NFC East: Sean Taylor

John RigginsManny Rubio/USA TODAY Sports
Score: Redskins 27, Dolphins 17
Date: Jan. 30, 1983. Site: The Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California

From the moment this project was announced, and before I tweeted a word on it, there was only one play in my mind that deserved top billing. When a team hasn't won an NFL title in more than 40 years ... and it trails by four points in the ultimate game ... and it's fourth-and-1 ... and the running back goes the distance? How exactly do you top that?

Fortunately and wisely, the fans agreed with my take. Which is why John Riggins' touchdown run against Miami in Super Bowl XVII was the runaway choice for the top spot. Riggins' run received 76 percent of the more than 30,000 votes and was solidly ahead shortly after the choices appeared on the blog.

SportsNation

Which is the most memorable play in Redskins' history?

  •  
    76%
  •  
    16%
  •  
    8%

Discuss (Total votes: 30,346)

Thing is, there were a few choices that didn't even make the list: Mark Moseley's 42-yard field goal in the snow to clinch a playoff spot in 1982; Clint Longley's bomb on Thanksgiving Day (not all memories are good ones); Sean Taylor's return of a blocked field goal attempt in the final seconds that led to a winning Redskins field goal over Dallas; Ken Houston's stop of Dallas running back Walt Garrison at the goal line; Joe Theismann's broken leg; and either of the two Santana Moss touchdown catches in the Monday night comeback win over Dallas. There are others as well.

But the right three were on the board. A Hall of Famer in Darrell Green making one of the biggest plays of a 20-year career. That garnered 16 percent of the vote. A clinching touchdown on an unlikely play -- an interception return by defensive tackle Darryl Grant -- to win the NFC Championship Game at home, providing a moment that likely still brings chills to those in attendance. But it wasn't big enough, receiving just 8 percent of the votes.

Riggins' run happened in the ultimate game. It happened on a fourth down. It gave Washington the lead. Shall I keep going? Based on the votes, the answer is no. You got it. And you got it right.
 

On Champ Bailey and the Redskins

January, 29, 2014
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A few thoughts on former Redskins corner Champ Bailey:

