March 24, 2009

Washington Redskins' Defense: Little Depth Means Big Problems

With the release of Jason Taylor, the Washington Redskins now have several large holes to fill on last year's number four ranked defense.

The 'Skins brought in Albert Haynesworth to bolster a non-existent pass rush and then proceeded to cut their best end rusher in Taylor. Though his time in DC was a disappointment, Taylor still had better pass rushing skills than the rest of the 'Skins' D-line.

The fact that Dan Snyder gave up second and sixth rounders to land him hurts even more.

Demetric Evans also left DC, signing with the 'Niners yesterday. He provided a solid presence against the run and was an occasional pass rushing threat.

This leaves the Redskins with just five defensive ends on their roster: Rob Jackson, Chris Wilson, Alex Buzbee, Renaldo Wynn, and Andre Carter. Carter is the only one with starting experience, while Jackson and Buzbee might not even make the final roster next season.

Jackson will be entering his second year after being drafted in the seventh round out of Kansas State while Buzbee is coming off a season-ending knee injury suffered in training camp.

Wilson has been a capable reserve, but at 247 lbs., he is too light and doesn’t possess the talent to be an every-down player.

Wynn will be entering his second stint with the 'Skins, but he can’t be expected to put up much anything at the age of 34. He is coming off a two sack season with the Giants.

So what can the 'Skins do to remedy this shortage of defensive ends? They have four picks in the draft and they just might have to use several on DEs.

Brain Orakpo, Michael Johnson, or Aaron Maybin are first-round considerations, while guys like Robert Ayers, Paul Kruger, or Maurice Evans could be available in the second and third rounds.

Orakpo is receiving the most attention, with his freakish size and athleticism. He can play LB or DE. However, he will most likely be taken before the No. 13 pick.

The 'Skins could roll with Johnson or Maybin, but again Maybin might be gone by the time Washington is on the clock. Johnson's stock is falling due to his lack of motor and strength. He can't stop the run and hasn't filled out his 6'7" frame. Too many questions, if you ask me.

Everette Brown could also be an option in the first round, but with offensive tackle being a pressing need, the 'Skins might find Michael Oher or Eben Britton to be of better value at No. 1.

Unfortunately, the ‘Skins are short on linebackers as well. London Fletcher is still the man in the middle, but for how much longer? HB Blades might be able to fill in down the road, but he could find himself penciled in at OLB as a replacement for Marcus Washington this year.

Blades is a solid player, but he really isn’t fast enough to be an OLB. He’s a MLB and will be exposed at OLB. However, the 'Skins may have little choice but to bite the bullet and see how he fares at OLB.

Rocky McIntosh has quietly been effective at the other OLB position, but his knees are questionable. He could improve as he is now over a year removed from rehabbing the knee he injured in 2007.

But the linebacker position is lacking some quality depth. So DE and LB have little to no depth. With only four picks in the draft (and a weak offensive line), there’s no way to remedy all these problems.

Washington’s secondary is the strength of the defensive unit. They re-signed DeAngelo Hall, who will start alongside Carlos Rogers, forming one of the better CB tandems in conference. Fred Smoot and J.T. Tryon will provide some depth while Byron Westbrook tries yet again to make the roster.

Laron Landry and Chris Horton are both tremendous players. Landry can be a game breaker and rarely gets beaten while Horton does a great job in run support. Kareem Moore looked promising as well last season.

Overall, signing Haynesworth was a big move, but I wouldn’t say it’s the right one. The 'Skins have more needs on defense than meet the eye.

They were a top 10 defense last year, and they should be again. However, I still think they are lacking all the pieces to be a tremendous defense, which can create pressure and force turnovers.

Great work again, front office. Bring in a player in an attempt to make your defense a premiere one and then release your best pass rusher? What’s going on in Redskins Park doesn’t add up to me.

Skins Add A Fifth Draft Pick To Their Stockpile

The Skins were awarded a seventh round compensatory draft selection by the NFL today, adding a fifth pick into the mix for this year's draft.

