Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Farewell Malcolm Kelly, 2008 Draft

(Has Kelly become another 2008 Redskin to fade away?)
The Redskins announced their first round of cuts today. Not many of the cuts were that shocking or surprising. To many fans, they wouldn't even recognize most of the players involved. Except one. Malcolm Kelly, the oft injured yet highly intangible wide receiver's tenure finally comes to a sad end. What makes this the most sad is that much like an Albert Haynesworth, Kelly has a ton of ability and has flashed that the few times on the field. But unlike Haynesworth, it appeared that Kelly was doing the right things to make it with the Skins. He was attending meetings, he was training and getting better at running routes (or at least that's what I was hearing). But his body wouldn't go to where his mind was trying to achieve. An injured foot kept him out of training camp and sealed his fate.

You can't blame Kelly for an injury prone career, but it's clear that the Redskins made a major mistake in drafting Kelly in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft. They were warned about his potential to be a regular on the trainer's table and that he could have a shortened career. It's not like the Redskins could throw away a 2nd round pick. They needed both offensive and defensive line help and instead of addressing those areas, they spent all three of their 2nd round picks on skill positions. The Skins did attempt to address the O-line in the 3rd round, but reached terribly for Chad Rinehart (a player that most draft experts had going in the late rounds and is currently out of the league). Kelly's departure leaves only four Redskins from that draft on the roster and there is a chance that two of those four will not be on the 53 man roster come Saturday (Moore, Horton).

Maybe there is a silver lining to all of this. With the departures of failed projects like Kelly, maybe the Redskins are truly evolving away from the "Decade of Despair" (2000-2009 and it's fair to include 2010 in that also) and starting to build a team that can get it's talent on the field and in a WRs case in the end zone. Gone is the hype and the one highlight reel player and in its place is a quiet confidence and a player that fits the team's scheme and locker room. One can only hope that the 2011 draft class can do the opposite of the 2008 class and that the 'Skins this time invested better than they have in the past.

Full List of Cuts to trim roster to 80

Jarvis Jenkins (to IR)
Dante Barnes
Ben Chappell
Xavier Fulton
Tyrone Grant
Eric McBride
Corey O'Daniel
Clint Stitser
Joe Torchia
Malcolm Kelly

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Irene and Updates

  ( ****!!!!! NASA Photo)
I'm hoping to at least get an Initial Thoughts column up before we lose power. If you didn't know, yours truly lives in the Salisbury, MD area and well, we're about to get hit by Hurricane Irene. Hopefully, it won't be too bad, but I'm expecting some flooding, downed trees and loss of power. So, obviously that means no writing on the blog (So what's new, you haven't written on the blog that much lately anyway!!!). Anyway, thoughts and prayers for the entire East Coast as Irene continues her path.

I will eventually get a Game Recap up (hopefully) but it may not be until right before the Buccaneers game.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Quest for 53: Taking a Guess at the Final 53 Man Roster

Ok, everybody is making their predictions. I'm game. Here's my guesses based on what I've seen so far with some commentary.

QB (3)
John Beck, Rex Grossman, Kellen Clemens
Thoughts: Beck and Grossman are locks. Clemens makes sense based on his actual game experience. It is possible the Skins keep only 2 QBs. If they do that, they may keep Ben Chappell on the practice squad.

RB (3)
Tim Hightower, Ryan Torain, Roy Helu
Thoughts: Hightower is a lock, Helu looks like he is as well. Torain wll have to prove that he can stay healthy but he has veteran experience in the scheme and I just don't think Mike Shanahan would rely on two rookies in his backfield. Evan Royster could make this team however.

FB (2)
Darrel Young, Keiland Williams
Thoughts: Young is a lock. Williams is an intriguing question and may be battling Evan Royster for a spot at this point. Williams can play teams, catch passes and pass block. At this point, I'm leaning towards Williams but that may change.

TE (3)
Chris Cooley, Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen
Thoughts: This is pretty clear. The only exception to this could be for Mike Sellers. If Cooley isn't healthy, Sellers could be kept on the team as an emergency TE

WR (6)
Santana Moss, Jabar Gaffney, Anthony Armstrong, Leonard Hankerson, Donte' Stallworth, Terrence Austin
Thoughts: This is probably the toughest choices on the roster. Keep Brandon Banks, Donte' Stallworth, Niles Paul or Terrence Austin? Austin has been pretty consistent and has been noticed by the coaches. Stallworth is another veteran presence. I really think with the new KO rules and his health, Banks is the odd man out. Skins may find a way to keep him on the roster though.

