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  • Minion Monday: Playoff Bound!

    Winners of the NFC East…

    Playoff bound…

    Your Washington Redskins.



    Click for full size, and feel free to share across your favorite social networks!


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    Redskins NFC East Champs Graphic

    Here is a graphic for your Washington Redskins – the 2015 NFC East Champions.


    Congratulations and Hail.

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    The Loser Papers 2015 – Edition VIII

    NFC East Champions! That has a nice ring to it. Last night, in the city where brothers love each other, the Washington Redskins rang the Liberty Bell, and liberated the Eagles and Giants from any remaining post-season aspirations that they might have still harbored. Despite the fact that the Redskins have caught fire at exactly the right time, the pundits remain skeptical, and are already predicting an early exit from the playoffs. The editors of TLP, on the other hand, are predicting more editions will hit the streets in the coming weeks. So let’s get right down to business. Our Division Championship edition kicks off with this submission from The Philadelphia Inquirer:

    Eagles’ playoff hopes die in loss to Redskins

    Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson kicks his leg up as he exits Lincoln Financial Field December 26, 2015 after the Redskins beat the Eagles 38-24 to clinch the NFC East. ( CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer )

    Zach Berman, Staff Writer
    POSTED: SUNDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2015, 5:53 AM

    Hope vanished in Philadelphia on Saturday night when DeMarco Murray fumbled a pitch from Sam Bradford and watched the Washington Redskins return the turnover for a touchdown.

    It was a cruel and fitting way for the Eagles to accept playoff elimination. Two key pieces of Chip Kelly’s offseason overhaul took part in a play that demoralized the Eagles in a 38-24 loss to the Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field.

    The loss ended the Eagles’ postseason chances. It’s the second consecutive season they failed to reach the playoffs. At 6-9, they clinched a losing record for the first time in Kelly’s three years.

    Kelly was not prepared to offer a postmortem of the season on Saturday night, instead preferring to focus on the loss. In a fitting development, the lights went out during his postgame news conference. These are the darkest days of Kelly’s time in Philadelphia.

    “One hundred percent, it’s all on my shoulders,” Kelly said. “It’s the same thing I said a year ago. It’s unacceptable.”

    It came during a season when Kelly was awarded full control of the roster and made sweeping changes. Those moves mostly backfired.

    Hope had lingered Saturday even when Kiko Alonso was beaten for a score, when Nelson Agholor dropped a touchdown pass in the end zone, when Byron Maxwell watched the game from the sideline. They were also part of the offseason overhaul and failed to play up to expectations this season.

    Saturday proved to be a greatest hits of the problems that plagued the Eagles during the last four months. They turned the ball over twice. The receivers dropped key passes. The offensive line could not open holes for the running backs. The defense could not stop the opposing quarterback in the red zone.

    Those problems were discussed after other games throughout the season. They were never fixed.

    “We continue to shoot ourselves in the foot,” Bradford said. “The same things we were doing in Week 1, Week 2, we’re continuing to do. Good football teams don’t make the mistakes that we make on a weekly basis.”

    Washington clinched the NFC East title for the first time since 2012 _ and the Redskins eliminated the Eagles in Week 16 for the second straight December.

    Bradford finished 37 of 56 for 380 yards and one touchdown, and he was charged with the fumble returned for the score. The Eagles’ running backs combined for only 41 rushing yards. Zach Ertz led all receivers with 13 catches for 122 yards, but he also had a fumble.

    Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 31 of 46 passes for 365 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. Tight end Jordan Reed caught nine passes for 129 yards and two scores. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who beat Kelly to the postseason after his ouster from Philadelphia, had four catches for 40 yards.

    The crucial fumble came with 4 minutes, 51 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The Eagles trailed, 23-17, and started a drive at their 21-yard line. On third and 2, they wanted to get the ball to Murray around the right edge. But Murray could not grasp the pitch, and Washington defensive back DeAngelo Hall scooped up the ball and ran 17 yards for a 13-point lead. The game was not over at that point, although the Eagles could never get the game any closer.

    “I took my eyes off of it,” Murray said. “Just going too fast, got to secure the ball, and it was a bad play by me.”

    The Eagles were in that position before the fumble because Murray rushed for a 4-yard touchdown on the previous drive to respond to Washington’s score. When the Eagles forced a punt and reclaimed possession, there was hope in the stadium that the Eagles could take the lead.

    Instead, Washington followed the fumble with another touchdown. The 21-point lead was decisive. Even when Bradford found Jordan Matthews for an 8-yard score late in the fourth quarter, the stadium was already emptying out of disgust over a season and game that went awry.

    “There’s a lot of things missing,” safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “It’s obvious by the way we’re playing.”

    A 16-10 halftime deficit would have been worse if not for a gaffe that Cousins won’t soon live down. With no timeouts and six seconds left, Cousins dropped to his knee at the 7-yard line. Washington wanted to run a play before the half, but it certainly did not want the clock to expire without a play.

    The Eagles began the game with perhaps their best opening drive of the season. They went 80 plays on six plays, with the help of two penalties. Bradford connected with three receivers. Ryan Mathews rushed for a 1-yard score. The stadium had the kind of electricity reserved for a late-December playoff push.

    But a game with these stakes doesn’t often include a team with a losing record, and the Eagles showed during the remainder of the half why they have a losing mark. Washington scored on back-to-back first-quarter drives when Cousins twice connected with Reed for scores.

    The only scoring in the second quarter came on field goals from both teams, but the Eagles lamented two potential touchdowns that they missed.

    The first came when Bradford overthrew Ertz streaking down the right sideline without a body within steps of the tight end. On the next drive, Bradford floated a pass to Agholor in the end zone. The ball hit Agholor in the hands _ and then fell to the turf. What should have been seven points ended up being three.

    The Redskins’ field goal came after Ertz fumbled a catch, and they were in position to add more points before Cousins’ blunder.

    That play, however memorable, proved inconsequential. Because Cousins was able to take a knee at the end of the game to celebrate an NFC East title on the Eagles’ turf.

