Sunday, September 2, 2012

State of the Terps...Football Version

Jeez...was last year tough!!! I was seriously disappointed with Rockin' Randy's first year as Football Program CEO.  He brought in a crappy OC whom he let go; a DC whom he primarily brought in as a LB coach but subsequently promoted to DC...before letting him go...sigh.

Lets start with the issues before we end with the hopeful...

Causes for Concern:

· We can start with the obvious: our QBs are true freshman. ACL injury to incumbent, redshirt Junior C.J. Brown, during a non-contact drill has decimated the depth most important position in football.  Starter, Peyton Hills is a dual threat starter out of Pennsylvania. He seems to be a good fit for Locksly's offense. His backup is a kid out of South Carolina that tore HS camps a new one towards the end of the recruiting period. He is more of a pocket QB and more the natural thrower than Hills. To shore up the depth, promising and uber athletic Devin Burns moved from WR back to his HS position of QB...Ryan Tannehill anyone? I am very impressed with this kid...asked the coaches to move him back to QB for the welfare of the team. Obviously, their experience worries the hell out of me but all 3 of these kids bring some talent to the position.

·However, the QB position is not the biggest concern for is the OL. Specifically, both the tackle positions are a real question mark. I am in the Bill Parcell's school of football in that you build a team through the trenches and the tackle positions are always the most important. Last year, the tackles were  manned by the athletic & promising LT Max Garcia (who transferred to Florida) and by the solid and very experienced (30 starts in 33 games) RT R.J. Dill (who transferred to Rutgers...really? Big East? Rutgers? Come on!!). They are replaced by (as of the most current depth chart) athletic but limited experienced redshirt sophomore LT, Nick Klemm, and solid but oft-injured RT Justin Gilbert. Behind Klemm is true freshman and highly touted tackle Mike Madaras. Hopefully these two can push each other so we can get the most talent out of that position.

· Finally, the biggest worry is the injuries we have faced throughout the team. Did the Terps  anger the College Football gods?!?! I mean the list is endless:

·CJ Brown
·Kenny Tate
·Keith Bowers
·Andre Monroe
·A.J. Hendy
·Nick Ferrera
·Josh Cary
And thats just barely over half!!! The talent on the injury list alone can make parts a pretty good team.  I mean, hell, starting QB, NFL level S/LB, promising d-linemen, starting kicker, starting G, starting K to name a few.

The Terps is playing with a tough hand, indeed (and the first game has not even played yet). Lets look forward to, hopefully, good times ahead.

Big Time Hope:

·There is some reason for optimism, however. One of the biggest reasons is the talent at the skill positions. Lets start with whom I consider the leader of the offense, wide receiver Kevin Dorsey. He had a few big games last year (who remembers him destroying Miami CBs, including the 52 yard reception). Considering the QB play last year, he had a great season with 573 yards on 43 receptions.  He provides great athleticism, feel for the position & leadership. I truly believe he is a legit #1 WR.  The other receivers are pretty solid with former 4 star WR Boykins the vet of the group. Backing him up are skilled sophomore Marcus Leak and talented redshirt freshman Nigel King and Tyrek Cheeseboro. Finally, former 5 star/ #2 WR in the country, the electric playmaker (who have been compared to everyone from DeSean Jackson to Percy Harvin) is the electric playmaker that will lineup all over the field.

Note: Sorry for the tardiness of this post, but man, how sweet were those moves by Stefon Diggs against Bill & Mary??? His ability to stop on a dime, make people miss...Jeez!!! His ability to cut back was soooooo BadAstrick!!!!

The running back position is also pretty talented. Albert Reid, talented freshman from DC,  is the at the top of the depth chart (due to RS freshman Brandon Ross being injured). He has blazing speed along with a little pop. His backup is true freshman Justus Pickett who is similar to Reid but with more blazing speed. He had sort of a disappointing true freshman year because he did not seem decisive with his runs. With experience under his belt, he should hit the holes harder this year! Finally, last but not least, the third piece of the puzzle (and maybe most complete back) is true freshman Wes Brown. He is more of a between the tackles RB with some pretty good speed. Watch him to make a huge impact on this program before it is said and done.