  • When I started covering the Redskins, Darrell Green was already deep into a Hall of Fame career. When Bruce Smith joined the Redskins, you knew he was on that path, too. But Bailey is the only player I’ve covered that I remember thinking after several years: This guy is going to be a Hall of Famer.
  • Sean Taylor might have gotten there, too. But, remember, he didn’t start playing at that level until his third season -- he certainly wasn’t bad before then -- and then in his fourth started to really take off and become a major difference-maker. And then he was murdered. It was right at the time when players separate themselves. Taylor was doing so.
  • Like Taylor, Bailey had all-world talent and both players were great with the ball and could have been standout offensive players. These players were ... just different.
  • [+] EnlargeDenver's Champ Bailey
    Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesChamp Bailey played for the Redskins for five seasons before being traded to the Broncos in a deal for RB Clinton Portis.
    Bailey made the Pro Bowl in his second season (2000) and didn’t miss one until 2008. By then he was long gone from Washington. There was something different about him: He was athletically arrogant. Though he hasn't come across as boastful during his NFL tenure like some other corners do, you better believe he's competitive and felt like he was the NFL’s best corner. I remember talking to Bailey about that early in his career in an article for Pro Football Weekly. Bailey was matter-of-fact about where he thought he stood and he could say things without being perceived in a negative light.
  • He was also immensely talented. Every corner will be beat and when you’re a corner like Bailey, people expect perfection. I remember one game against the New York Giants -- I forget the year -- in which Bailey smothered his man off the line all game (I want to say it was Amani Toomer, but could be wrong). I remember the Giants’ quarterback looking in that direction and quickly going elsewhere. This happened all game. But Bailey did get beat once and it resulted in a touchdown. The life of a corner. Darrell Green got beat, too.
  • Bailey was great with the media. That’s not to say everyone was yukking it up around him and he was some sort of lively personality or sharing state secrets. No, he was respectful. There were many examples of Bailey being stopped by a group of reporters outside the locker room. He’d answer the questions. Another group would stop him inside the locker room. He’d answer the questions. And then another group would talk to him at his locker. Again, he’d answer the questions. I don’t think his demeanor ever changed. That demeanor is one reason he’s lasted so long at a position that demands steadiness. Santana Moss is similar in the way he deals with the media.
  • Bailey learned from his elders, notably Green and Deion Sanders. At the Super Bowl media day, Bailey told reporters, “I give a lot of credit to Darrell Green. He was an older guy and he had won Super Bowls, played in a lot of games, and he definitely helped me out a lot in my first couple years.”
  • Green told ESPN’s Elizabeth Merrill for this in-depth look at Bailey and his career that they met twice a week in the morning to watch game film. "My motivation wasn't the fame, and people screaming my name," Green said. "It was going to work and being the best I could be."
  • Here’s what Bailey told reporters on his time in Washington: "I was very fortunate to be drafted by the Redskins, a great organization. But things just didn't work out and I was blessed to go to an even better organization with the Broncos. That was probably the best thing to happen for my career because I've been in a good place, a good city, and have worked for some of the best people in the world."
  • And Bailey’s thoughts on the Redskins now: "They're still a great organization. There's so much history there, and I appreciate them believing in my talents enough to draft me. That was pretty much [former Washington general manager] Charley Casserly all the way, but people forget about him. He's the one that made me a pro."
  • Casserly made some of his best moves in the 1999 draft to not only land Bailey, but to also leave the organization with three first-round picks in 2000 -- even though he knew he’d likely be gone -- courtesy of a trade with New Orleans. The Redskins turned those three picks into the first two picks in the draft, grabbing LaVar Arrington and Chris Samuels.
  • Here’s Bailey’s secret to his success: "Really, my thing is you find something that works for you. I don't try to push my values and my faith on anybody. You find what works for you. Everybody's built a little different and just believing in myself and what I can do and things like that, that's what's really propelled me to the position I'm in."
  • I don’t know if Bailey is done as a player or when he’ll retire. He has the body type to shift to safety if he wants and he’s smart and athletic enough to make such a switch. But will he have to? Green told Merrill that he has more time. Green said, "If he is in the mold that I believe he is, he doesn't even have to begin to look over his shoulder for three years, maybe four. I didn't feel like until I was 38 or 39 years old that I needed to take a breath. That's a once-in-a-generation kind of gift. People don't have that. I say it humbly, but it's true. I was blessed that way, and I think Champ is, too."

 
The quote that catches the eye, naturally, is about Sean Taylor. That's the emotional one, the one that reminds anyone of his lasting impact, more than six years after his death. Safeties grew up idolizing him, both from his days at the University of Miami, and his too-short tenure with the Washington Redskins.

Taylor's memory will be at the Super Bowl with Seattle's Kam Chancellor. He's a Virginia native who played for Virginia Tech. (He was in college at the time of Taylor's death; in case you missed it, there was news regarding his killer Thursday.)

Here's what Chancellor told the Seattle Times earlier this month about Taylor:

[+] EnlargeKam Chancellor
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY SportsSeattle's Kam Chancellor patterned his game after that of former Redskins safety Sean Taylor, who was killed in 2007.
“Before every game I always watch his highlights, just the way that he approaches the game. The physicality that he brings to the game. He's a big safety, he can run, cover, unfortunately we don't have him now may he rest in peace, but that's a guy that I always try to simulate my game after, and I also watch Earl Thomas. Believe it or not that's a guy beside me that goes hard all of the time, so little things from his game that I try to put into my game are making me a better player.”

Chancellor has patterned his game after Taylor's for a long time. Like Taylor, Chancellor is a big safety. When Taylor was in the secondary group, he looked like a linebacker at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds. He was an intimidating force in the secondary, though he was best as a playmaking free safety. Chancellor is a strong safety capable of damage in the box. At 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds, his size and instincts allow him to be highly effective in this area.

“He was a big safety, the prototype guy for the position,” Chancellor once told the Roanoke Times about Taylor. “I'm a big safety, too, and I've just always wanted to be just like him. I don't necessarily say I can be Sean Taylor before it's over, but I think I can be just as good.”

“When I first took the job, I hadn't seen anybody that big, that fast, that athletic since Sean Taylor,” Seahawks defensive assistant Marquand Manuel, a former NFL free safety, told Seahawks.com.