    The Eagles have a meaningless game next week against the New York Giants before a long offseason. That happened last year, too, and Kelly overhauled key parts of the roster. The end result revealed itself Saturday.

    “There’s nothing successful about this season at all,” Jenkins said. “It’s definitely a failure. And it hurts more when you have the opportunity to make the playoffs, and you just don’t get it done.”

    And, from The Philadelphia Daily News:

    Chip Kelly gets outcoached again as playoff hopes endEagles head coach Chip Kelly on the sidelines after Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon (88) made a touchdown in the fourth quarter, during the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins, at Lincoln Financial Field, in Philadelphia, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015.

    Eagles head coach Chip Kelly on the sidelines after Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon (88) made a touchdown in the fourth quarter, during the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins, at Lincoln Financial Field, in Philadelphia, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. David Maialetti / Staff Photographer

    On the off chance that you entered Saturday night thinking the Eagles might actually deserve a spot in this year’s NFL playoffs, the boys took care of that in convincing fashion. By the end of a 38-24 loss to the Redskins, the pertinent question was how many of these players and coaches belong on any professional field.

    The totality of the implosion that we witnessed last night demands that we start with the coaches. Sixteen weeks into the NFL season and the mistakes are the same: dropped balls, fumbles, receivers dashing through the defense like Donner, Prancer and Blitzen. For all of the moments that you feel like you catch a glimpse of the coach and playcaller that Chip Kelly can be, none of them overshadow the fact that he was outcoached twice by Jay Gruden.

    That’s the mind-boggling thing about what we witnessed on Saturday. The Eagles were facing a football team almost as dumb and ham-handed as themselves. And they still got blown out. When Kelly was coaching at Oregon, Jay Gruden was coaching in the Arena League. Whether either one belongs in the NFL is a legitimate question. In a sense, it’s crazy to be typing those words considering all that Kelly accomplished in his first two years in the league. However you feel about the man, the record says he went 20-12 and hosted a playoff game. This isn’t Ray Handley.

    Even last night, you watched the ease with which the Eagles marched down the field on their scoring drives and you wondered where the guy who calls those kinds of series spends the rest of the game. Sam Bradford completes all four of his passes to set up a one-yard Ryan Mathews touchdown run and Kelly starts the next series with three straight Darren Sproles runs. Punt. Shocker. It wasn’t just the play calls: the entire personnel package was different, Sproles replacing Mathews, Jonathan Krause replacing Josh Huff, Brent Celek replacing Zach Ertz. On drive three, it was DeMarco Murray’s turn, and the results will probably sound familiar: a run for no gain followed by a run for three yards to set up a third-and-long jailbreak by the Redskins front.
    Again: Bradford goes 4-for-4, draws a 22-yard pass interference penalty, the Eagles score a touchdown. . .and then run the ball on five of their next seven plays, none of them using the running back who recorded both first-possesion carries, including the touchdown. This goes beyond Kelly’s failures as a GM, which were once again on display in virtually every facet of the game. The players are the same as they were during the first 15 weeks. Yet an opponent was once again allowed to use simple stunts and delayed blitzes to pummel Sam Bradford whenever he threw. The guards are not good. All of us know that. The left tackle is hurt or underperforming or both. All of us know that. All of us except Kelly, who doesn’t seem to factor either Fact of Life into his gameplans.

    Imagine how bad this team would be if Sam Bradford hadn’t turned into a legtimate NFL quarterback in front of our eyes. It’s one of those puzzling things. Under Kelly’s watch, Bradford looks better than he ever has, particularly with his presence and mobility within the pocket. You can’t discount the coaching part of it. But the Eagles are not paying Kelly to be a quarterback coach. They are paying him to win games, and his attempts at winning them this season have too often turned into disasters. Three years into a coach’s tenure, with a roster he picked himself, a team should not be getting beat in all phases of the game as handily as teams like the Redskins and the Lions and the Buccaneers are beating them.

    And we are only now arriving at the defense.

    (Cracks knuckles).

    The problem with Billy Davis is there are too many moments like the one that occurred late in the first quarter of Saturday night’s loss. Not only did Mychal Kendricks end up responsible for covering Washingon tight end Jordan Reed in the middle of the field with no inside help, the Eagles didn’t even get an extra pass rusher out of it. Somehow, they ended up putting their notoriously unreliable inside linebacker on Washington’s best all around receiver without getting an advantage anywhere else. Kendricks wasn’t there because somebody else blitzed, or because Davis stacked the box against the run. He was just there: naked, alone, resposnible for covering a guy who already had receptions of 28 and 22 yards, the last of them for a touchdown. No doubt, things happen. A team playing without its top cornerback — even one as undynamic as Byron Maxwell — is going to offer exploitable matchups more than once. But a quarterback shouldn’t be able to sniff them out with ease on every play, and that’s exactly what Kirk Cousins did throughout the first quarter of last night’s game. The jarring thing wasn’t that the Redskins raced out to a 13-7 lead, it was how easy it looked. This wasn’t a case of Cousins making great throws or his receivers making great catches. This was a case of guys running wide open in the middle of the field, with no defenders around to even contest the receptions.

    Meanwhile, the Eagles’ pass rush was as uninventive as always. On one 19-yard third down completion to Reed, Cousins could have strung a hammock between his two offensive tackles and taken a cat nap while waiting for his receiver to clear. We’ve reached the point of self-evidence on the part of the head coach: either his offensive coordinator or defensive coordinator is dropping the ball. They can’t both be doing a heckuva job. Just like the Cardinals the week before, the Redksins managed to inflict plenty of damage on Bradford using basic twists and delayed blitzes. In the third quarter, Bradford overthrew a wide open Zach Ertz for what would have been a long touchdown because a stunting defensive lineman crushed him from the front. Earlier in the game, linebacker Will Compton destroyed him on a delayed blitz where he wasn’t touched. That’s been a hallmark of opposing defenses throughout the season, and in Week 16 the Eagles offense is still struggling to make the necessary adjustment. If it’s a tip-your-cap-to-the-defense type of thing, why can’t Davis make opposing offenses tip their cap to him?

