NFC East: Chris Samuels
Griffin completed 69.4 percent of his passes for 1,070 yards, four touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 103.2 in September. He also rushed for 234 yards. He's only the third player in NFL history to throw for more than 1,000 yards in the first four weeks of his rookie season, though it likely says something about the NFL that the other two are Carolina's Cam Newton in 2011 and Miami's Ryan Tannehill this year.
Anyway, this is the second year in a row the Redskins have had a rookie win September honors. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month last September. Griffin is the first Redskins player to win Offensive Rookie of the Month since Chris Samuels did it in October of 2000. Remember that? No? Yeah, me neither.
"He gives me so much insight," Williams said of Samuels. "I really couldn't gauge it if I didn't have him. I don't even know what it'd be like.
"He just got done going up against a lot of these people that I'm playing. He's got a lot of inside tips. It's not just like a coach telling me what I need to do. It's a person telling me how to do it because he had success in the past doing it that way."
What started out as a summer coaching internship has become a season-long gig for Samuels. And Williams has the most to gain from that situation.
- Ed Barkowitz of the Philadelphia Daily News thinks the Cowboys have a Super incentive.
- Emmitt Smith thinks that someone will eventually "approach" his NFL rushing record.
- David Moore of The Dallas Morning News has the latest on the Dez Bryant negotiation.
- Here's what ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins reported on the Bryant negotiations.
- DallasNews.com blogger Gerry Fraley files a report about Emmitt Smith's latest prediction.
- Rich Hofmann of the Daily News wonders why athletes like Michael Vick keep putting themselves in dangerous situations.
- Reuben Frank takes a look at some of the top position battles.
- The Inquirer's Ashley Fox has done some excellent work on the newspaper's series about the Eagles' decision makers. She has a piece on owner Jeff Lurie today.
- T.O. and Donovan McNabb will reunite on Spike TV's "Pros vs. Joes" this week.
- Paul Schwartz from the Post has a pretty strong take on C.C. Brown's recent comments.
- Tight end Travis Beckum tells the Star-Ledger that he's ready to take the next step.
Oklahoma's Trent Williams was a better fit for the Redskins than Oklahoma State's left tackle Russell Okung. Williams is an excellent athlete with an huge upside. He's also capable of moving all over the line. Here's what the folks from Scouts Inc. had to say on the positive side:
"One of the toughest offensive linemen we evaluated in this year's class. Lacks elite power but is strong and tough enough to matchup effectively in the phone booth with any defender. Clearly plays with a mean streak. Fights to finish and wants to finish his block by burying the defender. Does a great job of getting helping inside initially and then picking up the oncoming wide defender in slide protection. Works hard to finish and isn't satisfied until he has planted his assigned defender in the turf."
I had the pleasure of flying back from the combine with Williams and Cowboys All-Pro DeMarcus Ware. Williams had no clue who he was sitting next to until Ware finally introduced himself. Now the two will be squaring off for the next five or six years. Sam Bradford will tell you how great Williams was for the Sooners. Just a nasty player who also has outstanding character.
I'm sure a few Redskins fans wanted Eric Berry, but you had to go with the left tackle there.
Should the Redskins select a quarterback at No. 4 overall?
Okung's probably the safest pick at No. 4 overall -- and I think it would be the wisest selection. But Mike Shanahan knows more than anyone the importance of the quarterback position, and it's hard to tell if he's sold on Jason Campbell. He's reportedly watched hours of film on Jimmy Clausen, so I'm sure he's formed a pretty strong opinion of the former Notre Dame quarterback. We keep reading that Clausen's alleged cockiness put off some teams at the combine, but I haven't heard that complaint from anyone in the Redskins organization.
ESPN draft gurus Mel Kiper and Todd McShay are split on Clausen. Kiper has the Redskins selecting Clausen at No. 4, but McShay's never been sold on him. The big thing Clausen has going for him is that he's played in Charlie Weis' pro-style offense and he's comfortable taking snaps from center. Players such as Bradford, Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy are having to make some major adjustments in terms of their drops, but Clausen's been doing it for years.
Redskins general manager Bruce Allen and Shanahan haven't made any knee-jerk moves in trying to change the culture of the organization. If you look at what Bill Parcells and the Dolphins did when they first got to South Florida, they took the best left tackle in the draft in Jake Long. He'll likely start at that position for the next eight or nine seasons. They eventually selected Chad Henne, but the Dolphins didn't rush the process. It was Chad Pennington who led the team to the playoffs in '08.
