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Mike Shanahan On The Importance Of Draft Picks

Posted by Matt Terl on February 25, 2011 – 10:05 am

Nothing sends fear shooting through a Redskins fan quite like the suggestion of trading away a draft pick. Fans have been agitating for an increased emphasis on youth and building a team through the draft for the last several years (at least), and every year at about this time cynics and fatalists begin muttering grimly about how the team is inevitably going to swap picks for veteran players.

But there’s some good news for those cynics and fatalists at the end of the long interview Larry Michael conducted with Mike Shanahan yesterday in Indianapolis. You’ll be able to watch the whole thing on Redskins.com today — here’s part 1 — (and on Redskins Nation in the coming days), but here’s the relevant excerpt: Read more »

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Hail! Goes To The Combine

Posted by Matt Terl on February 25, 2011 – 9:18 am

As mentioned yesterday, I’m not at the NFL Combine this year. But in this week’s Hail! comic strip, writer/artist Ben Ceccarelli imagines what it might be like if I were. The results are not entirely encouraging. I’ll have you know I was a half-decent runner at one point in my life, Mr. Ceccarelli. Sure, it was a long time ago, but still.

As always, click this first panel or the Read More link to see the entire strip.
Read more »

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Mike Shanahan Says That He Had 'A Great Conversation' With Fletcher Smith

Posted by Matt Terl on February 24, 2011 – 8:51 pm

I had a chance to hear a bit more of the interview Larry Michael conducted with Mike Shanahan at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis; it’s long and wide-ranging, and there’s a lot of good stuff there. You’ll be able to see more of it on Redskins.com on Friday — here’s part 1 — and Redskins Nation on Comcast SportsNet next week, and I’ll have a a few more excerpts as well, but here’s one thing that jumped out at me right away: Shanahan confirmed that he had finally had that long-awaited meeting with Donovan McNabb’s agent Fletcher Smith.

Shanahan didn’t reveal much beyond that. “I did talk to Fletcher Smith yesterday,” he said, after Michael asked him about the latest developments in the McNabb situation. “Had a great conversation with him. And, you know, I can’t go through the details, but it’s been talked about, and we’ll let the process take care of itself.”

This marks another bit of progress in the Continuing Saga Of Donovan McNabb — the last time we heard from McNabb himself, he said, “I think for Fletcher Smith as well as Bruce [Allen] and Mike, they’ll get a chance to sit down and iron some things out and after the evaluation — they’ve been evaluating the last couple of weeks — we’ll hear what their answer is of what we’re doing next and then we’ll go from there.”

Now we know that the sit-down has taken place. We know that it was “a great conversation”. Hopefully soon we’ll get to the parts where hear what the answer is, what we’re doing next, and where we’re going from there. But it’s good to know that these early steps have taken place.

For more of Larry Michael’s interview with Mike Shanahan, see Redskins.com on Friday (here’s part 1), Redskins Nation on Comcast SportsNet next week, and here as well, for more exciting transcription. Read more »

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Updates From Indianapolis [Updated 4:46]

Posted by Matt Terl on February 24, 2011 – 4:46 pm

Intrepid correspondent Jordan Beane will be texting me brief updates from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianpolis all day. I’ll be updating this post with those updates and adjusting the updated time in the title. Expect mostly behind-the-scenes and slice-of-life updates; I don’t think you’ll be seeing analysis of the top offensive tackle prospects here.

* * * * * * * *

[4:46] Just found out the place we’re staying at opened two weeks ago. Didn’t realize there was such a thing as “new elevator smell”. Apparently there is.

* * * * * * * *

[4:02] Not a text from Beane, but here’s tonight’s Redskins Nightly News, featuring a snippet of the Mike Shanahan interview referenced below.

* * * * * * * *

[3:41] This picture is us shooting B-roll for Redskins Nation from my 28th floor hotel room. Not sure if it looks creepy or James Bond-like. Probably the former.

* * * * * * * *

[3:33] Just got done shooting a great interview between head coach Mike Shanahan and Larry Michael. Shanahan had a lot of interesting things to say. Stay tuned to Redskins Nation to check it out.

