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  • The Loser Papers 2015 – Edition IX

    The regular season ended with a bang yesterday, as the Redskins downed the sad sack Cowboys in dominant fashion. To add to the fun, the beat-down came in front of several members of the Dallas ring of shame. Why they trotted out these has-beens to witness the end to the worst Boys’ season in nearly 30 years, is anybody’s guess. Let’s see if The Dallas Morning News has any ideas.

    Cowboys avoid doing something foolish, lock up high draft pick after miserable season

    Washington Redskins defensive end Chris Baker (92) mows over Dallas Cowboys quarterback Kellen Moore (17) to recover a fumble after Moore fumbled the snap in the first quarter during the Washington Redskins vs. the Dallas Cowboys NFL football game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Sunday, January 3, 2016. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)

    Louis DeLuca/Staff Photographer

    Washington Redskins defensive end Chris Baker (92) mows over Dallas Cowboys quarterback Kellen Moore (17) to recover a fumble after Moore fumbled the snap in the first quarter during the Washington Redskins vs. the Dallas Cowboys NFL football game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Sunday, January 3, 2016. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)

    By , Staff Writer 

    ARLINGTON — The problem with being your best regardless of circumstance, the danger of playing hard week in and week out with nothing at stake is that a team can stumble into an inopportune victory.

    Don’t worry. The Cowboys weren’t impulsive, efficient or good enough to compromise their draft status with something as foolish as a win in the regular-season finale.

    A miserable season ended on a fitting note Sunday afternoon as Washington beat Dallas 34-23. The latest loss at AT&T Stadium ensures the Cowboys own the No. 4 pick in the April draft. Tennessee and Cleveland are the only teams to finish with fewer victories than the Cowboys this season.

    “I’m just really taken aback by the fact that we’re sitting here with four wins after this year,” owner Jerry Jones said of his team’s 4-12 record. “This was never anticipated.”

    Only two Cowboys teams have finished with more losses than this star-crossed bunch. The eight-game drop from 2014 is easily the largest one-season decline in franchise history.

    “I thought we did one of the best offseason jobs of addressing our needs and really acquiring some serious talent where we had the most need,” Jones said.

    “Last year, you guys [media] made me the Executive of the Year. This year I think I’m on my way out. And I had it figured the other way. I thought last year was going to be the exit strategy.”

    How bad did it get?

    Let us count the ways.

    The Cowboys haven’t won a game at AT&T Stadium since they beat the New York Giants in the season opener. The seven-game losing streak at home is the second longest in franchise history.

    The defense forced a franchise-low 11 turnovers this season. That equals an NFL record of futility shared by the Baltimore Colts (’82) and Houston Texans (’13).

    “The season sucked,” defensive end Greg Hardy said. “You’ve got to win to be relevant, so we didn’t win enough.”

    The Cowboys did end a five-game streak of being held to less than 20 points.

    But the 275 points the offense scored is its lowest total in 13 years. Dallas finished with 26 touchdowns, tying for the third lowest total in franchise history.

    “It’s probably as difficult of a season as we’ve been a part of,” tight end Jason Witten said.

    Head coach Jason Garrett escaped the shackles of three consecutive 8-8 records last season by presiding over a 12-4 team. Following that up with 4-12 shows he’s inexorably drawn to .500.

    “We all have to be accountable for it,” Garrett said. “We’re all a part of it. We all own it.

    “No one owns it more than I do.”

    It was clear from the start that the Cowboys weren’t about to reverse their fortunes against Washington.

    Kellen Moore, who finished with 435 yards passing, threw an interception on the team’s second possession. He fumbled the snap from center the next time he took the field.

    Dallas trailed 21-0 entering the second quarter and never drew closer than 10 points the rest of the afternoon.

    Receiver Terrance Williams, who more than doubled his best output of the season with 173 receiving yards on eight receptions, stopped rookie Lucky Whitehead in the tunnel leading to the Cowboys locker room after the game.

    “We’re going to be back next year,” Williams told Whitehead. “This is going to make us stronger.”

    Garrett said afterward that a team must be built the right way to overcome the adversities that are thrown its way over the course of a season. These Cowboys weren’t built to succeed.

    “We’re not that team,” defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford maintained. “We have too much talent on this team to only have four wins.

    “It’s just unacceptable and we have to do a lot better.”

    Injuries to receiver Dez Bryant and quarterback Tony Romo began this unexpected turn of events. But this season exposed a number of deficiencies.

    “We all know that we’re short fundamentally,” Jones said. “We’re short on execution. We’re short in many ways of where we should be, not just at quarterback, but we’re short.

    “Can we correct that and is it possible to do that within this offseason? It is possible to do.

    “Yes. Yes. And we intend to go for it and try.”

    Cowboys trends

    The fans: Down

    Yes, it’s been a miserable season for the Cowboys. Fans have been forced to generate their own entertainment and excitement in most games at AT&T Stadium. But starting the Wave while Washington’s Dashaun Phillips lies motionless on the field before he’s carted off the field on a stretcher is the epitome of poor taste.

    Team first: Up 

    Sean Lee stood to earn a $2 million bonus if he took part in roughly half of the defensive snaps in Sunday’s game. But the linebacker told Jason Garrett before the game his hamstring didn’t feel right and he’d be unable to play. A lot of players talk about putting the team over themselves. Lee is one of the few who shows it in such dramatic fashion.

