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A Fair Assessment?

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Boone

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I think some of the fan criticism and anger out there is over the top. I think this is a fair summary of the Rivera era so far:

1. He came into a HC role with no GM or experienced front office help and was handed a roster with no starting caliber QB and only a handful of guys who would start on other NFL teams.

2. He was diagnosed with cancer and coached through treatment.

3. He was saddled with a blown first round pick of a QB, a guy who is probably uncoachable, and was forced to play that hand out until it became obvious it was a blown pick. Then he finished the season with a one-legged aging veteran who he had to replace with a guy off the street. He still manages to win the NFC East and nearly knock off the eventual Super Bowl champs in a playoff game.

4. Year 2, he brings in two experienced front office guys in Mayhew and Hurney. They lose out in the Matthew Stafford lottery and decide not to give up major picks/talent to move up for a QB in the draft. They bring in a serviceable boom or bust QB coming off his best season as a pro who plays 5 minutes before suffering what may be a career ending injury.

5. Kid off the street becomes the season starter, backed up by Sir Limps-a-lot.

6. The team proceeds to have one of it's worst rashes of injury ever (53 total go to IR at some point in the 2021 season, almost 1/3rd of our cap for the year - 2nd worst total in the league behind only the Jets).

7. In an admittedly up and down season, the coaching staff still has the squad in the thick of the playoff race well into December when a COVID outbreak devastates the roster further. In the 2nd to last game of the season, Washington is finally eliminated from playoff contention in a very close contest.

When you take all of the above into consideration, it really puts the last 2 years in context. I did not mention everything the current front office and coaching staff have had to contend with - because just the above would be enough to result in a couple of 3 or 4 win seasons. Despite the above, some want the coordinators fired, feel Rivera should either be gone or on the hotseat, or want to blow it all up.

I think one can argue that these coaches and the front office should be commended for achieving what they've been able to achieve given all of the obstacles they've faced, with limited talent. We're a tired, frustrated, and rightfully impatient fanbase. We hate our owner, our name, our stadium, and question why we even bother watching or continuing to call ourselves fans. Our stadium, literally falling down around us, is routinely taken over by opposing fans. It's now the norm.

But the truth is, Rivera and company just got here. They are responsible for the team's record, but not much else. In the short time they've been here, if not true success, they've at least put a respectable mostly competitive often over-performing team on the field. We have NO off the field issues, no malcontents (save the most recent outburst by Daron Payne which I mostly attribute to frustration), our coaches and players appear to be good guys, solid human beings, and have no quit in them.

So I have to ask.... what, really, is the problem?

I don't know if on-the-field success is right around the corner or if we'll be blowing it up again 2-3 failed seasons from now. But when I look at the big picture, it's more encouraging than not. We should not be ashamed to be DC Football fans.

And there have been many years where we could not say that.

Here's to better days ahead.
 

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Kel Varnsen

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It’s funny you wrote this. My dad “gave up” on football last year. He asked for a refund for his season tickets last year when fans weren’t able to attend games (not surprisingly he still hasn’t received it). He was just done after the name change, the politics, and all the crap from Snyder over the years. He was just done. (Side Note: I still contend if they were winning, he’d just deal with it. I say the same about people who have left this site for the same reasons. But when it’s a perennial loser, you aren’t giving them any leeway). He didn’t watch or follow football at all last year. A guy who worked as an usher at RFK in the 70s, went to the Super Bowl in Tampa, went to games all throughout the 80s and 90s and eventually became a season ticket holder in the 2000s. At one point he had 3 sets of tickets for 7 total. He would give them to family and friends so we could enjoy the games. Eventually he was down to just 1 set of 2 tickets as my cousin took over the main set of 3 and he had dropped the other 2. He bled burgundy and gold and taught me to do the same. Yet he was done. Until last year at Thanksgiving. We were up there visiting them and because of COVID it was just a small number of people so when it was time ti watch football, he had to watch since there wasn’t a group of people in the other room to talk to. Last years Thanksgiving game was the high point of the season and it resurrected the burgundy and gold in him. He watched the rest of the year and this year as well.

