Friday, September 25, 2009

NFL Week 3 Picks: Is This Season Beyond Rationality?

After an awful perfomance from Football Outsiders (FO) in week 1, they failed to rebound in week 2. The FO system is a chance to see if a rational gambling system works, but my retirement plan is undergoing some changes after 2 weeks. FO has been successful in the past, but in order to rebound from this start, they will have to pick at about 63% the rest of the way to make it back to 55% of the season, which is the threshold for making money from picking game. I don't see it happening....

How will FO respond? After getting beat-up for 2 weeks, a lot of what they thought in the preseason is wrong, so the system now will have trouble determining the good teams from the bad ones. This will cause the system to view the teams as generally equal, which will lead to it taking the points. In layman's terms, the system is in doubt, and when in doubt, take the points. This is exemplified by this week's FO picks featuring only 4 favorites, after selecting only 5 last week. Another interesting point from this week is that FO has no 'high arbitrage' picks, which are basically their locks of the week. Their 'locks of the week' have been 0-2 so far, while their 'reasonable' picks are 3-6 and their 'stay away' picks are 9-12.

Sports Guy's success to date tells me that he is either incredibly irrational, kinda like that friend who you don't want to play poker with because he doesn't care and will bluff or go all-in because he feels like it, or maybe so sane that he just blew our minds?

I also believe FO removes preseason projections after week 3, so I think they could improve at that point. I will also put together a spreadsheet in the near future to go more in-depth on the strengths and weaknesses of FO picks.

The standings:

  1. Sports Guy: 13-3 last week, 24-8 overall (75.0%)
  2. DCLS: 6-10 last week, 17-15 overall (53.1%)
  3. Random monkey throwing shit at a dartboard: 16-16 (50.0%)
  4. Football Outsiders: 7-9 last week, 12-20 overall (37.5%)

As usual, the FO picks are listed in order of confidence, and I have bolded a team wherever I differ (home teams in CAPS).

  1. BUFFALO +6 over New Orleans - Yeah, the Bills have made me look bad, but I'm sticking with NO until I see a real chink in the armor. This is odd, because FO has the Saints as the #1 team so far, and did not have a bad preseason projection for them.
  2. OAKLAND +1.5 Denver - Maybe the NFL can just black this one out for the sake of the fans. FO has the Raiders as their 3rd best pick straight-up, nope, not a typo.

  3. Indianapolis +2.5 over ARIZONA - I think this is a pretty obvious pick despite Arizona having a big game last week.

  4. Cleveland +13.5 over BALTIMORE - The Ravens have been impressive, and although this spread is high, can't you see them giving up under 10. FO only has the Ravens as their 6th best straight-up pick, which is insane given this spread.

  5. MINNESOTA -7 over San Francisco - Tough pick, but still not sold on SF, and neither is FO, as this is their straight-up lock of the week.

  6. ST. LOUIS +7 over Green Bay - I was tempted to take the points, just to have some excuse for saying 'maybe the Skins aren't that bad...'

  7. Jacksonville +4 over HOUSTON - Jags could be falling off a cliff.
  8. Carolina +9 over DALLAS - This line is too high.

  9. NEW ENGLAND -4 over Atlanta - A tough pick, Falcons look like a legit 10+ win team, but I still think the Pats could be elite.

  10. Tennessee +3 over NEW YORK JETS - A tough pick, but I think this will be close, and Sanchez will struggle against the best D he's faced.

  11. Kansas City +9.5 over PHILADELPHIA - The D is great in Philly, and take out a couple first-game turnovers, and Philly played NO very tight.

  12. DETROIT +6 over Washington - I think everyone is picking against us this week, which I kind of like. This is gonna hurt though....FO has us as their 4th worst straight-up pick, despite Detroit being the worst team this season thusfar.

  13. CINCINNATI +4.5 over Pittsburgh - The Bengals, come on!

  14. Chicago -2.5 over SEATTLE - Hasselbeck is out, this one seems pretty obvious. I am surprised this was not much higher up the FO list, but then I remembered that they love the Seahawks.

  15. SAN DIEGO -6 over Miami - I think Miami had a fluky good game and that San Diego is starting to get it together, so I like them, unless Norv Turner screws it all up.

  16. TAMPA BAY +7 over New York Giants - This one could get ugly, the only reason I would say it's even close is that the Giants don't totally destroy teams because of their offense.

Skins are apparently not a lock to win by the metrics or by thine eyes, but should we survive, it is not crazy to think we will be sole-possession of 2nd place in possibly the best division in football.

(Image courtesy of

Friday Furburgers: Why Is Gibbs Getting a Free Pass?

There are three things most Redskins fans, a contentious bunch, can agree upon: 1) Vinny Cerrato is a dunce; 2) Dan Snyder is, um, misguided, and 3) Joe Gibbs is God.

