Wednesday, August 4, 2010

4 other reasons to be pumped for camp

Welcome back ladies, gentlemen and everyone else out there not named Haynesworth. This marks the official commencement of Blog on the Warpath's second year and that right there is undoubtedly the fifth best reason to be pumped for Redskins training camp...


Moving on.

Here's number four: Defensive position battles. Washington's new management decided to finally make the defensive transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and Shanahan has made it clear that open competition will dictate new starting positions.

In the secondary alone, both former starters Chris Horton and Reed Doughty are returning from injuries, Landry might move back to strong safety, third-year player Kareem Moore could start at free, and Jim Haslett will be looking for unproven draft picks Kevin Barnes and Justin Tryon and/or newly acquired Phillip Buchanon to push starters Hall and Rogers for playing time.

And the secondary was supposed to be the least revised unit from last year.

At linebacker, the Skins are currently 11-deep (Lorenzo Alexander and Andre Carter converted). Orakpo and Fletch are no-brainers but where will 2009 starters Rocky and Carter fit in? It's been rumored ex-DL/OL/TE/FB and special-teams Lorenzo Alexander will start opposite Orakpo meaning Carter could be demoted to spot-duty. Will rookie Perry Riley have any impact?

Defensive line seemingly all depends on the teammate formerly known as Albert. If Haynesworth-less does play will it be at the nose or an end? How will Maake Kemoeatu fare coming off a season-ending Achilles injury? That leaves ageless vets Vonnie Holliday and Phillip Daniels, youngsters Adam Carriker, Jeremy Jarmon and Kedric Golston, and a few others to fall in elsewhere. At least they'll have more than enough bodies this year for a change.

#3: The rebirth of the running game. Shanahan's ground games in Denver didn't always produce all-stars but they always produced- Clinton Portis just happened to be one of those stars. Joining him in 2010 will be two-time Pro Bowlers Larry Johnson and Willie Parker and possibly even Brian Westbrook. And don't forget the name Ryan Torain- he turns 24 next week and Shanahan has a history of adopting no-namers.

The offensive line has also been retooled and they couldn't have waited any longer. Fourth overall pick Trent Williams replaces former stonewall and future Hall of Famer Chris Samuels at LT. Dockery and Rabach return from 2009 at LG and C. Artis Hicks, Chad Rinehart and possibly Edwin Williams will compete for Mike Williams' spot at RG after blood clots surprisingly ended his season. Lastly, two-time Pro Bowler and former Saint Jammal Brown will likely be replacing Stephon Heyer at RT... (applause for Bruce Allen).

Did I mention Kyle Shanahan, architect of top-five offenses in each of the last two seasons, will be replacing Jim Zorn and friends as bingo... I mean play-caller?

#2: Number five.

McNabb is the most reliable dude to start at quarterback for Washington since Norv Turner started Brad Johnson in 1999, McNabb's rookie year. He has the confidence Campbell lacked, the charisma Brunell lacked, and without question more talent than any other QB to start for Washington in the 21st century.

The obvious and unchanging difference between Washington and Philadelphia in the past decade has been the disparity in talent at quarterback. As a result, excluding '05 when McNabb was injured, Washington is 6-14 against Philly since he was drafted out of Syracuse in 1999.

McNabb made it happen in Philly with specific weapons. He favored speedy WRs (we got those: Moss, Devin Thomas, Mike Furrey and Terrance Austin), athletic TEs (definitely got those: Cooley and Davis), sure-handed veterans (got those too: Joey Galloway and Bobby Wade) and RBs out of the backfield (you guessed it: Willie Parker, Torain, and possibly even Brian Westbrook).

With the Shanahans implementing a run-heavy derivation of Andy Reid's west coast offense in DC, look for McNabb's rebirth in Washington to go wayyy smoother than LeBron's in South Beach.

#1: Someone has finally dethroned Daniel Snyder.

"Too often the currency at Redskins Park has rewarded talent instead of commitment. Shanahan is changing the currency, restoring the value of daily dedication."

After analyzing every move Shanahan's made so far this offseason, this observer can't deny he's made each decision based on something the Redskins organization has devalued every year since the first Joe Gibbs go-around: professionalism.

Immediately after taking over, Shanahan "encouraged" every player to participate in offseason activities whether they were mandatory or not. The players that attended were rewarded with more reasonable two-a-days in training camp as opposed to full pads, full speed practices. Justifiably so, the player that skipped is in the midst of losing all credibility and camaraderie with his teammates, opponents and fans.

Then, Shanahan realized he had a familiar prima donna at RB so instead of bickering with him to get his best as he did in Denver, he brought in two former Pro Bowlers to make him earn his starting spot.

Most importantly, the casual aura left over from the Zorn era, and even the Gibbs and Spurrier eras before that has finally been restored with (excuse the cliche) a sense of urgency- just ask Jason Campbell, Fred Smoot or Colt Brennan.

