Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Start Your Office Pools: When Will the Wizards Get Their First Road Win?

Oh and fifteen 
Zero for 15

29 games into the season, the Wizards are 7-22, holding worst record in the East, and 2nd-worst in the entire league ahead of only the 5-23 Kings (one of those 5 Kings wins was over the Wiz too). That is bad, but 0-15 on the road is a turd sandwich. For those of you curious, according to wikipedia, the worst road record ever also belongs to this franchise: the '53-'54 Baltimore Bullets went 0-20 on the road. What is it about changing that name back?

Eh, isn't 0-20 coming up soon?

This season has long been chalked up (down?) to rebuilding, so I say we should enjoy the futility while we can......with a pool! Pools are good for babies, March Madness, swimming, they never fail. The Wiz 'only' have 27 road games left, so get started!

Call me crazy, but I think the Wiz may actually win a road game soon, and I don't mean by the end of the season. We get the 76ers on January 5th, and have 2 of our 7 wins against them already, and then follow that game with a trip to Charlotte on the 8th, and then 8-24 Minnesota on the 13th. After that, our next good shot is February 13th against the Cavs, but that's the 2nd night of a back-to-back, so scratch that one. If we don't win one of the Philly, Charlotte, or T'Wolves games, then this could get very hairy very quickly.

Will we be favored in any of those games? Hell no! If anyone gets a pool going though, put me down for Philly.

(Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Week 16: Redskins 20, Jaguars 17: Knee Jerk Reactions

The Redskin's season is almost mercifully over! Before I let rationality cloud my judgment, here are my knee-jerk reactions from the penultimate game of the season:

This seriously felt like a preseason game until the 4th quarter. The Skins were playing almost all backups, and the Jags were missing MJD and a few other guys. There just wasn't an intensity today, which is odd when you have so many guys playing for their future in the league.

I know this win hurts our draft position and thus may bad in the long term, but you can't help but think this group needed a W with all the drama going around.

  • Sex Cannon's record as a starter in the state of Florida counting his college days has got to be something like 47-2.
  • The gator chomp? Rex, seriously?
  • Brandon Banks in the wildcat should be the focus of our offense next week. It would keep my interest and get the Banks Pro Bowl train back at full speed.
  • Kevin Barnes at safety could merely be necessity, but also maybe a sign the teams doesn't think he will be a decent corner.
  • The Jags look awful, how are they a potential division winner?
  • Speaking of the opposition, maybe the Skins should take a page out of their book and spend our first 2 picks on o-linemen.
  • Anthony Bryant may have played himself onto the roster for next season.
  • Casey Rabach needs to go ASAP.
  • Going for it on 4th and 1 from the 1 yard line with the game on the line is the right call. Not only is it statistically the right move, but we are 5-9, so who cares! 
  • Joe Joseph? As in Joseph Joseph? Wow.
  • The o-line was not awful today, but not great. Hicks and Dockery/Licht*&#$& all still need to be replaced.
  • We are no 4-4 on the road, and 2-5 at home, hmmmm. Almost makes me feel guilty for never going to games...
(Image courtesy of 1800-sports.com)

Redskins - Jaguars Live Chat on TBD.com

If you are watching today's game alone, it will probably feel a little bit like drinking alone - but fear not! Come join the TBD.com live chat and drink, err chat, with fellow devoted fans. I will be there as a panelist along with a few other Redskins bloggers.

Check it out here: Redskins-Jaguars Live Chat

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What the Caps and the Jersey Shore Have in Common

Tonight's episode of 24/7 was not as good as the first, save for one amazing fact about the Caps: the team celebrates every victory with a fist pumping rendition of DJ Pauly D's "It's Time to Beat Dat Beat." Yes, as in the Pauly D from MTV's Jersey Shore.


The Best Shot I Could Get from My TV of the Locker Room iPod

The Caps 8 game losing streak meant that we were not privy to this information before tonight, but again, awesome. Almost every member of the team gave a few fist pumps.

Other notes:
  • Highly paid professionals getting excited about a new equipment delivery is amazing.
  • Ovechkin walked into the training room with a towel on and nothing else.
  • For a road trip Ovie appeared to fill his small suitcase with just 1 item, his Playstation.
  • Combining all this Ovie information leads me to believe he just walks around the hotel naked on road trips.
  • Sidney Crosby is really lame
  • Hockey injuries in HD are the opposite of a highlight, but still very cool to see if you're into that sort of thing, creep.
  • The f-bombs by the Caps are pretty gratuitous. I don't care about 'foul' language, but just pointing it out. It's not just Boudreau either, the other guys drop 'em everywhere, even Ovie in his broken English. I imagine the team cursing comes from the culture created by Boudreau. 
  • Even though I don't care about cursing, the Caps, the language is part of a loose and not always disciplined atmosphere. I sure as hell don't think cursing has anything to do with the Caps winning the Cup, but the contrast between the Caps and Penguins team culture is remarkable.
  • Mike Knuble did exactly what I thought this team needed in the 1st intermission of the Boston game - gave a rousing speech about the Caps picking it up. That game went from a 3-0 potential obliteration to a tight 3-2 loss and may have been the turning point in this slide.
  • I think Mike Green wears slippers to and from work.
  • I can't believe HBO skipped Ovie and Semin visiting One Lounge and showing them in a party environment.
  • Penguins game tonight, let's beat dat beat!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gilbert Arenas Tribute Day

I will write something more extensive about Gilbert Arenas, likely tomorrow. But am belated because I spent a lot of time working on the Gilbert Arenas Tribute Day for Bullets Forever, which has been all over the web. I had the pleasure of writing on his top 5 buzzer beaters, but all of the posts are must-read.

I won't say too much now, but despite my constant negativity towards his awful contract, I won't forget how he led a pathetic franchise back to some kind of relevance. Gil made me, and probably many of you, passionately care about the Wizards/Bullets for the first time.

(Image courtesy of dcprosportsreport.com)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Week 15: Cowboys 33, Redskins 30: Knee Jerk Reactions

 Football's regular season is almost over! Before I let rationality cloud my judgment, here are my knee-jerk reactions from the fourteenth game of the season:

I watched this one in a bar in Manhattan, so was semi-distracted by all the other happenings and will thus keep this short. I was pretty disinterested coming into the game, 'Kitna! Grossman! It's the Redskins and the Cowboys on Fox!!' and want us to keep losing for sake of high draft picks, but was getting fired up when the comeback got going.

Sums Up my Feelings About the Season
  • Sex Cannon.
  • Sitting in a Manhattan bar as the Eagles came back from 21 points in 8 minutes to beat the Giants was special. I delight in other fans having to share my misery.
  • Sex Cannon's numbers were about as good as any McNabb game, but I think he was slightly worse. The biggest thing I noted was a tendency to hold onto the ball too long.
  • In short, yes, I think McNabb would have been the better player today for the Redskins, but the difference between McNabb and Sex Cannon really doesn't seem to be much. Also, this was Sex Cannon's first game, and one has to think that he would improve with more games under his belt.
  • I might set a record for typing Sex Cannon in 1 post.
  • McNabb is still a captain today? Come on man! NFL captains are fluid, and I thought the starting QB is always a captain.
  • Not all of those sacks were the O-line's fault. One notable one by Ware was Grossman hanging onto the ball too long and then not stepping up enough in the pocket.
  • D******* Hall still sucks. Coverage and tackling are things he does not do well.  
  • The Brandon Banks Pro Bowl train has come to a complete halt.
  • The Tana drop was not as bad as it looked. He was off balance and couldn't really get his arms out for that one. That said, it was still a horrific drop.
  • Does anybody still think the McNabb trade and/or extension were correct decisions? 
  • I completely forgot about John Beck's mullet, which allowed me to 'fall in lover all over again.'
  • The good thing about being numb? A tough loss to Dallas doesn't hurt.
(Image courtesy of DC Sports Bog and Mr. Irrelevant) 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Proof the Redskins O-Line Should Be an Offseason Priority

How many of you know what the New York Life Protection Index is?