Most of the hysteria this week has focused itself on the team-building abilities of the former two (henceforth, "Snyderrato" or "It"), which closely resembles the levee-building abilities of the US Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans. Snyderrato's star-centric, veteran-reliant philosophy started on Day One of Its tenure with the signings of washed up Bruce Smith, Deion Sanders et al. Then, It brings God back into the fold in '04 and for a moment we thought things would be different forever and ever again. Didn't we?

We are disappointed today to realize they aren't. All this kvetching about old and fragile players, lack of depth, and inability to build through the draft can be traced back to Joe Gibbs himself. The Redskins team that takes the field on Sundays still has Gibbs' fingerprints all over it, both in terms of the guys wearing the B&G jerseys and the talent that could be but isn't. He enabled Snyderrato's free-spending mentality by himself having a bias towards building a team with veteran players.

Let's look at the objective facts. Gibbs traded away a 2nd rounder (Portis trade), a 3rd rounder (Mark Brunell), a 3rd rounder and a 4th rounder (B. Lloyd) and a 4th rounder (TJ Duckett) and oversaw the big $$ handouts to each of these guys (minus Duckett). If these picks had been used on young O-linemen for Bugel to mold over the past few years, would we be looking down the barrell of a 12-gauge right now? Gregg Williams was largely responsible for miscasting key young defensive players as replaceable ones (Ryan Clark, Antonio Pierce), but these moves were ultimately Gibbs' call too and reflect a persistent mentality that "proven" is worth vastly more than unproven. Seems logical, right?

In theory yes, in reality no, and the proof is in the pudding. Gibbs' molding of the modern Redskins is built on the philosophy that 1) character trumps talent, 2) experience trumps youth, 3) getting "your guy" trumps the cost concerns, and 4) loyalty to veterans trumps the uncertainty of draft picks. As a result the Redskins have a starting lineup filled with great character guys who are old and overpaid, and cheap retreads or late-round hopefuls backing them up.

And the two-headed monster in charge doesn't seem to mind a bit. Snyderrato believed in this veteran-first mindset before, for different reasons perhaps, and now after watching Gibbs do in effect the same, It is empowered to continue down this path. Hard to tell, though, if keeping the old and crippled O-line together is a function of Gibbsian loyalty or a symptom of the general ineptitude perpetuated by Snyderrato's more recent decisions. I have my hunches.

I'm not saying this witch hunt should head down NASCAR-way and we pitchfork us some fresh Gibbs meat. His tenure had its successes: it restored organizational credibility, recharged Redskins pride and we won a playoff game! And he's still better than anything that has ever touched the Eagles organization (kiss the rings).

But let's not lose sight of Gibbs 2.0's ultimate failure: the inability to un-Snyderrato Snyderrato. The NFL is, frankly, a different beast than it was in the days Gibbs baked the victory cakes. Today, we're tasting the bitter result of a Betty Crocker formula mixed with too much sugar and icing and not enough of that moist fluffy dough inside. And the bakers still think they're doing it right.

Marinate on that a little bit this weekend while you're browsing the interwebz. Without further ado, and with no logical Segway necessary, your Friday Furburgers: links from the week, for the weekend.

Redskins Mass Hysteria.
East Coast Bias

Redskins Mass Hysteria: Redskins Alumns edition.
Lovey Land

Peter King thinks the Lions will snap their 19-game losing streak against the 'Skins Sunday. I think Peter King will snap his child's finger off for a snack some day. See what I did there?
FanNation | The Peter King Challenge

The Redskins aren't the only mess under Dan Snyder's charge. Further proof that he's pretty much the exact opposite of Midas.
The Curly R

Translating Jim Zorn's 4th down calls into Geek. Allow me to retranslate: he made the right calls decisions.
Advanced NFL Stats

Moving along now to the Redskins' smarter, cooler, awesomer brother: The Caps. Per Coach Bruce Boudreau, even the youngsters have "championship blood." I got chills...we'll have more on this soon.
Capitals Insider

Scott Burnside provides a pretty smart season preview, minus the "a Cup visit isn't yet in the cards" business.

Caps minor league enforcer Brandon Sugden squares off with former Cap and reigning NHL heavyweight Donald Brashear twice in preseason action Thursday. Rangers 3, Caps 2.
Japers' Rink

Lil' guy (5' 9", 160 lbs) and uber-skilled prospect, C Matthieu Perrault, is proving he belongs...if not now then very soon. And he's pretty psyched about it, duh.
On Frozen Blog

Wizards using stats now.
Bullets Forever

Nats lose 100 for second straight year. I did not see this coming.
SB Nation

Ridiculous '80s dating video montage, featuring Vinny Cerrato ("I operate a damsel in distress hotline") around the 2:05 mark.
Daily Motion

Thursday, September 24, 2009


The inevitable has become official, the Nats lost their 100th game of the season tonight, dropping a "heartbreaker" (or what would be considered a heartbreaker if wins and losses actually mattered this year) to the Dodgers, 7-6. What does this mean other than the Nats' record doesn't fit well onto the ESPN headline anymore?

