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Wizards End Miserable Playoff Drought and Fans Totally Frickin’ Deserve It – a Brief Story in Pictures + GIFs

John Wall 2

The Sopranos series finale ended, and we all just looked at each other wondering if that was it, or if the cable had just gone out.

The Coen Brothers controlled the movies with No Country for Old Men, raking in four Oscars, including best picture, because Javier Bardem was a bad ass.

And somehow we allowed Akon to dominate radio airwaves, ultimately giving him four songs in the Billboard top-15 for the year.

That was 2007. The last time the Wizards made the playoffs.

We deserve this.

Andray Blatche Stink Arenas Gun Dance Ernie Grunfeld Flip Saunders Jan Vesely JaVale and Nick
Antonio Daniels VS Allen Iverson (ankle breaker) gif photo a88484f1.gif
JaVale McGee Jordan Crawford Mike Bibby Oleksiy Pecherov Rashard Lewis Washington Wizards midnight madness
Ron Paul It's Happening
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Bill Cosby

The Wizards will take on the Chicago Bulls in the first round. Tip for Game 1 is scheduled for Sunday evening at 7 PM, hopefully helping to make your holiday full of booze, ham and heartwarming playoff basketball.

DeSean Jackson Hits the Clubs in Miami

DeSean Clubbin 3

Lots of people made a stink about DeSean Jackson missing the Redskins’ first voluntary workout of the season last week, despite the recently signed free agent informing his new team of his upcoming vacation.

Here’s a few photos courtesy of ExclusiveAccess.net that will likely cause those same critic’s to boil.

But as the saying goes, sometimes you just have to be in Miami and tear it up for Chappy Donato’s birthday.

DeSean Clubbin 2

DeSean Clubbin

DeSean Clubbin 4
For the record, I didn’t have any problem with Jackson missing Washington’s first series of voluntary workouts.

You go, DeSean.

And Happy Birthday, Chappy.

Redskins’ Best/Worst-Case Scenarios for Top 3 Draft Picks

Troy Niklas

As seen on Bleacher Report

New head coach Jay Gruden and the Washington Redskins will have their hands full come draft weekend, when they enter Radio City Music Hall with six draft picks, none of which come in the top 32.

Given their early draft position in Rounds 2-6, the Redskins will have tough decisions to make in terms of their best-case and worst-case selection options. For a roster with plenty to improve on, Gruden and the Redskins front office will to have to fight the urge to reach for a prospect simply to fill a need, and instead opt to land the most value at a different, perhaps less critical position.

Here’s a look at the best prospects the Redskins could see with their top-three picks, and the others they should try to avoid.

 

Second Round (34th-Overall)

Best-Case: Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG

The unfortunate news for the Redskins is that they’re without a first-round pick. The better news, however, is that their second pick of the second round is early enough on Day 2 to land a player who unexpectedly falls out of the first round.

Although many have UCLA’s Xavier Su’a-Filo as this year’s top-rated offensive guard, we’ve seen wilder things happen come draft day.

Wishful thinking for the Redskins at No. 34? Probably. But if the 304-pound athlete with impressive speed and hips is still there, it’s a quick pull of the trigger for Washington, as Su’a-Filo would likely be the best player available, and fill a need along the Redskins’ interior offensive line.

A few other candidates for best-case top pick: Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller, offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio of Alabama, Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer, Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses and offensive guard Gabe Jackson of Mississippi State.

Worst-Case: Allen Robinson, WR

As one of the more talked about receivers in this class, expect the buzz surrounding Allen Robinson to increase leading up to draft weekend following a strong Penn State pro day last week.

But for the Redskins, Robinson—even with his stock hovering around the top 35—isn’t a guy who’d now fit Washington’s receiving arsenal after the team signed both Andre Roberts and DeSean Jackson in free agency to join holdover Pierre Garcon.

If Robinson played to his listed 6’3″ height, then he’s a serious consideration for the Redskins at 34. But instead, Robinson is a superb athlete who plays to other strengths, such as toughness, speed and field vision.

