Tag Archives: Donovan McNabb

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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Still Searching For The Answer at Quarterback

How’s this for a knee-jerk reaction?

John Beck isn’t the answer at quarterback for the Washington Redskins.

Yes, last Sunday was only one game. Yes, last Sunday, he made his first NFL start in over three NFL season and close to four years overall. Yes, he finished last Sunday’s game without the services of his starting running back, best wide receiver, and 40% of his team’s starting offensive line. All of those are true.

Here’s my retort: when you watched the game last Sunday, did we really see anything from Beck that, at any point, made you think: “wow, I know it’s only his first game in four seasons, but I really think we have a chance with this guy”? Emphatically, no.

Anyone who’s being completely honest with themself would admit that Beck showed us that he’s an average quarterback, at best, with a little bit of mobility. That’s it. There’s nothing special, or even above average, about his game. Again, being honest, the only reason that myself, among many other Redskins fans, rallied behind John Beck was that he wasn’t Rex Grossman. That’s about it. It’s not like we saw something in 2007, or even this past preseason, that makes us believe that there’s something to this guy. Hell, this is the guy that Grossman beat out for the starting job. Decisively, I might add.

At this point in time, we just have to let Beck finish out the season. Because, really, what other choice do we have? There’s no point in going back to Grossman. He was a below-average quarterback, and he showed nothing different when he was the Redskins starter; there’s nothing to gain by going back to him (except maybe draft positioning). And it’s not like we’ve got some third guy at quarterback, waiting on the bench. Our third string, pratice squad quarterback is Jonathan Crompton, a guy who wasn’t even in camp with the Redskins and signed with the team just days before the regular season started.

Honestly, I’m sick and tired of the patchwork quarterbacking this team has rolled out over the past decade. 21 starting quarterbacks in 19 years, since the end of the Gibbs I era. That’s just ridiculous on so many levels. Even with the new hope found from the Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan, we’re still busy rolling out retreads like Donovan McNabb or castoffs like Grossman and Beck, and being told to have patience and faith.

Damn it, we’ve had nothing but patience, faith, and hope for the better part of two decades now. Enough is enough.

Quarterbacks aren’t like kickers, where there’s five capable guys waiting by the phone for tryouts, ready to take the incumbent’s spot if and when necessary. In today’s NFL, more than at any point ever in the history of the league, a team’s success lies with the performance of its quarterback.

Just take a look around the NFL, as of late October, 2011. The resurrection and current success of some of the league’s top franchises, both currently and over the past decade, began with finding their franchise quarterback – usually capitalizing on an early pick in the draft – and then putting together the rest of the team around that.

Green Bay won the Super Bowl last year, and went to the playoffs two of the three years Aaron Rodgers has been the starting quarterback (yes, I know Rodgers was drafted 24th overall; if you remember that draft, Rodgers was legitimately in the running to be the top overall pick, and only fell to #24 after Smith was drafted because so many teams were afraid of the risk and cost associated with drafting a QB, given the high bust rate between 1997 and 2004). I’ll make the argument, right now, that Rodgers could very well be the best quarterback in the entire game – especially with Peyton Manning gone – even over Tom Brady.

In addition to having him as their starting quarterback in two Super Bowl wins, Pittsburgh has never had a losing season since drafting Ben Roethlisberger. The Giants have never had a losing season since drafting Eli Manning (outside of Manning’s rookie year in 2004), and they also have a Super Bowl ring to show for it. The Chargers have never had a losing season with Phillip Rivers (the third member of that 2004 draft class) as their quarterback , and have won 11 or more games in three of the five season’s he’s been the starter.

Indianapolis drafting Peyton Manning, and their subsequent success, should go without saying (at least until this season). Philadelphia ruled the NFC East for the better part of a decade, after drafting McNabb. The Bengals won two division titles with Carson Palmer as their starting quarterback. Atlanta won their division twice this decade, behind two different highly-drafted franchise quarterbacks (Michael Vick and Matt Ryan). Joe Flacco has taken the Ravens to the playoffs every season he’s been the starter. Detroit has been slowing down over the last few weeks, but looked like one of the best teams in the league through the first five weeks of this season, largely in part due to Matt Stafford’s play.