    It’s pretty simple. It should never looke as easy as offenses make it look against Davis’ defense. It just shouldn’t. If you think that it should, if you think that there is some excuse, then you have low standards. Again, it’s that simple. We are three years into this coach’s regime. It’s well past time for Kelly to demand as much out of his coaches as he does his players. At the very least, give Davis a GPS and monitor his sleep. Vanilla schemes are for the preseason. If you can’t concoct a scheme that can slow Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden, you should not be in charge of an NFL defense.

    Maybe Kelly should say those letters again. NFL. Maybe he should repeat them to himself as he rewatches this game. NFL.

    That’s not how it is supposed to look.?

    And, as a bonus for this special occasion, one more from The Philadelphia Inquirer, before the game:

    A loss to Redskins would be ultimate indignity for Kelly

    Eagles head coach Chip Kelly.

    Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. Clem Murray/Staff file photo

    The list of indignities and insults suffered by the Philadelphia Eagles this season, and by extension their faithful supporters, is not a brief one. Chip Kelly’s strategy for taking the league by storm as both coach and general manager became a tornado that reversed its course and leveled a 10-6 team that appeared to be on the verge of achieving something greater.

    Free-agent signings were busts. Trades were unproductive. Injuries piled up. Peevish personnel decisions aimed at players who bucked the system failed miserably. Opponents cackled that the Eagles offense is the football equivalent of “Dick and Jane,” and as difficult to decipher.

    Despite it all, the Eagles are still alive to make the postseason. If they can beat a 7-7 team and a 6-8 team in their final two games, the Eagles will be NFC East champions, which is the NFL’s equivalent of a participation medal. Nevertheless, it is still there for them.

    Also still there, however, is the greatest insult of them all. If the Eagles lose on Saturday night, they are eliminated, and not eliminated by the Dallas Cowboys or the New York Giants, those hated but usually respected rivals, but eliminated by the Washington Redskins, the perennial laughingstock of the division, an organization so perpetually befuddled that it can scarcely defend its own nickname. Yes, the Redskins. Put that at the top of the insult list.

    Washington has made just three playoff appearances since Daniel Snyder purchased the team in 1999 and began his reign of terrible ownership. Even beyond that, the Redskins have been in the postseason only four times and haven’t won a game beyond the wild-card round since a Super Bowl win in the 1991 season. How long ago was that? The passing combination of Mark Rypien and Art Monk is now a combined 111 years old.

    It isn’t that the Redskins have just been bad on a regular basis, they have been spectacularly stupid in their methods. With the help of a previous general manager named Vinny Cerruto, whose claim to fame was a role in the movie Kindergarten Ninja, Snyder and the Redskins adopted a scorched-earth policy of trading away draft picks to acquire jaded veterans and doling out huge contracts to free agents of the same ilk. This led to such a stop-and-start quality of play that, during Snyder’s 16 years of ownership, the team has had 16 starting quarterbacks (Brad Johnson, Jeff George, Tony Banks, Shane Matthews, Pat Ramsey, Danny Wuerffel, Tim Hasselbeck, Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell, Todd Collins, Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman, John Beck, Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy, Kirk Cousins) and eight head coaches (Norv Turner, Terry Robiskie, Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier, Joe Gibbs, Jim Zorn, Mike Shanahan, Jay Gruden).

    Can it be after all their previous wanderings, the Redskins have finally found the path at the very time the Eagles were supposed to be the team separating itself from the pack? Well, maybe. With much of the praise going to new general manager Scot McCloughan, Washington has at least stabilized. (Although even the general manager situation has a very Redskinsesque tinge to it. McCloughan left previous jobs with San Francisco and Seattle due to personal reasons, has admitted to a sporadic drinking problem, and in September his wife took to Twitter to accuse a female reporter of obtaining information in exchange for sexual favors bestowed on her husband. Let’s see you top that for potential dysfunction, Chip and Howie.)

    It could also be that Washington is only afloat because the pool is so shallow. Cousins leads the league in completion percentage, but the Redskins offense is really no better or worse than that of the Eagles, and certainly no more explosive, despite the presence of receiver DeSean Jackson. Washington has 24 completions of 25 yards or more this season, the Eagles have 26. Both teams have a defense ranked among the bottom quarter of the league. It is a matchup of mediocrities who would be scuffling around the middle of any other division.

    What the Redskins have done well enough this season is to pick the low-hanging fruit on the schedule. In their three games against teams that currently have a winning record, Washington was 0-3 and was outscored, 46-105. So how good are the Redskins, really? Not very, in all probability, but plenty good enough to beat the Eagles on a given Saturday night.

    So, there it is, the ultimate indignity. Not only does it seem Chip Kelly is unable to outsmart the league, his team could be expelled by the perpetual dolt of the classroom. That is what faces the Eagles in this game.

    They already know disappointment. They already know embarrassment. What they don’t know is how it might be possible to lose a third straight game to the Washington Redskins for the first time since the Reagan administration. But if there is one more searing insult remaining in this season, they will learn that answer.

    And finally, this tasty morsel:


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    Pierre Garcon: Wallpaper Wednesday

    It’s Wallpaper Wednesday again, and a big touchdown in Sunday’s crucial 35-25 victory over the Buffalo Bills, makes Pierre Garcon, this week’s recipient.


    Please share on your favorite social networks, and Hail!

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    Minion Monday: First Place


    Great Monday huh?


    Eagles lost? Check. Hammered actually.

    Giants lost? Check. Maginficently actually.

    Cowboys lost? Check. Eliminated from playoff contention actually.

    Redskins won? Check. And sit first place in the NFC East with the ability to clinch the spot next week, actually.

    Bidoo! Bidoo! Oh, happy days… oh happiest of Mondays.