In a draft class deep at wide receiver, the Redskins shouldn’t take a pass-catcher who resembles a weapon already on the roster.

 

Third Round (66th-Overall)

Best-Case: Troy Niklas, TE

New Redskins head coach Jay Gruden is not only a fan of the passing game, but if his time in Cincinnati with Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert is any indication, he’s also a proponent of having two capable, athletic tight ends.

Notre Dame’s Troy Niklas is a big (6’7″, 250 lbs) tight end with strong blocking ability and underrated hands. With his frame, Niklas would immediately become the Redskins’ most physically formidable receiving option, he’d provide the offense with flexibility every play he’s on the field and he’d help round out Washington’s receiving group as a legitimately lethal fantasy football threat.

Niklas is a definite second-round talent but is also a guy who has a chance to drop a few spots because of the depth at wide receiver. If he’s still hanging around by the top of the third round, the Redskins can feel good making the pick, improving both their receiving and blocking talent.

Worst-Case: Antonio Richardson, OT

Based on need, looking at offensive tackles early in the third round would make sense for Washington.

However, despite Tennessee bookend Antonio Richardson’s size and skill set to play on the right, the Redskins would be reaching for him at No. 66.

At 6’6″, 336 pounds, Richardson certainly looks the part, yet his overall athleticism can sometimes lead you to forget about his tight(er) hips and raw hands. While he has the quickness and strength to start in the NFL, Richardson needs plenty of refining.

In the third round, the Redskins can find starters at a number of positions. In addition to a guy like Niklas, some others to keep an eye on are Florida State safety Terrence Brooks, North Dakota State offensive guard Billy Turner and Brooks’ Seminole teammate, linebacker Telvin Smith.

 

Fourth Round (102nd-Overall)

Best-Case: Christian Jones, ILB

This Christian Jones train still doesn’t seem to have the backing it should, so I’ll continue to push.

At the top of the fourth round, the Redskins could have the option for an inside linebacker in Jones who plays with good instincts, speed and athleticism. During his time at Florida State, Jones played multiple linebacker positions, sometimes with his hand in the dirt, other times dropping into coverage and demonstrating his sideline-to-sideline range.

Although the Redskins signed a handful of inside ‘backers during free agency (and the team’s fingers remained crossed regarding Keenan Robinson and his potential), adding a natural football player like Jones could help the entire defense. If Perry Riley can be the thumper in the middle, Jones would be an ideal complement.

Worst-Case: Ahmad Dixon, S

Here again we could see the Redskins contemplating need at a specific position (in this case, safety) but getting jumpy with a prospect because of where he fits on the field.

Baylor’s Ahmad Dixon has talent as a hard hitter and downhill-playing safety, but his lack of awareness and sometimes iffy play recognition doesn’t warrant a fourth-round pick. Despite their desperate need at safety, the Redskins can find better value elsewhere at 102.

Gruden and the Redskins could face a few situations like this come draft weekend, where they need to control their craving at a specific spot and instead pursue better value at a different, less extreme area of need.

Can Jay Gruden’s Preferred Pace on Offense Improve the Redskins Offensive Line?

Robert Griffin III

As seen on Bleacher Report 

Following poor form amongst a majority of the Redskins offensive linemen last season, new head coach Jay Gruden has taken simple steps so far this offseason to help improve the blocking up front in Washington. But even before free-agent signings and potential draft picks come May, Gruden’s style of offense may have the power to immediately increase the offensive line’s efficiency in pass protection.

During Gruden’s time in Cincinnati (specifically last season), two things that stood out in the Bengals passing attack were pace and protection—both of which are linked to one another.

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), no quarterback spent less time in the pocket before attempting a pass than Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton last season. Dalton’s average of 2.24 seconds in the pocket ranked him ahead of powerful arms like Matthew Stafford and quick thinkers like Peyton Manning.

Since being thrown into the fire as a rookie in 2011, Dalton has averaged just over 2.3 seconds in the pocket from the snap of the ball to pass attempt over the course of three seasons and more than 1,600 attempts—all under the direction of Gruden as his offensive coordinator.

