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Posted on: January 13, 2010 1:39 am
 

Haslett is DC Bound

Jim Haslett has reportedly agreed to serve as the defensive coordinator on Mike Shanahan's staff in Washington.

In Haslett the Redskins are adding a defensive mind who has designed schemes for 4-3 and 3-4 defenses. They are also getting a guy who has served as an NFL head coach on two separate occasions.

First for the not-so-important Haslett information:
1. He looks kind of like the guy who played Lou Collins in "Little Big League."
2. He is the guy who Steve Spurrier once mocked for working hard. (Scroll down to middle of page).

As for the stuff that matters a little bit more ...

Haslett was the defensive coordinator in Pittsburgh from 1997-1999, and he served in the same role with th St. Louis Rams in 2006 and 2007. His defenses ranked 23rd and 21st in the NFL in those two seasons.

He was the head coach of the New Orleans Saints from 2000 to 2005 and he was named the interim head-man in St. Louis after Scott Linehan was fired in September of 2008.

Haslett was actually a pretty decent NFL player in his day. A 2nd-round pick back in 1979, Haslett was a linebacker who played for the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets. He was named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1979 (take that Brian Orakpo), and was selected as an All-Pro following the 1980 season.

The NFL's coach of the year in 2000 and the United Football League's first-ever coach of the year this past season (Haslett guided one of the league's four teams in it's first year in existence), Haslett joins a Redskins coaching staff that currently only possesses two other whistle-blowers.

Head Coach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan are also already working diligently at Redskins Park. They'll soon be joined by Haslett, and a plethora of other assistants as the older Shanahan continues to fill assemble his first staff in Washington.

Posted on: December 9, 2009 6:53 pm
 

Take on Cooley

Two months ago, Washington Redskins fans could have cared less about Fred Davis. The only thing many of the team's fans knew about Davis was that he slept through one of the first practices of his NFL career. He was considered talentless, and labeled a bust.

But in the several weeks since Chris Cooley was sidelined with a season-ending injury, Davis had been called upon to serve as Washington's No. 1 tight end. He's responded exceptionally well, becoming one of Jason Campbell's favorite targets while catching 25 passes (three for touchdowns). He's also been Cooley-like after the catch, in that he hasn't gone down without a fight in the open-field.

Over the past few days I have heard fans calling into local radio stations in DC, and seen plenty of Redskins fans online talking about making Davis the permanent top tight end in Washington. Some have even said that the Redskins should trade Cooley to clear the way for the second-year former USC standout.

Not bad for a guy that these same fans were cursing five games ago.

This is typical of Redskins fans. They get incredibly caught up in the moment, and at times they forget to think rationally.

They forget that Cooley is an all-pro. They forget that Cooley may have the best hands in football. They forget that Cooley was the best player in the Redskins' offensive huddle when he got hurt. And they forget that Davis has a propensity for batting balls that he can't catch up into the air, a couple of which have been intercepted this season. But that isn't the point.

The idea that the Redskins need to trade Cooley because Davis has come on strong lately is ridiculous. The tight end position is not the running back position. It's not the quarterback position. You don't only get to use one of them at a time. Good offenses have a couple of good ones.

One of the reasons Davis was drafted was because the Redskins thought he would be able to thrive from the openings in defenses he'd experience while running routes opposite Cooley, who would be attracting major attention.

Look at the New Orleans Saints (12-0). The Indianapolis Colts (12-0). The Philadelphia Eagles (8-4). Good teams have a slew of offensive weapons. They are tough to defend and they score masses of points because they have more than one good player at every position. The have game-breakers spread from sideline-to-sideline.

Redskins fans operate under this belief that if you have a good up-and-coming player, you can trade the other quality player at that position. They don't value depth, and it isn't their fault. They root for a fan base that doesn't know anything about layering talent, or about building with depth. And so the team's fans can't fathom having two really good tight ends. They think that they have to trade Cooley because Davis is ready to be a star. 