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    The Loser Papers 2015 – Edition VII

    Last week, the Redskins won their first road game of the year. This week, they checked off another box by winning a second, consecutive game for the first time. Next week, they can clinch the division title with their first sweep of a divisional opponent. But, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s celebrate this latest milestone with some light reading from The Buffalo News:


    Flat effort leaves Bills divided and conquered

    Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor lies on the turf at FedEx Field after being sacked by Redskins linebacker Preston Smith during the fourth quarter.
    James P. McCoy/Buffalo News
    By Vic Carucci

    Updated 11:01 PM
    December 20, 2015
    LANDOVER, Md. – Now it’s starting to get ugly. The we’re-going-to-get-this-right-next-year talk that began during the week has given way to more pointed words from the head coach and the players.

    Job security, from top to bottom, was a recurring topic before and after the Buffalo Bills’ 35-25 loss against the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

    The Bills saw their playoff hopes essentially die with last week’s defeat at Philadelphia. But on the way to officially killing them Sunday, they slid right into the abyss and are beginning to sound like an organization potentially headed for a second major overhaul in as many years.

    “We have two games to prove that we belong here,” Rex Ryan said after his team fell to 6-8 in his first year at the Bills’ helm, assuring him of a worse record than his predecessor, Doug Marrone, had in 2014. “That’s every coach, every player, everybody. And that’s just the reality of the business.”

    Ryan was answering a question about the way ownership might respond to the team falling short of his lofty expectations of the Bills finally ending a postseason drought that now extends to 16 seasons and their having a better defense than last year’s fourth-ranked unit.

    Before the game, a report surfaced from CBS NFL insider Jason La Canfora about a growing rift between General Manager Doug Whaley and the coaching staff. Ryan was asked about that, too, and promptly shot it down.

    However, according to a league source, Bills owner Terry Pegula has listened to outside NFL advice on player-personnel matters. A year ago, Pegula nearly hired Bill Polian to be the team’s “football czar,” but the Bills’ former GM and Pro Football Hall of Famer turned down the job. La Canfora reported and The News confirmed that Pegula is again open to the idea of finding someone to oversee the football operation. Whaley has a year left on his contract, and his long-term future with the franchise appears uncertain.

    It looks as if he might very well have some company.

    “This is the NFL, it happens, everybody’s evaluated in this league,” Ryan said. “You can read between the lines … I think any time you don’t reach your expectations or whatever, you got to look deep into why things happen. It’s easy to point to injuries. A lot of teams go through it. It’s ridiculous the amount of injuries we’ve had. Is that a contributing factor? Of course, and it would be ridiculous if you don’t think it is.

    “However, we’ve got to look at other things as well and everything has to be looked at.”

    Other things, such as players saying after the game that other players, as wide receiver Sammy Watkins put it, “need to forget about anybody’s feelings” and “call people out.” Or defensive end Mario Williams blaming “insurgents” within One Bills Drive for dispensing rumors to the media that he wasn’t really sick when he didn’t show up for work Wednesday. Or the Bills’ defense being an utter embarrassment. The Bills came out flat in all phases, and the game was, for all intents and purposes, over after they fell into a 28-3 hole near the middle of the third quarter. Although Ryan insisted “there was no quit in anybody” on his team, the effort mostly indicated the contrary.

    And never was that more apparent than on the Bills’ defense, extending the dialogue that Ryan’s renowned scheme, which allowed him to build the name and reputation that landed him the richest coaching contract in Bills history, has been an abject failure.

    That was Kirk Cousins and the Redskins who shredded Buffalo’s “D” from start to finish, not Tom Brady and the Patriots or Aaron Rodgers and the Packers or Cam Newton and the Panthers. Cousins is good, but he shouldn’t have been allowed to throw for 319 yards and four touchdowns, and run 13 yards for another score. The Redskins scored on each of their first three possessions to take a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

    Asked if he thought it would ever get this bad for the Buffalo defense, linebacker Manny Lawson said, “Not this bad. We let this one get away, we let the season get away. It’s a tough bullet to swallow.”

    After Cousins’ TD run, which gave the Redskins a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter, defensive end Jerry Hughes went ballistic on the Bills’ sidelines. He threw down his helmet and knocked over a training table.

    “I don’t really know Kirk Cousins’ history or his stats, but I felt like that might have been his first rushing TD in this NFL season, so I think that’s why I was upset,” Hughes said. The scoring run was actually Cousins’ fifth of the year.

    The Bills’ offense was far from spectacular, especially in the first half. The offensive line consistently lost battles with the big and powerful Redskins’ D-line, which mostly used a four-man rush to put consistent pressure on quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Taylor was sacked five times and hit six times. He frequently was forced to scramble, and finished with nine runs for 79 yards as part of a 240-yard rushing effort built mainly in second-half garbage time.

    Taylor did throw for 235 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Watkins, but the scores and 208 of his passing yards came in the final two quarters with the Redskins firmly in control.

    The No. 1 problem for the Bills was exactly what it has been all season: terrible defense.

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    The Loser Papers 2015 – Edition VI

    Once again, the Redskins managed to beat Da Bears (I think that’s 5 or 6 in a row), and to stay atop the NFC East for another week. And with the victory comes yet another edition of TLP. From the pages of the Chicago Tribune:

    Bears endure latest round of growing pains in chasing Jordan Reed

    Chicago Tribune

    The growing pains stung Jonathan Anderson as he sat at his stall late Sunday afternoon. They were his personal share of the disappointment that pervaded the Bears locker room after their 24-21 loss to the Redskins.

    The undrafted rookie inside linebacker replayed the sequence in his mind — the shallow crossing route tight end Jordan Reed ran, the miscommunication that resulted in Anderson chasing the play and the third-down touchdown catch that proved critical to the outcome.

    “I feel like this game for me personally was a step back,” Anderson said. “There (were) a lot of things I blew out there coverage-wise.”

    It was a measure of accountability as the Bears processed another round of mistakes after their second straight home loss to an opponent with no road wins.

    More specifically, part of the postmortem centered on how Reed finished with nine catches for 120 yards plus the touchdown. He carved up the defense with option routes that highlighted disparities in athleticism and sharpness between the sides.

    The Bears said they were prepared for Reed’s speed, but his adjustments were problematic.

