Sunday, September 20, 2009

Redzone Debacle

The "boo-birds" made their first appearance today at FedExField, on the first game of the year. Rightfully so on the heels of the awful redzone play-calling that has plagued this team over the past few years. During a game in which the Redskins walked up and down on the St. Louis Rams, the offense came to a grinding halt on all 5 occasions that they made it inside the redzone. 3 times they settled for field goals, once a fumble, and the last a turnover on downs.

The last two trips into the redzone, Jim Zorn ran all run plays that were subsequently stuffed at the line of scrimmage forcing the 'Skins to kick a field goal on one drive and turn the ball over on the 3 on the other. What bothers me and every other fan was the fact that Jason Campbell was responsible for driving the team down the field only to be handcuffed and forced to hand the ball off when the team desperately needed a touchdown. I didn't mind going for it on 4th down but the fact that Jim Zorn did not give the offense many options to score puzzled me. If Campbell rolls out he has a two way go in which he can throw to one of three receivers or run the ball in. Yet time and time again run plays to the right side of the line were called and St. Louis stopped them all.

I don't know if Zorn is trying to appease Clinton Portis or if he really felt that he'd pull one over on Steve Spagnolo by running the ball on every single down. This play calling is what the "boos" were directed at and rightfully so. Still a win is a win and the fact that at the end of the game the fans still booed Zorn is a little embarrassing but that just shows the frustration of the fans.

Next week the 'Skins go to Detriot and an offense game plan like this will result in a loss that will send this town into a frenzy. Sports radio this week will be abuzz with talk of canning Zorn for his simple-minded approach to the redzone and everyone will wonder whether anything will change for this week. After 18 games of the same thing I wouldn't look for anything to change at this point and I may soon be preparing to rev-up the new coach bus that Snyder is sure to be piloting.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Try at the 'Skins Final 53

With cuts looming this week as teams around the NFL have to get to the final 53-man roster, I'll take my shot at predicting the final 53 of the Redskins. Here is the breakdown of how I think they roster will shake out.

QB - 3
  • Jason Campbell

  • Todd Collins

  • Colt Brennan

There has been much controversey surrounding this position since the offseason and much of it surrounding the incumbent starter Jason Campbell. In his latest outing JC showed he was far and away the starter by leading the team to a halftime tie with the Patriots. The real battle was originally to be for the backup spot with Brennan and Collins duking it out for that spot but as the preseason went on Brennan's real battle was for a roster spot at the thrid-string with Chase Daniel. The only reason Colt stays is that he's more attractive on the waiver-wire than Daniel and has more experience in this offense.

RB - 5
  • Clinton Portis

  • Ladell Betts

  • Rock Cartwright

  • Mike Sellers

  • Anthony Alridge

Most of these spots were thought to have been locked up all the way through camp, but when the 3rd preseason game came around and Marcus Mason once again flashed his ability someone's spot seemed to be in jeopardy. Some thought Cartwright could become a casualty and other thought Betts would be. After thinking about it long and hard and seeing Mason's lack of pass protection skills I decided that Betts was too important to the offense and Cartwright too important to special teams to be let go and thus Mason gets his walking papers once again. In Mason's place will be Anthony Alridge who by some accounts is Vinny Cerrato's guy and could make the team because of that. Alridge does have amazing speed and if he sees time in a game he could be that game breaking running back the 'Skins haven't seen in years.

WR - 5
  • Sanatana Moss

  • Antwaan Randle El

  • Malcolm Kelly

  • Devin Thomas

  • Marko Mitchell

This is a make or break season for the two 2nd-year players in Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas. Kelly has shown a grasp of the offense this year and could unseat Randle El for the #2 spot which could benefit this offense with ARE in the slot. Thomas is still raw but has the talent to contribute if he can learn the offense. The suprise in this group could very well end up being Marko Mitchell who has shown thus far that he can play at this level scoring two TDs on fades. Is Mitchell the missing redzone piece for this offense or is he just a "one-route" wonder? By keeping Mitchell, this group becomes much younger and much more inexperienced making the TE position that much more important to this team.

