NFL Nation: Mike Sellers
Free agency just got a whole lot less exciting for fans of the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, who may have a lot less to spend on free agents than they originally thought.
Adam Schefter reports that the NFL has docked the Cowboys $10 million in cap space and the Redskins $36 million in cap space for dumping large chunks of long-term contracts into the uncapped 2010 season. The teams are allowed to split the penalties up over the next two seasons, so technically this might not affect either team's spending until 2013. But you have to believe they'd be wise to get at least some of it out of the way this year.
We had the Cowboys at $12.667 million under the cap before they put an $8.8 million franchise tag on Anthony Spencer, so the full penalty would actually put them over the cap and even if they took $4 million of the hit this year they'd still have work to do to get under. We had the Redskins as $47.568 million under the cap before they put a $5.4 million franchise tag on Fred Davis, which means they could take their whole penalty this year and still be under.
What'd they do wrong? Well, they apparently violated no actual rule but rather a behind-the-scenes guideline designed to keep the uncapped year from truly being uncapped.
While the 2010 season was an uncapped year, the NFL told teams not to use that as a means of eating up portions of long-term contracts in order to reduce cap room in future years. The Redskins and Cowboys and, to a lesser extent, the Raiders and Saints, were found to have done just this. As a result, not only do they lose this money, but every NFL team other than Oakland and New Orleans gets an additional $1.6 million in cap room. (The Saints and Raiders aren't docked any cap room, they just don't get to share in what the Redskins and Cowboys have to give back.)
This seems a pretty ridiculous thing for the league to do. Either the year is uncapped or it's not. To tell teams, "Yeah, it's uncapped, but don't spend too much this year just because of that, or we'll fine you for it down the road" feels a little bit like collusion to me. But this is the NFL, which does what it wants and makes up the rules as it goes along. The Cowboys and the Redskins surely know that, and the fact that they were the only two teams found to have engaged egregiously enough in this behavior to deserve a huge loss of salary-cap space indicates that they should have known better.
The immediate fallout will be more roster cuts than initially expected for these teams as they work to stay under the cap and still fill out their 2012 rosters. The Redskins, for example, have already announced that they have cut fullback Mike Sellers and safety O.J. Atogwe.
As for recourse, which some of you are already asking about on Twitter, I doubt there is any. All indications are that this is the result of a settlement between the league and the NFLPA, which indicates to me that the four teams mentioned weren't the only violators, just the worst ones. And again, while they don't appear to have broken any actual league rule that's on the books, they do appear to have been warned. So, they're being punished. In the NFL's world, you pretty much have to do what the NFL tells you to do.
With defensive end Osi Umenyiora already out, the Giants could ill afford to lose Tuck, who will man the starting defensive end spot opposite 2011 breakout star Jason Pierre-Paul. It remains to be seen whether Tuck will be limited by the toe injury, how many snaps he'll play and how effective he can be. But the fact that he's not listed among the inactives indicates the Giants believe he can help them.
For the Redskins, the most significant inactives are right tackle Jammal Brown and fullback/tight end Mike Sellers, neither of him is a surprise. Brown injured his groin in warmups before last week's game against the Patriots, and Sellers suffered an elbow injury in that same game. The Redskins are playing without either of their starting tackles, as left tackle Trent Williams is serving a drug suspension. And with Chris Cooley out for the year and Fred Davis also serving a drug suspension, Sellers had been working a lot at the tight end position, where the Redskins are obviously extremely thin.
I'll be here all afternoon with your updates. We'll be live-chatting in Countdown Live, so drop on by. And of course, plenty from both locker rooms after the game.
For the Redskins, safety LaRon Landry is active for the first time this season, as he's finally recovered from the hamstring injury he suffered during training camp. Landry's return is a big boost to a Washington secondary that was conceived in the offseason with the idea Landry and O.J. Atogwe as its starting safeties.
Romo fractured a rib and punctured a lung in last Sunday's victory over the 49ers in San Francisco, but the lung has healed, and Ed Werder reports that Romo plans to take a painkilling injection to help him deal with the pain from the rib fracture Monday night. Bryant injured his thigh in the season opener two weeks ago and missed the Week 2 game, but with Austin out his return for this game was critical. He looked good running on the field a few hours before game time, and it'll be worth watching how explosive he's able to be.