    “It was more his route-running,” Anderson said. “He was reading us and running the opposite way.”

    The Redskins believed Reed presented a speed mismatch against linebackers Anderson, Shea McClellin and Christian Jones. How he gashed the Bears in October 2013 with nine catches for 134 yards and a touchdown supported their case.

    Now in his third season, Reed’s film study of the Bears alerted him to tendencies he took advantage of Sunday.

    “Just how they move in space and … what kind of moves I can set them up with if I’m trying to get inside,” Reed said. “This week, they kind of were taking the first move, and that’s what I’d seen on film, so I was trying to double them up and it worked out.”

    Several Bears lamented communication breakdowns in coverage. The Redskins have fast, talented receivers, including DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Reed. That caused problems for the Bears against an offense that uses misdirection well.

    “A lot of things we did to ourselves with communication between everybody on the defense in crosses and boots and stuff like that,” safety Adrian Amos said. “We’ve got to do a better job communicating across the board.”

    Reed’s 6-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter was straightforward, though: shotgun formation, three receivers to the left, with Reed closest to the sideline. He crossed the formation, running underneath the two inside receivers.

    Anderson took a few steps toward the line of scrimmage, prompting Reed to adjust and continue his route over the top. With Anderson stuck changing direction, Reed separated for a fairly simple catch.

    “That was my play to make,” Anderson said. “I should have stayed with him. It was just a bad communication on my part because I thought Shea was going to end up taking him.”

    It was a teaching moment for a rookie playing only his eighth game, but it came at a steep price.

    “I have this saying,” Anderson said. “It’s not about going out there playing; it’s about going out there playing well. That’s the bottom line.”

    And from the Chicago Sun-Times:

    Aggressive coaching may have cost the Bears a win Sunday

    Written By Kyle Thele Posted: 12/14/2015, 09:27am

    Chicago Bears head coach John Fox walks on the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

    Throughout John Fox’s career he has been known as a safe coach. His style of play was going to prevent the Bears from getting in its own way. However, it may have been the aggressiveness from the coaching staff that killed the Bears Sunday.

    With the Bears down three and taking over on offense, a pair of unusual play calls may have put the Bears in a bad situation. On second and third down from the Washington 32-yard-line, Cutler and the Bears offense took shots deep down field.

    The failed passing attempts for Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal put the Bears in a position to again need a long kick to try and tie the game. A struggling Robbie Gould repeated his performance from a week earlier and missed the kick.

    With Gould’s struggles of late, the safe choice likely would have been shorter passes or even running the ball to move down the field.

    This isn’t the first time the Bears appeared to abandon the seemingly “safe” decision late in a game. On fourth down inside the five-yard-line against the Broncos, Fox and the Bears went for the touchdown instead of cutting into the eight-point lead. The Bears would eventually lose by two.

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    Jason Hatcher: #WallpaperWednesday

    My apologies for the unforeseen layoff of the Wallpaper Wednesdays… I was out of internet commission for a little bit.

    This week’s wallpaper is Jason Hatcher. With it being Dallas Week, it seemed most appropriate.

    Enjoy, and just click on the image for the full 1440×900 resolution image.


    P.S. – I hate Dallas.

    Follow me on Twitter @TheHogsdotNet. I will be serving up Cowboys vitriol in my timeline all week.

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    The Loser Papers 2015 – Edition V

    One of the great things about TLP editions coming out of New York, is that you have so many newspapers to choose articles from. In honor of the Skins drubbing of Mara’s woeful Giants, that carried them into first place, I am presenting three articles from three different papers. First up, we have a submission from the New York Daily News:


    Flat effort from Giants puts Tom Coughlin back on hot seat

    By Ralph Vacchiano

    Updated: Monday, November 30, 2015, 1:06 AM

    LANDOVER, Md. — Tom Coughlin’s damning assessment of the Giants’ disgraceful effort on Sunday were four simple words: “Too little, too late.”Those might end up being the final words of this Giants season.

    They could also end up being the epitaph on the end of his own Giants career.

    Because if this all ends up continuing downhill and the Giants don’t win their pathetic division and Coughlin is pushed into a forced retirement he clearly doesn’t want, then this will be the moment where all that was locked up. In the biggest game the Giants have played in three seasons, with a chance to give themselves a clear and easy path to the playoffs, they spent three quarters in an embarrassing, inexplicable funk.

    Never mind that they rallied for two touchdowns in the final 10 minutes to make the final score, 20-14, look close. Don’t be fooled by that. They blew this game when they “slept-walked,” as Coughlin admitted, right out of the tunnel. They tossed away a chance to put a stranglehold on the NFC East by coming out mind-bogglingly flat.

    Sunday's loss to Washington could be the beginning of the end for Tom Coughlin.Rob Carr/Getty Images
    Sunday’s loss to Washington could be the beginning of the end for Tom Coughlin.

    Coughlin had two weeks to get them ready for this game, to pound home the implications, to come up with a winning strategy.

    But still, in an enormous moment, the Giants were no-shows.

    And to be honest, the way this season has gone, that’s hardly a surprise.

    “It’s been the story of our season, you know?” said defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins. “We have not cashed in our opportunities. We get opportunities, we get a chance to start to distance ourselves, and we just don’t take advantage.”

    “We didn’t do anything in the first half,” defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul added. “We waited until the fourth quarter to start playing. By then it was over.

    “They wanted it more badly.”

    If that’s true, that is a horrible sign.

    The evidence sure is strong to support that, though. The Giants’ first two drives ended with Eli Manning interceptions, both off passes that at one point were right in his receivers’ hands. And even when Washington couldn’t convert those into any points, it wasn’t enough to rouse the Giants out of whatever deep sleep they were in.

    The only big player who stepped up with a big game was Odell Beckham (9 catches, 142 yards, and one spectacular, diving, one-handed touchdown catch in the fourth quarter). But he was pretty much the only one, which Manning clearly knew since he threw toward him 18 times.