Not much really, 100 is an arbitrary milestone that has been coming to this team since before the season started. The Nats are 37 games out of first (sliding pass the O's and into sole possession of 'most games out of first place'), have the worst run differential in the league, and are 4.5 games ahead of the Pirates in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes. With 10 games left in the season and on pace for 107 losses, the Nats are all but assured of the worst record in the league, which means we will have to endure another Strasburg-esque contract negotiation with Harper. At least the team is not historically bad.

Up I-95, the O's have managed a pathetic 90 losses thusfar, and I don't mean pathetic as in they are not as good at stockpiling losses as the Nats, if that is a skill, but that the O's are also awful, with the 3rd worst record in baseball and on pace for 98 losses (yeah, 98+107=205, which=steaming pile of crap).

When do pitchers and catchers report for spring training?

(Image courtesy of AP Photo via

10 Reasons (and more) to love Olaf Kolzig

With all the hype surrounding the Washington Capitals net these days, it's easy for some fans stuck in the here-and-now to lose sight of what Olaf Kolzig meant to the Washington Capitals. Godzilla retired yesterday, closing the book on a 17-year career. All but one of those seasons was spent as a member of the Capitals.

(Getty Images, via The Hockey News)

Through times flush and lean, Olie was there between the pipes. There was the time he stopped 62 Pittsburgh Penguins shots one morning in 1996, before he was pierced in the fourth overtime by Peter Nedved. There was also the time he backstopped the Capitals on their thrilling 1998 cup run that transformed the big German from bearded unknown to cult hero in the span of a few weeks.

From Bondra and Oates, to Jagr and Lang, to Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom and Green, Olie was there.

From Schoenfeld to Wilson, from Cassidy to Hanlon and finally to Boudreau, Olie was there.

From Hunter to Oates, to Konowalchuck and Witt, to Halpern and to Clark, six different Capitals wore the 'C' during Kolzig's tenure, but there was rarely any doubt about who the team's true captain was. Olie was a leader, prone to wearing his heart on his goal stick, just as likely to set the the emotional pitch for the locker room by smashing a twig over the crossbar as he was by making a clutch save.

Kolzig won 301 games as a member of the Capitals organization. Along the way, there were some memorable moments that, by virtue of the fact that Olie never won a Stanley Cup, won't end up being featured on an NHL Network retrospective.

We'd like to take the opportunity to look back at 10 of the moments that defined Olie Kolzig's career with the Capitals.

10. Olie the Romantic

Before Alex Ovechkin rode a zamboni down Broadway, Olie the Goalie had dinner with his "wife." This advertising campaign, which premiered in the early aughts, reflected a new marketing strategy for the Capitals, led by new-media visionary Ted Leonsis. It emphasized the personalities of the players, including at least one of whom spent most of his time here behind a Godzilla facemask. Kolzig -- an affable guy off-ice who cleans up well -- was the most recognizable member of the Caps until he passed the torch to No. 8. How's that working out so far?

9. Kolzig Keeps it Real

Late in the 2006-07 season, things were pretty grim for the Capitals. On their way to a 28-40-14 record under Glen Hanlon, getting smoked by a team like Atlanta, at home, was becoming a regular occurrence. But towards the end of one such encounter, Kolzig reminded all of us what we grew to love most about him: he was a fighter. He was resilient. And most of all, he was fiery. He didn't appreciate Jim Slater running him in the crease, and he let him know it.

8. 1998 Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Ottawa
(Watch from 1:24)

Before Semyon Varlamov recorded two shutouts against the New York Rangers last spring, no Capitals netminder in recent history had ever dominated a post-season opponent like Olaf Kolzig did the Ottawa Senators in 1998. He allowed seven goals in five games; after the Senators clawed their way back into the series with a 4-3 Game 3 victory, Kolzig posted shutouts in Game 4 and the deciding Game 5. Some of the saves he made along the way weren't too shabby, either.

7. Marathon Shootout Win vs. Edmonton

On January 17, 2008, the Edmonton Oilers came to Verizon Center. After skating to a 4-4 tie through regulation and overtime, the two teams engaged in a shootout for the ages. Dwayne Roloson for the Oilers vs. Olaf Kolzig. For those who say the shootout is meaningless, don't tell that to Kolzig. With questions beginning to surface about Kolzig's game, No. 37 stopped all 11 Oilers shooters before Matt Bradley put Washington ahead.