That’s not to say the quickest throws are always the best ones, but it does help demonstrate Gruden’s preference.

Assessing the sample and its size can draw some criticism. While some may claim three years doesn’t provide enough data, others could argue Dalton’s skill set warranted a certain style. But from the looks of things, Gruden (a former college and Arena Football League quarterback himself) prefers getting the pass out as quickly (and accurately) as possible.

And, with a quicker pass comes less time in the pocket. With less time in the pocket comes less demand for the offensive line to maintain protection. And as a natural result, that’s less time for opposing edge-rushers and blitzers to attack and make landfall on your quarterback.

In addition to leading the league in quickest pass attempt from snap last season, the Bengals also ranked first in total quarterback pressures allowed (135), which Pro Football Focus defines as the combined number of sacks, hits and hurries allowed by an offensive line.

For his three years in Cincy, Gruden’s offensive line units ranked in the top five in the league each season, allowing an average of just 117 quarterback pressures.

So far this offseason, we’ve seen the Redskins add two interior offensive linemen in Shawn Lauvao and Mike McGlynn, while also trying their hand at addition by subtraction with the release of Will Montgomery and Kory Lichtensteiger’s resulting move to center. Although Tyler Polumbus at right tackle and Chris Chester at right guard (depending on where they plan to use Lauvao) leaves much to be desired, Gruden may feel comfortable with what he has.

Could the Redskins use a right tackle? Sure. A right guard, too? Yes. But Gruden’s offensive line units can benefit from his pace of play, making it feasible to have a couple of average offensive linemen at select positions.

More so during his rookie season than last year, we saw Robert Griffin III make his offensive line better. Although it wasn’t a unit stacked with talent, we witnessed a quarterback with good footwork and a strong arm behind a deadly read-option attack making it a little more painless for the guys up front in 2012.

Last season? Not so much. Equipped with a wobbly knee following intense offseason knee surgery, Griffin wasn’t the same quarterback, and the offensive line did him no favors by allowing more than 170 total pressures.

How often the Redskins run read-option under Gruden next season remains to be seen—as does what the Redskins decide to do with their draft picks in a little less than a month. But with the coach’s preferred rate of play and ordinary acquisitions—operating amidst a quarterback with two good knees and an enticing skill set—the Redskins offensive line is already better than it was last season.

DeSean Jackson Helps Each Piece of the Washington Redskins Offense

Courtesy of Redskins.com

Courtesy of Redskins.com

As seen on Bleacher Report

After a hectic five days following his release in Philadelphia, free-agent wide receiver DeSean Jackson signed a new four-year deal with the Redskins, helping to drastically bolster a 3-13 offense from a season ago.

Now that we can finally peel our eyes from social media timelines and give our fingers a break from clicking our browser’s refresh button, it’s time we look at not only what Jackson brings to Washington as a player, but also how his talent and skill set will help each piece of the Redskins offense.

Quarterback

The most obvious beneficiary of the Jackson addition is Robert Griffin III. With the team having already invested in its quarterback, it was required the front office upgrade the pieces surrounding its signal-caller and beef up the young passer’s receiving arsenal.

Whether it’s his vertical speed taking the top off a defense, hisplaymaking ability following a short catch or his presented threat lining up in the backfield as part of the read-option, Jackson automatically becomes the most threatening part of Griffin’s receiving corps.

The Other Receivers

With Jackson adding a new dynamic to the Redskins offense, his presence and proven ability forces the attention of the opposition, in turn helping to take the pressure off guys like Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts and tight end Jordan Reed—all of whom are respectedplaymakers in their own right.

Given Jay Gruden’s pass-happy track record from his three-year stint as offensive coordinator in Cincinnati where the Bengals averaged more than 540 pass attempts a year, there will be plenty of footballs to go around in Washington. Better balance amongst pass-catchers increases the unit’s overall threat and evens responsibility—meaning a guy like Garcon doesn’t have to go out again next season with the weight of 113-plus catches on his shoulders.