Kickoff specialist David Buehler, out with a groin injury, is inactive, which means rookie Dan Bailey will handle kickoffs as well as field goals. And cornerback Orlando Scandrick is out with an ankle injury, a loss that's offset by the fact that starting corner Terence Newman is active for the first time this season.
Redskins fullback Darrel Young is out with a hamstring injury, so veteran Mike Sellers starts in his place.
I will be here at the game, writing about it throughout and late into the night. We'll also be having our Monday Night Live chat, which you can join in if you'd like to pester me and our other fine ESPN.com writers and analysts with questions about the game.
The complete list of inactives:
WR Donte' Stallworth
S DeJon Gomes
FB Darrel Young
LB Markus White
OL Willie Smith
WR Leonard Hankerson
DL Darrion Scott
K David Buehler
WR Miles Austin
CB Orlando Scandrick
RB Phillip Tanner
G David Arkin
G Derrick Dockery
DE Clifton Geathers
What it means: The Giants did what you have to do against an inferior opponent: break their spirit early. Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride talked last week about how he likes to get a feel for what defenses are doing on the first drive of the game. But against the Redskins, the Giants were determined to set the tone early. They scored a touchdown on their first possession for the first time this season on the strength of running back Brandon Jacobs. He had a 39-yard gain on the second play from scrimmage and then finished off the drive with an 8-yard run. The Redskins were playing without their highly paid defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who is battling an undisclosed illness. But I don't think it would've mattered. Between Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants rolled up 139 rushing yards in the first half.
Devin Thomas' revenge: Let me start this by saying that the Redskins had plenty of reasons to finally release their former second-round draft pick this season. But it looks like the Giants picked up the wide receiver at the right time. He downed a punt deep in Redskins territory, had a big hit on Brandon Banks on a kickoff return and then he tipped a Hunter Smith punt that traveled 4 yards. And that's why I have to call it a "tip" instead of a "block." It wouldn't surprise me if Giants coach Tom Coughlin gave Thomas a game ball.
A fast start: Safety Antrel Rolle was upset about his team being booed by Giants fans at halftime last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But there wasn't much to boo about a 21-0 halftime lead that should've been 28-0 if not for a ridiculous interception by quarterback Eli Manning. But about the fast start, the Giants scored touchdowns on their first two possessions and ended any hopes of a competitive game. Even against the lowly Redskins defense, it was impressive to see this offensive line take over the game.
Poor Donovan McNabb: I know the man received a lucrative contract extension a few weeks ago, but you still had to feel for him as he watched his teammates drop all those passes. Chris Cooley and fullback Mike Sellers dropped perfect passes in the first half, and tight end Fred Davis got involved later in the game. McNabb did throw one awful interception in the end zone after the Skins had trimmed the lead to 28-7. Terrell Thomas had the easiest interception of his career when McNabb forced a ball into heavy coverage for no apparent reason. I lost count at one point, but I believe the Redskins had six turnovers in the game.
What's next? The Giants travel to Minneapolis next Sunday to play a Vikings team that has won two consecutive games under interim coach Leslie Frazier. If the Giants can win that one, they'll be 9-4 when the Eagles come to town. The Eagles will have to get past the Dallas Cowboys to have an identical record. But with Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks returning to the lineup soon, the Giants are poised to get on a roll. The Redskins don't have any hope of making the playoffs after today's loss. Breaking news, there.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
As if the Redskins didn't have enough problems, a local TV station and The Washington Post are reporting that running back Clinton Portis and fullback Mike Sellers had a "heated verbal exchange" Monday that apparently stemmed from Portis' frustration with Sellers' blocking -- or lack thereof.
Jason Reid of The Washington Post said that Portis has been upset with Sellers since the running back was stopped on a fourth-and-goal play early in the Redskins' 19-14 loss to the Detroit Lions. Sellers reportedly found out that Portis had asked coaches to remove from last Sunday's game against the Buccaneers and confronted Portis about it Monday.
Listen, there are going to be disputes (and even fights) in the locker room from time to time. But with the scrutiny that this team is under, an incident like this one just adds fuel to the fire. In my opinion, coach Jim Zorn has had his authority weakened with the addition of offensive consultant Sherman Lewis earlier this week.