In the past, he would get very frustrated watching the games. After they would get beat, he would send out angry text messages to my brother and sisters and I saying how the coaches need to be fired and the QB needs to be shipped out of town (Mostly that was directed at Griffin, Cousins, and Haskins). But last year with him not watching, there were no angry texts after the game. No dissecting about how bad the team was. No calls for coaches, coordinators, or QBs being fired.

Last night, he started ranting again about how the coaches need to be fired. The front office needs to go. The team is no good. The QB stinks. The D Line is the worst they have ever had. Surprisingly, he didn’t mention the linebackers which was one of his favorites.

I bring all this up because I think he is typical of the long time, long suffering Redskins fans. They remember the good old days and there wasn’t more than 1 or 2 bad seasons before there was a winning team. So that is what they want. If they go for more than 2 seasons without a winner, then we must change everything and everyone. That hasn’t worked the last 30 years, but people still call for it every 2 years. Additionally, the way teams were built in the pre salary cap and pre free agency era is completely different than how they have to be built today. This organization has not seen any consistent winning in that era. It started during the last days of Cooke and then had been the Snyder error since. Not a single clue how to build a consistent winner with these rules. And that is why fans just want to blow it up every few years. It gets you nothing but a reset, but it also gets you away from who you have.
 

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Nice write up, John.

I have many thoughts and will probably add to these throughout the day.

1. I am a fan of Rivera so far as the head coach (even more so as a man) but I’m not convinced on the personnel side. I’m also not sold on his selection of Marty/Martin to lead the talent acquisition department. Time will tell.

The draft class so far is iffy at best. Davis? Clearly over-drafted. Cosmi? We will see but he doesn’t srtike me as anything special. D. Brown? Meh. St. Juste? Potentially good. Bates? Nice player, won’t scare anybody.

The free agent class? Leno? Solid addition. Samuels? Still preparing for the Tour De France. Humphries? Meh. WJIII? Disappointing. McCain? Meh.

That’s a lot of additions that so far have provided little.

The talent acquisition win-rate has to be better. Do I have faith that the current group can both successfully select and develop the next QB? Not really, but they had better.

2. Coordinators-

Turner frustrates me like many here but without a legitimate NFL qb at his disposal it’s hard for me to give him a fair evaluation.

DelRio? I still can’t wrap my mind around how pathetic his defense was during the first quarter to half of the season. How did both Rivera and DelRio, given their backgrounds, feel comfortable with the linebackers they brought into the season?
 

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I definitely feel him and as others have said, I don't blame any former fans of this franchise for walking away or making the team's lack of success a big part of their life. It's 100% understandable.

The 'fire the coordinators' thing gets under my skin though. First of all, few of us are even remotely qualified to determine whether a coordinator is 'doing a good job' or not. We just aren't. It's fine that we want to pretend we know football, and what the gameplan is or should be, and what play was actually called, or whether the players are actually correctly executing a play - but the simple truth is, we don't know any of those things.

Ultimately the coordinators are responsible for how their units play. That's so obvious it shouldn't need to be said. And I'm not arguing that they aren't responsible. But you just can't keep firing them over and over and over again. Different is not better. This team has literally proven that continual coaching turnover only guarantees one thing - losing. It's time we stop throwing good coaches out of the park every couple of years. I don't know enough (and neither do any of you) about Scott Turner to know if he's going to be an OC bust or a HOF one down the road. I feel pretty confident Jack Del Rio is a helluva DC - because he's proven it over decades.

The bottom line for me is that continually starting over with coaches may feel good, but it's not gotten us where we want to be as a franchise, nor will it get us there. The good teams in the NFL don't blow it up over and over again. If we ever want to be that kind of a team, the carousel needs to stop.
 

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Nice write up, John.

I have many thoughts and will probably add to these throughout the day.

