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Chris Cooley Talks About the Shanaplan, Logan Paulsen, and Wrestling

I had the chance to talk to your starting Redskins Tight End, Chris Cooley for 10 minutes yesterday after he was at the Farragut North Fedex Office packaging gifts as part of a promotion for Fedex. I talked to him about the practice squad players, trading away draft picks, leadership, the liklihood of a big turnover again next year (spoiler alert - he thinks Rabach will definitely be here), his plans if there is a lockout, and wrestling girls. 

These losses seem to get tougher to take each week. Has this season been harder than last year's season?

Cooley: No. No. And I don't think anyone on the team thinks that. Last year was brutal. It was like the falling apart of a team. We're not winning games [this year], but we're close. It's hard for fans to see and it's even hard for us but when we watch film, its like, "Wow, we should have won so many games this year."  And you're getting guys that are really starting to play. You put together a line that's playing different guys almost every week, and you finally find guys that you like right now. I'm excited for us. I have to be, but I am.

Every year it's the same model of trading away picks, and we only have 2 picks in the first four rounds this year. You look at teams like TAM, STL, DET...they have a core group of guys, yet look at all the holes this team has...I don't see how we can fix it all.

Cooley: Yea. It's amazing. I think it was Sally Jenkins who did an article on how we traded 22 draft picks in 8 years. That's unheard of. There's been a ton of change in the front office. I'm really happy about Bruce and his ability to do whatever it is he does. They have a model, and Mike has a model. In my opinion, and I'm not criticizing anybody, this is my opinion, in three or four years, and after the second year you might be a playoff team, and you might not. By three or four, that's what it takes to build a team in the NFL. And you're not going to keep guys around forever and you're going to have to get guys in free agency. But it takes times.

(As a quick side note, Gibbs (both times), Belichick, Parcells, Vermeil...all these guys struggled their first stints with news teams. There's a nice article here detailing that - Page 38. Yes, this is me offering a ray of hope for patience. Let's let year two be a real test. No first year is easy.)

When you were drafted by Gibbs in 2004, we were coming off the Spurrier debacle, which is similar to Zorn in too many ways. Did you notice the overhaul then having had so many teammates that were part of the team the year prior?

No, when you come in as a rookie, it's like a free-for-all with players. You don't know what's going on. After a couple years I started to pay attention.

Any guys on the practice squad that have advanced since pre-season like Selvish Capers or Erik Cook?

You know who's really becoming a pretty good football player is Logan Paulsen. He wasn't on the PS. I'm really impressed with Logan, but what's crazy is that's probably the position we need the least help at. Keiland Williams has played great. That's a positive for us. Torain and Keiland when both healthy are great complimentary backs. Keiland's a great 3rd down back.

We have so many guys over 30 and as you mentioned in your radio spot we're lacking leadership. Seeing Rak explode on the sidelines, have any guys stepped up in a leadership role recent weeks?

I think I said this. I'm not singling out that guys aren't leaders and we need leaders, the problem is when you have so much turnover every year, you don't know who's leading who. You gotta have guys that have been part of a team long enough. It's amazing to me who's here three years ago and who's not.

Well, I see a lot of turnover going into next year, guys like Casey Rabach and Phillip Daniels.

Casey will be here awhile. I'm not sure what's going on with Phil or some other guys. There will be some changes. What you hope for in this off-season,  Mike knows what he wants and he gets some of the guys he really wants. Obviously, you'd like 10 draft picks but we don't have that. We'll see what happens, man.

Has Vonnie Holliday (the Redskins NFLPA rep) given you any intel on the looming lockout?

I mean as of now there's going to be a lockout. The question is how long? I can't imagine us not playing football. I know the two extra games is a huge bargaining chip for everyone, so I'm sure that will factor in the equation.

What would you do if there was a lockout? Would you go back to Wyoming?

No, I'll live here. I'll live in VA. I'll spend a lot of time in Wyoming, but I'll be here. Just keep working out.

You were 54-0 in wrestling in High School. Was that a co-ed league? I'm picturing that Saved By the Bell episode where AC Slater had to wrestle Christie.

(laughs) I'll pin a girl.

Well, we are playing the Cowboys this week.

(laughs). They're a good team, man. They'll be a good challenge for us. 

Who ISN'T a challenge for us? As Cooley said, it'll take three to four years to right this ship. Sure, we could make the playoffs, but not drafting any defensive or offensive linemen in a decade simply cannot and will not be a 1-2 year fix. Plus, there's the assumption that you draft the right guy (after 5 years the 1st round yields an approximate 33% success rate of Pro-Bowlers).