Nope, not part of the stock market.

A quality of life measure is close....

It is actually a metric that evaluates offensive line play in the NFL. I have no idea why New York Life chose to sponsor this and who exactly they are paying or if they developed the metric themselves as some sort of ambush marketing. Regardless, the metric's fundamentals are comprised of the length of a team’s pass attempts combined with penalties by offensive linemen, sacks allowed and quarterback hurries and knockdowns. Annnndddd...you already know where this is headed.....

The Skins slot in at #25 so far this season, which sounds about right. Football Outsiders has us at #22 by their Adjusted Sack Rate.I should be noted that both of these metrics are only looking at pass protection.

Moving past the team that doesn't deserve any more ink, even during Dallas week, and on to the differences between the 2 metrics. Except, the the rankings look almost identical. FO only takes into account sacks and intentional grounding calls, whereas NYLPI adds knockdowns, hurries, and the one I think is most interesting, the length of a team's pass attempts, but apparently the added variables do not change much.

To make sense of why 2 different metrics are so similar can be pretty simple. Both metrics take into account valid measurables of pass protection, so a good pass protecting line should show up as such in both rankings. The hurries and knockdowns are a nice addition, but a line giving up a lot of sacks is also likely giving up a lot of knockdowns and hurries. I could envision a tough QB who is particularly good at standing in the pocket and taking hits or being hurried but managing to avoid sacks, but it appears that such a person does not exist. The length of pass play is nice, and I hope is the length the ball is in the air, rather than the net gain on passing plays.

One big takeaway from these is that a good quarterback makes a good offensive line. You can say all you want about the Colts O-line, but they are good because Manning is fantastic at avoiding sacks, intentional grounding penalties, hits, etc., not to mention the fact that he is great at recognizing defenses and preparing the blocking. One can only wonder how good the Skins line would look with Peyton behind them.......

(Image courtesy of washingtonpost.com)

What HBO's 24/7 Showed About the Caps Problems

Seeing the Redskins simply play the team on Hard Knocks in a preseason game got me 'downright giddy,' so you can only attempt to understand my anticipation and excitement for the premier episode of the Caps on HBO's 24/7.

All along, I thought this would be an amazing show, putting Sidney Crosby's lameness and robotic nature as a pathetic contract to the fun-loving Ovechkin leading his high-flying Caps. Well, yeah........

With the Penguins in the midst of a 12-game winning streak, and the Caps puttering through a then 6-game losing streak, everything was upside-down. The Penguins were the loose and fun team, while the Caps personalities all came across as stale. HBO clearly focused their Caps footage on the sullen locker room, and I imagine this quiet was compounded by not many Caps speaking English as a first language.

What I took from this could be much bigger though. I know it is hard to judge a team in its worst times, but I think that sullen locker room I just mentioned is the problem. This team has struggled with inconsistency in effort and focus the past couple seasons, and one has to think that these issues can only be cured by improved leadership.

Bruce Boudreau is certainly a presence and did all he could to rally the guys, but there was an absence of vocal player leadership. This team is led by a bunch of Russians who clearly are not 100% comfortable speaking English, which I imagine is a significant hindrance to vocalizing encouragement. Even Backstrom came across as quiet, if not awkward, when skating with children in DC. Mike Green could, and maybe should, be the guy, but is also pretty quiet and not someone who can captain and NHL team. Jason Chimera kind of put some words out there at one point, but should have been a stronger presence, or gotten some support. Poti? Laich? Anyone?

Meanwhile, the Penguins were ahead 2-1 going into the 3rd period of what would be consecutive win number 12 and had a few guys yelling and getting the team amped, such as Tyler Kennedy; the passion they displayed would have led you to believe the Pens were losing. This is an extenuating circumstance for the Caps, and maybe they are just as boisterous when winning, and maybe being loud isn't the best method for every team, but 'a man is judged by how he responds to adversity,' and behind the scenes, the Caps did not respond to the challenge.

Other quick notes:
  • Gabby could indeed have made Rex Ryan blush with his stream of f-bombs. Fantastic! DC Sports Bog counted 31 f-bombs by the Caps' coach.
  • The highlight of the show for me was Ovechkin defending the cross-check that got Semin ejected because it opened a big cut on the opposing player's neck, 'Maybe he has sensitive skin.'
  • I had no idea NHL refs actually would tell players to 'finish the fight.' 
  • As I briefly mentioned above, Lars showed no personality. He may actually be a hockey robot.
    Boudreau's first closeup interview definitely showed a little ketchup or something left on his face.
  • My 2nd favorite quote was the Penguins rookie after having his entire room moved into the hotel hallway, "We are going to find whoever did this, and probably do nothing about it."
  • I wish the Caps had a team competition in which the loser had to grow a mustache for a month.
  • The Penguins have lost both games since episode 1 ended, so episode 2 could be very different.
  • On the other hand, the Caps lost #7 in a row tonight, so maybe not.
(Image courtesy of Japers Rink)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

D******* Hall Gets A Little Too Friendly with Kobe

As I watched the Wizards get picked apart by the Lakers tonight, I couldn't help but notice a man with a bright turquoise Wizards hat sitting next to the Lakers bench. A couple closeups later I realized who the douchebag suspect was......none other than my least favorite Redskin, D******* Hall (yes, I hate him more than Fat Albert).

I can't fully explain why this makes me incredibly mad, but it does. Why can't he sit next to the Wizards bench? Why can't Hall sit with fellow Redskin Chris Samuels, who was also at the game?

Most of all, I can't stand that he felt the need to talk to Kobe Bryant! Kobe has no real friends as far as I can tell, and as much as I respect his game, dislike him as a person even though I've never met him.

Obviously, Kobe did not start the conversation with Hall because Bryant has no people skills. So that means Hall intentionally got a seat by the Lakers bench, probably with the hope of maybe striking up a conversation with Kobe when the Lakers had a sizeable lead. Just liking Kobe would be enough to make me angry, but I'm pretty sure that makes him a groupie. I bet Hall has some fantasy that Kobe and he have a lot in common and that he belongs in such celebrity company.

Dude, you think Kobe is going to come toe Redskin game to be your groupie?

I really didn't need another reason to hate the guy.

(Images courtesy of my sweet TV)

Is it Time to Worry About the Caps?

This absolutely kills me, but ever since last season's unspeakable ending, I have had an awful feeling about this year's Caps. I've tried to convince myself that this team is better primed for a Stanley Cup run, but I can't shake that doubt....

I've tried to convince myself that we are a young team that kept all the key people from last year and should improve with age and more time playing together. I want to believe that the Caps will learn from the tough playoff exits each of the last 2 seasons. I can see how this team may coast through the regular season with a constant eye on the playoffs.

But this Caps team just doesn't look right.

You can make that case that we're coasting and still 1st in the division, and would have the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference if the playoffs started today. That sounds great, but there are waaaay too many chinks in the armor for me to feel good. The Caps are:

-7th in the conference in goal differential
-19th in the league in 5v5
-The formerly amazing powerplay is 8th in the NHL
-The PK is up to 11th in the league, but is certainly not driving a ton of success

But the bigger issue for me is beyond the stats. The team is likely the most talented in the league, and their focus seems to waver. This was a bit of an issue last year, and I think plagued the team in the Canadians series - the Caps brought a B- intensity and thought they could slide through and rev it up for the later rounds. In the regular season, the Caps are comeback kings, mostly it seems because the team comes out flat and then pushes the intensity in later periods. The Rangers debacle is a good example, as Eric Fehr said after the game, "It seems like we lost focus for about two minutes and they got two goals on us and it made the game a lot tougher. We had a great first period and didn't come out ready in the second and it cost us."

