Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Dec 17, 2018

Washington Post Sports Columnist Tom Boswell answered your questions about the Redskins, Capitals, Nationals, Wizards, the NFL and more.

Past Ask Boswell chats

With there being a good chance Alex Smith's career may be over and Colt McCoy seriously injuring that leg what will the skins do at QB going into next year? The draft is not very QB heavy. Would they go after someone like Flaco and overpay for him? What do you see as the best path forward?

Good morning!

Your question is logical and interesting. However, it reminds me of something that's been bugging me for quite a while. It's not at all the fault of your question. But when I look back on the 2010's I may be tempted to think of it as the time when our American sports mantra became: "Let me find a way to look far enough into the future so that I can maximize my chances of being unhappy today."

I suspect that the only two things that Washington fans will remember about the Skins '18 season when we look back in 10 years is Alex Smith's awful injury (and whether he is able to come back from it) AND Josh Johnson's FIRST win as an NFL starter after not playing in the league in more than SEVEN years!!

I talked to an old friend after the game on Sunday and he said, "What a great game! That reminded me of the 'scab win' over Dallas" (13-7 at Dallas, 10/19/87). 

He was a pretty decent football player in high school and he saw it with the passion of an ex-player, imagine how great it must have felt to be Josh Johnson, and he had no hint of cynicism or any desire not to enjoy THAT MOMENT as much as it deserved. 

My old buddy was similarly amazed that you could beat anybody on the road, even the 4-10 Jags, with your THIRD string guards, who the heck are Luke Bowanko and Zac Kerin (after Nsekhe went out)? Also, the Skins picked up their long-snapper, Andrew East, like in the parking lot in Jacksonville, or something. Nick Sundberg had to go on IR.

It really was a pretty amazing, and certainly lucky, win. But there's a tendency to race into the future as fast as we can. We jump to "what is Johnson's future? Will he replace Colt McCoy as the backup? Or was that his One Shining Moment? What about Smith (unknowable)? What about NEXT YEAR? Who will our QB be? Weak draft class at QB. So, let's look at Flacco! The Ravens have moved on from him....

I understand why we do this and I suspect the media (me) is as guilty and anybody and may be the MOST guilty. You can only say, "WOW! They won on the road with Josh Johnson who's been on the team for about 10 minutes!"

I'll get back to Johnson. But to answer (part) of your question: The Ravens probably moved on from Flacco the day they drafted Lamar Jackson. Some wrote it that way on draft day!

The Ravens would prefer to trade Flacco and get something back for him. But he carries a $26.5-million cap hit and that would be a HUGE, or impossible, burden for a couple of the team's that would want him most, the Skins and Jags. (And yesterday illustrated why they'd want Flacco! What an offensive stinker except for Johnson.) 

The Skins need to wait to figure out Smith's condition. The REALLY, REALLY good news on Sunday was that Smith was BACK HOME. But it'll be a long time before the Skins know how their QB's future shapes up. IMO, Flacco is a NO because he's not THAT good and the cap hit is prohibitive.

Got to say that while I like McCoy as a backup QB I think maybe that, in a couple of more weeks, I'll like Johnson even better. While Colt is fast, Johnson is VERY fast. And elusive. And, for now, will take a hit for extra yardage.

Johnson's post-game quotes were wonderful for anybody who missed them in Kareem Copeland's entertaining sidebar.

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“I know every opportunity I get could be my last one,” the 32-year-old Johnson said. “That’s just the reality of my situation. I just want to leave it all on the field. I owe this game that much because I love it that much. . . . For me to go out there and not leave it on the field, that would be disrespectful.

“Just everything from my career, I always had belief in myself that I can do things like this. But I’ve never been one to talk about it because talking does nothing. You’ve got to really be about the action. . . . To be able to just have everything that’s been bottled up in me for years and finally just let it out, it was a relief. Honestly, it was.”

However, my favorite quote of his was when he tried to explain his post-game limp and why nobody should worry about whether or not he can play in Tennessee:“I haven’t been hit in two years,” Johnson said with a laugh. “I haven’t played a 300-pound defensive lineman like Calais Campbell and [Yannick] Ngakoue. My body’s getting acclimated. There’s a lot of things I’m doing on speed dial right now.”

Just doin' it on speed dial!

