Monthly Archives: January 2017

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Pierre Garcon’s arrival in Washington was about as glitzy as a seven-yard dig route. He wasn’t wooed by local celebrities, and his signing didn’t exactly electrify the community. “Redskins reach deals with two wide receivers, re-sign DE Adam Carriker,” read The Post headline on that March day in 2012.

It was the perfect Garcon moment: a quotidian announcement in which he played second fiddle to someone else. Carriker has been out of the league for four years. Joshua Morgan, the other veteran wide receiver signed that day, has been out of the league for two years. And Garcon? He’s played in 72 straight games, earned the gushing admiration of ex-Washington players, and turned into one of the more prolific receivers in Redskins history.

I’ve been thinking about Garcon’s arrival this week, because I’ve also been thinking about his potential departure. Like DeSean Jackson, Garcon is a pending free agent, which means Sunday’s game could be his last on the home sideline at FedEx Field. (Garcon is well-liked in Ashburn, and there’s a good chance he’ll be back, but you probably wouldn’t pay off your mortgage by wagering on the future at Redskins Park.)

Jackson’s free agency has already created headlines, with ex-teammates openly speculating that the speedster could return to Philadelphia and Jackson saying he’s “definitely intrigued” by the free-agency process. And Garcon?

“D.C. is where I want to be,” he said this week on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “D.C. is an amazing town. They love football, and I love being around people that love football. I love being in a place where football is No. 1, regardless of what happens. So I want to be in D.C. D.C. is home for me. I have family there, I have a business there. Everything that I could ever want is in D.C. So I want to be in D.C. forever.”

Free agents always say they want to stay put — Jackson has also said as much — but this was perhaps an uncommon level of passion on the topic. And that rhetoric has been matched by at least some local observers. I asked former Redskins running back Clinton Portis about Garcon this week, for example, and he was almost rhapsodic about the receiver: about his Walter Payton Man of the Year nomination, about his charity trip to Haiti following Hurricane Matthew, about how he carries himself and how he plays football.

“Pierre kind of gives you that old-school, hard-nosed mentality,” Portis said. “When you look at his toughness, what he brings to this team, it’s a no-brainer that you need him. You need to keep him here. He’s just a guy that gives you everything. … Why would you let him go? That’s the type of player you search for, you hope for, you want to find.”

Now look, I don’t want to get carried away. This team is already overflowing with pass-catching options. Even during his best season, Garcon prompted debate about whether he could be a true No. 1 receiver. He’s not the breath-taking, game-changing Ferrari that Jackson is, and he never looks unstoppable like Jordan Reed. He’s 30 years old, and his stats are boosted by the era in which he plays.

But those stats are still a bit stunning. Despite never making a Pro Bowl, Garcon has the eighth-most receptions in the NFL over the past four seasons. (The seven men in front of him have made a combined 26 Pro Bowls, with only Julian Edelman getting shut out.)

In just five seasons here, Garcon has the ninth-most catches in franchise history, and the ninth-most receiving yards. He’s averaged more receptions per game than any of the men ahead of him; more than Art Monk, more than Charley Taylor, more than Gary Clark. Only Monk and Chris Cooley played more consecutive games with a reception for the Redskins.

He was never the team’s biggest star — never among the team’s five biggest stars, probably. Still, there’s something about him that’s grown on you over the years. His appreciation for dirty work and contact, a nasty linebacker in a wide receiver’s body. His almost amusingly surly on-field demeanor. Those outlandish blocks, which few at his position do better. It reminds you in a way of Portis, which might be why the running back loves him so much.

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“He’s a bad ass, it’s just that simple; he’s a bad-ass dude,” Portis said. “He seems to be that quiet, shy assassin, but when it comes to it, look at his toughness. You don’t find those type of players. You don’t find that toughness, you don’t find that instinct, you don’t find that finishing ability. I mean, you look at this man with ball in hand, and he runs through defenders. That’s how it’s supposed to be done. That’s how it should be done. I’m just a huge fan of Pierre.”

He isn’t the only one. Kirk Cousins called Garcon “a phenomenal competitor” and “a difference-maker on our team,” counseling reporters that “his consistency is not to be taken lightly.”

“It’s a joy,” Cousins said when asked about playing with Garcon earlier this season. “It’s a joy to be able to play alongside him.”

They’re guaranteed at least one more home game together, a season finale against a division rival with an almost certain playoff berth at stake. There was one of those in 2012, too. Washington’s roster has flipped almost completely since then, and only three men who started that 2012 finale will start on Sunday.