· I think the biggest strength on this team will be the the defense. Lets start at the top of the program. This offseason, we replaced the crap-tastic DC Todd Bradford with Brian Stewart. Brain Stewart coaches an opportunistic 3-4 scheme who has led some damn good defenses in both college & the NFL.  As the Dallas Cowgirls DC, he had the 13th ranked D in terms of points in both 2007 & 2008 (9th in yards in 2007). His main goal is to attack the QB as he was 3rd & 1st in the NFL in sacks in 2007/2008 respectfully. In 2011 with Houston, he ranked 35th in the nation in Opponents yards per play (I didn't think Yard's per game would be that accurate due to the high amount of plays forced by the high-tempo offense), 36th in the nation in sacks per game AND 20th in the nation with interceptions per game.

He takes over a pretty experienced group, with majority of the talent being in the front 7. The defense is led by All American DT/DE senior Joe Vellano. He led the nation in tackles (including his CRAZY 20 tackle game against Georgia Tech).  Also on the line is stout and dependable NT/DE senior AJ Francis (and probably the best personality on the team...hilarious dude). Those 2 will eat space for a great set of LBs: inside linebackers, senior Demetrius Hartsfield & true sophomore Cole Farrand and outside linebackers junior Darrin Drakeford, and true sophomores Alex Twine. The sophomores are keeping the seat warm for NFL level talent, senior Kenny Tate (who should be back within a month).

· The final reason to be hopeful is the just the youth of this team. We have many good underclassmen spread throughout this roster. That, combined with top notch recruiting led by OC Mike Locksly, gives me some hope for the future of this team!

This year will be tough (esp after witnessing the Bill & Mary game). Hopefully, there will be definite improvement with Hillis as he picks up experience. If he improves and limits his turnovers, gets the ball to our talented skill positions, and our defense plays up to its potential, the Terps may be able to surprise a few teams.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Fantasy Draft: Team "Rick Ross Grunt"

Obviously, just by the name, you know this team is destined for greatness. But, a great name does not guarantee great success (even though I think I will get some solid mojo from this).

So here was my overall draft:

Rick Ross Grunt
1.(11)Jimmy Graham(NO - TE)
2.(14)Matthew Stafford(Det - QB)
3.(35)Hakeem Nicks(NYG - WR)
4.(38)Dez Bryant(Dal - WR)
5.(59)Darren Sproles(NO - RB)
6.(62)Pierre Garcon(Was - WR)
7.(83)David Wilson(NYG - RB)
8.(86)Robert Meachem(SD - WR)
9.(107)Jay Cutler(Chi - QB)
10.(110)Alfred Morris(Was - RB)
11.(131)LeGarrette Blount(TB - RB)
12.(134)Sidney Rice(Sea - WR)
13.(155)Taiwan Jones(Oak - RB)
14.(158)Jason Hanson(Det - K)
15.(179)Washington(Was - DEF)
As you can see, I had a pretty crap draft position, 11th. I couldn't get one of the stud RBs in the top (fyi...I would've gone for McCoy) but instead, I went for depth at WR. Since this is a DC blog, you can see the Skins flare. Jimmy Graham was the BPA with the 11th pick so I went there. I love my trio of WRs (notice the NFC flavor). I think Dez is ready for a huge 1200+ yards & 10+ TDs. Also, I imagine Nicks will be his solid self and Pierre will have a 1000+ yards and 8+ TDs being Bob Griff III's number one option. Meachem may also be in for a big year as a starter in a Phillip Rivers offense.

I tried to address the RB position as much as possible so I got Sproles in the 5th round. He doesn't get you yards the traditional way but he is can get 600+ rushing yards, 600+ receiving yards 8+ TDs. He is more suited for a flex/2nd RB but, with my depth at WR (and the great ones being gobbled up early), I thought this would the most logical way to draft.

Skins defense will be fantastic this year...mark my words! Crap ton sacks and turnovers!!


One BIG one: Alfred Morris!!!!!! This guy will probably be the #1 featured back in a Shanny run offense! This has huge potential, especially with Hightower getting cut today.The Slaton trade hurts, but I doubt he will be a real threat. He is the best blocking back (very important trait for a starting back in a Shanny system) and the most healthy so I can see him being the main runner.