6. Olie Wins the Vezina

In the 1999-00 season, Kolzig played in 73 games, ever the workhorse that he was. In those games, he went 41-20-11 with a 2.24 GAA, a .917 save percentage, and five shutouts. For his efforts, he was named the league's top goalie, the second Capital to earn that distinction after Jim Carey won in 1995-96.

"Coming into the year, it was going to be a major chore just to make the playoffs; I wasn't too concerned about the Vezina Trophy," Kolzig told Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post. "That's what a lot of teamwork will do and a lot of pride. I was fortunate to play behind the guys I play behind."

5. Olie vs. Byron Dafoe

Just before Thanksgiving 1998, the Capitals and Boston Bruins -- playoff rivals from the year before -- squared off in a game that would result in 12 ejections and 259 penalty minutes. In the midst of this epic fracas, Bruins goalie Byron Dafoe (himself a former Cap) grabbed Caps captain Dale Hunter. From 200 feet away, Kolzig saw this: no effing way, he must have thought to himself. Before long, the two goaltenders were throwing haymakers. Did I mention that Dafoe had months earlier been the Best Man at Kolzig's wedding? The good news is, it didn't affect their long-term relationship. See below.

4. Olie’s All-Stars

For all the impact Kolzig made on the ice in Washington, his quality as a human being is perhaps his greatest legacy. The Olie's All-Stars program was a staple at the MCI/Verizon Center for nearly a decade. But after Kolzig's son, Carson, was discovered to have autism, the goaltender founded Athletes Against Autism, along with Byron Dafoe and Scott Mellanby, to help raise money to fight the disorder. We're not going to try to get all sentimental about it, just watch this...

...and then go here. Kolzig was awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for his humanitarian efforts in 2006. If you asked Kolzig what he's more grateful for in his playing career -- the 303 wins or the King Clancy -- it's tough to say which he'd pick.

3. Diving glove save vs. Pittsburgh

Unless you were at MCI Center on March 4, 2001, or watching on ESPN2 that night, you're going to have to trust us on this one. It was during the final seconds of that game, with the Capitals ahead 4-3 thanks to two third-period goals by Richard Zednik, that Kolzig made one of the most brilliant saves of his career against the Penguins. When it looked as though the Pens were about to tie the game, Kolzig rebuffed them.

Here's how Jason La Canfora described it in the Washington Post:

Kolzig took over from there, saving the game with 17 seconds to play, with Penguins center Jan Hrdina staring at an empty net. Kolzig was manning the far post, his back to the shooter. But the goalie turned, dived and flung his glove at Hridna's shot. Hrdina raised his arms in jubilation and the goal light burned behind Washington's net -- "I thought it was in," Hrdina said -- but the puck had never crossed the line, the victim of an unfathomable save.

"You never think a guy can make a save like that," said Penguins winger Kevin Stevens, who also celebrated the near-goal.

"It was pure desperation, honestly," Kolzig said. "Just throw a body part out there and hope it hits you. I do that a number of times in practice and it doesn't pan out. If he shoots it along the ice it's in the net; maybe it's a reversal of fortune for us."

2. Olie's Swansong

With Cristobal Huet already sharing Kolzig's net, the goaltender's days in Washington were nearing an end. Thanks to a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames on March 12, 2008, Kolzig earned his 300th win in Capital red. It was Kolzig's penultimate victory in a Capitals sweater, and his final milestone achievement. By listening to Kolzig's postgame valedictory with Al Koken, he seemed to know it.

1. Olie Outduels the Dominator
(Most critical save in Capitals history occurs at the 6-minute mark)

After dispatching the Bruins and Senators, the Capitals were met with Dominik Hasek and the Buffalo Sabres in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals. Not only was Buffalo considered a team on the rise, but their all-world goaltender, Dominik Hasek, had won Olympic gold for the Czech Republic in Nagano earlier that year. Suffice it to say, Kolzig was the second-best goalie in this matchup. But he didn't play like it. Kolzig was a battler throughout the hard-fought series. His performance was typified by a number of breathtaking stops, none more critical than the save he made in the opening minutes of overtime. Check out the six-minute mark of the video: if Kolzig's toe doesn't get back to cover the far post, that puck goes in the net, the Sabres tie the series at 3, and the series heads to Washington for Game 7. Luckily, the 6-foot-4 Kolzig has big feet to match his lightning reflexes, and, moments later, Joe Juneau potted the winner.