Amazing to think that Chancellor was a fifth-round pick. Again: draft and develop. Chancellor has a skill that Seattle has allowed him to unleash. And often times that skill results in violent collisions against players such as San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis.

Obviously the Redskins could use such an enforcer in the back end. But there's another quote from Chancellor that caught my eye. This, too, is something the Redskins need. And it's something they haven't had enough of because of injuries and bad personnel decisions.

Here's Chancellor's quote on the Seattle secondary:

“I think it started clicking a lot more this year. I think it was starting to happen towards the end of last year, but this year sometimes man it's like we don't even say anything, but the movements are just right. It's like you can feel one another out there on the field, or out here at practice, especially with me and Earl with the way that we funnel the ball to each other. We always talk about that. We always talk about both of us running to the ball. If you miss it, I'm going to make it. If I miss it you're going to make it. That's just the mentality we have.”

It's not one Washington has had in recent years. It's a subtle, but huge difference. If a corner knows how a safety likes to play a certain look, he can adjust his coverage accordingly. If the free safety knows what to expect from the strong safety, he can compensate. It's not always about scheme. Could Phillip Thomas develop into such a player? No idea; we barely saw him last summer. Could Bacarri Rambo? I'd be shocked if that happens based on what we saw this season, especially late in the year.

This isn't about finding the next Sean Taylor. He wasn't hard to identify when he first came out; anyone could see his talent. Chancellor is not Sean Taylor, and was not expected to be coming out of college considering where he was drafted. But he developed into a Pro Bowl player. But Seattle also had a clear vision in what it wanted from its defensive backs: big, physical corners and punishing safeties. Earl Thomas is more a ball-hawking safety, but he's the best at his position right now.

The Seahawks have a secondary that everyone would want now. They also have a defensive front that complements this group. The Redskins had it in 2007 with Taylor, corners Shawn Springs and Fred Smoot and rookie strong safety LaRon Landry. They need to find a way to get that back. It's great that they have money to spend, but there are other ways to accomplish this goal. And doing so would help the Redskins not only return to respectability but, perhaps, finally stick around.

Sean Taylor's death still resonates

November, 4, 2013
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The trial of his shooter is over (four other men were charged in the case and three await trial), which can’t bring a whole lot of joy and relief to anyone who was close to late Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor. Closure, maybe, but even that will be tough. Taylor is still gone. His daughter will still grow up without her dad and a son will never return to see his parents.

That’s the saddest part, of course. That won’t be forgotten.

Sean Taylor
G Fiume/Getty ImagesFormer Redskins safety Sean Taylor was shot and killed in a 2007 burglary of his home. On Monday, Eric Rivera Jr. was convicted of second-degree murder, six years after Taylor's death.
The media did not get to know Taylor that well during his time in Washington; he allowed some people in, but rarely revealed much of himself. You had to earn his trust, something even the coaches discovered. Then-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams spoke of this often, before and after Taylor’s death.

Was there real growth in Taylor during his four seasons there? Teammates I spoke to at the time said yes. One of them said his opinion of Taylor changed because he saw a young kid maturing. No players are 100-percent beloved, and everyone has critics. Still, players I trust recalled a kid they saw evolving. They knew him better.

For myself, I didn't know Taylor all that well. In all honesty, for most of us, he was the moody, young kid we were trying to get to know, but every time a corner was turned, another obstacle emerged. In time, I thought, he’ll come around. He was getting closer. It takes time for some.

But from a football perspective, I knew him well. And his death still haunts the franchise at the safety position. They've had plenty of time to recover, from a football point of view; it’s hard to find a similar talent, but that doesn't mean they've done a good job in doing so. They've made too many poor decisions here, and that haunts them as well. You can only blame his death for so long. But had Taylor lived, he would have been in his 10th season, probably with a handful of Pro Bowls on his resume and, assuming good health, several more years to go.

Taylor was playing at an elite level in 2007, prior to his knee injury and murder. He could move like few other safeties, allowing the Redskins to disguise coverages longer. For example, he would be over a slot receiver on the left side only to drop to a Cover 2 on the other side. I haven’t seen that since.