Whose fault is this? I have to think Bruce Boudreau is not taking enough heat. He inherited an incredibly talented team that was significantly underperfoming and immediately made them excellent, and deserves a ton of credit for that. However, maybe this team needs more of a Ken Hitchcock hardass to get them over the hump.

Ovie's leadership and lifestyle also are finally getting to me. I love him for partying and not being a robot like Crosby. I couldn't be happier about rooting for a guy with Ovie's personality and passion. Now Crosby's name alone makes me irrationally angry, but he worked hard on his game and is now the best player in the world, hands down. I understand Ovie can work hard and play hard, but hearing about him partying at Lounge One while the Caps are slumping is tough to swallow.

I am not saying Ovie cannot win a cup, far from it, but I think there's need to be more hard line discipline with this group from somebody.

The sheer talent on this team is often enough to overcome lapses in focus, but the inability to be consistent this season does not give me any confidence that the Caps can put together a Stanley Cup run.

(Image courtesy of www.kansascity.com)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Week 14: Bucs 17, Redskins 16: Knee Jerk Reactions

 Football's regular season is almost over! Before I let rationality cloud my judgment, here are my knee-jerk reactions from the thirteenth game of the season:

Should we be surprised?
  •  DC Sports Bog said on Twitter that a scalper offered him a ticket for 20 bucks. That about sums up my feelings about this team right now.
  • Steinz's experience echoes this video.
  • 2 missed short FGs, a botched extra point, 2 dropped INTs, no-call on Orakpo getting held on the Bucs TD, etc. 
  • Not sure if 'sums up the season' is the right way to put this, more like sums up the decade.
  • Graham Gano could have been cut at halftime. Even the extra point was close. 
  • I still don't understand why the Skins have gone about 20 years without a consistent kicker. Other teams have probably had bad stretches, but 20 years?!? Use a high draft pick, or give a crazy contract, I don 't care, but do something to fix a problem that has plagued this team for 20 years!
  • I think the LeGarrette Blount fumble sums up D******* Hall. He gets run over by Blount while trying to strip the ball instead of actually tackling the guy, then succesfully punches it out on attempt #2 and picks up the fumble Phil Buchanon couldn't. You get the bad with the playmaking. Now that ended up being a good play, but he should have made the tackle and not had the opportunity for strip #2. Hall also was burned badly by DC's own Arrelious Benn in the 2nd quarter and gave up about 12 extra yards going for another strip. 
  • Then, early in the 3rd quarter, he has a chance to just destroy Cadillac Williams on a hospital pass, and does pretty much nothing at all. He almost looked scared to make that hit. That was a benchably bad.
  • All the credit for the running game should go to the Skins offensive line. Ryan Torain wasn't doing anything spectacular, he just ran through giant 'parking spaces.'
  • What does the Bucs defensive line do in all their other games? The Skins offensive line has not been anything special in other games, and I find it hard to believe they were just in the zone today. 
  • The end of the first half clock management was something special. Basically tip your hand that you're passing, then somehow get a delay of game off of a timeout. In the words of Keyshawn Johnson - 'Come on man!'
  • Chris Wilson not picking up the 2nd half kickoff made me laugh. 
  • Tony Siragusa gets paid like maybe 100k for this gig. How many people watch this game because of his contribution? Maybe for some people he makes the viewing experience better, but that really keeps and draws more eyeballs for ad revenue than his 100k salary? There is no way his value added is that much. 
  • Anyone else crushed Logan Paulsen didn't attempt the Dougie? 
  • What I want to know is why Ochocinco's name change gets so much attention while 'Stylez G White' is overlooked. He went from Greg to 'Stylez G', sounds like he should be on season 3 of VH1's the Pickup Artist.
  • Torain ran 18 times for 158 yards in the first half, and then had his number called twice in the 3rd quarter (for 1 yard), and then 4 more times in the 4th quarter (for 13 yards). All this was while the Skins were protecting a lead. Unacceptable and astounding. 
  • McNabb's numbers looked good, but he was not. Meanwhile, Jason Campbell was damn good today again.
(Image courtesy of washingtonpost.com)

Redskins - Bucs Live Chat on TBD.com

As usual, I am braving the horror show that could be today's game and am a panelist on TBD.com's live chat during the game. Check it out here:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Goal of the Season

Nope, not a Cap, not even from the NHL, but this is silly. We've all seen 'the Michigan goal', but I think this improves on it with the flip off of the goalie:

And the guy is 17. Yeah.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Georgetown Looks Like Fail

So much for a top-5 RPI ranking and 'regular' top-10 ranking for the Hoyas. Tonight's game versus Temple was not good. The Hoyas were flummoxed by the Temple defense. Yeah I said it....flummoxed...

 It was not so much just chaos and sloppiness, but the Hoyas, as Jay Bilas said, 'looked like they were moving in sand.' There were no backdoor cuts and not a lot of going to the hoop. The open man consistently was Julian Vaughn, who is the weakest offensive starter, and definitely not part of Run DMV. The Hoyas seemed to play into Temple's hands by taking looong 3s and feeding Vaughn going 1-on-1 against Lavoy Allen, the Owls' best defender. Jason Clark from deep was about the only thing going well.

Even with the Hoyas just looking bad on offense, I was surprised at how feeble Temple looked. They are not particularly talented, and really had only 1 guy on offense who could create anything on his own and wound up scoring almost half of their points. Defensively, it wasn't as though they were particularly strong, quick, or John Wall sneaky. Most of all, they were possibly the worst shooting team I have ever seen in NCAA division 1 men's basketball, just waaay off on many open 3s and jumpers.

My greatest frustration for the night is that the Hoyas played defense too aggressively. I don't know where to get points in the paint stats, but Temple had far too many. The Hoyas could have simply sluffed in and forced Temple to make long shots and drive to the basket, 2 things the Owls were incapable of doing with any success. To Temple's credit, they moved the ball well at times, and made Gtown pay for mistakes, but the Hoyas should have not been making those mistakes.

I think the big teaching from tonight though, is again that Chris Wright is the team's most important player. The zone took away his ability to drive to the basket, and rendered him pretty ineffective. Clark shooting 3s and Freeman forcing some stuff was all the Hoyas could get, nothing easy; it actually reminds me a lot of watching the Wizards without John Wall. Before this game, I simply thought at least 2 of 3 Run DMV members had to  be playing well for the Hoyas, but it clearly all depends on Wright - the entire offense feeds off him. It is a lot of pressure, but in a year in which the Hoyas have a shot at doing something special, Wright needs to put his stamp on this NCAA season. 

(Image courtesy of www.kansascity.com)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Redskins Season Tickets Offer - Fan Response

DC Sports Bog was all over this, but the video pretty much sums up how everyone feels about the team.

Dan Snyder, if you are reading, just to be clear, this is not just a 1 or 2 year thing, this disinterest and anger has been building ever since you took over this team. For the record, this is the first year since childhood that I will not attend a Redskins game.

Maybe the Skins will always make boatloads of money and always sell almost all of their tickets, but maybe, just maybe, the little protests will add up and affect your bottom-line. You are truly testing our passion.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Least Likely Gillette Spokesperson Ever

In what will go down as one of the upsets of the years, Gillette named Alex Ovechkin their newest spokesperson today to promote shaving products...........as in the items one uses to maintain a tidy beard. Good luck with this beast of a man:

Ovie joins the clean-cut Derek Jeter, among others, as spokespeople. The best part of this for me? How pissed baby-faced Sidney Crosby will be that he didn't get this endorsement.

(Images courtesy of 1.bp.blogspot.com, meltyourfaceoff.files.wordpress.com, and 3.bp.blogspot.com)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Week 13: Giants 31, Redskins 7: Knee Jerk Reactions

Football's regular season is heading down the home stretch! Before I let rationality cloud my judgment, here are my knee-jerk reactions from the twelfth game of the season:

The Skins looked like they knew they were walking to their own funeral. I think we can be mercifully mathematically eliminated next week.