Even Mark Sanchez, who has looked erratic and inconsistent at times (and that’s being polite), has led the Jets on 7 fourth quarter comebacks, 9 game-winning drives, in less than two and a half seasons as the Jets starting quarterback. And, of course, that’s not mentioning the fact that he’s helped take the Jets to two straight AFC Championship games. Heck, even Vince Young took the Titans and Tim Couch took the Browns to the playoffs once.

Along with intense pre-draft background searches and character interviews, the sophistication of many college offenses, along with draft preparation camps and private coaching from ex-NFL coaches and coordinators, have made some of the recent top draft picks more NFL-ready than we’ve ever seen. If you count every quarterback drafted in the first round between 2008 and 2010 – Ryan, Flacco, Stafford, Sanchez, Josh Freeman, Sam Bradford, and Tim Tebow – all but Tebow (a known project and considered a reach overall) started very early in their NFL career and are firmly entrenched as their team’s starting quarterback for at least the next decade. And while the jury is still out for most of the guys from the 2011 draft class – namely Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder – Cam Newton is well on his way to joining the formerly mentioned entrenched starters as well.

In contrast, take a look at teams like Miami, Buffalo, Oakland, Houston, Kansas City, and yes, Washington, who’ve foregone the draft route and tried raiding other teams’ rosters or plugging in retreats at quarterback. These are among the teams with the longest playoff droughts in the NFL (you could argue that Kansas City’s playoff run was a huge fluke last year given how bad that team has been this year, and even despite all the offensive statistics they’ve put up under Matt Schaub, the Texans have never made the playoffs in the history of their franchise).

Yes, I know: drafting a quarterback is far from a perfect science, and there’s often as much of a chance of missing as there is of getting the right guy. For all the guys mentioned above, one could easily throw out names like Ryan Leaf (gigantic douche), David Carr (still in the NFL, but just never quite seemed to get it), Joey Harrington (more interested in being Elton John than John Elway), Akili Smith (overrated because of physical attributes while ignoring only one year of college football experience), Byron Leftwich (lazy work ethic and lousy teammate by numerous accounts), Alex Smith (no arm strength and gimmick college offense), Vince Young (overall IQ equivalent to a bag of hamburgers), Matt Leinart (more interested in partying and chasing tail), and Jamarcus Russell (couldn’t stay away from questionable characters, purple drank, or buffet lines), among others, as retorts. All of them, except Alex Smith (who seems to have finally caught on to some extent), have been colossal misses, setting back the fortunes of their franchises for years.

Even the Redskins had to deal with this after they tried to take this route – although not necessarily with a high draft pick – by drafting Jason Campbell, which obviously failed. Campbell was a better physical prospect – and human being – than he was a quarterback. The revolving door of coaching staffs and offensive supporting cast did hurt his development, but he was just one of those guys whose mind and football acumen weren’t nearly as good as his physical skills and talents.

But as we’ve seen, the “acquisition” route at quarterback hasn’t exactly worked either, and we’re once again in a position where we have to hit the reset button. Beck, Grossman, or whoever else we can dig up (Kellen Clemens) will suffice for the 2011 season, but not a day past that.With as many as six guys (maybe more) who could carry a first or high second round grade in the 2012 NFL draft
(assuming they all declare for the draft) – Andrew Luck of Stanford, Landry Jones of Oklahoma, Matt Barkley of USC, Robert Griffin III of Baylor, Nick Foles of Arizona, and Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M – if there was ever a year that Shanahan was to find “his” guy that he could groom into the next franchise quarterback of this team, it would be this year.

But for now, even while John Beck remains the starting quarterback, the search for the Redskins franchise quarterback continues.

This column was cross-posted on RedskinsGab.com

Yesterday’s Loss? Just Life as a Redskins fan

I’ve said this many times before, and I’ll probably say it many times again: the more things change for the Redskins – with their never-ending revolving door of big name head coaches, highly touted coordinators, washed up quarterbacks, high-priced free agent acquisitions, and wasted draft picks – the more things stay the same.

During yesterday’s loss to Tampa Bay, the last four minutes of the game basically summed up life as a Redskins fan: a day late, a dollar short, and all out of luck.

