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Help Art Monk Get Into the Hall of Fame

Help Art Monk Get Into the Hall of Fame

Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins. Get details and order at http://GutCheckBook.com

When the subject of the Pro Football Hall of Fame comes up among Redskins fans, the same question comes up:

What about Art!

The fact that Art Monk, who once held the NFL records for both receptions in a career and receptions in a season, is 0-3 for getting his bust into the museum in Canton really eats at most Redskins fans. Here was a player who had a period of sustained excellence, who has three Super Bowl rings (plus a conference title), who was the first NFL player to catch 100 passes in a season and a man who carried himself like the consummate professional both on and off the field and he is not in the Hall of Fame.

I could go on, but since most of the readers here are well familiar with Monk’s achievements as a player and with his class as a human being there’s no point. What I want to do here is give you some information that will help you turn your frustration over Monk’s exclusion into action.

What I’m providing here is a link to a page on the site that this blog proudly calls home, WarpathInsiders.com. On that page are the names of every one of the 39 football writers that make up the Hall of Fame’s Board of Selectors and contact information for each of them.

Here’s the link to the page:

http://redskins.scout.com/3/monktohall.html

Note that some of the syndication partners that this blog goes out to do not make all links live, so you may have to copy and paste the link into your browser’s address window.

Once you get to the page, you’re on your own. There are some facts listed on the page and below I’m going to do a recap of what I think is Monk’s greatest game, but after that it’s up to you. There isn’t any form letter for you to copy and paste, the thoughts will have to be your own.

I also don’t want to overlook the fact that two other deserving Gibbs-era Redskins are on the list of 25 finalists. If you want to communicate with the selectors about Russ Grimm and Joe Jacoby, both deserving candidates in my opinion, either instead of or in addition to campaigning for Monk that would be great. In fact, I plan on giving each of them their own spotlights in this blog in the next few weeks.

The only thing I will say about your communication is that my impression is that a letter sent in an envelope has more impact than an email does and that a thoughtful, professional tone is more effective than a more confrontational one.

But, hey, if you’re like a lot of folks who have forgotten how and where to buy stamps and if you believe in telling it like it is, go for it. While the calm letter in the envelope is likely to be more persuasive than the fiery, passionate email, either is more effective than no communication al all (provided that you do not insult the recipient in the latter format).

Again, this isn’t a crusade and I don’t think it would be very effective if the selectors received a flood of emails all saying the same thing about Monk (or Grimm or Jacoby). You now have the information you need, and it could possibly make a difference. You can act on it or not. It’s up to you, the Redskins fan, to decide.

To help reactivate those hidden brain cells from where your warm memories of Art Monk in Burgundy and Gold emanate, I’m presenting an excerpt from my book Gut Check that tells the story of what I think was Monk’s greatest game. If, say, Jerry Rice, or a receiver for the Giants or the Cowboys had a game like this, I think that they would have immediately waived all of the eligibility rules and would have immediately inducted that receiver into the Hall.

OK, maybe not, but if anyone can give me the story of a player putting on such a clutch performance to both set a record and give his team a division title on the last day of the season, please pass it along to me. Otherwise, I’ll keep calling this the greatest and most unappreciated regular season performance by a player ever.

December 16, 1984, RFK Stadium—Mark Moseley’s 37-yard field goal with 1:42 to play lifted the Redskins to a 29-27 win over St Louis and the NFC East division title. The Cardinals, who would have claimed the division crown, had a shot to steal it back at the end, but Neil O’Donoghue missed a 50-yard field goal attempt on the game’s last play. The loss eliminated the Cards from the playoffs.

In an historic sidelight to the contest, Art Monk needed seven catches to break Charley Hennigan’s 20-year old record of 101 in a season, set in the AFL with the Houston Oilers. As one would expect of a player of Monk’s caliber, he broke the record in style and extended it with clutch plays down the stretch; more on that later.

Monk caught a pair of touchdown passes from Joe Theismann to get the Redskins off to a fast start. Then late in the half, the Redskins blocked a punt to set up a 21-yard Moseley field goal and they enjoyed a seemingly comfortable 23-7 lead going into the locker room at halftime. It wasn’t long before Neil Lomax and the Cards would begin to make them sweat.

Lomax directed a drive at the outset of the second half that got the Cards a field goal. About three and a half minutes later, Lomax had his team on the board again, this time in more spectacular fashion with a 75-yard touchdown bomb to Roy Green. At 23-17 the Redskins’ cruise to the division title had run into some choppy waters.

Monk helped to wake up the offense with a 36-yard catch to set up a 37-yard Moseley field goal to make it 26-17. That was catch number 102 on the season, breaking the record. The mark was noted on the RFK Stadium scoreboard and on the PA system, but there was no on-field celebration as there was still work to be done.

Lomax helped see to that. In the fourth quarter, he led one drive to a field goal, another to his second TD toss to Green. That lifted St. Louis into a one-point lead at 27-26 and the 54,299 in attendance stunned, along with the Redskins. Lomax racked up 468 yards passing on the day, with 314 of them coming in the second half.

The Washington offense responded, but the drive was in trouble after end Elois Grooms sacked Theismann to create a third and 19 at the St. Louis 47. With 2:40 remaining, everyone in the stadium knew the ball was going to Monk.

Therefore, Joe Gibbs had to try to find a way to hide Monk, inasmuch as that was possible. He sent in a play and formation that he had just installed that week called Two Divide. It called for Monk to line up at tight end on the right side. He fought his way off the line, found a hole on the right sideline and, Monk said, “The ball was perfect.” It worked for a 20 yards and the first down at the 27. On the day, Monk caught 11 passes for 138 yards.

Three plays later, Moseley came in. “I felt comfortable and positive,” Moseley said after the game. His feelings were justified as his 37-yard kick was perfect with room to spare and Washington was ahead 29-27 with 1:42 left to play.

Lomax and the Cards, though, weren’t done just yet. The quarterback completed four passes in five plays to move his team to the Washington 39 with 32 seconds left. On third and nine from there Lomax flipped the ball to back Danny Pittman, who had just one obstacle to getting a first down and getting out of bounds to stop the clock, linebacker Rich Milot. The defender made a solid open-field tackle at the 33 and Cardinals rushed their field goal team in to attempt a 50-yard game winner.

“I was so worn out by then that I had a hard time working up the energy to be nervous,” said Riggins after the game. He could have been speaking on behalf of most members of both teams.

The snap and hold were good, but Neil O’Donoghue’s 50-yard attempt was a couple of yards short and a little wide to the left. The Redskins as division champs had a week off to prepare for a home playoff game. The Cardinals, out of the playoffs due to wild card tiebreakers, had six months to prepare for next year.

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The Final Countdown: Redskins 8th worst play came from a big hit in Arizona

The Final Countdown: Redskins 8th worst play came from a big hit in Arizona

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. 8 worst play of 2016

Redskins at Cardinals Week 13

5:13 left in Q3, Redskins ball 2nd and 8 at their own 29, Redskins leading 13-10

Kirk Cousins sacked at WAS 36 for -9 yards (Calais Campbell). FUMBLES (Calais Campbell) [Calais Campbell], RECOVERED by ARZ- Markus Golden at WAS 30. Markus Golden to WAS 10 for 20 yards (Chris Thompson).

Related: Projecting the Redskins' roster--defense

Tandler: The Redskins had survived a rocky start and they were in position to take control of the game after the Cardinals missed a long field goal attempt. But the situation turned abruptly when Campbell blew over guard Shawn Lauvao and hit Cousins, sending the ball flying. Golden scooped it up and returned it to the 10. Three plays later Carson Palmer threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Michael Floyd. That was the beginning of the end of the Redskins’ chances to get a road win that they desperately had to have.

