Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Redskins Look.........Good?

Okay, so we don't totally suck. I also realize now that last week's Ravens game wasn't boring because the presason is boring, it was boring because the Zornstar and co. walked out at the beginning of the game and took a huge dump on the 50 yard line (actually, that would have been really exciting).

For those of you who missed it, the game opened with a wimpy 3-and-out against the full-strength defending Super Bowl champion defense. But then, a moment of inspiration from Zorn, who had made it relatively clear that he wanted the first-team offense to get a good amount of reps tonight: a fake punt. Not something we would normally want to practice or show, but it allowed JC, CP, and the bunch to get a few more plays...and man did we take advantage. We marched right down the field, having little trouble with the Steelers' rush. Yes, Ladell Betts was stuffed on 2nd and 3rd down from close, but that would usually be Portis, and I wouldn't let those two stuffs override an otherwise great drive against the best team in the league last year. Going for 6 seemed like an easy decision, but I think Zorn wanted to finally get some points on the board and ensure we kept the momentum. The 2nd drive was back to a wimpy 3-and-out, but there was a more than enough there to make me believe in this offense.

The first-team D kept that momentum going from the FG, albeit against a Steelers offense that is far from prolific when full strength, and downright bad without Big Ben...and this is me trying to blockout Byron Leftwich torching us last year. The D line was all over Charlie Batch, with Haynesworth looking well worth his contract. Rak continued to look great with the first teamers. The D also was shredded by the pass on the 2nd drive, but again, you can see this D being an absolute terror.

Yeah, it's the preseason, and the first units each only went 1-for-2, but against a similar opponent from last season, it's hard not to see the strides of progress to the point that we can at least compete with anybody in this league. That all-too familiar taste for Skins fans is hope, but maybe this time we don't have to take it with a grain of salt.

Other notes:
-Kick/punt coverage and returns were awful. This is particularly embarassing when you realize that guys are playing for their jobs on these units.

-Orakpo continues to shine rushing the qb.

-Malcolm Kelly has the best hands on the team.

-Devin Thomas still doesn't look ready and he is running out of time to figure it out.

-DJ Hacket had to make that catch at the end of the 2nd quarter. If he isn't playing teams, and his birth certificate is legit, then he needs to be great as a WR. I am a believer, as he has been a Football Outsiders metric king in the past with great success rates in limited opportunities, but injuries have prevented him from getting taking the next step.

-Marko Mitchell has been getting love from the Wapo and apparently his teammates for the 5th receiver spot, and looked pretty damn good on that TD catch. Even though his feet were a bit sloppy, it was a nice catch.

-Colt Brennan is going to get a run for his money for the 3rd qb spot from Chase Daniel.

-I don't know him personally, but I have to think Fred Davis needed that forced fumble and TD.

(Image courtesy of the AP via

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ray Lewis, Jesus, and...Brian Orakpo?

Let's be real here.

Skepticism of the Redskins' plan to create a special hybrid role for Brian Orakpo, the 13th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft for all you n00bs out there, has been rampant in the annals of the DC Landing Strip.

Let's be real one more time.

Our doubt was, and still may be, legitimate. Read: the Redskins' organization hasn't necessarily been a well-oiled machine since the Snyder era began in June of 1999, or as most of you probably remember it, the first day of elections for the European Parliament. What a crazy day?!

Frankly, there hasn't been much precedent for a stud-college-DE-turned-pro-LB in a 4-3 defense, although the transition has proven successful in several 3-4 schemes. So before we crowned Orakpo the next Terrell Suggs...err DeMarcus Ware...err Joey Porter...err James Harrison...we thought it appropriate to take a few free shots at the top of the Skins organization. A reflex is a reflex, people.

Is it time for us to eat our words?


Before I go any further I must shamelessly admit to a shameful history of jumping ahead of myself in a desperate search for hope in this championship starved sports town. Screw you, at least I'm not an Eagles fan.

And before you read any further swallow this grain of salt: we are only a few weeks of training camp and one preseason game into a very long season of football.