Zorn's "stay medium" is out. It's official. Shanahan's "show up, shut up, keep up," or walk around the sidelines in a baseball cap is now in.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Out to lunch

Barring any big moves from Shanahan & Co. Blog on the Warpath will be on vacation until August.

Hail to the Redskins

Thursday, April 22, 2010

First take?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ex-QB situation developing

Jason Campbell's critics claim he lacks the fire of a major-leaguer. Maybe so, but his most recent move suggests he's beginning to turn the corner.

The scapegoat formally known as Jason Campbell signed his $3.1 million free agent tender Monday challenging his current/soon-to-be-former team to make the next move.

For those of us who rarely understand what ESPN's Adam Schefter is talking about when he rambles on over free agent tenders and buyouts, this basically means Campbell is no longer a restricted free agent and is once again a Washington Redskin... contractually speaking. In reality, this move gives Bruce Allen and the rest of Washington's front office a shot at dealing Campbell before the April 22 draft.

Looking back, Campbell's fate as the starting QB in Washington was in doubt long before McNabb was brought in. Skeptics zeroed in on Campbell long before Shanahan and Allen arrived too. Realistically, the team that selected Campbell with the 25th overall pick in '05 never entirely believed in him.

Campbell was drafted following the '04 season in which both Patrick Ramsey and Mark Brunell struggled to lead Gibbs's outdated offense. He then sat his entire rookie season and the first 10 weeks of 2006. Finally, in week 11 he took over for a declining Brunell and finished the season with more TDs than his predecessor despite playing in fewer games.

In 2007, Campbell led Washington to a 5-7 record before dislocating the patellar ligament in his left knee. Todd Collins replaced Campbell for the rest of the season and led the inspired Redskins (sans Sean Taylor) to an unexpected playoff appearance, their second since 1999.

Seemingly, Campbell's been on the chopping block ever since.

In 52 games under center for Washington, Campbell completed over 60% of his passes and accounted for 58 TDs and 38 INTs (82.3 QB rating). He improved in every statistical passing category in each of his four seasons despite playing under incompetent head coaches (with all due respect to Gibbs) in different offensive systems each year with inconsistent receivers and arguably some of the league's worst offensive lines (third-most sacked QB since 2007).

But in spite of it all, the only number that seems to sidestep detractor's blinders is Washington's abysmal 26-38 record since Campbell was drafted in 2005.

It's far-fetched to assume he would have put up similar numbers to Manning, Brady or Brees had he been able to play on a playoff-caliber roster, but few experts deny Campbell's potential to win as a starter in the NFL.

Just ask DC's own Mike Wilbon:
I've hoped Campbell would leave the management-coaching dysfunction that undermined his career and find a professional situation. That could have happened with Shanahan now in charge. But Campbell, no matter how hurt he probably is now, should drop to his knees and feel his prayers have been answered... Campbell, free of upper-management meddling and the coaching revolving door with the Redskins, is young enough, talented enough and hard-working enough to be a terrific quarterback... I told Campbell what I'm writing now: the best thing that could happen to his career was to get the hell out of here, away from new coaches, new coordinators, new systems and the same old dysfunctional way of running a football team... I hope Campbell can fulfill the vast potential the Redskins organization wasn't smart enough to see or develop fully.
For a team desperately attempting to improve upon its loser culture, change is warranted. But to let go of arguably your most levelheaded, unheralded and unfinished product strikes me as downright disloyal.

Perhaps letting him go is just the fire Campbell needs.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Donovan McNabb, but...

Donovan McNabb, 33, is now a Washington Redskin. In return for the 12-year-vet, Philly will receive D.C.'s second rounder (37th overall) and next year's third or fourth rounder depending on McNabb's performance this season.

Was the first major step of the Shanahan/Allen era constructive?

Aaron Schatz's take:
McNabb isn't as much of an upgrade as people might think, and his ability to improve things is severely limited unless Washington can fill some of its other holes. And in a couple of years, Washington fans might look back on this as yet another example of the Redskins making a big move for a veteran on the downside of his career. The difference is the Redskins are getting McNabb earlier in his decline compared to those other guys.
I have mixed feelings on how well McNabb fits Shanahan’s scheme. Shanahan stresses accuracy and great anticipatory passing. I don’t consider either being McNabb's strengths. Plus, those three running backs [Portis, Larry Johnson, and Willie Parker] aren’t big assets in the passing game and they don’t have any resemblance to Brian Westbrook, whom McNabb has had as a safety valve out of the backfield for the majority of his career... There will be a learning curve.
By acquiring Donovan McNabb for a second-round draft choice in 2010 and a third- or fourth-rounder in 2011, the Eagles may have given Redskins owner Daniel Snyder the short-term tool to move ahead of the Eagles in the NFC East race. In a quarterback-driven league, the Redskins should be able to finally score enough points to not just be a wild-card playoff contender, but to be a division winner.

I'm going with Clayton. Although their numbers where very comparable last year, I must admit the acquisition of McNabb is an upgrade over Campbell going into the 2010 season. McNabb was a proven winner in Philly despite fair-weather fans, unwarranted criticism, head-case teammates, questions of race, and the lack of a legitimate #1 receiver excluding T.O. in 2004.


