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Daily Slop - 3 Feb 24: Senior Bowl offers the opportunity for GMs, coaches and fans to build pre-draft excitement

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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NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice
Feb 1, 2024; Mobile, AL, USA; Washington Commanders general manager Adam Peters visits the sideline during practice for the American team at Hancock Whitney Stadium.
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

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The Athletic (paywall)

Commanders coordinator search: Whom will Washington hire to fill out Dan Quinn’s staff?

General manager Adam Peters, now a grizzled veteran of the Washington scene after his hiring last month, leads the personnel department. The ownership, spearheaded by managing partner Josh Harris, has spent the past six months aiming to clear obstacles that plagued previous football staff members. Now comes day-to-day football help.

Hiring coordinators and assistants doesn’t draw the same intense interest as the head coach choice, especially when drama exists in the process. Filling out the staff is arguably as crucial toward success. Look around the NFC East for proof. Disagreements between New York Giants coach Brian Daboll and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale festered throughout the season, leading to Martindale’s eventual exit. The Philadelphia Eagles, having lost six of their final seven games to end the season, including a playoff setback, sought fixes by changing offensive and defensive coordinators for the second consecutive year.

How and whom a new coach intends to target for the coordinator positions is part of the interview process. Perhaps Quinn aims for an innovative young offensive play caller (49ers’ Klint Kubiak?) or a veteran-led staff (Cowboys’ Joe Whitt Jr.?) knowing the roster will be chock-full of young players. Maybe he wants another former head coach on staff (Chip Kelly?), or a subset of assistants employed by former Washington head coach Ron Rivera remains. There’s also an ongoing race among teams seeking replacements or changes.

Here’s a look at potential names for Washington’s offensive, defensive and special teams coordinator positions.


Commanders Wire

Howie Long loves Dan Quinn hire for the Commanders

Long went on to discuss the end of Quinn’s three years in Dallas.

“I think they had some holes in the system at the end in Dallas,’ he said. “I think maybe Dallas ran its course. You’re starting to hear kind of, there’s people who have podcasts; Jerry (Jones) had a press conference and players are voicing their displeasure. Family members have accounts online, and it’s all things……if I were running a football team, and my frame of reference was our football team, the Raider philosophy under Al Davis was you build a wall around the building, and it’s us against them.”

Long was referencing how some family members of Dallas players criticized quarterback Dak Prescott after the season and believed the Cowboys’ failures late in the season had nothing to do with Quinn and that he was ready to move on for his second chance at being a head coach.

“I think this is a great opportunity for Dan Quinn,” Long said. “It’s a new owner. I had dinner with someone from the organization last night, and they’re going to be a really well-run organization in contrast to what they’ve been over the last 8, 9, 10 years under Dan Snyder.”


NBC Sports

Commanders make safe hire in Dan Quinn, but that doesn’t make it wrong

This is not a Hollywood blockbuster film that needs glitz and glamour to sell. It’s a football team with a leadership void that Harris and Peters clearly believe Quinn can fill.

For more than two decades, Dan Snyder made splashy coaching hires that excited the fan base.

For more than two decades, that strategy did not work.

Embarking on a new era in Washington, new Commanders owner Josh Harris deployed a different strategy with his first head coaching hire. Harris assembled a talented team to help him navigate the process, and the early returns were quite promising. Washington announced the addition of new general manager Adam Peters in early January, who was widely considered the best GM candidate in the NFL.

A few weeks later - perhaps a grueling amount of time for some fans - the Commanders landed on Dan Quinn as their new head coach. For all the excitement that Peters’ arrival brought, Quinn’s is much more muted.

There is plenty to like about Quinn. He has a sterling reputation around the league as a motivator, communicator and for being very organized.

Over the last three seasons as defensive coordinator for the Cowboys (the damn Cowboys!) Quinn led an elite defense. The Cowboys defense ranked among the Top 10 in points allowed each of the last three years and generated 93 takeaways during that span. Washington had 55 takeaways in the last three years.

Perhaps more importantly, players love Quinn.


Riggo’s Rag

Was Commanders opening a poisoned chalice for young coordinators?

History provides some clues...

Since 2012, there have been six ownership changes in the NFL. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Browns, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, and Denver Broncos all got bought out before the Commanders did last year.

What transpired in the majority of those situations might explain why no young coordinator wanted to take the Commanders job.

