Tag Archives: Redskins

Looking Passed Alex Smith

When people hear the name “Alex Smith,” there are usually two reactions: “game manager” and “meh.”   He is not the NFL quarterback who scares fans of opposing teams and when fans rank the top starting quarterbacks in the league, names like Stafford and (Eli) Manning come before his. . . and that’s just ridiculous.

Smith’s journey started at the University of Utah, while being coached by Urban Meyer – he put up impressive numbers after starting just two seasons: 66% completion percentage, 48 TDs, 8 Ints, 1072 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns.   Those numbers make it obvious why he was taken first overall in the 2005 draft by the 49ers. . . at least at the time it was obvious.  Who knew that 23 picks later the Green Bay Packers would snatch up Aaron Rodgers?

For the rest of their careers, Smith and Rodgers have been linked and it’s not in the most complimentary of ways.  Football pundits scoff at the Niners – in hindsight – saying that the 49ers passed up on an all-time great and for who?  Alex Smith.

Never does anyone say “What if Aaron Rodgers got drafted by the 49ers?  Would he still be the Aaron Rodgers we all know now?”  The answer is: “Probably not.”  You see, Alex Smith was thrown into the fire – literally.  He was expected to pull off miracles with a below average roster, a clueless front office and had to deal with this stellar list of head coaches: Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary and Jim Tomisula.   Aaron Rodgers?  He got to sit behind a hall of fame quarterback for three years and when his time came to start, he was the face of a franchise that is one of the best run in the league, with a mastermind of an offensive head coach in Mike McCarthy.

Fate was made so that Alex Smith would have to struggle.

As we all know, it wasn’t until Jim Harbaugh became the head coach of the 49ers that we finally saw  a coach build an offense around Smith’s strengths and we finally got to see what he could do. Nobody is saying that it was the most ridiculous season a quarterback could have, but what it did was give Smith back his confidence.  Smith led the 49ers to a 13-3 record and became the NFL textbook definition of what a “game-manager” is.  Then something weird happened.  The phrase “game-manager” had been around for  awhile, but now that it was tied in with Alex Smith – it now gained a negative aura about it.   Being a quarterback who moved the chains and didn’t turn the ball over became seen as “meh.”

Fast forward and we come to Alex Smith getting injured and losing his starting job to the young quarterback with promise Colin Kaepernick.  After nine games, Smith threw for 13 touchdowns with 5 interceptions at 70% completion rate – but after seeing  how electric of a player Kaepernick was at the time – there was no going back.

Smith now found himself in Kansas City with Andy Reid.  For five years in Kansas City, Smith showed the best version of himself.  Smith threw for 102 touchdowns, 34 interceptions and posted an average of about 3400 yards a year.  Reid was not only able to use Smith’s accuracy (finished the five years with a completion percentage of 65%) he also made good use of his legs which opened up the Kansas City offense.  With Kansas City, Smith became a three time pro-bowler and had the highest passer rating in 2017 with a digit of 104.7.  What did all of that get him?  Traded at the end of 2017, to once again – make way for another young quarterback.

Fate now finds Alex Smith, who is now 33 years of age and will be 34 by the season opener, with a pretty good offensive coach in Jay Gruden, but with a team in the Redskins who are very. . . “meh.”  Washington is where Alex Smith’s career may very well end and although this franchise has historically been one to make questionable decisions on both sides of the roster and has an owner who sometimes gives the impression that he lives in another world – SOMEHOW – it will fall on what Alex Smith “failed to do.”  At this point, Alex Smith has heard it all – “draft bust” – “game manager” and now “passed his prime.”  A good chunk of Smith’s career hurt him and it’s due to nothing else but bad luck and situations that he could not control.

Would he be an all-time great if he had a better situation?  Nobody is saying that.  Smith definitely has his limitations. He just deserved better is all.

Beating Vegas: Lucky Week 7

Tennessee Titans -6 at Cleveland Browns

It seems as if, for one reason or another, the Titans and Browns are a “mainstay” at Beating Vegas this year.  This week, these two teams square off against each other, with the Titans coming off a Monday Night victory against the Colts and the Browns losing. . .again.  After Kevin Hogan’s inefficient outing against the Houston Texans, the Browns have decided to go back to starting rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer.  Teams that flip-flop on quarterbacks like this, especially when both quarterbacks are below average – are usually teams that have issues.  The Browns have had issues since they’ve come back into the league.  In the five games he’s played, Kizer has three touchdowns, nine interceptions and is averaging less than five and half yards a carry.  He’s a quarterback who only finds success when throwing to the left side of the hash-marks and one must wonder what his confidence is like at this point.  The good news for Cleveland is that Tennessee’s defense has been disappointing this year.  The Dick LeBeau coached unit is allowing 27 points per game and allowing opponents to complete passes at a 60% rate.  The thing to watch here is the health of Marcus Mariota.  He was stiff but was able to complete passes from the pocket for over 300 yards against the Colts.  Mariota’s more effective as a mobile threat and he should be a little more inclined to take off this week.  The Browns are holding opponents to 3 yards a carry and this will be the defenses toughest test when they go up against Demarco Murray (4.6 yards a rush) and Derrick Henry (5.1 yards a rush).  Add to the mix a more mobile Mariota and this will be too much for Cleveland to sustain passed a half.