OL (8)
Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Jammal Brown, Sean Locklear, Artis Hicks, player not currently on the roster.
Thoughts: It wouldn't surprise me to see the Skins sign another veteran after cuts to play the interior. Outside of the names listed and OL Willie Smith, I haven't seen that much. Smith, Maurice Hurt and Erik Cook head back to the practice squad. Maybe somebody like Clint Oldenburg or Xavier Fulton makes the last spot. I don't really know.

DL (7)
Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen, Adam Carriker, Anthony Bryant, Jarvis Jenkins, Kedric Golston, Darrion Scott
Thoughts: I don't see the 'Skins keeping 3 NT's but Neild probably goes to the PS. I think the final two spots are still up for grabs between Golston, Scott and Doug Worthington. Right now, I like Golston and Scott.

LB (9)
Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, London Fletcher, Rocky McIntosh, Rob Jackson, Perry Riley, Keyaron Fox, Lorenzo Alexander, Thaddeus Gibson.
Thoughts: I don't think the Skins pick up Gibson off waivers if they were satisfied at OLB. Markus White gets to develop on the practice squad. It does work, just look at Rob Jackson.

CB (5)
DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Kevin Barnes, Phillip Buchanon*, Byron Westbrook
Thoughts: Westbrook has outplayed the other corners and is a good special teamer he makes the team. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Skins keep another CB while Phillip Buchanon sits out his four game suspension.

S (4)
LaRon Landry, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Reed Doughty, Chris Horton
Thoughts: With Kareem Moore still on the PUP list, Chris Horton has pretty much won the backup FS job by default. The Skins may keep an extra S on the roster just in case if LaRon Landry isn't healthy. Although we also know that Kevin Barnes can play S in a pinch.

K (1)
Graham Gano
Thoughts: Perfect in the pre-season looks like he's going to win the job.

P (1)
Sav Rocca (uncontested)

LS (1)
Nick Sundberg (uncontested)

* With Phillip Buchanon suspended 4 games, the Skins will be able to have an extra player on the roster. My guess will be OL, CB, S or TE. When Buchanon comes back, then the 'Skins will have to cut a player. I also think the Skins will either IR or keep Kareem Moore on the PUP list. If he stays on PUP, he will miss 6 weeks. After that, the 'Skins will either have to activate him (and cut another player), cut him or place him on IR.

I'm also pretty convinced that  most of the rookies that don't make the active roster (Gomes, Royster, Neild, Thompson, Robinson, Hurt, White, Paul) will probably head to the practice squad.

Game Recap: Redskins at Colts Pre-Season Week 2

(Without Peyton Manning, the Colts aren't much. AP Photo via Redskins.com)

Before I even start the game recap, I have to add some significant caveats to this article. First, is that the Colts are generally horrible in the pre-season. They are much like  the Joe Gibbs 1.0 Redskins in that they show very little and look very ugly in pre-season games. Then, they go on and win their division in the regular season. Second, is that without Peyton Manning, the Colts are a pretty awful team. It even seems to work that way even for their defense. It's like the Colts are willed to greatness just by the power of Peyton Manning's mind.
(Play well my teammates or I will destroy you with my mind!!!! via)
Third, is that the Colts have been and probably will still be a horrible run defensive team. That's unless Bob Sanders is playing. Since he's now a Charger, expect the Colts to be one of the worst run Ds in the league this year. That said, the Redskins starters had a pretty convincing win against the Colts starters in the 16-3 victory. The Colts defensively are a smaller, faster unit that runs the Cover 2/Tampa 2 zone, so it would offer the Redskins more variation and challenge compared to the Steelers 3-4 (Remember, the Skins now run a 3-4 and if anything it's very similar to the Steelers 3-4 in scheme and philosophy. So, the Skins O has seen this scheme day in, day out since camp started). Let's see how they fared. Obviously, based on the Colts lack of offense, there's not much to talk about on the defensive side of the ball. This article will be mostly focused on John Beck and the Redskins O.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Updates 8/21/11

Good morning everyone!
It's Sunday, the Skins are 2-0 (mind you, in a meaningless pre-season) and are only a few days away from the "rehearsal" game against the Ravens (Just a reminder, Skins are playing the final two weeks of pre-season on Thursday night. This Thursday's game will be televised on ESPN). I plan on watching Skins @ Colts again today and hopefully will have my game recap coming soon tonight. I'm also hoping to start making some more modifications/tweaks to IIWII.