* * * * * * * *

[3:02] Rex Ryan just walked by again. At this point I can only assume the he’s following me.

* * * * * * * *

[2:58] Team doctors told us they checked out eighty-some-odd people today. And it’s only the first day, and it was half an hour ago when he told us that. The number of tongue depressors used at an hourly rate here must be astounding.

* * * * * * * *

[2:14] There’s also a Methodist convention in the same hotel. Or I was lied to and teams have started to rely more heavily on grandmothers in their scouting departments.

* * * * * * * *

[1:56] The Jets parade continues here as Rex Ryan and GM Mike Tannenbaum sauntered by. Ryan not nearly as big or as loud in person.

* * * * * * * *

[12:16] First celebrity sighting. Jets special teams coach made famous on HBO’s Hard Knocks. Was surprisingly quiet as he walked through the lobby. Read more »

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Charles Mann Hosts Students At Redskins Park

Posted by Matt Terl on February 24, 2011 – 12:50 pm

Redskins great Charles Mann is at Redskins Park today, along with Jeff Wood, Managing Director of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. They’re leading about thirty kids from T.C. Williams High School on a tour of Redskins Park, discussing goal setting, preparation, planning, and strategies for success — how those things are important in football, and by extension how they’re important when it comes to these kids making plans for the future.

The trophies that stand in a case near the entrance to the facility — two of which were acquired largely because Mann prepared tirelessly when he himself was a player — make a compelling visual argument for the football part of that theory, and Mann’s stories, bolstered by those sorts of visual aids, seem to make a pretty solid impression on the kids.

“Bringing kids to something that they can relate to and putting fiscal preparedness in that context,” Wood explains, “it resonates with them a lot better.”

“When these kids see a professional athlete,” Mann adds, “or in this case a former professional athlete, they want to know what you drive, they want to see how you live. And this is an opportunity to say, look, I don’t live beyond my means. I don’t have bling all over, I don’t have a chauffeur. That’s not real life.”

I’ll have more on this later, including Mann’s memories of the “2 Legit 2 Quit” game and his theory on what modern defensive ends do less effectively than he and his peers. Read more »

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Correspondent Arrives In Indy, And Other Links

Posted by Matt Terl on February 24, 2011 – 11:05 am

When Official Redskins Blog Combine Correspondent Jordan Beane said that he’d be providing a “complete picture” of what goes on in Indianapolis, I guess he really meant it. Above, the arrivals screen at the airport; below, a view of the Indianapolis skyline. In all seriousness, I told Beane to think of his Indy assignment somewhat like a Tumblr, and to send back whatever pictures, snippets, quotes, and anything else he found relevant or amusing, in addition to any longer (and presumably more substantive) pieces.

After the jump, a few more links worth reading today.

Read more »

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Redskins Blog's 2011 Combine Correspondent

Posted by Matt Terl on February 24, 2011 – 9:52 am

For a whole variety of reasons, I won’t be attending the NFL Scouting Combine this year (which is fortunate, as it kicks off today in Indianapolis but I’m still sitting in Loudoun County, Virginia). But it wouldn’t do for this blog to miss out on several days of football prospects jumping up and down, or on every single person in the NFL being in one city at the same time. So since I can’t be there myself, I’ve got a correspondent on the ground in Indy — this guy:

No, not Chris Cooley, although that would no doubt be entertaining. THIS guy, down there at the bottom right of that picture:

That’s Jordan Beane. His day job — as you can probably guess from the picture — is for the Redskins Broadcast Network. But Beane’s also an experienced writer — has a degree in it and everything! — who just the other day was telling me that one of his dreams in life is to be a remote correspondent covering dramatic upheaval in a foreign country.

I didn’t have the resources to accomodate that, nor is the social unrest in Libya really within the purview of the Redskins Blog, but Indianapolis … that I could do, especially since he was already going to be there for RBN. It’s not Beane’s first time at the Combine, which will also be helpful to his coverage. Here, in his first dispatch, he explains how last year’s Indianapolis experience will infom this year’s coverage.

