Sunday, October 19, 2014

I'll Still Take Kirk Cousins Over Colt McCoy

After two turnovers in the first half Jay Gruden told Colt McCoy he was going to get some playing time today. McCoy played the entire 2nd half and with the team down by one point, lead the team down the field for the game winning field goal. I'm going to tell you why I still want Kirk Cousins to start against Dallas.

I was present at the game today, sitting up high in the nosebleeds at FedEx Field. When you watch a football game on television you don't see any passing plays develop. You can't see the defensive backs and you can't see the wide receivers. When Kirk Cousins lost the fumble he was in the pocket waiting for something to develop and not a single receiver broke open in the 5 seconds he had to throw. Not excusing him completely as he shouldn't have fumbled but if the receivers did their job then Cousins wouldn't have gotten sacked on the play. What I saw on the field today was not a failure of the quarterback to move the offense, but a failure in the play calling and offense as a whole.

Both of Cousins' turnovers were in situations where he had time to throw, but nobody was open. The interception was a classic Cousins throw, dead accurate into the hands of a linebacker. That one proved to be the nail in his coffin and he was benched shortly thereafter. He made a couple nice throws, one under duress to Niles Paul to start off the game and a deep throw on third down to DeSean Jackson. He moved the ball but was never able to score a touchdown in the redzone. He finished 10/16 for 139 with no scores and two turnovers.

Enter Colt McCoy, steps in and throws a 70 yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon. Electrifying, some would say. But that touchdown was 99% Garcon. He ran a simple 6ish yard hitch route and McCoy delivered the ball on time. Any high school quarterback could've make that throw. He didn't even go through a progression, he just started down Garcon and threw the hitch on time. If that exact play is called with Cousins I guarantee Garcon still catches a 70 yard touchdown. Gruden's play calling simplified when McCoy started throwing. A vast majority of his 11 completions were to wide open receivers on really simple routes. Take away the 70 yard touchdown -which only traveled 6 yards in the air- and McCoy's average completion comes out to 5.8 yards. Gruden simplified his play calling and that allowed McCoy to move the ball on the game winning drive.

I'm not saying that Gruden's offense is too complicated or that Cousins couldn't handle it, but rather when the receivers consistently aren't getting open on a consistent basis there's some blame on the coaches as well. Most of the time Gruden would isolate a receiver and have him beat the corner by running a simple timing route. High percentage pass plays make the quarterback more comfortable and get a couple yards. If you get really lucky like McCoy did then they turn into 70 yard touchdowns. This might be why Cousins is 2-1 coming off the bench unprepared but 1-7 as a starter.

The one thing McCoy had over Cousins was evident on three separate plays that didn't work out. People didn't get open so on two occasions McCoy tucked it and ran, and on another he ran away from some pass rushers and threw the ball away. No bone headed turnovers and methodical short passing was enough to win this football game. Could Cousins have led the team back in the 2nd half, absolutely. Would he have thrown an 'accurate interception' on that final drive? Possibly, and that 'possibly' is why Gruden benched Kirk.

I stand by what I said before. Cousins has shown flashes of being an upper echelon quarterback, he just needs to stop turning the ball over. It's a mental hurdle that can get better with experience. He definitely won't be getting over the hump sitting on the bench watching Colt McCoy throw 5 yard out routes. There will be no Superbowl in 2014 for the Washington Redskins and until RG3 is fully healthy I'd rather see Cousins play. Experience will help him get better and the offense is more potent with Cousins at the helm. McCoy had 24 games with Cleveland as the starter before he was written-off. Cousins has 8 scattered games across 3 seasons as the #2 quarterback living in Robert Griffin III's shadow. Give him a fair shot before labeling him as a career backup.

Keep in mind that during this game and the past 3 games where the offense has slowed down, Cousins has gotten zero help from his running game. It's hard enough to play quarterback when you learned the offense as a 2nd stringer during the off-season. That difficulty is significantly amplified when you become a one dimensional offense. The offensive line is decent at pass protection but horrendous at getting a push in the running game. That needs to change before the quarterback does.