Remember This? That is What Today Felt Like

  •  Fumbles
  • My highlight of the day was Drew Stanton doing the Dougie in the Detroit-Chicago game.
  • The Giants had 140 yards rushing in the 1st half.
  • We missed you Fat Albert.
  • I was actually dissapointed the Giants didn't hit 200 yards rushing for the game.
  • I was laughing at the Redskin ineptitude, just like last year.
  • Corey Webster owns Santana Moss. Webster was an elite CB 2 years ago when he completely took Tana out of the game, had injuries last year, but today looked like that elite player (not sure about the rest of his season). That INT at the end of the game was well-deserved.
  • Rocky McIntosh looked hurt and played an abysmal game.
  • Devin Thomas blocking a punt, making a special teams tackle, and downing a ball at the 5 was kicking us in the balls when we were down. 
  • Just inexplicable that Galloway held a starting job for so long while we had to get rid of Thomas.
  • The, "Eli Manning....is....UNSTOPPABLE" commercial right after his endzone interception was perfect.
  • At least we didn't furiously celebrate our TD.
  • McNabb was throwing it all over the yard in a bad way. There was pressure, but he was more erratic than usual it seemed.
  • I want to like Jammal Brown, but he was particularly awful today.
  • We really do need to draft a center.
  • D-line should be another focus in the offseason.
  • I am very curious as to whether Shanahan will play some more young guys and backups down the stretch to see what we have. Sexy Rexy, Terrance Austin, Kevin Barnes, Brandon Banks on offense, etc.
  • Shanahan was 6th place in a Sports Illustrated poll of NFL players on 'Coach You'd Most Like to Play For.' He seems like a pain in the ass, so I'm surprised, you?
  • Does Brandon Banks have a shot at the Pro Bowl? Given that Dez Bryant and Devin Hester only really return punts, his only competition should be Stefan Logan and Danny Amendola
  • You have no idea how happy the thought of Brandon Banks in the Pro Bowl just made me.
(Image courtesy of www.nj.com)

TBD.com Redskins-Giants Live Chat

As usual, I will be a panelist in the TBD.com live chat for today's game. Get in your opinions, or just to have a support group:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Wizards' Black Santa

Chanukah may have come a few hours early when word leaked that the Wizards and Magic are still discussing a trade involving Gilbert Arenas, aka the (2nd) worst contract in the league.

The Magic are tied for the best record in the East at 13-4 and appear to be a title contender as currently constructed, without making.......wait, I'll stop. Orlando feels the need to add another playmaker and apparently are leaving no stone unturned if they are considering a guy coming off of 2 knee surgeries and with 4 years and over $80 million left on his contract. Gil put on nice show against the Magic last week in what could have been his audition.

 Black Santa (aka Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith)

Let's be clear, the Wizards are in last place in the Eastern Conference, starting a rebuilding process, and need to get rid of Agent Zero Six Shooter Gilbert Arenas. Gil is not part of the future, is not a great mentor and/or leader for the youngsters, and his massive contract is a huge handicap. The problem is finding someone to take this albatross off of our hands. Almost any trade that involves Gil leaving DC would be a good one, as there is no contract (other than Joe Johnson's) that I wouldn't take back for his. 'Locker room cancer' Vince Carter and his contract with 1 year remaining for Gil? - Where do I sign up!?!

The rumored deal involves Gil and Andray Blatche from the Wiz, and some combination of Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, and Daniel Orton from the Magic. VC and Lewis cannot be in the trade together, as the Wiz have almost no way of matching both of their bloated salaries. The Wiz could take one of those 2 in any deal involving Arenas. Both have similar salaries, with the main difference being that VC has 1 year left on his deal, and Lewis has 3.

VC for Gil is a no-brainer. VC could be the worst possible player to put on a young team, and I would consider just sending VC home for the season to keep him away from the youngsters and then creating a pool of coins in the summer with the 3 years of savings from Gil's contract.

Lewis for Gil is a closer match, but again, something the Wizards have to do as it cuts 1 year off of Gil's contract. I do hesitate here though, as Gil is the superior player and Lewis is aging quickly so may be impossible to move before his contract is up in 3 years, whereas Gil actually could play well enough that we could get rid of him in under 3 seasons.

Then there is the twist with the Magic wanting Andray Blatche. 7 Day Dray hasn't had a great season, not taking the step forward we'd hoped for, and saying his defense has been disinterested would be kind. That said, he is still only 24 and has a very reasonable contract that runs for 5 more years. He does not look like a long term answer for the Wizards, but he still has trade value. Not only that, but his value is about as low as it can be right now.

Orton would be a nice young guy to add in the deal (I also would like Ryan Anderson), but Blatche is more valuable. If the deal is Gil and Blatche for Lewis and Orton, then we are basically giving up Blatche for 1 less year of Gil's contract, and I think that is a steep price. VC and Orton for Gil and Blatche is a much tougher call, with the bottom line being whether the Wiz are willing to give up Blatche to cut 3 years off of Gil's contract.

I think the Wizards have to make the VC deal, as there may not be many other chances to get rid of Gil's contract. But I hope the Wiz can find a way to do this without including Andray. From the perspective of the Magic, the extra years on Gil's deal may not matter much, as their roster is relatively set for the next few years. They also have little use for Blatche. Grunfeld will need to do some smooth talking to make this happen, or Black Santa will have to feel particularly giving.

While I wait for Black Santa to make my holiday season, I will do the rest of my shopping in Allen Iverson's eBay shop. 

(Image courtesy of www.cbc.ca, salary info courtesy of ESPN's NBA Trade Machine)

Gritty Hoyas Make a Statement - Are they Title Contenders?

College basketball's season is decided in March, but that didn't stop Georgetown and Missouri from playing an incredible game with a Big Dance feeling tonight. Fast-paced, close, intense, and well-played.

Despite the rankings (#8 to #16) and Vegas line (Tigers by 1.5) favoring Mizzou , this seemed like a favorable matchup for the Hoyas. A well-coached disciplined team with heady ball handlers should be able to handle the Mizzou press, and I think the phrase, 'A well-coached disciplined team with heady ball handlers' is exactly how I'd describe this year's Hoyas.

Now Missouri's ranking may be a little misleading, as they haven't beaten any half-decent team so far: 3 of their 5 wins have been against teams named the Ospreys, Leathernecks, or Explorers. That said, this is still one of the best teams in the country, and as I learned tonight, one with an amazing home court advantage. This was technically a 'neutral court' that just so happened to be situated about and hour and a half from the Mizzou campus, but the fans made it clear who's side they were on. Not only were the16,000+ fans loud, but Mizzou's aggressive defensive style put the refs in a lot of tough positions, and during a home game a lot of those 50/50 calls will go Mizzou's way.

The Hoya start was reminiscent of the glory that was last year's Duke game. The Tiger press was hopeless and Gtown was knocking everything down en route to an 18 point lead. Mizzou got their act together, seized momentum, and chiseled the lead down to 7 by the half - which is about the time I started biting my nails. Mizzou seemed to carry momentum through the 2nd half, but only took their first lead more than midway through the 2nd half. The Hoyas seemed doomed at the point to a quality road loss, but managed the improbable with Chris Wright sinking a last second 3 to send the game to OT. 5 minutes more? Yes please. Jason Clark took it from there, sinking 3 triples in the extra period to make the last 2.5 minutes of overtime pretty comfortable.

I don't know that tonight taught me as much about the Hoyas as it reinforced several beliefs. The team was rudderless without Wright against the Mizzou D, which is why he played 45 minutes. Clark and Freeman put up the bigger numbers, but Wright was and has been the team MVP thusfar. You could almost predict the Mizzou runs because they happened as soon as Wright stepped off the court. It is times like this when I wish gameflows were available for NCAA games, as Wright's +/- has to be fantastic.

