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Change in the air?

Change in the air?

There was a lot of talk of change in the air at Redskins Park over the last few days. At his season-wrap up presser, Jim Zorn indicated that there would be changes.

But he also said that there wasn't much of anything that he wanted to change.

He likes his quarterback, his offense, his job duties, his coaching staff, and his older players. The current player personnel structure, headed up by Vinny Cerrato, will stay intact.

Presumably there would be a major debate if someone wanted to change the carpet on the stairs at Redskins Park.

The team should stay the course in some areas. Staying with the same offense and the same quarterback for another offseason is a good idea. It would be good to see Zorn become more imaginative in his play calling but that will come as the team settles in. We've gone back and forth about Jason Campbell here but he's the man with no competition and we'll have to see what happens. I'd like to see a more solid Plan B in place than Todd Collins, who is too old, and Colt Brennan, who is too inexperienced. Perhaps letting Collins go and bringing in an experienced West Coast QB like Chris Simms would be the way to go here.

The offensive backs are likely to remain the same. Portis got $20 million in guarantees a year ago so he's not going anywhere. There will be some noise about trading Ladell Betts but that probably won't happen. Rock Cartwright is the special teams' Mr. Everything and Mike Sellers is a deserving Pro Bowl pick at fullback (just don't give him the ball at the goal line).

There may be some minor shuffling at WR—will a 34-year-old James Thrash be able to contribute enough on special teams to justify using a receiver slot? Other than that, any changes will come from increased (meaning any) production from Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly.

The offensive line may or may not get the upgrade that it needs. There is talk of Pete Kendall, an unrestricted free agent, returning. He'll be 36 by the time next season starts. I like the guy and I'll always respect him for standing in front of his locker after the Rams game and taking every question from every reporter. But it's time to move on.

Is it time for Jon Jansen to move on? He shouldn't start, that's for sure. There would be a net cap hit of about $6 million ($1 million higher than I previously estimated). In 2009 his salary is "only" $1.3 million, a number you can justify for a backup. The foolishly-paid guaranteed money is water under the bridge and it may be better to wait until 2010 to release him. That may be an uncapped year and even if it's not the hit will not sting quite as much.

At some point there has to be a youth movement on the O-line. They took Chad Reinhart in the third round last year and they need to see what they have there. Can Stephon Heyer develop the consistency and the run-blocking ability necessary to become a solid starter? If those two can start, that's a 40% injection of youth into the aging unit. If a starting center can be found in the third round of the draft, that's 60%.

On the other side of the ball, there isn't much wrong that can't be solved with a big, mean defensive tackle creating havoc in the middle of the line. That would help the ends get better pass pressure, which would, in turn, help the defensive backs play more aggressively and maybe get more than the occasional interception here and there.

Albert Haynesworth of the Titans fills the bill but he's going to demand a ton of money. It's a bit too early to say what might be available at pick #13 along those lines since the juniors haven't yet declared but I have to think that there would be a quality DT there.

Talk of trading Carlos Rogers is foolish. Shawn Springs has to go, along with his $8 million cap number (the net cap savings would be around $6 million). Give DeAngelo Hall a reasonable contract and let Rogers play in the last year of his deal. If there is no new CBA in 2010, he'll be a restricted free agent. There has been a debate on the message boards about whether to pay Hall or Rogers. As neither is going to warrant a monster contract, I'm not sure why it has to be an either/or situation.

 

 

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. announces retirement from NASCAR after 2017

Dale Earnhardt Jr. announces retirement from NASCAR after 2017

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

One of the longest eras in NASCAR will come to an end concluding the 2017 season.

Early on Tuesday morning, Hendrick Motorsports announced that 18-year veteran, longtime Redskins fan and popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. would retire at the conclusion of the current season.

Earnhardt, son of the late legendary seven-time champion, Dale Earnhardt Sr., told his No. 88 team members before the organization released the news.

Last season, the 42-year-old missed the final 18 races of the NASCAR season due to a concussion. The injury resulted in a 32nd place finish in the NASCAR standings and it was the first time he missed the association's 'playoffs' since 2010. 

Throughout his long career, Earnhardt captured 26 race wins, two being the elusive Daytona 500 in 2004 and 2014. Due to the legendary status of his father, he never quite lived up to the level many placed on the Earnhardt family name. His win total is roughly a third of his father's and has not won a championship. Best career points finish for Earnahrdt was third in 2003, and finished fifth three times (2004, 2006, 2013). Starting in 603 total races, he has finished in the top 10 in nearly half of those races, 253 times.

Despite the lack of a championship, he was named NASCAR's most popular driver 14 times, trailing only Bill Elliott who won that honor 16 seasons. 

RELATED: EARNHARDT FORCED TO RACE IN EAGLES-THEMED CAR

At the end of 2017, Earnhardt's contract with Hendrick Motorsports was set to expire after 10 seasons with NASCAR's most successful team. Prior to his tenure with Hendrick, he was a part of Dale Earnhardt Inc. for eight years where he won 17 of his total 26 race wins. 

Currently, Earnhardt is 24th in the NASCAR standings, 50 points behind the cut-off for the final playoff spot. There are still 18 races remaining in the season for him to make up the ground with some of his best tracks still on the docket. In addition, a win would boost Earnhardt up into a playoff spot due to NASCAR's playoff system. 

With Earnhardt Jr. retiring, there will be one Earnhardt remaining in the Monster Energy Cup Series to carry the family name. Grandson of Dale Earnhardt Sr., and nephew of Jr., Jeffery Earnhardt is a regular in the series. 

Hendrick Motorsports announced in their release that they will not name a replacement for Earnhardt Jr. just yet. During his 18-race absence in 2016, he was replaced by a young prospect, Alex Bowman and four-time series champion Jeff Gordon.

It is anticipated either Bowman or 19-year-old William Byron, who Rick Hendrick signed to an Xfinity Series contract last season, will take his place. 

As a lifetime fan of the Washington football team, Earnhardt has been known to put his opinion of the team out there.

He was not happy with how the team handled Scot McCloughan situation, and publicly voiced his support of Kirk Cousins

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One significant stat that separates Christian McCaffery from Dalvin Cook

One significant stat that separates Christian McCaffery from Dalvin Cook

Football coaches hate fumbles, and Jay Gruden is no different. Remember that Matt Jones had established himself as the Redskins lead running back despite persistent fumbling issues his first two years in the NFL. That was until a goal line fumble Week 7 in Detroit. Jones never played again in 2016. 

Fast forward to Thursday night's NFL Draft, and the buzz surrounding the Redskins interest in Florida State running back Dalvin Cook and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey could all boil down to fumbles.

Both Cook and McCaffrey visited Redskins Park, and both players possess the speed and game-breaking ability that could deliver big returns to the Washington offense. Since the NFL Combine, McCaffrey has emerged as the higher draft pick.

Their college statistics are fairly similar. Both players went for more than 5,000 total yards in three college seasons. The size is similar too, Cook gets listed at 6-foot, 209 lbs., while McCaffrey gets listed at 5-foot-11 and 203 lbs.

One area that's quite different: Fumbles. 

An average NFL running back fumbles once every 100 carries. Rich Tandler researched an incredible stat about the two players:

  • McCaffrey averages one fumble every 243 carries.
  • Cook averages one fumble every 63 carries. 

The difference is staggering. And it could be enough to keep the 'Skins away from Cook at 17.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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