The Capitals would go on to be swept by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals. It was the closest Kolzig would ever come to winning Lord Stanley. Now, the franchise whose record books are filled with Kolzig's name is poised for greatness, and while he's no longer on the ice, he's should remain in the consciousness of Caps Nation. Someday, his No. 37 will rightly hang above the Verizon Center ice. It would be nice if he was there to help raise it, along with a Stanley Cup banner, when that day arrives.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

DCLS Exclusive Interview with Washington Wizard Nick Young: Nicknames, The Dunk Contest, and Locker Room Pranks

Finally, here is the final installment of The DCLS exclusive interview with Nick Young, who we will be checking-in with throughout the season. For those of you who missed part 1, and part 2, the interview has been broken into 3 installments, with this being the final portion. This part is my favorite, as Nick and I covered locker room pranks, his nickname, and the dunk contest.

(Note: edited to add a couple questions after a brief conversation with Nick tonight)

DC Landing Strip: Your nickname is The City, but it took me awhile to figure out that that came from your initials, because you’re not from New York. Who came up with that nickname? Do you even like it?
Nick Young: The City, yeah, yeah, it’s a cool nickname. You know I think the Post or someone (came up with it). I grew up in LA, from LA, born in LA. I’ve just got the NY initials.

DCLS: Do you have one of those I Love New York shirts? Because that would be awesome.
NY: Hell yeah (that would be awesome), and even make some of those with my picture in it. We gotta sell those.

1st Product of the DCLS T-Shirt Store?

DCLS: So what do you think of the DC Landing Strip nickname we created for you, Young Eazy, versus The City, which one is better?
NY: Aw, I dunno. I like Young Eazy, you know it’s kinda got that Weazy kind Eazy feel to it.

DCLS: How are we gonna spell it?
NY: I dunno, I like the ZY, I’m gonna go ZY, gonna make it look funky.

DCLS: Done and done. How about Agent Double-0, cuz you're twice the man Gil is?
NY: Yeah it's cool, it's cool, I wanna let Gil think about it, I'd do that just to be funny with him, cuz I'm the bigger man. It's up there, I like Double-Zero because I wanna get a response from everybody, but I still like Young Eazy too.

DCLS: Any other nicknames we should consider?
NY: Young Sushi, because I'm raw. Sometimes people say that when I'm in the gym.

DCLS: What's the best locker room prank you’ve ever seen?
NY: Probably Gil, he gotta do it all the way. Tearing people’s clothes up, and having nothing to wear home but your uniform. Oh man, jumping us and throwin’ us in the cold pool. It’s a lot you know, all I have to say is probably ripping your clothes up and having to go home in your uniform.

DCLS: He rips them up? He doesn’t just steal, he rips them?
NY: Yeah yeah, just cuts ‘em up. You know you have a nice suit, and he just cut it up.

DCLS: Speaking of Gil, what do you think of what he said last week about the team not holding him back from training?
NY: Wait, what'd he say? I seriously dunno, I didn't have the internet. What'd he say?

DCLS: Either you just sit and read a book all day, or the Wiz PR staff has trained you well. Who would win a Wizards team dunk contest? You gotta be the heavy favorite, but who do you think would at least compete with you?
NY: Probably gonna say McGee. The (tall guys) don’t look so good when they compete. So I’d come out on top, probably Dominic, and depending on how Gil feels, he got a little sneaky bounce to him. Oh and Javaris, Javaris can jump a little bit.

DCLS: So you would be first and who would be 2nd?
NY: I have to go McGee.

DCLS: McGee? I woulda gone Andray. He’s a good athlete, and I feel like he can throw some between the legs kinda thing.
NY: Who, Andray?!? Naw, naw, naw, naw. He can (jump), but he ain’t that creative. He can jump though.

DCLS: You know what you need to do, you guys should have a team dunk contest and put it on youtube and get you in the dunk contest when you win.
NY: That’d be good. I’m down, I’m down, I wanna get in.

DCLS: Do you have any personal goals for the season, stats?
NY: Just winnin’ the dunk contest!

Ed. Note: Feel free to leave any nickname ideas in the comments section.

(Image courtesy of

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Do the Redskin Cornerbacks Really Suck? The Metrics Answer

The Redskin CBs were a very strong group last year, particularly with Shawn Springs healthy, and even seemed to become a (gasp!) playmaking unit when DeAngelo Hall was added to the mix. In the Redskin way of royally fucking up in the offseason, the reliable veteran, Shawn Springs, was unceremoniously released, and the flashy big-name, Hall, was given a fat new contract.

Since then, the group has come under fire early this season, which seems to represent the fruits of 'the Redskin way'. "Under fire" is also probably an appropriate term, as that is what causes this. Given the varying perception of the top-3 corners, Hall, Carlos Rogers, and Fred Smoot, I decided to dig into the Football Outsiders (FO) metrics to get a better idea of what kind of talent the Redskins possess. Unfortunately, FO does not maintain individual player stats yet on their site, despite my yearly monetary commitment for premium content. Fortunately, I have kept the FO books from 2007, 2008, and 2009, so have been able to create the following spreadsheet:

The abbreviations are confusing, so here is an explanation:

vs Pass Stats:

Tgts - Targets: Numbers of times a pass thrown to a player the CB was covering.