1. I am a fan of Rivera so far as the head coach (even more so as a man) but I’m not convinced on the personnel side. I’m also not sold on his selection of Marty/Martin to lead the talent acquisition department. Time will tell.

The draft class so far is iffy at best. Davis? Clearly over-drafted. Cosmi? We will see but he doesn’t srtike me as anything special. D. Brown? Meh. St. Juste? Potentially good. Bates? Nice player, won’t scare anybody.

The free agent class? Leno? Solid addition. Samuels? Still preparing for the Tour De France. Humphries? Meh. WJIII? Disappointing. McCain? Meh.

That’s a lot of additions that so far have provided little.

The talent acquisition win-rate has to be better. Do I have faith that the current group can both successfully select and develop the next QB? Not really, but they had better.

2. Coordinators-

Turner frustrates me like many here but without a legitimate NFL qb at his disposal it’s hard for me to give him a fair evaluation.

DelRio? I still can’t wrap my mind around how pathetic his defense was during the first quarter to half of the season. How did both Rivera and DelRio, given their backgrounds, feel comfortable with the linebackers they brought into the season?
All good points. Definitely agree that what looked like some solid moves in the 2021 offseason did not pan out. I've never believed Rivera was a great in-game coach. I've seen him 'Riverboat' his way to too many unnecessary losses in Carolina to believe it. Sometimes his teams have won in spite of Ron's goofy decisions. I do think he knows how to assemble a quality coaching staff and so I'm far more willing to give JDR and especially Turner the benefit of the doubt at least for the forseeable future. Honestly - look what Turner has had to work with since he got here. Arguably 2-3 great skill position players. He's had more OL combinations start than any OC in the league and has yet to have a true starting caliber QB under center for a game. If you look at it that way, he deserves a lot of credit. Doesn't mean he doesn't deserve criticism at times.

When you've lost and lost and lost for the better part of 30 years, maybe sticking with the coaches you have and showing some faith in them (which is the exact opposite of what Snyder has done for decades) might reap better results in the long-term?
 

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The good teams in the NFL all have better QBs than this team has had. And that’s been true since who, Brad Johnson? Or 2012 with a healthy Robert Griffin? Trent Green?

THAT is what has held this franchise back for so so long.

If that can be finally solved then the future can be different, Snyder be damned.
 
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Chris

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Rivera will not fire DelRio (nor Scott Turner for that matter) but Jack needs to be better, no matter his track record.

(And I would be shocked if both he and Ron don’t agree.)
 

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Injuries/Covid killed this teams momentum, along with the NFL's punishment schedule (yes call me conspiracy theory SO) but how many teams did we play coming off a bye, that's not by coincidence. The expectations for TH we're probably too far off the charts in hindsight during the winning streak, the kid is what he is, serviceable but a serviceable QB needs players around him which the injuries/covid issues exposed dramatically. This roster on offense needs a QB, I'm not seeing any in the draft to take early and then we have another project if we do in the later rounds. So where do we go from there? If Carr is available for two 1st's and a 4th I'm making that move, if Goff can be had for a Wentz like deal I'd give him a prove it season for a 4th rounder, if Jimmy G departs SF do we make an offer injury history and all, I dunno but we are not going to be a consistent winner with what we have on the roster although I want to see Kyle in next week as the starter. As much as I :poop: on Rivera and his record does not prove me wrong historically I'm not ready to cut the chord on him at this time. This team was a mess following Gruden and Allen, just an atomic mess and that cannot be fixed quickly however we should see progress, we have just not quite seen as much as we wanted or we over expected regardless of this roster . I do want to see changes at OC, I can't stomach Norv Jr. any longer, he'll call half a good game and then get cute and does not seem to work packages that suit the personnel on the field.
 

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Good points, Boone and Chris.

Not excuses, but there were other UNIQUE circumstances. Playing multiple teams in a row who have extra rest vs us playing on short week. That would tough even for legit good teams. And these people are human. Evertt's passenger died in a tragic car crash, and Sweat's brother was killed.

