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Antonio Pierce Should Shut Up

Antonio Pierce Should Shut Up

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

After three seasons in and out of the lineup, linebacker Antonio Pierce had a breakout season in 2004, nearly making the Pro Bowl with the Redskins. Pierce’s timing was excellent, as he became an unrestricted free agent after the season. After considering a competitive offer from the Redskins, the team he broke into the league with as an undrafted rookie in 2001, he decided to sign with the New York Giants.

The Redskins were sorry to lose him and said so at the time. "It's one of those things that you don't want to have happen," Joe Gibbs said when asked about Pierce leaving Washington. "Antonio played great for us last year. We would have loved to have gotten him re-signed. We went as far as we could go, but it just didn't work out. I hate [losing Pierce].”

The other coaches and many of the players expressed similar sentiments. And that was that—from the Redskins end of things. Pierce, however, has yet to put the whole thing behind him. At the time of his signing, he said that he was “shocked” that the Redskins didn’t step up their offer to match the one the Giants’ gave him. Apparently, the Giants thought that linebacker with on year of starting experience—a very good year, no doubt—was worth $6.5 million in guaranteed money and the Redskins, apparently to Pierce’s chagrin, did not.

Players often use such perceived slights as motivation and, certainly, there is nothing wrong with that. Pierce, however, has taken his grudge to another level. It’s one thing to take your issues with our old team out on that team as Pierce did in the Giants’ 36-0 rout of Washington last October. It’s another to take them to the press.

In comments in an article from the Star-Ledger in New Jersey, Pierce took the occasion of talking to reporters about his trumpeting of LaVar Arrington’s virtues to the Giants organization to take a few shots at the Redskins
"This organization's not the same as the Redskins," Pierce said. "It's not (about) the entertainment and the marketing side of it. It's all about football. It's about winning, and it's a family atmosphere around here. He's not going to wake up tomorrow and the whole staff and everybody in this organization is going to be gone. I think he felt good about that.
Let’s start from the ending first. Uh, Antonio, I hate to tell you this, but the Giants fire coaches, too. Many of the guys you now play with woke up one morning and found out that Jim Fassel had been fired. The fact that you went through that twice does not make you unique among NFL players. And, hate to tell you this too, but the odds are that before the remaining five years on your contract are done there is a pretty good chance that there will be another coaching change on the team you play for.

And is change always such a negative thing? A fair-minded person would have to say that the last coaching change in Washington was one for the better. Under Joe Gibbs and Gregg Williams, Pierce got the opportunity to earn his $6.5 million payday a year ago. Perhaps Pierce would rather the Redskins had stuck with Steve Spurrier and George Edwards. Had that happened, the odds are that he would have hit the free agent market hoping for as much as a six-figure signing bonus.

And yes, the Redskins used to be more concerned about “the entertainment and marketing side of it.” Pierce used to be a player who nobody though enough of to draft. He used to be a rookie who had no clue where to line up or where you should drop to in zone coverage.

The key words, of course, are “used to be”. Daniel Snyder, in hiring Gibbs to run the organization, has demonstrated that he has the Redskins on track to be an NFL organization committed to winning. Pierce has now demonstrated that he is a very competent NFL player. Nobody mentions the mistakes in the early days and his inability to first crack the ranks of college players who were drafted and then his inability to hold down a starting job on a mediocre defensive team for three years. All’s well that ends well except, apparently, in Pierce’s view when it comes to the Redskins.

If Pierce would check the ledger, he’d find that the Redskins won just as many games as the Giants did last year, and went a round further in the playoffs. Guess it was all that marketing that did it, Antonio? Have to say, though, that it was pretty entertaining.

When Pierce was with the Redskins, he was noted for his chatter on the field. In those circumstances such talk was positive, directing the defense and encouraging his teammates. The chatter he’s spouting out now, however, directed at the team that gave him his chance in the NFL to begin with and was responsible for putting him in a position to burst onto the scene and command a big payday, is beneath someone who plays for a class organization and who wants to be considered among the elite players in the game.

If Pierce holds a grudge against the Redskins, that’s fine. But he needs to shut up and let his play twice a year do the talking.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book chronicles every game the Redskins played from when they arrived in Washington in 1937 through the 2001 season. To get more details, visit http://www.RedskinsGames.com

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Redskins interviewed Greg Manusky for defensive coordinator

Redskins interviewed Greg Manusky for defensive coordinator

The Redskins interviewed current outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky for their defensive coordinator opening, the team announced yesterday.  