I also already knew that the bench is very weak. Fortunately, Mizzou plays a tiny lineup, so Gtown's preference for 3 guards, 1 very small forward, and a center was not a problem. Against a 'normal' team, Julian Vaughan, Nate Lubick, and Henry Sims could be roasted. And even though there are a lot of guards getting minutes for the Hoyas, there is a huuuge dropoff after the big 3. They all looked hesitant out there, and I am once again curious as to the +/- of the big 3. I wish I could say Starks and Lubick will suddenly 'get it', but I just don' think that's happening this year.

This team is 1 injury to any of the big 3 away from being pretty mediocre, but this was an awesome win. Standing up to a hostile crowd and top-10 team makes this one of the best wins in all of college basketball this season to date. The Hoyas cruised to the 18 point lead, but absolutely gutted this one out from there. Mizzou got away with a lot junk on defense, but the Hoyas didn't complain and got equally physical on their defensive side at the end of the game. Not only are there no teams in the Big East that particularly scare me, but there are no teams in the entire NCAA outside of Duke that appear definitely better than the Hoyas right now. 

If Wright, Freeman, and Clark can stay healthy and don't get worn-down from heavy minutes, this could be a season to remember in DC.

(Image courtesy of the AP, via washingtonpost.com)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Week 12: Vikings 17, Redskins 13: Knee Jerk Reactions

Football's regular season is heading down the home stretch! Before I let rationality cloud my judgment, here are my knee-jerk reactions from the eleventh game of the season:

 Not From Today, but Might as Well Be

Game and season. We need to go 5-0 and pray for a wild card spot. Our first drive was a thing of beauty, but everything else on offense was sad. Then, not being able to stop Toby Gerhardt on defense and give our offense one last shot was excruciating.

If the Packers pass the Bears for 1st place, and the Saints take the #1 Wild Card spot, we will need to pass that Giants, Bears, and Bucs to get a playoff berth. If things go well later this afternoon, we could still only be 2 games back, with 2 cracks against the Giants, and 1 against the Bucs. So start putting your energy into supporting whoever plays those teams.

  • Interim coaches in their first game seem to always win right? Unless it's Terry Robiske and the Redskins...we are always the exception....
  • I keep forgetting to plug this, but I have been doing a weekly livechat on www.TBD.com. A few Skins bloggers on there and not too crowded, so you can definitely get your voice heard.
  • So much for gold pants.
  • How does Joey Galloway go from being our '#2' receiver to getting cut? Shouldn't there be a backup role in-between? 
  • I can't get over the Galloway thing. Just an awful signing, reinforced by poor production, and then the stubbornness of keeping him in the starting lineup. He has been the 2nd worst receiver in the league, with the only bright side that we targeted him slightly less than other receivers in his ballpark of awful. Just about anyone would have been better, and we completely missed the opportunity to develop a young player or two wit hthe playing time/role.
  • Devin Thomas
  • Brandon Banks is still great, but was apparently limping during the week. I'm assuming he's taking his pain meds and toughing it out. I wonder if we will see him anywhere close to 100% before the end of the season. 
  • Banks is our only chance of scoring. 
  • Jeremy Jarmon doesn't exist. 
  • Our d-line sans Fat Albert cannot stop the run. If we cut him, we need to find some better guys up front this offseason. 
  • Not sure what else to say about the defense. Not a great game from 'Los, but he was hampered by a hammy. The faced a conservative game plan and stopped a Peterson-less offense, meh.
  • Silverback had a phenomenal game controlling Jared Allen, who is a monster. He's made his share of mistakes this season, but I think a pro-bowl caliber season is in store as soon as next year.
  • Santana Moss was awful. I see he was battling an injury or two, but dropping passes is not okay.
  • Cooley was awesome on that first drive and then...? Silence.
A Little Something to Cheer You Up - Found This Looking for a Game Shot
  • I don't even know how to get excited for the Giants game next week.
(McNabb image courtesy of VikingsPost.com, cheerleader image courtesy of nfl.fanhouse.com)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Redskins Aren't Mathematically Eliminated.....Yet

My Redskins optimism died quickly after that Titans game when I realized that we are 2 games back of a wildcard spot, and have to pass 3 teams for that last spot. Dead, and maybe not quite buried if we beat Minnesota this weekend. But maybe I was being too optimistic. Here's a quote from Redskins Insider's Brian Burke (as also mentioned by Mister Irrelevant):

"The NFC wildcard teams are probably going to need to win at least 10 games this season, so the Redskins would need to finish 5-1 to have a reasonable chance at the playoffs. Based on measures of team strength and forthcoming schedules, the numbers give the Redskins a 6 percent chance of making the postseason."

I panned this guy a couple weeks ago for giving statistics a bad name, but this is great stuff using statistics to make a rational point. We all have thought 9-7 would be enough to squeak into the playoffs since the preseason in a parity-driven league, but there is almost no way at least 2 of the 4 teams ahead of the Skins do not win 10 games. And, as you quickly realize, 10 wins means an improbable 5-1 finish.

A win over the Vikings this weekend would dramatically increase that 6%, and keep hope alive in DC, but it really is time to start looking at the offseason. This tortured sports city has a lot to be thankful for: Alex Ovechkin, Ted Leonsis, John Wall, Matt Wieters, and Stephen Strasburg to name a few, but a playoff-bound Redskins team is not one of of them.

(Image courtesy of www.zimbio.com)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Looking Ahead to Redskins Offseason Plans

I have realized that with 6 games to play, 2 games to makeup in the wild card race, and 3 teams to pass, the Skins playoff hopes are all but non-existant. So, on to the offseason!

I already made my thoughts clear on the McNabb contract, but this post is inspired by Shutdown Corner's Midseason 'No Pro' Team, which is basically the worst and/or most under-performing players in the league. No, McNabb was handily beaten out Brett Favre, but the entire interior of the Redskins line was named, ouch.

An Oldy, but Pretty Much Sums it Up

How can we gauge this? Well, the article was written by Doug Farrar of Football Outsiders, so metrics are involved. Long story short, the Skins are the worst team in the NFL at running up the middle. Not surprisingly, the team is also 31st in power running and 29th in runs stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage - both of which are plays that are linked to blocking up the middle. The good news is the coaching staff appears to realize this and has the team running up the middle on only 33% of run plays, significantly less than the league average of 50% (for all you Silverback lovers, most of those carries have gone around left end).

To summarize, the team has been getting dominated in the middle of the offensive line, and the coaches realize there is a problem.

My eyeballs tell me Casey Rabach has had a bad season and is likely no longer an NFL-caliber starting center. Artis Hicks and Derrick Dockery/Korey Lic(*&#$%@ have all also been culprits. As the article notes, Hicks has 6(!) false starts.

Looking ahead, our 2nd round pick has 'FUTURE CENTER' written all over it. A stud center is a pretty safe pick, as even if center proves difficult, you can always try them at guard. Dropping the cash on a 1st round interior lineman would be rough, as our pick will be in the middle of the first round, and those positions usually aren't drafted until the end of the 1st. This draft also looks to be a bit weak on the offensive line, so grabbing an interior lineman in the 1st round would likely be a huuuge reach. The good news though is that there are 3 quality center prospects . Back in August, Scouts Inc. had FSU's Rodney Hudson as the top interior lineman, and florida's Mike Pouncey not too far behind him. Stefan Wisniewski of Penn State is the 3rd guy who looks like he will be a reasonably high pick. Mid-1st would be aggressive for these guys, but our 2nd round pick would be a great spot to fill a position of need with a player who may be best available at that point.

Or maybe, that would be too logical.