I expect the Skins to trade it away for a couple of barbells and JP Losman, but you never know they might actually bite the bullet and...God forbid...USE it!!!

As the draft approaches I can't help but feel that Washington will not be picking in the first round. I doubt they could afford it and they have several holes at OLB, DE, Tackle, and depth along the interior O-line.  With just five picks, don't expect them to cover all those bases.

So maybe the Skins will trade down like last year to acquire more players at a cheaper price. Or maybe they'll trade for Jay Cutler. Those rumors just won't completely go away.

I really think Cutler would be a tremendous upgrade over JC, but if we have to give up big players (I heard Chris Cooley and Laron Landry rumored to be on the block earlier this week) then I don't like it.

JC doesn't seem like the guy we thought he'd be, but you want to make sure you get the right replacement. Cutler seems the most viable, but his cost might be too high.

In the draft no one stands out as a franchise QB, and so the Skins would be foolish to ignore needs just to get a subpar QB. Redskins Insider give a look at picking a QB with No. 13.

Hey, if worse comes to worse Mike Vick will be available shortly. Just wait for the end of his prison sentence.

March 5, 2009

The NFL's Forbidden Fruit: What TO Has Brought To The Table Throughout His Career

Terrell no longer has $25 million reasons to be alive. But don't expect another overdose.

TO was cut earlier today by the Cowboys, ending a very Twilight-Zonesque three seasons. Now TO will certainly bring everything to the table for his new team because, that's what TO does when feels the need to impress.

Honestly, he was unstoppable with Donovan in 2004 since then he's been good but not great. Now he has a lot to prove to get another big payday. He old and still very problematic. Expect him to be on his best behavior for the next year.

TO's time in the Big D was intriguing to say the least. He was downright bipolar. One week he'd bash everything, the next he'd weep at the feet of Tony Romo.

He clashed with Bill Parcells playing a big part of the Tuna's downfall in Dallas. Imagine the heartburn he gave Parcells. His infamous TO training bike in camp, and of course the fateful night where he overdosed on some pills. Maybe he wanted to kill himself and maybe he didn't. Who knows because it's impossible to get inside the mind of TO.

For some reason teams find a way to put up with him for a few years because he's that good. However, I ask if the ultimate goal is to win the Big Game, why bring in TO?

TO has never won the big one. He came close a couple times, but that's it. More often than not he ends up hurting the team with his constant bitching which puts a rift in the locker room. Remember his fight with Hugh Douglas?

TO makes your team better in a way, but in the long run there will be a fallout. With the way football is, taking a chance on TO really isn't worth it. The odds of getting there with a happy TO are slim.

Even though TO wants to win, winning is not his first priority. His first priority is TO (that sounds like a direct quote). And we all know when you put yourself before the team, things can get sticky. Hell, TO's career is a testament to that.

TO's is the NFL's forbidden fruit. Very desirable and great to look at on the highlight reels, but once you take a bite and see the press conferences with TO yelling, crying, and complaining, you begin to realize that taking that bite might not have been such a good idea.

So let the bidding begin for TO's services begin. Many teams probably don't know what they are getting into since TO looks so good on the outside. Oh they are in for a treat.

March 2, 2009

Taylor Cut

What the hell? We bring in Haynesworth because it will help our DEs and their outside rush.

Then we cut our best pass rusher.

I know Jason Taylor busted his first year in DC, but I don't think he's washed up. And he's better than Demetric Evans. Or Andre Carter Or Phillip Daniels.

This move is a bad one.

I know he costs a bunch against the cap. I know I was against that in regards to the Haynesworth signing. But if you bring in a stud like Haynesworth, Taylor will have a field day. Or would have had one.

This also clouds the LB situation. I feel HB Blades is a liability at OLB. He didn't look fast enough there last year. Taylor would have been a more athletic fit at OLB in passing situations. So we took away some versatility too.

Andre Carter is the key now. Will he play some OLB (his more natural position in my opinion)? Or will he continue to provide zero pressure from DE?

Taylor was so key to me for this upcoming year. The Skins are going to wish they had him before the year is up.