Succ % Rk - Success % Rank: FO tracks the # of times a pass targeted toward the CB is complete, with an incomplete considered a success for the CB. I have removed the raw success % and simply kept the ranking amongst all CBs, with 1 being the best.

Adj Yd Rk - Adjusted Yards Rank: Adjusted yards is the average number of yards per completed pass against the CB, adjusted for opponent (not specific receiver covering though). The fewer yards per pass, the better. As with success rate, this is a ranking amongst all CBs, with 1 being the best.

PD+Int - Passes Defended plus Interceptions: Number of passes defended plus interceptions. I am using this as a way to determine the 'playmaking' ability of the CB.

vs Run Stats:

Yd Rk - Yards Rank: Yards is the average number of yards per run stopped by the CB. The fewer yards per run, the better. This is a ranking amongst all CBs, with 1 being the best. This does not account for missed tackles (stop smiling DeAngelo).

St% Rk - Stop % Rank: Stop % is the % of run plays involving the CB that prevent the offense from from having a successful run, as determined by down and distance (2 yards on 1st down would be a stop, but 2 yards on 4th and 1 would not). The higher the Stop %, the better. This is a ranking amongst all CBs, with 1 being the best. This does not account for missed tackles.

So what does this chart tell us for each player?

DeAngelo Hall - While he has steadily improved in success % and adjusted yards in the 3 years analyzed against #1 WRs, he is still not an elite corner. In addition, his run defense has steadily declined and never been great. The good news is that while Hall would have ranked 51st and 53rd in success % and adjusted yards for his 9 weeks in Oakland, he would have ranked 14th and 4th in those same categories for his 7 weeks in DC; so he was pretty awesome for us last year, but that seems to be a bit of a fluke coming from an easy schedule, easy role against non-#1 WRs, and playing for his career in some ways. There are technically 32 #1 CBs, but he is clearly on the fringe of this group and should be considered as a great #2, or a bad #1, and nowhere near worthy of his contract. As a comparison, Asante Samuel ranked 22nd and 29th in success % and adjusted yards last year, while being a much better ballhawk and earning similar money.

Carlos Rogers - Firstly, it is very easy to forget that he is 28 this season, and is 2 years older than Hall. Rogers played like an okay #2 in 2006, but took a huuuuge leap in 2007 before succumbing to injury. The asterisks in the chart are because he did not play enough to qualify for the rankings, but his success rate would have been the best in the a mile. His success rate was 66%, with second place a distant 61%. This was no fluke, as his adjusted yards would have ranked 4th and made him arguably the best CB in the NFL for the time he played. I did not research his ranking for the run, but want to show that his raw numbers improved and that he has steadily progressed and become a good corner against the run. So he was elite in 2007, but what happened in 2008? We all know Rogers started off as great, then had a rough 2nd half (you could insert almost any Redskin into that sentence instead of Rogers). His numbers are still good though, showing him to be a solid #1 CB and despite criticisms, being about as much of a ballhawk as DeAngelo. I would imagine that his first half numbers were again elite, and the 2nd half more befitting of a fringe #1 CB. The big question is why he was better in the 1st half of the season coming off an injury; shouldn't it have been the other way around?

Fred Smoot - Bet you didn't know little Fred Smoot was the best CB against the run in 2007, and is consistently elite against the run. Unfortunately for Smooty, CBs don't keep their pockets straight from stopping the run. One should also note that Smoot's numbers are probably not as great as they appear, because he has covered #2 or #3 WRs in those 3 years charted, so has had easier competition. That said, in very limited time in 2007, his numbers were phenomenal as a nickel corner, but he fell off a cliff last year. His run numbers were still strong, but his pass numbers from 2008 are Leigh Torrence-esque. He did face a few #2 WRs last year with Springs hurt and DeAngelo not yet on the team, but those numbers still suck. For that type of performance, the Redskins could employ a younger, cheaper, and I would usually say better player, but Justin Tryon and Kevin Barnes are about as good as tackling dummies right now.

So what have we learned here? DeAngelo Hall was/is/will continue to be an abortion for the money we are paying him. Yes, he seems to be a 'playmaker', but he fails to stop the offense from moving the ball. He was great for us over 7 weeks, but has already shown that to be the exception to the rule. Meanwhile, Carlos Rogers has seemingly outplayed Hall against the pass and run, but struggled with injuries. Did anyone else notice that Rogers, and not Hall, covered the Rams #1 WR Donnie Avery (the fact that he is a #1 is not a typo)? Rogers is a bigger guy, so can theoretically cover bigger WRs better than Hall, but it was DeAngelo who was assigned to the larger Laurent Robinson. The result: Avery had 1 catch and Robinson, well, he had 6 catches and a TD. In fairness, Rogers did give-up a short pass in his zone on another play, but he was superb on Sunday in an easy matchup. It would appear that Rogers, and not Hall, deserves that contract.