There should be an About Us page coming soon. Why in the hell did I call the site It is What It Is? What is the point of a Redskins blog that covers Chris Nolan movies and plays clips of The Kids in the Hall on Friday nights? Who is (where is????) Steeler Hater Dan? All will be answered in the most Mike Shanahan way possible on our About Us page. I also hope to fix some of the other links/categories on the site.

Two quick things to the readers out there. First, is that we do accept comments. Granted, I might remove them based on content (y'know revealing people's addresses/phone #'s and using major profanity) but we do accept them and we at IIWII do want to know what you think about the topic and the story. We (me) also are frequently checking the email, so if you have a comment or suggestion about the Skins or other content on the site, let me know. Second, is that I am welcoming other writers/bloggers/Skins fans/football fans to come and guest post. Thinking about creating your own blog but don't feel like spending the time setting up a site? Want to just write one article? Here's your opportunity. Send me your article and I will review it, possibly edit it and possibly post it. Obviously, you will get full credit and I'll add a link to your home page, website, Twitter account or Facebook page. No, you don't get paid (neither do I) but it gives you a chance to write and be published even if it's on IIWII. Plus, I wanted to bulk up the amount of posts. Lately, my entries have been rather long but not as many......

There are a bunch of Redskins blogs on the internet and I just wanted to thank you again for reading. IIWII enters its third full season covering the Redskins and I hope you'll be along for the ride.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Redskins/Colts: Initial Thoughts and Links

This will be a bit more brief as I have to head to work today. Don't worry, another very thorough Game Recap is coming Sunday.

- John Beck Watch. Looked good. I liked the mobility and the ability to make plays. He's quick but not fast. He's elusive but not a running QB per se. Most of his passes were on target and he hit his targets in stride. I'd like to see more though. Hard to give the starting job to a QB based on one half of a game.

- Run game. Roy Helu was a beast last night and Tim Hightower had a repeat performance of last week. Blocking fits perfect for this scheme.

- O line takes a setback. Multiple sacks given up last night. Pass blocking struggled. Blocking in the Red Zone struggled. 2nd/3rd team O-lines looked rough. Good news is that the line is in synch. There were limited penalties and the run blocking led the Skins run for over 200 yards.

- Driving the ball. Skins wound up taking the ball down  field almost every series with the starters. Gained over 400 yards (2nd week in a row). Skins looked good in 3rd down conversions (5/8 with Beck in, 4/6 last week with Grossman as starter).

- Red Zone Concerns. 1/4 in the Red Zone this week. 1/5 last week. The team seems to struggle as soon as they hit the 20. Is it execution? Is it playcalling? A little of both?

- The D. Not going to say much here but let's just say they looked really, really good. Although with no Manning, the Colts look like a HS team.

- Trent Williams. Struggled. Not the first time a LT has struggled with Dwight Freeney, but it's clear that Williams has things to work on.

- No more interviews. Charles Mann, great guy, great player. Horrible interviews. Lucas Oil Stadium (still looks like a big Walmart to me) didn't help with all the echos.

- Is Peyton Manning the greatest QB of all time? I say that b/c the Colts just looked pathetic without him in uniform.....on both sides of the ball. Crazy, but this Colt's team didn't look a bit intimidating this week.

10 thoughts on the game by John Keim of The Examiner

 Locker room quotes by Rich Campbell of The Times and his initial thoughts on the game.

And a Recap by The Post of last night's game.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

So, You Want to Know More About That John Beck Guy?

(What do Scouts Think of John Beck? Answers Below. AP Photo/ Evan Vucci via)
 Ask and you shall receive. Anyway, with the announcement/arm wringing of Mike Shanahan, we know that John Beck will be getting the start on Friday against the Colts.

By now, you know about Beck's NFL career and that he hasn't started or taken an actual regular season game snap since 2007. But let's go back a bit, back before Beck was even drafted. What did scouts think of him then?