The Pick: Titans -6

Washington Redskins +5 at Philadelphia Eagles

Philly’s second-year quarterback Carson Wentz is already putting himself in some NFL pundits’ early MVP conversations. He’s looking like a seasoned pro this year and his supporting cast have all helped to carry some of the load.  The name that may surprise many this year is running back LaGarrette Blount.  Why is he a surprise?  Because a week before the season there was talk about him possibly getting cut.  Blount is averaging 5.6 yards a carry this year, which puts him right in the class of Kareem Hunt, who is averaging 5.9 yards a carry this season. This will be an interesting match-up for Blount because Washington is currently only allowing 88 yards a game on the ground.  For all the talk of Carson Wentz this year though, Kirk Cousins is putting together another nice season for the Redskins. Cousins is averaging 8.5 yards per pass this season with 9 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. The emergence of running back Chris Thompson has been something to see this year as well.  Thompson has apparently come out of nowhere and is leading the team in yards per carry (4.9), receptions (18) and receiving yards (340). The Redskins are averaging 23.4 points a game so far this season, which is a pretty average total, but considering they are getting little to no contributions from Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson – it’s a miracle they’ve done this well.  Keep an eye on this game as the public will tend to go heavy on the Eagles, at home on Monday night, so the Skins may end up getting more points before kick-off.  The Redskins lost by thirteen points at home when they opened up the season against Philadelphia and they’ll be looking for revenge on the national stage.

The Pick: Redskins +5

New York Jets +3.5 at Miami Dolphins

The New York Jets have a lot of gamblers sweating considering they were only expected to win 4-5 games this season and they are already at three.  Be careful with those pre-season prop bets. . . Anyhow, the Jets haven’t looked too bad.  Their running game is confusing because although everyone sees that Bilal Powell should be the guy the Jets keep on trying to force Matt Forte onto our television sets.  That’s a good reason why they are ranked 28th in the NFL in rushing offense.  Its been veteran quarterback Josh McCown who’s been leading the charge.  He’s got viable targets in Jermaine Kearse, Robbie Anderson and Jeremy Kerley – you would think they’d throw the ball more but they hover around mediocrity averaging 234 passing yards a game.   The Jets should look to take advantage of a Miami secondary allowing a completion percentage of 72.4%.  The Jets though have been struggling to stop the run and if last week’s explosion by running back Jay Ajayi was the coming out party most of the league has been waiting on from him, he could stand to put up another monster performance.  Also, last week – it seems Adam Gase stopped being conservative and let Jay Cutler just throw the ball around – it opened up the entire offense and they’ll want to do that again this week because they’ll have their shots to take.  Division rivals usually are at a 3.5 point spread because of the familiarity, and it’s a good line here – for Vegas.  The real play here is the over/under of 38 points.  The over is the play here because both teams’ strength on offense is the other teams’ weakness.  Could spell a recipe for disaster for one side.  Which side?  Who cares?  Just put those points up!

The Pick: The Over at 38 points


Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

NFC East: First Round Mock

The NFC East is usually a crap-shoot when it comes to guessing which of these four teams will finish the season on top.  The Redskins have the roster – but are a mess of a franchise; the Eagles are always a popular pick but usually fizzle out; the Giants get a pass on average seasons because of their recent history in the playoffs and the Cowboys – well, you either love ’em or hate ’em.

Philadelphia Eagles

Finished with a  7-9  record

Def Yards: 13th   Off Yards: 22nd

The Eagles started off 5-0 and were a train wreck the rest of the season.  They had a horrific record away from home 1-6 and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz had a terrific start and was sent right back down to the Land of Humble Pie by year’s end.  They spent the off-season getting offensive line help and more depth at the wide-out position and although they could use a new look at running back, chances are they will address the defense with the 14th pick in the first round.   Tennessee’s Derek Barnett is a defensive end who can help out the Eagles pass rush.  They finished in the middle of the NFL with 34 sacks last year and a pass-rusher of this caliber will help put them in the upper tier of that category and as we all know.  In a division where the Cowboys and Redskins both finished in the top five of total offenses next year – this would help the Eagles tremendously.

