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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

April 15-- Day 2 Final Thoughts, The D

Maybe the biggest question surrounding the state of the defense is whether this unit of players will be willing to play as hard for Jim Zorn and Greg Blache as they did for Joe Gibbs and Gregg Williams.. The longer I got to cover the sport, the more I realized how important accountability became.. Some teams are fortunate to have players who become the type of on field that demands acountability from their teammates, Ray Lewis and Brian Dawkins come to mind..
Other teams get it from their coach, Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick come to mind there..
My gut tells me that Gregg and Joe had a lot to do with the way this team played.. Overall, I don't look at this roster and see mismatches. Certainly with health, this team can be competitive and considering the Giants won the Super Bowl, special, but they need to show desire to win. Basically, it won't come easy and that's where the coaches come in.. It's been an assumption by most that Greg Blache taking over means a carryover from the Williams era where 3 of his four seasons, the team ranked in the league's top 10. I don't know for certain that will be the case. Will the team feel as if they made a mistake letting Williams walk when all is said and done?

As for the players, the D-line is a major concern in my opinion... I like Phillip Daniels, great guy, great quote, plays with injuries and is a very large human being. But there can't possibly be a lot left in the tank and his replacement doesn't appear to be on this roster. Plus, 16 games out of Daniels appears like an unlikely prospect consideirng the ammount of issues he's dealth with over the years, ankles, wrists, shoulder, the list goes on..
Andre Carter to me remains only an everydown player because he is one of the most well conditioned athletes on the team.. Come the third and fourth quarter, his speed and tenacity will take over esepcially on a tackle who might not be in top shape.. Andre is a workaholic and though a bit undersized, his preparation is second to none..
On the interior of the line, Cornelious Griffin is a difference maker, on the field and in the huddle.. The problem is his long injury history.. Like Daniels, he'll need to avoid some train wrecks to stay healthy for a couple more years.. The duo of Anthony Montgomery and Kedric Golston make for fine back-ups particularly against the run, but neither has emerged in my opinion as a viable starter (Monty however did improve greatly last season from his rookie year).. The team is openly tal;king about drafting a defensive lineman, likely an interior presence who can get some pressure on the quarterback (the Skins version of Justin Tuck). They continue to claim they need not find an ample replacement at end, I certainly disagree with that feeling, but if Chris Wilson emerges as a viable rusher on pass downs then maybe the need isn't as dire as once thought.. Maybe..
Regardless, long term future of this unit is in desperate need of a youth infusion, this team needs to draft someone who is going to be a fixture at one of the four spots for 5-10 years.. This is the year they need a Glenn Dorsey, but drafting 21st with no inclination to move up suggests we'll wait another year..

There has to be growing concern about the long term future at linebacker as well.. Marcus Washington is one of the best people in the locker room.. Well liked, he plays hard and fast and enjoys being on the field as much as anyone.. But for three years running now, he's been dealing with a hip injury and last year missed a month with upper leg issues.. He has had a benign cyst removed from his lower back tice. Basically, he is not as reliable a starter as before.. When he is on the field, he makes plays, keeping him on the field has been the issue..
London Fletcher was a rock and a needed leader.. He'll be 33 this year though and while he has shwon no signs of slowing down, at some point you have to think someone must be ready to step in when he slows a step.. That said, with his track record, you have to figure Fletcher will remain in his spot at least 2 more years, hopefully longer.. He is a tackle machine and one of the smartest players the Redskins have, a great pick-up last year..
I love Rocky McIntosh's abilitty. His feel for the game was leaps and bounds better then his rookie season.. But he did suffer a major knee injury. In college he was plagued with knee issues as well.. McIntosh is very fast for a weak side backer, and if on the field, seems like a perfect fit for the position.. Khary Campbell to me is a special teamer only.. HB Blades is way underszied but like Fletcher seems to just know how to play.. He might be a a good spot player for this team.. Someone will make this team this year that we don't know as a back-up LB..