How can a team with the league's oldest roster entering last season and arguably the league's worst offensive line be willing to give away any of its five draft picks, let alone its second rounder?

The 37th overall pick is essentially a late first-rounder seeing that playoff teams aka teams that draft later in the first round generally draft for need rather than best player available. As a result, first-round talent generally trickles into the beginning of the second round like a LeSean McCoy in 2009; a Curtis Lofton, DeSean Jackson, or Ray Rice in '08; or even a Rocky McIntosh in '06.

Just look at the players toward the bottom of ESPN Scouts Inc.'s top 32: OT Anthony Davis, S Taylor Mays, DT Jared Odrick, RB Ryan Matthews, and OLB Sean Weatherspoon. Those players could easily be available early in the second round and Washington has a need at all five of those positions. But, after their fourth overall selection, they won't draft again until 99 picks later in the fifth round (103 overall).

Pundits such as Matt Mosley have already predicted the trade for McNabb eliminates the possibility and/or need for drafting Bradford or Clausen with the fourth overall selection. Therefore, Shanahan/Allen will draft OT Russell Okung out of Oklahoma State to solve all of Washington's offensive line problems.

Success, right?

But what happens if McNabb struggles behind Washington's patchwork offensive line and refuses to re-sign when his contract is up after the 2010 season? Does Washington use its 2011 first-rounder on a quarterback or do they draft the best offensive lineman available in an attempt to continue rebuilding its most important, yet most neglected unit?

My point is this: the Redskins are in need of young talent at numerous positions on both sides of the football. By trading away draft picks - let alone high draft picks - for proven, yet older players they are just delaying the inevitable in exchange for immediate success. Sound familiar?

Although the move for McNabb does bring instant credibility to a struggling offense, its effects will be short-lived in the long run. The most recent attempt at a shortcut cripples a desperate franchise's future just weeks before it had the opportunity to invest in the best crop of offensive line talent in years.

In my opinion, the only way to salvage yesterday's blockbuster trade is to trade away the fourth overall pick for multiple picks in the early rounds. That, and hope this trade results in the same favorable outcome as the 1964 trade with Philly that brought Sonny Jurgensen to Washington.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Interesting poll question in today's Post

Should the Redskins take a quarterback with the No. 4 pick in the draft?

According to draft "experts" on combine eve...

Mel Kiper's top 5, as of February 17:
  1. St. Louis: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
  2. Detroit: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
  3. Tampa Bay: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
  4. Washington: Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame. Clausen will gain momentum after the combine. Once he's fully recovered from his toe surgery, he'll show teams he can make the throws, but there's more to it. His intelligence, competitiveness and toughness will impress personnel people, and his stock will rise. Clausen has under-center experience and was as close to mistake-free as he could be given his surroundings this past season.
  5. Kansas City: Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
Todd McShay's top 5, as of February 10:
  1. St. Louis: Gerald McCoy
  2. Detroit: Ndamukong Suh
  3. Tampa Bay: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida
  4. Washington: Anthony Davis. Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford has enough physical and mental tools to develop into a good NFL starter eventually. However, he also enters the league with enough question marks (shoulder injury, spread offensive system, etc.) for a team like the Redskins to pass and fill one of several other holes. Solidifying its offensive line should be Washington's top priority, and Davis is the most naturally gifted tackle in this year's deep group. Two other options at tackle are Russell Okung (Oklahoma State) and Bryan Bulaga (Iowa).
  5. Kansas City: Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma St.
Scouts Inc. latest rankings of potential Redskin draft picks:
QBs: Bradford-95, Clausen-88
OTs: Davis-97, Okung-96, Bulaga-95

Fri: kickers/punters
Sat: offensive line/tight ends
Sun: quarterbacks/running backs/wide receivers
Mon: defensive line/linebackers
Tue: cornerbacks/safeties

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Offseason idleness

I apologize for the lack of posting gang. A 4-12 team doesn't make much headline news this early in the offseason. Be sure to check back following the NFL combine when the draft and free agency picture begins to materialize.

Hail to the Redskins.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Russ Grimm, Class of 2010: Justice

Arguably the most under-appreciated position in American sport is the NFL offensive lineman.

The stereotypical offensive lineman, especially in the modern era, fails to make the high-profile magazine cover, is overlooked for the glamourous sponsorship, and is rarely mentioned in the post-game conversation unless he underperformed.

Both Super Bowl QBs were lionized for their performance on Sunday, yet an equally impressive statistic was the offensive lines' combined sack total: one.

Of the 252 pro football hall of famers, just 34 played offensive line exclusively. And on February 6, on his sixth attempt, Russ Grimm, anchor of the legendary "Hogs," deservingly made it 35.

