he's 6-7, starting to be more confident in his shot and can defend because of his size helps him bother smaller guards. To give up on Satoransky would be a mistake because his IQ and effort can't be taught. 

-- Otto Porter’s three-point shooting. That he’d become better with the deep ball isn’t a surprise. He was sub-par for most of last season shooting in the low 30s. Then he raised it to about 37% by season’s end which is better than average. But he’s now almost 10% better and taking a career-high 4.6 three-pointers per game.

-- Brooks is an elite coach. I’ve never been a fan of the logic that states because a coach either didn’t win at a previous stop or didn’t take a team with a lot of talent far enough (see Brooks with the Oklahoma City Thunder) then that coach isn’t a good coach. That’s not how you measure coaches. The same was said about Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat. First, coaching is about much more than what happens during 48 minutes on the court. It has to do with more than Xs and Os. And it has to do with having players who allow themselves to be coached. College basketball is about coaches. It’s their system vs the other coach’s system. The NBA is about players. It’s no coincidence that those who make the most money determine that tone. It was proven in last year’s Western Conference finals that Brooks wasn’t the problem with Oklahoma City. Boxscores don’t necessarily tell you who are the best players in a game. Neither does a coaching record. And Brooks’ was already pretty good.