    Maybe the Giants were handicapped by an offensive line that was missing two (and later three) starters. But they certainly had plenty of other players on both sides of the ball to make plays. Two weeks ago, the Giants fought valiantly to the end against the undefeated New England Patriots. This time they were playing a flawed Washington team with Kirk Cousins at quarterback.

    Yet somehow, the Giants found themselves in an incredible, 17-0 halftime hole.

    “We came out flat and this wasn’t the game for that,” Jenkins said. “This had to be the game where we come out and play the best game of the year. We didn’t do that.”

    “It looked like that first half wasn’t us,” added cornerback Prince Amukamara. “It looked like we had a bye week hangover.”

    The players can’t be let off the hook for that, but that hangs on the head coach too. And this one will hang on Coughlin the way the Giants’ ugly, 25-24 loss in Jacksonville hung on him last season — the one where they blew a 21-3 lead and had co-owner John Mara wanting to fire everyone when it was done.

    A poor performance out of Eli Manning and the Giants could have very well cost them the NFC East. Patrick Smith/Getty Images
    A poor performance out of Eli Manning and the Giants could have very well cost them the NFC East.

    Maybe he’s not responsible for the poor plays, like the poor throw on Manning’s third interception of the game, in the end zone in the third quarter that would’ve been a touchdown if he had thrown it in front of Rueben Randle. Or like the 63-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to DeSean Jackson right over cornerback Jayron Hosley right after Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had limped out of the game.

    But Coughlin has to take blame for the lack of effort, the lack of fight, especially after two weeks of hearing and talking about how excited the Giants were to finally be playing meaningful late-season football again.

    They still have meaningful, late-season games left to play, of course. They’re still technically in a first-place tie. But how meaningful are any of these games really going to be if this is how the Giants are going to respond?

    “We came in knowing everything was on the table and we didn’t put our best foot forward,” Beckham said. “We are 5-6 for a reason.”

    “Terrible,” Pierre-Paul added. “We had a chance to seal the deal and we didn’t get the job done.”

    The Giants are lucky that all is far from lost in a division that’s starting to look like it might produce a 7-9 champion. They will have several more opportunities to secure their first playoff berth since 2011 in the next few weeks.

    But this was an opportunity too — one too big to pass up, which is exactly what they ended up doing.

    “We came in here knowing full well what all the circumstances were and we didn’t have a lot going on early in the game,” Coughlin said. “But had we had a little more time in this one, it might have been a different story.”

    Time is something the Giants are running out of this season. And with flat efforts like this one, Coughlin may soon be out of time.


    Next up, we get an entry from the New York Post:

    What was once Giants’ greatest hope is now their biggest trouble

    It seemed like the perfect mixture for a special season for the Giants’ offense. Eli Manning was in his second year in Ben McAdoo’s system and McAdoo was in his second season of calling plays. Victor Cruz would be healthy and paired with Odell Beckham Jr. for a potentially dynamic set of receivers with Larry Donnell maturing into a big-play tight end. The offensive line would add depth and more experience while the running game looked improved with the addition of Shane Vereen.

    Then it all began to fall apart. Cruz never played a regular-season game because of a calf injury. Donnell has been plagued by injuries and drops, while the offensive line is losing a battle of attrition. A special season and the Giants’ worst nightmare collided Sunday at Washington, where Manning and the Giants were shut out for three quarters before a late rally fell short in a 20-14 loss to their NFC East rival.

    An offense that was envisioned to be one of the more productive in the league scares no one right now, at least not when anybody but Beckham has the football. He is the Giants’ only real threat, their only game-changer. His spectacular one-handed, 21-yard touchdown grab with 4:57 left Sunday put the Giants within a touchdown of tying the game and an extra point of leading.

    Yet deep in your soul, you knew a miraculous comeback wasn’t going to happen. Not for these Giants. Not after guard Geoff Schwartz went down with a fracture in his leg in the first quarter; not after three interceptions thrown by Manning; not after 10 straight possessions included three picks and seven punts; not after DeSean Jackson reminded the Giants of his explosive skills with a 63-yard touchdown catch. The last time Manning got the ball, he was at his own 16 with just 19 seconds remaining. The game ended in an embarrassing display of hot potato with Manning getting the ball back and taking a hard shot that the Giants were lucky didn’t do damage.

    The Giants started the season playing three strong quarters and not being able to finish the fourth. Against the Redskins, they slept for three and woke up in the fourth.

    “I thought our effort was there,” Manning said Monday. “I thought our desire to do it was there, just our execution has to be better.”

    Injuries are starting to decimate the offense, which now must figure out a way to find production against a Jets defense that forced two turnovers in a 38-20 win over the Dolphins.

    “It’ll be a great test for us,” Manning said. “They’re a good defense. Their offense is playing well and scoring points and we have to play well.”

    Five games remain and the Giants still believe they can win the NFC East, make the playoffs, get on one of those rolls like they did in 2007 and 2011, and finish with a parade. But those teams were finding their rhythm about now. The Giants (5-6) are off the rails, scrambling to piece together an offensive line and looking for production from someone other than Beckham, who could be shadowed by Darrelle Revis this Sunday.

    “For me, it’s not about Odell versus Revis,” Manning said. “It’s about our offense versus the Jets’ defense and us moving the ball, finding completions, and not trying to win individual battles.”

    The Giants offense won’t be the high-powered juggernaut it hoped it would be. Week after week, we waited for Cruz to return, only to see him lost for the year. Tackle Will Beatty, who tore a pectoral muscle in May, was supposed to come back and never did. Now Schwartz is gone and the Giants will be lucky to get Justin Pugh (concussion) back this week.

    As bad as it all looks, head coach Tom Coughlin is not about to make excuses.

    “You keep working. You keep fighting. You keep scrambling. You keep battling,” the coach said.

    There’s little more the Giants can do.


    And finally, we hear from the “paper of record,” The New York Times:

    Giants Wake Up Too Late to Seize a First-Place Opportunity

     Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who was under constant pressure from Washington, being brought down during the second quarter. He was sacked three times. Credit Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    When the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys played haplessly on Thanksgiving, each going down to demoralizing defeat, the path finally seemed open for the first-place Giants to grasp a commanding lead in the feeble N.F.C. East.