Non-covid health things also happened to hit KEY players. Logan Thomas' injury looked like an unneeded hit from the defender. Collins was making huge plays. And McKissick's injury was huuuuge. With Gibson's health and fumbling, and the fact that Heinicke can't make deep passes - McKissick bailed him out many a time. Again, great teams overcome injuries, we just don't have that depth and overall talent to absorb everything that happened.

Overall, I think Ron is a good leader - and has things going in the right direction.
 

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My viewpoint is similar to what Chris said, and I'll elaborate a little bit.

There are a TON of reasons this team should be on 'below' side of .500 right now, and they are. Where the struggle lies is when there are seemingly easy decisions to make, that aren't being made. You yourself exploded yesterday when we went for it on 4th and 5. Some could argue that ALL of the other stuff combined is what led the team to believe that was necessary, but you could argue the opposite.... Heinicke was under siege a large part of the day, so you knew Philly was gonna bring heat. The defense was gassed and depleted, and we had already lost a ton of momentum.... turning it over there was just another push in the opposite direction. Starting the drive going into halftime, we ran the ball 4 or 5 consecutive times... got one big play, and then we scrambled around to ultimately attempt (and convert) a 55 yard FG.

I personally do not think Turner or Del Rio are at a point that they need to be fired.... I do however think it's time for them to be held responsible. It's one thing for us to get beat. It's another thing for us to not be doing everything in our abilities to win. We've all had our frustrations with Turner in game. Why do we not see hardly any Read Option runs from Taylor Heinicke, then when Kyle Allen goes in (after Heinicke gets hurt and Allen is the ONLY healthy QB in uniform) the first playcall is Read Option for 11 yards? We're on our 4th C, meanwhile we see week in and week out multiple times a game where there's little to no secondary help to protect Heinicke. Defensively I watched us hold Dak to a 9.9 QBR the first time we played because we were bringing interior pressure. We were showing A-gap blitzes, and Dak would absolutely panic. Multiple arrant throws, then this past week (with a depleted LB core and secondary, as well as a short handed D-line) we don't show the same type of looks. We run our starting 4 D-lineman into a wall for double the amount of plays they're usually on the field... it's no wonder they couldn't win their matchup.

Again, none of those things take away from what HAS been accomplished. Rivera has changed the culture, to this point, to a very respectful one when you're talking about anyone below the owner.... and that even includes the Allen / Payne tiff we saw on tv a couple weeks ago. The players simply do not quit. You see it every game. Guys running 15 yards down field to make a play. Multiple games all season that we fall behind and they never seem to pack it in. A lot of my criticism is trying to find a way to take that next step... trying to identify the next level of progression. Trying to see how / why we've lost. That is where I call out to Rivera and say "let's fix it." Where he can sit down with Turner and look at the film and say "dude... look at what Philly just did to us on this 'Texas' route. We've got 2 really good recieving RBs and this can be a very effective pattern to beat the pressure."

Again... I don't like Turner as a guy. My team played against him in HS so i have a little bit of a 'bias' toward him, but I also am not rooting to get him or Del Rio fired because I don't want to start over. I want the two of them to be successful because it means the team is successful... the guy who actually calls the plays if we're winning really is not that important (outside of a couple obvious people you'd never actually root for).
 

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I absolutely hear you ST and agree there is room for criticism. I feel like SkinsOrlando missed the entire point of my post which is that the games and how they played out didn’t happen in a vacuum but during 2 seasons of crazy bad luck and challenges. ST - the only thing we don’t know is what Turner and DelRio would’ve done or called had we had anything like a normal season.
 

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I absolutely hear you ST and agree there is room for criticism. I feel like SkinsOrlando missed the entire point of my post which is that the games and how they played out didn’t happen in a vacuum but during 2 seasons of crazy bad luck and challenges. ST - the only thing we don’t know is what Turner and DelRio would’ve done or called had we had anything like a normal season.