 

Boz, A lot has been said and written about Ovi as he is currently crazy hot. 14 game point streak and 28 goals in 32 games. Do you think he will end up as the greatest athelete in DC Sports?

If you had asked me that question just seven months ago I probably would have said that he was the greatest in the last 50 years, but that I'd put Sammy Baugh (who led the Skins to multiple NFL titles) and Walter Johnson, who won Game 7 of the '24 World Series and was one of the FIRST FIVE players inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame. Baugh was often called the man who created (or popularized or showed the power of) the forward pass! The game that we see today, the passing game, was profoundly connected to Baugh and his ability to throw an accurate spiral with an almost oblong ball! 

(If any chatters have a good link on Baugh's Place in the Game, I'll try to post it here later.)

The Big Train was to speed and strikeouts what Ovechkin, by the end of his career, may be to NHL goal scoring.

I'd still put Baugh and Johnson ahead of Ovechkin because they were so central to the history of the two major American sports of the 20th century. No, of course I've never seen either except on old newsreels. But the records are there, and the legends. I have (only) seven sports pictures on my office wall at home. One is of a bunch of Skins players sitting on the bench, shoulder to shoulder, on a cold day with the stands behind them absolutely jammed packed to the last seat. The uniforms identify it as the '50s, though I don't know what year. Sitting in the row of players, in a fabulous cowboy hat, smoking a big cigar, which is in his mouth, and covered by a lap blanket is a man in civilian clothes, not football gear. He looks absolutely at home as if he were one of the players.

I ask friends who come over: "Who is the guy smoking the cigar." They think I'm crazy. I tell them, "He was the greatest NFL player before Jim Brown." No answer. Then I say, "He was the GREATEST Skins player EVER, by a lot. Nobody else is close." Then, sometimes, they say, "Jez, is that Sammy Baugh?"

Yeah, how soon they forget. That's one of the curses of such a saturated information age. "New" always drove out "old." But now the "new" is a constant tidal wave. 

To answer: Now that he's won a Cup, and with this amazing season being added to all the others, I'm now on the verge of putting Ovechkin in a trio with Johnson and Baugh (who still holds the NFL record for longest-average punt for a season).  

Over the weekend, I watched both of Ovi's hat trick games last week and his "mere" one-goal game on Saturday night when he also got what proved to be the decisive goal in the shootout over Buffalo. He's just SO amazingly confident and relaxed now. It's like the weight of the world is off him because they finally won the Cup.

My wife (likes sports, not a "sports fan" and knows zero statistics) summed it up, when I told her how hot Ovi was: "Well, he's HAPPY," she said.

What's a total head-smacker to me is that his career shooting percentage is 12.7% THIS year, it's 22.5%!! Obviously, he is both hot and lucky. And I assume his pace is just something we should enjoy and not analyze since it's presumably "unsustainable." See, there I go, looking out into the future as far as necessary to "make myself unhappy" by anticipating the inevitable Ovi slump back to being merely amazin' rather than impossibly amazing.

Tom Wilson, in an interview between periods, said, "There's no player like him in the world and I don't think there ever was."

Ovi's current goals-per-game is 0.91! His previous career best is 0.79 in '07-'08. And, with 29 goals in 32 games, he's going for his SIXTH goal-scoring title in the last seven years! (And 8th overall.) Considering all the abuse he dishes out and receives, it's amazing that he could run off such a streak at ages 27-through-33.

Apparently, I said "amazing" again. Ovechkin does that to us.

I realize that the Caps, hot as they are, have not moved up to their pace of their two recent President's Trophy seasons. But they seem calmer, more confident and even deeper than those years while also incorporating younger players and more speed. They are SO fun to watch now. Always were, but now they play, and we watch, without that damn dark cloud over us.

Hey Boz, If you cut through all the shenanigans, it FEELS like the market is much less than they hoped. Even the "star power" angle seems diminished regarding Harper and count me as someone who loves his star power and personality. What do you think? Because of that, I still think he lands somewhere else, but I do think the odds of him coming back went slightly up after the Winter Meetings (does he really want to play in Philly? come on, man.)

You are right on point, I think. I'm sure free agents and their agents are already, and prematurely, wondering, suspiciously, about The State of the Market and the lower-than-expected market for Harper and Machado.

