August 30, 2008

Skins Down To 53, No 6th WR In The Mix

The Skins finalized their roster cuts earlier today, leaving them with nine O-lineman and two fullbacks, cutting loose the extra WR contrary to expectations that there would be a 6th WR on the team.

Maurice Mann, Anthony Mix, and Billy McMullen, the frontrunners for the spot were all cut. Profootballtalk.com reports that the Skins might be looking for another veteran WR, but for now they have 5 WRs.

A complete list of roster cuts can be found at the team's website

Skins Cut Mason

Marcus Mason, Derrick Frost, and Todd Wade were all given the axe today in the Redskins' effort to make it down to 53 men.

Mason had a phenomnal preseason, but he was the fourth RB on the depth chart and couldn't move ahead of Rock Cartwright in order to make the team.

The move shows that Jim Zorn feels the need to address depth in other areas, most likely the secondary and offensive line.

Todd Wade became expendable after suffering injury in the first preseason game. Wade wan't quick enough to be a Tackle and a bit tall to be a guard. He was also ancient and the Skins already have several aging players. They have several young prospects and they were obviously more valuable than Wade.

Durant Brooks won the punting job over Frost in a dead heat. Brooks has much more upside being a rookie and Frost has never been consistent so Zorn made the right move.

More cuts to come.

Jansen Done?

Jon Jansen might not be starting at RT to open the year. Based on his performance, the decision would be understandable.

Jansen has long been a stalwart along the line since being drafted in 1999, but he has appeared to suffer one injury to many his preseason. I like Jansen for his hard work and strength, but football is a business so if he gets benched so be it.

Stephon Heyer proved last year that he is a viable starter and he has only gotten stronger and smarter in the offseason. He was an undrafted FA last year an yet he still held his own against some great players like Strahan and Jason Taylor.

Jim Zorn doesn't seem to care about who starts as long as it's the best player. He pays no heed to the name or the salary so I would expect to see Heyer start based on Jansen's poor performance this preseason.

August 28, 2008

What If Jason Taylor Doesn't Play In Week One?

Sorry for the delay in between posts. I'm just getting back into the college groove and so I got a little sidetracked. Fortunately it's only preseason.

Anyway, We watched the Skins get destroyed in every facet of the game last weeks against Carolina and now the preseaon ended with a meaningless loss against Jacksonville, 24-3.

Roster cuts are coming, but the major concern is the offensive futility that plagued the Skins over the past two games. They were outscored 71-6 and Jason Campbell left much to be desired.

The big question is will the Skins be ready for the Giants in week one? It doesn't seem so as the Skins dropped passes and sputtered the past two games. Jason Taylor is rehabbing his knee in order to return for the NYG game, but things are up in the air.

It would be foolish for him to prematurely return as it could ruin Taylor's and the Skins' season. If he didn't play then we'd probably see Demetric Evans or Erasmus James play in his place. I would bet Evans.

The Giants have two solid tackles in David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie. They would have little trouble with Evans as a pass rusher, allowing them to double team Andre Carter who is already undersized.

If Taylor is absent the Skins' secondary will need to step up in a big way this week since the pass rush will not really be coming. We'll see what happens and I'll keep you posted.

August 20, 2008

A Quick Olympic Post

I know that this a football blog and yet I have to touch upon the olympics.

Last night America got to witness Shawn Johnson win her first gold medal after three close finishes. She brought home the gold with a phenomenal balance beam routine just edging out teammate and friend Nastia Liukin.

Both these gymnasts have represented our country so well and they have graced us with their beauty, strength, effort, and poise. Johnson captured audiences' hearts with her winning smile and beaming presence. Win or lose she always remained her gracious self while her powerhouse performances landed her four medals.

Johnson was the definition of power in her routines, scoring big air on every jump. Liukin contrasted Johnson's power with flowing grace and ended up with five medals.

However, to me, Johnson was the star of the show. I really can't express how much admiration I have for her. Her friendly demeanor, big heart, and beautiful face won me over from day one as I have to admit I have quite a thing for her.

Rather than simply train endlessly, Johnson has other pursuits that she dedicates time too. She draws and goes to public school and that is what sets her apart. She has other things to look forward to in life. She's not only an olympic champion but a champion in life in general. By being a well rounded person, she has truly made herself a better person and it shows whenever she is interviewed.

I can't hide it. I love this girl. She is everything I would want in a woman. And I pray she can stay grounded and continue on her successful road in life. Congratulations Shawn! Keep making me proud!

August 19, 2008

NFL Tidbits

I am terrified of a rumored trade that would send Anquan Boldin to the Eagles in exchange for Lito Sheppard. It would make the Eagles very scary. Remember last time Donovan had a premiere receiver? I know the Eagles aren't strong at LB or defensive end (aside from Trent Cole), but they could spare Sheppard in order to make their offense a potential top ten machine. Think of it: Westbrook, Curtis, and Boldin. DeSean Jackson seems like a better option in the slot than out wide so McNabb might end up with the best set of receivers he's ever had.

Fortunately, these rumors have been downplayed by profootballtalk.com and let's hope they just remain rumors.

