February 27, 2015

District Sports Daily Feb. 4: Caps shut out Kings, Mystics re-sign two

CAPITALS: The Caps shut out defending Stanley Cup champ Los Angeles Kings, though the Kings looked a shell of their once-dominant selves. (DSP Gamer, 3 Stars)

Jay Beagle didn’t skate with the top line Tuesday night, but he has frequently this season. Good or bad (rhetorical question alert)? (DSP take)

MYSTICS: The Mystics make some offseason noise, exercising options on Tayler Hill and Emma Meeseman. (DSP)

NATIONALS: The Nats announced their Spring Training broadcast and radio schedule. Personally, I think the radio guys should work all spring long — sorry Dave & Charlie. (DSP)

WIZARDS: Bradley Beal echos what everyone else is saying about the Wizards right now: they’re soft on defense. (WaPo)

REDSKINS: Now that Super Bowl is past, key offseason dates for the Redskins and the rest of the league. (WaPo)

UNITED: DCU tied Swedish second division club Jonkopings 0-0 in Bradenton, Florida in a training camp match. (DCUnited.com)

District Sports Daily Feb. 3: Wiz dropped by Hornets; Akey in DC; Ovi 1st Star

WIZARDS: The Wizards are slumping hard, and Monday night they lost to a struggling and injured Charlotte Hornets team. All-Star break, hurry! (DSP Gamer)

CAPITALS: Alex Ovechkin was named First Star for the month of January by the league. He had 12 goals, tops in the league for the time period. (NHL.com)

NATIONALS: West Palm Beach okays concept for shared spring training stadium for Nats and Houston Astros. I’ll believe it when I see it. (PalmBeachPost)

REDSKINS: Rob Akey, former head coach at the University of Idaho, was hired as Defensive Line coach, the same position he filled for the Minnesota Vikings last season. (WaPo)

District Sports Daily, Feb. 2: Caps lose again, Nats Insider anniversary

CAPITALS: The Caps can’t win the second of back-to-back games, ever. Alex Ovechkin scores twice, Karl Alzner got one (and some stitches), but Justin Peters can’t bail ‘em out and the Caps lost to St. Louis Blues 4-3. (DSP Gamer, 3 Stars).

WIZARDS: The Wizards are only sending one player to the All-Star festivities, but that’s probably a good thing right now. (Bullets Forever)

NATIONALS: Nats Insider, Mark Zuckerman’s blog, turned five years old. If you remember the circumstances behind how that happened, or why it’s a big deal, or contributed money to the cause, then give yourself a pat on the back and celebrate five great years with the guy that’s been there since the beginning. (Nats Insider)

REDSKINS: From Friday, but still worth a click if you missed, the always entertaining John Riggins joined Chick Hernandez on CSNWashington’s Sports Talk Live on the 32nd anniversary of, as Chick said, “using Don McNeil as a hood ornament.” (CSNWashington)

District Sports Daily Jan. 30: Werth gets jail, Redskins hire Grimm (not that one)

NATIONALS: Jayson Werth drops appeal of circuit court conviction for reckless driving, pleas out to five days in jail. (WaPo)

Nats have No. 9 system and six players land on ESPN.com’s Keith Law’s Top 100 Prospects, led by Lucas Giolito at No. 8 overall, and first pitcher on the list. (Federal Baseball)

CAPITALS: Caps have a lot of decisions coming about regarding free agents, both restricted and unrestricted. Who should stay and who should go? (DSP Take, RMNB)

REDSKINS: Redskins hire Russ Grimm’s son Chad as Defensive Quality Control coach. Yeah. (WaPo)

WIZARDS: Otto Porter had a nice night in the Wiz los to Phoenix Wednesday. Should he be getting more playing time? (Truth About It)

District Sports Daily: Caps blank Pens, Wiz lose in Phoenix

CAPITALS: Behind two goals from Alex Ovechkin and 27 saves from Braden Holtby, the Caps blanked the Penguins 4-0 at Verizon Center. (DSP Gamer, DSP Three Stars)

WIZARDS: Garrett Temple spurred fourth quarter comeback falls short as Wizards lose in Phoenix 106-98 as Otto Porter and Marcin Gortat scored 14 points apiece. (DSP Gamer)

NATIONALS: Nats sign veteran reliever Casey Janssen to help cover Tyler Clippard’s late-game innings. (DSP Take, Fangraphs)

Nats potential new spring training home faces hurdles about water pollution concerns. (WaPo)

REDSKINS: Redskins try a novel idea, hire Matt Cavanaugh as quarterback coach. Skins were just one of two NFL teams without one last year. (WaPo)

Washington Redskins GM Scot McCloughin media availability Jan. 9

The Washington Redskins introduced Scot McCloughin as their new general manager at Redskins Park today. The following is a complete transcript of the proceedings [courtesy Redskins media relations].

