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Chris Cooley and Don Warren talk Rennie Simmons

Posted by Matt Terl on January 8, 2009 – 3:55 pm

I didn’t get to know Rennie Simmons very well over the course of this last season. In fact, as far as I recall I had only one encounter with him, and it wasn’t really the sort of thing that establishes a meaningful bond.

(It’s also not the sort of thing that makes a very interesting story, but here it is anyhow: on the day of the team’s Pro Bowl voting, I was carrying a large cardboard box full of ballots and pens and other stuff to the team meeting room. I wasn’t sure if Zack Bolno had already gone in to introduce the voting process, and Coach Simmons was the only person nearby when I asked where Bolno was. Simmons mistook my default level of neurotic fretfulness as concern and interrupted Bolno in a meeting with Coach Zorn to let him know that “a nervous guy with a box” was looking for him. That’s the extent of our verbal interaction, as far as I recall.)

Anyhow, with Simmons’ retirement, I thought it might be interesting to talk to a couple of the guys who knew him best — one of the first tight ends he coached here, Don Warren (currently a pro scout for the team), and one of the last, Chris Cooley (currently the Pro Bowl tight end, of course).

One thing Cooley confirmed was that it wasn’t just me that hadn’t forged a relationship with Simmons. “Oh, he definitely kept a low profile,” Cooley said, “and even as close as we were, I’ve still never seen his house or anything like that.”

And the two are pretty close: Cooley’s taking Simmons with him to the Pro Bowl. I asked if that wasn’t a little unusual, given their differences in age, but Cooley shrugged it off. “He’s been my coach since I got drafted, and we’re good friends as well as working together,” he said. “It’s one of the odd things about being part of a football team – age is kinda irrelevant. You spend a lot of time together, you know?” Read more »

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Thursday, January 8: Some Interesting Quarterback Numbers

Posted by Matt Terl on January 8, 2009 – 9:25 am

If you’re anything like me — and I have no reason to suspect you’re not — you read the casual reference to Heath Shuler‘s disastrous career in yesterday’s post about jerseys and found yourself musing about just how bad Shuler was.

“I know he was bad,” you might have thought, “but was he galactically atrocious, or just really, really cruddy? If only there was some way to ascertain exactly how low he ranks in the history of Redskins quarterbacks, I could be happy.”

You might think that simply looking at quarterback rating would do the trick, but it turns out that QB rating is a surprisingly inaccurate measure for comparing quarterbacks from different eras.

Michael Sherman, a blogger over at, can explain further:

I was surprised to see [Sammy Baugh‘s] rookie season quarterback rating: 50.5, an incredibly low number by today’s standards. Even Heath Shuler (sorry, Congressman Heath Shuler) never posted a mark that low when he wore the burgundy and gold. Yet Baugh’s 1937 campaign was not only good enough to guide the Redskins to their first NFL Championship, but it was also good enough to lead the league in quarterback rating. 71 years ago, the league average quarterback rating was just 34.4.

Quarterback ratings have been slowly rising since the game’s inception. We have reliable passing statistics dating back to 1936, and since then, the league average rating has risen from 28.9 to this season’s all-time high of 81.5.

So be happy, dear reader, because — thanks to Sherman’s diligent work — there is a way to adjust QB rating across the eras, and Shuler ranks very low indeed. Read more »

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