This is kind of cool if you didn't know about this site. I do my draft research each year using various sites (along with my TV /film watching abilities) and one that I rather like is NFLDraftScout.com (aka: CBSSportsline). They do a good analysis on individual players and have reports on many players that you can't find on other sites. Anyway, they don't discard they're evaluations of players. So, say you want to learn more about some of the new Redskins like Barry Cofield or Chris Chester and want to see if they play like their scouting reports indicate. This is a nice tool to compare and contrast the player's college history, to his evaluation as a draft prospect and eventually his NFL career.

Since we don't have much to go on with John Beck's career, let's look at his college scouting report:

For content purposes, we'll look at a few excerpts:

Has good balance and adequate body control throwing on the move … Has decent foot quickness in his pass set and shows good quick-twitch muscle fibers … Very intelligent player who has no problem executing a complicated game plan … Student of the game who breaks down opposing film and does a good job of making adjustments on the field … Plays through pain and shows very good poise in the pocket and confidence in his protection, as it is rare to see him bolt too early, as he will stand tall and take some shots under pressure … Has good throwing mechanics and sets his feet with agility and solid base …Displays awareness to anticipate when the receiver is coming out of the breaks … With his three-quarters delivery and natural hands, Beck is very effective at getting the ball out quickly …Demonstrates the ability to hit his targets in stride working in the short areas … Has better timing underneath than when airing the ball out, as he shows a good feel for route progression … Does a good job of maintaining good accuracy on his throws along the perimeter … Good at making pre-snap judgment calls … 
Has good timing and touch working in the intermediate area and has the ability to adjust on the move, thanks to his good field vision … Gutsy field general
Effective at rolling out to locate his receivers, showing good accuracy throwing on the move … 
Ok, so John Beck is a smart guy who is more quick than fast. He's mobile and can roll out and throw passes well. He's got a quick release and is good in short and intermediate ranges. He tough and wants to be a leader. Sounds like the Beck I'm reading about at camp and during the player mini-camps during the lockout. So where does he struggle?

...he is no threat running with the ball … Has good arm strength for the short-to-intermediate area, but realizes that he lacks the raw power to air the ball out consistently, keeping the game plan within his athletic talents … Lacks ideal height and valid speed, but makes up for it with good short-area avoid skills and a quick release to unleash the ball on time … 
 Ok, understandable...but there's more.
Will sometimes revert to locking on to his primary target, resulting in him throwing into double coverage...
 That's not good to read.
...will show a bit of a wind-up when he releases the ball over the top rather than his normal, three-quarters delivery … When he attempts to air it out, the ball tends to float and fall off, causing the receivers to break off their routes … Needs to do a better job of dropping the deep ball in over the outside shoulder of the receiver, as the ball floats too much on fade and long throws (deep passes will come off his hands too high, as it floats and lofts) …
This has been a problem at camp. From what the beat reporters (John Keim and Rich Campbell in particular) have written, Beck had been inconsistent especially with his deep passes. The good news is that the scouting report has more good things to say about Beck (although many items are repeated like he's good throwing on the move) than bad. Also, based on this report, I can see why Shanahan likes him. Except for some deep routes, Beck fits what Shanahan is looking for in a QB for his scheme. Will Beck be the guy? I have no clue and neither does the scouting report. That said, the report does give us some things to look at and focus on when we watch the Skins play the Colts on Friday.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Game Recap: Steelers at Redskins Pre-Season Week 1

(Moss spins into the end zone as Skins win 16-7. AP photo via Redskins.com)
I know what you're probably thinking. "Who cares, this is the pre-season a win doesn't matter, heck a great performance doesn't truly matter." And if you were thinking that, you're right. That said, this was a great start for the Redskins as they outplayed the 2010 AFC champs, the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 16-7 victory. As a team the Redskins accumulated over 400 total yards, 27 1st downs and dominated in the time of possession by almost 19 minutes (WAS: 39:25, PIT: 20:35). Most importantly we saw something from the Redskins that we haven't seen in a long while; good performances by both the offensive and defensive lines. The Redskins ran for 140 yards on the ground against one of the better run defenses in the league. The D-line also were able to contain the Steelers for a majority of the game and cause penetration and collapse the pocket. The sole Redskins touchdown came from a Santana Moss catch from Rex Grossman. The 2011 Redskins looked like they were in good football shape and were not making the mental mistakes that I expected them to make with limited time together and with so many new faces on the team (worth noting is that the Redskins had 7 players starting that were not on the 2010 team and numerous players that were on the 2010 team but weren't starters last season).