Other notes:

  • As injury riddled as our defense is they've been playing winnable football over the past few weeks. Holding Seattle and Arizona and only folding after giving the offense plenty of chances to get ahead. 
  • Bashaud Breeland is getting better every week and is giving great production for a 4th round draft pick. Our two starting corners are young, physical and good tacklers. A bright spot on a poor team if you will. 
  • Tress Way is one a hell of a punter, consistently boots it far and keeps it inside the 20 when he can. 
  • This game should've been a rout but when you can't run the ball your offense isn't going to score points. I don't blame Gruden for not giving Morris carries, the line just isn't powerful enough to create running lanes.
  • It's Dallas week and while the Cowboys are looking like one of the top teams in the NFL, it's important to note that when the Redskins and Cowboys play it doesn't matter where either team stands. Anything can happen. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

To the Morons Who Want Colt McCoy to Start

Kirk Cousins had a bad day last Sunday, failing to sustain drives and throwing 3 4th quarter interceptions to put the dagger in what was easily a winnable game. Because most NFL fans are short sighted and stupid to apply a hair of logic to a situation I have to write this article to say this: if you believe Colt McCoy is the answer at quarterback until RG3 gets back you are an idiot. Plain and simple.

If the Cleveland Browns, a franchise just as inept as Washington has been over the past decade, releases you after 3 years you are not starting quarterback material. He hasn't played a full season of NFL football in the five years he's been in the league. The most was 13 games in 2011 where he threw for 14 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. Not only is McCoy skilled at turning the ball over, he's also been historically terrible at actually generating points. In terms of third string quarterbacks, he's pretty good. Maybe he could come off the bench one day and win you a game, but he isn't a starter. He's had a chance to prove it and he lost it. Both McCoy and Cousins have a good relationship with interceptions and fumbles but at least Cousins also flirts with touchdowns here and there.

Kirk Cousins has shown that he isn't clutch. Aside from the Ravens and Browns game in 2012 Cousins has simply been unable to get the job done. He went 0-3 as a starter in 2013 and he's 0-4 as a starter this year. He puts up gaudy passing numbers but always accompanies them with something that makes us question whether he's really that good. Against Philadelphia he threw a key interception and when he had a chance to redeem himself he threw three straight incompletions to end the game. Against the Giants he destroyed any chance of a comeback with 5 turnovers. Against Seattle he played okay but couldn't move the ball on several chances given to him by the defense. Against Arizona he had a total meltdown with 3 fourth quarter interceptions to end the game.

In my expert opinion as an ex-junior varsity-benchwarmer-quarterback Cousins lacks the mental focus to be a winner. There are three mental elements required to be a successful quarterback:
1. The complete understanding of the offense to where you aren't thinking but rather naturally reacting to what you get from the defense.
2. The ability to shake-off a bad play and throw like it never happened.
3. The ability to ignore high pressure situations and play as if it's any other drive.

In my opinion Cousins has number 1 but lacks either 2, 3 or possibly both. When he messes up he compounds it 100 times more instead of moving on. The "damn I just let my team down with an interception" feeling stays in his mind well after he throws an interception and messes with his ability to naturally read and react to the defense. This results in some pretty ugly looking interceptions at the worst possible times. This has never been a problem with RG3.

This is a fix-able problem and it only gets fixed with experience. He shows great potential, especially for a 4th round pick. With 10 touchdowns in only 5 games he'd be on pace for 32 in a full season, which would be good for #4 in the NFL last year. He needs to get over the mental hurdles and once he does that he will easily be one of the better quarterbacks in the league. Unlike McCoy, Cousins actually shows some ability as a upper-level quarterback who can move the ball well.

Quarterbacks used to develop for years before being thrust into starting duty. Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton & 2012 RG3 are all exceptional athletes who've raised expectations to unreal levels. Alex Smith was a late bloomer and there's nothing saying Cousins won't figure out how to shake off the bad plays. Will he? I have no idea but I sure hope he does. Until then however, he should still be the undisputed starter until RG3 comes back. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

On Kirk Cousins' Performance Against Philly

Last week I wrote an article saying that we need to tap the brakes on the Kirk Cousins bandwagon and actually let him play against a real team before we jump to such conclusions. Well ladies and gentlemen the time to jump is now. Kirk Cousins' performance today was amazing in multiple respects.

