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Cowboyfan Employs Fuzzy Logic

Cowboyfan Employs Fuzzy Logic


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

Cowboyfan is a strange animal.

Not that your average NFL fanatic is completely rational and sane, mind you. Every fan’s football worldview is taken in through lenses tinted in his favorite team’s colors. But Cowboyfan takes it a couple of steps further. He sees things through what must be silver and blue corneal implants. The colors are so intense that they actually serve as bliders.

For example, according to Cowboyfan, 9-7 Dallas was “really” 13-3 last year. That’s because if their field goal kicker hadn’t missed a kick all year they would have turned some wins into losses. Most kickers miss kicks, of course, but when you’re playing the hypothetical game that Cowboyfan does, the Dallas kicker is supposed to nail every one of them. Usually when someone talks about “woulda, shoulda, coulda” in the Lone Star State, some Texan will sarcastically say that if a frog had wings he wouldn’t whomp his ass every time he jumped. This retort isn’t used, however, when it comes to the Cowboys’ kicker. “If’s” and “but’s” are candy and nuts in Cowboyfan’s merry little fantasyland.

I think that the inflated, conjured-up win total also includes the Thanksgiving Day game that Denver won on an overtime field goal set up by a long run by Ron Dayne. The fact that Dayne made the run, according to Cowboyfan, made the event such a fluke occurrence that it just shouldn’t have counted. Of course Cowboyfan ignores the fact that solid tackling appeared so infrequently in the Dallas secondary that it would be considered a fluke if they had managed to bring Dayne down.

And then there is this illusion that Cowboyfan has that his team has more NFL titles than the Redskins do. They both have five and, the last time I checked, five and five are equal numbers. One five is not more than the other five. But, to Cowboyfan, nothing that happened before they started calling the NFL championship game the Super Bowl counts. Such news would come as a surprise not only to Andy Farkas, Turk Edwards, and Sammy Baugh, who led the Redskins to NFL titles in 1937 and 1942, but to, say, the participants in the 1958 NFL championship game. In the view of Cowboyfan, the overtime tilt between the Giants and Colts was the Greatest Game Never Played because it took place a couple of years prior to the birth of America’s team.

Cowboyfan also like to poke fun at the string of coaches that the Redskins have brought in recently. He conveniently forgets the likes of Chan Gailey and Dave Campo. He laughs out loud at the perceived incompetence of Dan Snyder as an owner while being totally ignorant of the fact that the Redskins have won more games than Jerry Jones’ Cowboys have since Snyder bought the team. Cowboyfan talks as though his team is an NFL powerhouse. Apparently they have an odd definition of “powerhouse”, one that does not include qualifications such as, you know, actually winning a playoff game. This season will mark the 10-yard anniversary of Dallas’ last postseason victory. There’s no word on if Jones is going to commemorate the occasion with a special jersey or a Circle-of-Fame type of ceremony (yes I know that the thing at Texas Stadium isn’t called that, but I do it just because it annoys Cowboyfan so much).

Just when you think that Cowboyfan can’t come up with anything more inane and illogical than what he as concocted out of thin air in the past, he tops himself. Cowboyfan’s new curiosity is some sort of “quality of loss” thing. Basically, Cowboyfan asserts that the Cowboys are demonstrably superior to the Redskins because his team’s opening day loss was somehow “better” than Washington’s. In doing so Cowboyfan’s argument flies in the face of what his own team’s coach has said, that “you are what your record says you are.” But logic certainly never got in the way of Cowboyfan making his point loudly if not very clearly.

Cowboyfan says that since the Jaguars were a playoff team last year and the game was in Jacksonville the Cowboys loss was superior to Washington’s loss, which was to a non-playoff Vikings team at home. To listen to Cowboyfan you’d think this was college and his team was barely edged at Ohio State while the Redskins got blown out by Duke at home.

Never mind that the Jaguars laid a 24-0 run on the Cowboys. Never mind that their quarterback absolutely stunk up the entire state of Florida with his putrid play (3 INT, 45.8 QB rating). Never mind that their legendary coach Parcells cost his team a timeout with by throwing a late challenge flag on an unchallengable play. Never mind that one kicker on their roster, the one that was active, banged a 36-yard field goal attempt off of the upright while the other one, the one that was supposed to be keep the frog from whomping his ass, was back at home in Dallas.

None of that matters to Cowboyfan. In his view, all of this was an impressive show of strength by his team. The Redskins, who played inconsistently while slugging it out for 60 minutes with a Vikings team that did have a winning record despite incredible turmoil last year, demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are mere girly-men, another minor obstacle that Cowboyfan’s team will easily brush aside on their way to demonstrating their greatness.

Perhaps someone should explain to Cowboyfan that there are no BCS points being compiled here, no pollsters to impress. You can only lose to the team you’re playing. In the NFL a loss is a loss is a loss. One seven-point loss is not better than another three-point loss, especially not when all of the teams involved had winning records last year.

On second though, never mind. Those silver and blue eyeballs will never see the light.

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The seven best undrafted free agent signings the Redskins have made since 2010

The seven best undrafted free agent signings the Redskins have made since 2010

Every NFL training camp is different, but there are a few consistent things you can count on happening at each one each year.

At some point, for example, a star will say that he's "just excited to hit a guy wearing a different colored jersey" after about a week of practicing against his teammates. Also on the list: a coach will tell reporters that his defense plans on being more aggressive and hopes to create more turnovers in the regular season.

