- First thing is always...well, first. To all of you out there efforting through these hard times, keep your heads up! Like the sport we cover on these pages, the winning formula is easier said than done. The hard work is done not one month at a time, but one hour at a time. My family of five has been holed up in casa de Meringolo now for one week and as many of you know...we’re just getting started. Our homes are also now schools, playgrounds and office spaces. On behalf of my family, I hope you are all safe and well today. From marble races to simulated games of every kind, the itch to replace sports in our society is a full-throated one. Oh...and the memes. For goodness sake...the memes. Well, my effort these days is related less to trying to fill in any kind of void and more about using this space of ours to just stay connected. I thought this was as good a week as any to start doing these on Mondays again.
- I think about all the times over the last decade that I have said, “If I had some free time to knock out [insert project I thought I was serious about], I would sooooooooooooo knock that out.” I am looking around the room here and sensing a LOT of projects not getting knocked out. That’s okay...I am not knocking the lack of knocking things out. Hell, just getting a Monday column out on a Monday seems like a gargantuan task these days. Give yourselves a break, y’all. If you are following the rules of the day—staying home, taking care of your amazing families and getting to the end of each day with some peace in your hearts and minds, you are KILLING IT!
- One last thought here, and it is a good segue to the Redskins/NFL news of the day. Many of you out there are spending more time with your kids than you ever thought you would or could. As difficult as it might be for us, it is a dream come true for our kids. In our home, it is a great time for education on our sports heritage. For example, my son plays as the all-time Washington Wizards roster on NBA2K, which has made for some awesome conversations...mostly about Gilbert Arenas. We must have spent an entire meal two days ago talking about Sean Taylor and Lavar Arrington. I think Rod Langway references are still a long ways off, but you get the picture. For once, sports has been less about what is happening today and tomorrow and so much more about what has passed already. That said...despite all that is going on, the NFL has managed to give us some much-needed news about things that are actually in a future that—I promise you—will get here.
- Let’s start with the recent move to bring in Kyle Allen from Carolina. For the cost of a fifth-round pick, the Redskins get a quarterback that is familiar to the coaching staff and who started 12 games last season...all for the price of $675,000 for one season. I tend to get overly excited about cheap quarterbacks, but given we are paying Alex Smith $21 million per healthy leg this season, it strikes me as wise to add experience for as little commitment and expense as possible. Let me also say that I prefer the Kyle Allen pickup to Jameis Winston and Cam Newton. Both of those guys would require more money and more commitment. Both of those guys would likely be more NFL-ready than Dwayne Haskins, making training camp more miserable than it has to be for a team that still needs to see what they have in their first-round signal-caller. As we say here (often), this move isn’t causing any Super Bowl plans to be booked, but it is a move that buys a new coaching staff a little time on the front end. The most important offensive relationship is between the offensive coordinator and the quarterback, and Kyle Allen brings some institutional knowledge of Scott Turner’s philosophy that can only help Dwayne Haskins in the room during the week.
- As much as I always want to minimize players making more than $10 million a year on the roster, if you get the right ones, you are doing just fine. That imaginary line will shift once the salary cap blows out, but I have kind of used that number as measuring stick. If you have too many guys making over that number, it hamstrings the kind of talent you can surround those players with on both sides of the ball. A team like the Redskins needs to maximize the money it has to spend on as much talent as it can possibly bring in, which makes the lack of big money signings at the outset of free agency has been a real positive in my eyes. Still, at some positions, you simply must spend money, and one of those positions is cornerback. Coming into the season, the Redskins were ranked 23rd in spending at the cornerback spot. I am all for frugality, but putting money into the secondary in this era of pass-happy football is generally prudent, so spending the $10 million a year to bring in 25-year old cornerback Kendall Fuller is—in my humble opinion—smart. Listen, he played in the high school conference I cover (the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference), so I am beside myself to see him return to his hometown team. He sealed the Super Bowl win with an amazing interception for the Chiefs, leaving a lasting memory of that game for Redskins fans. His homecoming is more than just sentimental though. Kendall Fuller is a smart player. When healthy, what he can do for a defensive coordinator can’t be overstated. He executes schemes to perfection, knowing where to be and when given the coverage and situation. His presence in our secondary makes us better and continues adding talented players in that key under-25 demo that is so crucial when you are trying to build a core of a team.
- Word on the street is that Quinton Dunbar has been traded to Seattle for a fifth-round pick...at the time of this writing, it has not been confirmed. I would like to think that we could do better for a starting caliber corner, but here are my off-the-cuff thoughts on it: he’ll be 28 years old next season and has struggled to stay healthy. He played in 11 games this past season, and was admittedly effective. His size will be missed, but he didn’t want to be here. When you bring in a new defensive-minded head coach and staff, you want to have players who are excited to be here and excited to play for the new regime. Dunbar was not that. I loved watching Dunbar play for my team, but I will be happy to see this staff build with players who want to be here. Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio are former linebackers, making their initial signings of guys like Thomas Davis and Kevin Pierre-Louis very meaningful for me. These are the kinds of players to watch in 2020—not to be headlining stars for the Redskins but to be the kinds of players who play the game the way these linebackers-at-heart want the game to be played. With more money to be spent, the Redskins have the chance to continue adding guys who will compete for time on the field and shape the way “Redskins football” is going to look like in the RivEra. Stay tuned...stay safe, and please, if possible...stay home!
Looks Like Someone Has a Sixpack of the Mondays
Thank goodness for the NFL as it is providing the only real source of “live” sports these days.