This is where I beat myself to death by patting myself on the back: I wrote on March 14 from spring training that I thought something like this would happen.

I swung a little too hard in this column, but I got the direction, and the reason correct, I think.

"Just as $70M will drop off the Nats' payroll after '18, the price of high-level talent is plummeting."

Even after signing Matt Adams over the weekend for $4M guaranteed, the Nats still have more than $22-million under the luxury tax thresh hold. And there's no law, just a monetary penalty if they go over that $206M total. Before the '17 season, it cost $21M to get Matt Wieters for two years. The Nats have now gotten TWO catchers, free agent Kurt Suzuki for only $10M for TWO years and Gomes in trade. They'll probably be able to get a good 2nd baseman for less than Daniel Murphy got on his previous contract when nobody knew yet that he was going to turn into a 2nd-for-MVP player in '16, Murph got $37.5M for three years.

Some recent stories on Harper now finally say what I've said since the day the Yankees got Stanton, the Yankees have taken their shot and it wasn't to land Bryce. The Dodgers met with Harper, but Magic wasn't in the group. I almost laughed when I saw the White Sox listed as a leading contender for Harper. That'll be the day, when a Boras client breaks an all-time salary record by signing with a team owned by Jerry Reinsdorf, one of the prime anti-union, anti-agent owners in the '94 Strike.

I have to agree with you, do you really think that Philly would be Harper's FIRST choice. Not saying he wouldn't go.

The Phils just added Jean Segura, a better defensive SS than Machado, whose best position is 3rd. So, that weakens Manny's negotiating position a bit with the Phils. 

It's hard to see where Harper is a GREAT fit, a "gotta do it" fit. The Cubs are already $19M OVER the lux tax. Dodgers got under it in '18 so they'd get a reset, but they are only under by $8M now. A Harper deal might squeeze them for a number of years, at least in projecting their future lux tax issues. The Yanks are at $12m under the tax.

The teams with ROOM to take a big run at Harper are not the teams in towns where you'd guess that he would want to play or the teams are not contenders (and may not BECOME contenders, no matter what they say to Bryce): Giants (a rebuilding mess), Mets (permanent 2nd banana in NYC), St. Louis (just got Goldschmidt). Angels (who never get it right, even with Trout). The ASTROS have room. That would be interesting. They wouldn't even have to be a "mystery team."

So, I agree that the odds of him returning to D.C. just went up, probably from 1% to 3%. Mark Lerner is not somebody who is going to engage (and annoy) Boras in a duel of words. I think he said what he said because that's how matters stand. 

Of FAR more interest, to me, right now, because it IS going to happen, is who will the Nats sign to replace Roark, who will they add as a 6th or 7th starter. And who, if anyone, will they land to play 2nd base.

The Nats don't think Roark is worth the $10M that he'd have gotten this year as an Arb3 player. Well, I suspect they are going to be hard pressed to replace a pitcher who pitches 180+ innings with a 4.25 ERA when he is BAD and pitches 180+ innings with a 2.85 ERA when he is good.

The names they have been linked with include Anibal Sanchez, 35 soon, who had a 2.83 ERA in 136 innings last year, but was terrible the THREE previous years: 20-30, 5.67! Mike Fiers will be 34 next season and had a good 12-8, 3.56, 172 inning season, ending in Oakland. But he's never impressed me much. And Wade Miley, who had a 5-2 record with a 2.57 ERA in 80 innings last year, had three bad years before that with an ERA over 5.00.

My concern would be that the Nats add a pitcher who cheaper than Roark, but also older and with less upside for a bounce-back season with BOTH a low ERA and high innings.

There are big names in the trade market, Bumgarner, Kluber and Bauer, but those teams will want a LOT in any deal. And the Giants may feel that they just CAN'T trade an Bay Area icon like MadBum.

It's no accident that Charlie Morton and Lance Lynn both were snapped up quickly after the Roark mostly-salary-dump trade. Everybody saw the Nats as moving into that SP market to compete and drive up prices, perhaps, so they jumped quickly.

To answer your question: on Harper. The size of his contract is fascinating and will have big ramifications throughout MLB and maybe even into the next CBA. However, spending more words on the long, long shot of a return to DC, let's just wait until/if that ever even seems plausible. I assume the reason Boras was annoyed by Lerner's words was because he knew they had the ring of truth, Harp's old team said it wouldn't/couldn't go above a deal with deferred money that was (present value) worth $284M over 10 years.