I mentioned him above but Meachem has some nice potential with Rivers throwing to him.

Two minor sleepers are David Wilson (uber talent, dual rb system, Bradshaw gets nicked up a lot) & Tiwan Jones (speed demon, zone blocking system, McFadden gets hurt a lot).

Any Mistakes??

There were a few: I got Stafford in the 2nd. I love Stafford and it was a solid pick (my QB last year)...but as you can see, I got Cutler in the 9th. I could have gotten another talent in the 2nd round (AJ Green maybe?)  and picked up one of the very nice QBs available later in the draft.

Another one was probably Blount. There were some solid RBs available when I drafted him.

I will try to keep everyone updated about the team (unless we are bottom feeders bye week 10)..My league is pretty competitive with some folks with good football knowledge.

What say you  about my draft sirs?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Parts of the Perfect Bionic DC GM

When writing the last post about how The Shanny (along with his astute sidekick, Bruce Allen) has improved the Redskins fortunes throughout his tenure (shameless sue me, I'm new to this), I thought to myself (something we obviously know):

"Damn, Vincent Cerrato sucks"

Obviously, this is not earth shattering or groundbreaking insight; but man, he is just sooooooo bad. Everything from his cap killing free agency moves to his lack of ability to draft and finally, giving away all of his draft picks for (usually) junk bonds.

This led me to think about other poor GM's, such as Wes Unseld, Debbie Yow (she counts right? Sports AD in a university is akin to a GM of a professional franchise) & Jim Bowden (speaking of which, why does he have his own piece on ESPN called "The GM's Office"...dude sucked w/ the Nats) throughout my young adult history and I sadly drank myself to sleep. As I woke up this morning with a hangover the size of Alaska, I thought to myself a happy thought: 

The anatomy of the IDEAL DC GM!!!

What parts would you take? What would you do? I am taking parts from the current GMs of the Redkins, Nats & (yes, even the) Wizards. This is how I see it:

  • Bruce Allen: Bruce has done an excellent job in placing the right people in the right positions to allow them to succeed. He realized that his scouting team is top notch  and did a great job in placing them with The Shanny to draft successfully the pas few years. I remember, whenever the Redskins practice squad was built, teams all over the NFL would pick it apart by signing those guys to their contracts. This shows that Vinny NEVER listened to his scouting team and acted on his own accord. He never utilized his organizational tools he had. He also is known for budgeting and manipulating the salary cap properly to place the team in good financial situations. 
  • Mike Rizzo: After Jim Bowden left, the Nats minor league system was in discord. In comes Rizzo, a bulldog by nature, and an excellent scout throughout his career. His ability to draft players early and late has vaulted the Expos/Nats minor league system to  the best (until they traded 3 or 4 of their top 10 players for Gio...a trade I would do again in a heartbeat). The lower draft picks such as Tyler Moore and Steve Lombardozzi are helping to contribute this year as rookies when stars such as Werth and Ian Desmond went down. Now their minor league system is ranked somewhere between 10-15 range with some nice budding (albeit injured) high level talent. He also knows how to build one hell of a bull pen by using throw away players from other teams. Him stealing players such as Tyler Clippard and stashing him in the bullpen-GENIUS!  He just knows how to find the right players and put them together...a must for a GM! 
  • Ernie Grunfeld: This is a bit of a stretch but you need the guy who is going to listen to the boss and take the proper marching orders. I am just going to judge him by what he has done after Teddy Leonsis has taken over. He has accumulated a nice bit of young talent. He also masterfully manipulated the 2010 draft to get some very interesting pieces. Ernie drafted Wall with the first pick; then when he saw Chicago wanted to dump Kirk Heinrich's contract, he traded for him along with the 17th pick (who became Kevin Seraphin, who is turning into a beast of a player in the post...a rarity in the NBA now) and wheeled and dealed to get Trevor Booker (a nice young PF) with the 23rd pick. Finally, half way through the season, he traded Kirk to Atlanta for the hungry rookie SG, Jordan Crawford. These few pieces (along with acquiring Nene & Bradley Beal) can really help the Wizards finally be a team to compete in a tough Eastern conference play-off race!! 
This bionic GM would be PERFECT to lead our DC franchises into constant domination.

