What a difference a year makes. Last season, Washington’s nationally televised Thanksgiving-week game was an exhibition for the league’s most exciting new offense — a 38-31 win in Dallas that was never actually that close and saw Robert Griffin III throw what is still a career-high four touchdowns. With the late-November stage again last night, the results couldn’t have been more different. The win over the Cowboys was the second in a run of seven straight toward the playoffs. Yesterday’s sputtering, almost pitiful performance against the 49ers was Washington’s third loss in a row, and Griffin’s four touchdowns were replaced with numbers like this:
Forrest Gump’s mother has clearly never played fantasy football, because the only way life is like a box of chocolates for a fantasy player is if that box exclusively contains torn ACLs and first-round busts. I mean, even the good chocolates eventually succumb to fractured ankles, or something. The fantasy pitfalls can sometimes seem endless, which is why you need a comprehensive blog post to steer your team through the dangers that lie ahead. Luckily, that's exactly what you happen to be reading!
We're halfway through another NFL season, and this week the trade deadline came and went without any big news, because this is pro football. The only trade that happened involved some guy named Isaac Sopoaga. NFL teams never shake things up at the trade deadline. Bill Barnwell already covered the trades that should've happened, but now it's time to think bigger. Let's talk about the guys who deserve a new life, for their sake, our sake, and the game's sake. The great players on bad teams who deserve better.
On any given Sunday (or Monday, or Thursday), your NFL Run & Shootaround crew will be gathered around multiple televisions, making inappropriate jokes and generally regressing to the mean. Catch up on all the NFL action right here.
Robert Mays: Typically when I watch football, I try to watch the line. That isn’t an attempt at snobbery. It’s just what I enjoy. Watching massive men fight for three feet of space, all with a combination of brutality and a criminally understated amount of grace, is my favorite part of the game.
Last night presented its share of opportunities for that. The 49ers have probably the best — and definitely the most imposing — offensive line in football, and Seattle’s rotating group of pass-rushing, run-stopping terrors is one of the better tests that San Francisco group will get all year. And while I did see plenty of that, the best battle at the line of scrimmage yesterday didn’t involve any linemen.
Robert Mays and Bill Barnwell break down four games from Week 1, answer reader questions, and recap the winners of their weekly bets.
Mays is then joined by former Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman to discuss his thoughts on Week 1 in the NFL and the origins of his "Lights Out" nickname and sack celebration. Video of that conversation can be seen below.
All day Monday, people were trying to prepare me for reality.
“You know they’re going to lose right?”
“You know they’re playing the Washington NFL team, not Washington State, right?”
“The Eagles might score 50, but the Redskins will score 52.”
"RG3 is back."
“Riley Cooper is going to run across the middle and four Redskins players are going to hit him in the spleen at once and he’s going to explode.”
“P.S. One of those Redskins players will be Cary Williams wearing a Washington uniform over his Philly uniform and then he will tear off the Washington uniform and scream, ‘Are you not entertained!?’”
“There’s no way this Chip Kelly offense is going to look like the football version of the light cycle race from Tron. Stop thinking in terms of Tron. This isn’t the 2010 Oregon Ducks and they aren’t being led by 2004 Michael Vick. You need to be realistic.”
I am an Eagles fan in 2013. I have no use for reality. Now lets go light cycle racing.
What's that? You were wondering exactly how many days until the start of the NFL season? Well, you're in luck! We here at the Triangle are providing a daily reason to get excited about pro football's return.
I said I wouldn’t do this. As someone who knows all about the uncertainty that comes with rooting for stars returning from major knee injuries, I didn’t want to be among those jinxing Robert Griffin’s season before it even began. Then two things happened.
First, I realized that 114 days is a lot of days, and now that we’re a week away, the topics have become pretty scarce. The second is that as of yesterday, RG3 has reportedly been cleared to play in Week 1. Sooo … sorry, Redskins fans.
In case you were busy talking yourself into Marcedes Lewis's fantasy bounce-back potential, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
Clayton Kershaw was outpitched by Cubs starter Travis Wood, and the Dodgers were unable to finish a late rally, falling 3-2 to the Chicago Cubs. Kershaw, whose inefficiency forced him out of the game in the sixth inning despite giving up only one earned run, stared at his left arm with a furrowed brow after the game, saying, "The Cubs? Really, buddy? Come on. You're better than that. We're better than that. Yeah? Yeah? You agree. Nod if you agree." Kershaw then waved his arm around in agreement before saying, "OK, now what do you say we go grab a bag of ice and a pizza and put this whole thing behind us, eh?"