Taking Clausen in the first round might be the most exciting move the Redskins could make, but acquiring a cornerstone of the offensive line will provide a better foundation. You guys on board with Okung at No. 4 or do you want Clausen? Use the "comments" section to answer The Big Question.
Clifton, 33, is the top offensive tackle on the free-agent market and he's apparently seeking somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 million a year. With the Redskins desperate for help along the offensive line, it's reasonable to think they'll outbid the Packers for Clifton's services.
We'll be talking to folks at Redskins Park in the morning and we'll let you know if there are any updates. Clifton has started 138 games since being selected in the second round of the 2000 draft.
Looking back at Samuels’ illustrious career, it is very difficult to find holes in his game. He might not have been the most physical masher in the run game, but he had very light feet, was a natural knee-bender and understood body positioning quite well. He was extremely physically gifted and knew how to use those gifts to his advantage, particularly as a blind-side protector, where he was routinely left one-on-one against elite pass-rushers.
In terms of the big picture, I would put Samuels behind Pace, Jonathan Ogden and Walter Jones. That probably makes him a fringe Hall of Fame player. With Pace and Jones in the NFC, Samuels may not have always gotten his due, but there is an awful lot to like about what this great player did on the field. He will be missed.
Travis (Chantilly, Va.): Let's talk Redskins. Which players on the current roster will not be here next year and who can we bring in through the draft or trades to make this team better next year? I think with the fourth pick in the draft we need Russell Okung and Toby Gerhart in the second round (shades of Riggins).
Mosley at 12:26 p.m. ET: The trade thing will be tough. Better to build through the draft. I like Okung. Watched him play at least eight or nine times on TV or in person over the years. I think you get rid of Clinton Portis, Carlos Rogers and some of the spares on the OL. You don't need Mike Williams hanging around. Say goodbye to Randy Thomas. Obviously Chris Samuels is probably done. I'd clean out that secondary. Tryon's not a player. Say goodbye to Smoot. And lose some age on defense. I like Daniels, but it's time to move on. And Gerhart's a lot faster than Riggins ever was.
Figure out what he's going to do at quarterback: Dan Snyder and his old pal Vinny Cerrato made a mess of this situation last offseason by pursuing every quarterback not named Jason Campbell. Allen has been complimentary of Campbell's work, but this is something Shanahan needs to figure out. I talked to Campbell about Shanahan last week, and he expressed excitement about the coach's credentials. Shanahan obviously won the two Super Bowls with John Elway, had some success with Jake Plummer and appeared to have Jay Cutler headed in the right direction. I think Shanahan will look to draft a quarterback and groom him for the future, but you don't want to throw a kid to the wolves behind this offensive line. If Shanahan believes Campbell could elevate his game, I think it behooves him to invest some time in him. Campbell had the best statistical season of his career while playing behind perhaps the worst collection of offensive linemen in the league. I'd like to see what a quarterback guru such as Shanahan could accomplish with Campbell, who has handled this entire situation with a lot of grace.
Assemble a talented coaching staff: I think Shanahan brings a great deal of energy to the job after having a season off. But it's not like he played golf the whole time. He spent a lot of time visiting other coaches and watching film at an office in Denver. I have to believe he has basically had a coaching in staff in mind for the past six or seven months. His son, Kyle, will serve as offensive coordinator and there's a lot of speculation that Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer will fill the same role for the Redskins. Keep your eye on whether Shanahan retains any members of the previous Washington regime. It will be an indicator of how much say Snyder has retained. Snyder loved special-teams coordinator Danny Smith and he's also fond of secondary coach Jerry Gray. My guess is Shanahan will pretty much clean house.
It's time to rebuild the offensive line: This goes hand in hand with the quarterback situation. You can't ask Campbell to endure another season behind this collection of former undrafted rookies and aging players. It as if your best offensive lineman Chris Samuels will probably retire because of a neck injury, and it's not like you received outstanding play from your other veterans. Randy Thomas is too old to count on, and Casey Rabach is just a serviceable center at this point. I supposed Derrick Dockery was your best lineman this season after Samuels was injured, but that's not saying much. Free agency is going to be limited because of the potential for an uncapped season. With the No. 4 pick overall, you need to take a long look at the left tackles in the draft. I know everyone will talk about Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford, but you don't have to pick a quarterback at that spot. Hopefully Shanahan and Allen will have a logical plan in place. Picking two wide receivers and a tight end in the same round isn't the way to go -- even if you argue that they were the "best players on the board."