New York Giants

Finished with a 11-5 record

Def Yards: 10th    Off Yards: 25th

My least favorite team to talk about.  Ever.  They went out and signed Brandon Marshall at wide-out giving them a three headed monster at the position along with Odell and Sterling but they lack a punch with the offensive line, Eli seems to be regressing and zero-talent at the running back position.  Defensively they over-achieved playing against a lot of back up quarterbacks last season so it’ll be interesting where they go.  Jerry Reese usually just goes with the “best player on the board” concept during the draft.  Their might be two linebackers in that spot and two offensive linemen in that spot.  The Giants need to address the offensive line if they ever intend to have a running game and expect to keep Eli upright.  Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk is a tough tackle who worked to get where he is.  He worked through the FBS ranks to find himself starting at left tackle for Wisconsin.  Wisconsin plays a brand of “tough” football so he’s no stranger in mixing it up at the line of scrimmage.  Could be a very, very good pick for the Giants.

Dallas Cowboys

Finished with a 13-3 record

Def Yards:14th    Off Yards: 5th

The Cowboys are turning the page in the franchise and it’s clear that the future is now, with quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliot.  Losing safety Barry Church in free-agency might’ve been a blessing in disguise because he was a perennial under-achiever who “just happened” to play well in a contract year.  Knowing who the Dallas Cowboys are, they will fill in that safety spot with the biggest grin on their faces as they take Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers.   Peppers is one of the true first-round-wildcards because people love his versatility and athleticism but wonder how well it will translate in the pros.  If Peppers is there at the 28th pick, you better believe the Cowboys are wasting no time and going with the flashy pick that may end up being well worth it.

Washington Redskins

Finished a 8-7-1 record

Def Yards:28th    Off Yards: 3rd

Oh man.  Why won’t they just give Kirk Cousins the contract he wants?  Why?  The stupid, stubborn Redskins finally have a good thing going and they are going to watch it blow up in their faces.  Cousins is primed to have another good year.  He’s seemingly mastered Jay Gruden’s system and is in a contract year.  The Redskins, aside from their average record, really have a nice roster.  They could go cornerback at this spot, and help out Brashad Breeland (who really disappointed me last season – get it together Breeland, I still believe in ya’!) or go draft a running back – I mean that’s what Dallas did and it worked for them right?! (that’s me imitating the Washington brass. . .)  Florida State running back Dalvin Cook makes the most sense just because it is a guarantee that Cousins won’t be here next season, so having all the pieces on the offense around a new quarterback might be exciting for a free agent or draft pick in 2018.  The Redskins are going to look flashy from time to time this year and Cook has all the tools to be a big play maker for them in the backfield.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Outsmart the Wise

Last week, the hot-shots at Vegas had some tricky lines but over here at Beating Vegas, we netted another winning week.  The NFL has left many scratching their heads as last year’s powerhouses like the Cardinals and the Panthers are struggling left and right, while teams like the Rams and the Vikings are proving to be the cream of the crop.  The hard-work will be accomplished here as we continue to give you winners against the spread though so keep checking for this column weekly and visit mybookie.ag so you can beat the NCAA and NFL odds. . .

Washington Redskins +3.5 at Baltimore Ravens


The Baltimore Ravens finally played an above average team and lost their first game this season and the Washington Redskins became a .500 team with a “little” help from the referees.  In the NFL it doesn’t matter how you get your wins, but for our purposes, how you win is just as/and sometimes more important than the actual win. The Ravens have been fluttering around the league looking a notch below mediocre and coming out with victories.  Credit that to coach Harbaugh (no, the other Harbaugh. . .the one who’s actually won something in his career. . .) but as stated last week, the Ravens best weapon on offense is their kicker Justin Tucker.  Sure they should something last week with running back Terrence West, but that was more of a fault to the Raiders who couldn’t stop anything that was attacking the left side of their defense.  Joe Flacco has been inconsistent this season and the Ravens best option at wideout is the seventy-five year old veteran Steve Smith, who this week will be matched up against the Redskins’ Josh Norman (popcorn, anyone?).  The Redskins go as far as Kirk Cousins’ own mediocrity will take them.  Offensively they seemed to put it together last week – albeit it was against the Browns, but this might be the kind of game that gets Cousins back on track.  The Redskins have speed and talent at the skill positions and should easily spread the Ravens thin.  The Ravens win or lose games by single digits and the Skins always have the “talent” on both sides of the ball – it’s their execution that comes into question.  Take the talent.

The Pick: Redskins +3.5

Chicago Bears +5 at Indianapolis Colts


This is quite possibly the most disgusting game of the week. . . eh, maybe even the year.  The Bears have been showing no signs of turning fortunes around this season and getting their first win against a Detroit team that’s been a perennial loser for two decades is nothing to celebrate.  The Colts just lost to a Jaguars team that is one of the hardest to figure out – and it seems now that Andrew Luck’s frustrations are coming to a boil.  The Colts have the worst roster in the NFL today but Andrew Luck and Frank Gore are doing all they can to keep it together – by themselves.  The Bears are so bad as a franchise they’re actually considering leaving Brian Hoyer in at quarterback even if Jay Cutler is cleared to play.  I guess the Bears haven’t seen the story of Brian Hoyer being a starting quarterback in the NFL yet. . . most of us have seen it twice, two thumbs – wayyyy down.  So why would we bother watching this trash on a Sunday?  Easy.  Gore can run through the Bears front line and Luck can air it out against one of the most trash-bag secondaries in the league.  The Colts will struggle against Bears rookie running back Jordan Howard, and the Chuck Pagano coached defense of the Colts stinks.