Sometimes teams can use turmoil as a reason to become closer. Unfortunately I don't really see that happening with the Redskins right now.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
OK, I admit it. I was in charge of consulting with coaches, scouts and players to come up with two receivers for our all-decade offense, which was released Tuesday. And yes, I may have been swayed down the stretch by Keyshawn Johnson. But honestly, I think Marvin Harrison and Torry Holt deserved to be on the team ahead of T.O. and Randy Moss. Harrison and Peyton Manning formed one of the greatest duos in league history. Harrison's numbers were staggering.
|Hunter Martin/Getty Images|
|It was a tough choice to leave receiver Terrell Owens off the all-decade offense.|
Holt's six-year stretch from 2000-05 is what everyone kept pointing to. He had at least 1,300 yards in each of those seasons. Just on numbers alone, though, it's tough to argue with T.O. But with T.O., it's difficult for people to only focus on the numbers.
The NFC East didn't land anyone on the all-decade offense, which is hard to believe given the division's stature in the league. But you have to remember that the Giants, Cowboys and Redskins had some lean years early in the decade. The Eagles have been the most consistent team of the decade followed by the Giants, Cowboys and Redskins. You could probably put the Skins ahead of the Cowboys based on that 2005 playoff win, though.
Larry Allen was certainly the best guard of the 1990s, but he'd started fade by the time Bill Parcells arrived in 2003. Can you think of any NFC East players who deserved consideration? Jason Witten is the best tight end in football, but he didn't get started until 2003. It's really tough to argue with Tony Gonzalez.
Donovan McNabb should at least be in the discussion at quarterback, although there's no way he beats out Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. Is he the third-best quarterback of the decade or should that honor go to Drew Brees? Kurt Warner's making a strong run at the end of the decade. Big Ben has to be in the discussion with the two Super Bowl rings.
OK, feel free to come up with an all-decade NFC East team. I'd go with McNabb at quarterback, T.O. and Plaxico Burress at the receivers (with Santana Moss in the discussion). I like Mike Sellers at fullback. Give me Witten over Shockey at tight end. And I'll take Chris Samuels and Tra Thomas as the offensive tackles -- even though they both play on the left side. Allen's the obvious choice at guard, but who do you take at the other guard spot? Ron Stone went to a couple of Pro Bowls early in the decade with the Giants and Chris Snee's one of the best in the league right now. I'll let you guys argue that one. Jermane Mayberry anyone?
Andre Gurode's the starting center -- unless you guys shoot me down. Shaun O'Hara has come on strong, but he hasn't been with the Giants as long as Gurode's been with the Cowboys. I'm going with Tiki Barber at running back, although Brian Westbrook has certainly had a nice decade. Who are we missing?
Analysis: The Cowboys sent 13 players to the Pro Bowl last season, which was way too much. Witten, Davis, Ratliff and Ware all deserve to be in the Pro Bowl. They should've been joined by Bradie James, who's had an excellent season. He's become an excellent pass-rusher and he's a game-changing player. Gurode might be the most talented center, but hasn't had a great season by his standards. I think Giants center Shaun O'Hara probably deserved the starting nod over Gurode. But the offensive line is where reputation takes over. Bears center Olin Kreutz was starting in the Pro Bowl after his performance had tailed off. Gurode was truly the best center in the conference last season. And that's why he'll keep going to Hawaii unless he starts playing poorly. Left tackle Flozell Adams will probably sneak into the Pro Bowl because of Chris Samuels' season-ending injury. I hope that's not the case, though. Cowboys right tackle Marc Colombo actually deserves it over Adams.
Analysis: The Eagles didn't land a starter this year. Brian Westbrook is certainly playing better than Clinton Portis at this point of the year, but injuries kept him out of the Pro Bowl mix. Eagles defensive end Trent Cole has quietly had a solid season, but he doesn't have the sack totals that attract voters. Cole is superb against the run, and he doesn't get enough credit for that. Stewart Bradley has been playing really well at middle linebacker, but he came on too late to catch the voters' attention. And Eagles fans didn't stuff the ballots like the Redskins. I wish right tackle Jon Runyan could get a trip to Hawaii as part of a lifetime achievement award. He's played through a painful knee injury lately and last season he played with a broken tailbone. The Eagles have a top-five sack differential and Runyan's a big part of that. But overall, I don't think there were any significant snubs. I wish DeSean Jackson could make it in some capacity, but we'll put him on our all-rookie team.