I also know you might be thinking this as well: "Sure the Redskins looked good, but the Steelers only had most of starters in the game for the first few series." And that's also true. Mike Tomlin went with the classic protocol of playing starters for less than a quarter in week 1 of the pre-season, Mike Shanahan on the other hand felt that the veterans and potential starters needed more time on the field. Remember, the Skins have had limited contact in training camp and were actually hitting and tackling at full speed in this game. But just for the folks who wanted to see true starter vs. starter comparisons, I broke down both the Steelers and Redskins 1st drives and will now show them to you. (-Ed Note: Also, please don't tell me that this doesn't count because Polamalu and James Harrison didn't play. The Skins were without Chris Cooley, Ryan Torain, LaRon Landry and O.J. Atogwe in this game.) Then I'll have a rookie watch report and IIWII's classic The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mike Tomlin Thinks the 'Skins Were Well Prepared on Friday

“Quite frankly we got outplayed in just about all areas - blocking, tackling, running, throwing, kicking,” Tomlin said. “That team was better prepared tonight than us. They showed it.”
Nice be be on the other side of that exchange, eh? But don't weep for the Steelers, I'm sure they'll be fine being the AFC Champions and all.

Nice take on the Steelers side of the 16-7 game against the 'Skins by Will Graves of the AP

Want to Tend Bar for the Redskins?

A friend of mine and fellow Skins fan was telling me about FedEx now charging $9.00 for a domestic beer at the games this year. I'm a domestic beer snob in most cases (y'know the big names Bud, Coors, Miller etc.) so I was curious to see if there was a price chart for beers (I want a Guinness when it's cold!!!)  and sodas etc. that somebody may have wrote up on the web. Couldn't find one but I did find this:

So the Skins are looking for a free agent bartender?

Job ad via BEER JOBS

Initial Thoughts on Redskins/Steelers

I meant to do this last night but things came up. I plan to watch the game at least one more time to focus more on the individual battles on both the O and D lines but here are some brief thoughts on last nights game. Before I get to those, I must remind you overly optimistic Skins fans that this was the pre-season. That the Skins starters played for about a half vs. Pittsburgh's starters playing 1-2 series (Big Ben was out after 1 series and a sack). And many times the Redskins have looked really good in their 1st pre-season game (see last year vs. Buffalo as a good example) and have gone on to struggle in the regular season.

All that said.....it was sure a damn fine game to watch against the 2010 AFC champs. I was asked earlier in the day if I thought the Redskins would beat Pittsburgh and I pretty much laughed off the question. OK, on to some quick thoughts on last night's game.

- Rex Grossman hasn't locked up the job yet, but John Beck has a lot of work ahead of him. It wouldn't surprise me to see Beck get a large chunk of snaps next week. I really believe that the Shanahans will give Beck the opportunity to win the starting job. Grossman though had a great game. Probably his best as a Redskin and I would argue maybe one of his best in his entire pro career. It wasn't a game changing HOF caliber performance that you've seen from Montana, Brady or Manning but Grossman understands the scheme. He knows his reads, where players will/should be and when to hit them. Gone were the major bad passes that we saw frequently in 2010. Also Grossman didn't fumble. Of course, Grossman was hardly touched and only occasionally pressured. It made his reads look easy and we as fans finally got to see a glimpse of what Kyle Shanahan wants to run on the field (we never really saw it in 2010). It's early, but it's clear the advantage is in Grossman's favor.

- O-Line. Wow. What most people aren't talking about is how improved this unit both in run blocking and pass protecting. I saw running lanes. Didn't see a great deal of those in 2010. Will Montgomery looks like a serious upgrade over Casey Rabach. He was getting to the 2nd level on blocking and seemed to handle a NT (like Casey Hampton) much better than Rabach ever could. Also the Skins did a good job picking up Steeler blitzes. Granted, this is a much more vanilla Steelers and not nearly as exotic as they will be when the season starts. That said, the 2010 Skins wouldn't have been able to block this version of the Steelers and would have had troubles against the Steelers 3rd and 4th string defenders. Also a big hat tip to TE Logan Paulsen who deserves more playing time alone because he is the best blocking TE on the team and has some subtle but good abilities to get open and make catches on occasion.