Tight End

After hauling in 45 catches for almost 500 yards and three touchdowns in only nine games last season, we’re all well aware of how effective tight end Jordan Reed can be when healthy. With a guy like Jackson lining up opposite Pierre Garcon (in addition to Andre Roberts in the slot), things naturally open up for Reed, who will generate regular mismatches against linebackers.

Considering Reed’s athleticism and versatility, Gruden will have a field day with the tight end’s pre-snap alignment, forcing the opposition to defend Garcon and Jackson on the edges, with Roberts and Reed inside.

Backfield

As we saw last season, an effective Redskins rushing attack forces the defense to act, often times presenting a single-high safety look from the opposition. But with 66 percent of his career receiving touchdowns going for 30 yards or more, Jackson is a bona fide single-high assassin.

If the defense elects to load the box, not only does it need to respect Jackson’s vertical speed, but also the area that will open underneath for other Redskins receivers. And as a result, with threats like that in the passing game, Alfred Morris could see less defenders in the box on a more consistent basis.

Offensive Line

Despite popular grades, the Redskins offensive line was underwhelming last season and it remains a focus for the team in May’s upcoming draft. But because speed equates to pace, and JayGruden loves for the ball to come out extremely fast, even the blockers up front benefit from adding Jackson to the offense.

Yes, Griffin still needs to develop and learn to efficiently perform from the pocket. But suddenly you can live with a guy like Tyler Polumbus at right tackle or Chris Chester at guard due to threatening receiving options that limit large blitz attempts, and quick operation from the pocket.

While the reaction regarding DeSeanJackson in Washington appears to be a mixed bag, there’s no denying Jackson’s talent and its ability to make his teammates better. As we anxiously await to see what the regular season brings, right now it’s easy to call this a massive get for the Redskins.

As seen on Bleacher Report

Faust, Cleare and Peters Transferring From Maryland Terps Basketball Program

Nick Faust - Courtesy of CBS Sport

With the Terps expecting to return four of their top scorers from a year ago, in addition to a highly-touted incoming freshman class, head coach Mark Turgeon needed to make room for 2014.

Late Tuesday evening, Jeff Goodman of ESPN reported Maryland’s announcement that senior Nick Faust, sophomore Shaquille Cleare and freshman Roddy Peters were granted permission to transfer elsewhere.

Maryland’s announcement comes just one day after the Terps landed 7-footer Michal Cekovsky to join an incoming class consisting of Trayvon Reed, Melo Trimble, Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens.

As far as which guy is the biggest disappointment, a strong case can be made for each. Faust, Cleare and Peters were all top-recruits who didn’t live up to their expectations, whether by way of inconsistency, lack of game IQ or distractions off the court.

“I really enjoyed coaching Nick, Shaq and Roddy,” Turgeon said in a team-issued statement, according to the Washington Post. “It is unfortunate that they will no longer be a part of the program. I wish them the very best in their future endeavors.”

 

Maryland Terps Land 7-Foot Michal Cekovsky for 2014 Season

Michal Cekovsky

After finishing 17-15 last season and failing to make the NCAA Tournament or NIT, head coach Mark Turgeon and the Maryland Terps basketball team were in need of a pick-me-up.

On Monday, the Terps got just that — receiving a commitment from highly sought-after 7-foot 2014 recruit Michal Cekovsky.

Jeff Ermann of InsideMDSports was first to break the news.


Recruiting rankings on the Slovakia native seem to put him anywhere between a three- and four-star recruit. However, much of the talk seems to be about Cekovsky’s offensive game, as he has the ability to face the basket, shoot the three and score effectively.

According to Ermann, Cekovsky (who was recruited from the Canary Islands) chose the Terps over Florida, Arizona and Louisville, proving his upside as a skilled big man.

Joining an already strong Terps 2014 class with guys like Melo Trimble, Trayvon Reed, Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens, the commitment from Cekovsky would put Maryland over their scholarship limit. Keep an ear out for transfers and/or player reworkings in College Park.