Analysis: All of the guys on this list deserve to be in Hawaii. O'Hara probably deserves to be starting. I hate it that either Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield were passed over. Robbins had 5.5 sacks right out of the gates and he's an excellent run-stuffer. I think the Giants deserve more respect than they got. And David Diehl deserves to be an alternate despite the fact that he got worked over by DeMarcus Ware on Sunday night. Tuck's become one of the best defensive players in the league. He's often triple-teamed, but he still make plays. I could make an argument for Manning starting over Kurt Warner, but those eight sacks are still dancing in my head. Now that we've seen the Giants without Plaxico Burress, maybe he deserves a spot in the Pro Bowl. And one more thing: Corey Webster has been better than Packers cornerback Charles Woodson and Asante Samuel. By the way, I wouldn't have any problem with Michael Johnson and James Butler showing up in Hawaii as alternates.
Analysis: Glad to see the 33-year-old Sellers finally make it as a starter. He was brilliant blocking for Portis early in the season, and he's continued to play well as the Redskins faded. Portis was headed for an MVP before injuries and poor play by his offensive line brought him back to earth. It's hard to believe that can you leave DeAngelo Williams off the Pro Bowl team. Samuels and Cooley have both been solid. Cooley can't find the end zone but he's been Jason Campbell's most consistent target. I can't imagine how bad this offense would be without him. Leaving London Fletcher off the list is the biggest snub in the NFC East. He's been outstanding this season and he's the heart and soul of that defense. I wish all the people in Washington who rallied around marginal players had focused on Fletcher instead.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
LANDOVER, Md. -- Cowboys owner Jerry Jones admitted before Sunday's game that his team needed to beat the Redskins to save its season. And for at least one week, that's exactly what the Cowboys did with a 14-10 victory in front of 90,830 at FedEx Field.
The Redskins couldn't put the game away when they had the chance, in part, because the Cowboys' defense refused to cooperate. DeMarcus Ware's second sack of the game forced Washington to try a 46-yard field goal that fell short.
Before that, cornerback Terence Newman ended a Redskins drive when he broke in front of a short pass to Santana Moss to make an interception. The Cowboys' offense finally delivered by riding the powerful legs of Marion Barber. And quarterback Tony Romo came up with two huge throws early in the fourth quarter. On a third-and-7, he called upon his improvisational skills to shovel a pass to Miles Austin on the run.
On the next play, he found rookie tight end Martellus Bennett for a 25-yard touchdown. The Redskins drove the ball to the Cowboys' 37-yard line, but couldn't convert on third- and fourth-and-4. Newman, who returned after missing five games with a sports hernia, had Moss blanketed on the fourth-down play.
Early in the game, it looked like Clinton Portis' return from a knee injury would inspire the Redskins offense. Portis had five carries for 29 yards on the Redskins' first possession, and fullback Mike Sellers finished the drive with a 2-yard touchdown catch.
The hero for the Cowboys, though, was Barber. He completely took over the game in the fourth quarter. And for the first time in over a month, the offensive line took over the line of scrimmage.
Facing a fourth-and-1 deep in Redskins territory, Wade Phillips chose to dial up Barber one more time. It worked, and the Cowboys' playoff hopes received a serious shot in the arm. Both teams are now 6-4, which leaves 5-4-1 Philadelphia in the NFC East cellar.
Much more to come in my game column.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Giants coach Tom Coughlin bristled when asked if his team might experience a letdown because of the absence of so many key players for the Cowboys. This rivalry has heated up over the past three seasons, and Coughlin won't allow his players to take the Cowboys lightly just because the soft-tossing Brad Johnson is under center.
If Johnson can't at least pose a threat of throwing more than 15 yards downfield, Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will keep eight players in the box in order to stop running back Marion Barber. Defensive end Justin Tuck has an unbelievably quick first step, and he'll try to get inside position on right tackle Marc Colombo. If the Cowboys don't have Jason Witten (ribs), rookie Martellus Bennett will have to help block Tuck. If the Cowboys worry too much about Tuck, defensive tackle Fred Robbins and defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka will harass Johnson.