So from a basic statistical look he had fantastic numbers: 30/48 (62.5%) 427 Yards 3 TDs and 1 Interception,  numbers we haven't seen in D.C. in a long time. Cousins currently has a 105.8 QB rating which is good for 5th best in the NFL.

A slightly more in depth observation shows that MANY of Cousins' incompletions were right on the money in pressure situations but were forced out by defensive backs or dropped. Cousins rarely missed on his 48 pass attempts. His deep balls were always right there, he didn't overthrow on any long pass attempts. He also wasn't sacked and showed good awareness in both moving around the pocket and getting rid of the football on time, again almost always on the money.

Additionally, Jay Gruden put the team on Cousins' back as the running game was not there as it was against Jacksonville. Alfred Morris averaged 3.3 yards on 22 carries and Cousins was forced to move the ball through the air. He did so admirably, throwing for a whopping 427 yards. It's a lot harder to move the ball when you're one dimensional as the defense has a leg up on what you're going to do. It's hard to run when you can't pass and vice-versa but Cousins showed he can come through when we need him.

The one flaw everyone noticed at the end of the game was that Cousins isn't "clutch". Now this is a hard trait to define statistically or what have you, and is more anecdotal than anything but it's legitimate. It's sort of the like the concept of momentum in a game, hard to define but you know when it's there. With the team down a score Cousins came onto the field with 7 minutes to go in the 4th looking to even out the score. Instead of driving down he threw an interception, it looked like a mis-communication but nonetheless he turned it over. After getting the ball back Cousins lead a scoring drive to bring them to within 3. The defense held strong and got them the ball back on the Eagles' 44 yard line, maybe 9 yards away from field goal range. Cousins threw three straight incompletions to turn the ball over on downs and go on to lose the game by 3 points.

Here's what this means, if Cousins continues to play like this then Jay Gruden can't let RG3 play. The good from Cousins outweighed the bad. It's not a case of who has more upside or who did the team give up 2 first rounders to draft, it's a simple case of don't fix it if it ain't broken. Why would you bench a top 5 NFL quarterback? You simply can't justify it, especially when RG3 hasn't played a full season of NFL football straight through without getting hurt. If Cousins puts up 4 consecutive stinkers after this then we can talk, but at the very least he's earned the opportunity to show what he's capable of this season.

Other notes from the game:

  • You can't win when you have 130+ yards in penalties, plain and simple. 
  • Special teams gave up a touchdown and missed a field goal. That's -10 points for your team and is the difference in a game that ended 34-37
  • Redskins run defense is amazing, giving up less than 25 yards to both Darren Sproles and LeSean McCoy, speedy backs who've burned the Redskins in the past. 
  • Chris Baker's hit was dirty and inexcusable, division rival or not, there's no place in football for dirty play like that. 
  • The Redskins pass defense was porous to say the least and will be worse off without DeAngelo Hall, who could potentially be out for the season with that torn achilles. Tracy Porter has yet to play because of a messed up hamstring leaving three healthy corners on the roster. They might bring up Chase Minnifield from the practice squad or sign a veteran to fill the void. 
  • There's still 13 games left in the season and the way the team played against one of the better teams in the NFC is a good sign looking forward. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

On RG3 and the Redskins Quarterback Situation

So as some may have noticed we are now two weeks into the season and this is my first Redskins article. I found that for the most part my post game reaction pieces were mostly repeating the phrase "run the football" in as many different ways as possible. (Thanks Rashad!) That being said I'm now only going to write every now and then to keep my content fresh and insightful.

So Robert Griffin III got hurt after landing awkwardly on his ankle in the beginning of the Jacksonville game and was carted off the field. We now know that he has a dislocated ankle that won't require surgery and will leave him with the opportunity to return within a matter of weeks. In the meantime Kirk Cousins did an admirable job of stepping in and leading the offense to a massive 41 point finish after the 6 point dud last week.