 - D-line. I MISSED THIS FOR SUCH A LONG TIME. Maybe a few games in 2005 (like the 35-7 win over Dallas when Phillip Daniels got 4 sacks in one game) we saw something like this but the D line actually seemed to attack and win many of their battles. They did a good job stuffing the run game and did a nice job on a 3rd and short with a tackle/penetration by Ryan Kerrigan and Barry Cofield. There was an actual pass rush from the D-line. Bowen's sack was nasty and highlight worthy.

 - Kicker Battle: Gano 1, rest of kickers in competition 0. I think Graham is probably cut sometime this week. What I hope is that if this happens, the Redskins will bring in another kicker and force Gano to continue to improve. What we know is that Gano has an amazing leg power wise. What we hope is that Gano can continue improving upon his accuracy. Worth noting is that all but his final FG/XP attempts were right down the middle. The final FG attempt hooked left and hit the pole but bounced in for the score.

- Running Backs: Tim Hightower seems to be a good fit in this scheme. Nasty first cut. Good vision. Can take a hit and has some good speed. Also can catch and block. So far an excellent trade for the Skins. His one fault is fumbles and he didn't do that in this game. It will be interesting to see what he does as the season progresses. I also was very impressed with rookie Evan Royster. Not a speedster but a guy with great vision, hits the hole hard and is hard to bring down. Made a few rookie mistakes (whiffed on a block towards the end of the game) but has moved up the depth chart in my opinion after last night.

- Brandon Banks looking good may not be on the bubble after all. There was some early speculation by fans and a few media people that Banks may not make the roster. The Skins drafted 3 WRs. Both Paul and Robinson have returned punts in college. But, man is Brandon Banks exciting to watch. It is hard to keep a guy just be be a KR/PR but I have to think the Skins will try to find him a spot and just make him their #6 WR. Speaking of Robinson, he doesn't look like he's a PR at the pro level. Maybe it was nerves and I'm sure the Skins will give him another opportunity in the pre-season but that was a pretty rough start for the rookie.

Other guys who made a positive in the game: London Fletcher (man never takes a play off), Kellen Clemens, Donte Stallworth, Kedric Golston, Niles Paul, Santana Moss, Kevin Barnes, Markus White, Dejon Gomes, Byron Westbrook

Guys who need some work: Leonard Hankerson, Maurice Hurt, Roy Helu

A much more thorough write up and breakdown coming this weekend.

Monday, August 8, 2011

5 Things I Hate About the Pre-Season

Yes, I know I should be really happy about football being back and I am. I also should be really happy that in less than a week we'll see the Redskins take the field again......

And I am.

But, I really do have certain things I can't stand about pre-season football. Roger Goodell has been pushing for the creation of a 18 game season with one of the reasons to eliminate two games off of the pre-season schedule. Don't get me wrong, there needs to be a pre-season. It's a good way for veteran players to shake off rust with live game snaps. It's a good way to get rookies adjusted to actual game hitting, tackling and speed. Most importantly it's a showcase for developing players to earn a roster spot through performance.

That said here are 5 things I hate about the preseason.

1. Paying full price for an exhibition - Football tickets aren't cheap and as a fan it just doesn't seem right to have to pay full price for watching mostly 2nd, 3rd and 4th string players play. Now if you're getting tickets on the secondary market, you'll probably get a deal. That said, it's the season ticket holders who generally pay for this. Most season ticket packages require holders to pay for both home pre-season games along with the regular season games. Why do you think Goodell has suggested the 18 games season. Season ticket holders aren't happy about pre-season ticket costs. The NFL/NFLPA doesn't want to lose revenue by just cutting out two pre-season games. His solution is to cut the two pre-season games and replace it with two regular season games. The NFLPA doesn't like the idea and  some fans don't like it either, but the NFL does need to come up with a solution to this problem in a bad economy. How about discounted rates for pre-season games?

2. Injuries - What drives many fans crazy is when they lose a star player in a meaningless exhibition game. It has happened in the past and will happen in the future. Of course there really is no solution to this problem. Sure, coaches can play their starters less in 3 of the 4 games. However, when they do you see more of the back up play. This means a decline in game quality which leads back to point #1 again.