Not all is bad for the Skins though, because we do have a great pair of starting CBs. This sentiment is echoed by FO metrics showing that last year's pass D was very good against WRs despite Springs missing time, Smoot sucking, and Hall missing half the season. The problem, as it has been for years with almost every unit, is that we have no depth. If Rogers or Hall gets hurt, Smoot, Tryon, or Barnes will be incredibly overmatched. I shudder to think what would happen if Rogers walks at the end of this season; the Skins will have a bad #1 and the Tryon-Barnes pu-pu platter. I love Smooty, but we are probably a #3 CB short of being an elite unit right now, and an injury away from being horrific. As long their health holds-up though, our group is pretty good; the problem is that football is a contact sport, and DeAngelo Hall's contract may prevent us from keeping the real #1 CB on our roster.

Monday, September 21, 2009

DCLS Exclusive Interview with Washington Wizard Nick Young: Part 2 of 3

I apologize for keeping everyone waiting, but here is part 2 of The DCLS exclusive interview with Nick Young, who we will be checking-in with throughout the season. For those of you who missed part 1, the interview has been broken into 3 installments. In this portion, we discussed Nick's thoughts on the upcoming season.

DC Landing Strip: Who is the X-Factor for the Wizards this season? And let’s pretend that the DCLS didn’t already bestow this honor upon you….
Nick Young: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m gonna say I have to be the X-Factor, cuz I think they need me right now. If I’m doing my shine on, everything’s flowin’, we lookin’ good right now, you know, I’m gonna be that little sparkplug, I should be alright........I come with a highlight dunk that get the whole gym going, it should be good you know.

DCLS: I like that, calling Verizon Center “The Gym”, they usually save that for high school and college courts. So after summer league, who do you think the most improved or surprising player on the team is going to be this season?
NY: Probably just Gil coming back 100%. He’s been looking great (this summer). So I think he’d be the most improved and what everybody's been looking for.

DCLS: Does Gil still talk as much smack?
NY: Yeah, he’s still Gil. He got even worse now in the summer. He’s calling me every day and telling me about a move he did on somebody and how they feel and all that, so it sounds like he’s back.

DCLS: What is your prediction for the Wizards this year or what is your goal?
NY: Playoffs you know, its gonna be a big turnaround from last year you know. I see us going deep in the playoffs if not making it to the finals. It depends on how well we jell, if everyone jell together, we gonna be great. In the finals, anything can happen in there….If we jellin’, if we jellin’. If we playing like everybody getting long and no complexes, we gonna be good.

DCLS: Any thoughts on Flip Saunders?
NY: He was out there on summer league with us, so we practiced and all that stuff. He’s lookin’ like a great coach, just working with us and trying to get everybody better. Being in everybody’s mind, same mind, you know, makes a big difference. Every other week he’s texting us, motivating us, there’s a lot of good ones on the playoffs.

DCLS: What is your career highlight? College, pro…..
NY: I’d probably have to say the 33 back-to-back. Also, in college, just making it to the tournament, the whole atmosphere was fun for me. You know, probably getting drafted, getting drafted was like a dream.

DCLS: So what is your career goal?
NY: Just to be remembered really. You know, I just wanna get in there, get my name out there. Small kids be like “I’m doin the Nick Young” you know. Just probably being remembered.

Ed. note: Check back later this week for the conclusive Part 3 of the interview. Locker room hijinks, Nick's preferred nickname, and of course his thoughts on the dunk contest.

(Image courtesy of

Fast Facts

Did you know...

  • the last time the Redskins won a game without scoring a touchdown was their 2005 season opener against the Chicago Bears? Final Score: Skins 9 - Bears 7.
  • the Redskins advanced to the Divisional Round of the Playoffs that year?
  • the Redskins have only allowed 10 points total in their last 2 home games, dating back to last season?
  • Santana Moss is mired in one of his worst 2-game stretches as a Redskin? He has his least amount of receiving yards (41) since a brutal 2-week span in 2007 that included an extremely costly fumble.
  • before this year, Chris Cooley's best start to a season was in 2008, when he caught 7 passes for 79 yards? Thus far in 2009: 14 catches for 151 yards and a TD.
  • with just the right amount of alcohol, blog-reading, pensiveness, and baseless trash-talking from illiterate Eagles fans, a Redskin fan is capable of convincing himself that his team is headed for doom, or that this year it actually has what it takes to win the Super Bowl? Thank you for joining me at 3 am this morning, people. know...just so you know.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Randy Thomas Out For Season, Will Anyone Notice?