If the Cowboys fall behind early, backup quarterback Brooks Bollinger might replace Johnson. Wade Phillips is hoping that Johnson can play mistake-free football and complete an occasional pass downfield. The Cowboys are coming off an oustanding defensive performance. Look for safety Ken Hamlin to be active in the blitz packages, and I think you'll even see a corner blitz in this game. The defensive line and linebackers have to maintain gap control to slow down running backs Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward.
Quarterback Eli Manning is playing with a ton of confidence, and he'll throw a couple of deep balls early to test the Cowboys' inexperienced secondary. The Cowboys are simply trying to get to the bye. It's almost like they've accepted a loss Sunday, so I'm anticipating a lopsided final score.
This is huge for both teams. You have to try pretty hard to play yourself out of the weak NFC West -- and the Seahawks have done their best. Eagles coach Andy Reid served under Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren in Green Bay and the two men have a great deal of respect for each other. That said, Reid's preparing to deliver a waxing to the outmanned Seahawks.
Without Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback, there's only so much the Seahawks' offense can do. Seneca Wallace can move around a little bit, but his lack of arm strength really hinders any downfield passing game. And the only team that can run on Philly these days is Washington with Clinton Portis. Julius Jones has put up decent numbers, but he won't be a factor in Sunday's game.
Quarterback Donovan McNabb will be glad to see Reggie Brown return to the lineup. Brown has been out the past two games with a groin injury. He and Kevin Curtis complement each other nicely and DeSean Jackson gives the Eagles a legitimate downfield threat and a solid punt returner.
It's tough to win at Qwest Field, but the Eagles are getting ready to batter Wallace. With a healthy McNabb and running back Brian Westbrook, the Eagles have too much firepower for the Seahawks.
The NFC East owns the Steelers so far this season. By my count, Ben Roethlisberger was sacked a combined 13 times by the Eagles (8) and Giants (5). The Redskins don't have a dynamic pass rush, but they do an excellent job of stiffening when teams get near the goal line.
Cornerbacks Carlos Rogers, Fred Smoot and Shawn Springs have been strong in press coverage, which will make it tough for Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes to get off the line of scrimmage. Springs is banged up, but the other corners should be up to the task. The Steelers' offensive line hasn't
been very impressive, and the team doesn't have a healthy running back to help compensate for that right now.
On offense, Redskins running back Clinton Portis is in the middle of a remarkable stretch. He has run for 120 yards or more in five consecutive games. And what's even more impressive is it's the second time in his career he's pulled that off. Left tackle Chris Samuels has been slowed by a knee injury, which could hamper the running game. The Redskins love to run a play called "90 press lead" on which Portis starts right and then cuts back to the left behind fullback Mike Sellers. If you see Portis tugging on the back of Sellers' jersey, it's a great sign for the Redskins.
Jason Campbell is one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league right now. He still hasn't thrown an interception in the first eight games of the season. And that's not because he's overly conservative. The Steelers will try to bring pressure from outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley. But the Redskins will counter that with a steady diet of running plays.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
LANDOVER, Md. -- Losing to the Rams at home last week was supposed to be a wake-up call for the Redskins, but it took more than a half of Sunday's game for the alarm to go off. Redskins running back Clinton Portis turned in another dominating performance in leading the Redskins (5-2) to a 14-11 victory over the Browns at Fed Ex Field.
The Browns' defense was gashed in the running game, but they refused to let the Redskins in the end zone until midway through the third quarter. Jason Campbell, who kept his uncanny non-interception streak alive, found Santana Moss on a deep out for 35 yards with 10:27 left in the third quarter. Moss spun around twice, and left two Browns defenders in his wake.
The Redskins used a lot of stunts along the line to put pressure on Derek Anderson, who continued his habit of playing horribly on the road. Of course, it didn't help that wide receiver Braylon Edwards had four drops, three of which would've gone for first downs.
Redskins linebacker London Fletcher made two huge plays during a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter, but a fumble by Portis gave the Browns another opportunity. This time, Derek Anderson found Josh Cribbs for a 1-yard touchdown pass on third down.
The Browns held the Redskins to a three-and-out on the final drive, and put Phil Dawson in position to attempt a 54-yard field goal. Dawson had the distance, but he pushed it right.
