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Archive for August, 2011

Jarvis Jenkins being out for the season is indeed bad news.  Yes, forget all the JJ references, me yelling “Dynomite” from the middle of section 449 every time he made a big play this year.  Even more important, JJ will be missed sorely on the defensive front where it looked like he had played himself into a starting role.  Furthermore, he represented what was going right with this team right now – an infusion of young, hungry players who feel not entitlement and who are here to prove they that can be the next stars in the NFL.  He was a young cornerstone and he will be missed.  He is a BBR who was never able to blossom.

The question is where does this leave the ‘Skins defensively?   Well, let’s take a look at who’s definitely on the team and who will benefit from JJ’s absence?

Our secondary is:  Landry, Atogwe, Hall, Barnes, Wilson, Buchanon and Doughty

Our linebackers are:  Fletcher, Orakpo, Mcintosh, Kerrigan, Alexander and Riley

Our defensive lineman are:  Carriker,  Bowen, Cofield, Bryant

That makes 17 definite players on defense barring anymore catastrophic injuries.

On offense, here are the players we can count on being on the team:

QBs:  Grossman, Beck

Running Backs: Hightower, Torain, Helu, Young

Receivers:  Moss, Hankerson, Gaffney, Armstrong

Tight-ends: Cooley, Davis

O-linemen:  Williams, Montgomery, Lichtensteiger, Chester, Brown, Hicks

That’s 18 players on offense:

The kickers are Gano and Rocca.

That’s 37 all together.

Now who are the final 16?

I think on defense, these players have shown enough or are necessary for depth to make the team:  Fox (LB), Worthington (DT), Kedric Golston (DT),  Byron Westbrook (DB), Russel Anderson (FS), Rob Jackson (LB)

I think on offense, these players have shown enough or are necessary for depth to make the team:  Terrence Austin (WR), Mike Sellers (FB), Erik Cook (C/G),  Evan Royster (RB), Logan Paulson

That leaves 5 spots open:  Where will they go?

I think Banks will make the team. I think Oldenberg will make the team for depth at tackle.  I think Gomes from Nebraska may make the team especially if Kareem Moore goes to the PUP list and I think Brandyn Thompson will make the team.  And perhaps the last spot will go to Kellen Clemens.

I don’t think any of this is outrageous and of course I have no idea how good many of these guys are on special teams which may make the final difference in making the team or being cut.  I think we may be saying good-bye to BBRs like Horatio Blades and Chris Horton.  Beyond that, I’m not sure.

Double vision:  The last two Sundays I’ve taken nice long afternoon naps which have been quite enjoyable.  Last Sunday I awoke to catch the Nats game going into the bottom on the 8th against the Phillies only to listen to the Nats’ stirring victory on the radio as I worked in my yard.  Today I woke up in the bottom of the 11th only to listen to the Nats’ disappointing loss in the bottom of the 14th while I cleaned up in the yard after the hurricane.

After losing 6 games in a row, the Nats went from giving people hope that we may finish with a winning record to being one game from our low point of the season at 9 games below .500.  Now all of this is just cosmetics on what will ultimately be another unfulfilled season, but I do think it important for the Nats to finish strong.  I know we have to play our younger guys coming up from the minors like Moreno who hit 2 for 4 today as a pinch-hitter who stayed in the game.  But we have to keep on winning, only so that we don’t finish last in the division AGAIN.  I don’t know it matter me but finishing a distant 3rd to Atlanta and Philly would be a good stepping stone in my mind for this team.  Nothing groundbreaking there, just musings after I have watched the hometown baseball team go on what has become an increasingly rare thing around here – a long losing streak.

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JJ out for the season?

Before we start talking about Beckmann, the biggest news to come out of last night’s game was the injury to Jarvis Jenkins (JJ).  All night, I was put somewhat at ease by the ESPN broadcast because it was being diagnosed as a knee sprain which sounds like a 3-6 week injury.  Then I read that JJ said he heard something pop.  As someone who has suffered from a torn ACL, that “pop” is not a good thing at all and I fear that we are going to hear sometime soon that one of our key building blocks for this year and the future may be sitting out the whole year.  Sucks!