Kudos to the Snyderskins for pulling off the win. Sure, it was a lousy team and it took a lucky tipped pass to even make that possible. A playoff team this is not. Yet it’s distinctly better than the days when a hapless, miserable team on an NFL-record losing streak could circle their DC game date on the calendar and tell themselves (correctly) “this is one we can win.” Playing down below the level of bad opponents has been yet another hallmark of the Snyder Era. This made me wonder. Are the Gruden Years something we’ll look back on as the Golden Era (or more accurately, the Fool’s Golden Era) of Snyderskins football? A 4-5 year period where the team may not have been good...but at least it wasn’t alternating mediocrity with horrible 3-6 win seasons? is now the time period we’ll look back on and say “That was as good as it got”?

 

Good point, especially The Pyrite Age." (Fool's Gold)

In the Snyder era, how many coaches have record's over .500? Ans: Nobody. Not even Gibbs II (30-34).

Gruden doesn't either. Because of his first year inheriting the team Shanny tried to ruin on the way out the door. But since then he's 31-30-1.

And, yes, as Dan Steinberg, with his exactly-.500 fascination, will point out next Monday, they will probably be 31-31-1.

There are plenty of valid criticisms of Gruden, clock management, poor halftime adjustments, inconsistent ability to motive the entire team and, with all the complaining about the intensity of practices, maybe a lack of ability to demand focus in practice at times.

But he has one HUGE strength on a franchise run by Snyder-Allen: SANITY! Redskins Park is ALWAYS on the verge of exploding into flames from spontaneous combustion. Look at the inflamatory tweets sent last week by the COUSIN of a linebacker!!! (???) I'm sorry, I almost laughed until I cried. I imagined a headline that said, "Skins Still Find New Way to Blame Cousins."

On his coach's show, yes, I love the Cooley-Gruden sarcasm, they have some stupid "challenge" segment where Cooley is supposed to ask Gruden some question about "this week's big challenge." Like "limit turnovers." 

But, during this losing streak, the segment has evolved into an estimation of how HOT the seat that Gruden is sitting on has become! What coach jokes, on is own show, about Being on the Hot Seat." You think Belichick does?

So, Cooley starts riffing on his "challenge question" to put the coach on the spot and Gruden interjects "RED-HOT-seat challenge! It's BURNIN'!!"

Also, someone mentioned that Johnson said that getting to start an NFL game was going to be so much fun for him that it would be like going to Disney World. Gruden waits a minute, then interrupts by saying, "I used to live by Disney World and it's not that fun."

You can imagine Grinch Gruden complaining about all the little tykes screaming and yelling near wherever he lived.

I don't know whether this goofy, off-center Gruden sarcasm limits his ability as a coach or whether it is a key to the team still being in one semi-functioning piece. Perhaps, in Dan-and-Bruce World, not such a fun place to live, 31-30-1 is pretty decent.  

When they were behind 40-0 the previous Sunday, I thought, this guy can't coach at all. You just like his sense of humor. Even factoring everything that is against them, this is AWFUL. And it's on the coach and the staff. They don't have to win this game. But they HAVE to be IN it. The Giants stink and they don't have OBJ or Collins. They're missing O-linemen, too."

Then, after they won on Sunday, I thought: They were lucky. Two tipped passes both went their way. The Jags are even worse than the Giants. But this was STILL a coaching victory just as much as it was a defensive victory and a Josh Johnson National Holiday Victory. 

I wish I thought they could win either of their last two games because 8-8 when your ONLY two QBs break their legs in consecutive weeks and you are down to you THIRD-STRING guards is pretty remarkable. Also, Gruden's receivers, as a group, stunk even before they lost Richardson for the year and now Reed again. Where IS Josh Doctson? He WAS active on Sunday, right? I'm sure I saw him. (He was active.) 

If the Skins fire Gruden, and I'd guess that they will not after this "stirring" win, I bet Cousins would love to have him as OC in Minny.

Is it possible that a decent chunk of that $84M that's going into Cousins' wallet ought to be credited to Gruden's system and, in '17, getting Cousins to 4,000 yards (and out of town) despite having a decimated team around him.

