Tag Archives: Albert Haynesworth

A “Lack of Talent” Show

Anyone who knows anything about NFL football knows that it’s no secret that the Redskins and their fanbase were the butt of numerous punchlines of jokes surrounding the Redskins throwing excessive amounts of money at big name players, and consistently contending for the “offseason championship” or “championship team on paper” title. Over the last 11 years or so, the amount of money the Redskins have thrown at has-beens or or guys looking to cash in on career years like Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Mark Carrier, Jeff George, Jeremiah Trotter, Jessie Armstead, Laveranues Coles, Adam Archuleta, Antwaan Randle El, Albert Haynesworth, and Donovan McNabb exceeds the gross domestic product of over 50% of countries on this planet. That’s insane.

But here’s the sad irony in all of this: even with the tens of millions of dollars thrown at those guys or used to pay any of the high profile draft picks this team has made, the Redskins are easily well towards the bottom of the NFL in terms of overall, across-the-board play-makers on this football team.

As a Redskins fan, ask yourself this question: does this team have one single elite, “blue chip” player whom you could really call a cornerstone for this franchise? Is there really one guy whom you can say: “this is a guy we have to lock up for the next decade, and build this team around him”? The only truly game-changing player that this team has been able to draft over the past decade was Sean Taylor, and he was taken from this world far earlier than he deserved to be (RIP).

Just run down the list of guys currently on the roster:

Brian Orakpo: Listen, I love the guy – especially his intangibles and leadership at a relatively young age (he turned 25 this summer) – but you’re kidding yourself if you think he falls into a true “franchise player” designation. He’s a really good pass-rusher, no doubt, but he’s simply not a game-changing linebacker. He’s had one season with double-digit sacks (2009), and forced a grand total of two fumbles coming into 2011. Drafting Ryan Kerrigan was supposed to free him up from double-teams and being the focus of opposing teams’ game plans, yet he’s currently tied for 20th in the league in sacks. He always seems like he’s in the backfield, but just a step slow from making a momentum-shifting or game-altering play.

As Redskins fans, we hold Orakpo in much higher esteem than the rest of the NFL, mostly because he’s all we have to brag about. But when ESPN.com’s top football bloggers sat down to rank their top linebackers in the entire league, seven out of eight of them didn’t include Orakpo in their top 10 in the game. Redskins fans like to think of Orakpo as being in the same echelon of pass rushers like Demarcus Ware, Clay Matthews Jr, or LaMarr Woodley, but that’s simply not accurate.

LaRon Landry: Landry looked like he was on his way to being an All-Pro player last year in 2010 – he was arguably one of the top five defensive players in the NFL halfway through last season – but the injury to his Achilles tendon changed everything. With the cursed lockout taking away the ability for him to rehabilitate the injury with the Redskins medical staff, he’s just not the same guy anymore. His play has taken about four to six steps backward from what he was in 2010, and now he looks alarmingly ordinary, if not mediocre.

DeAngelo Hall: forget about it. Hall remains one of those guys who talks a far better game than he plays. God forbid he just shuts his mouth and covers the guy in front of him. Yeah, he might get you four to six interceptions per season, but he’ll get burned just as many times for big plays by opposing receivers. I’m not calling a “feast or famine” cornerback one of the better players in the game; like Orakpo, five of eight ESPN.com columnists didn’t include Hall in their top 10 cornerbacks in the NFL.

Ryan Kerrigan: Ignoring the fact that you can’t make a true judgement about a guy just seven games into his NFL career, he’s like Orakpo: damn fine player, busts his tail on every play, outstanding intangibles, great football IQ, but not a game-changing, top-five-at-his-position guy.

London Fletcher: the best player on this team, hands down, but father time will catch up with him at some point. And it’s a damn shame, too, because he may be the only player left on this roster who genuinely cares about whether this team wins or loses.

Anyone on Offense: You must be kidding. Did you even watch the last three games this team has played? To steal a phrase from Rip Torn: this offense looks like a bunch of morons trying to hump a doorknob. Our offensive execution last Sunday looked like one of those electronic vibrating football games from the 80’s where all the plastic players either end up falling over or spinning around in circles. The only guy you could even mention on the offense without completely being laughed at is Trent Williams, but right now, he has as many questions about his work ethic and passion for the game as he has physical tools and potential upside. Point being, he’s far from “there” yet.

That’s why it makes me go into a Bruce Banner-esque rage every time someone tries to compare the Redskins injury situation in 2011 to that of Green Bay in 2010, in trying to find some hope and silver lining for this team.

