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Goodell gets it

Goodell gets it

A year ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell decided that his league was at risk of gaining a reputation as a collection of thugs. Sweeping changes in the code of conduct and stiffer penalties for violating those standards came into effect almost overnight.

Tank Johnson of the Bears and Chris Henry of the Bengals felt the sting of Goodell's preemptive strike. Pacman Jones, who at some point will be a former Titan, still is feeling it.

Now, Goddell sees a new problem on the horizon and, just as he did with player misconduct, he's moving quickly to nip it in the bud.

That problem is cheating, teams going outside the rules to gain an advantage over an opponent.

Right now, it's not viewed as a league-wide problem. Fairly or unfairly, it's viewed as a New England Patriots problem. They're the only ones who have been caught. The organization was fined and stripped of its first-round draft pick after being caught taping the Jets' coaching staff's defensive signals during the season opener.

There may be more to come as Goodell is interesting in speaking to a former low-level Patriots employee who may know something about taping prior to the Patriots' first Super Bowl win after the 2001 season.

If something comes of that, the league will have an image problem, but the negative perception still would be focused on Foxboro.

Another team caught spying, though, would be a PR nightmare for the league. One team doing it is a maverick; two teams doing it is a trend, a cancer. The brush tarring the league's reputation would become much broader. Congressional hearings certainly would follow.

As he did with player conduct, Goodell has taken a decidedly proactive stance on the cheating issue. A memo obtained by Mark Maske of the Washington Post outlines a series of strong steps designed to strongly encourage teams from going outside the rules of competition, to make it easier to punish them should they do so and to make those penalties more severe.

The measures, some of which Goodell can implement on his own and others of which will need league approval, include unannounced inspections of team facilities including locker rooms, the press box, and the coaches' booth.

Something less than conclusive proof of rules violations will be needed in order for the commissioner to impose penalties.

And, as it was with the players, the punishment will be swift and severe. "Where a violation is shown, I intend to impose more stringent penalties on both the club and the responsible individual(s)," Goddell is quoted as saying in the memo. "I will also be prepared to make greater use of draft choice forfeiture in appropriate cases. I believe this will have the effect of deterring violations and making people more willing to report violations on a timely basis."

Bravo.

The culture of "If you ain't cheatin' you ain't tryin'" has to go by the wayside. If people are going to continue to pay for tickets and watch games on TV they have to believe that the games are being fairly contested. Another cheating scandal would shake the faith that the playing field is level.

You can argue that what the Patriots did in the Jets game gave them only a marginal edge at most and you wouldn't find a lot of disagreement here. However, the perception was the critical aspect in Spygate. It will take the Pats a long time to shake the "cheaters" label that many fans and others have applied.

Instead of waiting for trouble to happen, Goodell going out to find it and stop it before it has a chance to take hold. This approach not only makes him unique among the major pro sports commissioners, but among most of heads of sports at all levels.

Again, bravo.

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The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 7 worst play of 2016

Giants at Redskins, Week 17

4:02 left in Q4, Giants ball 1st and 10 at their own 31, game tied 10-10

Eli Manning pass deep left to Tavarres King pushed ob at WAS 25 for 44 yards (Will Blackmon).

Related: The Redskins week that was

Tandler: It looked like the Redskins were on the verge of saving their season. They were down 10-0 in the third quarter but they battled back to tie it up in the late going. But after lulling the Redskins defense to sleep with running plays and short passes, Manning launched one deep down the left sideline. King, who had one reception for six yards on the season coming into the game, had a step on cornerback Greg Toler and he hauled in the pass for 44 yards. Four plays later Robbie Gould kicked a 40-yard field goal to give the Giants the lead.

More Redskins: Offensive coordinator situation set?

Finlay: In a terrible game that led to many more questions than answers for the Redskins, this play was just a huge, huge disappointment. Washington fought back to tie up a game that they had largely been outplayed in, particulrly in the first half. Remember, the Giants had nothing to play for while for the 'Skins, a win would put them in the playoffs. The New York offense was laregly nonexistent in the second half of this game, as it became obvious Eli Manning did not want to get hit. And still, the embattled Redskins defense gave up a long pass play to a dude that had contrbuted basically nothing all season. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Mike Shanahan likes Kirk Cousins, both as a person and as a quarterback. The former Redskins coach has made no secret about that. Luckilly for the 'Skins, especially with Cousins staring at free agency, Mike Shanahan is no longer coaching in the NFL.

His son Kyle, however, seems highly likely to take over as San Francisco 49ers head coach. And soon.

Kyle Shanahan currently serves as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, and once their playoff run ends, most expect Shanahan to be named Niners head coach. 

Why should Washington fans care? Allow ESPN's Adam Schefter to explain:

Kyle Shanahan is set to become the San Francisco 49ers' head coach after Atlanta's season ends. San Francisco needs a quarterback as much as any other team in the league. If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they've pursued Shanahan.

Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year's No. 2 overall draft pick. And if Washington doesn't want to deal now, it could have issues later.

This news should not be a shock to Skins fans, but it should be taken seriously. Remember, Kyle Shanahan was part of the Washington organization when Cousins was drafted and the duo worked together in 2012 and 2013. Most quarterbacks would love to run Shanahan's No. 1 ranked offense from Atlanta, and the guess here says Cousins would probably jump at the opportunity. 

Still, much must be worked out.

While some in the Washington front office might have questions about what the long-term value should be in a Cousins contract, the team still has some control. They can place the franchise tag on Cousins this season, like they did last season, and work until mid-summer on a multi-year deal. Or Cousins can again play on a franchise tag in 2017, like he did in 2016 and passed for nearly 5,000 yards.

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What makes Schefter's report the most interesting is the mention of the No. 2 overall pick. Observing the Redskins in 2016, it became obvious the team needs more impact players on defense, and with the second overall pick combined with their own 17th pick and eight more after that, that could deliver an immediate boost. 

Whatever boost a package of draft picks might bring in will be hard pressed to match the production of Cousins. Finding a starting quarterback in the NFL is exceptionally hard, and while Cousins has shown flashes of a special player, he has certainly confirmed he is a capable player in two seasons at the helm of Jay Gruden's offense.

Scot McCloughan and the Redskins brain trust have a few more weeks before free agency, and with it, the deadline to again place the franchise tag on Cousins. It's nearly impossible to see a scenario where Cousins hits the open market this season, but if the No. 2 overall pick comes into play, other scenarios start to seem more possible. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!