Carlos Rogers is looking for an increased workload this week against the Panthers according to the Washington Post. "It's going to be a big test," Rogers said yesterday at Redskins Park. "I really didn't get hit on it [against the Jets], so I really don't know the reaction of it after me getting pounded on." Rogers' progression has been astounding and I for one am hoping he can return back to last season's form.

Kyle Orton has won the Bears starting job, meaning Chicago has likely ended the Rex Grossman experiment. Unless Orton plays poorly (a likely possibility).

I really see the Browns getting into a QB controversy this year. If Derrick Anderson slacks off one bit, fans will demand Quinn. Anderson's concussion really doesn't help him. Last year he had a great year, but he did have games where he played like Rex Grossman (that was an overstatement). One or two of those and things could get ugly in Cleveland.

The Bills have a great return man in the very least with Leodis McElvoy. However they already have Roscoe Parrish so he'll need to be a good CB as well. McElvoy will probably return kicks anyway though as he took one 95 yards to the house following a big return against the Skins the previous week.

The Bucs lost guard Davin Joseph for 4-8 weeks, dealing a big blow to a stellar O-line. The Bucs lack skill players so having a solid line is essential in order to prop up the offense.

The Bengals resigned Chris Henry. I don't get this at all. The guy was nothing but trouble and now you bring him back? I know CJ got hurt, but why Henry? It could have been anybody else preferably a player who plays rather than spends time in jail.

Joe horn was also released from Atlanta as the Falcons continue to make the case that receivers go to Chicago or Atlanta to die.

That's it for now...more to come

Colt Brennan: Overhyped Or The Real Deal?

Since the start of preseason, I have tried (for the most part) to stay out of the Colt Brennan discussion. However, I can't resist any longer.

It's hard to really pass judgment on a guy that has only played in three NFL preseason games, so I'm going try and avoid labeling him. So many people I have talked to are ready to crown him as the savior of DC, and it's way too early to even discuss him taking the No. 2 role. So basically, I just have to point out several things.

From what I have seen thus far, Brennan is very raw. I think he has talent and a great arm, but come on people, let's face it, some of the throws he makes would never fly against first-team defenses.

Now, I know he's a third stringer playing against third stringers, and it's good to see him dominate his peers. Unfortunately, many of his peers will be looking for work in a month, so his present success is rendered irrelevant. Should we care that he was burning Joe Schmo last week? No!

However, all that we have to look at is his previous performances, so let's check them out.

In first game against Indy, Brennan showed good mobility and made some tough throws. He went 9-10 for 123 yards and threw a pair of TDs. Overall, there wasn't much to complain about as he played as well as could be expected. He went out against third stringers and played very well, but some of those throws wouldn't have been made against starters.

He also moved in the pocket too much, which would have been exploited had the speedier first teamers been on the field. Jim Zorn attested to this. "Colt Brennan had a couple of plays that could have gone either way," Zorn said. "Those are the things he can learn from, and he has to become a more disciplined quarterback and not risk as much as he did in the game."

I'm not faulting Brennan for this. He's young and inexperienced. But fans were singing his praises the next week—saying he would become a starter and replace Jason Campbell—about what a star Brennan would be.

All I could think was, "This is far too much hype for a late-round rookie QB with two quarters of preseason experience."

It was only one game and fans were ready to crown him. That's easy to do when he came off a great performance and everyone jumps onto the Colt Brennan tour bus. I figured he would struggle and everyone would forget about the glowing promise he exuded on that Hall of Fame weekend.

Week Two actually played out accordingly. Brennan had an average showing, going 4-8 for 37 yards and was sacked several times. All of a sudden, I didn't hear as much from the Brennan crowd.

Things are back to a fever pitch now that Brennan led the 'Skins to a victory from behind last week. His play was great, but fans fail to realize this isn't the main stage; things are different once you play with the big boys.

Why do we quickly embrace the big story? I know Brennan is a likable guy with a solid winning record, but just watch him play a little. The guy is not ready to play against DeMarcus Ware and the Cowboys or Ray Lewis and the Ravens.

I am calling out to 'Skins fans to temper their enthusiasm. We have a guy at starter now who looks like he is about to come into his own. Jason Campbell has been comfortable in the offense and is surrounded with talent. Let's not abandon him now that he is gearing up to prove himself.

It's easy to root for the guy who makes the headlines, but sometimes he isn't the best option to win. Right now, Colt Brennan is not ready, and if Campbell comes into his own this season, then we might never see Colt as a starter in DC. I don't think Colt has played badly, I just think it's silly to listen to fans proclaim him the next superstar.

Zorn summed up the atmosphere surrounding Brennan by saying, "Remember, we were talking differently last week after the Buffalo game: 'Oh Colt came down to earth.' Well now he's in outer space again."

Come on, DC! Get your heads out of the clouds.

August 16, 2008

That Hideous Strength: Redskins Overcome Sloppy Play To Beat Jets

Brett Favre didn't disappoint, but in the end, Colt Brennan stole the show.

Favre played for two drives, throwing a TD, but his Jets lost 13-10 on a last minute drive engineered by Brennan, the rookie from Hawaii.