"Sports analysts" and many fans are extremely impatient and draw way too much from single games. People are now saying that Kirk Cousins is the savior and was better than RG3 all along and that RG3's career is over. Let's be clear, there is no question as to who is the better quarterback, it's RG3. RG3 lead us to the playoffs while only throwing 5 picks the entire season. Then he had his nasty leg injury and spent the entire offseason recovering and played 2013 with a single week of practice under his belt. He had no play-makers at the receiver position besides Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed, the latter of whom missed plenty of time with injuries. Despite this Griffin put up average numbers in 13 games. Not bad numbers but not great ones either. Matt Stafford, Eli Manning and Joe Flacco all had a similar quarterback rating last season.

 The team as a whole was garbage last year, Griffin didn't fair too well but Kirk Cousins was terrible. The three games he started were enough to make him the least efficient passer in the NFL. RG3 had 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions for a ratio of 1.33 to 1 and a completion percentage just a hair above 60%. With the same team Kirk Cousins managed 4 touchdowns, 7 interceptions for a ratio of 0.571 to 1, a completion percentage of 52%, the worst quarterback rating in the NFL and not a single win in his 3 games.

In every game he's started he's turned the ball over until yesterday. He's 2-3 as a starter, both of his wins came against very weak teams that weren't sure if he was going to play that week.

Griffin was playing well in the limited action we saw this year. Last week he was really efficient against the Texans, throwing for 276 yards with a 78% completion percentage. Keep in mind that J.J Watt and the Texans defensive front forced the Redskins to take short 3 step drops for most the game and he didn't have time to throw it deep. RG3 made most of the passes from the pocket and was very accurate. Against Jacksonville, RG3 ran for two first downs, and had a deep bomb to DeSean Jackson that was right on the money but was ruled an incompletion by the incompetent referees. All signs pointed the Redskins offense having a good day until Griffin got hurt.

I'm not trying to bash Kirk Cousins, I love the guy and loved watching him go to work on Sunday. He's a little more polished in terms of being a pocket passer than Griffin because that's how he's played quarterback his whole life. What I'm trying to point out here is that we need to see some consistency from Kirk Cousins, especially against better teams. The evidence of the past 2 seasons shows that Griffin is the better quarterback with more upside and better decision making. Until we see a few more quality games against good defenses there is simply no quarterback situation and Robert Griffin III will be taking snaps as soon as he's healthy again. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Senator Ben Cardin's Response to My Letter

So about 10 days ago I started a letter writing campaign to ask Senator Cardin to condemn the civilian massacre that's going on in Gaza. I received a response and well...let's just say it wasn't the one I was hoping for.

Dear Mr. Ahsan:

     Thank you for contacting me regarding the conflict between the State of Israel and Hamas. I am deeply concerned by the escalating violence.

     I strongly support Israel's right to defend its citizens against threats to its security and existence. The recent military action taken by the Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza is a direct response to Hamas' ongoing barrage of rocket and mortar attacks against civilians in Israel. 

     Hamas poses a critical challenge to the regional peace process. Labeled as a terrorist organization, Hamas' leaders encourage violence and cling to the belief that Israel should be destroyed. Hamas' actions to extend its reach deeper into Israel and its failure to end continuing attacks exacerbate the already fragile humanitarian situation for the residents of Gaza and undermine efforts to attain peace and security in the region. 

     On July 10, 2014, I joined 41 of my Senate colleagues in introducing Senate Resolution 498. This resolution reaffirms the United States' support for Israel's right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel, condemns the unprovoked rocket fire at Israel, calls on Hamas to immediately cease all rocket and other attacks against Israel, and calls on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the unity governing arrangement with Hamas and condemn the attacks on Israel.

     We must find a way to advance a stable and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinian people. Hamas must end its rocket and mortar attacks, recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence, and honor all past agreements to peacefully move toward a two-state solution. I want to assure you that the United States will continue to do all that is within our power to promote peace and stability in the region.