Read more »

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O.J. Atogwe Visits Redskins Park: A Twitter Story

Posted by Matt Terl on February 23, 2011 – 9:31 am

Free agent safety O.J. Atogwe visited Redskins Park yesterday, and apparently left without signing a deal. That’s the entire story, really, and it’s not a very exciting one. It doesn’t explain motivations: did he leave because he didn’t WANT to sign? Because the team didn’t want to sign HIM? Because, regardless of what they both wanted, neither side wanted to do a deal yet? Unanswered. But the fact that the story itself even exists is, at least in part, another example of how Twitter has changed the news fans get about sports.

Once upon a time, Atogwe’s visit would’ve likely gone unmentioned until and unless he (or his agent) or someone on the team leaked it to the media. Everyone would’ve been speculating about it, of course — it took maybe ten minutes after news broke that the Rams were releasing Atogwe for me to get the first email suggesting that he might be a fit with Jim Haslett, his old defensive coordinator — but there might or might not have ever been confirmation.

In 2011, things proceed a little differently. First, on Monday afternoon, Atogwe posted this to his Twitter feed:

Technically it could’ve meant anything, but by Tuesday morning Atogwe made it pretty clear that those new horizons included at least a stopover in Loudoun County, Virginia.

And, some six or so hours later, he finished with this:

Like I started with: he visited and he left. That’s the story, as told by the guy himself That’s one thing you wouldn’t have gotten in those hazy pre-Twitter days. The other thing you wouldn’t have gotten is the honest reaction from the current Redskins safeties. Read more »

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Robert Henson Lists His Goals, And Other Links

Posted by Matt Terl on February 22, 2011 – 9:49 am

Linebacker Robert Henson suffered a knee injury in the final preseason game of 2010, in what was looking like the best performance of his young career. He wound up on injured reserve and — with the consequent IR invisibility — has gone largely unmentioned as fans and pundits predict the Redskins offseason moves. But Henson — a 2009 sixth-round draft choice — is exactly the kind of unheralded young talent who could become an important contributor in the future.

One person who didn’t consider Henson invisible was blogger Brent at BroodingBurgundy.com. He conducted a wide-ranging email interview with the young linebacker that touched on a lot of things; what stuck out most to me were Henson’s goals for 2011, which manage to be both appealingly realistic AND nicely grandiose.

My goals for the 2011 season are as follows:
1) Be a force on Special Teams
2) Crack the lineup on defense
3) Show the coaches that I can be a starting LB for years to come
4) Most importantly, do whatever I can to win and bring that Lombardi to the nation’s capital

Plenty more good stuff in the link. Meanwhile, here are a few other things that are worth reading: Read more »

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A Former Redskins Linebacker Coaches In The Lingerie Football League

Posted by Matt Terl on February 18, 2011 – 2:10 pm

You might not remember Matt Sinclair. He was a linebacker here in 2007 and 2008, a fringe guy who saw a little action on special teams and spent all of the 2008 season on injured reserve; he was released in March of 2009 and moved on to a life after football. I don’t often write about ex-players, and Sinclair’s departure wasn’t totally unexpected; in fact, he seemed to have been preparing for that life the entire time he was here — I first talked to him as he was compiling memories of his time in NFL Europa with an eye toward a future book project. But despite the seeming inevitability of his departure, he still managed to wind up someplace unexpected enough to be worth mentioning now.

Because Matt Sinclair spent the last year as the head coach of the Chicago Bliss in the Lingerie Football League.

And that league, for those who may be unfamiliar with it, is exactly what it sounds like: tackle football played by scantily-clad women. But that’s a needlessly reductive way of describing things, Sinclair explains, because the football is completely authentic. “It’s for real, and that’s the only reason I decided to do it,” he says. “After looking into it and researching it a little bit, y’know, it’s real football. I mean, I made gameplans, scout team cards, the whole thing.”

“I compare it to Hooters,” Sinclair says. “Hooters wouldn’t be as successful as it is right now if the food and the beer wasn’t good. People would go in the first time, they’d see the girls in the uniforms and go, ‘Oh, they’re hot,’ but if there wasn’t a reason to keep coming back, Hooters would be out of business. People would just go to strip clubs.” Read more »

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