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Daily Slop - 24 July 23: DC area media spent the weekend talking about the ownership change; training camp starts this week

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: APR 27 2023 Draft Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Commanders links


Commanders Wire

Josh Harris sends open letter to Commanders fans

What a perfect touch from Harris. He is handling every step the right way. This letter not only continued his and his group’s reaching out to the fan base, but he also used The Washington Post. Dan Snyder hated The Washington Post.

That is another good move from Harris and his partners. Instead of viewing the media as the enemy, as Snyder did, Harris understands that both sides need a working relationship.

Washington Post

How Josh Harris’s Washington roots inspired him to buy the Commanders

In 20 minutes, Harris achieved what no one else has over the past 20 years in Washington. He restored hope for the fans of a once marquee franchise. The dread of the next disappointment — because there always seemed to be a next one — finally dissipated and was replaced by an air of unadulterated joy.

Daniel Snyder’s ownership in Washington will be remembered as one of the worst in sports history, which grants Harris immediate savior status. Harris is not Snyder, and that alone is a significant edge as he tries to revitalize the franchise. The private-equity investor and owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils hopes to raise the bar in Washington, largely because of his personal connection to the area and the team. Harris and his investors — curated to feature D.C. ties, financial savvy, real estate knowledge and obviously significant wealth — vowed to restore the franchise as they remember it.

You have to go back to when Harris, the son of an orthodontist, would go with his dad to Capital Centre in Landover to watch the Washington Bullets. But he lived for the times his uncle would offer up a ticket to attend an NFL game at RFK Stadium. Harris had a No. 17 Billy Kilmer jersey. He and Ein also had identical burgundy-and-gold Washington varsity jackets.

“One of my earliest memories was blocking Garo [Yepremian’s kick] — I mean, seriously — and then running it back for a touchdown, losing to the Miami Dolphins, 14-7, [in Super Bowl VII],” Harris recalled recently. “I remember when I was in high school and Joe Gibbs [was coach] and their first pick was Art Monk and everyone being like, ‘Who is Art Monk?’ ”

Harris believes Washington’s new reality can look much different, even in his first year. He and his investors take over with little time to make significant change before the start of the season, but they plan to improve the fan experience and assess the staff and team to determine the next steps.

Sports Illustrated

‘Dark Cloud Dan’: Commanders Sale Can’t Lose with Snyder Out

Dan Snyder has officially sold the Washington Commanders to Josh Harris. And the “dark cloud’’ is therefore gone.

In the end, embattled Dan Snyder didn’t sell to Amazon gazillionaire Jeff Bezos. Instead the Commanders are now owned by a group led by the aforementioned Harris, billionaire Mitchell Rales and NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.

“I got a ring in every sport,” said Magic, who has won championships as a player with the Lakers and as an owner with the Dodgers. “But I need a Super Bowl ring.”

Commander Wire

6 Commanders players who need a strong showing in training camp

Jaret Patterson

Jaret Patterson is entering his third NFL season. The former undrafted running back from Buffalo has more competition this summer. In addition to veteran Jonathan Williams, there is sixth-round pick Chris Rodriguez Jr. Bieniemy drafted Rodriguez. That’s his guy, so he’ll presumably make the roster as the third running back behind Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson.

If Washington keeps four running backs, Patterson will battle Williams for that role. The preseason games are the most important for the running backs. Washington likes Williams and Patterson. However, they are fighting for one spot. Patterson must take advantage of his preseason opportunities again to make the roster.

Riggo’s Rag

Will the Washington Commanders offense hold them back in 2023?

The Commanders cannot let their offense become a weak link again in 2023.

Bieniemy can only do so much. If the quarterback, offensive line, and tight end position become a collective weak link, it’s hard to envisage a scenario where Washington’s offense improves enough to make waves within such a competitive division.

That is the worst-case scenario. For now, there is a genuine belief that Bieniemy and the other changes made can be the catalyst behind better fortunes offensively - something that could make a huge difference in the Commanders’ quest for postseason football.

Front Office Sports

To Fix The Commanders, Josh Harris Must Win Back Washington

With the rise of two teams that have eaten into Washington’s traditional fan territory (Baltimore and Carolina), it’s fair to wonder if the team will ever be able to fully replenish the season-ticket base.