Lets name him 

Monday, August 20, 2012

State of the Skins - The Shanny Era

One of the things I constantly hear from Skins fans and national pundits is the poor job The Shanny has  done so far. I remember hearing from many talking heads that he is sitting on the "hot seat".  In reality however, he has done a masterful job with the few assets he had to work with. The Skins job was by far, one of the worst coaching vacancies that 2010 NFL off season had. The only thing we had going for us is the prestige value of the Redskins franchise (and Snyder's deep a$$ pockets).

FYI - Rehashing the end of Cerrato/Horny for Zorny era kind of sucks.

Salary Cap Hell:

This team had was loaded with way too many older players with long term contracts. Just off the top of my head, I can think of a a few under achieving duds (the biggest one, figuratively & in reality is the training camp star Alberta Haynesworth). FYI, these numbers are not the entire amount the players made during the year. If you include bonuses and such (not just cap effect), these numbers increase exponentially.

2008 NFL Roster:

2008 roster looks like of ugly. We had some vets with some huge contracts on the team. A lot of these contracts were pretty long term as well. Just to name a few of the top cap values of the team (thanks USA Today):

1. Jason Taylor - 7.5 mil
2. Shawn Springs - 7.5 mil
3.Marcus Washington - 6.4 mil
4. Cornelius Griffin - 6.2 mil
5. Clinton Portis - 6 mil
6. Chris Samuels - 5 mil
7. Jon Jansen - 4.5 mil

What is the theme of all these players? They are old as hell and not on the roster anymore. Also, many of these players were oft injured (actually all of them were) and rarely contributed anymore.

2009 NFL Roster:

All I can do is sigh:

1. Albert Haynesworth - 7 mil
2.Chris Samuels - 7 mil
3.Clinton Portis - 6.2 mil
4. Laron Landry - 5.8 mil
5. DeAngelo Hall - 5.3 mil
6. Santana Moss - 5 mil
7. Randy Thomas - 5 mil

At least we see ONE player that is relatively young and is still a starter. Santana and Hall are still on the roster and contributing at a starting level so that's nice. Also, again like the previous year, many of these players are oft injured and rarely contributed consistently (cough cough LaRon).

None of these players are on this team. On top of that, look at how old they are!!! Many of them were on extended contracts (due to extension after extension to spread their salary over the long term to take a lesser of a hit.

The Shanny Era:

2010 NFL Roster:

Now what can Shanny do his first year? Due to it being an uncapped year, both he & Bruce Allen dumped the salaries of all their top money makers into this year. They were also able to cut of their aging stars because there would be no salary cap (or so they thought...Mad Scientist evil laugh Roger Goddell) Unfortunately, this is what caused us to be docked half our salary cap space for 2012 (but it also allowed us to gain flexibility in future years because we got rid of many long term older vets and under performers. Our salaries reached an insane level of $180 mil (PFT).

1. Albert Haynesworth - 27.3 mil
2. DeAngelo Hall - $20.8 mil

Enough said about the contracts...They also released Fred Smoot, Rock Cartwright, Randy Thomas and Antwaan Randle El, Chris Samuels, Todd Collins and Ladell Betts (Football Outsiders) which resulted in 30+ mil of dead money. As mentioned before, this year was for the fines faced in 2012, this year was necessary for the overall health of the franchise

Draft Hell:

Not only were we stuck with all these old veterans with super long contracts, we had some pretty crappy drafts. Our issue was not only did we trade away all of our draft picks, we also missed on almost entire classes. When a team misses on most of the class, that means the roster has no cheap depth (with potential to improve) which changes the age and makeup of the team entirely:

2008 NFL Draft:
2. Devin Thomas - Cut/Just Retired (LOL)
2. Fred Davis - Prime to be a star
2. Malcolm Kelly - Injuries/Cut
3. Chad Rinehart Cut/ Quality Starter in Buffalo
4.Justin Tryon - Cut
6. Durant Brooks - Cut 
6.  Kareem Moore - Stuck around for a while/Injuries/Cut
6. Colt Brennan - Cult Status/Cut
7. Rob Jackson - Quality backup/Depth
7. Chris Horton - brief starter/Cut