It would be nice to figure out the running back situation: Starting running back Clinton Portis has talked about his uncertain future. He's set to make more than $7 million next season (Shanahan money), and at least $6 million of it is guaranteed. I know Shanahan once traded Portis from the Broncos, but I don't think he would have any trouble coaching him. The issue is that Portis talks a better game than he plays these days. He missed pretty much the entire second half of the season with a concussion -- yet he found time to criticize Campbell in recent days. He's a mouthy guy who loves to go behind the coach's back directly to Snyder. If Snyder allows Shanahan to dump Portis, I think that would be a good sign for the organization.
And that brings us to our fifth item, which deals with Snyder: All this talk of "ultimate say in football decisions" sounds good in theory, but we know how much Snyder likes to be involved. Shanahan needs to do a good job of making Snyder feel like he's involved in decisions. Snyder gave Joe Gibbs a lot of authority, but that was a different situation. He had idolized Gibbs as a kid and was sort of in awe of him. That won't be the case with Shanahan. The last time Snyder hired a coach with a similar demeanor to Shanahan's (Marty Schottenheimer), things ended pretty quickly. If Snyder doesn't give Shanahan and Allen enough breathing room, this could be another failed hire.
Surely Redskins owner Dan Snyder wouldn't make a stunning move on the Thursday before the Giants come to FedEx to provide "Monday Night Football" with a compelling storyline. Oh wait, you think he would?
It's pretty obvious that Snyder didn't simply wake up Thursday morning and decide to can his longtime pal Vinny Cerrato. But the timing of Cerrato's "resignation" followed closely by the hiring of Bruce Allen as general manager certainly gives Monday's game a little more pop.
Hard as it is to believe, the Giants (7-6) still have a decent shot at a wild-card playoff spot and several Redskins players now have a three-week audition to try to grab Allen's attention before he overhauls this roster. Make no mistake, that's what it will take to make the Redskins competitive again. Cerrato made the humorous statement a few weeks ago that he handed coach Jim Zorn the keys to a playoff team this season, but we all know that's not true.
Even before season-ending injuries to starting offensive linemen Randy Thomas and Chris Samuels, this wasn't a roster that was built to compete for an NFC East title. It was dotted with big names, some of whom (Santana Moss, Clinton Portis) appear to be on the downside of their careers. Some Redskins fans had given up on the Snyder-Cerrato partnership ever ending. But behind closed doors, the seemingly happy relationship had cooled. Yes, they still made the rounds on the field before games, but Cerrato finally started to lose Snyder's ear.
Now, a new era begins in Washington with a general manager tied to the Redskins' past. Allen's father, George, coached the Redskins from 1971-77 and was one of the most beloved figures in the history of the franchise. But Bruce has forged his own reputation during stops in Oakland and Tampa Bay. His love of the franchise is a quaint sidebar but it doesn't shed any light on whether or not he'll succeed with the Redskins. The only way this works is if Snyder actually sticks to the business side and allows Allen and whichever head coach (possibly Mike Shanahan) to take care of the football operation. Like his mentor and friend, Jerry Jones, Snyder is enamored with the splashy move. He doesn't sweat the small stuff, such as drafting and developing players along the offensive and defensive lines.
Why make a commitment via the draft when you can set the market in free agency? If this latest plan is to work, the organization needs to move past the embarrassing pre-draft trips during which Snyder lands in a college town for one last look at the hottest prospect. For all his business acumen, you still get the feeling that Snyder is playing dress-up when it comes to football decisions. Maybe Snyder is doing what Jones did in 2003 when he hired Bill Parcells to coach his team and make most of the personnel decisions. That move didn't pay off with a playoff win but Parcells rebuilt the team and put it in position to win 13 games in 2007.
I don't know how closely Allen has watched the Redskins this season but my guess is that he has had an eye on them for the past few weeks. He's publicly said that he plans to evaluate Zorn over the final three games, but we all know the score. Zorn was effectively fired the day his play-calling duties were stripped by Cerrato, but the Skins weren't able to coax him into quitting, which would have saved them some cash. In what has been an embarrassing situation all the way around, Zorn has somehow managed to remain gracious -- and his team keeps showing up and competing against superior opponents. He was asked Friday about reports that the Redskins are already in talks with Shanahan to replace him as head coach.
"I'm not aware of that, and I wouldn't even try to go there," said Zorn. "Because I'm not looking towards what is going to happen this offseason or next season yet. We're right in the middle of it. For us, I'm kind of excited about where we're heading."