President Bruce Allen

Opening remarks: “Well, good morning, good afternoon. Welcome to Redskins Park. Today’s an exciting day for the franchise because we really feel today the Redskins are going to get better. Before we go forward, I want to just give you a little bit of the history with this young man to my left. I was fortunate to have worked with his brother and his father for a number of years with the Raiders. About 10 years ago, I was one of the people who called the 49ers to recommend him for his general manager job with the 49ers. [Read more…]

OPINION: McCloughan hire a watershed moment for a beleagured franchise

Yesterday afternoon, I went through a roller coaster of emotions over the course of about five minutes when it was first reported that Scot McCloughan would be the next General Manager of the Washington Redskins.

First, I was very happy to hear that someone with a good track record was coming to Washington, and that owner Dan Snyder had finally made a wise decision.

Then, I remembered how excited I was for Steve Spurrier to come to the District. How intriguing the idea of Albert Haynesworth on the defensive line was. How confident I was that Mike Shanahan could use his leadership skills and championship experience to bring the Redskins back to glory. How all of those moves and more turned out terribly.

Finally, I admitted to myself that this is different from any decision that Snyder and his organization has made in the past decade and a half.

Adam Schefter has confirmed that McCloughan has finalized his deal with the Redskins to become the next GM of the Redskins. He will have four years to turn this franchise into a contender again, after being so terrible for so long. I have been fooled before, but I do believe that this one man will change the fortunes of the preeminent sports team in our nation’s capital more than anyone has in Snyder’s tenure.

Why?

Two reasons. One is that he turned two teams into juggernaut franchises in the past decade in San Francisco and Seattle, as I detailed in yesterday’s piece. His draft philosophy, according to veteran journalist Andrew Brandt, is that you “don’t jump for need, you don’t get desperate, you don’t get emotional.”

This was on display in Seattle, where he drafted Super Bowl MVP linebacker Malcolm Smith in the seventh round of the NFL Draft in 2011. He drafted two-time Pro Bowler Richard Sherman in the fifth round that year. Quarterback Russell Wilson? A third-rounder in 2012. While an executive in San Francisco, he spotted five-time Pro Bowler Frank Gore in the third round. His legacy is one of success and Lombardi Trophies, with ticker-tape parades following him seemingly wherever he goes.

“Okay,” says Joe Q. Redskin Fan. “But how do I know he can be good in Washington? Executives here don’t get to make the decisions. Snyder has the ultimate say in who plays for or coaches the team.”

If this report is to be believed, McCloughan will have the final decision when it comes to who who will wear the burgundy and gold. It would appear that Snyder may have at last learned his lesson. Maybe there is a culture change underway in Ashburn. The results will not be apparent immediately, as the past five years of decision-making have been devastating to the Redskins’ ability to win on the field.

But today is about hope. Hope that Snyder and Allen finally have displayed humility. Hope that there will not be a new embarrassing leak coming out of Redskins Park every other day. Hope that Redskins fans can hear more about the team’s on-field performance than about the name. Hope that fans can be proud of the team again. Hope that they can win.

I do not know what kind of results that McCloughan will bring to DC. I don’t know how long it will take for those results to transpire, whether in the form of a playoff berth here and there or in the form of a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue that will, no matter which team in our area brings it, be the most exciting outdoor event in Washington’s history.

I do know this. Snyder being embarrassed by the past couple of years is a good sign. That Allen is willing to take a step back and be more of a figurehead is a good sign. That the Redskins finally hired a good football mind to oversee personnel operations is a very good sign.

Don’t expect double-digit wins next year, or maybe even the year after. Don’t expect a Super Bowl in two or three or even four years. Do expect, however, a positive culture — one that focuses on winning on the field, that expects a reasonable competition in every game, and one that views ineptitude and failure with disdain.

Smile, Redskins fans. It’s a new day.

Second Big Change of the 2015 Washington Redskins Offseason comes at General Manager

Less than a week after the organization “mutually” parted ways with Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett, the Washington Redskins made a big splash in the management department. Last week, Bruce Allen said “it’s not too much on his plate” to serve as both President and General Manager, but something must have changes as the Washington Redskins are on their way to hiring talent evaluating guru Scot McCloughan as their 14th General Manager in franchise history (after they meet the terms of the Rooney rule).

After rumors swirled that former San Diego Charger President and GM A.J. Smith would be given a promotion in the organization, McCloughan was reportedly meeting with owner Daniel Snyder for six hours. Although an official press conference will come later this week, McCloughan is believed to have been given a four-year deal.

So far this looks like an excellent move by the franchise in a possible long chain of massive overhauls to rebuild the organization. It must have taken a lot for Bruce Allen to swallow his pride and hand over full power over the personnel department including adding or subtracting from the actual evaluators, but it was a move than needed to be done after another brutal season.