(Image courtesy of www.wtopnews.com)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Week 11: Redskins 19, Titans 16: Knee Jerk Reactions

Football's regular season is past the halfway point! The hair pulling, TV-screaming, remote control throwing and furious cigarette smoking have aged me about 10 years in these 10 games. Before I let rationality cloud my judgment, here are my knee-jerk reactions from the tenth game of the season:

Huuuge win. That would have been a season-ender if we were 4-6 and 3 games out of the last wild card. 
  • So, I was really excited about this win and staying in the playoff race, but with 6 games to go, we are 2 games out of the last wild card spot. There are 4 teams ahead of us, with only 2 spots available, so we have to leapfrog 3 of the Giants/Eagles, Bears, Saints, and Bucs.
  • As if you didn't already know, but Brandon Banks! 1 tough clutch catch in 1 opportunity. Can we just give him Joey Galloway's job immediately? I mean right now, seriously. 
  • I have been thinking of some other nickname ideas for Banks and like "The Wire," because he's electric and maybe thin and wiry or something.
  • I want to like Graham Gano, but he is still straddling the line of acceptability. Missing a 51 yarder is no biggy, but being that far off is concerning. The 47 yarder into the wind is a little tougher to swallow, but okay in and of itself. He still hit from 40, 42, and 48, and was providing great distance on kickoffs.
  • McNabb had time to throw. Weird. 
  • McNabb's stats may sound impressive, but he was once again mediocre, even with tons of time.
  • Reed Doughty is an absolute disaster in coverage. I know Kareem Moore makes 1-2 big mistakes a game, and today was no different, but he is a much better option than Doughty. I was watching Doughty specifically as much as I could, and it seemed as thought he almost never successfully covered anyone. I think is fine as a backup strong safety, but free safety is not where I want to see him.
  • Yeah, Vince Young is efficient, and his passer rating will look great, but there is a lot to be said for the low volume output. 
  • The Buchanon, Hall, Doughty, Moore secondary provided an opportunity on a platter for VY and the Titans to exploit. I thought that pathetic unit would cost us the game, but VY could not take advantage, and that speaks volumes about how good he is. You are kidding if you don't think any great QB doesn't shred that group.
  • Randy Moss looked lazy running routes. Glad we didn't get that guy.
  • D******* Hall was okay today, but how about you don't beat your chest after Randy Moss runs by you in the endzone and VY throws it about 10 yards over everyone's heads. That was not a good play. 
  • Who is Rusty Smith?
  • Seems like we played a lot more 2 TE sets today to get Fred 'Sleepy' Davis involved. Niiiiice.
  • The gold pants are money.
  • Coming into this game, the Skins's offense had been historically bad on 3rd down, which is usually a fluky stat that will regress to the mean. In layman's terms, the Skins have likely been unlucky not to perform better on offense. 8-16 today on 3rd down, so there ya go.
  • My friend works for UStream and alerted me to the fact that Skins have their own channel. I have no idea what they show on here, I think pregame and postgame type stuff, but here you go: http://www.ustream.tv/redskins.
(Image courtesy of www.tsn.ca)

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Opposite of Michael Vick Against the Redskins

While on the subject of us being right, here's an early DCLS post on why the Skins should have chased Vick 1.5 yrs ago.


As if Snyder Needs Convincing: The Case for Vick on the 'Skins

Listen, I'm no Redskins apologist. I hate Dan Snyder with all but two fibers in my being (the two that realize that he's better than this guy). I hope Vinny Cerrato chokes on a danish, or better yet, is fired. FedEx is Hell on Earth. Also, I love puppies, and the worst harm I'd ever inflict on one would be to boot a really tiny loud one off a bridge.

But the Redskins had better dig their star-horny claws into Michael Vick and never let go. And not just because the jersey sales will correlate to an illogical 45% rise in FedEx concession prices. It will work for the Redskins on the field and if you remember, that's the point. Several reasons:

1.) The Redskins' Offense needs an ATHLETE. 'Skins fans lament the lack of a #1 receiver and it's hard to disagree. And some think JC17 isn't the answer behind center. But what's really lacking is a guy who can simply make tacklers miss. Vick's presence alone means the other team has to account for him, game plan for him, think about him before the game. If you've made D-Coordinators think that much harder, you've improved your offense that much...harder. What position exactly? We'll get to that....

Imagine the Opposite of This

2.) We've yet to see the Zorn Star work magic with a Shiny New Wand. In 2008, Zorn adjusted his westcoast pass-happy offense to suit his personnel, which is the mark of an intelligent coach. The result was a bland running based game, due to bland running based personnel. Enter insane athlete. Now, Zorn has studied the Wildcat diligently this offseason and admitted the 'Skins don't have the personnel to make it happen. Yet. Why? "Cleveland, with [Josh] Cribbs....probably did the best, but he's got a real acceleration." So we need someone with real acceleration, preferably with QB experience? Hmmm....

I'm not saying Vick should become the new 'Skins QB. Far from it; I think his unique skills are best utilized in various roles at various times. Sometimes that might mean some QB snaps. Mostly though, he needs plays designed for him specifically in some quasi-hybrid tailback role, a la 1920s football. There has never been an athlete like Vick in the NFL - why not make up a position that's never existed?

3.) Vick will be cheap. I know I know, the Redskins are salary cap wizards and yes, there might not be a cap after this year...but the 'Skins are still paying Mark Carrier like $4.3 million per and contract terms will be critical. Vick's market value is going to be around Bear Sterns' right about now - which for those of you who don't read the Wall Avenue Journal means Vick will be getting dick for salary, and for one or two years tops. Low risk (cap room wise)/high reward is the idea here.

4.) Vick will be motivated. There are just plain ruthless murderous sociopaths, and there are ruthless murderous sociopaths with 10-figure debt and the whole world watching their every move. True: you have to be collossally stupid to squander what Vick had circa 2006, and I wouldn't be surprised if he, Portis, Haynesworth and Smoot were caught financing an underground squirrel-fighting ring or something. But he has to have learned from this. Maybe not in that moral, soul-saving way...but in a superficial my-job-and-life-is-on-the-line way, which is good enough for me. Maybe he'll still have the urge to strangle a labradoodle at first sight - but I get the feeling he'll resist this time. He's in survival mode at this point.

5.) Despite pleas from fans, the 'Skins are determined to win now and delay a rebuild. To most logical fans, 14 years of consistent mediocrity with an aging roster is a sure sign that the talent has been maxed out. To Vinny Cerrato and Dan Snyder, it's a never-ending indication that the 'Skins are one player away from winning it all. I'm not saying Vick is that guy. I'm saying given the right circumstances, a healthy year on the offensive line, and basic progress from JC17, a well-utilized Vick could help put up enough points to make the offense respectable again. The 'Skins D and running game remain their strong points, and if healthy could do some postseason damage. It's getting there that's the issue. So as long as we're stuck with a front office and owner playing this game, Vick is worth a look.

6.) The offense needs hope. If there was one thing that defined the Redskins offense in the second half of 2008 - other than three-and-outs - it was the look and feeling of hopelessness. Early in the year the group was unstoppable, and they had the swag. As passes starting slipping through hands, Jansen opened the Sack Gates, and Portis' injuries caught up to him finally, they lost it. And what have they done since the disastrous 2008 finale? Precisely dick. Unless you believe in UFOs, you realize that Devin Thomas is a joke and Malcolm Kelly's knees are made of peanut brittle and there's no such thing as an NFL offense with two tight end weapons. The cavalry isn't coming from those three.

But inject Vick into a locker room with stable vets and leaders and it's an instant spark. Suddenly you have a guy turning heads in practice, adding that 'wow' factor, that extra ingredient that Randel El was supposed to provide but can't, since he is 5' 2" in real life and was never that good. Sometimes that's all it takes for a football team to make it over the hump.

Now Vinny, get on the phone with the Falcons and send next year's 1st, 3rd, and 5th into oblivion and make this happen. Even if Gooddell doesn't reinstate, what do we have to lose? They're just draft picks.
 So maybe we had the position thing wrong, and maybe Vick couldn't survive in the Redskin player development wasteland, but he was definitely worth a shot. And apologies to dog lovers, but considering their pasts, I have a harder time rooting for McNabb than I do the Vick resurrection story.