Last year’s Team Marketing Report Fan Cost Index ranked the Commanders the 19th most expensive team to watch, a surprising number given the cost of living in the D.C. market.

Wright, a former McKinsey partner, doesn’t see a path where the team can cut its way to success.

“Tickets go for as cheap as $400 for the entire season on the upper level,” Wright said in March. “We need to think about how to get people to buy into what’s already a very low price point. It’s hard to think that further drops in price, when we’re already in a wealthy market and we’re bottom of the league in prices, (is beneficial).”

The Commanders have already surpassed total revenue for tickets and suites compared to all of 2022, according to data provided by the Commanders. Year-over year, ticket sales are up 52%, and suite sales are on pace to double last year’s figure.

Since news of the tentative deal between Harris and Snyder hit in the middle of April, the team has sold 3.500 season ticket memberships, according to the team .



NFC East links

Can changes put Dak into MVP conversation?

I’m fully expecting the offense to rely on the pass considerably more in 2023 with Mike McCarthy as the play-caller, which puts Dak in prime position to have the opportunities to make an MVP type of impact. When trying to answer this question, I keep thinking of the 2020 season and how dominant he was through the air before his season-ending injury. Most of the things that worked in his favor then also work in his favor now: two elite deep-threat receivers, an offensive system predicated around him and a youthful running back alongside him ready to also help carry the load. The ingredients are there, the recipe just needs to be put together by Chef Dak.

Big Blue View

Wink Martindale’s defense is an outlier, but is it a good idea in the NFC East?

The Giants’ division opponents are built to give his style of defense problems

New York Giants fans were mostly thrilled when new head coach Brian Daboll made Don “Wink” Martindale one of his first hires, as defensive coordinator. There is probably no defense more fun to watch than one based on Martindale’s “pressure breaks pipes” philosophy. His teams lead the league in blitzes, with pass rushers disguised before the snap and then one or two schemed to get open paths to the quarterback after the snap.

Martindale’s philosophy is diametrically opposed to what Giants’ fans had become used to during the Joe Judge years, with former defensive coordinator Patrick Graham employing a more passive zone defense designed to confuse quarterbacks rather than offensive lines.

Martindale seeks to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands as soon as possible, but the extra potential pass rusher he often puts up front means one less player in coverage. That puts a premium on defensive backs who can play on an island in man coverage long enough for the pressure to either get to the quarterback or force him to throw to a receiver who is not yet open. The Giants were among the league leaders in percentage of defensive snaps played in man coverage (around 50%), and that was despite a series of injuries that kept their best defensive backs off the field for a good fraction of the season. That goes against the raging NFL trend toward the Vic Fangio-style zone defense approach that seeks to disguise coverage rather than pass rushers and shows a lot of two-high shells prior to the snap. League-wide, about two-thirds of dropbacks since 2020 have been against zone defenses.

Martindale is going against that trend by using so much man defense. Is that a good idea if you’re coaching in the NFC East?

You could argue that the NFC East, of all divisions, is not a place to be playing man defense a lot. Lamb, Brown, and Smith are above average against zone defenses, but they are among the best of the best when they see man coverage.

Pro Football Talk

Giants’ Xavier McKinney: Nobody will be mad at Saquon Barkley if he doesn’t come to camp

“For me, I’ve talked to him, and regardless of any decision that he makes, whether he’s there or whether he’s not here, I respect it 100 percent,” McKinney told Jim Rome, via the New York Post. “I’m behind him 100 percent. I wouldn’t have no hard feelings, no nothing towards him whatever decision that he decides. Obviously we want him to be there but if he can’t, we understand that as well. I think that’s not just for me but that goes for a lot of guys in our locker room. I just don’t want that to be the narrative — if he decides not to come, then nobody’s gonna be mad.”

NFL league links


Josh Harris and Co. can begin cleanup job in Washington as Dan Snyder’s failed ownership ends

[A]t some point during or after this season, Harris will have to decide if he wants to retain any part of the current leadership — president Jason Wright, general manager Martin Mayhew and coach Ron Rivera, among others — or if, as many new owners do, he will install his own braintrust, free of ties to the toxicity that has overwhelmed the franchise. Harris will not make wholesale changes right now, because, he said, he wanted to learn what was really going on inside the organization.

