So much for Derek Jeter wanting the world in return for Giancarlo Stanton as he gave him to the New York Yankees for a song.
When the Washington Redskins selected quarterback Kirk Cousins in the fourth round of the 2012 National Football League Draft, he was an afterthought. The reason why Cousins became an afterthought was because in the first round of that same draft, the Redskins made a splash when they traded up to the second overall selection to pick quarterback Robert Griffin III. Griffin was expected to be the Redskins franchise player and he quickly lived up to it by being the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of Year, while also helping Washington win the NFC East.
But things would quickly change in Washington as a knee injury took away from Griffin’s effectiveness, while he never completely figured out what it took to be a quarterback in the National Football League. Cousins took advantage of Griffin not being able to be “the guy” and over the last three years he has had one of the better runs of any quarterback in the franchise’s history.
In 2015, the Redskins won the NFC East, while Cousins led the National Football League in completion percentage (69.8%). That season Cousins also became just the third quarterback in Redskins franchise history to pass for more than 4,000 yards. And in 2016, Cousins shattered the franchise’s single-season passing mark when he threw for 4,917 yards. But whereas Cousins has shown that he can be the guy and lead Washington to the postseason, the team’s front office has not done right by him.
Each of the last two off-seasons have seen the Redskins attach the franchise tag to Cousins, while the team’s two top wide receivers from last season in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon were allowed to leave in free agency. There were rumors that Cousins wanted to be traded to the San Francisco 49ers in order to be reunited with his former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan who had just been named as the Niners head coach. But that didn’t come to fruition as the Redskins would not budge in allowing Cousins to leave town. Cousins once again signed his franchise tender and although that Washington more than likely won’t make the playoffs this season, he is still putting up good numbers.
This season Cousins has completed 66.6% of his passes, while passing for 3,289 yards and throwing 21 touchdowns in spite of the fact that he’s playing behind a patchwork offensive line. And as there is not a glut of quality quarterbacks around the National Football League, Cousins could be set to strike it big in the off-season.
The Redskins still have the option to slap the franchise tag on Cousins once more. But at this point if Washington is unable to secure a long-term deal with Cousins, it is time to let him go as they’ve blown multiple chances to sign him to a long-term deal.
The upcoming National Football League Draft is expected to have some good prospects at quarterback which includes UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen, but every team that needs a new signal caller will not be able to draft one, and an experienced one such as Cousins could strike it big.
There are several teams in need of a starting quarterback, but the two that make the most sense for Cousins should he leave Washington would be the New York Jets and Denver Broncos.
The Jets are 5-7 this season and they have overachieved as they’re hanging around in the playoff picture in the AFC, while they’ve also managed to be extremely competitive. For years the Jets have had issues at the quarterback position. Currently the Jets have two young quarterbacks on their roster in Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenburg, but the fact that a 38-year old journeyman in Josh McCown has started all 12 games this season for New York lets you know that neither of the youngsters is the future for this franchise.
Since Mike Maccagnan has been the general manager of the Jets, this team has been held together will spit and glue and they need to solidify the situation at quarterback if they intend on being a contender.
After beginning this season with a record of 3-1, the Broncos find themselves on an eight-game losing streak as they are heading to one of their worst seasons in franchise history. Since the Broncos won the Super Bowl to culminate the 2015 National Football League season, they have had serious issues at the quarterback position.
This season the Broncos have used three different starting quarterbacks in Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, and Paxton Lynch. Combined this trio has only been able to complete 57.5% of their passes which is 31st in the National Football League. This is a stark contrast from the Broncos defense which is fifth in the NFL in yards allowed, but defense alone cannot win games.
Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway knows what it takes to put a championship team together, but he has not succeeded in being able to draft and develop a quarterback. And after the Broncos have endured this disappointing season, I expect Elway to leave no stone unturned in regards to once again making the Broncos a contender.
It was nearly a year ago that I mentioned that the ‘Skins were playing with fire by not locking up Cousins to a long-term deal. It’s nearly a year later and nothing has changed in Washington. It’s time for the Redskins brain trust of owner Dan Snyder, president Bruce Allen, and head coach Jay Gruden to read the team’s history books in order to evaluate the franchise’s situation at quarterback over the last 25 years. It is not pretty and playing Russian roulette with Cousins could once again set the Redskins back at the most important position on the field.
To say that the last two weeks have been eventful for the New York Giants could be the understatement of the year. The Giants are in the midst of one of their worst seasons in the history of their franchise and for the first time since 1976, they fired a head coach during the season. This past Monday, Ben McAdoo was fired as the head coach of the Giants along with general manager Jerry Reese. McAdoo who was not a fan favorite became immensely unpopular with the Giants fan base when he announced that quarterback Eli Manning would not be in the starting lineup when the team took the field against the Oakland Raiders this past Sunday. This marked the first time since Week 10 of the 2004 National Football League season that a quarterback other than Manning would be under center to start the game for the Giants which came with immense uproar.