The Redskins are likely headed for an offseason of upheaval, but first, they get a crack at the Giants, a team that has owned them lately. I think this will be the most competitive game between the two teams since the 2007 season, in part, because the Redskins excel in an area where the Giants have been awful. The Giants actually have a decent overall defense but they're one of the worst units in the league in the red zone.
And with the rise of second-year tight end Fred Davis, the Redskins are actually solid in that area. Since Chris Cooley suffered a season-ending injury against the Eagles on Oct. 26, Davis has five touchdowns in seven games. He's a big target for Campbell and he's elusive enough to catch the ball inside the 10 and then find the end zone.
The Giants will try to cover Davis with middle linebacker Jonathan Goff at times and safeties Aaron Rouse and Michael Johnson will also get their turns. Those are matchups the Redskins invite.
On offense, the Giants have immense respect for Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. Left guard Rich Seubert actually had a nice game against Haynesworth in the season-opener but Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride is not taking any chances.
"The guy is a freak of nature," Gilbride told reporters Thursday. "He is a huge man who has some explosiveness to him. We tried to slide and help. We tried to keep a guy inside or a guy outside and help. More often than not, he was on his own and Richie just hung in there. The guy is incredible. He plays with such heart and determination. It really is inspiring to watch him. I don’t know how he does it with some of the injuries he is battling through, but he does."
The Giants obviously have something on the line in this game. And with recent developments in Washington, there's also a renewed sense of urgency from the Redskins. On Thursday, this became a much more attractive matchup.
|Geoff Burke/US Presswire|
|Washington coach Jim Zorn has seemed over his head this year as coach of the Redskins and is not likely to continue after this season.|
Where they stand: The Redskins have no standing in the division. Jim Zorn and his team have a lot of pride and they'll be as professional as possible over the last eight games. That's about the best thing I can say. At 2-6, I don't see them running off eight straight to slip into the playoffs. After years of neglect via the draft and free agency, the Redskins allowed themselves to enter the season with a highly questionable offensive line. And now that Chris Samuels and Randy Thomas are out for the season, this is possibly the worst unit in the league. How's Jason Campbell supposed to prove anything playing behind this offensive line?
Disappointments: This was supposed to be the season that either Devin Thomas or Malcolm Kelly did some damage, but it hasn't happened. There's no time for anything to develop downfield, so Campbell's been forced to drop the ball off to running backs and tight ends. It's a waste that the Redskins have Santana Moss because the speedster doesn't have time to make one of his famous double moves. Many of you disagree with me, but I actually think Albert Haynesworth has been somewhat of a disappointment. For $41 million guaranteed, I'd like to see a man who takes over games from nose tackle spot. When Michael Turner gashes you for a big day, you're not taking over games. And why are there so many Haynesworth apologists out there? It's rare to see such a wealthy man engender so much sympathy.
Surprises: I'm surprised that Clinton Portis has been so ineffective, but I guess that should've gone in the "disappointments" category. Let's give Rocky McIntosh and London Fletcher their due. Not huge surprises, but they've been solid at linebacker. The interception McIntosh made against Matt Ryan in Week 9 was pretty impressive. I think Brian Orakpo could put himself in the rookie of the year competition with a big second half of the season. He has 5.5 sacks, which is pretty impressive for a guy playing out of position.
Outlook: The biggest storyline in the second half of the season will be figuring out who the new head coach will be. Dan Snyder needs to be proactive on this decision. He made Zorn the head coach two years ago because everyone else was taken. I think Zorn could've been a decent offensive coordinator, but he wasn't ready to be a head coach. Especially when you factor in the talent level of this team. It's simply not where it needs to be. I'm sure executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato will try to land Mike Shanahan as head coach. The two worked together with the 49ers, so that's the best chance of Cerrato keeping his current gig.
We knew it was coming, but the Redskins officially placed Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels on injured reserve Saturday. There has been at least one report indicating that Samuels' neck injury will force him into retirement, but he says that's a decision he hasn't made.
Samuels already knew he had stenosis, but an injury Oct. 11 against the Panthers knocked him out for the season. I'd be surprised if Samuels plays again, but he will understandably seek a lot of different opinions before making a decision.
OK, I'm off to Philly to cover Giants- Eagles. Let's talk soon.