            Thank you again for contacting me on this important issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future on this or any other matter of concern to you.

Now here's my letter with the points Cardin chose to ignore highlighted:

Senator Cardin refused to acknowledge the civillian aspect of my letter and only mentioned in passing! "Fragile humanitarian situation" and "escalating violence"? No, that makes it sound two-sided when really the best word to describe it is genocide. He ignored the fact that Israel has an Iron Dome protecting it from Hamas's crap rockets. He ignored the fact that innocent people are being blown to bits by Israeli rockets, not Hamas militants but ordinary civilians who have never held a weapon before in their lives. He ignored the fact that Israel is receiving massive amounts of foreign aid in spite of the violence. And in his concluding paragraph he says Hamas must do A, B, C, D & E and not a word about Israel stopping it's ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

Senator Cardin is a coward as is President Barack Obama and everyone in the Senate who voted for SR498. Russia shot one rocket at a civilian aircraft and the U.N. is crippling Russia with sanctions. Israel has killed 3 times the amount of people on the plane and has injured and maimed thousands more and the U.S. has stayed silent. The only time any media outlet dared to criticize Israel was when Israel blamed Secretary of State John Kerry for faltering peace-talks, only then did anyone get the balls to say anything negative about Israel.

Politics is not a game, it's an auction and the highest bidder holds power. If you had any doubt as to how corrupt our political system is your eyes have been opened. The hypocrisy of the United States is appalling, they spent the past decade holding a war on terrorism and when they have an open opportunity to stop international terrorism they sit back and do nothing. Why? Because they need the money for their next campaign, where voters will still vote for them because the media has brainwashed most people into thinking Hamas is terrorizing the innocent Israelis and that any Palestinian person is an automatic ally of Hamas.

It sickens me how helpless the people are but I encourage anyone who hasn't already to CONTINUE WRITING TO SENATOR CARDIN. Let him know that his constituents won't stand for open terrorism.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Here's Your Chance to DO Something about Israel

Social media is great for creating awareness, however there has be a catalyst between awareness and actual change. I'm sure you are all aware of the near genocide that is currently going in Palestine. Here's what you can do about it in five minutes. I drafted a letter to Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, he's on the foreign relations committee in the Senate. All you have to do is put your name on it and mail it. One letter won't mean much but a barrage of them should at the very least elicit a response and it's better than just sitting behind a computer screen sharing pictures of the carnage. 

A few things to keep in mind:

1. Feel free to look the letter over and edit it as you like
2. Depending on the date you send the letter make sure to update the relevant death count and any other information that may change.
3. If you are not living in the State of Maryland then custom fit the letter to your local senator. The meat of the letter can remain the same but references to Cardin and his legislative role must be changed.
4. It's very important to send it both online AND as a hard copy.

What to do:

1. Download the letter here. (It's a mediafire download, quick and simple)
2. Read it through and put in your information.
3. Go to Ben Cardin's website here.
4. Make sure "Leave opinion on legislative issue" is check and then enter in your information, using "Foreign Affairs" as the category.
5. Copy and paste the letter, excluding the subject line. (So copy and paste from where it says "Dear Senator..."
6. Print a copy, sign it and mail it in to the address indicated on the letter.
7. Share this with anyone who wants to try and make a difference. 

If anyone see's a glaring error in the template that should be changed send me an email or leave a comment below. Avoid leaving comments on facebook as people who aren't friends with me on facebook can't see those.

The Fallacy of The Human Mind

There are many insurmountable hurdles in achieving a perfectly rational mind. Human beings are a mish-mosh of emotions and rationality. Raymond Tusk from House of Cards put it best when he said: "the rational and irrational complement each other. Individually, they're far less powerful." And the guy's a fictitious billionaire energy mogul so I'd take his word on this one.