But it appears Brian Orakpo, the same Brian Orakpo of once-speculated-idiotic-creation-of-hybrid-position-in-a-4-3-defense, has brought to the table an element that the Redskins defense has lacked since we lost Sean Taylor* two seasons ago:


Piss-in-your-pants, eyes-in-the-back-of-the-head, alligator-body fear.

(Did you really think this post wouldn't be littered with anti-Philly references? Didn't think so.)

Coaches have been pleased with his progress up to this point but understand there is room for improvement, especially in coverage.

Jim Zorn has acknowledged his exceptional speed and "think[s] we got a player there." Really, coach? I sure hope you did with the 13th overall pick.

One particular play stood out during the Skins excruciatingly boring 23-0 loss to Baltimore. It can be found at the 1:50 mark of this video recap. Orakpo absolutely drills Ravens QB Troy Smith, barely able to release the ball before smacking the turf. That play highlighted the attributes we can only hope Orakpo brings to the table every down on every Sunday: speed, strength, and intimidation.

Jason Campbell marvelled at how we have two players that opposing quarterbacks shutter at the sight of in Orakpo and Big Al Haynesworth. Combine the fear those two instill with an overdue breakout season for LaRon Landry and steady play from the rest of the defense, including a rejuvenated Phillip Daniels, and it looks like the Skins have the makings of a championship caliber defense.

Let's analyze those two words for a minute: championship caliber. The defense was outstanding last year; there is no denying that. But calling it championship caliber would be foolish given the lack of turnovers created and even one guy whom opposing offenses had to game-plan around on EVERY SINGLE PLAY.

This year could be different, and god-willing it will be. The key to it all, though, the Redskins X-Factor, if you're a fan of that cliched term, is Orakpo.

Hell, even a few Skins rookies were hazed today. Among those hazed? Not Orakpo. Perhaps his time is coming, but the only two people I'd be less likely to duct tape to a goalpost than Orakpo are Ray Lewis and Jesus. And I'm a wiz with the duct tape.

UPDATE: Orakpo taped to goal posts. Go figure.

*If you have not seen this video, watch it. And then watch it again. And again. Nothing more cathartic than a tribute to #21 with Enya playing in the background and a box of tissues on hand.

[Title Image via All Hail Redskins]

Whew! That Was Close

The Nationals got it done, as 1st overall pick Stephen Strasburg agreed to terms at literally the 11th hour: 4 years, $15.67 million. The deadline was midnight last night.

The cash monies blew away the previous record contract doled out to a draft pick ($10.5 million for Mark Prior), and yet, Scott Boras is crying and stomping around his office like mommy wouldn't let him get rainbow sprinkles on his ice cream. Com-pro-mize?

And now, consider me a Nats fan. Where do I get my membership card?

Monday, August 17, 2009

ZAUN Trade Completed: O's Receive 1B Prospect John Hughes From Tampa Bay
Rico Fantastic has locked himself in the bathroom and refuses to come out. It's OK, Rico. I'm sure the O's are about to trade Wieters for ZAUN.

Worst Oriole Jerseys Ever

Welcome to the 2nd part in this painful series of worst jerseys for all of our beloved professional DC-area teams. This Oriole list was surprisingly more difficult than the Redskin one; we had far more worthy candidates for our bottom-10 thanks to almost 25 years of misery. I kind of felt like I was on the therapist's couch here, unearthing repressed memories. I learned a lot about myself through this journey.

Again, the criteria for our list is a jersey that would make fellow fans either:

  • Angry
  • Disgusted
  • Think the guy wearing the jersey is an idiot

As before, please note that any jerseys that are funny bad are not included. Our bottom 10 is listed in reverse order (least terrible to most terrible):

10) Armando Benitez #49 - The exact opposite of clutch. He came in during critical playoff games and gave up homers to pipsqueaks like Marquis Grissom and Tony Hernandez. He also gave up the Jeffrey Maier "homer" and cared more about his pitch speed than, you know, getting batters out. He'd be higher on the list if not for his impressive beat-down of some punk-ass Yankees fools in May 1998. I really hated this guy.

9) Ben McDonald #19 - He was supposed to be the next Nolan Ryan. Instead, he was the first Mark Prior. Amnesia is the only excuse for owning this jersey.