Russell Scott Grimm was a third round draft pick in Joe Gibbs's first season as head coach. He played 11 years for the Redskins and retired after the 1991 Super Bowl season. He was a four-time Pro Bowler (1983-86) and was later named to the NFL 1980's All-Decade Team and the 70 Greatest Redskins.

As a head coach, Grimm was instrumental in the development of Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen in Washington. As the offensive line boss in Pittsburgh, Grimm's unit consistently neared tops in the league and in 2005 he added a fourth Super Bowl ring to his resume. After he was overlooked for the head coaching position in 2007, he left with Ken Whisenhunt for Arizona where he helped transform the Cardinals into an offensive juggernaut.

It's outrageous that it took this long for a Hog to be elected to Canton. Grimm, along with Jeff Bostic, Mark May, George Starke, and Joe Jacoby, led Joe Gibbs's Redskins to four Super Bowl appearances and three titles during the '80s and early '90s.

Therefore, the Hogs are undeniably tied to the successes of Earnest Byner, Gary Clark, Art Monk, Mark Moseley, John Riggins, Mark Rypien, Ricky Sanders, Joe Theismann, Don Warren, Joe Washington, Doug Williams, and recently retired Joe Bugel and Joe Gibbs.

Realistically, the Hogs defined the glory years in Washington, much like Bill Walsh's West Coast Offense defined the 49ers or the Steel Curtain in Pittsburgh.

And realistically, Russ Grimm defined the Hogs.

Fellow Hog George Starke:
"Obviously, everyone knows that Russ is a Hog, but not everyone knows that the name Hogs came from a description of him. He was lying on the ground at the end of a blocking drill and Joe Bugel walked by and Russ had his stomach peeking out of his shirt. Buges said, ‘Man, Russ get up you look like a Hog laying on the ground.’ After that, the rest of us decided to poke fun at Buges and wear white shirts to practice and we all had Hogs written on them. Buges said to us, ‘Why are you doing that?’ We said, Because we are in solidarity with Russ and if you call him a Hog, you have to call us all Hogs.’ That is where the name came from. I think Russ is the greatest guard to ever play pro football. He and Randy White had so many battles and Russ won most of those battles and Randy is in the Hall of Fame. I think it is only fitting that Russ make it in.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sorry, but I have a problem with London Fletcher being named to the Pro Bowl

12-year-vet London Fletcher was essentially added to the NFC Pro Bowl roster Sunday night immediately following Garrett Hartley's game-winning kick in overtime.

It became official Monday morning when he - along with six other NFC players - relieved QB Drew Brees, OT Jonathan Stinchcomb, OG Jahri Evans, C Jonathan Goodwin, LB Jonathan Vilma, and safeties Darren Sharper and Roman Harper.

According to new NFL format, the Pro Bowl is now held one week before the Super Bowl as opposed as one week after. As a result, players from the two Super Bowl contending teams are unable to play and reserves must be called upon.

But I digress.

London Fletcher finished the season second among defensive players in tackles according to NFL.com. Fletch recorded 142 total tackles, two sacks, seven pass deflections, one INT and one forced fumble. In comparison, Jonathan Vilma, the man he replaced, notched 110 tackles, two sacks, 11 pass deflections, three INTs, and zero forced fumbles. Washington finished the season 10th in total defense while New Orleans finished 25th.

It's pointless to argue which star-linebacker deserved it more this season because - like all American sports - all-star games have become mere popularity contests. However, it is undeniable that a Pro Bowl appearance for London Fletcher was mightily overdue. Just compare London Fletcher with arguably the most decorated LB in NFL history Ray Lewis:
  • Since 2001, Lewis has accumulated 1,045 total tackles, 36.5 sacks, one safety, 28 INTs, 12 forced fumbles and two TDs. As a result, Lewis has been named to a record 11 Pro Bowls and has twice been named NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
  • In that same time, Fletch has accumulated 1,244 total tackles, 30 sacks, two safeties, 15 INTs, 11 forced fumbles and three TDs. He's never missed a game in his 12-year career, yet this year's Pro Bowl - due to Vilma's inability to attend - will be Fletcher's first appearance.
He belongs. Congrats London. Looking ahead, it'll be interesting to see how Hall of Fame voters treat the Susan Lucci of football.


As happy as I am for London Fletcher, I have a serious problem with this year's Pro Bowl format and believe Fletcher's appearance - along with 14 other replacements - deserves an asterisk.

The NFL is moving in the wrong direction in attempting to fix its all-star game. If deserving top performers from each year are to be sent to the Pro Bowl, the NFL must scratch the fan vote. 50% of the vote should come from coaches and the other 50% should come from players. Neither coaches nor players should be allowed to vote for teammates.

Also, voting should occur at the end of the season as opposed to early/mid-December. Kansas City RB Jamaal Charles racked up 515 rushing yards in the final three games of the year, yet Pro Bowl voting had already ended.

Lastly, the Pro Bowl should take place after the Super Bowl so nominated players are able to participate. It's no surprise the NFL's top players will play on the NFL's top teams. Why penalize them for performing above and beyond their peers?

London Fletcher deserved to make this year's Pro Bowl before Garrett Hartley made that kick. He's deserved to make several others too. But for the deserving 12-year-vet to make his first Pro Bowl appearance because Super-Bowl-bound Jonathan Vilma was prohibited to play is not only wrong, but denotes the sole blemish on an otherwise impeccable resume.

Friday, January 22, 2010

If Sam Bradford is Washington-bound...

Tackle-or-quarterback argument aside, let's take a look at Oklahoma junior QB Sam Bradford. Why? Better ask draft experts Mel Kiper and/or Todd McShay.

Kiper's first mock draft (updated 1/20):
  1. Rams- Ndamukong Suh
  2. Lions- Gerald McCoy
  3. Bucs- Eric Berry
  4. Skins- Sam Bradford
McShay's first mock draft (updated 12/15)
  1. Rams- Ndamukong Suh
  2. Bucs- Eric Berry
  3. Browns- Derrick Morgan
  4. Lions- Gerald McCoy
  5. Chiefs- Russell Okung
  6. Raiders- Carlos Dunlap
  7. Skins- Sam Bradford
At 6'4,'' 215ish lbs., Bradford has the size. With 31 starts, after missing all but 3 games his junior season, he arguably has the experience. And with a freshman TD record, a BCS Championship game appearance, and a Heisman trophy, he certainly has the credentials.

So what's the concern?

Bradford was injury-prone during his productive, yet short college career: a concussion his freshman year and a third-degree AC joint (throwing shoulder) sprain in September - his junior year - that he re-injured forcing him to undergo season-ending surgery.

Washington gave up the fourth most sacks in 2009. With Samuels and Randy Thomas's future in doubt, and no foreseeable immediate improvements if a QB is selected fourth in April's draft, who's to say Bradford can withstand the same punishment Campbell endured in 2009?

And even if Bradford manages to stay upright behind conceivably Washington's weakest unit, does he still possess NFL-caliber arm strength following major (throwing) shoulder surgery?

Renown Dr. James Andrews performed Bradford's surgery in late October and announced the procedure went "just as we expected." Coincidentally, Andrews happens to be the Redskins team doctor and reported the recovery usually takes anywhere from 4-6 months, just in time for April's draft and Shanny/Allen's first pick.

Would Sam Bradford, reportedly one-sixteenth Cherokee, make a good Redskin? Scouts Inc.'s take:
Quick feet. Consistently sidesteps the rush. Not overly elusive but displays enough quickness, agility and speed to turn the corner and pick up the first down when nothing available. Throws accurately on the run to both sides. Does not need to pull up while throwing on the run. Pocket presence is good at times but not consistent enough at this point. Gets too comfortable at times and trusts his protection too much. There are certain plays on which he feels the rush coming and avoids it, but others when he holds onto the ball too long and clearly doesn't feel pocket collapsing around him. He is capable of avoiding the rush at a high level in the NFL but needs to show ability to adjust to less protection after being spoiled in college.
Improvement over Campbell? Fourth overall pick? You be the judge.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Coaching... No, Culture Changes

Good god. An organization hasn't seen turnover like this since the Treaty of Paris.

Who's out? Vinny Cerrato and Jim Zorn (fired), Joe Bugel (retired), Sherm Smith and Sherm Lewis (not retained), Greg Blache (retired/replaced), Jerry Gray (not retained, now with Seattle), and Stump Mitchell (left for Southern Univ.).

Who's in? Bruce Allen (GM), Mike Shanahan (head coach), Kyle Shanahan (offensive coordinator), Jim Haslett (defensive coordinator), Bobby Turner (assistant head coach/RBs), and Lou Spanos (linebackers coach).

How do they stack up? Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan are unquestioned upgrades. Shanny Jr. aka Kyle became the youngest coordinator in the league nearly two years ago in Houston. In those two years, his unit finished third and fourth in the NFL in total yards/game - Schaub led the NFL in passing yards in 2009. Impressive, but how much authority will father give son?

Jim Haslett's NFL resume is slightly less impressive. From 1993-1999 Haslett served as either an defensive assistant or defensive coordinator for the Raiders, Saints, and Steelers. In 2000, Haslett replaced Mike Ditka as head coach of the Saints and was named Coach of the Year after posting a 10-6 record (3-13 in 1999). Haslett went 35-45 over the next 5 seasons and was fired in 2005, an especially hectic year in which Hurricane Katrina forced the Saints to relocate for nearly every home game.

In 2006, he was hired as defensive coordinator in St. Louis. In September 2008, Scott Linehan was dismissed and Haslett was promoted to interim head coach. The team went 2-10 under Haslett, but his role as head coach during the nosedive took a backseat role to St. Louis's evident lack of talent. However, the defense, Haslett's unit, finished 23rd, 21st, and 28th in his three years in St. Louis.