On this roster, only 2 people remain from the 08 draft class (Freddy D & Rob Jackson is high quality depth...great find in the 7th). What killed us was missing on both Devin & Kelly. Rinehart also would have been useful (as he is a starter in Buffalo now). A few players stuck around for a few years (Justin Tryon, Kareem Moore, Chris Horton) but were ultimately cut @ the beginning of The Shanny era.

2009 NFL Draft:
1. (13th) Brian 'Sackpo' Orakpo - Star/Franchise Level player etc.
3. (80) Kevin Barnes - Still on roster. Depth at corner. Poor 2011 season
5. (158) Cody Glenn - Cut
6. (186) Robert Henson - Injuries. Cut.
7. (221) Eddie Williams - Cut
7. (243) Marko Mitchell - Training Camp Star/Cult Hero/ Cut

Holy crap, this is a pretty bad draft. Obviously, Orakpo is on his way to becoming an elite OLB & Kevin Barnes is pretty okay depth at corner (but his expectations is raised by being a third round pick), but outside of that, this is an AWFUL draft. No one else is still on the roster. The other interesting thing is the lack of quality high picks (2nd through 4th rounder).

I count 4 players still on this roster. Folks, that is quite bad from 2 drafts. Even worse, Cerrato had six 2nd -  4th rounders and he only hit on 2 players?!?!?

Supplemental (future 2010 3rd round pick): Jeremy Jarmon traded for Jabar Gaffney

Shanny's Draft:

Look at the stark difference under Shanny. His first pick? He drafted the glaring need on this team since Chris Samuels retired, a LT. He also often traded down to collect more picks to increase the depth of this team (and he seemed to have hit on those picks as well). Cerrato & Zorn screwed him with a lack of picks from 2010, but at least he hit on way more players throughout the draft:

2010 NFL Draft:
1. Trent Williams - potential to be star 
3. (as above mentioned, Jeremy Jarmon) - traded for Jabar Gaffney
4. Perry Riley - Quality Starter @ ILB
6. Dennis Morris - traded to get Cut
7.  Terrence Austin - depth @ WR, fringe player
7. Erik Cook - Depth @ C, fringe player
7. Selvish Capers - cut

Four players are still on the roster with 2 quality starters from the 2010 draft. Trent Williams is primed to have an excellent year in 2012 and Perry Riley seems the heir apparent to London. Advanced stats (thanks Football Outsiders) indicate he has the potential to become one hell of a player!! Cook & Austin seem like fringe roster players but at least they provide depth and competition on this team.

2011 NFL Draft:
1. Ryan Kerrigan - Starter, Pro Bowl Potential
2. Javaris Jenkins - Depth - Quality Depth in DL, Starter Potential
3. Leonard Hankerson -  Quality Starter WR - Pro Bowl Potential
4. Roy Helu - Quality RB - Depth - 2nd Level Bench
5. Dejon Gomes -  Quality S @ Depth -2nd Level Bench
5. Niles Paul - Quality depth at TE/ Fringe player- Depth
6. Evan Royster - Quality depth @ RB/ fringe roster player
6. Aldrick Robinson - Quality depth @ WR/ fringe roster player
7. Brandyn Thompson - Depth @ CB/fringe roster depth
7. Maurice Hurt - Quality Depth @ G/ Fringe player
7. Markus White - Depth 
7. Chris Neild - IR/Injuries
Undrafted - Willie Smith - Quality depth @ T

This was a huge draft for us. Not only are 12 players out this draft still on the roster, but 6 of them were starters at one point or another. This does not include Willie Smith who showed some promise at Tackle when Trent went on his Jamaican vacation with Snoop Lion.

Also, notice how the amount of quality picks increased. Shrewd wheeling and dealing allowed the Skins to pick up way more picks then they started with.

Wow, what a difference, eh? When someone knows how to properly run a franchise is at the helm, the draft can yield some budding optimism. 

