- I’ll hand it to the Patriots and Eagles—that was one hell of a Super Bowl. I tip my hat to a Philly team that went out and won a championship against a New England team that never goes away until the final buzzer. It gives me no pleasure to see the Eagles hoist the Lombardi Trophy, but they certainly earned it. And let that be the end of...whatever you call not hating the Eagles for a moment or two. I’ll keep the Sixpack brief today in the hopes we can cram in as many comments as possible before the podcast tomorrow night.
- Was the Zach Ertz catch a catch? If you say he gained possession before the move that culminated with the bounce off the ground, then it was of course a catch. If you think it is 100% cut and dry on that ruling, you just haven’t been watching the league the last couple of years. Jesse James, the Pittsburgh Steelers tight end that had a catch reversed against the Patriots after a similar play, must be scratching his head, but The Ertz play isn’t even the one I have a problem with (I think it was a catch). The Corey Clement back-of-the-end-zone touchdown was, to me, not a catch. I thought the ball moved after his first foot hit, and I don’t think he got a second foot inbounds. There seemed to be decent video of that happening, but that is not the way the refs saw it. Listen, this isn’t to detract from the Eagles success. It just underlines a major problem the league has with its rules—when something as basic as a catch is so hard to define and nail down by the masses, that is a problem. The Ertz catch should not be a very controversial decision, as I think it kind of follows most everyone’s intuitive understanding of what a catch is, but Clement’s catch should absolutely be looked at as something that challenges what has and has not been called a catch over the last year. In the pass-happiest era of football, this remains a real quandary for the league. One thing I know FOR SURE: if you’re a Redskins fan, you feel confident the calls would have gone against your team regardless (irregardless, even) of which way the call went on the field.
- Has anyone really peeled back the onion fully on the Malcolm Butler story? I still don’t get it. In a game where passing yards were piled high, it defies reason that a team would bench one of its top cover corners (maybe its top cover corner). From Butler’s emotion, to the struggles of his replacement, Eric Rowe, I just found the whole thing to be very...anti-New England. Nobody will be surprised if we find out something that brings this thing into more focus, but until then, what the hell? I mean, as someone who would have been just fine watching the Eagles lose, I found myself angered that the Patriots secondary was handcuffing itself. Is it just me, or did some of the postseason quotes make it seem like they kept Butler active because they needed to suit up a minimum number of players? Look at the highlight-reel of this game. We’re talking about footballs being contested in the air, in the end zone, on the regular. Was Butler that much of a distraction? Were the Patriots trying to get the post-Butler era started in earnest? If you want to give Belichick the benefit of the doubt, you could argue that something must have happened in practice that made the coaching staff act the way it did. If you want to blame this decision as potentially the difference in the game, you and I would likely be in agreement. I envision some hardcore gamblers lamenting that sole move as the reason they didn’t cash in.
- If you were at a viewing party with fellow Redskins fans as I was, perhaps your party was also dominated by Kirk Cousins? The whole tag-and-trade topic was ever-present in any of the rooms I walked into throughout the game. You have your “spite-tagging” side of the debate, where people are arguing whether the Redskins can expect to get away with tagging Kirk and reaping any kind of benefit while Kirk and his agent run interference. You have the “compensatory pick-protection legion,” with plenty of fans screaming that even if the Redskins spend big, the amount of money Cousins will sign for will be damn near impossible to offset, and so they are fine with just letting Cousins walk away and being done with the whole thing. You have your “we can lock in something better” group, who thinks that the tag-and-trade can actually net an upgrade over the third round compensatory pick because some team would step up and send at least a second rounder to us. On one hand, it’s good to know that Kirk Cousins is still splitting us (haha). On the other hand, it’s good to know that the Redskins can still completely F this up (not so haha). The tag-and-trade has a ton of risk, not the least of which is ratcheting up the drama on a situation that can ill afford any more of it. I don’t think it is irrational at all to suggest the team should just let Kirk walk away...unless...
- To me, the Redskins can and will set the table on this, and the world (including Kirk Cousins and his agent) will be forced to deal with the reality that Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen trigger. If they do nothing and allow Kirk to walk away into unrestricted free agency, the butt-clench factor in town will decrease exponentially. There will be peace in the land (on this one issue...for like, a day or two). That said, if Bruce Allen thinks that there will be at least two teams vying for Kirk’s services, the Redskins probably think they should be able to pry a pick or two away from one of them. In that case, the fireworks begin! If general managers in cities like Denver, New York, Cleveland (McLovin!!!), Minnesota, Arizona and others (Jacksonville??) think Kirk is as good as people seem to be saying (best quarterback since Drew Brees to hit free agency), AND if one of them is going to pay Kirk $90 million guaranteed on a $150 million or so contract, that team is not likely to balk at sending a third round pick our way (possibly a second rounder), which would lock in that level of draft compensation (and negate the compensatory pick calculation). OF COURSE tagging Kirk risks initiating a standoff between player and franchise, as well as potentially between the union and the Redskins, and could hamstring our free agency efforts and generally keep our lives as Redskins fans as bad as they have been. Kirk could hold things up, forcing a Josh Norman scenario that ends with the team getting nothing in return, while causing the Redskins to potentially miss out on a free agent or two. The calculation on the Redskins part would be something like this: some team out there (say, the Broncos) wants to get the Kirk Cousins Era started as soon as possible. They don’t want to wait for Kirk until June or whenever the worst-case scenario puts Kirk on the street. I tend to think this kind of situation gets handled at the owner level, because of the CBA implications and the face-saving aspects. I don’t see Snyder as a guy most other team owners are genuinely interested in helping, but the Broncos and Redskins are noted to have a halfway decent relationship. It does come down to what Kirk wants, and that fact should not be lost, but I also don’t think he is less of a free agent if the Skins tag him. I think he will negotiate the same deal the market will allow, and likely with the same team he would have gotten the deal from anyway. I hate myself for thinking this, but at this moment, I am rolling the dice. As it was suggested to me at last night’s party, you have to believe the reward is worth the risk, and so to me the reward I am looking at is a second round pick in this upcoming draft, as opposed to a third round compensatory pick (at the butt-end of the third round) in next year’s draft. I would do that because I would then look to add a cornerback and running back in the second round of this year’s draft. Hope springs eternal!
- If you watched the game in the DC market, you were treated to a second-half commercial featuring Kirk Cousins and a fake Donald Trump (a Cyprus Air ad). He was wearing his #8 burgundy and gold jersey, and it was...weird. (It never ends.) For my money, the Eli Manning “Dirty Dancing” commercial was the best one of the night, followed by the Alexa spot. We will be sure to round up your thoughts on this most important facet of the Super Bowl on The Audible tomorrow night! Last week on our “Offseason On the Brink” segment, we hit Facebook Live the second the Alex Smith news broke. It was surreal. I don’t anticipate that kind of timing again...but who knows? In fact, I might ask you this: what news would you MOST wish to be dropped on Tuesday evening before we hit the sticks? (Please make it Redskins-related and not at all involving Kevin or Tim’s wardrobes. Thanks.)
*The lead image is just a chance to keep Chase Roullier in our collective thoughts...God I hope he is as good as people are trying to convince me of...