The fans flocked to see Favre in his debut for a team not named the Packers. They cheered loudly when he connected on a 20 yard throw to Jericho Cotchery and erupted as he threw a TD to tight end Dustin Keller.

After that second drive, things quickly ground to a halt.

The Redskins couldn't get much going with their first team offense as Jason Campbell turned in a subpar performance. He was 4-10 for a meagre 28 yards, but did lead the Redskins to a field goal on his second of two drives.

Starting guard Randy Thomas and running back Ladell Betts were both banged up, but the injuries were reported to be minor.

The Skins were unable to do much anything with Todd Collins who still showed signs of struggling to grasp Jim Zorn's west coast offense. He did go 11-15, but missed on several throws and has yet to appear comfortable in the offense.

The Skins trailed 7-3 at the half and then the team's exchanged field goals in a sloppy second half making it 10-6. Then with just over two minutes to play, Brennan woke up New York and then proceeded to light it up.

On the first play of the drive, Brennan completed a 37 yard pass to Billy McMullen into Jets territory. Three plays later, he avoided the blitz and completed a pass to tight end Jason Goode who took it 33 yards for the score.

The Skins led 13-10, but with over a minute go, another Brett (Ratliff) took the Jets down the field and set them up for a chip shot field goal in order to tie the game. However, Mike Nugent clanked his attempt off the goal post as time expired and the Skins remained perfect in preseason play.

Despite the perfection, this was the first game where the Skins displayed mental errors and struggled to play smoothly. They had six penalties, several of them false starts and motion infractions. In addition, they only converted 2 out of 11 third downs and the two minute drill before halftime was mismanaged by Todd Collins. There will be games like this and though it was nice to see them overcome the errors and win, the mistakes must be minimized.

Rogers, McIntosh To Play In Tonight's Game

Carlos Rogers was supposed to be out of football for over a year. Not so fast my friends! Rogers is returning tonight against the Jets only nine months after suffering a gruesome knee injury midway through last season.

Rogers has been rehabbing furiously to get back in time for the start of the regular season. His comeback has moved along rapidly as he began participation in practice a few weeks ago and is now ready for some game action. Coaches were apprehensive of Rogers playing on the Meadowlands field turf surface, but now it appears that he is a go for tonight's game.

Rogers, a 2005 first round draft pick, was coming into his own last season before injuring himself in a 52-7 loss to New England. He is expected to be one of the Skins' starting CBs this season and it's great to see him prepared to return.

Another injured Redskin is set to see limited action tonight. LB Rocky McIntosh was hurt in a November loss to Dallas, banging up his knee as well. However, the injury was not as serious and McIntosh was expected to play in at least one preseason game. Now that we get the confirmation that all is on schedule, we can breathe a sigh of relief.

McIntosh was the Redskins second rounder in 2006 and last year was arguably the best linebacker on the team last year. London Fletcher was great, but McIntosh is very well rounded as he can adeptly defend both the run and pass. A healthy linebacking corps would greatly benefit Washington since both McIntosh and Marcus Washington missed time last year.

August 13, 2008

The Washington Redskins Should Take No Part in the "Cover Two" Defense

Thus far in the preseason, the Redskins have employed both zone and man-to-man defenses. Anyone who has watched the 'Skins for the past year knows which one the 'Skins should embrace.

Man-to-man allows the 'Skins to get physical with wideouts and prevent them from running free through seams. It gives free safety LaRon Landry the freedom to roam the field and use his excellent football smarts to break up plays, while Reed Doughty can play closer to the line of scrimmage where he has shown himself to be much more comfortable.

The man-to-man-press scheme benefits Shawn Springs, who became a shutdown corner by the end of the year. After the first game against Dallas last season (in which T.O. torched us for four TDs while the 'Skins were using the cover-two scheme), Gregg Williams admitted that he should have put Springs on T.O.

Once the playoff push began, Springs came into his own, as Williams went at it with reckless abandon in a press coverage that mugged receivers all the way down the field.

Springs is a year older, but hasn't seemed to be a step slower. He is a viable option to shut down all challengers, and this luxury enables the 'Skins to focus on one less player on offense.

When T.O. comes to town, Springs can handle him with very little help. This leaves Landry and the others in the secondary with the task of stopping Jason Witten. When the Bengals host us, Springs will be able to single-handedly contain T.J. or C.J. With Springs, the defense has less to worry about.

Man-to-man also allows the linebacking corps to play up on the line of scrimmage. They played much of the year in zone, allowing receivers to sneak in underneath. The 'Skins were so afraid of the big play last year that they gave up a lot of big drives instead.

Overall, man coverage is the best option for the 'Skins defense. They have guys on the line that will get pressure on the quarterback, enabling the secondary to press the receivers and throw off the timing.

Cover two is not meant for this team. The scheme demands perfection and great athletes. The Redskins don't have the athletes to run the system perfectly. One breakdown and everything collapses.

Here's why the 'Skins are not suited to run this defense.

Firstly, Reed Doughty does not have the speed or cover skills to play in it. Last year, he was the reason T.O. had his way with us. Safeties are the last line of defense in the cover two, they are responsible for everything outside the hash marks, more than 10 yards down the field. Doughty can't handle that.