Let’s break it down, act by act:

Act I: An all-too-familiar refrain: the Redskins jump out to an early lead over Tampa, nurse this lead through most of the second half, only to blow this lead late in the fourth quarter. Like clockwork, the Redskins get burned on Josh Freeman’s 41 yard touchdown pass to Kellen Winslow with less than four minutes left to go in the game. The Redskins get burned on an all-out blitz, leaving Kareem Moore to cover two guys running wide open deep down the field.

If you’ve been paying attention for the past decade plus, you know exactly what’s going to happen next: the inevitable comeback attempt falling short of the mark. Even as Donovan McNabb took the field on the Redskins last drive to try and maneuver the team towards a game-tying touchdown, you had to have the feeling that something was going to go wrong. That’s just your luck being a Redskins fan: you hope for the best, but you fully expect the worst.  They’d either run out of time, run out of downs (oh, the forthcoming irony), or throw yet another game-ending interception.

Act II: On the ensuing (and ultimately doomed) comeback attempt, we get the Santana Moss “non-catch.” In a situation where the referees are supposed to let the play fully transpire on the field instead of making a judgment call that could ultimately decide the game’s outcome, the refs claim that McNabb’s pass hit the ground and Moss didn’t catch the ball.

Let’s examine the facts here: Moss may not have caught the ball 100% cleanly, but there’s not a single shred of conclusive evidence which shows that the ball hit the ground. If the refs had done their job by swallowing their whistles and let the players decide the outcome on the field, then the Redskins would have had the ball deep inside the Buccaneers territory after Moss’ catch-and-run (no Bucs defender touched him after he “caught” the pass).

But instead, the referees when ahead and made a completely subjective, and totally unprovable claim that the ball hit the ground.  Even after Mike Shanahan’s reluctant (and ultimately useless) challenge, the refs claimed that there wasn’t enough evidence to say that it was a completed pass. They essentially predetermined the outcome of that sequence of events under the following logic: “We think the ball hit the ground, even though we never saw it hit the ground, and the video doesn’t show it not hitting the ground. So we’re sticking with our guess that it hit the ground. Tough cookies.”

If that doesn’t sound like something that would only happen to the Redskins, then you clearly haven’t been paying attention.

Act III: In a shocking turn of events, instead of folding like a cheap tent in a heavy wind, the Redskins actually rebound from this gaffe and still somehow manage to march all the way down the field, positioning themselves just about six feet away from scoring a touchdown, with the ensuing extra point potentially tying the game (yep, more sweet irony). In just over three minutes, Donovan McNabb – a notoriously mediocre quarterback when running the two minute drill – goes 7 of 8 for 73 yards, down to the Tampa Bay two yard line.

But here’s where it gets interesting. McNabb’s last pass to Anthony Armstrong, on first and ten, was a “nine” yard completion that went from Tampa Bay’s twelve yard line to Tampa Bay’s two yard line. Consider the following:

A: When Armstrong went down after making the catch, it appeared that he was never touched. He alertly gets up and makes his way to the end zone, only to once again be thwarted by the referees calling him “down by contact.” Seriously, isn’t that why we have challenges and booth reviews? Aren’t NFL refs told, over and over, to let things happen on the field, so that they can go back and be reviewed if it’s an incorrect call? Inexcusable.

B: If Armstrong caught the pass and went ten yards on first and ten, isn’t it a first down? Apparently, it depends on who you ask. Armstrong never saw a referee signal first down after his catch. Fox’s game broadcast said it was second and one. The scoreboard said it was second and one. The Redskins believed it was second down.

Except he really did get a first down. Yep, that makes complete sense to me, too.

Act IV: As it forever will be known: “the 5th down.”

On what we thought was second down, McNabb attempts an awful fade pass to Roydell Williams, which falls incomplete. On what we thought was third down, Ryan Torain loses four yards. And on what we thought was fourth down, Fred Davis blows his chance to be a hero for the Redskins, letting a perfectly thrown pass bounce right off his chest and fall incomplete. We can slam McNabb all we want in DC, but that ball hit Davis right at the top of the six on the “86” on his uniform.

