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Daily Slop - 12 July 23: Quan Martin, Chris Rodriguez, and the challenges facing Josh Harris

A collection of articles, podcasts & tweets from around the web to keep you in touch with the Commanders, the NFC East and the NFL in general

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NFL: Washington Commanders Rookie Minicamp Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders links


Illinois DC ‘never had a defensive back as versatile’ as Quan Martin

His ability to thrive at all of them is what makes him so special.

“There’s not much that he can’t do,” Henry said. “I’ve been doing this for 12 years. I have never had a defensive back as versatile as him.”

Martin started out as a corner for the Illini back he committed to the program as a three-star recruit, but versatility has always been a part of his skill set. Even when he was primarily a wide corner back in 2018 and 2019, he still saw snaps in the slot, near the box and at free safety.

Illinois’ willingness to move Martin around the defense reached its apex in 2022. The majority of his snaps came in the slot, but 177 of his 786 total snaps came at free safety. He also lined up in the box (44 snaps) and out wide (73 snaps).

“When you have a guy that’s so versatile on the field, teams don’t know what subgroup you’re in. He can go from covering a slot receiver to a tight end.”

Riggo’s Rag

3 immediate issues for Commanders owner Josh Harris in 2023

They must repair the tattered love affair that once existed between the Washington Commanders and their passionate fans. That one shouldn’t be too hard because like all disappointed lovers, fans are willing to forgive a great deal for the promise of a fresh start.

The second PR task will prove more challenging. Harris must mend the toxic relationship that Dan Snyder created between the franchise and the local political establishment – especially with Washington, DC. That in turn will put the new owners in a position to address the single biggest hurdle they will face – getting a new stadium deal.

Harris and the Commanders will also have a variety of other important tasks to accomplish.

For Chris Rodriguez Jr, It’s Not Just About Football

His journey from the fields of Panhandle Park to the practice facilities at Ashburn is a testament to his talent, determination, and the powerful influence of his late mother, Stephanie Thornton, who passed away from complications of lupus at the age of 42.

His college offensive coordinator, Liam Coen, described Rodriguez as ‘a man on a mission,’ a phrase that encapsulates his relentless drive and ambition. This mission was not just about football. Rodriguez has made it his mission to honor his mother at almost every opportunity, raising money and awareness for the Lupus Foundation of America at the NFL Combine and wearing purple — her favorite color and the color for lupus awareness — at the Senior Bowl. He even had custom shoes painted with his mother’s image that he showed off during the draft.

As Rodriguez begins his professional career with the Commanders, he carries with him the memory of his mother and the lessons she taught him. His journey is a testament to the power of determination, the importance of family, and the enduring influence of a mother’s love.

Bullock’s Film Room

Commanders Scheme Breakdown: The Zone Blitz

Breaking down the zone blitz and how the Commanders’ defense makes use of it

The zone blitz is seen as a “safe” way to rush five defenders instead of just four, while keeping a relatively secure zone coverage behind it. Typically in order to rush a fifth defender, the defense would have to play some form of man coverage behind it, which then gives the offense a chance to generate favorable one-on-one matchups. But by using the zone blitz, the defense could gain the benefit of rushing a fifth defender while still playing zone coverage.

The zone coverage behind the rush can vary, but most of the time when a team uses a zone blitz, they use three underneath zones and three deep zones. Some teams might mix it up and have four underneath with just two deep in certain situations, but the vast majority of teams that zone blitz will stick to the standard three deep, three under structure.

One of the best parts of the zone blitz is the disguise it can give a defense. At its core, it’s a three deep, three under zone coverage with five rushers, but there’s a million different ways a defense can get to that look.

While the zone blitz is no longer the go-to scheme for modern NFL defenses, it’s certainly a useful scheme to have installed for certain situations. It’s a nice change up to have from the typical quarters coverages that Washington uses, allowing them to disguise their coverages and send an extra rusher on occasion. It’s also a nice scheme to have for their 5-1 nickel front to allow all five defensive lineman to rush without being exposed in coverage. It’s an important part of the puzzle for the Commanders defense, so expect to see it again this coming season.



NFC East links

Blogging the Boys

5 free agents the Dallas Cowboys should have on standby

The Dallas Cowboys could still jump into the free agency pool and these five players would be good candidates.

LG Dalton Risner

He is a former second-round pick of the Denver Broncos and the best interior offensive lineman available on the open market. He would be a plug-and-play starter from Day 1 with the Cowboys and would help stabilize their entire OL. Dallas would be wise to have his number on speed dial if/when the need arises for them to get a bona fide starter at LG.

TE Cameron Brate

He is a solid player who has proven he is more than capable of being reliable as both a blocker in the running game and as a receiving threat in the passing game. If the youth movement at TE raises any concern at any point throughout training camp or preseason, Brate is someone the Cowboys should absolutely have on standby.

LB Deion Jones

He was a Pro Bowl player under Quinn in Atlanta, however, hasn’t played up to that level since then. Despite that though, he could be a perfect fit in Dallas as an insurance/depth piece.

K Robbie Gould

Robbie Gould is the best kicker available on the open market. He’s been one of the most reliable kickers in the league throughout his career, and despite getting up there in age with a few injury concerns of the past few seasons, he would no doubt be an upgrade in Dallas. The Cowboys can’t wait too long if they don’t like what they see at the kicking position in training camp, otherwise Gould may slip their fingers.

RB Ezekiel Elliott

He may no longer be the RB he once was, however, he would be an excellent backup who would complement Pollard almost perfectly.