I thought some of you chatters might get a kick out of this. Here are the 10th through 15th passers by QB rating this season, with more than 25 attempts.

10) Cousins 99.0

11) Luck 98.4

12) JOSH JOHNSON  98.2

13) Tom Brady 97.6

14) Goff 97.6

15) Aaron Rodgers 97.2

Of course, it's a trick stat since Johnson only has 41 pass attempts. But still, I thought somebody might want to get a copy of this week's NFL passer stats so he could, maybe, frame it. Or bronze it.    

Boz has Ovi’s Wayne 29 goals in 32 games pried the Big Trains’ fingers off the #1 perch in DC sports history? If he played in Buffalo where I’m from half the pets and children would have Ovi as part of their name

Oh, someone from Buffalo! Hmmmmm, you mean that up and rising city about which the Post just wrote a complimentary story!? That Buffalo? Where the Sabres (20-9-5) are pretty good now?

Man, I can feel the Ovi ground swell!

I think the Ovi folks may be winning me over, to a degree.

Johnson won 12 strikeout titles and won 20 games 12 times. He won 23-or-more games (up to 36 wins) in 10 seasons. He led the AL in wins six times (with bad team) and ERA 5 times.

Baugh, all in all, may not have been as dominant as I thought, not quite. He led the NFL in completion percentage 8 times, in yards passing four times, in punting average five times and made the Pro Bowl six times. And, yes, he led the NFL in interceptions once as a defensive back (11). But he was "only" 1st team All-Pro four times. 

Ovechkin has been MVP THREE times and finished second twice. That's a huge achievement. Looks like he may win his 8th goal-scoring title this year at age 33, so he might have a few quality years left as a scorer, or maybe even several. 

I think this list may have to be revised, in chat, to The Big Train, The Great Eight and Slingin' Sammy in that order. But Ovi "has a bullet" and is rising.

It's really hard to compare athletes who competed almost exactly 100 years apart and in different sports! Anybody who wants to go with Ovi as No. 1 just on the grounds that HE'S OURS and he's HERE NOW, so why not have some fun with this DC GOAT thing, I get it.

It's going to be interesting to see how Ovi's reputation within the NHL continues to rocket up now that all the Ovi-knockers don't have the Stanley Cup to beat him up with. 

Aren't they?

No, no, no.

Once you've gotten to seven wins (or six) the difference in draft position isn't that huge.

Here is the NFL Draft Value chart. Yes, GM's use this, or their own versions which are very similar, to decide how to make trades involving picks.

Starting with the 1/1 pick: 3,000 pts, 2,600, 2,200, 1,800, 1,700, 1,600, 1,500, 1,400, 1,350, 1,300 and so on, dropping 50 points with each spot down to 900 pts for the 18th overall pick in the draft. Then the gaps between picks get even smaller. The 32nd and last pick in the 1st rd is worth 590 points. 

In theory, a 1/1 pick (3,000 points) is worth more than the first FIVE picks in the 2d round combined!

But the difference between the 10th pick (1,300), the 15th (1,050) and the 20th (850) is not nearly so much.

Right now, it looks like the Skin would be tied for the 16th pick in the first round of the draft (1,000). If they lost two games to get to 7-9, it is doubtful that they could draft higher than 13th (1,150) or 12th (1,200).

What are an extra 150 points worth? That would be the 24th pick in the 3rd round, or the 88th player picked.

In other words, if the Skins had the 13th pick, rather than the 15th, they could, "in theory",  trade BACK to the 15th pick and also get the 88th-overall pick in the trade, too.

Now I am REALLY sorry that I tried to explain the "value" of moving up just a few spots when you are stuck in the middle of the first round of the draft, the Skins are now. That'll teach me.  

Does signing Matt Adams change the Nats second base target?

Yes, now they can rule out any potential 2nd baseman part of whose appeal was spending some time at 1st base or, potentially, being the starter at 1st if Zimmerman has a bad injury. IOW, no reason AT ALL to talk players like Daniel Murphy (LH hitter, bad 2nd baseman but could also be a back-up or platoon 1st baseman). 

If I could daydream, my preferences now at 2nd would be Jed Lowrie (for two years). Oakland GM Billy Beane said at the winter meetings that he thought Lowrie had been "the best second baseman in the game over the last two years combined", slightly ahead of Jose Altuve! I have not heard anybody say anything like that. It's pure A's analytics. BTW, Beane says he wants to re-sign Lowrie with the A's but understands that, even at 34, his value has gone up a lot.