Harris will probably get an extended honeymoon as the new owner, benefitting from the simple fact that he is not Snyder, and that should lead to renewed interest in the team almost immediately. Harris will have to take advantage of this opportunity. Fans fled as investigations mounted and trust with them must be rebuilt. Sponsors, who also dropped away from the Commanders, must be wooed anew. The Commanders have been in organizational limbo in recent years, particularly with Snyder’s own status uncertain, and during that time, they have slid into disrepair. This is, in short, no quick fix. Harris has taken over other teams and built them back up and the lessons he learned there will inform how he approaches the Commanders now.

“Patience and long-term decision-making,” he said. “Short-term decision-making doesn’t work in sports. I would love to build a long-term winner. Let’s say we win for one season and then we’re terrible. I hate to lose. I’m very competitive. I don’t really want to set that up. You need to be very thoughtful about the draft, about free agency, trades. You try to build edges. It means everything, analytics, sports science, how you treat the players. It’s a lot of details to create edges.”

A toast of “Bye Dan” is in order for the fans who endured Snyder’s reign, and especially for the women who had the courage to speak up and bring it to an end.

They forced everyone to stop looking the other way and finally to begin cleaning up the NFL’s biggest blight.

The Athletic

Mueller: Why Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs are in this situation, and how to manage it

The case has been made that not paying Barkley and Jacobs will affect team morale and cause a rift between the locker room and the front office, because the two players are seen as valuable cogs, really good performers and perhaps the best players on their teams’ offenses. I have lived that, it’s simply not true.

I know how tenuous and delicate negotiations can be; I’ve done hundreds of contracts in my NFL career. I think the respect built through relationships with agents and players over time carries you through these tumultuous moments. My experience has also been that players understand that business is business. Emotions can play a part, but that is why communication and transparent explanations have to be part of the art of a deal. Sometimes as GM, you have to be willing to be the bad guy, but I have found that being honest is your best route. So, in a nutshell, I don’t think you overpay for kum ba yah in your locker room. Players understand. This is business.

Currently these two players’ leverage is gone. Threatening a holdout into the regular season doesn’t accomplish anything. Nobody thinks they will miss real paychecks, and to miss camp and the preseason is frankly not a big deal. If I was in charge, neither would play in preseason anyway.


Nick Chubb on RB pay: ‘There’s really nothing we can do’

“We’re kind of handcuffed with the situation. We’re the only position that our production hurts us the most,” Chubb said, per ESPN. “If we go out there and run 2,000 yards with so many carries, the next year they’re going to say, you’re probably worn down. It’s tough. ... It hurts us at the end of the day.”

The Athletic

Raiders’ Jimmy Garoppolo passes physical, expected to open training camp with team: Sources

Garoppolo, 31, agreed to a three-year deal with Las Vegas worth up to $72.5 million in March after the Raiders released quarterback Derek Carr, who signed with the Saints. He threw for 2,437 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions last season with San Francisco.

The veteran is expected to be the Raiders’ starter in 2023. Jarrett Stidham, who started the final two games of the regular season for Las Vegas after Carr was benched, signed with the Broncos.

Tennessee Titans unveil ‘Oilers’ throwback uniforms

The long-awaited revival of a classic NFL uniform has finally arrived.

The Tennessee Titans will turn to their roots with their throwback set in 2023, donning the kits made famous by the Oilers of both Houston and Tennessee. The Titans will debut this famous look at two home games this fall, the team announced.

Their first game in these throwbacks will mark the first time the franchise has worn the powder blue Oilers jerseys in a home regular-season game in Tennessee since moving to the state.

The use of these uniforms will undoubtedly irk those in Houston, who have since converted to Texans fans and feel these uniforms belong in Texas. However, much like their use during the 50th anniversary of the AFL’s inception (a different rendition of Oilers throwbacks were used then), the Titans — not the Texans — will revert to the Oilers, as it is the Titans franchise which carries the Oilers history before being renamed in its third season in Tennessee in 1999.

These uniforms have long been considered as elite throwbacks, but the NFL’s one-shell rule prevented the Titans from rolling them out. Now that the league has allowed teams to use alternate helmets, the Titans knew exactly where to turn: to the best uniforms in franchise history. The “Luv Ya Blue” Oilers will return in Tennessee’s attire in 2023.