The Pick: The Over 47.5

Syracuse +3 at Wake Forest


Each of these teams will struggle trying to get to six wins this season and that’s mostly because there is a gauntlet of talented teams in the ACC.  Unfortunately for Wake Forest and Syracuse they are not included in that gauntlet.  Defensively Wake Forest crushes Syracuse – if you look at the numbers, that is.  Wake allows 20 ppg compared to Syracuse’s 37 – but Syracuse has played the likes of Louisville, South Florida and Notre Dame; Wake has played Delaware, Tulane and Indiana. . . Wake’s rush defense is impressive only allowing 3.3 yards a run.  That’s nice and all, and would mean something – but Syracuse doesn’t run the ball.  Syracuse has a spread offense that averages 370 passing yards a game and completes 31 passes a game – this is tops in the ACC, a conference that has Clemson, Louisville and UNC.  This is bad news for Wake Forest who’s pass defense has allowed the fourth most passing yards in the conference and allows opponents to complete passes at about a 57% rate.  One of college football’s best kept secrets is quarterback Eric Dungey of Syracuse – he’ll have his way against Wake.

The Pick: Syracuse +3

Michigan -27.5 at Rutgers


Michigan has hit the “finally” mark this season.  Last week they “finally” played a worthy opponent and this week they “finally” play an away game.  Lucky for Michigan their first away game is against one of the worst teams in division one football, the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers.  Rutgers ranks 268th in passing offense and 225th in total yards per game. Defensively they are dead last in the Big Ten Conference allowing 32 points a game.  Pretty impressive to be dead last in that category considering it means you have to play worse defense than Illinois, Purdue and Penn State.  Michigan has already won by more than 30 points on three separate occasions this season against teams that are bottom feeders like Rutgers.  Add to the fact that Michigan’s rival Ohio State just lit up Rutgers 58-0 last week – coach Jim Harbaugh and his boys will look to outdo their rivals by giving Rutgers a beat down for the ages.

The Pick: Michigan -27.5

Washington -8.5 at Oregon

The fact that Oregon is apparently going to sport some cool “Webbed Feet” jerseys this week, should be enough to make anyone watch this game.  From a football stand-point though, Washington, after stomping out Stanford last week, is looking to put a stranglehold on the Pac-12.  Washington hasn’t beating Oregon in over a decade and the cards should line up for them this year.  They have the number one offense (45 PPG) and defense (12 PPG) in the Pac-12 but let us look at this in depth. . . three of the offenses they’ve played were Idaho, Rutgers and Portland State – not exactly the kind of heavyweights selection committees faun over. . . Last week’s huge win over Stamford had the Cardinal missing three offensive linemen, and two starters in their secondary – add to the fact that the Stanford Cardinal have no real answer at quarterback – safe to say it was a good time to catch them.  The only time Washington faced a real offense was against Arizona, where they came away with the win, 35-28.  . . College football pundits have been talking about the decline of Oregon, but one thing you cannot deny is that they can still score points (40ppg) and rack up over 500 yards a game.  Oregon lost last week to a Washington State team that will give anyone fits, and before that lost by three points in back to back weeks to Nebraska and Colorado.  Not saying Washington will lose this match up, but Oregon is going to come out with something to prove in what could be a “let-down” type of game for Washington.

The Pick: Oregon +8.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Colorado/USC Over 48.5; Michigan -15.5; Notre Dame +13 and Toledo -5.


Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

2016 NFC East Preview

  1. Washington Redskins – The “Washington Football Team” surprised some folks last  year, but if you look at their roster – it’s pretty legit.  Kirk Cousins is playing for a mega-contract this year, last year he showed the composure needed to run head-coach Jay Gruden’s offense.  Cousins isn’t great but the truth is, if you’re a quarterback that can master the system you’re in, that’s all that matters.  Cousins may not have much in the backfield this year, but the Redskins will probably work their offense in reverse.  What that means is, while most set up the pass with the running game, the Skins can open up the run game with the pass – get it?  The receiving core is a fantastic group.  Jordan Reed proved to be the the second best tight end in the league last year (behind New England’s Rob Gronkowski) when healthy and the receiving core goes four-deep with Desean Jackson, Jamison Crowder, Pierre Garcon and rookie Josh Doctson. This is a group that supplies a nice blend of size and speed that can and will wreck havoc on NFL secondaries.  Defensively, while everyone is high on the Josh Norman signing, the truth is, he isn’t even the best corner on his team.  Seriously.  Bashaud Breeland proved last year he can be a number one corner and now moving him to number two just means, the oppositions number two receiver becomes non-existent.   Second rounder Su’a Cravens out of USC is a defensive Swiss army-knife who can morph from safety to linebacker in a second and the Skins have already talked about exploiting his versatility.  Games against Dallas will determine this division – as they should.Prediction: 10-6


