Tag Archives: Sean Taylor

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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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