Although McCloughan spent last year out of football because of problems he had with alcohol, it is reported that he has handled those demons and ready to make contenders out of a third NFL franchise. Fans should be excited about the track record he brings to the Redskins and that Snyder was able to lure him here as he also had rumored talks with the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets.

In 2005 McCloughan was named vice president of player personnel in San Francisco and was general manager from 2008-2010 before moving on. He subsequently served as Seattle Seahawks GM John Schneider’s right-hand man from 2012 to 2014. McCloughan has been credited with hitting on late-round picks such as Richard Sherman while he was in charge and is also believed to be a catalyst in turning the respective franchises into Super Bowl contenders and powerhouses.

The Redskins have been in dire need to enhance their personnel department during the recent years of Dan Snyder’s ownership and adding an individual such as McCloughan with a true scouting background might do the trick –or at least start the process. Since McCloughan ran a private scouting service that the Redskins were clients of last year he should be able to immediately help as soon as the upcoming draft in late April into early May.

McCloughan’s eventual hire might play in the role of deciding who will fill the vacant opening at defensive coordinator the Redskins have, whether it be former Dallas Cowboys’ Head Coach Wade Phillips, current San Francisco 49ers’ Secondary Coach Ed Donatell, or current San Diego Chargers’ linebacker coach Joe Barry, as well as possible firings at lower level assistants on both sides of the ball.

Moreover, this will most probably have an impact on the expanded role A.J. Smith is planning to have as he is scheduled to meet with upper management on Sunday. All in all, if the Redskins are planning on returning to prominence in the recent future, they need to continue to make moves that make logical football operations sense like this one moving forward.

Washington Redskins hire Scot McCloughan as General Manager

According to multiple media reports, the Washington Redskins are expected to hire Scot McCloughan as the franchise’s ninth General Manager after the two parties met for several hours on Tuesday.

[Read more…]

McCloughan hire a step in right direction

On Tuesday, news broke that the Washington Redskins will hire Scot McCloughan, former 49ers GM, as the team’s General Manager. The formal announcement should be imminent. It is an important move in the right direction.

Since Daniel Snyder bought the Redskins in 1999, the team has known two head personnel managers: Vinnie Cerrato and Bruce Allen. This is the first time the team, under Snyder’s stewardship, has gone “outside the lines” in hiring a player personnel director.

Cerrato was a college recruiter, way over his head when tasked to evaluate pro talent. He was a glorified “yes man”, doing Snyder’s billing to attract and acquire every big name available on the market, usually with spectacular failure.

Allen is a marketing man. Always has been, dating back to his time with Tampa Bay. Talent evaluation is not his strong suit, evidenced by the dearth of talent produced form the past several drafts.

So this is a departure, of sorts, with the Redskins hiring an actually qualified candidate for the position.

McCloughan’s resume is strong. He has been involved in player personnel decisions for three teams over 20 years, and each have reached the Super Bowl on his watch or immediate upon departure using players he was responsible for.

McCloughan is a disciple of Ron Wolf, longtime GM of the Packers. He’s been responsible for the drafting and developing of several All-Pros, including Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Ahmad Brooks and Russell Wilson. It’s a good track record.

If — and this is a big if at Redskins Park — McCloughan is allowed to do his job without interference from the owner’s box, he should be able to construct a personnel and development staff that can compete in the NFL. The Redskins currently have one of, if not THE, smallest scouting department in the league.

McCloughan should change that — very quickly.

But that’s always the caveat, isn’t it? IF. IF Snyder can stay out of areas he shouldn’t be meddling in. IF he can stay away from becoming chummy with pet players, making things more difficult for his coaches and personnel staff. IF he can dedicate his resources in the right places instead of pursuing fool’s gold.

If, if, if.

Redskins fans had high hopes for Marty Schottenheimer. For the second coming of Joe Gibbs. For Mike Shanahan. None of these moves restored any glory to the franchise past glimpses of hope. Instead, they all ended just like every other decision Snyder has made in 15 years: poorly.

This move becomes the latest in high-profile offseason acquisitions for this franchise. They got the right guy this time. Let’s see if they allow him the time, space and resources to do his job correctly.

_____________

Biggest questions for McCloughan on the field:

1) The Redskins own the fifth pick in the NFL Draft. Do they keep it, or move down for multiple picks. If they keep it, will they use it to help rebuild the porous offensive line?

2) Wither RGIII? Will McCloughan see enough from Robert Griffin III to install him at quarterback and make Jay Gruden integrate Griffin better into his offense? Or will the new GM defer to the current head coach?

3) With that in mind, with McCloughan expected to clean house in the personnel and development staffs, will he make similar changes in the coaching area? Will he take a year to evaluate Gruden and how he works with Griffin, or will he start anew?

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