Portis finished the game with 27 carries for 175 yards and a touchdown. With Ladell Betts injured and a rusty Shaun Alexander backing him up, Portis had to put the Redskins on his back for most of the game. Mike Sellers had some devastating blocks on the outside and Portis showed excellent vision to find gaps in the Browns' defense.
The Redskins now head to Detroit with a chance to improve to 6-2 at the midway point. The win also allowed the Redskins to take a one-game lead over the fading Cowboys. Much more to come.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Redskins fullback Mike Sellers has been flying under the radar for years -- unless you're an opposing linebacker. The Redskins' offensive line has received the majority of the credit for Clinton Portis leading the league in rushing with 643 yards, but it's Sellers who's been blowing up linebackers on Washington's signature running play, "90 press lead."
|AP Photo/Nick Wass|
|Besides being a punishing blocker, Mike Sellers has scored 18 touchdowns in his NFL career.|
It's a zone-blocking play on which Sellers identifies a linebacker to block and then Portis has the option of staying outside or cutting back inside. At 6-foot-3, 270 pounds or so, Sellers has the power of an offensive lineman, but the quickness of a man who once caught 63 passes while playing in the Canadian Football League.
Sellers, 33, became the youngest player (18) to sign a CFL contract when he joined the Edmonton Eskimos in 1995. He turned 19 during training camp, and quickly became a vital part of the team. He had attended Walla Walla (Washington) Community College for a year, but he left school to turn pro because of "financial constraints."
"My first contract was for $60,000," said Sellers. "And I think they threw in a $10,000 signing bonus. I thought I was a rich man. Honestly, I didn't know what to do with all that money."
Sellers fell in love with life in Canada and says he'd still be there if they could pay him like an NFL player. In 1998, he was signed as a tight end by the Redskins. He's always wanted to know who discovered him -- Norv Turner was the head coach at the time -- but no one can tell him.
"To this day, I don't know how they came across me," Sellers said. "I've asked several times, but no one has any knowledge of how it happened."
Not long ago head coach Jim Zorn, who also spent some time in the CFL, called Sellers into his office and had him sign one of the fullback's old CFL cards for a friend.
"Coach Zorn's a little bit different," said Sellers, laughing. "But he's been amazing for this team."
Sellers loved playing for assistant coach Bobby Jackson, but early in his NFL career, he played the H-back position. He had soft hands and could make plays in the passing game, but he yearned to return to fullback. It's refreshing to hear him talk about a position that's on the verge of extinction in the NFL.
Sellers took it on himself to watch film of former fullbacks such as Daryl "Moose" Johnston, but his fullbacking hero is former Chicago Bear Matt Suhey.
"I'm an old-school guy," Sellers said. "I have all those old Bears tapes, because I love watching Suhey."
Sellers has helped make Portis one of the best running backs in the game, and that's not lost on the running back. A couple of seasons ago, he gave Sellers his choice of five Rolex watches. Many of Portis' signature runs over the years have come when he reaches out and uses Sellers' jersey to guide him through a hole.
The Redskins were trailing the Saints, 17-9, in Week 2 when they faced a second-and-goal at the 9-yard line. On a sweep to the left side, Sellers destroyed defensive end Will Smith and then he took out safety Kevin Kaesviharn to escort Portis into the end zone. As Portis said recently, "Mike Sellers has linebackers running from him."
Sellers says there's only one player in the league who could consistently give him trouble, and that was Steelers linebacker Levon Kirkland. The two used to square off during joint-practices in training camp.
"We would have live goal line plays where you had to run the ball," Sellers said. "And I'd have to try and block a 300-pound linebacker. That was not a fun situation."
Despite all his success as the lead blocker in the Redskins' vaunted running game, Sellers has never been to a Pro Bowl. Last season, he was a first alternate. This season, though, the Redskins are taking advantage of their close proximity to the White House. With the presidential election less than three weeks away, Washington has launched its official Pro Bowl campaign. It's worth watching the video just to see a legendary quarterback say, "I'm Sonny Jurgensen, and I approve this message."
If Sellers doesn't make it this season, blame it on voter irregularities in Florida. He's one of the most devastating blockers in the league, and to watch him on an isolation play is pretty impressive.