He would have been the perfect safety for how the NFL has evolved, too. When offenses go to empty sets, if you have a safety who can run like Taylor and cover like a corner, then you can stay with your base defense and not limit your calls. His speed and aggressiveness would have been a good foil to help defend the read option, too. A corner blitz from the numbers? Go ahead; Taylor could get to the receiver in a hurry. After Taylor died, they had to move rookie LaRon Landry to free safety; he's better at strong but could get away playing free.

It’s too bad NFL.com did not offer the All-22 coaches film when Taylor played, to see how much ground he covered and to see the multitude of ways the Redskins used him to disguise coverages. It would have been revealing.

Taylor played with a passion few have for the sport. He left behind a legacy with his play. He also left behind a lifetime of what-ifs for anyone who watched him.

Links: LeSean McCoy and the Eagles' QBs

June, 24, 2013
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Dallas Cowboys

ESPNDallas.com has kicked off its position-by-position preview, starting with a look at the team's quarterbacks.

Jeff Mosier of The Dallas Morning News discusses the new security measures being implemented at NFL stadiums this season.

New York Giants

Might the Giants already be increasing their offer to sign free-agent fullback Vonta Leach?

Would the Giants ever consider trading wide receiver Victor Cruz? Surprise deals including star receivers have happened before.

Philadelphia Eagles

Running back LeSean McCoy says he isn't concerning himself with who is the team's starting quarterback. "That's why they pay Chip Kelly the big bucks to pick the quarterback. [Michael Vick and Nick Foles] both look good and whoever he picks, I am fine with. As long as I get my carries, I don't care who it is."

Safety Kurt Coleman knows how to keep playing in the NFL all in proper perspective.

Washington Redskins

Leonard Pitts Jr. says there is no justifying "Redskins" as a mascot.

The trials for four defendants, charged with first-degree murder in former Redskins safety Sean Taylor's death, continue to be delayed.

Memories of Sean Taylor

November, 27, 2012
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It was five years ago today that Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor died after a shooting at his home. Taylor's death was one of the most shocking and affecting in recent sports history, and the memory of it still resonates strongly and emotionally with Taylor's fans, friends and former teammates. This video tribute includes insights from former college and professional teammates Antrel Rolle, Clinton Portis, Ed Reed, Chris Cooley and Santana Moss as well as Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who smiles as he remembers Portis badgering him to draft Taylor.

I remember hearing of Taylor's death, of course. I was a baseball writer at the time, but anyone who followed sports even tangentially heard the story, and no one could get their arms around it in a way that made any sense. Five years later, as I heard today from fans, watched the video and read the columns by those who were covering the story at the time, it's clear that Taylor's death is still affecting a large number of people.

Rolle talks about how he still watches Taylor highlights on YouTube. Cooley remembers how grateful he was that Taylor never practiced his trademark big hits against him in practice. And Moss breaks down in tears remembering the way the news affected him. If you're a Redskins fan, I know the loss of Taylor is a wound on your heart that still hasn't healed. I invite you to share your memories and your feelings about him in the comments section of this post.
Successive night games pushed the top and bottom teams in our division farther from the middle, and the updated standings reflect that. Welcome to your weekly day of Power Rankings, knee-jerk reactions and all of those other goodies that make Tuesday on the NFL blogs so special. Let's get it started with some links, shall we?

New York Giants (7-4)

If you haven't yet, you absolutely must read Martellus Bennett's account of catching a fan who fell out of the stands at the end of the Giants' game Sunday night. So many brilliant quotes, but I think my favorite is, "All superheroes catch people at some point in time. Otherwise they're not as super as they think they are." Indeed, Martellus. Indeed.

The Giants do not expect running back Andre Brown to return from his broken fibula at any point this year. But since this week is the last week teams can use the new "designated for return" injured reserve list, and the Giants didn't have anyone else for whom they were using it, they put Brown on that list, which technically means he could return for the Super Bowl if he healed in time and the Giants won the NFC Championship Game.

Washington Redskins (5-6)

What's the one very significant thing the Redskins' defense has done better over its last two games? Force turnovers. They forced three against the Eagles and three more against the Cowboys in two victories last week, and they'll hope to continue to make that part of their game Monday night against the Giants.

It is five years to the day since the death of Sean Taylor. And as Mike Wise writes, one of the things that still hurts is the persistent lack of answers as to why.