I agree with that. But you can look at each game in a vacuum, especially when you look at what we've gone through with our roster. To call (admitedly i'm just a fat guy watching on TV so it's a very distant lense) what appeared to be same offense with Gilbert as you did with Heinicke appears to show a level of arrogance. To continue for the first 8 weeks to play zone and get absolutely shredded is concerning. To hear someone like B-Mitch talk about how 4 teams ran the same route combination for 50+ yard TDs over a 4 week stretch is alarming.

I absolutely understand that we dont know what they would have done in a 'normal' season, but this not being normal, we can't be rigid and expect the same system set up for the 53 man roster from week 5 is going to be effective with 24 guys on covid in week 15.

My criticism isnt necessarily that we lost, it's that we see multiple times a game, decisions being made that could change that 'L' to a 'W' DESPITE the uphill battle.
 

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Along the lines of ST's comments here is what has been my main beef with the coaching this year:

Lack of situational awareness and the ability to identfy the strength of your personnel and scheme to it.

It took Turner from OTAs in May until 8/9 games into the season to figure out his personnel was more suited to running the ball and controlling the clock through a short passing game...and that change came after the bye week when most likely Rivera stepped in and made suggestions to both Turner and JDR.
The main suggestion to JDR was to generate more pressure and the times that was done from that point forward was few and far between.
Why so long to make those adjustments?

Joe Theismann used to talk about Gibbs starting out simple and adding layers after you mastered the basics.
Today, the staff throws the whole book at a rookie like Davis and then laments when it came to young guys like him and the new pieces in the secondary, they had to pare down the playbook and assignments to get guys on the same page.

None of that matters now, when the team is decimated by sickness and injury but it seems like a pretty poor way to go about implementing your system.
 

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I absolutely hear you ST and agree there is room for criticism. I feel like SkinsOrlando missed the entire point of my post which is that the games and how they played out didn’t happen in a vacuum but during 2 seasons of crazy bad luck and challenges. ST - the only thing we don’t know is what Turner and DelRio would’ve done or called had we had anything like a normal season.
I think I addressed that this team had momentum and then got crushed by some bad circumstances, also we don't yet have the personnel to be "who we think we can be." However, leadership is about adjusting to circumstances you're given, not forcing square pegs in a round hole. As a real life example, I run two large branches for the company I work for due to pandemic. Neither branch runs exactly the same, I adjusted work flow, duties and role clarities based off the talent I have. If I ran branch B like I run branch A it would fail and vice versa and instead I have two in the top 10 out of 125 locations in the US and Canada. I'm not so arrogant to believe my scheme trumps the talent I have. I do not have faith in coaches who refuse to adapt their scheme why I can't stand the Shanny's. A lot of what's transpired this year has been due to circumstances beyond control, but not all of it and we definitely can question why and that starts at the top. I'm all for giving Rivera more time but you can't convince me that we don't need some staff changes based on what we've seen.
 

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I can appreciate all that SO - but the workforce isn't static, not in your case and certainly not on a limited roster. You and I may look at the decisions they made (in game and otherwise) and question them, but we aren't there, juggling a different roster every week. This team was at it's best certainly not a sure bet to win more than they lost. As depleted as they've been, it's a management nightmare.

I'd equate what you're saying to giving you a constantly rotating set of employees, in highly specific knowledge-based positions, many of who you're asking to come in and work this weekend with zero experience, and then blaming the managers when it doesn't go very well.

You should expect it not to go well. I'm not giving the coaches a carte blanche pass by any means, but I guess my question to harsh criticism would be 'Good lord - what do you expect them to do with the cards they've been handed this year?'. It reminds me of Rumplestiltskin - we're asking them to spin straw into gold on a lot of Sundays.
 

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I can appreciate all that SO - but the workforce isn't static, not in your case and certainly not on a limited roster. You and I may look at the decisions they made (in game and otherwise) and question them, but we aren't there, juggling a different roster every week. This team was at it's best certainly not a sure bet to win more than they lost. As depleted as they've been, it's a management nightmare.