Sellers grew up about 40 miles outside Seattle and most of his family lives in Olympia. Unless he's watching film, he rarely watches sports. Growing up in the Northwest turned him into an outdoorsman. He's always been a fisherman, but lately he's doing a lot more hunting. Sellers says the secret to his fishing success is using a worm and a marshmallow.
"It's something one of my buddies told me about when I was a kid," he said. "And there's something about the sweetness of the marshmallow that really does the trick. I almost hate to give it away to people."
Sellers has a 9-year-old daughter named Kaylin who lives in Olympia with her mother. He calls her every day, and says that she used to get upset watching his games because she thought everyone was out to hurt her father.
"When she found out I was the one doing the hurting, she was OK with it," he said.
Sellers has 75 catches and 18 touchdowns during his NFL career, but stats don't interest him. His favorite part of the game is hitting a linebacker or safety in space, and it's something he's hoping will get him to Hawaii -- or at least Walla Walla.
What has been a key to the resurgence of the Redskins' offense? Coach Jim Zorn has done a masterful job of utilizing his personnel within his formation designs.
Washington's offense has been at its most dynamic in groupings featuring multiple tight ends: "12" (one running back, two tight ends), "22" (one running back, one fullback, two tight ends) and "13" (one running back, three tight ends). When an opposing defense sees one of these packages on the field, it reads run and usually counters with a corresponding personnel, alignment and play call. But the collection of tight ends Chris Cooley, Fred Davis and Todd Yoder and fullback Mike Sellers provide the versatility and complete array of skills to force opponents into making some tough decisions on early downs.
Cooley excels at finding soft spots in underneath zones and sitting down in them to provide quarterback Jason Campbell a big target. He's also very effective out of these groupings on screen passes. The West Coast offense has allowed Cooley to move around within the structure of the passing game and make a lot more plays. Davis is a versatile player who has shown playmaking skills and some consistency as a run blocker. Sellers is a strong, massive run blocker who has deceptive speed and agility for his size. He can shift or go in motion. He can provide physical lead blocking or effective edge and move blocking. He can align in the backfield or detach from the formation as a wing.
That versatility creates alignment flexibility within the formation designs and allows the offense to gain an edge based on what the defense dictates. In other words, these groupings give Zorn choices: pound the ball on front-side power zones or detach Cooley to create passing-game mismatches. If a defense stays in base, Cooley gets a chance to get open against an overmatched safety or linebacker. Match up with sub personnel, and the Redskins can motion into a spread formation and attack the weakside bubble against six defenders in the box with running back Clinton Portis.
Portis still is an explosive player with breakaway speed, and he gets stronger as a game wears on. He runs with good vision and can press the hole in Washington's zone-blocking patterns. The Redskins' experienced offensive line consistently creates movement for him in the run game. Redskins opponents often position an extra safety near the line of scrimmage, depending on the situational down and distance, but these groupings force them to think twice about that strategy. And because Portis is a skilled receiver out of the backfield and an explosive after-the-catch threat, he gives Washington another potential matchup weapon in those heavy personnel packages.
Zorn has only scratched the surface of what his offense can do out of these groupings. In much the way Miami is doing with its single-wing "Wildcat" scheme, Washington can continue to create and build on his multiple-tight end sets from a play-selection standpoint. It's a truly great way to continue exploiting opposing defenses.Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.
PHILADELPHIA -- Unless something changes quickly, the Redskins are about to pull off one of the most remarkable two-game road swings in recent memory. Much like last week against the Cowboys, the Redskins are gashing the Eagles with their running game.
Clinton Portis just made it 23-14 with a 4-yard touchdown run, but the one that set it up was a 27-yard gain off left tackle. Fullback Mike Sellers absolutely destroyed safety Quintin Mikell on the play. And left tackle Chris Samuels did a superb job against defensive end Trent Cole.
The Eagles are in danger of falling out of the NFC East race -- and we're in Week 5! Just amazing. No one in this stadium thought the Redskins had a chance when they fell behind, 14-0 with eight minutes left in the first quarter. But they sort of weathered the early storm, and then took over the game in the second half. The Eagles have looked completely inept on offense following a great start.
7:30 PM ET Carolina New England 7:30 PM ET New York New York 7:30 PM ET Jacksonville Detroit 8:00 PM ET Oakland Green Bay 10:00 PM ET Chicago Seattle
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