3. Outcomes and performances can be meaningless - I've seen teams that go 4-0 in the pre-season end up having some of the worst records in the regular season. I've also seen teams that go 0-4 (like the Redskins during Gibbs 1.0) and wind up winning the Superbowl. It makes sense that the outcomes don't mean anything. Maybe the 1st team is good and puts up 14 in two series, but the team has a horrible group of 3rd stringers and the opposing team scores 28. Who will be the better team in the regular season? Probably the team that lost. But teams also play the pre-season differently. Some teams play to win. Some teams are evaluating players, schemes or certain packages. Joe Gibbs played the most basic, vanilla schemes to not show his hand. So it really depends on what the coach wants to see, not what he shows the audience is key to a pre-season game. Important to the team, not so much the fan.

4. Scheduling- We get regimented with the NFL schedule. Most games are on Sunday morning and afternoon. You have 1 game Sunday night and 1 game Monday night. At some point in the season (right around Thanksgiving) you get 1-2 Thursday night games. You may even get a Saturday game towards the end of the season and into the playoffs. With the pre-season, you get a boatload of games on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It always seems to conflict with my work schedule and is a bitch to get off to drive to FedEx and drive home and hope to work the next day (in my case I live about 2.5 hours away from FedEx). Plus, all the games are late night, so you don't get home until late.

5. By the 3rd week I want real NFL football - The first week is exciting because you haven't seen football in awhile. The anticipation usually starts to wear off a bit as you head to the fourth quarter and are unable to recognize any of the opposing team players. It gets really bad when you can't recognize your own guys. You get to the third game and this is the rehearsal. This is the game that let's you know how good (or bad) your team may be. By the 3rd quarter of this game, you've had enough. You saw the starters and what they could do. Nobody (hopefully) was injured and by now you have a good idea of who is making the final 53 man roster. Real football should be starting next week, right? Wrong. You have to wait two more weeks with one more meaningless game to go through. Yes, it's important because maybe there is just 1 player that is on the bubble that can make or break his career with his current team. Overall, you the fan has to play the waiting game. Most media outlets and even the teams kind of blow this game off as well. So, in the end you get practically nothing out of the 4th game.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Early Season Prediction and a Redskins Fan Yells at me

(Can the 2011 'Skins add another Lombardi to the trophy case? photo via).

So, without seeing a single live game snap or watching a single preseason game here is my season prediction for the Skins.


That's right and I'll tell you why. I think that it's a fair statement that most Redskin fans feel that the 'Skins are headed in the right direction under the leadership of Mike Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen. They've gotten rid of most of the distractions that have plagued the team over the last few seasons (well, except for the upcoming Beck vs. Grossman QB battle). The team (that was here in 2010) and the coaches have had a year to get used to the schemes put in place. Most importantly, Mike Shanahan is building a team with his players. Players that he wants that share a certain attitude, that are leaders, that want to play and most importantly win. The team is in the middle of a youth movement with 12 draft picks and most of their re-signed and free agent re-signs under the age of 30. Of course with a younger team, there will be growing pains but I think many have expected that going into 2011.

I think the team has improved, especially on the defensive side of the ball. What was clearly a liability in 2010 has become what appears to be a strength in the D-line. At this point, the Skins have a starting rotation and a good deal of depth at both DE and NT positions. They lacked this in 2010. While it may not be considered an elite group, I would expect the run defense to be much improved and to possibly see more collapsing of the pocket. As for the linebackers, Fletcher and Orakpo will be solid again (although, I've heard that Orakpo has looked even better this season than previous years). Of course there will be concerns at the other OLB and ILB spots but like I said earlier, there's going to be growing pains with a young team. I also like the upgrades in the secondary. Out is Carlos Rogers and Kareem Moore. In is Josh Wilson and OJ Atogwe.

What still scares me is the offense. Jammal Brown was the right move in re-signing the RT but he has injury concerns. Chris Chester is unproven in the ZBS and I'm not fully convinced that Kory Lichtensteiger and Will Montgomery are true starters. That said, this group of 5 look better than last year's starting 5. Both the RB and WR corp have gotten better in depth but are very young when it comes to NFL experience (with exceptions to Santana Moss and Jabar Gaffney). Then we come to the QB battle. Rex Grossman will guarantee the 'Skins an opportunity to score at least 20 points per game. But, he has a tendency to make critical turnovers (both fumbles and interceptions) that helps the opposing team score more than he can help produce. "What about John Beck" you ask? Well, I'm rooting for him, but I have no clue what he can do on the field and I'm not sure anybody really does. The odds are generally not good for a 30 year old QB whose only played in about 5 games in his career. That said, I still think that at least Grossman may be more productive than the 2010 version of Donovan McNabb.