    First impression: Down 

    The final margin wasn’t obscene. But when a team goes into a game with nothing at stake, what happens in the first quarter tells you if they’re ready to play. Dallas wasn’t. A team that allowed only 45 points combined in the first quarter of the first15 games found themselves down 21-0 entering the second quarter of this one.


    As miserable season ends, Cowboys need to either get better players or better coaches

    At times, the Dallas Cowboys staff, including head coach Jason Garrett (center), couldn't bear to watch their offense play in the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, January 3, 2016. The Cowboys lost 34-23.

    Tom Fox/Staff Photographer

    At times, the Dallas Cowboys staff, including head coach Jason Garrett (center), couldn’t bear to watch their offense play in the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, January 3, 2016. The Cowboys lost 34-23.

    ARLINGTON — The Cowboys announced a crowd of 90,127 for their season finale against the Washington Redskins.

    That extended the Cowboys’ streak of consecutive 90,000-plus home crowds to 11.

    But, frankly, I didn’t see those 90,000, unless many of them came clad in white towels. The Cowboys draped a towel over every seat at AT&T Stadium hoping to drum up some hometown support in a building that lacks it. But by halftime, you could still see empty suites with towels on the seats plus rows of white throughout the upper decks.

    And, frankly, I didn’t feel those 90,000. I felt the 82,000 in attendance at the Cotton Bowl in this same building the other night. There was a passion for the game and the two teams involved. But there was little to no passion on Sunday, either on the field or in the stands.

    What little emotion there was in the stands evaporated by the end of the first quarter after Kirk Cousins had completed 8-of-10 passes for 114 yards and three touchdowns to stake the Washington Redskins at a 21-0 lead on the way to a 34-23 victory.

    A miserable season had come to an end. The Cowboys had gone from first to worst in the NFC East, from 12-4 to 4-12.

    Coach Jason Garrett took a different approach in his postgame news conference. Frankly, it was a welcome approach. He didn’t drone on about how hard his team had played and how the Cowboys would continue working to get better. He spoke of the mess the Cowboys had made of their season.

    “You have to own the results, every part of it,” Garrett said. “It’s a collective responsibility. It starts with me, every coach, every player, everybody connected with the football team. You have to be honest with yourself in the evaluations, and you have to grow from the experience. That’s what we intend to do.”

    Status quo didn’t work in 2015 — not after the injuries suffered by Pro Bowl playmakers Tony Romo and Dez Bryant that kept them out for chunks of the season. And status quo won’t work in 2016. There are problems on this football team beyond the health of Romo and Bryant.

    And that’s where the Cowboys must indeed be honest in their evaluations.

    Starting with the coaching staff.

    The Cowboys led at halftime in seven games this season. They were either ahead or tied in the fourth quarter of 11 games. Yet they managed to win just four times. That’s a coaching problem.

    Garrett and his coordinators were given lucrative long-term contracts last offseason to be difference-makers. It’s the job of the coaching staff to take the players they have and find a way to win with them. It’s their job to find solutions, not excuses. But this staff had no answers. Instead of finding way to win, this staff and this team found ways to lose.

    That was underscored Sunday when the Cowboys twice committed turnovers inside the Washington 1-yard line that cost them touchdowns in a game where a couple of extra TDs would have come in handy.

    Cole Beasley disappeared for stretches in Scott Linehan’s offense this season. So did Terrance Williams, and former second-round draft pick Gavin Escobar may as well have been a 16-week inactive. The best offensive line in football regressed. The Cowboys played 12 games with backup quarterbacks and the managed to win just once.

    Either get better players or better coaches.

    Rod Marinelli’s defense is designed to feast on sacks and takeaways. His Super Bowl champion defense at Tampa in 2002 collected 43 sacks, intercepted 31 passes and forced 38 turnovers. But his 2015 Cowboys endured a defensive famine — 31 sacks, eight interceptions and a league-low 11 takeaways.

    Offseason additions Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory were brought in to give this pass rush some teeth. They combined for six sacks. The starting secondary of Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox combined for one interception.

    Again, either get better players or better coaches.

    The owner also needs to be honest with himself. Jerry Jones saw the empty seats for the finale. That 90,127 was paid admissions, not actual fannies in the stands.

    Jones heard the booing in the first half and saw the waves of fans leaving in the third and fourth quarters as Washington’s scrubs were building on the lead. One of the symptoms of this 4-12 season was a 1-7 record at home. Jones needs to put a product on the field that can reward the home folk for their support and give them a reason to cheer.

    Until the Cowboys figure out how to win at home, rush the passer, force turnovers and survive injuries, winning will remain a challenge. So the general manager of the Cowboys needs to take a long look in the mirror and be honest with himself.

    Either get better players or better coaches.


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    You Like That: Wallpaper Wednesday

    That’s right, it’s Wallpaper Wednesday again, and while we may be playing the Cowboys this week…

    … it doesn’t matter because we’re going to the playoffs!

    Largely due to the play of Captain Kirk.

    We Like That.


    Click for the 1440×900 wallpaper size, and please feel free to share across your social networks.

    Hail #RedskinsNation!

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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.

    Feel free to share on your social networks.

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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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