Dallas Cowboys (5-6)

Sean Lee was the defensive signal-caller for the Cowboys, and Bruce Carter took over those responsibilities once Lee went down with a foot injury. But with both of those inside linebackers now out for the season, it's outside linebacker Anthony Spencer who will assume the role of defensive captain on the field.

Jean-Jacques Taylor thinks Jerry Jones is doing Jason Garrett no favors by insisting that his head coach always also take on a coordinator's role. Taylor thinks Garrett would do well to be relieved of offensive playcalling responsibilities and focus on his job as a head coach. But as Jones has said many times, he likes things the way they are and isn't likely to change them.

Philadelphia Eagles (3-8)

The Eagles may have lost a couple of key players in addition to a game Monday night. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson and rookie defensive tackle Fletcher Cox are headed for further testing on their injuries Tuesday, and obviously until we know more you have to consider their status for Sunday in Dallas up in the air.

While it still feels unlikely that the Eagles would fire Andy Reid during the season, there have already been a couple of firings in Philadelphia in the past week or so, and Jeff McLane thinks it wouldn't be crazy to cut the cord with Reid right now.

NFC East links: Greg Jennings praises NYG

July, 13, 2012
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Dallas Cowboys

For a team that believes it has its starting receivers set with Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, the Cowboys bypassed on taking Josh Gordon in Thursday's supplemental draft.

Fourth-year pro Kevin Ogletree appears to be the only contender for the No. 3 receiver job who has caught a pass in the NFL, writes Josh Ellis.

In an effort to keep good with NFL brass, Terrell Owens talks up Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, calling him a "great guy." While he angles for a job, T.O. is reportedly in more trouble over late child support payments, and could face jail time.

New York Giants

Brandon Jacobs tells NFL.com's Marc Sessler the reason he's no longer in New York is simple: "It was just money."

According to Dan Benton of Giants101.com, Greg Jennings is the first Packers player to step up and truly acknowledge the Giants since the divisional playoff game.

Philadelphia Eagles

Michael Vick launches a sporty menswear collection called V7, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

LeSean McCoy has run 1,152 pass routes the past three seasons. Only Ray Rice (1,199) has run more. CSNPhilly.com has more on McCoy's skills outside of carrying the ball.

Speaking of McCoy, Chris McPherson, a writer with the Eagles' website, analyzes the team's ballcarriers coming out of the backfield.

Washington Redskins

A new trial date has been set for the man accused of fatally shooting Redskins safety Sean Taylor during a 2007 burglary in Miami.

Without quarterback Robert Griffin III on board, the Redskins would likely be lower than 24th in Pro Football Talk's preseason power rankings.

Others should follow in the charitable footsteps of former Redskin Bobby Mitchell, says the Washington Post's Jason Reid.
Busy Tuesday upcoming here on the blog. You know things are cookin' when there's a post up before the links. We'll have a chat at noon ET, as we do each week, and plenty more goodies coming your way as the first full week of free agency wraps up with work still to be done for all four of our teams. Keep it right here for all your NFC East needs. Including, of course, your morning links.

Dallas Cowboys

ESPNDallas.com's draft preview series focuses on Wisconsin's Peter Konz, who's the No. 1 center in the draft and actually what the Cowboys really need on the offensive line but might be a reach, value-wise, at No. 14 in the first round. Lots of people calling for the Cowboys to take Stanford guard David DeCastro with that pick, but center was a real weak spot last year and they have quite a number of guards on the roster all of a sudden. I wonder if it makes sense to deal back and try to get a center.

Mac Engel thinks the Cowboys should trade for Tim Tebow. I think Mac's argument is unsound. It is based, as are so many unsound Cowboys-related argument, on the tired premise that "Yeah, Tony Romo is really good, but they haven't won with him," as though Romo were supposed to magically appear on the field and tackle the Giants fullbacks who were all jumping over Terence Newman on New Year's Day. The Cowboys have a plan, and it appears to be a good one, and I can't see a legitimate way in which Tebow fits into it. Especially if he's going to cost draft picks.

New York Giants

Victor Cruz has a new agent, but Mike Garafolo cautions us not to worry that this means he'll make an ugly scene about his contract anytime soon. Cruz would like to make more money and cash in on the monster year he just had, and he's said as much publicly. But the Giants have told him he must wait in line behind more pressing priorities, and he seems content to do that.