    Instead, on Sunday, the Giants began their pivotal game against the host Washington Redskins with perhaps their worst half of football this season.

    “We slept-walked,” the confounded Giants Coach Tom Coughlin sputtered afterward. “Whatever the word is.”

    By the time the Giants awakened in the fourth quarter, it was too late. A rally made the game close, but the Redskins — 28-point losers a week ago — hung on for a clumsy 20-14 victory.

    In the wake of the defeat, the Giants, who were coming off their bye week, were baffled by their own play.

    “The first half looked like a bye-week hangover,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said.

    Added defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul: “Terrible. We didn’t do anything in the first half. We had the chance to seal the deal today and didn’t.”

    Washington’s victory obviates the story line that had been developing for the Giants’ season — the one that had the Giants in the most advantageous position to win the division and breeze to a playoff berth. The Redskins and the Giants now have 5-6 records and are atop the N.F.C. East with five games remaining. The Eagles are one game back, and Dallas trails by two.

    There is much football left to be played, but Sunday’s game once again revealed that the Giants — despite a starting lineup full of talented offensive players — have glaring, unresolved weaknesses. Moreover, they are not getting any healthier. Another Giants starter was lost to injury Sunday when guard Geoff Schwartz broke his left leg.

    The Giants’ pass rush, which had recently appeared rejuvenated, was nonexistent. The defensive front seven could not stop the Redskins’ running game, either. Pierre-Paul, whose presence in the last two games was credited with reviving the pass rush, was completely neutralized by the first high-quality left tackle he has faced this year, Washington’s Trent Williams.

    Offensively, the Giants’ deficiencies stemmed primarily from an overmatched offensive line, which began the game missing two of its starters to injuries. With left guard Justin Pugh out because of a concussion and center Weston Richburg sidelined by an ankle injury, Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who completed 26 of 51 passes for 321 yards, was constantly under pressure and was sacked three times. As they have all season, the Giants struggled to establish a running game, especially after Schwartz went out, and finished with 33 rushing yards.

     Odell Beckham Jr. scoring during the fourth quarter to cut the Redskins’ lead to 6 points. Credit Patrick Smith/Getty Images



    Until the final 10 minutes, there was almost nothing good to say about the Giants’ performance.

    Trailing by 17-0 at the half, the Giants finally showed a little life by driving down the field on their first possession of the third quarter. But on a third-down play at the Redskins’ 4-yard line, Manning threw toward the back of the end zone toward wide receiver Rueben Randle, who had broken open two steps earlier.

    The pass was slightly behind Randle, and Washington cornerback Quinton Dunbar, who had barely caught up to Randle, cut in front of the pass to intercept it.

    “Bad throw by me — I’ve got to put that in front of him,” said Manning, who threw two other interceptions, although each of those passes was deflected into the air by Giants receivers.

    At the time, Manning’s third interception seemed like just another bad outcome in a game that appeared destined to end in a rout. Behind a generally effective Kirk Cousins, who completed 20 of 29 passes for 302 yards without an interception, the Redskins extended their lead to 20-0 early in the fourth quarter.

    Then, in a stunning turnaround with 10 minutes 10 seconds remaining in the final quarter, Manning threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Randle on a fourth-and-16. About five minutes later, Manning lofted a pass toward Odell Beckham Jr., who dived into the end zone and made a spectacular one-handed catch to cut the Washington lead to 6 points. It was another acrobatic, circuslike grab for Beckham, who snagged the football with his arm outstretched about 18 inches from the ground. Beckham had nine receptions for 142 yards.

    The somnolent Giants had new life with slightly less than five minutes remaining. But with an anxious home crowd looking on, the Redskins took the ensuing kickoff and all but ran out the clock to preserve the victory. A key play in the final Washington drive was a 20-yard reception by tight end Jordan Reed on third down deep in Redskins territory.

    “That was the play, wasn’t it?” Coughlin lamented.

    A crucial play it was, but it was not an isolated incident. It fit a pattern, one apparently discerned by most Giants opponents. The Giants’ secondary has had trouble defending the middle of the field all year, despite a rotating cast of safeties tried by the Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. It was more of the same Sunday, with Reed leading all Washington receivers with 8 catches for 98 yards.

    Though Manning threw two interceptions in the first quarter, neither led to a Redskins score. All of the first-half scoring came in second quarter. A woefully ineffective offensive attack finally cost the Giants as Washington took a 10-0 lead on a 41-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins and a 63-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to LeSean Jackson. Cousins watched as Jackson ran untouched past the reserve cornerback Jayron Hosley, who was in the game because of an ankle injury to the starting cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Then Jackson sprinted past Giants safety Brandon Meriweather, corralling the football on the run for the end zone.

    Late in the second quarter, the Redskins extended their advantage to 17-0 when a screen pass to running back Matt Jones appeared to flummox the entire Giants defense, which had no defender in the right flat where Jones caught the football. Jones rumbled for 45 yards, a gain that eventually led to a 1-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown by Cousins.

    Afterward, Coughlin said he gave his players credit for their stirring fourth-quarter rally. But he reminded them of the opportunity squandered, a letdown that surprised Coughlin — just as his team has surprised Giants fans nearly every week this season.

    “You can look at today and should have, could have, would have all day long,” Coughlin said.

    With a look of exasperation, Coughlin added, “We have five games to go.”

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    The Loser Papers 2015 – Edition IV

    A great weekend for the home team! Each of our division opponents went down in heart-breaking fashion, while we wiped the turf with the Saints on both sides of the ball. So bad was the pummeling, that there are calls coming for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s job. Check out this classic from the Times-Picayune:

    Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan must go — and he must go now: Larry Holder

    Larry Holder, | The Times-Picayune By Larry Holder, | The Times-Picayune The Times-Picayune
    on November 15, 2015 at 6:25 PM, updated November 15, 2015 at 8:06 PM

    LANDOVER, Md. — The New Orleans Saints have never fired an assistant coach during the season under Sean Payton. That has to change during the bye week.