This is great news for a Terps team who clearly missed the inside presence of Alex Len upon his departure for the NBA last year.

In a perfect world, Cekovsky’s offense is a good frontcourt pairing with fellow incoming freshman Trayvon Reed — who is also a 7-footer, but with a more defensive style of play.

Here’s a quick look at Cekovsky, provided by City League Hoops.

 

Taylor Swift Dancing to Darius Rucker at ACM Award Show

One day, watching Taylor Swift dance awkwardly at an award show will get old.

Thankfully, today isn’t that day.

Here’s Swift getting her swerve on at Sunday’s American Country Music Awards.
 

And this one too.

As always, they’re better without sound.
 

Happy Monday.

Redskins Bolster Offense, Sign Free Agent DeSean Jackson

DeSean Signs

 


It’s okay. We can come out now. The DeSean Jackson circus is over.

Late Tuesday evening, the Redskins signed free agent wide receiver DeSean Jackson to a four-year deal worth a reported $32 million that voids to a three-year deal worth $24 million. The 27-year-old speedster is guaranteed $16 million and carries a $4.25 million cap hit this season, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.

What does Jackson bring to the Redskins?

  • You’re getting a playmaker. With elite speed and quickness, Jackson is a threat to score every time he touches the football. Want a fun stat? Of Jackson’s 39 career touchdowns, 27 of them have been for 30 yards or more, including four punt returns. Simply put, he makes things happen.
  • Pierre Garcon will benefit, as will other receiving threats in Washington. Jackson’s ability to blow past a secondary and force attention helps everyone on offense — from Garcon, to Robert Griffin III to Alfred Morris.
  • Jackson presents an awesome mismatch against single-high safety looks, and the Redskins can effectively parlay that with another successful season running the football. Opposing defenses will now have to worry about a homerun hitter on the outside when keying in on the Redskins rushing attack.
  • More speed. Although adding Andre Roberts was a nice move in free agency, the Redskins still needed more speed and elusiveness. Enter, Jackson.
  • Draft flexibility. While I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of drafting a receiver from a deep draft class, the Redskins can now move the position down the board a bit following the addition of Jackson.

While it is tough to ignore the red flags we hear about regarding Jackson’s attitude, work ethic and leadership, his talent is a great fit in Washington. Head coach Jay Gruden can get creative with plenty of explosive weapons on offense, and adding a talent like Jackson is further investment in surrounding Robert Griffin III with a threatening arsenal.

 

Redskins Sign Veteran Safety Ryan Clark

Ryan Clark

Helping to address a giant hole in their secondary, the Redskins agreed to terms with veteran free-agent safety Ryan Clark late Monday, according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post.

Although the Redskins were never deemed out of contention for the 34-year-old’s services, the signing comes nearly three weeks after Clark visited Redskins Park on March 13.

What does Ryan Clark mean for the Redskins?

  • First and foremost, he’s a legitimate starter. Sure, he’s up there in age (he’ll turn 35 in October), but Clark is an established veteran with a proven track record and he’s a million miles ahead of sophomores Bacarri Rambo and Phillip Thomas (who missed all of his rookie season last year with a Lisfranc injury).
  • When London Fletcher hung ‘em up after last season, we talked about the loss of an emotional leader both on the field and off the field. Who was going to step up and fill the void? Well, despite being the new guy, Clark is considered a strong presence in the locker room with good command on the field. Guys respect him.
  • Speaking of which, regardless of how much or how little hope you have in Rambo and Thomas as future contributors, having a guy like Clark at their position helps. Old scholar, young grasshoppers.
  • Signing Clark would seem to give the Redskins more flexibility come draft time. Although Clark isn’t the long-term answer, the Redskins can at least say they have durable starting safety for the time being. They wouldn’t have to get jumpy for a safety with their top pick (however, signing DeSean Jackson would change draft plans too).

As we wait to see what the financials look like for Clark’s new deal, this is clearly a good move by the Redskins. There was a gaping hole in the deep half and adding a savvy vet like Clark helps fill a good chunk.

 

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