Next, it's a waste of cornerback talent. Corners play 10 yards downfield and then everything falls to the safeties. You do not have to possess great corners to be effective in the cover two (the Colts had Jason David and Nick Harper).

The 'Skins have a shutdown corner who can hold his own, while Landry helps out the rest. So why not use them?

Thirdly, the linebackers are at their best when swarming to the ball and playing the run. London Fletcher shouldn't be eight to 10 yards back. He is a run stopper who doesn't have the speed to play in a cover-two scheme.

Rocky McIntosh and Marcus Washington can cover, but I just don't like the linebackers playing so far off the ball. It opens up seams underneath, something the 'Skins were burned by many times last year.

Also, it fails to allow Landry to roam. Being a FREE safety was Landry's strong suit as he blossomed late last year.

The cover two doesn't bring out the best in these Redskins, so I don't understand why the coaching staff even bothers with it. We did see less of it during Saturday's game, and hopefully the increased man coverage against Buffalo is a sign of things to come in the nation's capital.

There Can Only Be 53

The Redskins have so much talent hidden deep on their roster, but unfortunately much of that talent will be gone in a few weeks. By the end of August, Washington must trim their 80 man roster down to 53, meaning some of the preseason stalwarts will be cut to finalize the roster.

Everyone has their opinion on who should be spared from players, to fans, to coaches, and in the end everyone will be upset at the loss of at least one player. However, that's the way it goes when around thirty players are to be cut.

So in order to prepare the Redskins world for disappointment I have decided to make my own roster cuts while attempting to display little if any partiality for certain players. Without further ado here it goes.

Firstly I am going to take into account how many players at each position will make the team. I am uncertain if my numbers will be correct, but this is how I see it playing out.

Jim Zorn will keep three quarterbacks, one fullback, six receivers, three tight ends, four running backs, and nine offensive linemen on offense. Defensively I expect to see six corners, four safeties, six linebackers, and eight defensive linemen. Also on the roster will be a kicker, punter, and a long snapper.

The O-line has some big battles brewing and several talented players will be cut. Justin Geisinger, Fred Matua, and Tavares Washington will likely be released, but I could see Todd Wade getting the axe if Washington continues his strong performance. Wade has a sprained ankle and is an aging player entering his eighth season. I know he's got the experience, but the line is old and a youthful injection might be what Zorn wants.

The sixth receiver spot is a battle between Billy McMullen and Anthony Mix. Mix is out two weeks with a broken rib while McMullen has wowed coaches thus far in preseason. Look for Mix on the practice squad because McMullen has most likely made the team.

At running back I can't see how the Skins ignore Marcus Mason. Rock Cartwright is primarily the return man and probably won't see too many carries. So why not sacrifice a player for Mason? He is way too good to throw on the practice squad again.

Mike Sellars will be the lone fullback as Zorn will rarely use one. Sellars is great catching passes out of the backfield and is valuable in short yardage situations.

At tight end Todd Yoder has been solid in the preseason and is still second on the depth chart. It may take Fred Davis a little time to break into the NFL, so I expect to see Yoder on the final roster.

The defensive secondary is the most hotly contested area at this moment. At safety Laron Landry and Reed Doughty obviously make it, but behind them, there's a mess.

Justin Hamilton played well last week, but he's a long shot. Vernon Fox has the most experience and I expect he'll make it. Chris Horton will make it. So in the end, it will be Horton and Fox with Patrick Ghee, Kareem Moore, and Hamilton leaving town.

Rounding out the secondary with the corners we have Springs, Smoot, Rogers, Torrence, Tryon, and the unknown number six.

Byron Westbrook has yet to impress me and Cedrick Holt has been outperformed by Matteral Richardson. Richardson has a great pass breakup last week which was following his pick six performance the week before. Richardson should get the spot, but Westbrook had the talent to push him.

The linebacking corps is also tough to navigate. Matt Sinclair and HB Blades should survive, but what about Alfred Fincher, Rian Wallace, Khary Campbell, and Curtis Gatewood? Fincher recovered a fumble last game, Campbell is a great special teamer, while Wallace has been drawing some praise from coaches. Campbell will probably make it and Wallace might too if the Skins decide to roll with seven LBs, or cut Sinclair since he and Blades are MLBs.

The defensive line will consist of Montgomery, Golston, Griffin, Taylor, and Carter, leaving three spots available.

Erasmus James just resumed practice, Demetric Evans will back up whoever plays on the left side, Chris Wilson is a pass rushing specialist, Lorenzo Alexander is a jack of all trades, and the list goes on.

Evans, Alexander and Wilson have the inside track and it will be difficult for Matthias Askew and Ryan Boschetti to earn spots. However, James is a wild card. If he performs well the Skins might have to go with nine D-linemen or cut lose Evans. If he fails to produce in the preseason, then Skins should just cut him and keep their seventh rounder.

The special teams consist of Shaun Suisham at kicker and Ethan Albright at long snapper. Punter is up for grabs between Derrick Frost and Durant Brooks, neither of which has distanced themselves from the other.