Trent Williams and Ryan Kerrigan are obvious. A certain veteran wide receiver, as usual, might be easier to overlook.

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Penn State recruit Lamont Wade isn’t one to back down from a challenge.

Beyond his impressive physical tools, it’s one of the characteristics that fueled his rise to a five-star prospect at Clairton and the No. 1 cornerback in the 2017 class, according to Rivals.

Wade is many things on the football field — a cornerback with the skills to play safety or linebacker, a gifted return man, a running back — but he’s also a fighter, first and foremost.

“There’s been a chip on my shoulder my whole life,” Wade said. “As I leveled up from midget league to high school, now going to college, that chip still just remains there. [There have been] a bunch of doubters, a bunch of people saying I’m too small.

“I’ve seen a few articles that said whenever it comes down to me getting drafted or going to the NFL, my height will be a downfall. I just feel like I have a lot to prove to everybody, to the fans, to the people who are doubting me, everything.”

The size issue is an interesting one that Penn State seems to embrace more than many of its peers. The Lions’ two starters, Grant Haley and John Reid, are listed at 5-10 or shorter, and all three of their 2017 cornerback commits — Wade, Donovan Johnson and D.J. Brown — fit the same mold.

But Wade sees no connection between height and performance, even as college and pro teams are looking to mimic the success teams such as the Seattle Seahawks have had with long, aggressive corners who specialize in playing press coverage.

“It doesn’t matter at all,” Wade said. “I watched Darrell Green a lot, one of my all-time favorite cornerbacks, a Hall of Famer. He was all of 5-9. I don’t think he was anything more than 5-9, and he was so great. … It’s all about what you have inside your heart, so that height and all those other measurables, I really think that has nothing to do with playing the game, suiting up and playing football.”

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This Redskins team strikes me as a fairly likable bunch, guys who are mostly pleasant to deal with, easy to root for, and tough to dislike. And that seems like a generally positive development, to the extent any of this matters. All things being equal, you’d rather your local sports teams not be repellent.

But here’s a dissenting view from former Redskins running back Clinton Portis, who was so distressed by Washington’s performance Monday night that he let out his frustration throughout the team’s postgame radio show.

“You need some rush ends, bad,” he began. “[Ryan] Kerrigan, [Trent] Murphy, I broke down the list, because it’s just really bothering me. Because no one says anything; it’s always overlooked. You want to pat these guys on the back because they’re such great guys, which they are. They are. But you need tough, physical playmakers. You need football players.”

[Five observations from the Redskins’ loss to the Panthers]

Portis then listed former Redskins whom he would list in that category.

“We don’t have those guys,” he said. “We don’t have any of these players. The players we have, when you look at Preston Smith, he’s a nice guy. So humble, so relaxed. He don’t have the spark. He’s not an angry guy. When you look at Kerrigan, he’s not an angry guy. Murphy. They’re all friendly guys. If I need a man to be in my wedding, those are the guys I want to walk down the aisle with. C’mon. They’re friendly. I love ’em. But you need tough guys. You need more dogs. You need more jerks. You need more troublemakers. You need that.

“This is the NFL,” Portis said. “You can’t have a roster of 53 good dudes, and you’re not getting a pat on the back to say, ‘Oh man, your team didn’t get in any trouble, those guys are good guys, they’re classy guys and this is what we love.’ Classy guys are not selling seats at this stadium. So you need to go out and find some hard-nosed playmakers. And [Scot McCloughan], he had that in San Francisco, so he knows what it takes, but you don’t have it. For whatever reason, you don’t have anyone on this defense. Josh Norman — who else do you fear on this defense? Who do you fear on the offense? Pierre [Garcon]? So that’s two.”
He later added Trent Williams to his list. Meanwhile, when Brian Mitchell appeared on the postgame radio show, that made two unhappy former running backs.

“There are guys that you watch them week in and week out, and it doesn’t seem like they give a damn, and it doesn’t seem like their coaches give a damn,” Mitchell said. “I’m watching guys on the football field that are playing horrible, and the coaches don’t shake up anything.”

“Hold on, hold on, so I can help the listeners,” Portis interrupted. “You just said there’s guys on the field that’s playing like they don’t give a damn. But you said that as a general statement. I’m going to include the names of those guys: Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long, Donte Whitner, Vernon Davis when it comes to blocking, Ziggy Hood when it comes to [garbled].”

“I totally agree with all those names,” Mitchell said.