Calling that asinine just doesn’t describe how stupid that is. As many injuries as the Packers had last year (and it was pretty incredible; they had over 15 guys on injured reserve by the time the postseason rolled around), Green Bay had a top three quarterbacks in the NFL (Aaron Rodgers) and two of the top twenty defensive players in the league on their team (Matthews and Charles Woodson).

Again, even if all 22 of the Redskins starters were 100% healthy today, there isn’t one single player on this team whom you could say is a top 20 player in the NFL on offense or defense. Put it this way: you shouldn’t expect to win a whole lot of games if Brandon Banks and Sav Rocca are the only two players you could argue are in the top 20 on their side of the ball in the NFL (and that’s just Special Teams). My friend Tim said it best: this team is like a old dam – as soon as you plug one hole, another one opens up. Years of wasted money on free agent busts, trading away key middle round draft picks for more overpaid busts, and poor drafting in the later rounds by the Cerrato regime has absolutely crippled this roster of both blue-chip and overall talent.

Redskins fans were teased with false hopes and aspirations after the 3-1 start to this season. But, like always, we’ve been slapped with the cold, hard reality by November: this team has more problems than answers right now, and still has a ways to go before it’s anywhere near ready to contend.

This column was cross-posted on RedskinsGab.com

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Run Over and Flattened

If there are any remaining Redskins fans amongst the burgundy and gold faithful who thinks this team deserves to even be mentioned among the teams contending for a playoff spot, you’re either completely delusional or simply allergic to reality.

Look, it’s one thing if you keep losing heart breakers week after week. As a fan, you can always rationalize that, with a bounce here or there, the outcome could have been completely different. Clean up the mistakes, cut down on the penalties, and we could have won that game. There’s something to hold on to, going forward.

But the Redskins? We just got our butt’s kicked. Again. Yet another game at the Meadowlands (new or old, it’s all the same) where the Giants took us behind the woodshed and handed us a good old-fashioned ass whipping. They beat us like we stole something, and abused us worse than a rented mule.

Yet another team – a divisional foe, no less – provided us with another highly-visible public humiliation. I mean, it’s honestly getting to the point where NFC East teams are treating us like their homecoming opponent: the team you look forward to kicking the ever loving piss out of in front of your oldest alumni and biggest boosters.

In a league filled with parity and games being decided in the last couple of minutes week after week, this team is getting it’s ass handed to it repeatedly. Instead of being a heavyweight fighter slugging it out with another equally talented and motivated fighter, we’re nothing more than a punching bag for opponents to wail on at their whim.

It’s time to be brutally honest with ourselves: this team is as bad as any franchise in the NFL right now. Can you honestly say, with any real confidence, that there is a single team in the NFL that the Redskins are unequivocally better than? If you had to put your own life on the line, would you really bet on the Redskins to beat a team like the Panthers, 49ers, or Cardinals? Not a chance. Not right now.

Every single person associated with this franchise should be held accountable for this mockery we call the Redskins. The product and effort that this team has been putting out over the last few weeks is just downright appalling. As men, and as professionals, they continually show an appalling lack of dignity or pride in their weekly performance.

As with any organization, accountability starts at the top. This Redskins front office is like a corrupt political regime: plenty of overpaid people with cushy titles spouting tons of rhetoric while getting nothing done. They sit on past accomplishments and accolades but don’t do the job they’re currently getting paid a boatload of money to perform, and they laugh all the way to the bank while their constituents pull their hair out at the inaction and corruption of the people they depend on to make the decisions. At the end of the day, they judge their actions by how well their pockets are lined, instead of by the fruits of their labor.

Right now, someone needs to step up in front of Mike Shanahan and honestly question whether he feels like he’s earned a single solitary cent of his paycheck. Everyone knows Shanahan’s resume and previous body of work, but nobody gives a crap about it anymore when dealing with this travesty of a team we’ve been subjected to over the past few weeks.

Someone needs to ask Shanahan about whom he’s fooling with this 3-4 defense that can’t stop the run, can’t stop the pass, can’t generate any pass rush, can’t get the opposing offense off the field at any critical point, and can’t generate any turnovers. This defense does nothing effectively. NOTHING. And yet we keep trotting this failed experiment out on the field again, week after week, as other teams keep running right through them like an open tollbooth.

The honeymoon is over, Mike. We sided with you when you spent two draft picks to acquire Donovan McNabb, a quarterback well past his prime with only a small handful of productive seasons left (little did we know that “a small handful of productive seasons” was really eight games), because of your resume and track record. We sided with you against Albert Haynesworth, because he made it easy to do so. We sided with you – albeit very begrudgingly – when you decided to cut Devin Thomas, the only young and talented receiver we had on this team, even when his replacement included has-beens like Joey Galloway and Roydell Williams.

