In late October, the Skins were 5-2 atop the NFC East and appeared to be playoff bound. This morning, the Skins are 6-6 and are one of the teams “in the hunt” for a playoff spot but will have to finish the season with Mark Sanchez at QB – – assuming he too does not break a leg in the next month. Last night, backup QB Colt McCoy broke his fibula against the Eagles and is out for the year. Fan reaction to this unfortunate and freakish injury is all over the map:
- Some say this is the worst luck for a potentially great team in football history. That is patent nonsense. The Niners lost their first two starting QBs to injury just this year; it is not a once in a lifetime occurrence. And by the way, this Skins team when fully healthy was a competitive team but hardly “potentially great”.
- Some blame the training staff for the team because the team – according to these folks – suffers more injuries every year than every other team. I have no stats to prove or disprove that assertion, but I do not know what a training staff might do to prevent the two top QBs from breaking a leg in a game.
- One caller to a local sports radio show attributed McCoy’s broken leg to karma. This is the Skins’ price to pay for claiming Reuben Foster off waivers. That is not even worthy of a comment…
- Some have already used this to project that the Skins will not win another game this year and that should be the basis for firing coach Jay Gruden. If Danny Boy Snyder is dissatisfied with a coach with a losing record over a five-year stint on the job, then he should fire Jay Gruden but firing him because two QBs broke a leg in two separate games this season is beyond stupid.
Let me offer a word here on the idea of the Skins firing Jay Gruden come January. What is the enticing aspect of the football situation here in Washington that might get a “hot coaching prospect” salivating to come here? Consider:
- Alex Smith’s injury may be career-ending. At the very least, he will miss all the off-season OTAs and may not be able to play at all in the exhibition games. As I understand Smith’s contract with the Skins, he will count for $50M against the salary cap over the next two years even if he never takes another snap for the team.
- Colt McCoy’s injury is less serious making him the de facto #1 QB on the roster. McCoy is one of the best backups in the NFL and could probably be the starter for a handful of QB-deficient teams, but he is not a giant magnet pulling every aspiring NFL coach into the Skins’ orbit.
- The franchise itself is a mess. The Skins braintrust needs to give thanks every day for the way the Browns, Bengals and Raiders are run. The very public misadventures of those franchises allow the Skins’ on-field and off-field stupidities to happen outside the brightest part of the spotlight.
Bottom line: Danny Boy Snyder can choose to fire Jay Gruden if he wants to do that, but he should not expect any top-shelf coaching prospects to line up at his office door to plead for the job.
Changing the subject to baseball, the Winter Meetings are on tap for next week. I read a report that said the Cubs were “willing to listen to offers” for Kris Bryant. Taken literally, I guess you should say that is a smart thing for them to do; there is no harm in listening. On the other hand, I wonder how letting that kind of speculation percolate in the clubhouse benefits the team. Kris Bryant is one of the ten best players in the game – and I personally would put him in the top five. So, I said to myself that maybe Theo Epstein has lost some his “magic touch” when it comes to roster building. So, I went to take a look at the Cubs’ moves over the last off-season.
- Cubs signed starter Yu Darvish to 6 years and $126M. He started 8 games last year and had an ERA of 4.95. Not good at all…
- Cubs signed starter Tyler Chatwood to 3 years and $38M. Chatwood was coming off a year with an ERA of 4.69 but he did not do that well for the Cubs last year pitching to an ERA of 5.30 over the course of 24 games and 104 innings.
- Cubs signed starter Drew Smyly to 2 years and $10M. Smyly did not pitch at all in 2017 or 2018 coming off Tommy John surgery.
- Bullpen signings were Brandon Morrow (2 years and $21M), Steve Cishek (2 years and $13M) and Brian Duensing (2 years and $7M). Morrow pitched well for the Cubs last year; Cishek was underwhelming; Duensing had an ERA of 7.65.
- The pitchers the Cubs subtracted from their roster included Jake Arietta. Wade Davis and Koji Uehara. Arietta was more productive than all three of the starters signed; Davis had his worst ERA since going to the bullpen but still led the NL in saves and Uehara turned 43 years old doing something other than pitching in the major leagues.
Bottom Line: Theo Epstein did not cover himself in glory in last year’s off-season. Maybe he will “listen to offers” for Kris Bryant this year but my advice to him would be to avoid pulling the trigger.
Speaking of the MLB offseason, much of the focus of speculation so far has properly been on the futures of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. They are both young and excellent players. However, there are also reports that the D-Backs might be willing to trade Paul Goldschmidt. If a team is looking for a big bat and a perennial All-Star and that team happens to “lose out” on the Harper/Machado sweepstakes, that team might do very well to acquire 30-year old Paul Goldschmidt.
Finally, Greg Cote of the Miami Herald had this comment about the Red Sox and their World Series parade last month:
“The World Series trophy was damaged by a thrown full can of beer during the Red Sox championship parade. That’s terrible. Talk about a waste of beer!”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………