But hold on, there’s one more down. The Redskins get one more chance on fourth down. Again. And wouldn’t you know it, with one more chance, McNabb threads a bullet between two defenders, right between the numbers to Moss for a touchdown.

The Redskins are only a point away from redeeming their blown lead, and appear to have completed a fourth quarter comeback for the first time in lord knows how long. Seriously, can you think of the last time the Redskins came back to win the game – or even tie it – when they’re down by a touchdown with less than four minutes to go?

Act V: The culmination of this Shakespearean tragedy known as the 2010 Redskins. Only moments after the incredibly rare fourth quarter comeback drive, with the almost-automatic extra point left to officially make it a tie game, a high snap and wet football leads to a botched hold by Hunter “the punter” Smith. The ball fumbles away before Graham Gano ever gets a chance to attempt the kick, and it’s picked up by a Buccaneers defender to end the game.

It’s almost as if the Karma gods laid down their retribution on the Redskins, taking that very last point away from them after somewhat gifting them the phantom 5th down.  Or perhaps it was the system working to correct itself, after the glitch in the Matrix (the Redskins actually making a comeback).

Whatever it may be, it’s par for the course when it comes to the Redskins. All you can do is shake your head and try to laugh it off, fully knowing that the only way you can rationalize yet another punch to the collective stomach of the Burgundy and Gold faithful is by telling yourself:

“Only the Redskins…”

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

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

The Redskins revolving door of futility at receiver

Here’s a stat for you. Since the 2006 season, the Redskins are one of only three teams to have had exactly one player exceed 1,000 yards receiving (Santana Moss did in ‘07; the Chiefs and Seahawks are in the same boat). Sure, it could be worse – there are four teams who haven’t had anyone break a thousand yards receiving in that same span – but is that really the company we strive to be with? I mean, even the Bills, Lions, and Browns (three of the worst teams of this decade) have had more than one player break the 1k yard mark.

Anyone who follows the Redskins is well aware of the revolving door at quarterback this team has had in that same span (Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell, Todd Collins, then Campbell again, and now Donovan McNabb), but take a look at the revolving door of spectacularly craptacular receivers this team has started opposite of Moss, prior to the Shanahan regime: Brandon Lloyd, Keenan McCardell, Reche Caldwell, Antwaan Randle El, James Thrash, Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly. I’m going to go ahead and take a stab by saying that you wouldn’t run into any of them if you were vacationing in Hawaii around, say, early-to-mid February.

And four years later, what do we have to show for it? Three of those guys are retired, all but one of them are no longer on the team, and the lone “survivor” of that group (Kelly) is spending yet another season on injured reserve because his muscles and tendons are about as strong as a wet kleenex.

This year, it’s been nothing but more of the same. We’ve handed over the keys of the offense to Donovan McNabb, and asked him to “save the franchise” while throwing to Anthony Armstrong, Joey Galloway, and Roydell Williams. That’s like giving your 16 year old kid a brand new car with no gas in it, and then giving him a can full of turpentine to put in the gas tank.

To borrow a line from “Coming to America,” Joey Galloway is good… good and terrible. When the Redskins signed him during the summer, the majority of fans thought that he’d be nothing more than training camp fodder, or a Methuselah-like receiver who could impart some work ethic and professionalism on the young guys (namely Thomas and Kelly). In a best case scenario, he’d play in a preseason game or two before he’s mercifully released by the team.

So it’s absolutely shocking, appalling, and mortifying to see him on the regular season roster, let alone getting snaps, and definitely let alone starting for this team. To put it succinctly: he is utterly and completely devoid of use to this offense, and has no business being on an NFL roster. I get that he’s not starting anymore and that Armstrong is now the starter, but it’s still really hard to get excited about your receiving corps when your #2 receiver is a 5′11, 27 year old rookie who used to play in something called the “Intense Football League.”

And the sad thing is: what do Redskins fans have to look forward to? Moss is going to be another year older. Galloway turns 407 years old next season. Anthony Armstrong is a great story, but he’s nothing more than a #3 receiver at best . Roydell Williams isn’t even good enough to be a journeyman.

While Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan did almost nothing to upgrade the current personnel we have at the position, the fact is that we can think none other than Vinny Cerrato for this alarming lack of talent.