The saga of Beckmann continued in memorable fashion last night with both QBs showing off what they can and can’t do for our hometown heroes.  Certain comparisons are quite easy:  Beck can go deep while Grossman seems to have more command for the timing plays over the center of the play.  Beck can escape pressure better than Grossman can, but Grossman seems to get rid of the ball, for the most part, quicker than Beck.  Of course, there are things which all of us can’t see and understand which will factor in the decision as well.

It’s funny that so many people reacted with shock and awe at the fact that Sexy Rexy started last night.  Folks on 106.7 have been stating with much certainty for about 4 months that the fix was in and that Shanalahan and the Boy Wonder were definitely going to start Beck no matter what and that all of this “competition” was just a charade.  But I think last night showed that there is real competition.   Beck’s ability to open up the field though and go deep would seem to be a weapon that will help this offense keep teams off-balance like it did last night against the Ravens’ #1 defense for large chunks of the 1st half.

In fact, after the 1st half, which saw each team’s “starters” play the entire 30 minutes, the ‘Skins were ahead 21-14.  At times both teams took it to the other.  I was pleased with the Redskins tackling on defense and our ability to get to the QB with a 4 or 5 rushers regularly.  And when we used blitz packages, they were for the most part effective except on on 3rd and 15 by the goal-line which B’more picked up and allowed Flacco to hit Boldin for a big gain.  If it had not been for a running into the punter penalty however, the Ravens would have never been able to continue to drive.  Overall, the defense, even if JJ is out, looks like it’s going to be better.  It was interesting to see that Westbrook got the start over Josh Wilson.  I would have the imagine that the team was being cautious since it was Wilson’s first game action of the pre-season.

The ‘Skins focused on the pass last night so they could see who will emerge out of Beckmann to lead this team.  We only tried 1 running play on defense which worked until the Ravens adjusted and then Shanny and the Boy Wonder seemed unwilling to expose anything else from the playbook.  I think Hightower, Helu and Torain are you 3 backs on this team along with Darrel Young.  The question is whether we keep Sellers or Royster.  The latter may see the practice squad until someone gets injured.

Terrence Austin looks like he will make the team.  Is Stallworth guaranteed a spot?  For some reason, I don’t think so.  His contract is negligible and probably little of it is guaranteed.  Maybe I’m still finding a way for Banks to make the team as the 6th receiver with the emergence of Austin who seems like a legit receiver at this point.

Thank God we got Sav Rocca from the Eagles.  I don’t know who they have kicking up in Philly, but he’s not as good as this dude.  As me and Walton used to say when we were kids, Sav Rocca  is Australian for punter.

Our o-line did better last night and while Montgomery got pushed back some by the NT of the Ravens, there were no terrible blown assignments in situations where the Ravens did not send the house.  The line still has a lot to prove, but it seems to have improved in both phases of the game.

Kudos to DeAngelo Hall for making Joe Flacco look bad on that pick and for taking it to the house.  This is a big year for Hall in terms of solidifying himself as part of the future of this team because Shanalahan has shown that they want to go young at every position.  Last night, he got beat on a TD, but he created one himself.  Maybe that’s the best we’re gonna get for him, but I guess that’s better than some corners who just get beat.

I think that Horation (H.B.) Blades may be cut this year since he has fallen on the depth chart and he missed some open-field tackles last night.

 

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On Shaky Ground

The above words represent a bad joke about the earthquake that hit yesterday in D.C. – the biggest one to hit this area for 100 years.   I was addressing a group of about 70 seniors at the high school in NE D.C. where I teach when the earthquake struck.  We were on the 3rd floor of the school building.  As soon as we realized what was going on, the students trampled over each other, screaming “run for your lives” in a way much akin to the way George ran out of the kids party in Seinfeld.  What was most funny was that our neighbor’s 3 year old daughter was in day care and according to her mother, none of the kids were, all 5 and under, were scared at all.  They all quietly and quickly walked out of the building.

Whatever the case, the Redskins still find themselves on shaky ground with a lot of issues confronting this team.  Everyone is focusing on quarterback, but I’m not all that worried about something that is so unknown.  Everybody thinks the Beckmann will stink, but no one really knows.  Is our offensive line better? Yes.  Is it good enough to protect the “unsightly” Beckmann QB project fostered by the Shanalahan cooperative?  I think so, but a lot of that depends on our running game and teams not being able to shut us down on 1st and 2nd down.  I think a rotation of Hightower, Torain and Helu, similar to what we have seen the Cowboys and Giants do recently with 3 backs, could be quite effective.  Sprinkle in a little Evan Royster who I think will also make the team and the Redskins may have a highly effective running game.  This will make Beckmann look better.