    It’s time to fire defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. It’s time for senior defensive assistant Dennis Allen to take over for the final six games this season.

    The Saints made Kirk Cousins look like Tom Brady on his best day as Washington utterly whipped New Orleans, 47-14, at FedEx Field in one of the most embarrassing losses in the Payton era. The Saints displayed one of the worst defensive performances I’ve ever witnessed in Payton’s 10 seasons.

    It was worse than any game I can recall — even taking into account former coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s lone historically bad season in 2012.

    Cousins went 20-of-25 passing for 324 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a perfect 158.3 passer rating. The Saints entered the game yielding a 112.0 rating to opposing QBs for the season. Brady led the league entering this week with 113.5.

    The Saints are allowing opposing quarterbacks to play better than the former two-time league MVP and four-time Super Bowl champion every week. How’s that for perspective?

    The Saints’ tackling Sunday was horrendous. The players looked lost even covering rudimentary screen passes. New Orleans had no plan for stopping tight ends in pass coverage — as usual. Washington’s ground game pounded the Saints for 213 yards on 31 carries. The Saints sacked Cousins three times, but nothing truly affected him.

    Washington piled up nearly 400 yards of offense in the first half. The last time the Redskins produced this kind of output in one half was when Doug Williams and Timmy Smith torched Denver in record-setting fashion in Super Bowl 22.

    In fact, Williams, now a Redskins front-office executive, took a stroll into the Saints’ locker room after the game. No joke. Maybe the 60-year-old former quarterback wanted a shot at his native state’s NFL franchise. I’m only half kidding.

    “Listen, it’s (the defense) is obviously a concern,” Payton said of a unit ranked near the bottom of every major statistical category this season. “It’s hard to win.”

    Defensive end Cam Jordan didn’t speak to the media afterward. His body language said everything, though. Jordan sat at his locker, staring down at his fingers, seemingly searching for answers. Then he slammed his equipment bag on the floor.

    I have no idea if Allen can make the Saints’ poor excuse for a defense any better this season. But having the Saints continuously riddled by mediocre offenses and mediocre quarterbacks every week isn’t the answer. That’s all we’ve seen from Ryan’s charges this season.

    It’s evident Ryan is coaching his last season as Saints defensive coordinator. The Saints need some sort of change, a spark — anything. If they remain status quo, the Saints might as well pack it in this season.

    Let’s talk truth. There’s no chance this defense will get any worse by replacing Ryan with Allen right now. How can it?

    Payton avoided the topic of making coaching or personnel changes after the loss to the Redskins. That was to be expected.

    “Again, we’re sitting here after a game … and we’re not going to discuss any of those types of changes, certainly not right now,” Payton said.

    But I have to imagine pondering such a move is at the forefront of Payton’s mind heading into the bye week with his team 4-6 and the defense badly regressing week by week.

    Payton already wrestled with retaining Ryan after the 2014 season when the defense dipped from fourth overall in 2013 to 31st in the league last season. Payton decided in early January that Ryan could be part of the solution. But the caveat was bringing in Allen, who served on Payton’s original staff and helped win Super Bowl 44 before moving on to become Denver’s defensive coordinator then Raiders head coach before being fired by Oakland. Payton brought Allen back into the fold to “change in dynamic.” Allen officially was given the title of senior defensive assistant. Unofficially, it was to serve as Ryan’s shadow.

    The Saints embedded their potential Ryan replacement long before this season began.

    Ryan is not solely at fault for the defense’s underwhelming performances the past couple of years. We can go through the litany of the scouting department’s poor talent evaluations on that side of the ball for days and days. That’s also a major reason the Saints’ defense seemingly is in rebuilding mode annually.

    No, Ryan’s not solely to blame. But he’s in charge of Sundays, the most glaring times when this defense displays its ineptitude.

    The Saints can’t fix the personnel problems right now. That can’t occur until the offseason. They’re stuck with the pieces in place and will have to ride with them the rest of the season. And even a substantial offseason overhaul is not a given considering the team’s cash-strapped situation.

    Do the players anticipate any changes in coaching during the bye week?

    “I don’t know necessarily what’s going to happen,” safety Kenny Vaccaro said. “But we’ve got to get better and we’ve got to win these games. We can’t allow this to keep happening. …

    “I just want to win. Whatever Coach Payton and (GM Mickey Loomis) decide to do. I just want to be in a position to win and have fun.”

    Veteran offensive tackle Zach Strief added: “No. I wouldn’t. Look, good organizations don’t make knee-jerk reactions to things. I don’t see that. But if it does, then it does. That’s OK, too. When you’re 4-6, you open yourselves up for that.

    “Blame gets spread everywhere equally. But if that’s what happens, that’s what happens. That’s not something I think the players in this locker room need to sit around and think and worry about. That’s not our decision.”

    Ryan’s departure wouldn’t be a knee-jerk reaction, though. The proof is in the past two seasons. The most recent proof is in the past few games as the Saints surrendered 49 points to the Giants, 34 to Titans rookie QB Marcus Mariota and most recently 47 to a Redskins offense that had been pedestrian at best.

    Firing Ryan wouldn’t paint Payton in the best light, either. This would be the fourth defensive coordinator either fired or to not have a contract renewed in Payton’s tenure. This is on Payton, too, but some alteration needs to occur in the bye week.

    The Saints showed no fear in adding Allen this offseason as well as making significant adjustments to both sides of the roster.

    Ryan exited the locker room rather quickly after Sunday’s loss. Allen remained much longer, sitting in a folding chair in the corner of the defensive players locker room. Allen wore a look of bewilderment as he flipped through the pages of the final stat sheet. The numbers obviously weren’t pretty.

    I doubt Allen sat there pondering how in the world was he going to breathe new life into the defense if handed the job this week.

    But if the Saints are still playing to salvage a season that’s increasingly looking like a lost cause because of the underperforming defense, Ryan has to go.

    And he has to go now.

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