One of the more pleasant camp traditions, meanwhile, is that undrafted rookie who goes from stand-in to stand out and makes the team by impressing in drills and preseason contests.

But while there will be plenty of time in the coming weeks for trying to figure out who'll do that for the Redskins in 2017, let's instead look back at a handful of the players who've already accomplished that in the past with Washington. Here are the seven best undrafted free agents the franchise has unearthed since 2010.

MORE: PLAYING OVER/UNDER WITH KEY STATS FOR KIRK COUSINS IN 2017

Logan Paulsen (2010)

No one will ever mistake Logan Paulsen's film for Rob Gronkowski's, but the former UCLA Bruin held down the third tight end spot for the Redskins from 2010-2014.

His two best years came in 2012 and 2013, where he posted 25 and 28 catches respectively, scored four total times and was on the receiving end of this magical fourth-down pass from Robert Griffin III against the Giants, a play that might've just been the peak of Griffin's rookie year. Now 30, Paulsen is reuniting with Kyle Shanahan out in San Francisco, continuing to exceed expectations and extending what's been a fruitful NFL career.

Will Compton (2013)

Will Compton's made a steady climb up Washington's roster since entering the league as a free agent linebacker out of Nebraska.

He was cut in his first season back in 2013 but latched onto the practice squad. He eventually debuted near the end of 2013, though, and made the 53-man squad the next go-round. 2015 was when he first started playing regularly, then last year he started 15 contests while also serving as a captain.

In 2017, he'll have to compete with Zach Brown and Mason Foster for a starting gig, but he figures to play plenty no matter the outcome and he's one of Jay Gruden's most trusted defenders. Not bad for a guy who has admitted he "wasn't confident" as a rookie:

Houston Bates (2015)

Special teams often is the avenue a college free agent has to take to make a roster, and Houston Bates is an example of one who's been there, done that. He's appeared in 24 games for the Redskins in his first two NFL campaigns and will look to recover from a torn ACL he suffered last December so he can add to that total in year three.

Before that injury, he was Washington's most active special teams player with 292 snaps in 14 contests.

Quinton Dunbar (2015)

Quinton Dunbar has not only overcome being an undrafted free agent; the former Florida Gator has also made the successful transition from wide receiver to cornerback, too.

Like his classmate Bates, Dunbar has participated often in 2015 and 2016, and like Paulsen, his biggest moments have come against the Giants. As a first-year pro, he picked off Eli Manning in the end zone to the delight of a raucous FedExField crowd, and as a sophomore, he helped complete a risky fake punt and also notched another (absolutely insane) INT in New York:

Rob Kelley (2016)

This offseason, Jay Gruden joked that Rob Kelley has worked his way up from "ninth-string" to starter. He laughed as he said it, but it may not have been that big of an exaggeration.

Kelley never rushed for more than 420 yards at Tulane, but he ripped off 704 last year for the 'Skins. Now he's the top option in a talented backfield, and while Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson are nipping at his heels for carries, Gruden has repeatedly said how much he loves Kelley. He'll be fed plenty in 2017.

Anthony Lanier (2016)

Anthony Lanier's on this list not for what he's done, but for what he's projected to do. Gruden uses not one but two really's to describe how excited he is about Lanier, and a couple of months of working with assistant Jim Tomsula might be all the lineman needs to make the jump from a project to a problem. 

Maurice Harris (2016)

Last on the list is a receiver who displayed sure hands and a knack for converting third downs in limited action last year. Maurice Harris now looks like he'll be an early option off the bench in Gruden's offense and should see the field far more often than he did in the second half of 2016.

You may not be fully sold on Harris, but it sounds like his teammates are, so don't be surprised if he breaks out and develops into another option for Kirk Cousins:

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER FROM BOTTOM TO TOP

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Need to Know: Redskins by the numbers—First-down rushing, forcing fumbles

Need to Know: Redskins by the numbers—First-down rushing, forcing fumbles

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 23, four days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 203 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 49 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 18
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 27
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 41

The Redskins by the numbers

5.01—The average yards per carry against the Redskins on first down last year.

I have noted this before but I took a closer look and it’s even worse. In 2016, four running backs—Isaiah Crowell of the Browns, DeAngelo Williams of the Steelers, Jordan Howard of the Bears, and Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys—gained over 100 yards against Washington on first down alone. It took Elliott two games to get there but the other three made it in one. If the Redskins don’t get this fixed (this is the second year in a row they have been last in the league here) their defense won’t get much better.

3.85—The Redskins average offensive gain per carry on first down.

This is not a very good performance here — the average is 20th in the NFL. But it does represent a significant improvement from 2015, when they were last in the NFL at 3.3 yards per carry. One difference was negative plays. Two years ago, they had 63 first-down plays go for no gain or a loss of yards. Last year they had 48 such plays. Rob Kelley, who was fourth-best in the league as a rookie last year at gaining yardage after being contacted behind the line, can claim a lot of credit.

8—The number of opponents’ fumbles the Redskins recovered this year.

A total of 17 other teams recovered more fumbles than the Redskins did last year and their recoveries were exactly half of what they were in 2015, when they had 16, the most in the league. It wasn’t surprising that their recoveries fell. The numbers crunchers say that fumble recoveries aren’t “sticky,” meaning that there tends to be a lot of variance for each team each year. And that makes sense as a lot of recovering fumbles is the bounce of the ball.

But it should be noted that the Redskins forced just 22 fumbles last year after forcing 36 in 2015. You have to get the ball on the ground to recover it and the Redskins could do a better job of forcing fumbles in 2017

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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