Big Blue View

Can the Giants have an explosive passing offense this season?

Daniel Jones can make the throws, and now he has the receivers.

I want to use it to make two points:

  1. Jones was No. 34 in the NFL in passes of at least 20 yards last season (the last column in the table), with only 23 in 16 games.
  2. If that’s not bad enough, look at some of the people ahead of him. Jones dropped back to pass 571 times last season. Zach Wilson (279 dropbacks), Mitchell Trubisky (195), Taylor Heinecke (292), and Sam Darnold (162) all had more 20+ yard passes than Jones despite dropping back about half as often or even less.

If that continues, there is just about no way for the Giants to become a dangerous passing offense in the modern NFL, and no way that Jones sees all four seasons of his new contract.

NFL league links


Washington Post

Saints’ Alvin Kamara agrees to plea deal in Las Vegas assault case

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara agreed to plead no contest to a misdemeanor charge of breach of peace for his role in a 2022 fight in Las Vegas, according to court records.

Kamara, who must perform community service and compensate the alleged victim for medical bills, no longer faces a felony charge of battery resulting in substantial bodily harm after accepting the plea deal.

Kamara was arrested Feb. 6, 2022, by Las Vegas police after playing in the Pro Bowl earlier that day. The arrest stemmed from a fight the day before in which the victim, Darnell Greene, said he was leaving a club in the Cromwell Las Vegas Hotel & Casino when he encountered Kamara and a group of people waiting for an elevator. Greene alleged that Kamara put his hand on his chest when the elevator arrived, blocking him from entering. Greene said he pushed Kamara’s hand before multiple people, including Kamara, hit and kicked him. Greene was later treated at a hospital for injuries including an orbital fracture.


Chiefs ‘superfan’ on run from law finally gets caught

Kansas City Chiefs superfan Xaviar Babudar (aka ChiefsAholic) has been apprehended

After months as a fugitive on the lam, Kansas City Chiefs superfan Xaviar Babudar (aka ChiefsAholic) has been apprehended. Babudar’s capture ended one of the longest fugitive runs in sports entertainment. After being released on bond for his Dec. 16 robbery of the Tulsa Teachers Credit Union, Babudar was ordered to wear a GPS monitoring device upon his release from jail.

On Monday, Babudar was captured in Sacramento, California ending the 107-day manhunt and halting any potential sportsbook prop bets on how long he’d remain an active fugitive.

Babudar was dumb enough to commit the Tulsa robbery that led to his arrest in the wolf costume he wore to Chiefs’ home and away games. But at least he was savvy enough to get out of the Midwest.

Following his initial arrest in December, Babudar was connected to several unsolved bank robberies throughout the Midwest. At the time of Babudar’s arrest, ESPN’s Elizabeth Merrill and David Purdum discovered that Babudar was a prominent gambler, which fueled speculation that he was driven to commit robberies to cover gambling debts. Instead, his love for casinos was merely a cover. In order to launder the money, Babudar purchased and redeemed more than $1 million in chips from various casinos in Missouri and Illinois between April and December 2022.

NBC Sports

Will the Rooney Rule survive?

If the affirmative action ruling spreads and grows under the influence of a Supreme Court that seems to be inclined to make that happen, the league could end up being caught in a very delicate position. On one hand, its grandiose aspirations for diversity, equity, and inclusion are not working. On the other hand, those very same aspirations could eventually fuel a claim that the NFL’s effort to level the playing field represent a violation of the law, forcing the NFL to defend itself by perhaps explaining that its grandiose aspirations don’t actually work.

Regardless, the league is left with a policy that doesn’t work at a time when the very existence of the policy could cause other problems.

The Athletic

Kadarius Toney, Kayvon Thibodeaux lead breakout candidates for all 32 NFL teams

When fans think of Washington’s defensive line, Sweat might be an afterthought behind Pro Bowl tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne, and certainly Chase Young. This despite 29 career sacks — eight in 2022 — in four seasons compared to Young’s nine in three. One way to garner more recognition would be to turn close calls into sacks. Per TruMedia, Sweat tied for seventh in QB hits (27) and 14th in QB pressures (62) in 2022 but was tied for 30th in sacks. Don’t be shocked if the 2019 first-round pick — who is in a contract year — reaches double-digit sacks and the Pro Bowl for the first time.

No players selected in 2023 NFL supplemental draft

Two prospects — former Jackson State wide receiver Malachi Wideman and former Purdue wide receiver Milton Wright — were available to be picked. Any team that had selected a player in the supplemental draft would have to give up the corresponding pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Both Wideman and Wright are now considered free agents and can sign with any club.

The last time an NFL team used a selection in the supplemental draft was back in 2019, when the Arizona Cardinals spent a fifth-round selection to take safety Jalen Thompson, who has become a starter for the club.


The Playcallers Ep. 2: When football breaks

Once candidates for the same head coaching jobs, Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay’s dynamic gets complicated as they turn into NFC rivals in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Host Jourdan Rodrigue goes inside how both coaches’ modern offenses take shape and the untold stories of McVay’s hiring process by the Rams. Eventually, McVay’s Rams take the NFL by storm in 2017-18. But all the while, one of the greatest coaches in NFL history is lying in wait to teach McVay a humiliating lesson in Super Bowl LIII...just a couple of years after Shanahan’s own Super Bowl heartbreak at the hands of that same veteran coach.

Voices in the episode include McVay, Shanahan, Matt LaFleur, Mike McDaniel, Les Snead, Kevin Demoff, Andrew Whitworth, Mina Kimes and Steve Wyche.