Brandon Banks appears to be on shaky ground as Terrence Austin continues to improve.  This is my take on it:  teams fear Banks, I could tell they did by the way they kicked to him last year when I was sitting in section 449.  He is the most electrifying player we have had here since Darrel Green and I think he has to be on the 53 man roster.  If he re-injures the knee, then put him on IR and activate someone else.  Who are the 5 receivers anyway that have definitely solidified their footing on this team?  Moss, Armstrong, Gaffney and Hankerson will all be here.  Austin is the 5th.  Okay then, keep Banks as your extra guy.  I don’t care about a 9th o-lineman, this team needs Banks.

On defense, injuries are everyone’s top concern and Landry seems to be on shaky ground to play on opening day.  On top of it, he has had no practice time with Atogwe.  Now Landry is that good that he will play if he is completely healthy, but our secondary, which had the potential to be a real strength of this team has started the pre-season on shaky ground with only DeAngelo Hall seeing any playing time.  Let’s see how Atogwe and Wilson look this week in Baltimore.

 

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Moral victory

Amid the Nats struggling to gain footing during the dog days of summer, my departure from the country, word that the Caps dressing room was too relaxed and that Ovie did not take keeping himself in shape seriously, my favorite college basketball team getting into a melee with a Chinese basketball team and the constant banter revolving Beck vs. Rex which still seems so myopic in its insistence on ignoring other aspects of our favorite football team, I needed to take a break from the blog.

To be honest, there was nothing inspiring going on, nothing to get my blood pumping.  But then, Ian Desmond, down to his last strike, hit a 2-out homerun in the bottom of the 9th to bring the Nats back even with the Phillies yesterday afternoon which ultimately led to a victory in the bottom of the 10th and a series victory.  It also meant that the Nats beat the Phillies 5 out of 9 times here in Nats park, something according to my crack research team has not been done since 2006.  It also meant that we have beaten the Phillies5 out of the last 7 times.

At this point of course, these are all nothing more than moral victories, but significant they are as the Nationals continue to demonstrate hope for their future and a mentality that we will not be anyone’s whipping boy.  It also makes me happy to see all those Philly fans drive home to Philly sad and annoyed that their afternoon was ruined.  And for all the fake Philly fans that are from this area, they got to ride the Green line embarrassed for their desertion.   I would like to think that one day, Phillies fans won’t be able to buy thousands of tickets at Nats park which is true now of Citizens Bank Park in Philly, but was not true even as recently as 5 years ago where the so-called rabid sports town of Philly turned its back on a perennial loser in the Phillies.  But the only we are going to make the transition like they did is by winning more games like we did this weekend, both on the Z man’s walk-off grand-slam and yesterday’s back-against-the-wall, clutch homerun by Desmond.

Double vision: Of course there are no moral victories in the pre-season and the Redskins are in an unenviable position where if they play well, people will say that the other team wasn’t trying while if the Redskins stink, people will say that the Redskins stunk against another team that wasn’t even trying.  Same goes for John Beck who played well against the Colts on Friday night. Whether the Colts were “trying” or not, Beck looked good and I think that if Beck and Rex finish in a tie, we will see Beck be the starter against the Giants on 9/11. This leads me to think that Beck will get the start this week against the Ravens who, if they game-plan for the ‘ Skins, will present a tougher challenge for the new hope in D.C.

To be honest, the biggest improvement in the offense this pre-season is our running game.  Hightower is proving to be a steal and he, along with Helu and Torain could present the kind of trio which could really cause defenses trouble.  Chris Chester has so far shown himself to be strong in the run-game and the whole offensive line, with a year under its belt, could become more polished in its zone-blocking scheme.  Furthermore, all three runners I mentioned above, especially Hightower, seem quite good at making one cut on each play which is required in the zone-blocking scheme Shanny runs.

My biggest concern coming out of Friday night’s game was how Trent Williams did not play well at all against Dwight Freeney.  Sure Freeney is really good, but Williams is supposed to be really good and he did not show it on Friday.  The kid needs to be better if we are going to be better this year.

More to come this week as B2BR awakes from its summer slumber.

But now, I’m back.

 

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