8) David Segui #23 - Beefed up on ol' Vitamin S then stole a huge contract at the end of his career from the O's. I used to call him "Popcorn Man" when I was a kid because he looked like a classmate of mine who always smelled like popcorn. That's irrelevant information, but the point is: screw that smelly kid.

7) Adam Loewen #29 - A monumental pitching bust. The lanky canuck finally gave up pitching and in a gentlemen's agreement with the O's, opted out of his Major League contract to sign a minor league one and learn to hit. After milking O's instructional league coaches for hitting tips, he reneged on his word and fled to the Blue Jays. So in sum, he robbed the O's of $4 million, never panned out, then stabbed them in the back. Good times.

6) Curt Schilling #43 - Mike Mussina, Jimmy Key, Scott Erickson, David Wells, and Schilling rounded out the rotation of the 1997 World Series Champion Baltimore Orioles, who went wire-to-wire first place before crushing the Marlins in 4 games in the Series. What a year! Except it didn't happen, because O's brass thought it prudent to mortgage the future (Steve Finley and Pete Harnisch were also shipped away) in 1990 for 3 abysmal seasons from...

5) Glenn Davis #37 - The "worst Oriole ever", this shmuck was supposed to be the power bat to get the Birds over the hump, and instead all he did was hump the trainer's table in between his infrequent and feeble at-bats. 24 HRs in 3 years before finally retiring...pretty sure Jeff Reboulet accomplished that in the late-'90s.

4) Sammy Sosa #21 - Buying this jersey was like voting for Bush in '04: if you didn't see the epic failure coming, you were a moron. The steroids were clearly wearing off at the end of his Cubs tenure, and he became another in a long line of over-the-hill veterans Angelos tried to plug in to milk a few more jersey sales wins from a broken roster. A line that started with:

3) Albert Belle #88 - Ended up as the worst contract in franchise history and one of the worst in MLB history. In addition to being an asshole, he barely played and succeeded in using a ton of our salary space for his giant ego/contract when a hip injury ended his career.

2) Tony Tarasco #1 - This is nothing against Tony, but this jersey can only bring the most painful memory in Oriole history, of that little anti-christ Jeffrey Maier stealing the ball over the wall to gift Jeter a HR and all but end the Orioles best chance at a championship since 1983.

1) Derek Jeter #2 - What is this all about? FTW:

Worst Orioles Jersey Ever. Please revoke this man's fan card. via Mr. Irrelevant.


Dishonorable Mention:

Larry Bigbie #3 - Did anyone get on this bandwagon? I hope not and this serves as a reminder of the years when a mediocore prospect was the best we had on an already bad team. Also: Mitchell Report.

Jay Gibbons #31 - Would have made the bottom-10, but I just feel bad for the guy now.

Miguel Tejada #10 - Yeah, he did steroids and lied about his age, but gave us some great service.

Sir Sidney Ponson #43 - The same as Tejada, but a more unlikeable guy. He performed at or above expectations while he was here and then proceeded to pain the Yankees as a member of their team, which barely kept him out of the bottom-10.

Brady Anderson #9 - Steroids and the self-promotion that led to gay rumors. I would liken the Brady Anderson era to the dutch rudder, it was fun (and not gay), but there was something very wrong about it.

Rodrigo Lopez #13 - Another great example of false hope. After bursting onto the scene in 2002 with 15 wins and finishing 2nd in the ROY voting to Eric Hinske (probably not a good sign in retrospect), saw his peripherals and performance decline and had a generally mediocore Oriole career. And now, he has a world series ring.....for Philly. Not to be confused with a Super Bowl ring.

Kris Benson #34 - When a rebuilding team trades a young starter (John Maine) for a mediocre, injury-prone 30-year-old, he had better have more than a smokin' hot wife. Unfortunately, that's about all Kris brought to the table.

Jeffrey Hammonds #11 - A fine career, but nothing close to the hope he instilled in Oriole fans as our savior.


So what do you think? Anyone we missed or who doesn't belong? Will the boiling water I'm about to pour down my throat hurt more than this list?