  2. Dallas Cowboys –  This piece was originally written predicting Dallas to finish in first place.   Naturally, I jinxed things and Romo will miss a chunk to the start of the season.  It may be over for Romo as he just can’t take a hit anymore.  This makes way for rookie QB, Dak Prescott.   In front of him is arguably the best offensive line in football, although last year their pass-protection seemed a bit too relaxed, the unit still provided holes for the run game.   The additions of former Redskins running back Alfred Morris and first round rookie Ezekiel Elliot will make this a very aggressive and versatile back-field.  Dez Bryant is still one of the league’s premier playmakers at the wide receiver position and it’s because of his presence, things open up for the very average Terrence Williams on the other side of the field.  Cole Beasley is actually a better wide out but he can’t be moved out of the slot because of his miniature stature.  .  . The Cowboys didn’t do much to help themselves out on defense, but the fourth round pick out of Oklahoma, Charles Tapper is an interesting piece to keep an eye on.  He needs to get over his lower back issues in this pre-season though because the Cowboys need all the help they can get.  When you’re defense enters the season with three of it’s players serving a suspension, every little bit helps.   With Romo, the points come a bit easier – Prescott will have a leash on him but they should be able to control the line of scrimmage with their rush attack.


Prediction: 9-7


3. New York Giants – The Giants offensive line will hamper a lot of what this team can do.  There is not much of a rushing threat in the form of Rashard Jennings, and although Giants fans are excited about Odell Beckham Jr being joined in the receiving core by rookie Sterling Shepard – Eli may not have time to deliver the deep ball much.   General manager Jerry Reese is on the hot seat and the way he threw money around this off-season proves it.  Reese shelled out a five year eighty-five million dollar contract to ensure the services of defensive end Olivier Vernon.  Reese also tried to shore up the secondary by signing Janoris Jenkins to a five year, sixty-two million dollar contract.  The issue with Jenkins is that he is not as good as advertised and already has shown struggle in training camps.   The Giants always seem to have Lady-Luck on their side although last year she seemed to stray away a little.   The Giants need to do what they can to court that dame back into their lives if they want to compete for the NFC East.

Prediction: 8-8

4.  Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles wanted to rid themselves of anything having to do with the Chip Kelly era after ONE bad year and now they are primed to be a bottom feeder in the league.  The Eagles had a below average draft this year in which they selected quarterback Carson Wentz out of North Dakota State.  They hope that Wentz’ raw talents will carry him to become the franchise player this team needs at quarterback.  Hard to imagine a guy who’s toughest opponent in college was either Jacksonville State or Northern Iowa – to become some great quarterback in the NFL, but . . .whatever. . .  Jordan Matthews is the team’s best receiver option, but he isn’t the type of number-one option that secondary’s lose sleep over.   The tight end tandem of Zach Ertz and Brent Celek is pretty impressive but this isn’t exactly Rob Gronkowski and “he who shall not be named. . .”    Ryan Matthews was been a disappointment in San Diego, probably a disappointment to his parents and will continue this pattern here in Philly.


Prediction: 3-13


G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

NFC East Team Needs

Philadelphia Eagles: OL, DE, LB, CB,QB


Philly just seems like the most interesting place to start because, well – in all honesty, they are a complete mess.  They have holes all over the place and are shedding themselves of anything that reminds them of former head coach, Chip Kelly.   They might have to go offensive line in the first round of the draft to at least show a dedication to reconstructing something in the positive direction.  They signed former Houston Texans guard Brandon Brooks, to a five year deal which will pretty much wrap up the 26 year old guard in the prime of his career.  In the first round Ohio State’s tackle Taylor Decker should be available for them at pick number fourteen.  There are some pretty good prospects at guard that might’ve been available to them in the second round, but the Eagles’ next pick is in round three of the draft.  Since this is the case, they may want to grab what they can at the corner position here.  If they are lucky they’d be able to grab Miami’s Artie Burns – but Burns is an intriguing man with a strong story behind him and may go earlier than expected – but Minnesota’s Eric Murray might prove to be a strong pick in the third.  A physical corner with a nice feel for zone coverage.  With their second pick in the third round, they should look at  in-state favorite Carl Nassib, defensive end out of Penn State – or they may want to go with the better athlete in the third round like Charles Tapper out of Oklahoma.  Tapper forces turnovers and can get to the ball quickly – might be able to transition from defensive end to linebacker if need be . . .  No matter the guaranteed money or what coaches say, Sam Bradford has had his time to do something in this league and it’s evident he is not the “future” for any team.  Taking a quarterback late is never a promising look for a future “team leader,” but if the Eagles take a shot at Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson either late or as an undrafted free agent – it might turn out better than starting Bradford.  He’s got some mobility and a strong arm.   The Eagles really can go anywhere in the draft so it’s difficult to pin point exactly what they should do – best player available might be the way they go – this year and next year.