TE - 3
  • Chris Cooley

  • Fred Davis

  • Todd Yoder
This was the easiest group to pick out with Fred Davis showing flashes of skill with some ball handling issues. Cooley will be the go to man for this team but Davis will provide the offense another wrinkle in two-TE sets with athleticism. Yoder has been a great blocker as well special teams contributer.

OL - 9
  • Chris Samuels

  • Derrick Dockery

  • Casey Rabach

  • Randy Thomas

  • Stephon Heyer

  • Jeremy Bridges

  • Will Montgomery

  • Mike Williams

  • Chad Rinehart
The most scrutinized group in the offseason because of its lack of depth and inability to finish out the season strong last year. I imagine that the team will retain 9 lineman keeping Mike Williams as a project. They've been strong this preseason but one injury to a starter up front could be devastating. Keep an eye on Chris Samuels because I have a feeling that he may be on his last legs eventhough he is considered the best lineman of the group.

DT - 5
  • Albert Haynesworth

  • Cornelius Griffin

  • Anthony Montgomery

  • Kedric Golston

The biggest offseason acquisition sits here and he should be a force up front creating opportunities for the backers behind him and the ends to either side. All the interior lineman in this group have playing experience and all should contribute substantially.

DE - 4
  • Andre Carter

  • Phillip Daniels

  • Renaldo Wynn

  • Jeremy Jarmon

While there are only 4 listed in this group you can really consider it as a 6 people deep with two draft-picks, Jarmon and Orakpo, 3 vets, Carter, Daniels, and Wynn, and a young wild-card who is a speedster off the edge in Wilson. This may be one of the deepest positions on the team.

LB - 7
  • London Fletcher

  • Rocky McIntosh

  • Brian Orakpo

  • H.B. Blades

  • Chris Wilson

  • Cody Glenn

  • Darrel Young
There are 7 listed here but two of them will also see work at defensive-end in Orakpo and Wilson. Relatively young and inexperienced I think this group is two injuries away from being in big trouble. Keeping Cody Glenn as a guy who can fill in both inside and outside is a risk because he is a rookie and very raw. Darrel Young will be a special teams player that the coaches like. Orakpo will be interesting to watch to see if he develops into an outsidebacker because it will be a big adjustment for him.
CB - 5
  • DeAngelo Hall

  • Carlos Rogers

  • Fred Smoot

  • Kevin Barnes

  • Justin Tryon
Keeping only 5 may be a risk the Redskins have to take to fill needs at other positions. I think that Byron Westbrook is the last player left off on the defense and even though we haven't heard his name too often this preseason, as a DB that means you are doing your job. The back end of this group is young and raw which could pose problems should the D-line not be able to get pressure again.
S - 4
  • LaRon Landry

  • Chris Horton

  • Reed Doughty

  • Kareem Moore
Strong group with two young studs in Horton and Landry but lacks the center fielder that Sean Taylor was. Landry will fill that position as the ball-hawk deep though he may be better suited playing up on the line. Horton played well last year and supplanted Doughty as the start who also has experience playing.

K - 1
  • Shaun Suisham
The battle between Suisham and Dave Rayner never materialized during games and in practice the two were practically identical. Based on Suisham's familiarity with long-snapper Ethan Albright he gets the nod.

P - 1
  • Hunter Smith
Only punter on the roster is an upgrade at the revolving door that this position has become over the last few years.

LS - 1

  • Ethan Albright
Savvy vet has been a mainstay on this team over the last few years.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Reaction to 'Skins-Pats

After last night's last second loss to the Patriots the Redskins still have some work to do. Here are some of my thoughts; good and bad.

Jason Campbell - Jason had a decent game last night going 15-23 for 203 yards and leading the team to two first half scores and a tie with arguably one of the best teams in the league. The only problem I saw was that he was still not very accurate on some of his passes, missing a streaking Santana Moss for a touchdown in the 1st quarter. Campbell still needs to work on his timing with receivers making sure the ball is on the correct shoulder and not floating them too high.

Defensive Line - I liked what the D-line did last night applying pressure but the pocket never really did collapse on the quarterback and with a veteran like Tom Brady all that needed to be done was step into the void and deliver a pass.

