A lot has been made of the fact that the Redskins don't have very many playmakers of offense.
The story coming into the season was that, in getting Donovan McNabb, the Redskins hadn't done enough in terms of surrounding him with weapons. In short, the only weapons most people thought were consist on the offense were running back Clinton Portis, wide receiver Santana Moss, and tight end Chris Cooley.
Now, as the season has begun to wind down, many hope and believe Moss will resign with the club next year, and that Portis will either stick with the team, or retire as a Redskins.
But one of the more odd, bizarre things that has begun to spring up since last year, has been the stunning number of so-called "hardcore" fans that want to see Captain Chaos himself traded away in the coming season, as they view him as the most expendable member of a football team that is starved for weapons.
On Redskins message boards, in Bleacher Report's comment sections, and even amongst the Twitterverse, there is a contigent of fans who have looked at the Redskins roster and deemed Cooley the most expendable member of the Redskins roster.
The consensus seems to be that, while Cooley is a great Redskin, he should make way for the two younger tight ends in Fred Davis and Logan Paulsen. He's viewed as the only member of the team that could fetch a "high draft pick", and the team must get younger if it's ever going to get better.
As I was when Jason Campbell was traded away, I am truly and wholly baffled by the latest rumbling in Redskins Nation.
Cooley (who is only 28, mind you--there are far older tight ends in the league still playing) has been one of the most consistent, dynamic, and impactful players on the team since he was drafted in 2004, and is one of the few bright spots in what has been twenty years of truly miserable draft choices.
He has averaged 58 receptions a season in his seven seasons with the football team. He has 405 receptions for 4,475 yards and 32 touchdowns. In seven seasons, he's only fumbled the ball eleven times. He's only lost four of those fumbles.
Captain Chaos should really be named Captain Consistency. He is definitely a character and has a great personality, but he does not allow that to effect his play on the field. He works hard, and plays hard, and if he had a couple Super Bowl rings, people would be talking about him as a potential Hall of Famer with the level of play he's maintained.
Can someone explain why we'd want to let a piece like Cooley go?
Many will point to last season when they say that Cooley is the most expendable piece. If his stead, tight end Fred Davis picked up the slack at the tight end spot when Cooley was placed on IR with a season ending ankle injury. Davis finished the season with 48 receptions for 509 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Some were calling for Cooley to get shipped off during the 2009 season after Davis' performance. Head coach Mike Shanahan wisely chose not to go down that road and instead kept Cooley and Davis, along with drafting Logan Paulsen.
Paulsen has been seeing increasing playing time as the Redskins have started working out of more two-or-three tight end sets.
With two younger tight ends on the team, it would seem that Cooley would be the first on the chopping block if the Redskins are rebuilding, right?
While Davis has been a good prospect, he has been inconsistent in his playing time. Specifically, when Cooley has been out of games dealing with minor problems, or bigger problems like concussions, Davis becomes exposed in Shanahan's Zone Blocking Scheme. Davis is not a very good run or pass blocker, and this season, he has had several McNabb passes hit him square in the hands that he hasn't hauled in, including two 2-point conversions in the game versus the Detroit Lions that could've made that debacle into a win.
And Paulsen is an even bigger unknown quantity. Redskins fans seemingly love the guys on the bench (I though we weren't supposed to act like Philly fans...), but before people start getting high on Paulsen, it needs to be remembered that the young man only has two receptions in his very young career.
Cooley has become a very good run and pass blocker on a team that needs help on it's offensive line. He's shown himself to be a completely stand-up guy, a leader, a funny guy, and someone who will shoot straight from the hip about where the team is and where it's going.
And while he may not have all the touchdowns he did in previous seasons, he still has 62 receptions for 682 yards, and has accounted for 32 first downs for the football team. In a Redskins world of inconsistent guys, when Cooley is given his opportunities, he takes advantage.
Cooley ranks 2nd in the entire NFL in catches, and 4th in yards.
So the question becomes again--why would we get rid of Chris Cooley?
I mentioned Campbell before, and I think a lot of the same thing is happening now. Jason Campbell, for as much as he was thoroughly maligned, was pretty consistent for the Redskins. Despite having four offensive coordinators, Campbell's completion percentage went up year after year. His quarterback rating wasn't Tom Brady's, but it was always pretty solid.
Statistically, Campbell had his best season in 2009, when the whole football team was crumbling around him and he was getting pummeled behind his offensive line. But more than anyone, Campbell was pointed to as the only reason why the Redskins failed, and the fanbase convinced itself a change had to be made at that position.
While some viewed the trade for McNabb as a step forward, I honestly feel it was a step back. McNabb's only had a completion percentage over 60 four times in his twelve year career. He'd been in one system his entire career, and he's signicantly older. Campbell could've matured in Shanahan's offense, but for whatever reason, he was shipped off to Oakland.
I fear the same thing is happening now. That Redskins fans have become so resentful of the team's losing ways, that the blame for losing is unfairly put on those who have been there the longest, rather than those who are actually responsible.
You can't rebuild a team without a solid foundation, and it doesn't get a lot more solid than Cooley. He shows every Sunday and busts his butt for the football team. Part of the reason Cooley hasn't gotten more touches and more opportunities in the red zone is because Davis can't block the way Cooley can.
Are we, as fans, so desperate to become good, that we would be willing to trade away a great player? Assuming that Cooley could fetch a 2nd or 3rd round pick in the 2011 draft is a stretch as it is, but a desperate team could instantly have themselves a reliable weapon that could help them win.
And if Paulsen and Davis failed, and Cooley excelled, Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen would immediately be criticized and harassed about how insane they were to let him go in the first place.
Chris Cooley is a Redskin. A true Redskin. There have been so few constants on this clusterfrak of a football team, but there were always at least three people the team could count on. Cooley has been and should be one of them.
I hope that, unlike the unfairly treated Campbell, fans do not start to press the team to make a dumb move. Cooley has been loyal to a football team that hasn't given him a lot in return.
Perhaps it's time we give him some of that loyalty in return.