Mariners closer Danny Farquhar's 10th-inning balk proved decisive as the Texas Rangers topped Seattle 4-3. Seattle manager Eric Wedge was heated after the game, yelling at the gathered press, "No, the most Mariners way to lose a game is not to balk in the winning run you idiots. It's to somehow leave the bases loaded in four separate innings without scoring a single run. Also, Felix Hernandez is on the hill and only allows a single run when a Raul Ibanez defensive miscue makes what should have been an easy flyout become an inside-the-park home run. That's a real Mariners loss. This? This was an old-school Indians loss."
Somewhere in the middle of the latest controversy involving Robert Griffin III, I realized that is just how it's going to be for a while. For some context: In the past week or so, RG3 was asked how he felt about sitting in the preseason. "I can't B.S. that answer," he said. "So, uh, no. I don't like it. There's some part of it that I do understand. I don't understand all of it. At the end of the day he [head coach Mike Shanahan] gave me his word. We talked privately. I know the whole plan. I'm not telling the whole plan. I don't understand the whole plan at all and I can't lie about that."
It was a confusing sound bite. Whatever point he was trying to make clearly came out sideways, and more importantly, it left the door open for everyone else to jump in and put their on spin on what's happening in Washington.
It’s that time of year — the time of year when snakes, auctions, ADPs, keepers, and sleepers start to rule our football hearts and minds. This season, last year’s Fantasy Island contest winner, Matt Borcas, will be providing some fantasy insight, starting with the tools you need for a league-winning draft. First off, a look at this year’s quarterbacks.
32. Mark Sanchez
31. Geno Smith
Two years ago, who would’ve thought that Sanchez’s signature accomplishment would be a DiMaggio-like streak on SportsCenter’s “Worst of the Worst” segment? Dude can’t seem to catch a break — his offseason has consisted of releasing an unrated Butt Fumble sequel on Vine, getting blown off by Smith at the not-so-vaunted “Jets West” camp, and this headline. Needless to say, the Sanchize’s fantasy value is comparable to that of a sick child. My heart goes out to you if you actually have salary-cap space committed to him in a keeper league. Get a therapist, stat.
What's that? You were wondering exactly how many days until the start of the NFL season? Well, you're in luck! We here at the Triangle are set to spend the next three and a half months providing a daily reason to get excited about pro football's return.
It didn’t matter much, not with all the Robert Griffin magic and the surprise playoff trip, but long before the Redskins’ best offensive player went down for the season, their best defensive player was already gone. Brian Orakpo played just one full game for Washington last year, suffering a torn pectoral muscle in Week 2 against St. Louis, which cost him the rest of 2012. The Redskins rode Griffin and their offense for much of the year, but while their quarterback’s path back to health will be paramount, Orakpo’s return changes the complexion of Washington’s defense.
In 2011, Orakpo’s third season, the outside linebacker finished the season with nine sacks — less than half the total of that season’s sack king, Jared Allen. Teased out, though, the numbers show that Orakpo’s year ranks alongside Allen’s, and just about anyone else’s. His 49 combined hits and hurries were just two fewer than DeMarcus Ware’s total, according to Pro Football Focus. Orakpo had 12 fewer pressures than Ware and 22 fewer than Cameron Wake (who led all 3-4 outside linebackers), but he also rushed the passer less often. According to PFF’s numbers, Orakpo came on just 74.4 percent of pass plays, a rate almost 10 percentage points lower than Ware. Overall, it leaves their pass-rushing production at about the same level.
In case you were busy really getting inside the mind of Barry Zuckerkorn in preparation for the new season of Arrested Development, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
The Los Angeles Kings are one step closer to defending their Stanley Cup crown after Jonathan Quick shut out the San Jose Sharks, 3-0, at Staples Center. The Sharks have now gone more than 96 minutes without a goal, which Kings coach Darryl Sutter credits to "playing a clean game, and keeping all the blood off the ice. Joe Thornton sees blood? Patrick Marleau? You've got a feeding frenzy on your hands. But right now they just keep skating by us, real passive, like we're not even there." When asked about the Sharks' home-ice advantage, Sutter added, "Oh, we're in trouble for Game 6. If you think [Sharks coach] Todd McLellan isn't going to gut a seal at center ice before the game just to get things going, you don't know McLellan."
Chris Kreider helped the Rangers avoid a sweep with an overtime goal in New York's 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins. The key moment in the game came in the second period when the Bruins, up 2-0 at the time, gave up a goal when goalkeeper and Klingon warrior Tuukka Rask fell over on a relatively well-defended Rangers breakaway. Rask was defiant after the game when asked if the defeat portended a Rangers comeback, saying, "Hab SoSlI' Quch! (Your mother has a smooth forehead!)" and then laughing heartily before eating what appeared to be a Targ heart out of a Tupperware container.
This was Robert Mays's reaction to seeing this picture: "Eleven months later, Derrick, and you're not even dunking off your left foot. RG3 is throwing passes to elephants, which, according to the Ringling Bros. dude who throws passes to elephants, is really hard." Reggie Rose was not available to comment at press time.