After that, I suspect the Nats have a better chance to get Brian Dozier for two years than the younger DJ LeMahieu, who may want three, thus blocking CKieboom. Nats added power with Adams. They'd add a little more with Dozier who won the '17 A.L. Gold Glove. He's averaged 28 homers a year for the last six years and in a bad year in '18 he still hit 21. But, at 31, is he in the post-30 "slide?"

 

Is the only ten year offer that Harper is going to get the one he turned down from the Nats?

It's going to be a long winter. Max Scherzer didn't sign until Jan 21. And, man, does he still remember every detail of it. Max is still annoyed, because we've talked about it, with all the negative scuttlebutt (from people not even engaged in trying to sign him) during the winter when he was a free agent. If I remember correctly, there were vague knocks about a big long (7-yr) contract for a pitcher who was already going to be in his age 30 season. And his mechanics were unusual, so the knock was "arm trouble ahead." Rizzo said at the time that he thought Max's mechanics were a PLUS for his longevity, not a negative. Max also hasn't forgotten that Riz got it right.

Seems like an odd guy to trade when you haven't signed anyone to take his place. He's certainly had an up-and-down career with the Nats (being moved to the bullpen didn't help), but he's an innings eater who never got hurt. Is something more going on? --Tom in Alexandria

No, it's just the $10M that he'd get in '19. 

What pitchers, even in the abstract, could you get with that $10M, or similar amount? The flashiest name is Trevor Bauer, Indians. If you could trade prospects for him, he'd make about $11-to-$12M this year (after a 12-6 season with a 2.21 ERA and 221 K's.) Then he'd be under team control again in '20. The Indians Corey Kluber (20-7, 222 Ks, two CYAs) is due $17M in '19 with team options for '20 and '21 at $17.5M and $18M for his age 33-34-35 seasons. If you just kept him for '19, he'd earn $19M because of buyouts in '20 and '21.

Any Indians trade got less likely because they just got rid of a pretty big contract in Yonder Alonso, to the White Sox. Why would the White Sox want him, and his contract? Well, he's Manny Machado's brother in law. 

I don't think one can overstate how lucky we are to watch a hockey team with a superstar that is capable of doing something remarkable or history-making on any given night. And it's great that Alex Ovechkin's MVP-caliber first half isn't qualified with any "yeah, but ..." about second-round playoff exits. Ovechkin now seems headed toward universal recognition as one of the handful of all-time greats. It makes me think of Ted Williams, often overshadowed by his more title-rich contemporary (DiMaggio), but eventually receiving due praise in his later years and in retirement. Not unlike Ovechkin possibly closing the once insurmountable gap on Sidney Crosby as the true great of this current era. Do you see similarities there?

Yes, I like that!

Just as Ted Williams was a great pure hitter, "there goes the greatest hitter who ever lived," was his life goal, Ovi may be remembered as "there goes the greatest pure goal scorer ever, especially considering the era (harder to score) that he played in."

Is there any new reliable buzz about where Bryce will sign? Any idea on the timeframe of when this will happen? Boras' press conference was cryptic. If Bryce signs somewhere else (read: not the Nats) will you miss covering him?

Yes, I'll miss covering him. In fact, I ALREADY miss covering him because everything that I suspected would be the case, with him leaving DC, seems to be working out as I thought.

If the Lerners would like to go for broke, and do something crazy, they certainly have my permission! If money were no object, any team is better WITH Harper. 

However, as we've all noticed in our lives, money usually IS an object.

BTW, where the heck does that expression, "money is no object", come from? And when did "object" become a synonym for obstacle? 

For those calling for Gruden to be replaced, consider the situation a new coach would be facing: a team with no answer at QB (assuming Smith does not return) that is saddled with a $20mm+ salary cap hit in each of the next three years, with a QB weak 2019 draft coming up, and a team with a minimum of 7 wins so that will not have a high first round pick to find a franchise QB anyway. This new coach would be working for a front office that, after the 2015 season when their coach - who was a college and pro QB and an NFL QB coach - and their GM recommended they offer an extension to Kirk Cousins, decided that their judgment was better and instead franchise tagged him, thus ensuring he would eventually leave. What promising coach would want to come within a mile of this job?