And that is how I see it going down. Did I disappoint?

August 10, 2008

Campbell Continues His Impressive Play As The Redskins Win Again

The biggest question in my mind facing the Redskins this season was how would Jason Campbell perform under new coach Jim Zorn. After all this would be his seventh offense in eight years. So much depends on Campbell's showing and thus far he has delivered an emphatic message with his play.

Campbell has shown that he has the poise and presence needed to make any throw and lead a team. He looks as if he can manage a game and also sling it around. He's not afraid nor is he anxious. He has been just what the Redskins were hoping for.

Last week he went 5-5 for 61 yards and a TD. This week against the Buffalo Bills he went 7-10 for 71 yards and led a TD drive in one quarter of play. Combine those stats and he's 12-15 for 132 yards and a TD in about two quarters of play. Could Jim Zorn ask for more?

He hasn't forced anything. He's spread the ball around to the likes of Chris Cooley, James Thrash, Antwaan Randle El, Santana Moss, and more. He's led the team on two scoring drives in four possessions. This is the start of something good.

I know it's only preseason, but Campbell has been lights out. That's something I believe he will be able to translate into some regular season confidence. When the Skins get up early on opponent this year there will be no backing down.

The game itself (won by Washington 17-14) was not as tight as last week's. The offensive line left much to be desired as Jon Jansen was worked on all night. With his injury history and preseason performance, there has to be some concern for Joe Bugel. Chad Rinehart played well though and he could end up saving the Skins should Jansen continue his poor play.

The receivers were in sync early as Moss and Randle El both caught passes from Campbell. The second drive portrayed a lot of Clinton Portis who rushed for 18 yards on seven carries. Portis seemingly went through the motions, something that I, for one, do not like to see. It took him four plays to punch it in from inside the five, which isn't a good sign. Kudos to Zorn for making sure the goal line formation was run correctly. It's preseason so why not work out the kinks.

Todd Collins ran the show following this and experienced mixed results. He threw the first pick of the preseason, but also looked a bit more confident in Zorn's system, throwing a twelve yard TD to Ladell Betts, making the score 14-3.

Betts ran hard tonight, but did come off the field limping at the half. I like to see the passion in Betts' running because I haven't seen that in Portis since 2005. Portis could be so much better if he ran with more of a fire. I know he's been banged up, but now he's healthy so it's time to step it up.

The Bills scored late in the half and made a two point conversion to tie it up at 14 at the half. In the second half both defenses tightened, the Bills yielding just a field goal on a third quarter drive led by Colt Brennan. Brennan returned to earth yesterday with an average performance. He connected often with Billy McMullen who really put a chokehold on that coveted number six WR with 6 catches for 55 yards.

Derek Devine quarterbacked the fourth quarter and the longshot underthrew RB Nehemiah Broughton in the endzone on a fourth and goal play.

The Bills tried to tie the game early in the fourth but Ryan Lindell missed a 47-yarder and the Bills never threatened again.

The Skins first team defense got the job done, allowing just one first down. Reed Doughty sacked JP Losman on a safety blitz while Shawn Springs dropped an interception at the other safety position. Andre Carter knocked down a pass while Jason Taylor stayed quiet, but overall, there were no glaring issues.

The Bills moved the ball late in the second half scoring 10 points on two consecutive drives. Losman threw a nice TD pass to James Hardy who beat Leigh Torrence on the play. However after that, the Bills would not score again.

Now for some quick thoughts.

James Thrash was hit or miss tonight. He ran a great slant to set up a first and goal, but had his fade route altered earlier. Add the offensive pass interference and it wasn't the best night for him. But we know he can play so no worries.

LB Matt Sinclair logged six tackles and made a case to make the final roster. Fellow LB Alfred Fincher recovered a fumble and had 5 tackles.

Newly signed safety Justin Hamilton had a great night, landing two great hits, one of which caused a fumble.

Safety Kareem Moore was injured and helped off the field as was WR Anthony Mix. Their status is unknown.

McMullen blocked well, caught well, and probably earned the #6 WR spot if there will be one. He has played in similar offenses with the Vikings and Eagles and has been great.

Marcus Mason won't stop his relentless push to make the final roster. It's really too bad that he might end up on the practice squad again.

Shaun Suisham had a big grin on his face after nailing what turned out to be the winning 46 yard field goal. Good boost of confidence.

Justin Tryon has a long way to go. He gave up a third and long on the Bills' first possession. He has the skills, but needs to develop them.

Maurice Mann doesn't realize that the fair catch exists.

On the Bills side, Trent Edwards and JP Losman might be getting into a QB controversy. Losman led two scoring drives while Edwards went 1-5 for 18 yards. Losman has always struggled with careless throws, but Edwards certainly didn't make an appealing case last night.

Marshawn Lynch is a devastating force. He pushes every pile and earns every yard. Last year he ran for over 1200 yards with a line that was far below average. He could be an 1800 yard back with some good blocking.

Roscoe Parrish is a nimble player. He beat Tryon on the third and long and made several other solid plays.

Anyway, good to see a Skins win. Jim Zorn appears to be quite capable and I can't wait for the Giants. However first it's Brett Favre and the Jets.

August 6, 2008

Is Marcus Mason Going To Push Ladell Betts Out Of DC?

In last week's Hall of Fame Game, Marcus Mason picked up where he left off last preseason with a dominating rushing performance. His big game reopened fans and coaches eyes, perhaps might get him somewhere in his quest to make the final roster.

If Mason make the roster, what will the Redskins do with four running backs? Clinton Portis is obviously the starter while Rock Cartwright was just signed to a multiyear deal and is the primary kick returner. That leaves Ladell Betts, who I believe is a candidate to exit stage right.

Betts had a breakthrough season in 2006 when Portis missed most of the year with injuries. He rushed for over 1100 yards without even starting a full slat of games and the Skins quickly locked him up for five more years at 5 million a season.

That's a bit pricey for a backup and Betts' injury history also hurts his stock. He is nursing a strained calf muscle right now and broke a forearm in 2003. In 2005, he missed three games with an injury and last year had his role decreased as the season went on. He carried the ball a mere 93 times and caught just 21 passes compared to the 53 he caught in 2006.

That output is not worth 5 million a year and if Mason continues to impress, then the Skins should really consider moving Betts. There are several teams in need of a running back and the Skins are in need of depth along the offensive line and secondary.

Possible trade partners could include Tampa, Chicago, Detroit, New England, or Houston. All of them are in need of a primary or a platoon back.

Tampa has Ernest Graham and Cadillac Williams, but Williams is recovered from a serious injury while Graham isn't necessarily a feature back.

Chicago landed Kevin Jones, but he can't stay on the field. Betts would provide the Bears with a much needed skill player.

Detroit lost Jones and don't have a clear cut favorite at running back. They drafted Central Florida RB Kevin Smith in the third round this year, but Betts would instantly become their best back. In addition, the Skins have traded with the Lions before (see TJ Duckett).

New England recently picked up LaMont Jordan, but he has never materialized into a good back. That leaves them with Laurence Maroney who has a bum shoulder. Maroney's shoulder has been reported to be a chronic injury that has already forced him to miss time. He is a good player, but the Patriots need some security at running back.

Houston has Mike Bell, Steve Slaton, Chris Brown, and Ahman Green. Green is washed up, Brown is injury prone, Slaton is a change of pace back, and Bell is a cast off from the Broncos. Betts would solidify their running game.

The Skins really can't afford to have four backs on their roster. One has got to go. Betts is overpaid, but still possesses trade value. I wouldn't be surprised to see him dealt for some much needed depth on the offensive line or secondary.

For now, we will just have to wait and see what the Skins front office can do.

Punt Returner Still Up In The Air

After the first preseason game, it is still uncertain who will be returning punts. Justin Tryon didn't impress while Maurice Mann muffed a return.

Antwaan Randle El is starting again at receiver so he probably won't be called on to perform the returning duties. Devin Thomas might get a look once he returns. But I think the Skins should give Rock Cartwright a chance.

Cartwright never scores on returns, but you know he will get you solid yardage and protect the football. Field position and no turnovers sound good to me. Besides Cartwright has asked to do more so why not give him more. He has proved up to the task thus far in his career so why not give him some more responsibility.

One other special teams note. Derrick Frost will punt the next game against Buffalo and this should help determine who will be kicking for the Skins next year. Challenger Durant Brooks averaged about 46 yards a kick against Indianapolis and kicked one inside the 20. Another went through the endzone and he botched a hold on a field goal. With a strong outing, Frost could retain his job, but it's early yet.

Heyer, Wade Will Miss Two Weeks

Stephon Heyer looked rusty in the Hall of Fame Game and his injury will likely keep him that way for the next few weeks. Heyer's strained knee will keep him out for two weeks.

Another backup tackle, Todd Wade is also sidelined for at least two weeks with a high ankle sprain. These two losses really hurt the Skins' depth along the offensive line.

Jon Jansen struggled in limited action, his first in almost a year. I expect him to regain most of his ability by the regular season and play well, but he might have suffered one injury too many.

Fortunately Chad Rinehart has looked good at tackle and guard so he can fill any holes. However, Randy Thomas is also coming off an injury, Pete Kendall is ancient, and Chris Samuels recently had some particles removed from his elbow.

The line might end up being a real concern if Heyer and Wade don't get back quicly.

From an injury standpoint, fate hasn't been too kind thus far to the Skins.

New Stadium In The Works For Redskins?

FedEx Field kicked off its existence in 1997 and fans figured they would have this stadium to cherish and create new memories in for years to come. Oh how mistaken they might be.

There has been talk amongst DC politicians and others concerning the Skins moving back into the city itself. In fact, officials have mentioned tearing down old RFK stadium and building a new hi tech facility in its place.

Officials have spoken before with Dan Snyder about making the move and Snyder would most likely consider it for several reasons.

Firstly, FedEx Field is the largest stadium in the country, seating around 95,000 but it will lose that title once the Cowboys open their new 100,000 seat venue. Snyder doesn't like to be outdone especially by Dallas (even though he is almost every year in the standings). The new stadium, if constructed, will hold over 100,000.

