Posted on: February 15, 2013 11:18 pm

Two safeties the Redskins should look at

The Redskins should make a play for both Woodson and Ed Reed. Safety was their biggest weakness last year. Reid Doughty played well in the second half of the season but he is by his own account a good backup rather than a good starter. Brandon Meriwether has proven that he can't be counted on to stay healthy and Madieu Williams gave up more pass touchdowns than just about any safety in the league. He HAS to go. The Redskins could also use some corner help, but upgrading their safeties has to be their top priority.
Category: NFL
Posted on: March 9, 2010 10:49 pm

A closer look at Redskin free agents

Clark Judge praised the Redskins for not falling into the free agent trap this offseason.  He also gave us a brief reminder of past offseason failures that the Redskins have given money to.

Judge wrote: Don't tell me you're surprised. This is the guy who signed Jeff George, Bruce Smith, Deion Sanders and Mark Carrier and got next to nothing from them. This is also the owner who made Adam Archuleta then the highest-paid safety, then watched him move down the depth chart before his release. He paid the big bucks for Antwaan Randle El. He paid more big bucks for Laveranues Coles. And he took out a second mortgage on Haynesworth.

It's easy to lump all of these players in the same category and give a universal thumbs down.  Most HAVE been busts.  But not all.

Let's look at the first four names mentioned.  Deion talked more than he tackled, and Mark Carrier was never more than a solid journeyman as a defensive back.  But Bruce Smith put in four solid years in Washington with close to 40 sacks and producing double digit sack totals in two of the four seasons.

These three get lumped in with George as the worst free agent blunder in NFL history, but if you look at the facts the Redskins were 6-3 and at the top of the NFC East before the real free agent bust ruined the season for them.  Dan Snyder's meddling caused more harm than any free agent signing when he insisted that starter Brad Johnson be benched to make way for his favorite gunslinger Jeff George.

The result was a catastrophe.  The Redskins went 1-4 under George and never made the playoffs.  Norv Turner was fired, and history looked negatively on all of Washington's free agents.

Adam Archuleta was another horrible pick up.  At least the coaching staff saw this and benched him halfway through the season, then cut him at the end of the year.

Randle El may be the worst return man in NFL history, but as a wide reciever he overachieved and had the best seasons of his career in Washington.

Albert Haynesworth did not have a good season by his standards.  Everyone was annoyed watching him get carted off the field during every game he played.  But I do think he helped the defense.  He freed up other players by commanding double teams and helped the Redskins have a pass rush for the first time in years.  It is way too early to call him a bust.

Judge wrote a good article.  But I don't think it's fair to lump all of those guys under one label.

Category: NFL
Posted on: March 5, 2010 4:49 pm

Riggins was a moldbreaker

The age of thirty is a scary age for a running back.  If a man goes over the hill at 40, a running back goes over the NFL hill at 30.

Some persevere for a few years.  Curtis Martin was still usefull until the age of 32.  So was Emmitt Smith.  We can only speculate on the post 30 production of Jim Brown and Barry Sanders.  Both went out at the top of their game, before age became a detriment to their skills.

A running back is unique among NFL positions in one respect.  Barring injury, most players gradually wear down over time.  A running back can be the NFL MVP one year and worthless the next.  Curtis Martin and Shaun Alexander both went from record years to Nfl journeymen from one season to the next.

For some reason the age of 30 is when this usually happens.  I used to own a 1993 Plymouth Voyager.  It was common knowledge among mechanics across the nation that the transmissions in those vans always seemed to die at around the 130,000 mile mark (give or take a few miles).

So when my transmission started to show signs of slippage at 200,000 miles I considered myself lucky and traded it in for a new car.

This offseason has shown that, like most mechanics, NFL executives are aware of the risks of employing running backs who are over 30.  Ladanian Tomlinson, Brian Westbrook, and Thomas Jones are all casualties of exceeding their age, mileage and usefullness.

Every year that passes in the NFL another group of skilled running backs fall victim to this curse.  Every year brings me more admiration for the one running back who refused to fall victim to the dredded age of thirty.

Like my old van, John Riggins defied all logic and precedents.  He played the position of running back at an elite level until the age of 35 and retired on his own terms after the 1985 season, at the ripe old age of 36.

Riggins  was never one to pay attention to rules, standards, and precedents, and defied them at every turn.  Maybe it was that attitude that allowed him to thrive well past his 30 year expiration date.