Bobby Turner was Shanahan Sr.'s right-hand man in Denver when it came to constructing the decade's most consistent, intimidating rushing attack. Turner arrived in Denver in 1995, a year before Shanahan. Since then, Denver has rushed for more yards than any team in the league. Most impressively, Turner got it done with Terrell Davis, Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, Clinton Portis, Reuben Droughns, Tatum Bell, Mike Bell, Selvin Young, Travis Henry, and most recently with Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter.

Moral of the story: the name on the back of the jersey is irrelevant. He'll love Washington's Portis-Betts-Rock-QG committee, that is if Shanahan doesn't bring in one of his own.

Haslett might bring the 3-4 to Washington. If so, Lou Spanos is the man for the job. Spanos coached the linebackers in Pittsburgh as long as Turner coached RBs in Denver. Spanos was also just as instrumental in the success of Pittsburgh's strongest unit as Turner was in Denver. Of Spanos’s 15 years in the Steel City, his defense ranked in the top 10 13 times, including four #1 rankings. He has as many Super Bowl rings as the entire Redskin franchise (3).

This next part is for Washington's only 2009 pro bowler, according to Redskins.com:
Spanos coached nine different linebackers who combined for 19 Pro Bowl appearances -- Kevin Greene (2), Greg Lloyd (2), Chad Brown (1), Levon Kirkland (2), Jason Gildon (3), Kendrell Bell (1), Joey Porter (3), James Farrior (2) and James Harrison (3). Additionally, Harrison earned the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2008, while Bell was the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2001.
Sure Washington will miss the contributions of ol' Boss Hog, the Shermans, and fiery Jerry Gray but I think it's safe to say the "new direction" is up.

RIP Gaines Adams

Monday, January 11, 2010

Addressing headlines

#1: Running backs coach Stump Mitchell has accepted the head coaching position at Southern University.

As happy as I am for Stump, I feel like this could be another example of Washington, once again, letting one of the 'good ones' get away. His defensive counterpart, Jerry Gray, could soon follow suit depending on how Shanahan and Allen handle the defensive coaching staff and Greg Blache's contract.

Stump played professionally for nine years in St. Louis and has coached at the collegiate and professional level since 1995. He could be directly responsible for the success of 3-time pro bowler and 2005 MVP Shaun Alexander in Seattle. In Washington, he's seemingly made the most out of lesser known RBs and a sub-par offensive line.

This is beginning to materialize into a disturbing trend in Washington among coaches and players. Here's a list of notable ex-Redskins that were prematurely dismissed or replaced and their replacements:
  • 1999: Charlie Casserly out, Vinny Cerrato in
  • 2002: Marty Schottenheimer out, Steve Spurrier in
  • 2005: Fred Smoot/Antonio Pierce out, Walt Harris/Lemar Marshall in
  • 2006: Ryan Clark out, Adam Archuleta in
  • 2007: Derrick Dockery out, Pete Kendell in
  • 2008: Al Saunders/Gregg Williams out, Jim Zorn/Greg Blache in
  • 2009: Shawn Springs out, DeAngelo Hall in
  • 2010: ?
It's no surprise that a new GM + a new coach = substantial turnover. The entire coaching staff as well as nearly every offensive starter's status with the team is anything but guaranteed. Shanahan's resume gives him the right to make changes where he sees fit, BUT if anything was gained from this season, it was a visible core of players that should be retained and built upon for the future.

It'd be a real shame to see another Antonio Pierce or Ryan Clark leave only to excel in a different uniform next season while his old franchise was still attempting to pick up the pieces.

#2: Rumors are beginning to circulate that Shanahan and Allen might be interviewing defensive coaches that prefer to run the 3-4 as opposed to the traditional 4-3 defense.

Could it work with the current defensive roster?

Haynesworth is more than capable of handling the nose tackle position. At 6'3'' and 270+ lbs., Jarmon could certainly play the weak-side end if he makes a full recovery from knee surgery and the other end position could be done by committee with Daniels, Griffin, Golston, and Montgomery all weighing over 300 lbs.

Pro bowler Brian Orakpo would undoubtedly benefit from the move to outside rush LB in a 3-4 scheme. At 253 lbs, Andre Carter would have to move to LB, a position he once excelled in as a 49er (32 sacks in 4.5 seasons) before coming to Washington (31.5 sacks in 4 seasons). Rocky and Fletch would fill the inside LB positions, much like Ray Lewis and Bart Scott did when Baltimore transitioned to a 3-4 a few years back. The flexibility of Chris Wilson and H.B. Blades would provide much needed depth.

The secondary would largely remain unaffected, but if Landry is moved back to strong safety and plays closer to the line of scrimmage, his blitzes would be better masked among at least four other potential pass rushers.

So could it work? Without a doubt. The Jets, Packers, Ravens, and Bengals have all recently made the switch to a 3-4 defense. How'd it work for them? 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, respectively, in the NFL in total defense.

All four of the aforementioned teams made the playoffs, two of which qualified for the divisional round primarily because of the play of their defense. Cheers to them. But as the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Shanahan meets Czarniak

"Mike Shanahan appears to be smitten with Lindsay Czarniak."