DBs - Deangelo Hall was abused last night by Randy Moss. This was their first match-up in their careers and clearly Moss was the superior player catching two TDs over top of the shorter Hall. The rest of the DBs played ok but giving up too many 3rd down plays and a few pass interferences. Kevin Barnes made his first INT with great coverage but I didn't like how he undercut the ball before looking for it. Had that pass been a bit more to the outside of the receiver it could have been a first down.

Red Zone - The 'Skins were finally able to score in the red zone this week but I didn't like the personnel in there when they ran the two fades to Malcolm Kelly. I think that getting Kelly and Marko Mitchell in there at the same time running two fades on opposite sides of the field may help Campbell with two options because the Pats knew Kelly was going to get the fade each time by putting safety help over top. Running two fades may also open the middle of the field for a Cooley TD or even a slot receiver underneath.

Kicking - Good here was the punts by Hunter Smith but the bad was Shuan Shuisam missing a 52 yd FG that led to the Pats game winner.

All in all I think this outing was a little more reassuring to the fans that this team can compete but I still think overall they have a lot to work on to push themselves up into the upper half of the league.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Phil Mickelson has done it again

No I'm not talking about choking away a share of the lead on the last three holes of another US Open like today. I'm talking about the horrific choice in wardrobe that Lefty decided to go with today. I mean seriously a brown shirt with sleeves showing his golfers tan along with white pants with brown pinstripes? Could you imagine Phil hoisting the US Open Trophy looking more like he was a UPS man delivering the trophy to the ceremony?

I think its time for Phil to pull a Tiger-like move and go with a solid color that he only wears on Sunday or the final round. How about the "all black" look he pulled out for The Players Championship in 2007 or even just a black shirt like when you won The Masters in 2004. Whatever is it a change must be made in the colors.

Even the style of shirt he wears must change. Those tighter fitting, shortened sleeved numbers that Phil trots out need to be replaced one a bit longer. Only guys like Sergio, Tiger, and Camillo can pull those off, guys that are in shape. Phil on the other hand is a bit pudgy and saggy and needs to hide it with a nice loose fitting shirt that we had become accustomed to a few years ago.

Anyways, the US Open for the most part was very eventful with a final round that nearly saw David Duval regain some of his old feel and pull of an upset for the ages. Mickelson may have been the best storyline with his wife battling breast cancer in the hospital. If it wasn't for the fact that once again Phil couldn't hold on to a tie lead and faltered with his putter at the end we might be watching Phil hoist the trophy or an 18 hole playoff tomorrow.

For Lucas Glover, it was a bit of redemption for him since he had to regionally qualify for the Open and had only won once before on tour making him only the fifth player ever to have to qualify for the tournament and win. All in all we got a great show eventhough the weather didn't cooperate for much of the weekend.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

One for the Ages

Washington, D.C. has long been known as the political center of the world. A place where public servants meet to discuss policy within the limestone structures and carouse around to the many grandiose restaurants that require a sense of power to sit in.

Tonight, this town will go from a political epicenter to a red wearing, hockey-crazed town. Not since 1980s has this town seen a fever quite like this when the talk of the town was for a small time taken away from the Capitol Hill and focused in on an athletic team. Back to the days where Riggins, Monk, Theisman, Manley, and Green were the love of the town in the Redskins' glorious era, a new regime has taken over. A period where economic times are troubling and jobs scarce, a group of men have taken away the pain and given hope to an area devout of a championship in nearly 20 years.

Led by Alex Ovechkin, reigning NHL MVP, the Capitals have been embraced by a town that was once thought be only a football town. At a time where only a few years ago this team fell behind the DC United in the area sports heirarchy. When only a few years ago it looked so bad for a team whose own arena was clad with the colors of the Red Wings, Penguins, or Flyers. Not anymore. This team here is the hottest ticket in town. A team where you see all the young talent and can only say its a matter of time until a Stanley Cup is brought home.