Unlike Emmitt Smith, who played until the age of 34 but was only a shell of his former self, Riggins excelled after turning 30.  In fact, a closer examination of his stats would make a compelling argument that he never would have made the NFL Hall of Fame if he had retired at 30.

Riggins had journeyman stats during his early career with the Jets and the Redskins, only surpassing the thousand yard mark twice.  After he turned thirty Riggins had three more thousand yard seasons, and a fourth season where he rushed for over a thousand yards in 13 games during a strike year.

Riggins rushed for 1153 yards and twelve touchdowns in 1979, at the age of 30.  The next year he had the guts to sit out the season over a contract dispute at the age of 31.  I dare any currant NFL player to try a stunt like that today!

Riggins knew he could still play, and fortunately, the Redskins realized this as well.  Riggins followed a successful return season in 1981 with a Super Bowl winning effort in 1982.

He rushed for over 500 yards in eight games before destroying the competition almost singlehandedly in the playoffs.  In five postseason games he rushed for well over 600 yards and was the MVP of Superbowl XVII.  He was 33 years old.

He followed that season up with probably his two best seasons in 1983 and '84.  He rushed for 1347 and 1239 respectively, and led the league in touchdowns scored with 24 and 14.  In 1983 his 24 touchdowns set a new NFL record for touchdowns in a season.  He was 34 at the time.

After one more moderately successful season in 1985 where he gained 700 yards and scored eight touchdown Riggins finally retired at the age of 36.

Riggins is in the NFL Hall of Fame for many reasons.  He was a great player, and he was a pioneer.  He was the first NFL running back to sport a mohawk.  He was the first white running back to sport an afro.  He was the last great white running back.  He was the first, and maybe only, running back to win a contract dispute by sitting out an NFL season.  But today I am celebrating him for being the running back who did his thing successfully well past the age of 30.

And if current NFL trends hold true there won't be another like him for a long time.
Category: NFL
Posted on: February 6, 2010 11:02 pm

Want Grim's credentials? Watch Broncos Superbowl

Many worthy candidates got passed over this year for election to the NFL Hall of Fame.  Shannon Sharpe, Chris Carter, and Tim Brown are worthy.

The selection of Floyd Little and Ricky (or is it Randy) Jackson may be questioned, and with good cause.

But please don't question Russ Grimm.

Offensive linemen aren't glamorous choices for the Hall.  But for a player who played on a team that won three Super Bowls with three different starting QB's and three different starting RB's, being an offensive lineman takes on a little more importance.

If you still have doubt watch a replay of the 1988 Super Bowl between the Redskins and the Broncos

The Redskins' starting RB George Rogers was knicked up.  Joe Gibbs elected to start Timmy Smith in his place. 

Timmy Smith had never started an NFL game before, and never made a positive contribution to an NFL game after the Super Bowl.  But somehow he managed to run for a Super Bowl record 204 yards that stands to this day.

Did God enter into Timmy Smith's body and will the Redskins to victory on that day?  Of course not!

Smith was the beneficiary of the single greatest offensive line performances of all time.

If you don't believe me watch NFL Film's top ten Super Bowl performances of all time.  Timmy Smith IS on that list, but most of the experts agree that any running back could have run through the massive holes that Russ Grimm and company opened up for him that day.

If you study the Redskins under the first Gibbs era you will notice that QB's, RB's, and even WR's to some extent came and went during their three Super Bowl run.  The one constant was their dominating offensive line.

Any skill player who has been a major factor on a team with three Super Bowl trophies has been a shoe in to Canton.  So lets not disparage a player who excelled at two different positions during his career, even if he was an offensive lineman.

Many sports fans don't know this, but any coach will tell you:  success starts in the trenches.

Category: NFL
Posted on: January 26, 2010 11:13 am

If I were London Fletcher

London Fletcher recieved an invitation to the Pro Bowl today due to the fact that Jonathan Vilma will be unable to play in the game because he will be participating in the Super Bowl.  If I were London Fletcher I would tell the pro bowl committee to shove this first alternative pity appointment up their a$$.

The guy gets passed over every year.  Now he gets his chance only because the guy that he should have beaten in the first place gets ruled out on a technicality.  Screw that!

First of all, I think the fact that Allen Iverson got voted into the NBA All Star Game this year proves once and for all that any all star game that relies on fan voting is a joke.