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

Finlay: When the Cowboys opened the game by marching right down the field against the Redskins on Thanksgiving, nobody blinked, as Dallas' offense had been superb all season. When Arizona did the same thing the following week, there was reason for concern. The 'Skins were able to stem the Cards early, and even took a lead, before Campbell bull-rushed his way into the Washington backfield and blasted Cousins. The Cardinals defensive line was hitting Cousins all game, and this play almost seemed inevitable. It would later come out Lauvao was playing through injury, but bigger picture, the Cardinals loss was the first game the 'Skins truly needed and the team couldn't win. The loss dropped Jay Gruden's squad out of a playoff spot, and though the team would eventually inch their way back into contention, in hindsight, losing in Arizona was the first real indicator that the 2016 Redskins would not make the postseason. 

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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Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Dennis Thurman

Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Dennis Thurman

The Redskins are set to interview Dennis Thurman for their vacant offensive coordinator position. Here is a look at Thurman’s qualifications for the job.

Before becoming a coordinator: Thurman played in the NFL for the Cowboys from 1978-1985. Redskins fans may best remember him for trying to break up the “Fun Bunch” celebration in a 1983 game. He played for the Cardinals the last season of his career. He coached the secondary for the Cardinals for two years before going to USC and holding the same job there from 1993-2000. Thurman then returned to the NFL as a Ravens defensive assistant and secondary coach. He moved to the Jets to coach the secondary there before getting promoted to defensive coordinator in 2012.

Related: Projecting the Redskins' roster--defense

Note: If you want more complete stats on Thurman’s defenses check out his page on Pro Football Reference. DVOA stats via Football Outsiders. A negative DVOA percentage is better than a positive number. Zero is average.

For players, * designates Pro Bowl selection, + designates first-team All-Pro

2013 Jets (8-8)

Rankings: Yards 5,359 (11th), points 387 (19th), takeaways 15 (31st), 3rd down 38.8% (13th), DVOA -5.6% (12th)
Notable players: DE Muhammad Wilkerson, CB Antonio Cromartie*, S Ed Reed

The Jets traded away their best defender, Darrelle Revis, during the offseason. Wilkerson led a good pass rush as he racked up 10.5 sacks and LB Calvin Pace had 10. It should be noted that head coach Rex Ryan is a defensive-minded head coach and he certainly had influence in what went right and what went wrong on that side of the ball.

2014 Jets (4-12)

Rankings: Yards 5,235 (6th), points 401 (24th), takeaways 13 (32nd), 3rd down 45.2% (30th), DVOA 3.5% (21st)
Notable players: DT Sheldon Richardson*, DE Quinton Cooples

If you want to know how a team can finish in the top six in yards and in the bottom 10 in points allowed just look at the lack of takeaways and the porous third-down defense. An offense with Geno Smith at quarterback couldn’t keep thinks afloat and Thurman was fired along with Ryan after the season.

More Redskins: Setting the odds on what will happen with Cousins

2015 Bills (8-8)

Rankings: Yards 5,702 (19th), points 359 (15th), takeaways 25 (12th), 3rd down 40.5%, DVOA 8.6% (24th)
Notable players: DE Mario Williams, DE Jerry Hughes

Ryan and Thurman both moved to upstate New York when they were hired by the Bills. This unit ranked fourth in both yards and points the year before Ryan and Thurman arrived and they obviously didn’t maintain that. It didn’t help that 2014 first-team All-Pro Marcell Dareus got into some legal trouble during the offseason and his production plummeted from 10 sacks in 2014 to two.

2016 Bills (7-9)

Rankings: Yards 5,712 (19th), points 378 (16th), takeaways 18 (23rd), 3rd down 40.0%, DVOA 8.0 (26th)
Notable players: LB Lorenzo Alexander*, CB Stephon Gilmore

Former Redskin Alexander had a good year, racking up 12 sacks and making the Pro Bowl but there wasn’t much else to talk about on defense. They essentially spun their wheels and Ryan was fired with a game left and Thurman soon followed him out the door.

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.