Why not have two tight ends who are tough to cover and who can run through tackles and score touchdowns? Is there something wrong with have a plethora of weapons? I get that Washington hasn't been flooded with weapons in the passing game since Joe Gibbs' first go-around, but how has not having many guys that scare defenses worked out for the team since? 

The team's fans also assume that you can just trade somebody like Cooley and get a 1st or 2nd round draft pick. Again, this isn't all the their fault. They've seen the Redskins trade day-one draft picks for players who are in the declining days of their careers. They assume that because Washington gives draft picks away like Jay Cutler gives possessions away with interceptions, that other teams will do it. It doesn't work that way.

Keep Cooley. He is the face of your franchise and he is your most consistent player on offense. You are allowed to have two good players at the same position. The type of thinking being display by people who are condoning a trade of Cooley, an annual pro bowler, who is still getting better, is why the Redskins can never climb above mediocrity.  

Posted on: December 9, 2009 6:13 pm
 

Cutting Suisham is 'No Good'

Shaun Suisham missed the three biggest field goal attempts he lined up for this season. Two of them (from 39 and 50 yards) came in a one-point loss to Dallas two weeks ago, and the other came at FedEx Field on Sunday from just 23 yards out. The errant kick, which sailed wide-right, cost Washington a chance to beat the unbeaten New Orleans Saints.  

But cutting Suisham was a bad decision.

He was released on Tuesday so that the Redskins could sign some guy named Graham Gano.

Gano drilled the game-winning field goal for the Las Vegas Locomotives in overtime of the inaugural UFL championship game last month. A 22-year-old Florida State product who was born in Scotland, Gano has never attempted a field goal in the NFL. He tried out for the Baltimore Ravens this summer, but he was beaten out for Baltimore's kicking job by a guy who is no longer kicking for the team.

Suisham made 18 of the 21 field goals he attempted this season. A former mid-season addition himself, he made 83 of the 103 he lined up for as a Redskin.

My problem with releasing him this week was that you cut him for a kicker who is less accomplished and less proven. You made a move just to make a move. Well-run organizations don't operate like that. They cut players to make upgrades. They make changes when a player is available who they know can make their football team better.

How do the Redskins know that Gano is going to be a better NFL kicker than Suisham? He's never done it before.

I'm not excusing Suisham's missed chip-shot with the game on the line this past weekend. As a professional kicker, he has to hit that field goal. But cutting him for missing it, without a well thought out contingency plan was not the right decision.
Posted on: December 4, 2009 9:56 pm
 

Raptors @ Wizards

First Quarter

- The Wizards missed their first eight shots from the floor before Gilbert Arenas knocked down a 3-pointer over three minutes into the game.

- Washington can't get off to a good start at home. They fell behind 10-0 in the first 1:57 of the conest. Before the game Flip Saunders said that his team's key to winning would be to get off to a fast start.

- DeMar DeRozan looks like he is 7 years old. He's actually 20. He'll be matchup-up with Nick Young tonight, which is interesting because the USC products know eachother well.

- The first "put in Boykins" scream comes showering court-ward 5:47 into the game from section 106. Boykins enteres the ball game 10 game-seconds later.

- Gilbert Arenas is off to a nice start scoring the ball. He's got 6 of Washington's first 7 points. Arenas has scored 22 points and dished out 9 assists in each of the Wizards' last two contests.

- The Wiz' began the night 0-for-8 and 1-for-14 from the floor. Ouch.


Second Quarter

- JaVale McGee just got free and threw down a sick fast break dunk. Fitting night for it. It's military night at Verizon Center and McGee salutes after all of his dunks. This guy should be in the dunk contest.

- Earl Boykins is taking over. After missing his first few shots he's settled in nicely. He hit a 3-pointer from the left wing, and now he's knocking down mid-range jumpers.