Manusky has a long history with the Redskins organization. He served as outside linebackers coach this past season, and was also linebackers coach back in the 2001 season. In his playing days, Manusky was a Redskins linebacker from 1988 to 1990. 

He has held three separate defensive coordinator positions in his coaching career, including with the San Francisco 49ers (2007-2010), San Diego Chargers (2011) and Indianapolis Colts (2012-2015).

For more on his defensive philosophy and background, check out Rich Tandler's profile of Manusky

The Redskins have confirmed four interviews for the defensive coordinator position: Manusky, Rob Ryan, Gus Bradley and Mike Pettine

MORE REDSKINS: Projecting the Redskins' 2017 roster—Defense

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Projecting the Redskins' 2017 roster—Defense

Projecting the Redskins' 2017 roster—Defense

The Redskins are looking at potential free agents and continuing with the draft process as they try to move team from residing in the middle of the pack in the NFL to becoming annual contenders to go deep into the playoffs. The process is all about trying to build a solid 53-man depth chart. Let’s get out the crystal ball and see what that depth chart might look like.

Earlier this week we looked at the offense; today the defense is up. Although there could be a change to a 4-3 base defense in the making depending on who the coordinator is, we’ll line them up in a 3-4 until there is word to the contrary.

*Pending unrestricted free agent

Defensive line

Starters: Chris Baker*, draft pick/free agent X 2
Backups: Matt Ioannidis, Ricky Jean Francois, Anthony Lanier

It seems that Baker wants to stay and give that the Redskins would be starting their D-line virtually from scratch without him the chances of coming up with a deal seem strong. I will spend the entire 99 days between now and the draft saying that it’s not a given that they will take a defensive lineman, or any defensive player, with their top draft pick. But someone like Malik McDowell of Michigan State sure would fit in well here along with a free agent like Bennie Logan of the Eagles. The organization will be looking for leaps forward from Ioannidis and Lanier.

Related: Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Jason Tarver

Outside linebacker

Starters: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith
Backups: Junior Galette, Trent Murphy, Lynden Trail

Although nothing is certain until pen is put to paper, the chances of Galette giving it another go after two torn Achilles in two years are strong. Trail and Houston Bates will battle for a fifth spot, if there is one. Given Smith’s inconsistency and the uncertainty of Galette’s health it wouldn’t be surprising to see them draft an edge rusher.

Inside linebacker

Starters: Will Compton, free agent
Backups: Martrell Spaight, Mason Foster, draft pick

I’m putting Compton there in dry erase marker, not in Sharpie. They love his leadership and work ethic but he must make more plays. I have a free agent starting beside him because it’s a tough position for a rookie to learn. But if they spend a high draft pick that player could jump into a starting job quickly.  Foster moves into the nickel role that he performed well after Su’a Cravens went out with an injury. Steven Daniels, a 2016 seventh-round pick who spent the year on injured reserve, could push Spaight for a job.

Cornerback

Starters: Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar
Backups: Kendall Fuller (nickel), Tharold Simon, free agent/draft pick

This could go in a lot of different directions. The only spot set in stone is Norman’s. I have Bashaud Breeland moving to safety, which is something of a speculative hot take. If they make that move, they could spend a high draft pick or substantial free agent money on a corner or they could stay in-house with Dunbar or Fuller. Simon could make the team and contribute or he could be cut.

More Redskins: An early look at first-round draft possibilities

Safety

Starters: Su’a Cravens, Bashaud Breeland
Backups: Will Blackmon, Deshazor Everett, draft pick

Safeties are hard to find. In college, potentially good safeties gravitate towards cornerback, where the NFL money is better. If a good one hits the free agent market, the laws of supply and demand push the price up beyond the value of the position. For those reasons, the Redskins might try Breeland at safety. Some in the organization have believed for a couple of years that safety is his best position. Cravens announced that he would be moving to safety so that change is firm. Duke Ihenacho, who is a free agent, could be back but I think he moves along. Blackmon is a good veteran reserve who can play nickel also. Even though he made a key interception when forced into duty against the Eagles, it still seems that they don’t trust Everett at safety and perhaps a mid-round pick will replace him.

Specialists: LS Nick Sundberg*, P Tress Way, PK Dustin Hopkins

I predict that Sundberg will be the first of the team’s pending free agents to agree to a contract. Hopkins may get some camp competition but it is unlikely to be of more than the token variety.

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