Tonight's game 7 is an anticipated match between hockey's three best players in Ovechkin, Crosby, and Malkin. The whole hockey world will watch on the edge of their seats as the finale to one of the greatest hockey series is finishing up. A game where the hope of a city rests on the shoulders of those donning the red sweaters, for it has been too long without a winner. The final game in a series so epic that it will be looked at as the beginning of a new era in the sport. A chance for one team to pull itself closer to the final goal. A chance to redeem two decades of sports mediocrity in a city that demands the best from its political counterpart. A chance to keep the magic alive.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Last Stand

The Caps-Pens series has so far been one for the ages. Hat-tricks by both Ovechkin and Crosby in Game 2, OT wins by Pittsburgh in both game 3 and 5, and plenty of refereeing issues and claims of runs being taken at Russian players. Wow this series sure has lived up to the hype.

For the Capitals though, advancing to the next round would mean more to the city of DC than anything else right now. In a sports down void of any real winner over the past decade-and-a-half, the Capitals have been the closest thing to a champion since the Redskins won the Super Bowl back in January 1992.

What has plagued the Caps in this series is a defense that too easily gets sucked in throughout the neutral zone and gives up an odd-man rush leading to shots on goal and rebound chances for a Pens team that thrives on that. The speed of Pittsburgh seems to be overwhelming at times and to make up for getting beat the Caps tend to hook, slash, or trip the Pens on their way to the goal.

The absence of two of the Caps leading scorers, Alexander Semin and Mike Green, also doesn't bode well for their chances. The fact that these two have been non-factors throughout these games leaves on Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom as the only real threats to Pittsburgh. For being the NHL's highest scoring teams in the league during the regular season, the absence of the two drops point production dramatically.

It may be time for the Washington area to reload and hope that in the fall the Redskins can make a miraculous run to get to the Super Bowl but the chances of that are very slim. Looks like DC may be in for another summer of boring baseball and may once again have to pin their hopes on the Caps next year. Barring a change in play I'll most likely be hanging up my jersey's and getting ready for football season. It hurts me to say this but I wish our big name players could step up and give us hope. Game 6 hangs over us and so does our hopes of championship coming to town.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Steroids Claims Another

This biggest news in baseball up until the other day was the Alex Rodriguez steroids admittance that grabbed the headlines early in spring training. With the 50-game suspension doled out to Manny Ramirez by the MLB, baseball seems to be in an uproar about steroids chopping down another one of the games' current greats. Was anyone surprised by this? With the allegations swirling around other such greats as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Mike Piazza (all of whom have not admitted to anything) Ramirez is another to actually fall to the testing procedures implemented by the league.

The reaction to the news of Manny is not all too surprising but is something that maybe needs to be re-looked at. The fact that many people still can't seem to wrap their heads around the amount of "cheating" that has occurred and still occurs is amazing. One of the things that has been said all along about steroids is that as long as they are testing people there will be ways found around the tests and newer performance enhancing drugs that aren't detected.

Another big thing is that these accusations and confessions will lead to a period in baseball where some of the games most prolific hitters and pitchers not being inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. With the stance creeping closer and closer to not voting these players in we'll see a lull in the amount of player who actually with make it into the HOF. Does baseball need a period in which the amount of people inducted declines to levels never seem before? Or that the quality of the player that is inducted isn't as good in comparison to the rest of those in Cooperstown?

Part of me believes that even though these players cheated by using performance enhancers some of the blame needs to be put on commissioner Bud Selig for turing a blind eye to all of this. Selig is one of the reasons the Players Association got away with all they did. He did not pursue the right course of action until it was too late. He knew players were juicing and just turned the other way and basked in the glory of the home run battles. Baseball thrived in the years in a time when after the strike it needed fans more than ever.

Will Manny be the last big name to fall? No. There is no chance when watching a game that there are players out there who got as big as they did without the help steriods. Guys like Albert Pujols, Mark Texiera, CC Sabathia, Dustin Pedoria all put up insane numbers and all would be no surpise if they too were linked to some sort of enhancer.

At this point I'm over it. I don't watch baseball wondering whether or not players are juicing because to be honest I don't really care. I'm there to be entertain and as long as that happens I'll be happy. It's those baseball purist who are hurt most by this but in this era where seemingly everyone was doing it the playing field may have been in fact level the whole time.