 Now I'm the type that seriously favors my left brain; logic and rationality are useful, emotions aren't and I have no patience for useless things. But the irrational side is what makes us human. Engineers can program computers and robots to follow a logical set of code. Logic can be replicated, but human emotion can't and it has it's own value. Irrational thinking is what saved a ton of peoples' lives in The Dark Knight. In case you don't remember the Joker had two ferries rigged with bombs. One ferry was filled to the brim with innocent civilians, the other with Gotham's worst thieves and murders. Both were rigged with explosives and each ferry was given the detonator to the OTHER ferry. If one ferry blew the other up then that ferry would be saved, if neither did it by midnight then the Joker would blow them both up. 

Think about your two options in this scenario:
1. You blow up the other boat and live. 
2. You don't and get blown up, either by the other boat or by the joker. 

So your two options are literally live or die. It's a simple choice, a rational mind would have blown up the other boat in a heartbeat. One such "rational" mind on the civilian boat points this out and notes that the criminals deserved to die more than the civilians did. Eventually he takes the detonator but doesn't pull the trigger. Faced with the choice of life and death both boats chose death rather than kill the other boat. An amazingly irrational decision that bought just enough time for Batman to swoop in and save them both. 

Emotions and the irrational have their value, but are also the source of the biggest flaw in human thinking. Most people let their desires cloud rationality, causing them to ignore consequences that aren't immediate. Think about all the people who believe in a religion that holds that you will be punished for sins. Not a single one of those people, myself included, has completely avoided those sins. Often times we knowingly do these things for no other reason than the pleasure from said sin is immediate and the consequences are far off. But this is expected, believing in an afterlife is one thing, visualizing it happening is another. Plus there's the rather moronic expectation that you'll live a long enough life to be "good later" so we tend to ignore the consequences right now. 

Now let's look at the shorter term; it doesn't take a lifetime for us to ignore non-immediate consequences. A kid enters the workplace at 23 years old and gets a decent job. He saves up $10000 in two years and is wondering what to do with the money. He could lock that money up in a Roth IRA, earn 11% a year and turn that ten grand into more than half a million by the time he can collect on the IRA, that's $580,000 tax-free. But no one does that at 25, instead they buy a motorcycle, a new car, or a 65' T.V. Choosing the sexy option that provides enjoyment now is usually more preferable than waiting for the better prize. 

Even shorter term now: grades in school. There's two ways to look at this one. For some white folk the need to graduate high school in four years is overshadowed by the current need to party, have fun, and not focus on schoolwork when your future depends on it. For some people of any other race the need to avoid the can of whoop-ass for getting bad grades at the end of the semester is overshadowed by those same reasons. Think about the bums you remember from high school, the ones who wouldn't even try or show up to class. It's so stupid looking back, to not graduate or not get into college because you were skipping school to get high or even just sleep and play video games instead of going to class. 

Moving on to my favorite example, this one takes place in a matter of minutes. The last few examples have been over the course of months, years and decades. Keep in mind this doesn't apply if your parents wake you up or if your parents are home when you're supposed to be at school. During my last semester I had to wake up at 7:30 every morning to get to my 8:30 classes on time. These classes were ones where I needed to be in class to understand the material properly. Every so often I'd wake up to the sound of my alarm and just feel so tired that I'd go back to sleep, knowing full well that after I wake up I'll spend an extra 5 hours trying to understand material and copy notes for a 50 minute class. 

After the consequences eventually come into the picture all those immediate but fleeting pleasures that we enjoyed at some cost in the future seem so horribly trivial that we marvel at our stupidity back then. Think about the few kids who took those 15 A.P.s in high school and put in work while everyone else was living it up. They were the ones that got those ivy-league acceptances in April. I'm not saying that these kids were all work and no play but that they had the foresight to budget their time and energy responsibly. The retirees who invested when they were young are counting their millions now. The kid who woke up for his 8:30 class is able to enjoy a stress free nap later in the day instead of copying notes. The religious person is able to enjoy a clean and healthy conscious. This trait is naturally ingrained in our psyche and it takes serious strength to overcome. Most people realize this over a grueling period of mistake after mistake and only fix it after an extraordinary period of time. The people who realize this earlier on and overcome it in their everyday decision making are the ones who end up being successful in life, especially those who start from a young age.