-Wizards go on a 15-6 run to pull to within three points. Boykins has fueled the charge with 9 points off the bench.

- Nick Young is averaging 13.6 points in six games as a starter. He just got his first two points of the half from the free-throw line. (There is 4:00 to go in the second quarter).

- Flip Saunders inserted Dominic Maguire into the game for Toronto's final possession of the half. He pressured Chris Bosh's shot, which came up short as the buzzer sounded.


Third Quarter

- Antawn Jamison, who started, just scored his first points (over four minutes into the third quarter). The Wizards are now down four,  but seem to be primed for a run.

- Nick Young and Gilbert Arenas have both driven to the rim for lay-ins. Toronto is susceptible to penetration. The Wizards should drive more.

- Wizards just pulled even for the first time all game. 65-65 count after Arenas found Antawn Jamison for a transition bucket. 

- A Nick Young dunk at the buzzer sends the crowd into a frenzy and ties the game, again. With a solid fourth quarter the Wizards will improve to 5-1 in their last six games. 


Fourth Quarter

- Nick Young has come to life. He just drained a triple and now has 13 points, his average as a starter. The Wizards are on a 5-0 run to start the fourth quarter.

- Earl Boykins from three-land. Antawn Jamison on the assist. About eight minutes to go and the Wiz' are up by five.

- I don't know if I hate, or love, the "secret service dunkers." I am normally not a fan of people who are putting on a dunking show by bouncing off of trampolines. But they make it look a little bit cooler than normal.

- Chris Bosh is a man. He's 40. Okay, maybe not -- but he is balling right now. I don't think he's missed this quarter. He's willing the Raptors toward a win. They're down a point with 2:22 to play, and he's carrying them.

- 1:45 to play. Antawn Jamison just hit two free throws (he's 4-for-6 from the line) to give teh Wizards a one point lead.

- Bosh is not human right now. He just grabbed a huge offensive rebound, then hit a bucket while getting fould by Jamison. He missed at the free throw line, but again -- he puts the Raptors ahead. It's 94-93 Toronto with 1:10 to play.

- Gilbert Arenas just went vintage. He beat his defender with a quick first-step, then drove to the basket to draw a foul with 56.7 to play. He hit one-of-two foul shots, but the Wizards got an offensive rebound on the miss.

- Earl Boykins, who is 5 foot 5 inches tall, just out-leaped everybody on the court for a rebound after he missed a 10-footer. Toronto's got the ball with 30.8 seconds to play. The game is tied at 94.

- Arenas hits a jumper with 13 to play. Hedo Turkoglu misses at end of regulation. Overtime.


Overtime

-Despite three-pointers from Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, Washington can't get out of it's own way. The Wiz' are down five with 1:22 to play. Arenas and Boykins have turned the ball over on two of the past four possessions. This game is slipping away.

- Butler hits consecutive free-throws (7-for-7 in the game) to pull Washington to within three with 50 seconds to play. The Wizards now need a stop.

- For the first time this season, the Verizon Center just erupted. This place has been hopping a few times, but I mean like ... out of your seat, jumping for joy, can't stop smiling type erupted. Gilbert Arenas just knocked down a triple with 30.6 to play to tie the game in overtime. Hibatch anyone?

- Hedo Turkoglu answers. He just caught an inbound pass and in one motion rose for a 17-footer that went through the net without touching rim. There's 8.1 to go and the Wizards will get the ball back with a change to tie/win.

- Arenas misses a lay-in with contact on the drive in the final seconds. Raptors win.
Category: NBA
Tags: wizards
 
Posted on: November 15, 2009 7:18 pm
 

Redskins 27, Broncos 17

A few nuggets:

- Ladell Betts has started 11 games since the 2004 season, and in those game's he's run for 1,082 yards. That's an average of 98 yards-per-start. He carried the ball 26 times for 114 yards and scored a touchdown in Sunday's win over Denver. "He steps up every time he gets a chance," Santana Moss said about the former Iowa Hawkeye. "That's what Ladell does."