Now it’s time for answers.

We are sick and tired of trying to duct-tape together a broken product and squeezing out a few more years of mediocrity from this current group of overpaid underachievers. This team needs to be blown up and rebuilt completely. Let’s end this experiment of slapping together a bunch of retreads and swinging for a 9-7 record so we can just barely slip into the playoffs (and finish with a one-and-done). Blow this team up, start from scratch, and actually build a foundation for the future.

Everyone knows that while you’ve come back for one last shot at a Super Bowl title, your real motive was to hand the team over to your son after said Super Bowl run. You want to turn this team over to your son in a few years? Give him something to work with. Don’t leave the cupboard so laughably bare for him, the way Vinny Cerrato did for you.

This team is at a crossroads right now. They’re at the proverbial fork in the road. Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen must make the difficult choice: Are they going to be like their predecessors, sticking their heads in the sand and convincing themselves they’re only a player or two away from being “a contender?” Or are they going to see the truth, that all the teams who consider themselves contenders today (or at least have a bright future on the horizon) took their lumps, built their teams through the draft, and sprinkled in role players in the right positions?

Only time will truly tell. But if history tells us anything, then the future looks as bleak as ever for the burgundy and gold faithful.

This article was written for and cross-posted on RedskinsGab.com

More Redskins notes – 8/12/10

— I mentioned in my last post how too many people are quick to write off Clinton Portis because of the rhetoric that Shanhan is going to run the over-used concept of a “Running Back by Committee.”

I’m still saying that Portis is going to have a nice bounce-back year – a thousand-plus yards on the ground and more than a half dozen TD’s – but should Portis go down with an injury, Larry Johnson may actually be a worthwhile starter for both the Redskins and your fantasy team.

I really thought Larry Johnson was going to rebound last year for the Chiefs. It was the first offseason where he actually kept his nose clean, and didn’t resort to his usual extra-curricular activities, including publicly slamming his coach or punching some woman or uttering homophobic slurs on twitter.

Looking back on my notes, I predicted that he would approach a thousands yards rushing, in one last attempt to resurrect his downward-spiraling career.

It turns out, I was wrong on both accounts.

Sure, I was way off on his totals – 581 yards rushing, no rushing TD’s, and a pedestrian 3.3 yards per carry, leading to him eventually being released from the team – but it also looks like Johnson still has one more chance to play in this league.

Johnson has quietly been impressing in training camps, so far. According to ESPN’s Matt Mosley, he’s in “excellent shape” and “actually has shown a burst at times” (the latter of which has been mentioned by many fans who have attended open training camp practices).

Johnson is not the same running back that he was in 2005 & 2006 – nor will he ever be again – but he’s certainly worth a late round draft pick, especially as a handcuff for Clinton Portis owners.

— I hate Vinny Cerrato as much as one person can hate any sports figure, but I was actually very excited when the Redskins selected Devin Thomas in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft (though I can’t say the same thing about TE Fred “Sleepy” Davis, who ironically was the best player to come out of that class).

But as he enters his third season – a year in which receivers usually prove whether they belong in this league or not –  I’m not sure whether to start calling Thomas “the Tin Man” or “the Scarecrow,” because he desperately needs an infusion of both brains AND heart.

Thomas’ skillset reminds me of a bigger version of Santonio Holmes: speedy WR who excels at YAC (Yards after Catch). But with his sloppy route running and stories of hot-dogging it during practice, it’s no surprise that Mike Shanahan has him buried on the depth chart below has-beens and retreads like Joey Galloway and Roydell Williams.

Right now, to paraphrase Denny Green, Thomas is exactly what we thought he is: a player good enough to record 7 catches for 100 yards and 2 TD’s in a game, only to follow that up with 2 receptions for 38 yards total over the next four games.

But ‘Skins fans, like myself, desperately hope that he can finally get his shit together and emerge as a starting receiver, because  at this point, he’s really the only hope we have left at the position.

Unfortunately, It’s time to pull the plug on the Malcolm Kelly project, because we need him to break out of the trainer’s room before he can actually break out on the field.

While the reports over the years have been that Kelly has the intelligence and work ethic to succeed at the next level, he’s been constantly plagued by injuries. Funny how that works, especially when Kelly’s medical charts were red flagged by EVERY other team in the NFL when he was coming out of Oklahoma.

Great pick, Cerrato. Ass hat.

I’ve been saying this for years: if we could transplant Kelly’s brain in Thomas’ body, we’d actually have a legit #1 WR prospect.

Where’s Dr. Frankenstein when you need him?