Secondly, the mere fact that the Pro Bowl will be played without representation from the two best teams from now on due to moving the game in front of the Super Bowl makes the game irrelevant.

Please end this charade Mr. Goodell.  The players don't play hard, and the fans don't care.  The first release of the Pro Bowl roster is much more exciting than the game itself.  Put out an all pro list and be done with it. 

The NCAA puts out it's list of all americans every year.  It is a major achievement to be on it because it isn't voted on by fans.  It is voted on by people who actually watch and understand the game.  When the list comes out they don't go on and play a game.  Just making the list is enough.

This is the model the NFL should follow.  Let's do away with the game and the fan voting.  I voted for the Pro Bowl.  I am pretty knowledgeable and I really try to vote based on merit.  But I must admit that there were about ten or twelve positions that I knew very little about who deserved a spot.  So I looked for a name I recognized. I looked for a player who I knew was good, even though I wasn't sure if he had a great season THIS year.

Believe me, I put more thought into it than most fans do.  But I admit that my vote shouldn't mean anything.  I at least try to be objective.  Many fans line ballots with players from one team.  Some fans vote 10,000 times.  Some fans like players because they are cute, or have pretty uniforms (inside joke: Ralph Cirella).

Everyone agrees that the BCS is a flawed system.  But it remains in place because it is very lucrative for the NCAA.  The Pro Bowl is not a big money maker.  Most fans can't afford to go to it, and most veterans fake injuries to get out of playing in it.

Goodell knows that the Pro Bowl is flawed.  He tried to boost interest last year by moving the game to the week before the Super Bowl.  This move is the equivalent of performing CPR on a three day old corpse.

It's enough already.  Every knowledgeable football fan knows that London Fletcher is a great player and that the Pro Bowl is pointless.  I know that Fletcher really wants to be acknowledged as a pro bowl caliber linebacker.  But this seems more like a consolation prize than an award.

London Fletcher is a great player and a savvy veteran.  When the Pro Bowl committee calls him he should act like most veteran players who HAVE recieved multiple Pro Bowl nods.

He should tell them he can't play because of a slightly tweaked hamstring.
Category: NFL
Posted on: January 5, 2010 7:49 pm

What I Want

"It's kind of hard to envision yourself trying to get somewhere when the person who's talking to you has never been there personally," cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "That's probably the only thing that I want. I want to go to the Super Bowl."

What I want is a player who wants to WIN a Super Bowl, not just play in it.

I also want Hall to learn how to tackle.

I want Carlos Rogers to learn how to catch (you too Smoot).

I want LaRon Landry to actually look around him before launching himself at an opponent.  He might actually have a chance to make an interception.

I want Albert Haynesworth to go two games in a row without being carted off the field.

I want Brian Orakpo playing DE and H.B. Blades starting in his place in the linebacking corps.

I want all defenders to stop celebrating after making a tackle on first or second down.

I want all offensive players to stop celebrating after making their first good play midway through the third quarter while they are losing 17-4.

I want London Fletcher to live forever.

I want offensive linemen who are more qualified to play in the NFL than they are to be a cast member on Biggest Loser.

I want a draft that addresses the worst O-line in the league.

I want reserve linemen to have more NFL experience than just living with another NFL lineman .

I want Stephon Heyer cut.

I want Antwaan Randle El cut, or at least stripped of all return duties.

I want the staff to seek legitimate competition for Jason Campbell during the offseason.

I want Campbell to not get scared when a defense shows blitz on third down and check down to a draw or screen pass.

I want more routes that go six yards when we need five, instead of three when we need four.

I want at least one game winning drive next year.

I want a field goal kicker who can make 95% of his kicks from inside of 40 yards.

I want to win at least one division game next year.

I want a team that can compete in the NFL.  I want a team that I can at least brag about once or twice during the course of a season.  I want to be three years old in 1982 and watch a dynasty being born.

The Redskins have been horrible (or at best mediocre) for long enough to atone for whatever bad karma they have accrued.  The fans just want a team that they can be proud of (or at least beats Dallas and Philly once a year)!
Category: NFL
Tags: Redskins
Posted on: December 31, 2009 10:27 pm

May as well interview Portis

I like the fact that more great black coaches are getting legitimate chances at top coaching positions in the NFL.  Certainly the Rooney Rule has helped increase awareness of worthy black coaches.