In addition, the stadium would have a retractable roof. Snyder has wanted to host a Super Bowl since he became owner. DC is far too cold to host the big game in February so Snyder needs a dome in order to score this honor.

Overall, I have heard not to expect a serious effort for a new stadium for another decade or so, but moving back into the city would make things much more convenient for fans. The subway would get them right to the field; no more drives into the Maryland suburbs. It would feel more like the city's team as well.

I'm all for the idea, but we'll see what materializes as the details become more formulated.

August 4, 2008

Skins Roll In Zorn's Debut

Jim Zorn roamed the sidelines looking cool and collected. On the field, his team reflected that look.

The Redskins won their preseason opener last night 30-16 over the Indianapolis Colts and Zorn proved he is capable of running an NFL club.

The team never appeared confused and they avoided many careless penalties and the offense put together quite a few scoring drives.

Jason Campbell was a perfect 5-5 for 61 yards and a touchdown pass on the opening drive to Antwaan Randle El. He also hooked up with Chris Cooley and Santana Moss and appeared to be comfortable and calm in Zorn's offense.

The offensive line however needs to improve in pass protection as they gave up four sacks. The line is usually up to speed come regular season so it shouldn't be much of a concern, but Campbell was sacked once in two drives.

Todd Collins had an uneventful game going 5-6 for 32 yards. He failed to lead a scoring drive and the Skins fell behind 16-9 at the half.

The final two minutes of the first half was the only time when Zorn made a serious mistake. Collins was leading a drive into Colts' territory, but the Skins let too much time elapse in between plays at one point only to see Zorn call time out. Had he called it earlier it would saved 10-15 seconds.

Yet Zorn will have four more preseason games to familiarize himself with clock management and he should improve with practice.

In the second half Colt Brennan came in and went 9-10 for 123 yards and two scores. His second TD pass to Marcus Mason gave the Skins the lead which they never relinquished.

Brennan had been unimpressive in training camp, but he showed he can play in game action. He appeared to be comfortable moving around in the pocket and avoided any big mistakes.

Brennan and the other QBs were aided by strong performances by Mason and Rock Cartwright. Mason rushed for 98 yards on 18 carries while Cartwright rumbled for 58 yards, carrying the ball 13 times.

The Redskin defense was of course missing several starters, but still played well, giving up only one touchdown late in the first half. DE Rob Jackson, a seventh round draft choice, recorded a sack and had another one taken back on a penalty. Fellow draft pick Chris Horton picked up two sacks from his safety position and recovered an onside kick.

The Colts were putting together a last second drive in order to tie the score, but Matterral Richardson intercepted a fourth down pass from Jared Lorenzen and took it all the way back for the score.

It was a great weekend for Skins fans everywhere, seeing Art Monk and Darrell Green enter the Hall of Fame and then enjoying a victory albeit a preseason one. Maybe we'll see the success translate into the regular season...Now for some quick observations.

Marcus Mason is very talented, but it will be hard for him to make the final roster. Rock is the kick returner while Betts and Portis have their spots locked up. Look for Mason to be on the practice squad again. We have to remember that he's never ran against a first string defense.

Justin Tryon played poorly. He was beaten badly on an underthrown ball and also committed pass interference on the play. I can see he has talent, but he is very raw. It will take time.

Stuart Schweigert was responsible for giving up the TD pass from Quinn Gray to Onrea Jones. The Skins were in a cover two on the play and Tryon did the right thing by letting Jones run by him after ten yards, leaving him for Schweigert to cover. However, Schweigert failed to cover him, leading to an easy TD. That's why LaRon is playing Free Safety.

The only dumb penalty of the night came from Billy McMullen. McMullen had a false start which is inexcusable for a receiver. He did atone for it later with a 34 yard catch, but there's no room for error in this stacked depth chart of wide outs.

Durant Brooks had a nice punt inside the 20 and punted the whole night. He also had a 56 yarder and another that went deep into the endzone. He had trouble holding on Shaun Suisham's 36-yard field goal, a miss. Edge in the punting battle: Derrick Frost.

Suisham has to make that field goal. He missed a similar one in Seattle last season and has been inconsistent in camp this year. He might be a weak link.

Fred Davis is not a weak link. On his first catch he dragged three defenders an extra few yards. He has power and hands.

Davis and Cooley have spots locked up, but what about Todd Yoder? He played well last night, hauling in three passes for 18 yards. JC has always liked him and he has been a good player since his arrival in 2006. Three TEs might be making this roster.

Stephon Heyer was schooled on one play for a sack and later came up limping with a sprained knee. Not a good day.

Another backup tackle, Todd Wade sprained his ankle. Let's hope these injuries cease as the real games draw closer.

Rob Jackson is going to make this team. Some veterans better be looking out. Erasmus James needs to get healthy if he wants to play for Washington.

Chris Horton looked very good. He was all over the field making tackles (5 to be exact).

Jared Lorenzen is an embarrassment to quarterbacks everywhere. Lose a few...hundred pounds, Jared.

