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The Long Knives

The Long Knives

The Long Knives
It wasn’t quite as much fun perusing the Philly area papers to hear their post-mortems on the Eagles game and on their 6-10 season as it was reading the locals moan the fates of the Giants and Cowboys. The Philadelphia writers just didn’t seem to have the edge to their commentary that those in New York and Texas did. Still, they did seem to enjoy kicking them while they were down.

Columnist Mike Sielski had this to say in PhillyBurbs.com:
A few minutes after Andy Reid assured everyone that yes, the Eagles were in fact attempting to win football games over these last five weeks, the man who coined the most infamous phrase of 21st century Philadelphia sports bent down to talk to one of the architects of this 6-10 disaster.

"Good effort, Mike," Jeffrey Lurie said to Mike McMahon in the Lincoln Financial Field locker room. "Good stuff out there."

So this is what the "gold standard" has been reduced to: the Eagles' owner praising the effort of a backup quarterback of questionable competence. Lurie will have to live with those two words haunting him until the Eagles win the Super Bowl. That is his penance, and it might be a long one. After the Eagles' 31-20 loss to Washington on Sunday, now that this nightmare is over, never in Reid's seven seasons as head coach has a championship felt so far away for this franchise. Never has major change been so necessary
. . . . .

The Eagles - their players, their coaches, their front-office folks - have been quick to pin their problems this season on circumstance, on sports hernias and ankle sprains and blood clots and gunshots and Owens' cancerous effect on his teammates. But the Eagles were a mediocre team - 4-3, coming off a humiliating defeat in Denver - before the injuries started to accumulate, before the Owens situation exploded for the last time. They weren't going back to the Super Bowl, or the postseason, because, put simply, they didn't have the talent to get there. All the excuses were ex post facto.
And there’s this from Phil Sheridan on Philly.com:

As awful as he was, Owens is just one guy. Why were so many of his teammates influenced so much?

The unfortunate answer is that there are a bunch of players on this team who were all too eager to heap as much blame as possible for the Super Bowl loss on Donovan McNabb. A lot of them bought into Owens' slander campaign against the quarterback because it helped cover for their own disappointing performances in that game.

That's the ugly truth a lot of these players need to face during this off-season. And it's an ugly truth Reid is going to have to consider in deciding which players can be part of a winning culture in 2006 and which can't.

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Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

The next time Robert Kelley plows over a helpless linebacker, he'll do it with a new number on his uniform.

The second-year running back is switching from No. 32 to No. 20, according to Redskins.com. And he's not the only returning player who'll take the field in 2017 with a new pair of digits.

Su'a Cravens will no longer be No. 36 for Washington. Instead, he'll change to No. 30. DJ Swearinger will be taking over No. 36 after coming over from the Cardinals, a number that he reportedly purchased from Cravens for $75,000

Then there's Colt McCoy. McCoy has donned No. 16 for the past three seasons, but he's throwing it back to his college days and will now rock No. 12.


Finally, second-year corner Kendall Fuller only spent one year with No. 38. As he hopes to improve in his sophomore campaign, he'll be doing so with No. 29.

As for the free agents, Terrelle Pryor will be replacing DeSean Jackson in more ways than one when kickoff rolls around. Not only will the ex-Brown have to shine as a top receiver for Kirk Cousins like Jackson did, but he'll also be sporting Jackson's No. 11.

New linebacker Zach Brown, meanwhile, is now No. 56, linemen Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain are Nos. 92 and 97 respectively and Brian Quick will keep No. 83 from his Rams days.

For a complete list of all the changes, click here.


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How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

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How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

Do the Redskins have a draft need at running back? It depends on who you ask.

Jay Gruden seems to be very happy with incumbent running back Rob Kelley. Here is what he had to say last month about the second-year back, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, last month:

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden said. “I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

[Related: Full Redskins Seven-Round Mock Draft]

Kelley played in 15 games last year and rushed for 704 yards and scored six touchdowns. He started the last nine games and if you project his numbers in this games out over a 16-game season you get about 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s not Ezekiel Elliott or Le’Veon Bell production but it’s good for a team that is going to rely mostly on the pass.

Gruden also praised third-down back Chris Thompson and backup Mack Brown. In a telling sign, he acknowledged that 2015 third-round pick Matt Jones is still on the roster but he didn’t have much good to say about him.

Why, then, do you see so many draft analysts listing running back as one of the team’s most urgent needs? Mark Maske, who is the Post’s national NFL writer but also a former Redskins beat reporter, has them taking Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey in his mock draft. “There certainly are issues on defense for the Redskins,” writes Maske. But there also is a need at running back.”

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said that the Redskins “obviously” need a running back as his rationale for mocking Florida State’s Dalvin Cook to Washington at No. 17.

So, what is it? Is Kelley adequate for the Redskins’ needs considering they call pass plays on over 60 percent of their offensive snaps? Would they run more often if they had a back like McCaffrey or Cook? And if they did run more would the offense improve?

I think that running back is like several positions with the Redskins. If they have to get through the 2016 season with what they have they will be OK. But if there is an upgrade on the board when they are on the clock they won’t hesitate to make the pick if he’s the best player available.

We will see what happens if, say, McCaffrey is still on the board when the Redskins pick at No. 17 and top defensive targets like Rueben Foster and Haason Reddick are off the board. That will be the true test to see how committed Gruden and the rest of the organization are to Kelley, Thompson, and company. 

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