After having training camp in East Rutherford, N.J., last year due to the lockout, the Giants will return to their regular training camp home in Albany, N.Y., this year, and Albany is psyched.

Philadelphia Eagles

So, while we're on the topic, Rich Hofmann thinks the Eagles would be wise to at least consider Tebow. He's not the first to bring this up, and while I maintain that the Eagles don't need to throw the Tebow circus on top of everything else they already have going on this year, you can't entirely rule out the possibility that they do it anyway, against my sage advice. You know Andy Reid is always at least intrigued when a new quarterback hits the market, and the people who run the Eagles are thorough enough that they've surely at least discussed how it might work. I dispute the notion that Tebow could plug right into the Eagles' offense because he's left-handed and likes to run and is therefore a similar player to Michael Vick. I do not think they are, in fact, similar players, and I believe the Eagles would have to totally overhaul their offense if Vick were to suffer an injury and Tebow had to play. But look at it this way: Nobody imagined the Eagles signing Vick three years ago when he got out of jail, and once they did, no one could figure out how they planned to use him. So, stranger things have happened -- and worked out all right -- with the Eagles.

The re-signing of guard Evan Mathis is a popular move among Eagles fans, and not just because of how well Mathis played in 2011. The fans also like Mathis' personality.

Washington Redskins

Mark Maske reports that the Redskins are considering challenging the NFL's decision to strip them of $36 million in salary-cap room due to the way they structured contracts in the uncapped 2010 season. The challenge would be through arbitration, not through an antitrust lawsuit, and Mark reports that the Cowboys (who lost $10 million in cap space for the same ridiculous reason) could join them in seeking arbitration. I still don't know if they'll do this, or how likely it would be to work given the way the CBA is worded. But it's clear the Redskins are upset, as they should be, and haven't yet let this go, as they shouldn't.

John Keim thinks back to the early days of LaRon Landry's time in Washington, when he and the late Sean Taylor looked as though they'd make for one of the most fearsome safety tandems in the league, and wonders what might have been.

Breakfast links: Super Bowl Friday

February, 3, 2012
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INDIANAPOLIS — My favorite of today's links is Kate Fagan's diary of the Madonna news conference, and it's not because the Madonna news conference was my favorite part of the week so far. It wasn't. Top five maybe, but not No. 1. And no, it's none of your business what No. 1 was. Regardless, Kate's account of Madonna is an excellent and entertaining read. But for those of you who are more traditionally inclined and conditioned to two links per team per weekday ... well, we have that, too.

Oh, and since I know you're counting — the pedometer says I took 22,031 steps Thursday, bringing the total to 78,896 — or about 37.4 miles. All of them for you. Every single one of them for you. Even the ones that got me free gumbo from the 2013 New Orleans Super Bowl host committee. Which was awesome. I seriously wish you all could have enjoyed it with me.

Anyway, links.

New York Giants

Ian O'Connor says the Giants' pregame talk puts them at risk of being a punch line if they lose Sunday. I guess. Still doubt Tom Brady needs bulletin-board material for motivation to win as many Super Bowls as Terry Bradshaw won. Also, I think I think the Giants will win. But predictions come out... you know... later.

Jerry Reese thinks it's funny that his team won 10 regular-season games last year and missed the playoffs, won nine regular-season games this year and reached the Super Bowl and now people think he's smarter than he was then. This is the rare thing on which Jerry and I agree. I also think that's funny.

Philadelphia Eagles

Sam Donellon thinks Juan Castillo is in a no-win situation. I think Sam would be right if media and fan perception were the ultimate judge of the success of a team and a coach. But since it's not -- and since Castillo's employers, who like him, will ultimately make the call on whether he was responsible for the Eagles' 2012 successes or failures -- I think Castillo has a chance to win and win big.

Sheil has a look at Luke Kuechly, who'd be a pretty sweet pick for the Eagles at No. 15 in the draft this April if he's still there.

Dallas Cowboys

Jean-Jacques thinks the Hall of Fame needs Charles Haley in order to consider itself complete. We'll find out Saturday if the Hall voters feel the same way.