So personally, I think this team is better than last year's team. Of course if the QB play is lousy, LaRon Landry and others can't stay healthy and whomever is the kicker misses key FGs then the Skins could be as bad or worse than last year's dreadful 6-10. It's possible but I just don't see it. Sorry, people who thought we're only going 2-14 on purpose to draft Andrew Luck.

A 'Skins Fan Yells At Me About My Optimism
I enjoy talking football with most football fans. You'd be surprised how knowledgeable many of the fan bases in the NFL are when you talk football with them. Although sometimes it's not pretty. Almost every time I'm out in public wearing 'Skins gear, I have somebody (not always a Redskin fan mind you) come up to me and talk football. Sometimes my co-workers (at the real job) know about my love for the Skins, so one of them decided to point me out to a customer who was wearing a Redskins hat. This was the conversation:

Me: I think they'll be better this year.


Me: Well....

GWRC: AND SNYDER IS ALWAYS MEDDLING.... (He said some more things about Snyder but to be honest I can't remember what it was.....I think he said twerp at one point).

Me: Well I can't agree with you on most of that stuff. I don't think they're going to the Super Bowl or anything, more like 8-8.

GWRC: I DOUBT IT! But, I hope you're right. (Guy walks out the door)

Co-Worker: I'm really sorry......I'll never do that again.

Me: Thanks

And this ladies and gents is a reason why I don't wear Skins gear out in public nearly as much as I used to. Funny thing was that I wasn't wearing any Skins gear at the job when this happened.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thoughts on the Hightower Trade

(Been real busy at work this week, hopefully more posts as the week continues!!)

(Another solid pickup for Shanahan and Co.?)
In the year plus that Mike Shanahan has been with the Redskins, he's only made 1-2 earth shattering trades with other teams.... and that is probably a good thing. One was for Donovan McNabb, which we all have to admit was a complete and utter failure unfortunately. The second you could consider is the trade for Jammal Brown. The verdict is still out on that move. Yes, the Skins got a starting right tackle who they just signed for another five years. The major concern is whether or not Brown can remain healthy. If he is healthy, then the Skins can have bookend tackles with Brown and Williams for at least the next five years.

What has been more notable is the smaller trades that the Redskins have made over his tenure. These moves don't get a great deal of accolades for Mike Shanahan or GM Bruce Allen, but they are turning out to be much more significant. Two examples are of Adam Carriker and John Beck. Carriker was a former 1st rounder of the Rams that never seemed to fit as a DT in their scheme. Along with injuries Carriker was trending towards the "BUST" label. The Skins trade for him in exchange for 20+ spots in the draft. That's right, Carriker was traded not for an actual pick or player per se but for the Rams to move up 20+ spots in the later rounds of the draft. For that, the Redskins get a starting LDE for 2010 and possibly beyond (at worst Carriker will see a great deal of snaps as the Skins plan to rotate many D-linemen in their scheme). John Beck is in a similar situation. The Skins trade him to Baltimore for DB, Doug Dutch. Dutch wasn't even going to make the final 53 man roster. Instead, the Skins get a journeyman veteran to be the #3 QB and that they may be able to develop. Well, you know the story by now. Beck may be the starter for the Redskins at some point this season.

The Hightower trade is very similar to Beck and Carriker. Hightower may compete with Ryan Torain and rookie Roy Helu for the starting job but at worst I think he becomes the Skins 3rd down back. Hightower is known to be a good pass blocker, can catch passes and is quick (helpful for those occasional 3rd down draw plays or shovel passes that catch defenses off guard). The price also wasn't much for a young player with a reasonable amount of talent. My guess is that the conditional draft pick the Cardinals will receive is a 6th round pick. Possibly the higher of either the Skins or Vikings picks based on what Hightower does this season. Giving away Vonnie Holiday was a good move as well. Holiday had a great 2010 but with the Redskins trying to get younger it only makes sense to make the move. Also, with the drafting of Jenkins and signings of Cofield and Bowen, Holiday at best would be the Skins 4th best DE.

This will be another trade that won't be talked about much in league circles (NFL fans would rather talk about the Haynesworth and McNabb trades and how terrible are the Redskins) but this trade could be rather significant as the season progresses. Keep an eye on Tim Hightower.  He could have a very productive 2011.