I had to read the transcript about seven times. When Redskins executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato was asked if he presented coach Jim Zorn with a roster capable of making the playoffs, he answered, "Yes." He then repeated that answer when a reporter asked for a clarification.
That's right, folks. Cerrato signed Bills castoff Derrick Dockery to take over at left guard and then hung his hat on Pro Bowl tackle Chris Samuels somehow having an injury-free season. For depth, Cerrato signed Dockery's roommate, Mike Williams, a man who ate his way out of the league and once tipped the scales at 450 pounds -- after a crash diet. Of course, he was also counting on aging guard Randy Thomas holding up for an entire season. Seriously, how in the world could Zorn mess this thing up?
Thomas (triceps) and Samuels (neck) are now gone for the season, replaced by the immortal Will Montgomery and Stephon Heyer. Williams, who has no business in the league, has taken over at right tackle.
"Look around the league," Cerrato said. "Nobody has a Pro Bowler to back up a Pro Bowler," he said. "When you lose some quality people, there is a drop-off. I'm not making excuses. We have to do better."
No one expects Cerrato to have Pro Bowl backups, but just for grins, he should take a look at the Eagles' roster. When left guard Todd Herremans had foot surgery, Nick Cole stepped in and did a nice job. Max Jean-Gilles and Winston Justice also played relatively well after being pressed into starting roles. The Eagles have had just as many injuries as the Skins along the offensive line -- and it hasn't ruined their season.
Here's another shocker: Cerrato thinks his hand-picked playcaller/offensive consultant Sherm Lewis did a heck of a job in Monday's 27-17 loss to the Eagles.
"I thought Sherm provided a spark and I think the offense did some good things," said Cerrato. "And I think Fred [Davis] and Devin [Thomas] got a chance to do some things offensively. So I think coming and having to face the third-ranked defense that blitzes all the time, I thought he did a good job with the amount of time that he had. I thought he did an excellent job."
Wow! I need to go back and watch that game again. I didn't realize Lewis did such an "excellent" job. Can you imagine what this man will accomplish with a bye week under his belt? It's scary to think about.
LANDOVER, Md. -- Greetings from the biggest NFC East game of the evening. I've just been handed tonight's incactives, so let me pass them along:
Redskins: Kevin Barnes, Quinton Ganther, Robert Henson, Chris Samuels, Chad Rinehart, Marko Mitchell, Anthony Montgomery, Renaldo Wynn
Eagles: Kevin Kolb (third quarterback), Dimitri Patterson, Joe Mays, Mike McGlynn, Max Jean-Gilles, Kevin Curtis, Victor Abiamiri, Omar Gaither
Eagles coach Andy Reid obviously has a lot of faith that left guard Todd Herremans is fully recovered. I'll be interested to see if Stacy Andrews gets any reps at right guard. Something tells me that we won't see tonight.
Redskins Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels said Friday evening that he'll wait a couple of months before deciding whether or not to retire from the league because of a neck injury. Earlier in the day, The Washington Post reported that Samuels had told people in the organization that he would miss the remainder of the season and planned to retire.
|AP Photo/Rick Havner|
|Chris Samuels has a condition called stenosis, which is causing a narrowing of his spine.|
"I will continue to seek medical advice," he said in a statement. "I hope to see where I am physically over the next couple months. At this time, I have not made a decision, but I love playing for the Redskins and hope to be back."
That statement actually sounds fairly optimistic, but the comments from Samuels' teammates in the Post story made it sound like Samuels' career was over. Quarterback Jason Campbell had encouraged Samuels to seek out the opinions of several different specialists before deciding anything. And while teammates would love to see Samuels return to the team, their overriding concern seems to be the left tackle's safety. He has a condition called stenosis, which causes a narrowing of the spine.
"He's still young and there's a lot he hasn't done with his life yet that he wants to do," Campbell told the Post on Friday. "It's been hard to see him go through this because Chris is such a great player, and he's an even better person. . . . But after what happened in the Carolina game, I think everybody kind of knew there was a chance this could happen."
I've always found Samuels to be one of the most accessible players on the team. The former Alabama star has a keen interest in politics and we once had a long conversation about the '08 presidential election. Every player who puts on a uniform in the league is risking long-term injury, but Samuels' stenosis puts him in even more danger.
I know how much Samuels loves the game, but he's never really let it define him. If he walks away after the season, he doesn't strike me as the type of person who will have a lot of regrets. I plan on catching up with him next week to see if he's willing to elaborate on his injury. If not for the neck issue, I would think Samuels easily had another three or four years in him.