The majority of the Giants fan base, former players with the team as well as the media in New York City were on the verge of going after McAdoo with pitchforks and torches once news broke that Manning would not be starting. Radio personalities in New York City such as WFAN’s Mike Francesca were incensed, while some Giants fans paid to have a billboard on the New Jersey Turnpike placed near MetLife Stadium which stated “Big Blue Shame On You”. People are upset that the Giants organization attempted to make Manning the scapegoat for the team’s disastrous season as they sought out to bench him in favor of former New York Jets starting quarterback Geno Smith.
Giants co-owner John Mara smelled blood in the water as three of the Giants final four games this season are home which includes their meeting with the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday. And sensing the unrest among fans, Mara decided to make McAdoo and Reese the lambs that he was throwing to the slaughter as MetLife Stadium was set to become a crime scene if they were still around.
In parting with Reese and McAdoo, the Giants are in the midst of searching for a new general manager and head coach. Typically the combination of a new head coach and general manager will seek to begin their tenure together by starting fresh which means drafting a quarterback that fits their system, while also becoming the new face of the franchise. But for the Giants, they have themselves a dill of a pickle.
Manning will be 37-years of age in January and the Giants must ask themselves if it is time for them to move on from arguably the best quarterback in the franchise’s history, or can they make another Super Bowl run with him.
There are some people who feel that Manning is done, while others still think that he still has something left in the tank. But either way it is very difficult to determine whether or not that Manning can get it done since he was deprived of having his top wide receivers this season, along with not being protected by a solid offensive line, or having a decent running game which makes the upcoming off-season very interesting. But if the Giants do decide that Manning is still their guy, there is a coach who could make things right for the future Hall of Famer.
In 1998 when Jon Gruden was hired to be the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, he was the youngest head coach in the National Football League at the age of 34. Gruden was deemed as the “wonder kid”, and the league’s next offensive genius. By 2000, Gruden had led the Raiders to their first AFC Championship Game appearance in a decade, but his relationship with team owner Al Davis was eroding.
After the 2001 National Football League season, Gruden was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a pair of first-round draft picks. And in Gruden’s first season in Tampa, he led the Bucs to their first Super Bowl Championship.
In 11 seasons as a head coach in the National Football League, Gruden compiled a record of 95-81 which included having more wins that any other head coach in the franchise history of the Buccaneers.
Since Gruden was fired by the Bucs in 2009, he has done color commentary for ESPN’s coverage of Monday Night Football, and he’s been successful at it which has included him being nominated in each of the last six years for a sports Emmy. Several times Gruden’s name has come up in regards to head coaching vacancies which included the current opening at the University of Tennessee. But being that Gruden is a master salesman, while he also loves the attention that comes with being courted by a team, he would only leave his cushy job in ESPN’s broadcasting booth if the right opportunity came along. And that opportunity could be the Giants head coaching vacancy.
The Giants are tailor made for Gruden as he is at his best with teams who possess veteran quarterbacks. With the Raiders, Gruden made quarterback Rich Gannon a household name, and by 2002, he was the National Football League’s MVP. And in Gannon’s MVP season, Gruden led the Bucs past his former team in Super Bowl 38 with Brad Johnson as his starting quarterback.
For the longest time Gruden has been extremely fond of the Manning family which includes Eli’s older brother Peyton as well as his dad Archie. And if there is someone who still believes that the younger Manning can still get it done in the National Football League, it is Gruden.
The Giants are attempting to save face with Manning as he will once again be the team’s starting quarterback this Sunday. Manning still has two years left on his current deal and has publicly stated that he wants to remain with the Giants. But Manning will not remain with the Giants just to keep the seat warm for someone else.
Had the Giants decided to part with Manning in the off-season, things would be different. But since Manning was benched in favor of Smith which was a move that Mara was okay with, there might be a high level of brown nosing going on by the team’s front office to the franchise quarterback which means that he now holds all of the cards.
The Giants got a front row seat to the public backlash of parting with Manning as many people still feel that he can get it done. The Giants will have a top five pick in next year’s National Football League Draft which could be used on the offensive line, or a running back “if” they feel that they can squeeze a few more years out of Manning. And if that “if” is strong enough, Gruden could be their guy.
Gruden has been around some of the game’s best quarterbacks which includes Brett Favre, Joe Montana, and Steve Young, and he would not have an issue in regards to trusting Manning with his offense. Gruden also has the cache needed to keep players such as wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. who has been known to be a diva in line. Gruden possesses that rare niche in regards to motivating good players to be great, and great players legendary.
Aside from fixing the Bucs offense in 2002, Gruden challenged the Bucs great defense to be greater, and they took him up on the challenge. En route to winning the Super Bowl, the Buccaneers had the top ranked defense in the National Football League which included holing nine opponents to 10 points or less, while also scoring 5 defensive touchdowns.
Gruden also has the personality that is built for New York City which is something that was possessed by former Giants head coaches Bill Parcells and Tom Coughlin who each won a pair of Super Bowl Titles with the organization.
This will be a very important off-season for the Giants as the moves that will be made by this franchise will affect them for at least the next decade. And for a franchise that is desperate to have some positive headlines about them on the back pages of the local newspapers, hiring Gruden would be very interesting for business.