Marinate on this for a second: in nine years of being the de facto General Manager of the Redskins, do you know that Cerrato has never drafted a wide receiver that has eclipsed 350 yards receiving in a single season? Are you really telling me that, in nearly a decade of running a billion dollar organization, he couldn’t find a single receiver that could contribute a measly 16 receiving yards per game? A monkey flinging it’s poop at a war room draft board could have done a better job than that.

Honestly, take a look around the NFL. How many teams can you say have unequivocally worse talent at wide receiver than the Redskins? St. Louis probably has the least talented group of receivers in the NFL right now, but past that? Maybe Carolina, Kansas City, and/or Oakland; that’s really about it. Cleveland has a lot of young and unproven talent, but at least they have talent to develop.

Heck, take a look at Tampa Bay. Over a two year span – where the majority of the time they were being skewered by the media – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers already have their answers at quarterback, #1 WR, and #2 WR for the future. They found a bell-cow running back, and already have a change-up running back on the roster. It’s been a freaking decade for the Redskins, and we still can’t say the same thing.

The Redskins desperately need an infusion of young talent if they expect any quarterback – be it McNabb or his eventual successor – to be productive. Yet once again, the Redskins are without draft picks in the 3rd or 4th round next year, thanks to the trades for McNabb and Jammal Brown. If the Redskins don’t use their first or second round picks on some combination of a quarterback and/or offensive linemen, I may throw my laptop across the room.

So where or how they’re going to get this young talent at receiver, we’re not really sure. But they sure as hell need it.

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

The Monday Night Massacre

I was 9 years old on November 12, 1990, when the Redskins lost 28-14 to the Eagles in one of the most gruesome losses in the team’s history, forever known as the “body bag game.” I still remember watching Jeff Rutledge and Stan Humphries carted off the field, along with seven other Redskins players. I remember seeing Brian Mitchell, a kick returner, having to play as the Redskins emergency quarterback, just so the Redskins could actually have SOMEONE line up under center.

If that game was “the body bag game,” I’m naming the heinous loss last night “the Monday Night Massacre.”

This is a loss that could, and should, go down among the worst losses in Redskins history. The Redskins weren’t embarrassingly bad or laughably bad, they were historically bad. Off the top of my head, in the past decade, here are the five worst Redskins losses (in chronological order):

– Steve Spurrier’s shutout loss to the Cowboys in ’03, when Tim Hasselbeck registered a whopping 0.0 passer rating
– the 52-7 loss to the Patriots in ’07
– The loss to the Bills after Sean Taylor’s passing (also in ’07, when Gibbs called the back-to-back icing the kicker timeouts)
– Jim Zorn’s 45-12 loss to the Giants in ’09 (forever known for the swinging gate incident).
– This game.

Irregardless of the few big plays and touchdowns the Redskins managed to muster up, the Redskins were beaten, abused, obliterated, and humiliated. I don’t think Manny Pacquiao beat Antonio Margarito last Saturday as badly as the Eagles beat the Redskins, and Margarito actually needed surgery after the fight.

By the time the second half began, there were more players and maintenance staff on the field than there were spectators in the seats of FedEx field. Even the Eagles fans were leaving the stadium at halftime; that’s how bad their team was beating down the opponent.

The Redskins allowed an unfathomable performance from the Eagles offense. In 142 previous road games, the Eagles scored 45 points (total) exactly one time. Yet the Eagles had 45 points at the HALF last night. Michael Vick, who looked like the player from Madden 2004 (where even the producers of the game admitted that they made him unrealistically good), had 304 combined yards and 5 TD’s at HALFTIME. He’s an amazing athlete for sure, but Vick has never been anywhere near this dominant at any point in his organized football career, even when he played at Virginia Tech (I would know, I watched every game of his Hokie career).

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett should be absolutely tarred and feathered in the streets of Washington. The Redskins defense was skewered worse than a shish kabob. Any Redskins fan knows that the Eagles love to run screen and shovel passes time and time and time again when they play the Redskins (or any other opponent), and yet the Redskins defense is still completely taken by surprise when the Eagles run either play. ESPN’s Jon Gruden, sitting up in the press box, was accurately predicting the plays the Eagles would run, yet Haslett, who is supposed to do this for a living, was bamboozled by the Eagles playcalling.