At CB, Shawn Springs is underrated, if you can be underrated as a former top ten pick.. He has an inate skill set that is rare but often times is the difference between a capable corner and a good one, quickness.. Springs can close on a play faster then anyone I've seen in this uniform outside of Champ Bailey.. He is in his mid 30's now though which is typically ancient for a CB unless your name is Darrell Green and after a year of contractual wranglings, I figure Springs probably has one year left here.. Fred Smoot isn't just a class clown anymore.. He truly emerged as a leader last year taking a hard line with the media after what he believed was unfair characterizations of Sean Taylor immediately following his passing.. Smoot has no fear of throwing his body around even at his own detriment.. He plays hurt, constantly.. Now while I would not place him in the top 10 of corners in terms of cover skills, his heart and likability in the room are priceless.. As a #2, I am very satisified with him.. Carlos Rogers will have a long rehab to go, that will hopefully have him ready by week one.. But a major knee injury like the one he had almost always means a two year recovery before the player is truly back to full strength.. He'll play this year, but I'm not sure how effective he'll be or if he'll even be close to being able to generate his typical speed.. More and more it looks like the team will address this issue by drafting a corner.. The reasoning obviously is two fold.. How much longer will Springs be here? And how much can the team rely on Rogers this season? CB Aqib Talib could be the choice at 21 if he is available.. I still think they go D-lineman with the first pick but if Talib is there, he might be hard to pass up..

At safety, Laron Landry couldn't have been a better fit.. he plays the aggressive style the defense demanded.. He can cover the field and honestly, with some better hands, might have had a friendly competition with Sean Taylor over who'd have more interceptions.. Landry now assumes Taylor's position full time after the tragedy.. So while it seemed taking a safety didn't appear to be the most necessitated move last spring, it is now extremely fortunate that they did.. Reed Doughty isn't particularly fast or big, but he plays hard and like Smoot has no issue throwing his body around.. I don't know if he is considered the long term solution at SS, but as a back-up and spot starter, I'd certainly give him the chance.. Competition for back-up spots there will be interesting with Pierson Prioleau gone and Vernon Fox returning mainly as a special teams contributer.. The obvious comparisons Miami draftee Kenny Phillips would be forced to undertake if he were the selection at #21 are almost too much to bear.. It would be unfair to him to saddle him with thos headlines and expectations should the Redskins go this direction..

Overall, I like this group, but they are going to need some luck and band aids to keep it together.. Long term, this team needs to find a defensive tackle who can start, I believe an end who they can groom for the near future, a corner for the immediate and long term future and some depth at linebacker and safety..
All that said, heart can outweigh limitations.. This group plays with heart, the only question is whether they will continue to do so now that their former coordinator who they supported during the coaching primaries is gone..

OK men


Blogger Wally said...

Bram, i'm really gonna miss you on Redskins radio. I used to tivo the show, but now I download the podcasts so I can listen to them in the car. I looove how you got Larry with the Chad Johnson hoax (what a company guy he is!), and it cracks me up when you do the Jessica Simpson voice. I also like the other day when Larry was talking about the Miami guy who punched somebody and you asked "is he a china man", Right after you guys were talking about being pc! Priceless! Thanks for covering the skins and asking the questions they way that most die-hard fans would! You also say what most fans are thinking and what Larry is too afraid to say or ask.

Also, who is the voice that says, "didn't I tell you that the man got his own money?" What is that from? I'm "strugerling" trying to figure that out. You will really be missed. You and Larry were great together.

I had not heard any rumors about you joining espn at all, until you mentioned it on the show. Are you gonna be on tv or radio and doing what? Are you sure that the Danny did not have espn hire you in order to get another Redskins company man in your place on Redskins Radio? hahaha...ok, Bram, I'm glad to be able to write to you and let you know how much you are appreciated by true Redskin fans!

6:06 AM  
Blogger Bram Weinstein said...

Thanks.. I will be on ESPN News to start and we'll see where it goes..
"The Boy;s got his own money" is from a WWE presser featuring Flyd Mayweather..

2:22 PM  

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