When Tommy Bowden was fired as the head football coach of the Clemson Tigers during the 2008 college football season, he was replaced by wide receivers coach Dabo Swinney on an interim basis. Swinney was not a big name on the college football scene and he figured to be a guy that would keep the seat warm until a suitable replacement was found for Clemson. Under Swinney, Clemson would go 4-3 for the rest of 2008, to finish the season with a record of 7-6. But Swinney’s ability to relate to the players at Clemson saw them go to bat for him when the school was looking for a new head football coach which led to Swinney getting the job on a full-time basis.
Swinney’s first full season would see the Tigers reach the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game for the first time in school history, but this would be followed up by a 6-7 season which left you wondering if he would be shown the door. However former Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips would stick with Swinney which has changed the aspect of football on the school’s campus for all of the right reasons.
Clemson would go 10-4 in 2011 en route to winning their first Atlantic Coast Conference Title since 1991. And although that the Tigers were blown out in the Orange Bowl by the West Virginia Mountaineers 70-33, they were on the right track in regards to becoming a better program.
In 2012, Clemson would go 11-2 which was capped off by a victory over the LSU Tigers in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. And that victory over LSU was a turning point for Clemson as they were able to knock off one of the premier college football programs in the nation. Since then Clemson has not lost a bowl game and in the process they have become the program that the others around the nation want to emulate.
In the last seven years Clemson is 82-14 with four Atlantic Conference Championships (including the last three), as well as a national championship. And after Clemson’s 38-3 beat down over the Miami Hurricanes this past Saturday night in the ACC Championship Game, they are heading back to the College Football Playoff for the third consecutive year with an opportunity to defend their national championship.
Clemson came into this college football season as the defending national champs, and although that they began the campaign ranked fifth in the Associated Press Poll, they flew under the radar.
The Tigers had to replace quarterback Deshaun Watson who was one of the top players in college football as he was the heart and soul of their title team last season. Watson decided to leave school after his junior season in order to purse a career in the National Football League. But for Swinney, he has found Watson 2.0 to lead his team in 2017.
Junior quarterback Kelly Bryant spent the last two years as Watson’s backup, and in 2017 he has done his best Watson impersonation. At 6’4″, 220 lbs., Bryant has a similar build to Watson and he’s also done his part on the field this season as he passed for 2,678 yards with 13 passing touchdowns as well as 11 on the ground. And in Clemson’s only loss this season which came on the road the road versus the Syracuse Orange, Bryant left that contest early with a leg injury. The poise and play making ability of Bryant has allowed the Tigers to not skip a beat as they have picked up some huge victories in hostile environments en route to getting back to the College Football Playoff.
This season Clemson has road conference wins over the Louisville Cardinals, Virginia Tech Hokies, and North Carolina State Wolfpack who were all ranked at the time. And Clemson cannot be accused of playing an easy non-conference schedule as they also defeated a pair of teams from the Southeastern Conference. Clemson knocked off the Auburn Tigers who would go on to play for SEC Title and the South Carolina Gamecocks as both teams finished the regular season ranked in the final College Football Playoff Poll.
And once you put Clemson’s entire body of work together for this season, while also accepting the fact that their one loss was attached to Bryant’s inability to play, they are heading into the College Football Playoff as the top seed. The Tigers will take the field at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana on New Year’s Day in the Sugar Bowl, and in the process they will be facing a very familiar foe.
Each of the last two college football seasons have ended with Clemson facing the Alabama Crimson Tide for the national championship. In 2016, the Tigers appeared to have run out of time versus Alabama, but in the rematch this past January, it was the heroics of Watson that helped Clemson capture their first national title since 1981. And now college football’s newest rivalry will once again happen on the game’s biggest stage.
But it is not by accident that Clemson has reached this summit under Swinney. Even as an assistant coach Swinney was known for his recruiting ability which has only been magnified by the recent success of Clemson. The State of South Carolina is known for its high-school talent, and Clemson’s success has given Swinney the ability to keep the top talent within the state. Including Bryant, Clemson currently has 46 players from South Carolina on their roster and as the wins continue to pile up for Swinney, that number will not be decreasing anytime soon.
Swinney has already done at Clemson what many people before him failed to do which is make the Tigers a national power, and now he has raised the bar for his successor. There was a time when the notion of Clemson taking the field versus Alabama under head football coach Nick Saban would mean that the Crimson Tide would mop the floor with the Tigers. However those days are over as there is not fear on the part of Clemson, while there is mutual respect between both teams. There was a time when Clemson could not defeat Florida State in order to win the Atlantic Coast Conference as they would just be thankful to get a victory over NC State and make the Gator Bowl. But those days are over at Clemson as Swinney indeed has a system in place.
Swinney has not skipped a beat in spite of the fact that he is consistently sending first rounders to the National Football League Draft which includes Watson as well as Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. And that will continue as Clemson’s third consecutive trip to the College Football Playoff will keep Swinney’s program relevant with the big boys on the college football scene.