And while I’m almost certainly in the minority on this, Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is spared some blame from last night’s disaster, because the personnel he’s supposed to operate with is beyond abysmal. Donovan McNabb, the newly christened $78 million dollar man, hasn’t played a good game since September. But in his defense, he has absolutely nothing to work with on offense. Keiland Williams is the shining definition of mediocrity (I don’t care how many yards or TD’s he had, they were mostly in garbage time anyway). Joey Galloway is the epitome of has-been, and yet he still gets plenty of snaps (for reasons that should defy each and every Redskins fan). Every single offensive lineman has regressed in their play as the season went on. Fred Davis continues to see more bench time than playing time, even though he may be one of the most talented players on the entire offense.

If the team continues to play this way, the Redskins honestly may not win a single game for the rest of the season. Their schedule over the next seven weeks is absolutely savage. They have two games left against the Giants, (who have soundly beaten the Redskins in each of their last four match-ups), a re-match against the Cowboys in Dallas (they looked like a completely different team yesterday), away games against the surprising, never-say die Buccaneers and Jaguars (who have been playing good football over the last few weeks), not to mention games against Tennessee (away) and Minnesota over the next two weeks.  If the Redskins went 0-7 over that stretch, especially after the way they played last night, absolutely nobody would or should be surprised.

But all of that still remains in the future. I’m honestly running out of adjectives to describe how pathetic and infuriating last night’s performance was. Redskins fans showed up in droves last night – FedEx field was as loud and raucous as any point in recent memory – and their team repaid them by being completely undressed on national television.

The Redskins added another chapter to the storied history of this team. Unfortunately, it’s one that we’d much rather forget and never think about again. Even with a different general manager, different head coach, and different quarterback, it’s the same old results.

As Yogi Berra once quipped: “It’s Deja Vu all over again”

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

A Long Way to Go On Offense

In a telling quote after the loss to Detroit on Sunday, Chris Cooley told reporters that “every part of our offense is garbage. Not just one facet, but all of it.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Halfway through the regular season, calling the Redskins offense “a work in progress” isn’t just sugar-coating it as much as it’s completely avoiding the truth altogether. It’s a wildly inconsistent unit that has no real identity, and does nothing consistently well, except for maybe shooting itself in the foot with the most untimely penalties and turnovers possible. We’ve been teased with glimpses of a power running game and a vertical passing attack at times this season, but unfortunately, the bottom line remains that the offense still has a long ways to go before the Redskins can truly consider themselves contenders in the NFC East, or NFC overall.

Let’s start with Donovan McNabb, who after a promising start to the season, has unquestionably taken a step back over the last three weeks. Over that span of time, he’s thrown for only three touchdowns (two of which traveled less than 10 yards), but has five interceptions and has not eclipsed the 250 yard passing mark in any of those games (he’s done so only twice this season, despite the Redskins having completed half their regular season to date). While McNabb’s poise under duress, confident demeanor, and ability to complete passes over 40 yards still remain the polar opposite of what we had to endure from Jason Campbell over the last two and a half years, we’re starting to get a glimpse of the “worm burners”, unnecessary fastballs, and erratic accuracy that Eagles fans grew so tired of over the last few years. His interception in the 4th quarter last Sunday was completely inexcusable; an 11 year veteran should know not to thread the needle between three defenders when you’re protecting a five point lead.

But in McNabb’s defense, it’s not exactly like he has the Hogs protecting him and the Posse flanking him, either. As the old saying goes: You can’t make Chicken Soup out of Chicken [Poop]. And right now, the Redskins have a bunch of players offense who are playing at a level that can best be described as “dung.”

Take a look at the Redskins offensive line. At no point in time this season has this unit looked like it got the better of the opposing defensive line, let alone dominating them. There are times when opposing defenders have broken through, taken a seat, and started playing a game of Yahtzee in the backfield. It’s really hard for a running back to gain any yardage if he has a defensive tackle and linebacker waiting for him in the backfield, as soon as he receives the hand off. If we’re speaking in terms of plastic surgery, this offensive line doesn’t just need a face lift or a shot of botox this off season, it needs a god damned trans-gender reconstruction. The way Casey Rabach and Kory Lichtensteiger played last Sunday, i’m completely convinced that they couldn’t have stopped a four girl scouts from sacking McNabb. Of course, in Lichtensteiger’s defense, he’s been playing that way all year, so it’s not like we should have been surprised by his performance last week. Oh, and just for good measure, Artis Hicks also decided to play his absolute worst game of the season on Sunday, to boot.