As some of you may have seen, starting RG Randy Thomas tore his triceps (again), and is out for the season. As if this 'win' could get any worse.

At 33 years old and following 3 consecutive injury-plagued years, this looks like the end of his time in DC as a starter, and possibly the end of his time in DC period. Despite being one of the ill-fated "JetSkins", he was a very good player who gave us a couple pro-bowl caliber seasons. He can still play a bit, but relying on a guy who has been so injury prone and isn't cheap just doesn't seem smart, and even beyond the lunacy of Vinny and Danny. From the information I can find on his contract, he is 3 years into a 6-year deal that included a $10 million signing bonus, so the Skins are still on the hook for $5 million over 3 years, which is a pretty light hit if we do cut him.

Will Montgomery stepped-in today and didn't stick-out, which is a good sign. This may also help an ancient O-line get younger, now down to only one old and brittle member. Would I rather still have Thomas playing instead of Montgomery? Of course, but maybe this isn't all bad. Montgomery is a journeyman who has been cut by 2 other teams, but we have been running mostly to the left, so Montgomery may have a relatively easy role. Now if we'd only drafted Michael Oher, Jeff Otah, Sam Baker, Ryan Clady......

(Image courtesy of

Week 2: Redskins 9, Rams 7 - Knee Jerk Reactions

Football season is under way! The hair pulling, TV-screaming, remote control throwing and furious cigarette smoking has returned in full force. Before I let rationality cloud my judgment, here are my knee-jerk reactions from the second game of the season:

-This was a win that felt like a loss. The Rams are horrendous, and thanks be to God for that. It's disconcerting to say that, because I don't know how you'd have been able to tell the teams apart today without the different uniforms. Small and steady gains on offense, bend-but-don't-break defense, stalled scoring drives...can you tell who I'm describing?

-Football Outsiders' theory is that blowing out a bad team is a better indicator of future success than barely beating a good team. So, yeah.

-What a boring game.

-Zorn's play-calling was pretty bad. On the goal line in the 3rd quarter, he gave Campbell zero chances to throw it. The kid basically already threw two TD passes, which were dropped (Thomas and Sellers). Let him get his stats! And Jimmy baby, don't call a sweep to the weak side with Betts (STAY IN BOUNDS) when all you need to do is bleed the clock. And don't go for it on 4th and 1 at the end there, that's just asinine. Take the field goal.

-Landry missed Jackson big-time on his long run.

-What's with the fumble-itis? Every other play the ball is squirting loose "after" we're down. Twice in two weeks (Cooley last week, Santana this week), we've been saved by the refs missing actual fumbles. Not to mention the actual, real, documented fumbles.

-Santana Moss is screwing my fantasy team.

-The Three Stooges: Malcolm Kelly (4 rec., 41 yards); Devin Thomas (1 dropped TD); Fred Davis (1 rec. -2 yards). I hate you Vinny Cerrato.

-Randle El is our most consistent wideout to this point.

-Cooley is our best offensive player to this point.

-It's time for television to embrace the video game view. I am aching to know what Campbell is seeing down the field. Is that vaunted Rams secondary shutting everything down or does he just not see open guys? Unless we're at these games, we'll just never know.

-The stats don't lie, to an extent: Campbell was efficient and had his castmembers held on to the ball, he'd have two TDs to show for it.

-More shotgun please.

-A big play please.

-A touchdown please.

-Rogers was charged with shutting down Donnie Avery, their best wideout, because Rogers is our best cornerback, by far. And he succeeded. Meanwhile, big $$ Deangelo Hall got burned again for 7 catches and a touchdown to some guy named Robinson.

-Carrot Top

-Dear Fellow Fans: You boo for bad efforts, not bad execution. I didn't see bad efforts. Dear Fellow Fan sitting by me at bar: Colt Brennan is on IR, and cannot possibly replace Campbell, not to mention how stupid it would be to replace your starting QB while he is having a decent game.

-At the end of the day, the 'Skins are what the scoreboard says. We "almost" had some touchdowns, but good teams don't bother with "almost." They hold on to the ball and punch it in after long drives. They don't let the friggin' Rams convert 50% of their third downs. *sigh* 1-1 heading to Detroit, let's make it an easy one for once, huh?

"If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is there to hear it, will Stephon Heyer still block the wrong guy?"

Happy gameday! Before you have a pre-game heart attack, take a deep breath and watch this video from Funny Danny, who brilliantly summarizes the last 9 months of our lives without Redskins football.

Red Rover prediction: 'Skins - 26, Rams - 19.