Five different ownership changes. Five different failures with the first head coach. Those aren’t great odds and might factor into why a young offensive coordinator didn’t want to take over a Commanders team that finished 4-13.

Yes, having the No. 2 overall pick and plenty of cap room might be attractive to a general manager. It is less attractive to a new coach who knows the front office leader will get a longer leash than they ultimately would.

Quinn might not be the coach that fans wanted, but he might have been one of the only candidates brave enough to risk taking the role, given the historical context. That alone should speak to his character, which is a good starting point to build from.


Riggo’s Rag

Insider revelations indicate Commanders had lucky escape with Ben Johnson

There was one final twist to the tale between Ben Johnson and the Commanders...

After initially agreeing to a second interview, Johnson got cold feet as Washington’s vaunted hiring committee was in the air en route to Detroit. He pulled out of the meeting via text by all accounts, opting to remain with the Lions in the hope of securing a Super Bowl in 2024.

This forced the Commanders to pivot. It led them to Quinn. While choosing this method to spurn Washington’s advances was a bad look for Johnson, the perceived reasons were justified.

But as always where the NFL is concerned, there was one final twist to the tale.

Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network had a completely different view on how things went down with Johnson during this hiring cycle. The respected insider revealed via USA Today Sports that the play-caller didn’t interview well. He wasn’t seen as a true leadership type. There were also suggestions he jumped before being pushed to save face.

The insider believes that others weren’t so sure about Johnson. But again, if this conclusion had been made, why waste time going for a second meeting?

The Commanders are rightfully annoyed about the way Johnson handled this situation. There is also plenty of smoke that could suggest these reports hold some weight - especially Josina Anderson’s report about his representatives wanting around $15 million per season to take the plunge. Even if the actions and overall timeline suggest something else.

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Dwelling on the past isn’t going to do the Commanders any good. Everyone must give Quinn their full backing no matter what they think about the hire. That’s the only way Washington is going to drag itself out of the proverbial wilderness and back among the contenders.


Commanders Wire

10 standouts from Day 2 at the Senior Bowl

The Washington Commanders have yet to hire a head coach, but they can take a big step forward with three of the top 40 picks in the 2024 NFL draft, including No. 2 overall.

That work to improve the roster begins this week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. General manager Adam Peters is in Mobile along with others in Washington’s scouting department to check out some of the best prospects at the Senior Bowl. And with needs throughout the roster, the Commanders could find plenty of help.

Several prospects have stood out through two days of practice, including multiple offensive linemen. Washington could be searching for as many as four new starters on the offensive line in 2024, and there are numerous day-one starters in Mobile.

Taliese Fuaga (Oregon State), Jackson Powers-Johnson (Oregon), Tyler Guyton (Oklahoma) and Jordan Morgan (Arizona) are just some of the offensive linemen to make a case for being selected in the first round.

We’re only halfway through the week, but the offensive line is clearly the strongest group at the Senior Bowl.

Who else impressed on Wednesday? From those present in Mobile, here are 10 standouts from the second day of practice.


Commanders.com

Four takeaways from 2024 Senior Bowl practices

So, let’s look at four takeaways from the three Senior Bowl practices that were available for media members to attend.

1. This year’s class of offensive linemen is talented.

The Commanders need at least some help on the offensive line after allowing the second most sacks in the NFL. They could take one of the top tackles with the No. 2 overall pick, but the potential of taking a franchise quarterback off the board is probably too tempting to pass up. They could use one of their four other picks in the top 100 to take an offensive lineman, though, and there should be plenty to choose from.

There were several guards and tackles from both the American and National teams that held their own against a stacked group of defensive linemen (more on them later). Whether they want a starter or a long-term project, the Commanders will have options on how to improve the position. If they want experience, Houston’s Patrick Paul — Chris Paul’s younger brother — is a player who has the physical traits at 6-foot-7 and 315 pounds. Patrick Paul did have moments where his stance was a little high, and his punch was slow when he went against players like Chris Braswell, but he does have some tools that the right coach could develop into starting caliber material.

The biggest riser at tackle might have been Texas’ Christian Jones. He was not high on many analysts’ big boards prior to this week, despite starting 48 games for the Longhorns, but that should change after winning most of his reps in 1-on-1 pass protection drills. Jones was patient, kept his head back when engaged and did a good job of mirroring defenders. He even won reps against standouts like Braswell and Missouri’s Darius Robinson.

Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton is another tackle who’s steadily rising up boards. His technique is raw in some areas, but there’s no denying the results. He’s athletic, explosive and has an excellent first step. Guyton also improved each day, particularly with his punch. His palms faced upward in pass protection drills, which often led to him “catching” defenders rather than punching them. In Days 2 and 3, his palms faced outward, and his arms didn’t drop. That led to better reps, most of which were wins for him.


Riggo’s Rag

6 players who could follow Dan Quinn to the Commanders in 2024

Could the new head coach turn to some familiar faces?

Peters is on record saying he wants an aligned vision full of collaboration. That might see the former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator turn to some trusted associates to ensure his second chance at a top job goes smoothly right out of the gate.

With this in mind, here are six players who could follow Quinn to the Commanders in 2024.

Commanders could sign Dorance Armstrong Jr.

Dan Quinn is one of the best defensive strategists around. If one overlooks the playoff capitulation against the Green Bay Packers, he did a tremendous job overall in turning a porous defense before his arrival into a highly productive unit at all three levels. This came from outstanding schematics and finding ways to bring the best out of his players.

Another example of this is Dorance Armstrong Jr. The physically imposing defensive end looked on a road to nowhere before Quinn became Dallas’ defensive coordinator. Whatever the coach did to nurture the edge rusher worked almost immediately.

Armstrong looked like a different force under Quinn’s guidance. He’s been on an upward trajectory over the last three years. His 7.5 sacks from 42 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in 2023 are proof positive of his growth with the new Washington Commanders head coach steering him in the right direction.

It’s no secret that the Commanders are desperate for pass-rushing assistance after trading Montez Sweat and Chase Young before the deadline. Adding someone like Armstrong could give their rotation a significant shot in the arm. It might even give them a viable starting option if he continues developing.


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Hoffman: FOX’s Kevin Burkhardt explains why he thinks Dan Quinn is a ‘great hire’ for the Commanders

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Big Blue View

2024 NFL Draft prospect profile: Brenden Rice, WR, USC

Can Brenden Rice step out of his father’s shadow?

It isn’t uncommon to have the scions of Football Families enter the draft But the 2024 draft class is notable for having the sons of three of the best to ever play their positions come out together.

That weight of expectation is a lot to put on a young man, and few stand in deeper, longer shadow than USC wide receiver Brenden Rice.

Rice is, of course, the son of Jerry Rice, and will be heavily scrutinized for the fact.

Projection

Brenden Rice projects as a second or third receiver at the NFL level. He would be at his best as possession receiver in an offense that features a run or screen-heavy attack out of 11-personnel packages.

He does a good job of working back to the ball in the short to intermediate area of the field, using his quickness to separate out of his breaks. Rice also does a good job of making himself available on scramble drills or in the red zone.

Rice is a very good perimeter blocker who does a great job of getting into position, engaging defenders, and sustaining his blocks for as long as necessary. He has some savvy as a route runner and smoothly transitions from receiver into blocker down the field. Teams that run offenses similar to the Los Angeles Rams or San Francisco 49ers will find a lot of value in Rice’s blocking, as well as his ability to get open in the red zone.

Final Word: A solid Day 2 pick


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Deadspin

Former Raider, Rocky star Carl Weathers dead at 76

Undrafted linebacker turned safety played in franchise’s first-ever AFC Championship Game during 1970 season

Carl Weathers, the actor who starred in the Rocky franchise, Predator, and The Mandalorian, died on Feb. 1, according to Variety. He was 76.

While known mostly for his acting career, Weathers had a career in football. He spent most of his college days at San Diego State University under Don Coryell, playing defensive end. Weathers won the 1969 Pasadena Bowl with the Aztecs, finishing an 11-0 season as the No. 18 team in the country.

Weathers went undrafted but signed with the Oakland Raiders in 1970. He converted to linebacker and later strong safety, playing eight total games across two seasons. Weathers played in the Raiders’ first-ever AFC Championship appearance during the 1970 season.

After his stint in the NFL, Weathers played in the Canadian Football League as a member of the BC Lions, playing in 18 games over three seasons.

“When I found football, it was a completely different outlet,” Weathers told the Detroit News in 2023. “It was more about the physicality, although one does feed the other. You needed some smarts because there were playbooks to study and film to study, to learn about the opposition on any given week.”


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