-  Left tackle Levi Jones was thoroughly impressive in his first start as a Redskin. The former Cincinnati Bengals 1st-round pick did a nice job protecting Jason Campbell's blindside, and he also became a reliable lead blocker in Washington's running game. "He's only been here a few weeks," said Rock Cartwright who rushed for 41 yards. "But he seemed like he's been here all season. He was a beast."

- With his 1.5 sack performance, Brian Orakpo set a new franchise record for sacks in a rookie-season. His seven on the year move him past Andre Collins for the most sacks by a first-year player in franchise history. Orakpo made six tackles, one of which knocked Denver quarterback Kyle Orton out of the game late in the second quarter. Orton didn't return and his replacement, Chris Simms, was 3-for-13 in the second half.

- The Redskins posted three sacks as a team in Sunday's win (Andre Carter had the other 1.5), which gives the club 24 on the season. That's the same number of sacks that Washington mustered all of last year, and they still have seven games to play.

- After the game Josh McDaniels accidentally called the Redskins the Chargers. The rookie head coach, clearly thinking about his team's next opponent commended "The Chargers and Coach Zorn" for their effort. I mean, I know the Redskins played too well to be considered the Redskins today but the Chargers? Okay. I'll take it.

-Devin Thomas made a key reception on a screen pass that he turned into a tackle-breaking, 27 yard third-down conversion on a big drive in the second half. The Redskins took the lead a few plays after his athletic play. Earlier in the drive Malcolm Kelly ran an in-route and picked up 18-yards on a catch-and-run. Fred Davis, who like Thomas and Kelly was drafted in the second round last year, caught a team-high four passes for 50-yards. "We're getting more involved," Kelly said about Washington's trio of developing young pass catchers. "We'll keep producing as we get more and more chances."

-Hunter Smith has now thrown a touchdown pass and run for a touchdown this season. That wouldn't be too interesting if he wasn't a punter. Smith, who was a quarterback in high school, joked that he now has to catch a pass for his season to be complete. "We'll be putting that one in next" he said about a potential new trick play. He also pointed out that he once threw for 250 yards as a high school quarterback. 

Line of the day:

Ladell Betts, who hasn't started  a game since 2006, said that it had been so long since he'd been asked to participate in a press conference in the Redskins media room, he'd forgotten how to get there.  

Posted on: October 19, 2009 11:38 am
 

Things You Won't Hear Today

The obvious: The Redskins aren't playing well and today is a sad day in and around the district of columbia.

But everybody is going to be talking about that. Nobody is going to point out a couple of the positives from Sunday, so allow me.

Call me a homer (bailey) if you want. You'd be wrong. I'm not saying that the Redskins are any better than there 2-4 record or that they'll end up competing for a post season spot. I am just staying that it's easy to call a bad team bad. It's tougher to actually go back and find a few strengths that are worth pointing out. If you want to bury a team, fine. But it's only fair to point out the very little good that occurs as well.

                                                                      ......................... 

Andre Carter is playing hard

-Carter has posted back-to-back two sack games for the first time in his 54 games as a Redskin. He had 2.5 sacks in Carolina last weekend and two more on Sunday against Kansas City. Carter's got 5.5 sacks through six games have him on pace to register what would be a new career high, 15 sacks. He had four in 16 games last season.

"If there was a stat for almost sacks I would've led the league in it," Carter told me yesterday. "This year the plays I was almost making are being made. I give all the glory to God though. Without him none of this would be possible."

The ninth-year veteran should also give Albert Haynesworth some credit. Haynesworth is having the type of impact on the Redskins that pundits thought he would when the team signed him to a $100 million contract. Carter, and rookie OLB Brian Orkpo (3.5 sacks) are both playing well and reaping the benefits. 