But any rule that forces people to follow strict guidelines will lead to pointless exercises from time to time.

This is one of those times.

Dan Snyder wants Mike Shanahan as his next coach.  Shanahan is very interested.  But due to the Rooney rule Dan Snyder is forced to waste his time and Jerry Grey's time in order to follow league protocall.

I'm not a black man, so maybe I am not aware of the subtleties of seeking a job as a black man.  But to me it would seem that going through an interview process for no other reason than to fill a quota is just as insulting as being passed over because of your ethnicity.

Maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe Grey is being strongly considered for this position.  However, judging by the process involving the search for a new general manager in Washington I would have to say that this interview had more to do with avoiding legal headaches than seeking out the most qualified candidate.

I am somewhat naive when it comes to race relations because if I owned the Redskins I would interview every good coach that I could, regardless of race.  And I would chose the best candidate regardless of race.  But I do know that not everyone thinks the same way as I do.

Maybe the Rooney Rule helps a worthy coaching candidate get his foot in the door.  That can only be a good thing.

But in this particular instance Jerry Grey's interview looks more like a dog and pony show than a worthy candidate up for equal consideration to be the next head coach of the Washington Redskins.
Category: NFL
Posted on: December 22, 2009 1:45 pm

Admitting that I spoke too soon

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One thing that I have come to dislike about sportswriters is their tendency to remind the reader of predictions they made that came true while never acknowledging past articles that made them look very stupid.


In my writing I have tried not to repeat these tendencies.  If I am wrong I will own up to it.


Watching the Giants/Redskins game last night reminded me of a recent article that I wrote that, in light of recent events, makes me look like a complete idiot.  Rather than ignore this I have decided to point out exactly how wrong I was.


Following the win against the Broncos I felt that it was necessary to acknowledge special teams coach Danny Smith for the quality product that he has put on the field.


I have learned over the course of the Dan Snyder era to be very careful when complementing the Skins.  But after the amazing gadget touchdown on a fake field goal against Denver I decided to throw caution to the wind.


I noted the gutsy decision to bring kicker Shawn Suisham back this year after a horrible performance last season.  I wrote that Suisham has proven that Smith made a good choice by making every field goal attempt up to that point in the season.


The very next week the Redskins played Dallas.  The Redskins dominated 58 minutes of the game, but lost 7-6 with a lot of help from two missed field goals, one of which occurred late in the fourth quarter and would have sealed a victory.


Two weeks later history repeated itself.  This time it was a 23 yard miss.  Suisham was fired shortly after the game.


I also praised the return teams.  I acknowledged that Antwaan Randle El is a horrible punt returner, but I praised the kickoff returns and noted that at least the Redskins didn’t muff many punts.


In the last few games Randle El has muffed two punts, bringing his total to three on the year.  This eliminated the last positive aspect of him as a punt returner.  Recently Santana Moss has been fielding more and more punts.


But my main point to this article was to give Smith credit for his innovative plays that have utilized punter Hunter Smith’s skills to their utmost potential.


Then I watched the last play of the first half last night against the Giants.


After that play I knew that I had to call the redskins out and myself along with them.


This play consisted of a unique blend of two grade school games.

The first part, where every blocker went out left into formation, leaving a punter alone to be rushed by four Giant linemen, resembled a popular kids game known in my neighborhood as “Smear the Qu33r”  (don’t get offended by the gay reference in the title.  I didn’t make it up.  It’s a game that every kid knows, like freeze tag). 


This is a game where a ball is snapped, thrown, or kicked to one kid while every other kid runs after him to tackle him.  It's like running a kickoff back with no other players on your team to block for you.

The second part is a game called 500.  This involves one quarterback who throws a “Hail Mary” pass up for grabs to 3-10 other kids.  The thrower yells a number in the air and the first person to catch it wins that point total.  The first player to 500 wins and gets to become quarterback.


This play leads me to believe that Danny Smith developed this play by watching grade schoolers playing in the park.

The point of my article was that Smith was a good coach who deserves a shot to stay on next year despite the coaching turnover that will occur.


I still think he is a good coach.  I know he isn’t out on the field executing the plays he calls and isn’t responsible for all of the special teams mistakes that have occurred in the last five weeks.


I just wanted to point out MY mistakes, and let other writers know that it is OK to sometimes admit that you don’t always know what you are talking about.

Category: NFL
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com