Friday, January 8, 2010

Biggest comeback of the year: Dan Snyder

January 6, 2010. Snyder should mark it down on his calendar. For the exact opposite reason, so should we.

Wednesday marked the day Redskin fans could no longer blame their beloved owner Daniel Snyder.

It actually began December 17th when he forced his long-time sidekick Vinny Cerrato to resign. Overnight he hired Bruce Allen, son of the George Allen, and slapped the unfamiliar GM tag on him.

Following the season finale, Snyder officially relieved Jim Zorn of whatever command the P.B. (punching bag... or more accurately, poor bastard) realistically had left. And two days later, he gave every Redskin fan exactly what he/she wanted when he lured two-time Super Bowl winning head coach Mike Shanahan out of retirement to lead their franchise.

Assuming Snyder hands over all the keys to Bruce Allen from this point forward, Allen and Shanahan are now fully responsible for whatever direction this once-proud Washington football franchise decides to go.

Here's what's on their plate just six days into this offseason:
  1. Assemble a coaching staff. It's safe to assume the entire offensive staff will be gone; Bugel will likely hang it up and Shanahan's son, Kyle, will likely replace 2009's three-headed play-calling nightmare. Will Jerry Gray relieve Greg Blache as defensive coordinator? Is special teams coordinator Danny Smith safe?
  2. Jason Campbell. Thumbs up or thumbs down?
  3. Health, durability, mileage, work ethic, attitude, team chemistry, the future. Can/should we deal Portis?
  4. Who do we take with the fourth overall pick? Offensive line? Quarterback? Running back?
Task number four will most likely decide the fate of the recently introduced duo.

In any case, whoever Allen and Shanahan decide on to be their first pick of the new era in Washington, one thing's for sure: you can't blame Snyder.

Congrats Dan. You can finally put your feet up and take your finger off the trigger for a few seasons.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Over and out

Jim Zorn, head coach for the last two seasons, was officially let go Monday shortly after the team returned from San Diego.

Surprise, surprise. Possibly the most foreseeable firing since Forrest Gump caught Tricky Dick's men snooping inside the Watergate.

Unreasonable football expectations in Washington have struck again aka what have you done for me lately? Lately, Zorn's 6-18. Nice guys don't always finish last but when they finish last in Washington they're axed.

Did he deserve better? Probably so. Did he deserve the job in the first place? Probably not. He originally agreed to be the offensive coordinator in Washington after serving as quarterbacks coach in Seattle, the standard route for offensive minds in the coaching business. But Snyderrato sabotaged Zorn's future and the entire Redskin franchise when they prematurely promoted him to head honcho after failing to hire a big name.

Prior to the season, Redskin pundits tied Zorn's fate in Washington to Campbell. As it turned out, Vinny's fate in Washington was tied to Zorn. As a consequence, Vinny's been left out of Washington's "new direction."

Zorn's legacy in Washington will no doubt be headlined by blown leads, confused looks, and a hideous trick play that failed miserably at the Meadowlands. However, he was directly responsible for the unmistakeable development of Jason Campbell despite implementing an offense that failed to play to his strengths.

Zorn also deserves credit for rising above the controversy and deceit that surrounded him in the worst years of the Vinny Cerrato era. But mainly, I'll remember Jim Zorn for his unwavering commitment to the job despite the countless sucker-punches thrown his way by those around him.

Zorn might have failed as head coach in his first go-round; the numbers don't lie. However, he succeeded unlike most during the Snyder era by epitomizing a true professional. He never pointed fingers, he never made excuses, and he never gave up.

Just three years ago, Zorn helped develop Matt Hasselbeck into a pro bowl quarterback under Mike Holmgren in Seattle. Surprisingly, Holmgren just came out of retirement to take the GM job in Cleveland and if all the pieces fall where they should, the Browns (NOT the Redskins) will be selecting a QB with their top 10 pick come April.

Sounds like someone's in need of a knowledgeable tutor to develop either Clausen or Bradford. Who's to say Zorn couldn't eventually be El Padrino under Holmgren in a few years if brought along appropriately?

Somewhere, nervous as ever, Dan Snyder is praying that never happens.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

2000-2009 Team of the Decade

The final Redskins game of the decade was forgettable, unlike the many players who gave fans something to root for during their time in Washington. Although the 2000-2009 decade will be remembered mostly for the arrival of Dan Snyder, the return of Joe Gibbs, and the death of Sean Taylor, I chose to pay tribute to my all-decade Washington Redskins.

Coach: Marty Schottenheimer. Marty compiled the only .500 or better record under Snyder in the decade. He finished 8-8 in 2001 after winning eight of the final 11 games. Most impressively, he did it with Tony Banks, Michael Westbrook, and Rod Gardner. Did I mention he got Vinny fired, even if for only a year?