I'd equate what you're saying to giving you a constantly rotating set of employees, in highly specific knowledge-based positions, many of who you're asking to come in and work this weekend with zero experience, and then blaming the managers when it doesn't go very well.

You should expect it not to go well. I'm not giving the coaches a carte blanche pass by any means, but I guess my question to harsh criticism would be 'Good lord - what do you expect them to do with the cards they've been handed this year?'. It reminds me of Rumplestiltskin - we're asking them to spin straw into gold on a lot of Sundays.

I like this analogy, and i'm going to take it a step further.

I don't expect them to be able to spin straw into gold....

i do expect them to be able to load the straw into the machine correctly. Load it, fire it, run it through... we all know it's a long shot to spin it into gold, but if you don't give it a chance you got no shot at all.


Sorry Boone, i'll stop. I truly am not trying to follow you around with an anti-OC/DC agenda
 
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Yeah, I think this is a pretty fair assessment. I feel like he has done a good job with the hand he has been dealt the last 24 months.

Like ST, I'm less convinced about the coordinators - specifically Turner. I feel like there has been a fair amount of his Dad's "what we do works" mindset and a stubborn willingness to continue to put Taylor in almost no-win situations. Granted, injuries have been an issue and I am forced to consider that things might have been a little different without the COVID issues of the last 3 weeks but still...

However, I'm willing to give both coordinators another season with the hope that the team gets the rub of the green in the injury area and that leads to some consistency within the system being run by both men.
 

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Can't argue with any of that in the original post.

Fundamentally, just looking at the QB situation feels like Rivera is forced to fight with one hand tied behind his back in most games. As much as I LOVE Heineke, it's clear his arm strength limits him. He's made some bad decisions this year, but he's still essentially in his rookie year. He's smart enough to correct those with experience I feel... but that arm strength...
That first interception that he got away with this week... I can't decide if he was throwing for someone, or just trying to throw it away and didn't have the strength.

Anyway... I totally agree with your post Boone. To think he was going to completely right such a dysfunctional organization in just two years was probably crazy thinking. I think we often forget that not only did he inherit a team with holes all over the roster, he also had to deal with all the crap behind the scenes with the front office stuff too. While dealing with cancer.

If we win against the Giants this week, we'll have equalled last years win total. If you came to me pre-season, looking at our schedule and said: "What do you think our record will be at the end of the season if you're playing with your backup QB, and you lose Chase, McKissic, and Thomas for most of the season, AND get hit hard by the covid pandemic which wipes out half of your team for two weeks?" I think I'd have been hard pressed to go for a better record that 7 or 8 wins.
I had high hopes pre-season, but actually this record seems pretty realistic.

AND there were a bunch of games we let slip through out fingers. This weeks was a case in point.

I was disappointed on Sunday, no doubt, but I still generally feel like our arrow is pointing upwards. I'd like to see what we can do next year with a healthy roster (touch wood!) and while I want Heineke on the squad, I believe at this point he really needs to be QB2 behind a good rookie if we can get one in the draft. Or QB1 for another year while we groom a rookie for the starting role.
 

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I'm tired of blowing it up just to have to start all over, too.

But, I'm also tired of incompetent picks. Rivera went to the Carolina well so many times we all knew it wasn't going to work. He was fired from there because of his losing record so why bring the same people up here with you if you're trying to win?

Turner needs to go. I don't think he can or will change his ways. He thinks he's smarter than the game and continuously goes away from what works. Every single week we all see plays where we just go "what? Why?!!" and shake our heads as we either turn it over or stall out. I think that's just burned in to who he is. His dad was the same way.

Del Rio can change if he wanted to. He has the talent on the team and the fire to get them going. If he would just stop only rushing four and dropping in to zone constantly! My gosh! People have figured our DL out and it's not even close now. Blitz now and then! Play some press coverage!! When he does it, it works.
 

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