(Image courtesy of www.sportsfanlive.com)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Told You So

You know the mark of a true baseball savant? Predicting the Cy Young Award winners in the preseason. Picking the Rockies to win the NL pennant was just my risk-taking side creeping out. You hear that ladies, I'm a risk taker.

Anyway our preseason predictions were nothing special, save for one special line from yours truly:

Cy Young Picks

Rico Fantastic - Felix Hernandez, SEA (AL); Clayton Kershaw, LAD (NL)
Red Rover - Brett Anderson, OAK (AL); Tim Lincecum, SF (NL)
Marion's Crackpipe - Felix Hernandez, SEA (AL); Roy Halladay, PHI (NL)
Iafrate's Baldspot - Jon Lester, BOS (AL); Roy Halladay, PHI (NL)

Victory is mine!

(Image courtesy of blog.seattletimes.nwsource.com)

Quietly.......The Caps are The Best Team in NHL......Again

Didn't it seem like the Caps started the season with a hangover from the thing I will not mention? That thing is hanging over this year's team and has somehow put a clock on a young team's window of opportunity.

Close games, not completely obliterating the league in historic fashion, have this underachieving team in 1st place.........in the entire NHL. That's right.

Forget Lebron, last year, we were witnesses. This year hasn't brought the same awesome spectacle....yet, but this team is picking up steam. Don't forget that the Caps didn't lost any key guys from last year, and the majority of the team is at the age when they are improving - the opposite of the Redskins.

The understated excitement for this team probably has a lot to do with the expectation that the Caps will have a high seed in the playoffs, and very little matters until the Spring when past demons could derail this regular season juggernaut. Let's worry about that then, in the meantime, enjoy the ride.

(Image courtesy of cbcsports.ca)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Thinking Man's Take on the McNabb Contract

A loss like that almost makes you forget that the Skins made a franchise-altering decision by giving Donovan McNabb an extension. But really, this contract holds much greater importance for the franchise than Michael Vick looking like Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl.

Unfortunately for us long suffering fans, this decision is an absolutely awful one, and a reflection that past mistakes are continuing. The idiocy behind this decision goes way deeper than money.

First, I want go back to this summer, when the Skins decided to drop Jason Campbell and trade for McNabb. The Skins stubborn refusal to rebuild seemed poised to change with a new GM and Coach, but as we all know, there is something in the water around Ashburn...and by something in the water I mean Dan Snyder's kool-aid.

The Skins were 4-12, low on draft picks and in obvious of an absolute teardown. Instead? The team decided to trade a 2nd and what I believe will be a 4th round pick for a 33 year-old quarterback who ranked as very mediocre last year. By Football Outsiders metrics, in 2009, McNabb ranked 20th on a per play basis and 16th in total production. By the less telling quarterback rating, McNabb ranked 12th last year. You can sell the leadership angle all you want, but 33 years old and mediocre with declining production is not a good idea. There is no rejuvenation machine.

Meanwhile, the Skins already had a mediocre guy in JC. A 28 year old who in 2009 was 25th on a per play basis, 20th in total production, and 15th in QB rating. Campbell's 2009 numbers are worse than McNabb's, but he was playing with one of the worst supporting casts in the NFL. If you want to bring up McNabb's leadership, then you have to be open to the counter that Campbell might have more growth left in him than the average 28 year old QB, as someone whose literally had to learn a different offense for every of his football life since his freshman year at Auburn. I could go into some guestimating that Campbell and McNabb's respective performances last year were not very different, while Campbell was/is cheaper and younger.

Fortunately, Football Outsiders decided to tackle this very subject the day before the McNabb deal was signed. For those of you without Insider, FO uses 'similarity scores' to find comparable players, and Campbell's 2007-2009 stretch shows a lot of players, "on the verge of something great, or at least prepared for multiyear stretches with high levels of performance." Meanwhile, McNabb's 2007-2009 compares to a bunch of guys who, "were about to see serious downturns in starting time and overall production." These are not 100% predictive measures, but strong indicators. As FO states, "Is McNabb headed for a similar downturn? Prorated to a 16-game schedule, his 2010 stats certainly indicate it." Yeah, we noticed. But wait, there's more,

"The Redskins may have wished for the McNabb who came of age a decade ago, but again, it could be argued that they already had that player and let him go. When running similarity scores for McNabb's three-year period from 2002 through 2004 -- you know, the one that included three conference championships and ended in a Super Bowl -- the comparisons are even more interesting. Behind the Steve McNair of 2001, the second-closest comparison sticks out like a sore thumb: Jason Campbell, 2009."  

Wow. It would have been nice to bring this to our attention 8 months ago. You get the impression though that FO's article could have been planted on Snyder's desk this Spring and it wouldn't have made a smidgen of difference.

This is a prime example of the biggest problem with the Redskins in the Snyder era, and that is a refusal to rebuild with youth. It doesn't get more clear cut than the veteran McNabb blocking a younger Campbell. So Campbell may have been slightly worse, but to give up 2 high draft picks and take a 33 year old over a 28 year old is outrageous for a 4-12 team.

That is why this contract's atrocity goes beyond the money. Furthermore, the one thing the the Redskins have done well over the years is manage the salary cap. This team has never really been inhibited in the ability to sign someone to a contract, and continually throws money around. The problem with this team has never been the execution in signing these guys, but rather the plan in going after veterans at the expense of youth and rebuilding. The money the Skins gave McNabb is indeed outrageously high for a player of his caliber, but it doesn't matter.

What does matter is that we are committing to McNabb. I know the Skins have an out after this season, but you are kidding yourself if you think McNabb isn't going to be the starting Redskin QB for at least next season. As FO concludes,

"This situation may not affect the Redskins in the long term; McNabb is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2010 season is done, and he may take his talents elsewhere in the offseason. But if the Redskins actually do succeed in signing McNabb to a long-term deal, past and present trends indicate that it could be a dangerous risk ... and that Campbell may have been the smarter choice all along."

Even worse than being saddled with a bad QB when we had a better and cheaper option in-house, is what this deal shows about the franchise direction: the Redskins are again refusing to admit a mistake and rebuild. We never should have expected otherwise, as Jamie Mottram of MisterIrrelevant.com and Jack Kogod pointed out, 'The McNabb contract was the inevitable conclusion of the McNabb trade.' Admitting a mistake is difficult, especially in an organization with a high turnover rate, but the trade is a sunk cost and this floundering team should cut its losses.

Not only is the rebuild delayed (I know, any chance of a rebuild under Snyder, ever, is optimistic), but as long as McNabb is the QB of this team, we will not be good; the Monday night loss underscored the state of the franchise. What this contract really means is that the next few years will continue to be excruciating if we are not already numb.

(Campbell and McNabb image couresty of inewscatcher.com and McNabb image courtesy of bleacherreport.com)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hoyas Clear a Hurdle - Wait Who?

College basketball anyone?

In the shadows of this McNabb character and the doomed Redskin season, the Georgetown Hoyas have gotten off to an important start. 2-0 is nothing to scream about, especially when one of the wins is over Tulane, but the Hoyas went on the road in game #1 and beat a frisky Old Dominion team.

ODU's nickname is the Monarchs, the same as a former WNBA team, so maybe can creep up on people thanks to that (and yes, I was unaware the Monarchs franchise no longer exists until I found that link, cross my heart). But they have been a solid squad for a few years, and were an 11-seed in last year's NCAAs. These same manly Monarchs have been a thorn in the Hoyas side, beating them in 2 of their last 3 meetings, including last year to snap an 8-game Hoyas win streak to start the season, and 2 games after Gtown beat almost-champion Butler.