— I still maintain that the Redskins most valuable addition this offseason – outside of Mike & Kyle Shanhan – was Defensive Tackle Ma’ake Kemoeatu. Because everyone has been so busy talking about Fat Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb and the new coaching staff all offseason,  the acquisition of Kemoeatu flew completely under the radar of most Redskins fans too busy reading about the soap opera surrounding Fat Al.

Kemoeatu is a 345lb Tongan beast who was shown the door by Carolina after tearing his Achilles tendon last training camp. On his way to being ready for the season opener, Kemoeatu is the perfect fit for the critical nose tackle position in the 3-4 defense – the centerpiece for the entire defensive line, if not the entire defense itself.

Kemoeatu – NOT Haynesworth – is the guy best suited to be the immovable object who eats up two or three offensive linemen, thus allowing the linebackers to attack the gaps in the offensive line or blitz the ever-loving hell out of the quarterback.

Fiscal Restraint … in Washington !?!?

Every morning, when the wife and I are getting ready for work, we have our usual routine of watching the weather channel for a few minutes, find out what new type of cold + tomfoolery mother nature is intending to dive-bomb us with in the next few days, and then flipping it over to Sportscenter, usually at the top of the hour, to catch the big headlines & best highlights.

But this morning was different. Because, after all, free agency started at 12:01AM, and if there’s one thing you can always count on as a Redskins fan, there’s bound to be SOME news about the Redskins dealings.

So as soon as I got up today, I turned on Sportscenter (weather channel be damned) to see what Santa Snyder brought our success-deprived franchise aboard his merry sleigh known as Redskins One.

Nothing. The talking heads barely mentioned Washington/Redskins/Dan Snyder, even in passing.

Nothing?!? Really?!?

“Fiscal restraint” ?!?

I don’t follow.

It was like some alternate reality for us. No salary cap in 2010 + a bevvy of big-name free agents for the taking (albeit most of them being past their prime), and Redskins One is still in the hangar?

Now we REALLY know Bruce Allen was a good hire.

One of my favorite definitions of insanity has always been the idea of doing the very same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results. In the Vinny Cerrato era, the “braintrust” of Cerrato and Snyder (an Oxymoron if there ever was one) – aka Snyderrato – would try and build the team through free agency and need-based day 1 draft picks.

My biggest problem with Vinny Cerrato was not that he was the brainchild of these wild spending sprees (he wasn’t), but rather that he helped facilitate them, no matter the cost. When Snyder would get excited at bidding on guys like Deion Sanders and Albert Haynesworth, a real GM would have said “that’s a great idea on paper, but you’re sacrificing the Steak just to get more Sizzle.” Of course, Cerrato had no guts nor grounds to stand up to Danny, because the minute he did, his ass would have probably been fired.

But if Jim Irsay, Bob Kraft (circa 2001 onwards), and the Rooney family taught us one thing, it’s this: the Owners job is to set the mission statement and objectives for the franchise as a whole, sign the paychecks, and get the hell out of the way when it comes to player personnel acquisition.

It seems that, slowly, maybe, hopefully – Snyder is finally learning this truth, and letting Bruce Allen run the show. We can assume that, since Redskins One didnt touch down to scoop up Julius Peppers and/or Karlos Dansby, in order to hurl a $100M+ contract at either, with the velocity of a Stephen Strasburg fastball. Even Peter King – a guy who has always been known to help stir the free agency rumor pot with a burgundy and gold ladle – is saying that “‘Skins GM Bruce Allen is [skipping] biggest FA names, clean house, and win secondary FA battles.”

To put it bluntly: someone in the front office finally realize that there’s no point in in blowing our wad on one or two big name guys, considering we have about a dozen other holes to fill. If Cerrato realized this last offseason – and didnt inexplicably overlook the fact that our offensive line was barely holding together like it was assembled with Elmers glue and paper clips – he may very well have kept his job. But, alas, he was two busy having dinner with Snyder and Albert Haynesworth’s agent a few nights before free agency started last offseason (*cough*tampering?*cough*), cobbling together a “hypothetical” $100M contract with a $40M+ signing bonus (Haynesworth signed a deal with the Redskins for seven years and $100 million – including $41M guaranteed – merely a few hours after free agency began,  but that was nothing but sheer coincidence).

So even though we’re not going to win the offseason Super Bowl this March, Redskins fans still have reason to be excited about this upcoming year: namely, somebody in the front office FINALLY knows what they’re doing. Hell, maybe they even have a plan AND have this ridiculous idea of sticking to the plan!

If our biggest acquisitions in Free Agency this year happen to be “Fiscal Restraint” and “Sticking to a plan,” I’m quite fine with that haul.