Michael Irvin believes that Dez Bryant will eventually be the best receiver in the NFL. That would be pretty awesome for the Cowboys if that happened.

Washington Redskins

Kyle Shanahan says his opinion on Rex Grossman hasn't changed since a year ago. I guess that's... good? Or bad? I don't know. Still pretty sure they need to upgrade.

Nathan Fenno writes that Sean Taylor's friends and family still await justice.

NFC East links: QB competition in Dallas?

April, 6, 2011
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Dallas Cowboys

ESPNDallas.com continues its Draft Watch series by taking a look at Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi.

Dallas Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett believes the Cowboys should have an open competition at quarterback between Tony Romo and Jon Kitna.

The Dallas Morning News' Jean-Jacques Taylor believes Cowboys coach Jason Garrett will get at least three years to prove himself to Jerry Jones.

New York Giants

Giants CEO John Mara's request to be taken off a jury for a hearing on a drug trial was denied. He will be a fourth alternate.

Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com takes a look at the Giants draft needs, focusing on wide receiver.

Zach Berman of The Star-Ledger writes the Giants backfield is one of the many remaining questions for New York.

Giants guard Rich Seubert isn't too worried with this lockout business for now, reports Paul Schwartz of the New York Post.

Philadelphia Eagles

Now responsible for his own health insurance payments, Eagles kicker David Akers is paying a steep $2,400 a month, reports Philly.com's Ashley Fox.

Philly.com's Jeff McLane wonders: Is the Eagles' defense too small?

Washington Redskins

Eric Rivera Jr., who is accused of shooting and killing former Redskins star Sean Taylor, wants the media barred from a key hearing.

It's "business as usual" for Redskins season ticket holders if they want to keep their seats. They have until May 1 to pay up.

A fence in front of Donovan McNabb's Washington-area home was destroyed by a hit-and-run driver on Saturday night, reports USA Today's Sean Leahy.

Thoughts on Clinton Portis' career

November, 25, 2010
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The Washington Redskins made it official Wednesday -- placing running back Clinton Portis on injured reserve after he tore an abdominal muscle against the Tennessee Titans. Coach Mike Shanahan doesn't think Portis' career is over, but it's hard to imagine him playing for the Skins next season unless he's willing to restructure his contract.

"I don't think there's any question about it," Shanahan said. "He's got such a strong will. It all depends on does he come back a hundred percent? Does he want to come back and play? He's got that inner drive that most people don't have. He wants to compete. But obviously, he's got to get well."

Former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs may have been Portis' biggest supporter over the years. He once became emotional while explaining to me how fearless Portis was on game days. But the issue that coaches and fans had with Portis over the years was his unwillingness to commit to the team during the offseason. He often returned to Miami instead of participating in the club's conditioning program. And that may have caught up with him in recent years. Portis stayed in Washington this past offseason to prove his commitment to Shanahan, but he still ended up on the IR for the second time in the past three seasons.

Mike Wise of the Post has a good column Thursday talking about how Portis grew up after losing his close friend and teammate, Sean Taylor. I've taken issue with some of the things Portis has done during his Skins career, such as calling out quarterback Jason Campbell, but the leadership he showed in the aftermath of Taylor's death was pretty remarkable. And that will be a big part of his legacy in Washington.

Beastlines: Cowboys-Redskins must see

July, 12, 2010
7/12/10
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Dallas Cowboys

In the latest installment of his "Proving Ground" series, ESPNDallas.com's Tim McMahon looks at receiver Kevin Ogletree.

The Dallas Morning News' Sam Farmer gives us 10 Cowboys players to keep an eye on.

In case you missed it: A recap of Jerry Jones on HBO's "Entourage."

NFL.com's Michael Lombardi asks: "Do the Cowboys really believe David Buehler can make a pressure kick in December?"

New York Giants

Longtime New York Yankees and New York Giants public address announcer, Bob Sheppard, died Sunday at the age of 99.

The New York Post has some quotes from Giants president John Mara on Sheppard.

Philadelphia Eagles

Because of the travel restrictions placed on him, Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick was forced to miss his own golf tournament in Atlanta.

Although they have issued strong denials, Yahoo! Sports' Charles Robinson tweeted a high-ranking Eagles official said cutting Vick is "absolutely" still on the table.