Where are we going to get pass rush? Haynesworth isn't meant to be the sole rushing source. He needs help. Only Carter has shown he can get to the QB (albeit inconsistently).

Maybe the draft will be an option, but the Skins went for it all in free agency and now took a step back with this move. It doesn't make sense to me. The team gave up a lot for Taylor and this move ensures they get nothing in return.

Typical move by Danny Boy. He's already in cap hell and he just created another hole that at some point we'll have to fill.

Please comment on this because maybe I had too much faith in Taylor and he really is washed up. But I think this is a big mistake.

Here's a rundown of why Taylor was cut from Clark Judge of CBS Sportsline. It was the best reasoning I could find.

Truthfully, I think the Skins should have let him take the time off. But maybe considering the disappointment Taylor has been, he should have respected the team's wishes. Either way I'm upset to see him leave.

Defense Is Set, Your Turn Offense!

The Washington Redskins have added through free agency and have four picks left in the draft.

All of this offseason front office preparation will be meaningless if the offense can't get off the ground.

Spin it anyway you want, but the Redskins have struggled, mired in mediocrity since the early nineties all because of offensive futility.

Blame it on anyone you want, this edition of the Redskins will yet again struggle if the offense can't snap out of its funk.

Everyone has an opinion. It's Jason Campbell because of long release or lack of fire; it's the offensive line being too old; it's the receivers not getting open; it's bad play calling by Jim Zorn; etc.

Really all of the criticisms come into play as legitimate issues. They all add up to one incredibly anemic offense.

But there's a remedy.

And it's called success.

Hearken back to early last year when Campbell unleashed a 67-yard bomb to Santana Moss for the game-winning TD against New Orleans. After that play, the offense caught fire. It rolled through Arizona, Dallas, and Philly. It was efficient and imaginative.

Then it crawled back into it's shell. Gone were the big plays and the seamless balance that Jim Zorn had seemingly mastered. It didn't come back out.

The Dallas game was the height of Zorn's aggressiveness. He brought out plays I hadn't seen the 'Skins ever run. He stretched the field and kept the defense on its heels.

The offense had confidence which was a byproduct of its success. And then for whatever reason, everything just stopped.

The passive offense was back against St. Louis and was back to stay.

So how can the 'Skins regain this success?

It really only takes a big play as evidenced by the Moss TD last year. The weapons just need to get the vibe that they can't be stopped.

However, the weapons need to develop and quickly. Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas have a lot riding on them. Moss can't do it by himself. He needs a consistent target on the other side.

The 'Skins can only watch and wait in regards to their young receivers. They can't afford another top receiver, so either Thomas or Kelly must become a top receiver. The 'Skins used two second rounders on these guys. They were highly touted coming out of school.

Thus far, they haven't done anything. Kelly barely hit the field while Thomas looked far from NFL ready during his playing time.

But if the Skins want to see some offensive success, their development is crucial.

The defense is a strong unit capable of setting the offense up nicely throughout the year. I would hate to see it wasted.

In addition, the 'Skins made a solid move in picking up G Derrick Dockery. Dockery knows the Skins blocking schemes and is a big, young player. He'll be a nice upgrade at LG over Pete Kendall.

That's a step in the right direction, but right tackle is still a big need. Should the 'Skins keep their No. 13 first round pick they will most likely be able to pick one of the draft's four top tackles (Jason Smith, Andre Smith, Eugene Monroe, or Michael Oher).

If the 'Skins trade down, they will still be able to add depth along the interior by adding Alex Mack, Duke Robinson, or Max Unger. Other tackles like Alex Boone and Eben Britton might be available later on as well.

Even if Washington can upgrade their line through the draft, they still have to sit back and pray they made the right choices. Development is the key for the offense. We know Clinton Portis can play. We know Moss and Chris Cooley can play.

It's all about whether Campbell, Kelly, Thomas, Fred Davis, and the additions on the line can perform well on a consistent basis. From what I've seen, I question whether they can do this.

With all the money put into this team, it would be very much like the Redskins to fail. They will if their young offensive players don't take the next step.