His seven solo tackles were a team-high on Sunday. He also batted a pass down. His consistent penetration changed the complextion of the game, and he made more plays in big situations (like his fourth down sack) than anybody else on the defense.

                                                                      ...........................

Fred Davis showing character

-One of the really cool things about football is that game's don't lie. In other words, a player can talk all week about how badly he wants to win, but if you see them missing tackles and not running hard to make a play on Sunday - their actions contradict their words. 

Davis is as maligned as any player on the Redskins. He's a second-round pick who is listed second on the team's depth chart at tight end (behind all-pro Chris Cooley). Davis doesn't catch more than a pass a week (on a good day). He gets very few opportunites to make a difference and he rarely does nothing with the chances he gets. 

One thing nobody has talked about today, though, is the effort that Davis exerted on Clinton Portis' 78-yard, third quarter run. Portis broke free on a well-blocked carry behind center Casey Rabach and left guard Derrick Dockery, and then followed fullback Mike Sellers down the sideline for his longest gain of the season. If you re-watch the very end of the play, you'll see Davis show up on the screen on a full sprint to make a block on a Kansas City defender who was closing in on Portis from behind. 

The second-year tight end didn't have to sprint down the field. None of the other players on offense did.

Portis was either going to score or get brought down for a huge gain. He and Sellers were well out in front of the play and nobody else mattered at that point. But Davis worked hard when he didn't have to. Those types of plays show character. Fans can watch that and say, "that's what he gets paid to do." That's fine. Few players do what he did. It speaks well about his makeup. And it was also a nice display of the speed he possesses, which was one of the reasons he was considered the best tight end in last year's draft class. It's a shame he hasn't been able to show it off after a catch at any point.  

                                                                      ...........................

Shaun Suisham's been perfect

Suisham made two second-half fied goals after drives stalled in Kansas City territory on Sunday. He's now 8-for-8 on field goal attempts this season, with his longest attempt having come from 42 yards out.

Sure, he hasn't had to test his leg at all (both because Washington hasn't moved the ball as much as it would like, and because the Redskins have gone for a lot of fourth down conversions from between the 30 and 40 yard lines). But he missed more field goals than any other kicker last season (10), and the Redskins converted on a lower percentage of attempts than any other team last season. Considering that, eight-of-eight on chip shots is worth celebrating.
Posted on: October 19, 2009 7:33 am
Edited on: October 19, 2009 7:34 am
 

Quarterback Change

The Washington Redskins offense was awful in the first half.

They couldn't run the ball. They couldn't throw the ball. They couldn't block. They couldn't move the ball.

Washington racked up all of one first down in it's first five drives (on a nice gain after the catch by Chris Cooley along the home-sideline to move the chains). The Redskins didn't score a first-half point for the second straight home game against a winless team, and yesterday's first half struggles came against the NFL's worst defense.

All that said - benching Jason Campbell for Todd Collins wasn't irrational. I didn't agree with the decision but it wasn't a foolish move by Jim Zorn. It was just an act of desperation that probably shouldn't have happened.

Collins connected on his first pass of the game for a 40-plus yard bomb to Santana Moss downfield. Everybody jumped around and acted like things were going to change.

Then reality set in.

Collins went back to his old ways of patting the football and happy-feet hopping around the pocket before dumping off to a running back. Dump off, incompletion, dump off. That's about how the passing game went.

It should be pointed out that he faced occasional pressure that made getting the ball down the field tougher. But he wasn't under the kind of heat yesterday that Campbell has been under against some of the better defense's Washington has faced this season. The New York Giants and Carolina Panthers both come to mind as teams who have abused Washington's fifth-year quarterback.

The Philadelphia Eagles will apply substantial pressure. They'll be dialing up blitzes from the parking lot. That's why you have to go back to Campbell on Monday. His escapability, which Collins has none of, gives you a chance to prolong plays behind one of the NFL's most injury-riddled and ineffective offensive lines. 