Washington Redskins: CB, RB, QB

Right off the bat, people will see “QB” in there and say “Why would they need a quarterback?  Especially after retaining the services of Kirk Cousins?!”  Well for starters, they franchised Cousins which means they are paying him a lot of money to see if he is worth the big time contract and secondly – before the season started, we were all questioning the abilities of Cousins.  With that being said – Cousins could’ve just gotten “lucky” last year or maybe just “figured out how to play above average in this league.”  Whichever it is, the Skins need some kind of insurance at that position next season. Colt McCoy is still there as a back up and that might be just as good as the names that are currently available like T.J. Yates and Tavaris Jackson.  If they want to take a gamble in the third round, NC State’s Jacoby Brisset could be a nice look and if they wait later – maybe a wild card like Oregon’s small – yet strong armed and athletic quarterback – Vernon Adams Jr might deserve some consideration.  The Skins have  a quality corner in Brashard Breeland, but they need to give him help on the opposite side of the field.  William Jackson, the corner back out of Houston ran a 4.37 at the combine, and even beforehand was considered to be a steal, even at the late first round spots. If Cousins plays as well as he did last year, the Redskins have more than enough talent to win the NFC East in back to back seasons.  .  .Do the Skins really have enough trust in running back Matt Jones to be “the guy” though?  Much like Cousins at quarterback, it wouldn’t hurt the skins to get some kind of “insurance” at that position.  There are always decent names in free agency at that position like Ronnie Hillman or Bobby Rainey.  It would be interesting to see the price tag that comes with Arian Foster though.  If healthy (that’s a big “IF”) he could be a huge impact on this roster as a whole and it might be worth it for the Skins to make that kind of play right now.



New York Giants:RB, DE, LB, CB, WR


The Giants are a team reeking of the word “desperate” right now.  General manager Jerry Reese hasn’t been too impressive with his mid to late round draft picks and he’s spending money left and right trying to rectify those mistakes.  The Giants have given a little over $100 million  in guaranteed money to Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins and Damon Harrison.  All three got five year deals and all three have expectations to hit that they never had to measure up to previously.  With that said, when a team breaks bank like that in free agency it almost always is a recipe for disaster.   With the tenth pick overall the Giants may have a shot at the best running back in the draft in Ezekiel Elliot.  Elliot would be the dynamo half back they’ve been looking for for nearly a decade.  The combo backfield of Shane Vereen and Rashard Jennings was less-than-amusing to watch and Elliot would actually fit in perfectly with this offense.  Afterwards, the Giants should be looking to stock up on defensive talent wherever they can get it.  Yannick Ngakoue of Maryland is an outside linbacker/defensive end hybrid that is going mostly under the radar but he could be an instant starter and that kind of quality on a bad defense is worth the second round pick.  He’s got length, speed and size – three things that most the Giants defensive players don’t have a combination of. . . Jaylon Smith of Notre Dame is scaring teams off because of his medical issues and slow recovery – but before this was being touted as a sure fire first-round pick.  The Giants usually have luck with players of this talent falling to them and if he’s there in the third they will definitely not pass on him.   The Giants’ secondary needs help in a big way.  Landon Collins played well as the physical safety they needed him to be and them paying Janoris Jenkins the big bucks, proves that they need help in a big way.  Maurice Canady out of Virginia is a pretty physical corner who might be a nice compliment on the outside – while a later round pick (fifth-round maybe) would be Florida’s Brian Poole, who might be able to rotate as a fill in spot-number-two corner while being a mainstay in the nickel spot.  Victor Cruz came back at a discount to be the number two wide-out but the truth is, he’s garbage now and won’t go over the middle.  A veteran free agent signing like Marques Colston might be a nice way to try to mentor the young hot head wide-out Odell Beckham Jr.  Beckham seemingly answers to nobody and although his talents conceal his mental lapses – it’s becoming a tired act that should finally be controlled by this team.