The Colts have capable backup receivers. They all run over the middle very well. That offense designed by Tom Moore is very effective. Quinn Gray threw the ball well on quick hitters in traffic.

Alright there's the run down. Feel free to add comments on your own observations.

August 2, 2008

Hall Of Fame Weekend Brings Tears and Triumph

Darrell Green choked up a few times during his speech, but he had his listeners in tears. To hear him tell his story was enough to make anyone get the shivers. God's providence in his life is clear as he outlined several instances in which the Almighty played a big role in his life.

Green's son Jared gave a stirring introduction to his father, emphasizing that his father is great influence off the field to many children today. However he made an excellent point saying that though his father is a good example, those that look up to him need to act on their own in order to live a good life. He can't live theirs for them.

Darrell Green was all about action. He made sweet moves on and off the field, making a name for himself with the way he played and the way he conducted himself. He didn't just emulate greatness or aspire to be a good person. He went out, and through his actions he became great. He worked to become a better player and a better person. Through prayer, family, and a strong work ethic he molded himself into a role model.

We can use him as a model, but we have to remember he isn't playing our role. It's up to us to ensure we play our own roles. Darrell is simply a figure who keeps us focused on our own role.

Jared was correct in saying we live a world that is darkened by sex and drug abuse. People like Darrell are who we should strive to be like. But to get there we have to work at it just like Darrell did.

Darrell Green is truly an inspiration to many of us. He gave the world twenty years of talent and kindness. Maybe it's time we gave him a little back by embracing what's good in this world. Be it our family, our friends, our religion, our jobs, or our very lives we should look to improve ourselves in God's image. Why not? Darrell did it.

Big Weekend For The Skins And Their Fans

Hall of Fame weekend is a big event for the NFL. It's even bigger for the Skins this year. They not only play in the Hall of Fame Game tomorrow night against the Colts, they also have two players entering the Hall.

Needless to say, DC will be in an uproar that will only be surpassed by the start of the regular season. This weekend is kind of a big deal to thousands. Darrell Green has been instrumental in changing the fortunes of many men and women in DC courtesy of his charitable organizations. Art Monk quietly set a humble example that spoke volumes to his followers.

Yes sir, these players were winners on and off the field and the city and the whole NFL will have this reaffirmed to them tonight when they take center stage to offer some insight on their inductions into the Hall.

Joe Gibbs will likely be in the crowd while Green's own son, Jared will introduce his dad into the Hall. Green had to admit he's no longer the fastest man in the family. Jared holds that honor and he will be attending college this year to play football.

Burgundy and Gold will run freely this weekend. It will be a lovefest for two the most beloved players in the franchise and I will definitely be taking it all in.

As for the game tomorrow, many of the starters will see either limited or no action so it will be the backups time to shine. I am going to look and see how well the secondary plays with guys like JT Tryon, Stuart Schweigert, and Byron Westbrook. These guys might be needed later in the year should injuries occur and the secondary was the weaker part of the Skins defense last season.

On offense Marcus Mason will be a player to watch. He's had a relatively quiet camp, but he tore through the preseason last year. However, it will be difficult for him to make the final roster because of the depth and RB. In addition, Colt Brennan will get at least a quarter of action, his first since a loss to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl in January. Brennan looked unimpressive to me on fan appreciation day, but this is where his performance really starts to matter.

Anyway, this will be a weekend to remember, so sit back and enjoy. HTTR!

Return Game In Need Of An Upgrade

When the Washington Redskins brought in Antwaan Randle El in 2006 there were high hopes for the punt return game. After all, Randle El was statistically one of the premiere return men in the game.

Despite the expectations, Randle El has been downright dismal returning kicks. Often times he would dance around in every direction but upfield, looking for an opening only to get wiped out by a wave of defenders after a five yard pickup.

The number attest to this as in 2006, Randle El returned 39 kicks for 342 yards and a TD for an average of 8.8 yards per return while in 2007 he returned 34 kicks for 209 yards and no TDs for a 6.1 yards per return average. Meanwhile he was being outplayed by players like Josh Cribbs, Leon Washington, Devin Hester, Darren Sproles, Nate Burleson, and the list goes on. All these players outperformed Randle El last season by a long ways.

If the Skins intend to keep Randle El at that position, then they should seriously advise him to watch tape on a return man like Wes Welker. Welker wasn't flashy and didn't score, but he provided the Patriots with some decent field position by simply putting his head down and getting as many yards as he could. He ended up with a 10 yard return average.

Of course making some moves to break open a return is a good thing, but Randle El tried to break open every return last year. He needs to learn to take what is given to him and put a stop to the constant east/west movement. It will pay off.

If this return game could improve, the offense would start with better field position. Welker gave the Patriots a shorter field to work with by his north/south return style and Randle El could do the same for the Skins this year. If he finds it impossible to alter his play there are other options.

James Thrash has experience in the return game as does Santana Moss while I would be interested in seeing JT Tryon try his ability especially if he is playing at the #5 corner slot.

In all honesty, I don't care how it's resolved, but something needs to be done about the return game whether it be an improved Randle El or a new player. Because 6.1 yards a return isn't going to get the job done.