QB: Brad Johnson. Wins, Pro Bowls, playoff appearances? Washington should have never got rid of him. He went on to win a Super Bowl in Tampa just two years later.
RB: Clinton Portis. Was he worth giving up Champ Bailey? Who knows, but CP's effectiveness in the decade was rivaled only by Stephen Davis back during the Norv Turner era.
FB: Larry Centers. Downright more talented and productive than Mike Sellers who was simply a product of Joe Gibbs's system.
WR: Santana Moss. Despite criticisms, he's an overachiever with game-breaking ability.
WR: Laveranues Coles. Eventually swapped for Moss, Lav was probably tougher and more consistent than his successor.
TE: Chris Cooley. Beat out Stephen Alexander in a surprisingly close competition.
T: Chris Samuels. 2000-2009's top Redskin hands down.
G: Derrick Dockery. Started 77 of 80 games in Washington despite leaving for two years.
C: Casey Rabach. Cory Raymer? I don't think so.
G: Randy Thomas. Tre' Johnson? I don't think so.
T: Jon Jansen. With Samuels, anchored the Washington offense up until last year. The void in leadership has yet to be filled.

DE: Marco Coleman. Pro bowls, productivity, class. Out-performed Bruce Smith in his last years.
DT: Cornelius Griffin. Possibly Washington's top defensive lineman of the decade. Strahan would have had 100 more sacks had NY kept him.
DT: Joe Salave'a. Narrowly edged out Kedric Golston in terms of effectiveness. Haynesworth just got here, Dan Wilkinson underachieved, and Stubblefield... well, yeah.
DE: Andre Carter. Consistent pass rusher, less effective in the run game but has reemerged following the acquisition of Haynesworth.
LB: LaVar Arrington. How'd such a bright career fall apart so quickly?
LB: London Fletcher. Most likely on the same list in previous stops St. Louis and Buffalo.
LB: Marcus Washington. Edged out Armstead, Trotter, Marshall, and Pierce. None played with as much as emotion. Washington is still trying to replace his spark on defense.
DB: Champ Bailey. Smoot, Bauman, Rogers, Tryon, and Barnes. None of the above draft picks even came close to touching Washington's best defensive back not named Darrell Green.
DB: Shawn Springs. Consistent in both the passing and run game. Sure tackler, shutdown corner, and teacher. DeAngelo has struggled to replace him in 2009.
FS: Sean Taylor. It's a shame game-changing collisions aren't officially recorded. R.I.P.
SS: Ryan Clark. Landry hasn't been worthy of a top-10 selection and Sam Shade fell victim to a poor supporting cast. Taylor and Clark, not Landry, formed Washington's top safety duo in years.

K: John Hall. Still waiting on the next Mark Moseley.
P: Hunter Smith. Likewise, little to choose from but Smith's two TDs this year gave him the nod.
LS: Ethan Albright. The Red Snapper even made a Pro Bowl.
KR: Chad Morton. 10 years later and Washington still can't replace Brian Mitchell.
PR: Santana Moss. Game-breaker but rarely used, much to the chagrin of Redskins fans.

Rookie of the Decade: Chris Samuels. Picked 3rd overall, one behind LaVar who left in 2005. Started 141 games and was elected to six pro bowls before a neck injury sidelined him in 2009. Will be a first ballot hall of famer and Redskins ring of fame honoree as soon as he's eligible.
Offensive MVP: Chris Samuels. See above.
Defensive MVP: London Fletcher. Pro Bowls aside, possibly the NFL's linebacker of the decade. Washington was fortunate enough to have him since 2007.

Happy New Year

Dallas debacle

Some images are worth a thousand words. The real question is what's Jason Campbell worth to the Redskins?

I doubt much anymore.

Neither the offense or defense played to win Sunday night. Washington's expended all the effort it possibly could this season sans the motivation from winning. Now they're running on empty and it's been self-evident in the last two games.

165 passing yards, 43 on the ground, out-gained nearly 2:1 in total yardage. But the stats aren't as pitiful as the glaring lack of emotion Sunday night at FedEx. Hell, fans lacked it too; I caught myself checking the weather channel halfway through the second quarter. According to the Post, fans at the stadium flushed out of the stadium like a toilet bowl long before the final seconds ticked off. A handful of players - Moss, Fletcher, and a few others - carried their weight but when the opportunity presented itself to carry each other, Washington fell short.

Some teams require success to stay focused; Cincinnati and Dallas unravel at the first sign of failure. When success is lacking, some teams stay competitive with good leadership; Philly and Indy rebound behind superstars McNabb and Manning. When teams lack leadership they bank on chemistry; NY and Baltimore both rely on rosters assembled and harmonized throughout the last decade.

The 2009 Washington Redskins lack all of the above. Hence, the massive turnover expected as soon as the shellacking in San Diego comes to an end Sunday afternoon. When Bruce Allen replaced Cerrato, it was thought the last three games of the season would act as a tryout for those whose status with the team had yet to be determined.

I think it's fair to say Zorn's out followed closely thereafter by Blache and several players. As for Campbell? it remains to be seen but it's looking more disheartening every day.

My New Year's wish: You stay merciful, San Diego.