The manly Monarchs may be down a little this year, but going there on the road and winning is no joke. Sure, an early loss isn't a huge deal, but the Hoyas have a tough out-of-conference schedule this year, where we travel to #14 Missouri, #20 Temple, and #19 Memphis all by December 23rd. There is no Duke on the schedule, but that is a gauntlet. Opening with a loss to ODU could have set a really bad tone and put this team in an irreversible spin.

Given that I completely skipped a preview, here is all you need to know. The Hoyas return everyone except Greg Monroe. Yes, he was the team's best player and a lottery pick, but Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, and Jason Clark are back, and the team might be ever so slightly deeper thanks to some maturing players and the addition of freshman Nate Lubick. Local product Markel Starks and Moses Ayegba (who as a raw semi-unknown African big man sounds like he's the guy from the Air Up There) combine to form the rest of the recruiting class, but neither will see major minutes this year. Preseason awards are beyond stupid, but Freeman is the Big East Preseason Player of the year, and Wright is preseason 2nd team All-Big East. More importantly, the Hoyas are picked to finish 4th in the conference behind #5 Pitt, #6 Villanova, and #10 Syracuse.

So what do I predict for the Hoyas this year? The team is still thin, with no scoring coming from outside the Wright, Freeman, Clark trio, so an injury to any of them would be devastating. I think the #20 ranking sounds about right, which would be a #5 seed in the NCAAs. Just quickly looking at the rankings, I see a few teams ahead of the Hoyas who I don't think are as good as the AP, ESPN, and US Today say they are, but I also am not totally buying Gtown's stock yet. I think they'll be 20-8 overall going into the Big East tournament, which is almost identical to last year's 20-9 record, and get a 5th seed in the tourney. Ho hum.

The bigger picture is that Wright, Freeman, and Julian Vaughn are all seniors, so next year's team looks awful, with Clark the only surefire good player. Unless Lubick makes a sudden dramatic improvement, this program will take a major step backward, as the recruiting class is not highly ranked while St. John's, 'Cuse, Louisville, and Rutgers (?) all have top-20 classes right now.

JT3's work the past couple seasons has left a little something to be desired, so a step backward could be a major problem. He will get plenty of slack, but this program can't go into a multi-year swoon. I think the Hoyas' performance this season could have a far-reaching impact on JT3 and the team's immediate next few season; an underachieving season just can't happen.

(Image courtesy of washingtonpost.com)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Week 10: Eagles 59, Redskins 28: Knee Jerk Reactions

Football's regular season is past the halfway point! The hair pulling, TV-screaming, remote control throwing and furious cigarette smoking have aged me about 9 years in these 9 games. Before I let rationality cloud my judgment, here are my knee-jerk reactions from the ninth game of the season:


The McNabb contract made me the opposite of speechless, and that game was beyond words.

 I wish I blacked out today. I will post more extensively on the horror that is the McNabb contract, but combining that 'thing' with the loss that puts us a longshot for the playoffs is a lot for one fan in one day. I know it was defensive issues that doomed this team tonight, but re-signing McNabb is basically committing to more of the same.

  •  Hey we held them under 600 yards. We can build on this!
  • Through 3 quarters, Philly averaged 10.2 yards per play.
  • What happened to the idea that good coaches thrive after a bye week?
  • I couldn't wait to hear Matt Millen's take on the McNabb contract. I was giddy.
  • 4-5 is one thing, another is that the Eagles and Giants are looking pretty good, and we likely will have to catch at least one of them to get in the playoffs.
  • McNabb through 3 quarters, 75.2 qb rating. Nothing is changing. For 3 more years.
  • Jerome Harrison was practically given away by Cleveland and is probably better than any RB on our roster.
  • Is it beating a dead horse bringing up the Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly vs. DeSean Jackson point, right? 
  • I came up with a positive though for not drafting DeSean Jackson.Stay with me......we didn't draft him because we had Santana Moss, and didn't want 2 players with identical skill sets. Well, we likely wouldn't have given Brandon Banks a shot if Jackson was on the roster, and Banks is just about all that brings me Redskin joy these days. No counter-arguments please.
  • I don't recall seeing FedEx that empty for a regular season game at any point.
  • I guess the bright side is that the Eagles may be much better than most realize, they were Football Outsiders' #2 team coming into this week. They will be #1 for next week.
  • The Skins were FO's #22 team. We will drop.
  • To reiterate, the story is not just the Skins sucking, but the Eagles joining the Giants as too good for the Skins to past. We aren't making the playoffs.
  • I guess Orakpo could've gotten hurt, so it could have been a worse day.
  • Hey, Todd McShay's 1st mock draft is out! Offseason champions! Where's Herm Edwards?!? We can build on this!
(Image courtesy of www.sportsnewscaster.com)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Why Statistics Get a Bad Name, and D******* Hall Has a Good One

Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of WaPo's Redskins Insider as the best news source on the Skins, and am excited about the idea of having a 'statistician' post on the blog about once a week, but an idea is just that. The stat guy's name is Brian Burke (not that Brian Burke) and although he has his own site and I generally appreciate the blog is moving in a good direction by using stats, Burke's post from today is asinine.

He picks the Skins defensive players 'helping the team the most.' He uses a stat called "+WPA", which is basically a measure of how much a playmaker a guy is. To Burke's credit, he notes on his site that, "...there are the "gamblers," players who shoot gaps when they should be reading the play or cornerbacks who jump pass routes when they should stay in position. Certainly, +WPA would be biased in favor of these types of players." Fine, except his post today literally says, "Time to look at the MVPs on defense."

So he has Vonnie Holiday as the MVP of the DL (his mere presence on the team is a whole 'nother post), LFB as the MVP of the linebackers, Dirty 30 as the top safety in the entire NFL.....okay, nothing crazy there.....and then this tidbit:

"And that brings us to DeAngelo Hall, whose first eight games of the season defy words. With 9 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 2 tackles for losses, and 6 interceptions -- not to mention a fumble recovery returned for touchdown -- Hall has totaled 2.00 +WPA. Needless to say, he leads the league. The closest other cornerback is Charles Woodson of the Packers with 1.31 +WPA. Woodson is closer to the 22nd-ranked cornerback than he is to Hall. That's how amazing Hall's 2010 has been so far."

I feel like I just got punched in the brain. Hall has never been nearly as good as his reputation, and metrics should be used for the good of pointing out such a misconception. Yes, the guy is a playmaker, and it is very likely he has been the top 'playmaking' CB in the NFL - he even won that Chicago game for us with 4 INTs. But to say his season has been amazing is just absurd. In fact, he has been really bad, and grossly outplayed by Carlos Rogers. Hall does not shadow each team's #1, and is not across from an elite CB, yet there is a reason teams continually throw at him.......he's not good. I have heard over radio, but am having trouble finding online, that Football Outsiders game charters have Hall as possibly theee worst CB in the NFL so far this year. I found confirmation that he has been the most thrown at player in the league so far, and I also heard that he has the lowest success rate in stopping throws against him

 The Usual Work of D******* Hall

To recap, teams are targeting Hall often and with great success.

You know why Nnamdi Asomugha never gets 6 INTs through 8 games? Because he is so good (and partly the Raiders stupid for only playing him on one side of the field) that he was only thrown at 28 times last season. 28 times! To match Hall's raw numbers, and using 14 targets in 8 games, Asomugha would have had to intercept almost 1/2 of the passes thrown his way, and breakup the rest. Hall's season does not defy words, he just stinks at his job while being a tremendous ballhawk, and thus equates out to be a 'boom or bust' player. Not only are these types of players less valuable than those who are consistent (Rogers), but Hall is having waaay too many 'busts' this year despite the high number of highlights

But Hall can't be that bad you say? Burke makes the point in his +WPA explanation that, "...if their gambles were really hurting a team, I doubt they'd be given much slack and playing time by their coaches." Burke needs to become better acquainted with the Redskins franchise under Dan Snyder; we don't just give them playing time, we give them fat contracts.

(Image courtesy of footballhunger.com)