Dallas Cowboys: LB, DE, QB, RB


The Cowboys have the fourth pick overall in this year’s draft.  Not bad for a team many projected to be one of the NFL’s best in 2015 and failed miserably at achieving that.  The Cowboys are in a tough spot though.  When quarterback Tony Romo plays – he looks like an MVP candidate and everyone loves the Cowboys, BUT when Romo goes out with an injury, they play horribly and become the butt of everyone’s jokes.  The Cowboys won’t be spending a first round pick on a quarterback but maybe the second round wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) be that far fetched.  Ohio State’s Cardalle Jones might fit in well here.  Behind a strong offensive line and a capable receiving group, the athletic Jones, won’t have to “do too much” but learn how to be coach-able through it all.  Dak Prescott out of Mississippi State may be the more polished version of Cardalle Jones and in a time of “Greg Hardy and Dez Bryant” in the Cowboys’ locker room, a natural leader with a level head, might help out as a building block for Dallas’ future.  Back to the fourth overall pick though. . . The Cowboys should have their choice between some great linebacker prospects: UCLA Myles Jack, Georgia’s Leonard Floyd and Alabama’s Reggie Ragland.  Ragland might be a reach at number four as he is mainly projected to go in the “teens” of the first round and the choice of Floyd or Jack depends on how well Dallas can trust Jack coming off of a knee injury that ended his 2015 campaign.  Floyd on the other hand is a 6’6″ 244 pound man-child who played extremely well this year and enters the draft as one who can start right away and impact the game right away.  The Cowboys need an answer behind Romo so they can utilize their best strength which is running behind the offensive line.  While folks were enamored with Alabama’s Derrick Henry running the ball, it may be Kenyan Drake who turns out to be a  steal for any team in the third or fourth round.  He has decent hands and is a strong runner who is more elusive than advertised.   Drake would easily beat out the backfield on the Cowboys as is, and would be a rookie of the year candidate behind this offensive line.


G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

NFL 2015: What We Learned and What We Can Expect

Every NFL season brings it’s own brand of drama.  It’s own brand of heroics.  And unfortunately for some of us, it’s own brand of heartbreak.  Now that the Denver Broncos have been crowned champions of the league, the ever important off-season is in effect.  Contract talks, free agent signings and rookie hype all start now and before we know it – Boom –  we’re back into a whole new swing of weekly heart-attacks.  Here are a few things we learned from the 2015 season, and a few things we can expect from teams in it’s aftermath.

What We Learned:

It didn’t matter who the Broncos had at quarterback this year.


Let’s be honest, if the money that was spent on Manning was given to a better running back, their season would’ve had the same outcome, but without any controversy.  Broncos kept old-school traditionalist smiling by winning the Super Bowl, just so that crowd can say “Defense wins championships.”

Adrian Peterson isn’t human.

Whether he’s returning from a terrible injury or returning after being ripped apart by the media for a year – nothing can stop Adrian Peterson.  In his ninth NFL season, Peterson ran for over 1400 yards and doesn’t seem to have slowed down a bit.  One would think that his bruising style would slow him down but he seems just as fit as he did in 2012 when he ran for over 2000 yards.  Too bad the Vikings are continually in a rebuild.  They had a once in a lifetime player and came up with nuggets during his tenure there. . . so far.

The Eagles and the Browns Have No Idea What They’re Doing.


So let me get this straight.  The Eagles fired Andy Reid, who in 14 years at Philly gave them six division titles and brought them to five NFC Championship games; to hire Chip Kelly who went 10-6 in his first two seasons and then fired him when he went 6-9; to ultimately hire Doug Peterson, who was offensive coordinator in Kansas City.  Oh, who was he the coordinator under?  None other than Andy Reid.  You can’t make this stuff up.  The term “ass-clowns” comes to mind when discussing the Eagles.  The Browns aren’t all that better.  Since 2001 they’ve had seven different head coaches and six different general managers.  They’ve whiffed on numerous first round picks, the recent being the “in the media for all the wrong reasons quarterback” Johnny Manziel.  Both of these teams have loyal fan bases who at any given moment might just rush the main offices in the same fashion as Black Friday shoppers rush a Wallmart.

The Dolphins Are Awful:

Their quarterback, Ryan Tannehill’s numbers should really be looked into because the majority of his damage is done in garbage time.  And when it comes to the Miami Dolphins, their whole season is garbage time.  They spent big money on Mike Wallace some time back – got nothing in return.  Now they spent big money on Ndamakong Suh – and they’ll get nothing in return from that as well.  They had building blocks for a good defense but had to let a lot of that go to sign Suh.  Does Marc Anthony still own a part of this team?  If so he needs to bounce on this team quicker than he bounced from J-Lo (or as quickly as he bounced on to J- ah, never mind.)

What to Expect:

Kirk Cousins gets franchised by the Redskins.


Kirk Cousins is a free agent and after his ridiculously good second half of the season, he may have played himself into the sights of NFL teams needing a starting quarterback.  Jay Gruden has believed in him and the Skins can’t be stupid enough to let Cousins walk.  I’d hope. . .  Just to make sure it isn’t fool’s gold though, a smart move would be to pay cousins a big salary for this season and see if they can get more of the same.  It’s worth the gamble if he turns out to be their guy for the next 5 years or so.

Matt Forte Finds Life On a Contender and For A Bargain Price.

Forte is 30 and has a very flashy skill set.  He’ll continue to avoid contact to stretch out his career and he’ll have to find a system where he’s either well protected or will play in space.   The Bears have been overpaying him for years, so he’ll look less for a payday and more for a winner.   Expect  New England or Denver to be the most intriguing plays with Dallas not too far behind.

NFL Starts Losing Faith in Andrew Luck.


