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. 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

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

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

Redskins - Bucs Live Chat on

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