Jammal Brown, who I still think was a hell of an acquisition, hasn’t been quite right since the day he arrived in Washington. Because of Shanahan’s Belichick-ian confidentiality with the extent of many player’s injuries, I don’t think a lot of Redskins fans realize that we got a damaged product from New Orleans right off the bat. Which means we’ve been stuck with extended stints at right tackle from Stephon Heyer, who is the offensive tackle equivalent of ex-Wizard Kwame Brown: enormous physical potential, yet has absolutely no clue what the hell he’s doing out there on the football field. Even Trent Williams, who played so well in the beginning of the season, seems to have regressed a bit. Williams has all the potential in the world to be the next elite left tackle in this league, and he’s done a slightly-better-than-adequate job (especially given the murderer’s row of pass rusher’s that he’s faced in the first half of the season). But whether it’s nagging injuries or just being “green” in general, he’s not quite at that elite “set it and forget it” level of left tackle just yet.

And to make matters even worse, even if McNabb did have the Offensive Line of the ‘91 Redskins protecting him (man I miss those guys), the group of players he has surrounding at the skill position are completely and utterly devoid of play makers not named Santana Moss. I’ll say it ’til I’m blue in the face: Anthony Armstrong is a nice find and a better story, but if you think he’s anything more than a #3 receiver, you’re kidding yourself. The rest of the depth chart at receiver, after Armstrong, is just plain laughable. The Redskins didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel and see something that 31 other franchises didn’t with guys like Joey Galloway and Roydell Williams; they’re both has-beens or never-will-be’s. There are at least 10 guys on the street right now who could come in an contribute more than they have. Shanahan keeps saying they’re on the roster because they practice hard and do the right thing during the week, but they must seriously look like Jerry Rice and Lynn Swann in practices, because they don’t produce a damn thing on the field (Deangelo Hall has as many “receptions” as Williams, and he hasn’t taken an offensive snap all season).

And I don’t care what any coach or any injury report tells me, Cooley just hasn’t been the same since his concussion. He’s not playing at 100% yet, which is alarming and borderline catastrophic considering he’s now the only real dependable receiver outside of Moss, and Shanahan refuses to incorporate Fred Davis (Cooley’s backup) into his passing attack

Things aren’t much brighter in the running game, either. Everyone knows Shanahan’s reputation of turning moderately talented running backs into thousand yard rushers in Denver, but thinking you could make anything out never-will-be practice-squad fodder like Keiland Williams and Chad Simpson is indefensible. These guys are nothing more than warm bodies who can maybe contribute a special teams tackle or two in a best-case scenario, yet we’re going to have to rely on them while Clinton Portis gets himself in game shape and Ryan Torain recovers from a hamstring injury.

Unfortunately, the Redskins aren’t going to address all the talent shortcomings in one single bye week. All they can basically do is regroup, lick their wounds, and (hopefully) make some adjustments as they enter the positively brutal 2nd half of their schedule.

If there’s a silver lining in this, it’s that, to a man, every player on offense believes the unit is on the offense is on the brink of success. Reading their quotes, you can tell that their performance doesn’t come from a a lack of preparation by the coaches or an inferior game plan put together during the week. It’s just a matter of execution: doing your job and beating the man in front of you. To me, it just seems like we don’t quite have the pieces to do this yet. Even though we’re 4-4 and right in the thick of things amongst a parity-filled NFC, maybe as Redskins fans, we need to temper our expectations regarding this team, and understand that this team is still a work in progress.

Before this season began, anyone who knows anything about football would say that a 7-9 or 8-8 record is right about where the Redskins could realistically expect to finish in Year One of the Shanahan regime. So far, we’re on pace to reach this. Maybe we have to understand that if we’re going to win the marathon that is the NFL regular season, we have to learn to run consistently before we can learn to run competitively.

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