The Eagles are one of many teams checking out undrafted BYU running back Harvey Unga.

Philly.com's Sheil Kapadia takes a look at the Eagles' blitz production.

Washington Redskins

The Gainsville Sun's Kevin Brockway thinks Cowboys at Redskins is one of the must-see games of Week 1. He writes: "Don't be surprised if the Shan-McNabb duo turn around the Redskins quicker then expected."

The Orlando Sentinel ranks former Redkins safety Sean Taylor 19th on its list of greatest Miami players of all time.

Comcast's Redskins blogger Rich Tandler takes a point-counterpoint look at Washington running back Clinton Portis.

Portis and Arrington at it again

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
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Just when you thought it was safe, Redskins running back Clinton Portis has taken another shot at former linebacker LaVar Arrington. And this time he may have crossed the line.

While discussing his relationship with the late Sean Taylor, Portis decided to call out Arrington for his actions at the funeral. The Washington Post has the full transcript and you can also read Arrington's response via Twitter.
"I lost a lot of respect for LaVar at that moment, speaking at Sean's funeral," said Portis during an interview with 106.7 The Fan in Washington. "To get up, I really thought that was, um, I don't know what you call that. LaVar ain't know Sean like that. For the people who did, seeing how LaVar was going to portray -- I remember me and Sean was going to jump LaVar, you know, for throwing pie at Sean's face his rookie year and trying to haze Sean and be the tough guy. He felt like it was a joke. We didn't like that [expletive]. For all the attention LaVar claim and that him and Sean was cool -- they wasn't cool. Sean ain't [expletive] with LaVar. Sometime, people should stop ... I don't think you should do that. If you cool with somebody or you know somebody, you knew 'em. Don't go and portray. Set out an image like this is your buddy, this is your pal -- like you all hung, when you all really didn't. I don't think that's fair, man."

If you listen to the entire interview, Portis wasn't even asked about Arrington. The former linebacker's name was mentioned in passing during the interview and Portis decided to take aim. Just a very odd rant.

Redskins can relate to Bengals' sorrow

December, 18, 2009
12/18/09
6:30
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I remember the Redskins being in a state of shock after Sean Taylor's death on Nov. 27, 2007. And I'm sure a lot of those memories came flooding back when players heard the tragic news of Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry's death Thursday morning.

Taylor was away from his teammates at the time of his death because he was recovering from an injury. I think the fact that he hadn't been around his teammates as much as usual made it harder for them to accept what had happened. Because Henry was on injured reserve and wasn't required to be around his teammates all the time, I'm sure they're going through something similar.

Redskins players such as former University of Miami stars Clinton Portis and Santana Moss took it harder than anyone because of the special bond that players from The U enjoy. Moss was having a difficult season and he was almost inconsolable after Taylor's death.

Taylor, 24 at the time of his death, was a more accomplished player than Henry. And he didn't have a particularly troubled past -- as some people portrayed it to be at the time. One of the most important things that former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs did was allow his players time to grieve. He encouraged everyone to talk about Taylor. I recall hearing that safeties coach Steve Jackson could barely make it through team meetings. But all the tears from the coaches definitely brought the team closer together.

After a last-second loss to the Bills, the team flew to attend Taylor's funeral. Todd Collins had become the quarterback because of an injury to Jason Campbell. The Redskins went on an improbable winning streak and somehow made the playoffs. I know they used their pain and their love for Taylor to drive them during those weeks. I always think it seems trite, and even downright insensitive, when we immediately start talking about how teams are going to rally around a tragic situation. I don't look it at that way. But I do think the Redskins played with more passion the rest of the way in order to honor their fallen teammate.

It was one of Gibbs' finest moments in a Hall of Fame career. He let players see him grieving -- and that was important. It let them know that it was OK to open up to each other and put a voice to what they were feeling. With the death of Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's wife, Vikki, and now this tragedy, the Bengals are a team that has seen a ridiculous amount of adversity. I think this is a group that performs at a high level no matter what the circumstances.

But I do think that the Bengals will face a lot of things this week and next that are nearly impossible to prepare for. I think coach Marvin Lewis would be wise to give Gibbs a call. He's one of the few coaches out there who could relate to how Lewis is feeling right now.

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