State of 2012:

2012 NFL Draft & Key  Free Agency Pickups:

3. Josh LeRibeus
4. Kirk Cousins
4. Kennan Robinson
5. Adam Gettis
5. Alfred Morris
6. Tom Compton
7. Richard Crawford
7. Jordan Bernstine

Obviously, this draft will be judged on how RGIII performs; however, there seems to be some diamond in the rough. It is too soon to tell about how these players will pan out but some of the rookies look like they have a chance to contribute this year. Outside of Bob Griff Roman Numeral 3, Adam Gettis looks like he can become a quality starter sometime this year at G. Alfred Morris also looks like a bad a$$ at RB. The other impressive rook has to be 7th round corner Richard Crawford. He is making plays all over the field and looks to be a quality contributor this year. I thought we could have used a tackle earlier in the draft but unfortunately, we didn't address that need through the draft.

The Shanny created near 40 mil in salary cap room for the 2012 season but the freaking NFL screwed us by docking  half of our salary cap space the night before Free Agency started (Albert Haynesworth, the gift that keeps on giving). With that, we couldn't address our needs on the OL. Fortunately, we were able to sign some quality pieces to fill some of our other positions. We gave big time money to Pierre Garcon and he seems to have nice chemistry with RG3. We also resigned London the ageless wonder for a few years,

Final Thoughts:

Overall, this franchise is in WAAAYYY BETTER position then it was prior to him taking over. Some good moves in 2010 by our front office gave the Skins the flexibility they needed to be successful in the long run. This success may have been realized this year if the NFL had not docked our salary cap space. We are still in solid position for the future, but I truly believe we were not able to address our OL because of NFL involvement. I think 2013 may be the year when we finally see the results of Shanny properly building this franchise to its former glory.

What's Up Folks

Welcome DMV sports fans to my humble abode. I'm your resident, neighborhood, spider...uhhhh....sports nerd.

First a little about me: I've lived in the DMV for the last 22 years & been a life long fan of the of all the  DC teams (my first love...sigh...was Jim Lynam coached the Bullets...sigh...). I picked up the Nats a few years ago (sorry, always had venom for all Baltimore franchises so I never really liked the O's, Raven's or any other B'more squad) and am pretty well-versed  most of the franchises. One more thing: I'm a Maryland alum (go Smith...GO TERPS...we'll definitely get to their upcoming football season soon)!

Whats the point of this blog as opposed to many other sports blogs? As above-mentioned, I'm first and foremost, a fan of most DC sports franchises. Since we haven't had the best track record in terms of success (putting it mildly), most media personalities (hello John Hollinger...cough cough) treats any news by our teams with an unhealthy dose of cynicism.

Also, over the years, I've found that many DC sports bloggers and writers are not fans of the teams they cover & they get rubbed down also by the national 'hate'.  I believe there is a unique perspective one can gain from, not only by being from the area itself i.e. a lifer, but by actually being a fan of any team they cover. Many of the bloggers, as the rest of DC, are transplants...and I think I may have a unique perspective being from here.

Note: I am not knocking any of the bloggers or anything. I read all of their stuff and I think they do one hell of a job...all of the SB Nation folks, ESPN blog network, Examiner blogs etc. Their stuff is usually on point!!!

One more thing; the types of opinions I plan to run are a bit more on the team level. I want to see the health of the different franchises currently and in the future. This will hell of a lot of topics such as the  future draft picks for the Skins, underrated talent level on the Wizard's roster this upcoming season, potential up and coming minor leaguers in the Nats system etc. Hence I may not do much day to day stuff (like a Nats game thread, or everyday roster ) but I am definitely confident I have some pretty cool topics planned about these teams.

BTW: Where did I come up with the title? Well, there is a song by (DMV's own) Wale called "DC or Nothing" and that's the whole point of this blog, right???

The first name I came up with was 'Eternal Sunshine for the DC (Sports) Mind'...glad I didn't pick that one. Just doesn't roll of the tongue as smooth...

Thanks for making it all the way down and am looking forward to one hell of a discussion with everyone.

I leave you all with this:

You can follow me on twitter: