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.

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