As I understand it, if Smith does not come back, and it seems encouraging that, so far, nobody says that he CANNOT, his cap hit would be about $21M in '19 and '20. Not exactly $21M. I forget the decimal points, it's like 20.5 and 21.5.

You're right that changing coaches has almost always hurt the Skins under Snyder. And, with Smith back home, I think it's time to start hoping that Alex comes back. Personally, I've seen enough 5-11 and 6-10 Skins teams in recent memory. I find it more interesting when they still have a playoff chance, and it now seems to be 20%. 

That is a LOT more than I thought it would be when we first learned the seriousness of Smith's injury.

Are the Eagles better with Nick Foles at the helm? Can he pull off a second backup QB run to the playoffs?

Wentz always impresses me. Foles usually doesn't. I'm looking forward to watching the Rams-Eagles game that I taped last night. I want to remind myself of what Foles does right. Especially since everything has been such a tangled mess in the NFC East all season, and the NFC in general, that I wouldn't be surprised if an 8-8 team somehow got the 2nd wildcard in the NFC. Eagles and Skins meet in Week 17. Guess it's too much to hope that all the permutations work out and that game is for a playoff spot. Looks like Seattle is all but in and Minny looked a lot better with its new OC, and Cousins passing less, on Sunday.

I noticed a trend almost throughout the NFL on Sunday: after all the pass-pass-pass mania all season a LOT of teams seemed to be trying to run the ball more often than they passed. And did it successfully. Maybe that's just football in mid-December.    

Here are some teams that won while running more often than they passed: Skins (33-25), Ravens (49-23), Bears (29-28), Colts (39-27), Vikes (40-21), Bengals (41-33), Titans (45-21).

Yes, teams tend to run the ball more once they get a lead. But I still found it interesting.

Here's what I really find interesting, how do you chatters keep coming up with so many questions every week that interest me so much that I can't stop writing this damn chat until the middle of the afternoon?? It's YOUR fault.

Thanks a million. Seriously, the questions, and the savvy folks here, are what make the chat fun. See everybody next Monday at 11 a.m.

With the large number of questions you receive each week, I was wondering how you go about deciding which ones to respond to.

When I see one that makes me say, "THAT is a good question!" then I answer it.

Or if I see a question and think, "I actually have an opinion about that!" So, then I answer it. Or "I have a story to tell that's connected to that question, so I'll answer it!"

And then there is the nice person who ALWAYS sends a MASN question just in desperate hopes that something has happened and that this will not drag on for seven MORE years. I see that question and think, "Maybe somebody, friend. But not today." 

Hi Tom, Ravens fan here. We know all about Flacco's cap "hit." For the Ravens it will be $26.5 million because of this bonus money. However, Flacco "only" has an $18.5 million base salary for next season with no more guaranteed money. So the Ravens are definitely looking for a trade partner with the hit to the acquiring team not being that bad.

I saw a story on this today. But it did not look like a Promising First Five Teams to trade for Flacco. They were: Skins, Jags, Giants, Raiders and Miami. There seemed to be plausible reasons to doubt that any of them fit with Flacco in a trade, either because of money/hit or because what they have now is roughly as good as Joe F.   

Why didn't we get Ramos instead of Suzuki?

Because Suzuki and Gomes both have knees that work. They also (combined) hit 61 homers the last two years. They don't have Ramos pop, but closer than you might think. Both are good pitch framers and with decent luck, they can catch close to all 162 games. Ramos may catch 110 and play some 1st base or DH.

I am surprised that an N.L. team was Ramos' landing spot. The Phils are taking a risk with no DH as a fall-back position. But the Nats are taking an even bigger risk that Corbin's three good/healthy years are predictive of his future rather than some of his other years, or injuries.

As I teach my 6, 8, and 10 year old kids about why we watch sports, I try to focus on what you said in the first response. After yesterday's game, I said how it was fun to win one and how happy I was for Johnson and the other players that did not think they would get a chance to play. Last week during the Giants game we turned it off and went to play in the snow.

My kind of fan!

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Thomas Boswell
A Washington Post columnist since 1984, Thomas Boswell is known for the many books he has written on baseball, including "How Life Imitates the World Series" and "Why Time Begins on Opening Day."
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