He's also a better passer. 

I had a player (who plays on offense) tell me after the game that many members of the offense "were not happy at all," about the quarterback change. He also said that part of the reason why Campbell needs to be the guy is the lack of big plays that will be made with Collins in the fold. 

Detractors will say that Campbell hasn't made enough big plays while he's been in the game either. But he, according to this player, gives the team a better chance to make them.  

Hopefully all of the people who have been calling for Collins for the last season-plus were watching closely on Sunday. He's a whole lot of patting the ball and checking down, and not much else. There's nothing wrong with that. It just means that he's supposed to be a backup.

Campbell hasn't proven himself to be a franchise quarterback yet, either. There are plenty of variables as to why. But what matters is that he is the best quarterback on Washington's roster. And because of that he should start on Monday night.

Posted on: October 15, 2009 11:03 am
 

Three and Out

1. Deangleo Hall

I have to give Hall credit for being a professional. The guy holds court with the media after every game and during every open locker room session. Even after he has a bad game (which has happened a few too many times), he's been there to field questions.

Hall did his best to deflect attention from his head coach, Jim Zorn, this week. He wants the fans to know that Zorn isn't to blame for Washington's awful start to the season.

From Jason Reid's piece in the Post: "I think a lot of people made the comment, '[Zorn's] not out there playing in the games.' That's the truth of the matter," Hall said. "If you want to blame someone, look at the film. Look at the guys who are out there trying to play. We haven't been doing a great job, bottom line, we haven't been doing a great job. I think the blame lies with us. I think the blame lies with us. I think we're the ones out there playing every day, practicing, trying to do the right thing, but I don't know if we've got the right personnel here to do it."

It's good to see one of the players step up and back Zorn. Another cornerback, Carlos Rogers, cited that the problems the Redskins are having shouldn't be put squarely on any one group of the team's personnel. He even said that "the owner" might be part of the problem. Oh, and did I mention he's a free agent?

                                                                                 ____________________

2. Marko Mitchell

It's time to activate Mitchell and get him into a game.

The Kansas City Chiefs have had trouble defending the pass all season long. They're giving up 270 yards a game through the air. You'd have to be naive to think that Jason Campbell is going to have a lot of time to throw the ball down the field. He'll be dropping back behind a line that will feature Stephon Heyer playing out position, Mike Williams starting at tackle for the first time in years, and Will Montgomery starting at guard for the first time as a Redskin. The fact that Kansas City hasn't been able to generate much pass rush should change this week. 

But that doesn't mean that the Redskins shouldn't start incoporating some fresh bodies into the offensvie game plan. The team did it on defense (with Reed Doughty at safety and Jeremy Jarmon on the defensive line) and has benefited. It's time that the offense starts to allow a few young, hungry players to make an impact. 

Mitchell isn't going to become a pro bowl player over night. He's also not going to make the offensive line any better. But he'll at least provide Campbell with a big target who can get down the field.

At the very least, he could be used to run a few of the new quick-slants that the Redskins started running in Carolina last weekend. As big as he is, as long as he keeps his body between the football and the defender covering him, he should be able to pick up a nice chunk of yards each time he runs that route. 


                                                                                 ____________________

3. Big Game

Who thought that Sunday's matchup against the Chiefs was going to be a make-or-break game? Heck, who thought that Sunday's game was going to be tough to win? I didn't until about three weeks ago.

Consultants have been hired. Jim Zorn is on the hot seat (I'll maintain my belief that he shouldn't be). Players are getting into shouting matches that are being made public (Clinton Portis and Mike Sellers). Offensive lineman are falling to new injuries every week, and the Redskins keep losing to - or barely beating - bad football teams. 

Are things going to implode? Or will this team find a way to rally in this time of turmoil? Redskins teams in the past have done it (in 2005 and 2007, both times late in the season to sneak into the playoffs). But does this team have what it takes?

We'll know by Sunday night.

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