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

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

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 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

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 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 and McNabb image courtesy of

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

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