It won’t be his fault either.  They re-signed arguably the worst coach in the NFL in Chuck Pagano and they continue to draft badly and sign free agents that make no sense.  The offensive line will continue to be a mess and Luck, feeling the weight of every game on his shoulders, will start to lose confidence as he’s throwing picks trying to play “catch-up” every week.

Panthers Trying To Get Cute.

The Panthers have been a gritty team under head coach Ron Rivera, but expect them to franchise or straight up re-sign cornerback Josh Norman, and expect them to sign a couple of flashy free-agents in what will appear to be an upgrade in offense.  The truth is, this is a tight knit group that works more on the chemistry around their super star Cam Newton.  Although with a healthy Cam Newton, the Panthers win this division by default it’s still not a smart move to stir this pot too much.

The Browns Will Blow Another First Round Pick:


Poor Cleveland.  They just don’t get it.  If and when they draft either Carson Wentz or Jared Goff, it’s just a matter of time before they realized they just reached for another quarterback that will NOT lead this wretched franchise to the promised land.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio



Is RG3 Done?

Why does 2012 seem like a century ago?   More importantly – how does Robert Griffin III look at that season and realistically see him doing that again?  The Redskins bet the house on RG3 in the 2012 draft and it seemed like a work of genius.   RG3 played as if his DNA was extracted from Steve Young and Randall Cunningham to form an unbelievable and instinctive quarterback – for one season.   He was a legit dual threat quarterback who totaled over 4000 total yards, 27 total touchdowns and 7 turnovers.  He was nothing short of electrifying.  RG3 made the Redskins “must see TV.”

Things started to get weird for RG3 in that same magical season though.  He suffered an LCL sprain due to a hit from Baltimore defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and then after a playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Griffin needed ACL and LCL surgery.


His 2013 season came with much fanfare and expectations but fell incredibly short.  RG3 was so unimpressive he was benched the final four games of the season.  Last season some nasty truths seemed to be revealed – as it appeared that RG3 was not heavily liked in the locker room and was pretty much playing the role of “teacher’s pet” to team owner Dan Snyder.  The Redskins finished with four wins last year and started three different quarterbacks during the season.

So that brings us to 2015, where we are in the month of July and already we are hearing folks speak ill of the former Baylor Bear.  Former NFL quarterback Mark Brunell was questioned about RG3’s ability to succeed in the NFL and he responded: “From what I’ve seen the last couple of years — listen, he burst onto the scene and that was impressive — but like I said, he has gone backwards. It’s not just his decision-making, it’s his fundamentals. He’s taking too many hits, he’s quick to get out of the pocket. Last year was difficult to watch. Does he have the skill set? Yes, but we haven’t seen it in some time.”


Even the biggest RG3 supporter has to agree with Brunell.  At times RG3 seemed like a fish out of water playing the position of quarterback.  Some say that defense players and coaches watched film and caught up to him – but it’s more than that.   Every time Griffin takes a big hit or is on the ground for longer than four seconds, the Redskins faithful hold a collective breath.  It’s not just his inaccuracy and indecisiveness throwing the ball – it’s also his apparent fear while playing the game of football.   He’s just too small to get away with his brand of football and the way he wants to play.

That’s the other issue.   Is RG3 even coach-able?


It was well documented that his relationship with former coach Mike Shanahan went sour and it seems that his relationship with head coach Jay Gruden isn’t all sunshine and roses either.  After a loss to Tampa Bay, coach Gruden made the following comments on Griffin’s performance : “Robert had some fundamental flaws. His footwork was below average. He took three-step drops when he should have taken five. He took a one-step drop when he should have taken three, on a couple occasions, and that can’t happen. He stepped up when he didn’t have to step up and stepped into pressure. He read the wrong side of the field a couple times. So from his basic performance just critiquing Robert, it was not even close to being good enough to what we expect from the quarterback position.”  That isn’t exactly endorsing your quarterback or even giving the lame Marc Trestman excuse of “I don’t know . .  .we had a good week of practice.”

When RG3 underperformed this year, he seemed to want to blame his teammates more than assume responsibility.  Nobody is saying he has the greatest pieces around him, but nobody is going to feel bad for you when you start dogging the guys who are playing just as poorly as you are. 

For a guy with a degree in political science and hoisted a 3.67 GPA in college, he comes off as an arrogant brat who doesn’t understand the way the world works.  It’s a shame really, because he did give football fans one of the most magical seasons ever to watch but it seems that all that magic is gone.  One has to feel for Jay Gruden.  He was given this job, this opportunity and he is seemingly forced to do the impossible : coach up RG3.  Jay Gruden was a guy who was excited about starting Kirk Cousins at QB and hugged his third stringer Colt McCoy after an upset win on Monday Night Football over the Dallas Cowboys.  In the times he interacts with RG3 on the sidelines or talks about him publicly, he only seems frustrated and bothered.


It’s not hard to see that this won’t end well for the Redskins.  RG3 gave them one season of hope.  Unfortunately, one season of hope is a garbage return for the three first round picks and one second round pick the Redskins dealt for his services.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio