Sunday, December 21, 2008

Swan Song: Volume 3, Issue 17

Fighters of Dixie,
First, I would like to thank all my dedicated Skins Servers for being so patient with, and supportive of me this year. Guest authors, mini versions, subpar quality and a sucky team could potentially lead to angry emails, calls for the server's head and eggs on my front door. None of this has happened. In fact, I have been inspired by all your encouragement and genuine love for this team.

Why would Scooter's intro sound like this is the last Serv of the year? Odd...there's one more week left. Yes, peeps, this is the end of the road for 08' (pending a miracle win and miracle losses by the entire NFC South, North, West, AFL, USFL and half of the English Priemer League). I have decided to bump up my off-season by a week and will be taking this show on the road - spreading Redskins love to those in Caribbean. It's possible I'll bump into actual Redskins players on my cruise - they got a faster jump on the offseason than I did as they've been down there fishing since Thanksgiving.

This has been ugly - no matter how you chalk it up. Even the biggest white washer will tell you this is a disaster, and even the biggest skeptic will admit that this is even worse than once thought. What is so demoralizing for me is that this core is finished. The free agent class of 2004 (Griffin, Springs, Portis etc) is just about kaput and now the Skins will have to do some real rebuilding in order to get back on track. For those of you who believe that this was a rebuilding year, please reconsider. You don't rebuild by sending two picks away for Jason Taylor and you don't rebuild by signing DeAngelo Hall. The front office wanted to win now - remember Snyder called for a deep playoff run - and now that they haven't; with the pieces aging rapidly, its back to the drawing board.

Unfortunately for all of us who love this team, we'll be counting on two dingbats to get us out of this mire. After one disaster draft class (I'm not being quick to judge, they're a disaster), the Skins are without four picks in the upcoming draft. So unless they decide to trade for more picks (a smart move), they might try to rebuild the ole Danny way - bringing next years Bruce Smith, Mark Carrier and Deion Sanders in to rescue a floundering franchise. But before we prognosticate on just how embarrassing this off season might be, lets go over what needs to be addressed. Grab a Snickers, this could be a while.

And as for 2008. Lets keep it simple. This was an aging team with limited talent in the skill positions, no interior play to speak of and a new coach trying to implement a system these players weren't ready for. Joe Gibbs got the most out this personnel last year at 9-7. Getting Zorn to raise the bar from that was a lot to ask. Is putting up 10 points a game his fault? Yes. But to be honest, I don't think 17 points a game would have made a difference. This team is a bottom 10 team in the league no matter how you chalk it up.

I wish I could say things will get better.



1) Horny for Zorny? - The scheme hasn't worked, but it could. It isn't exactly like Zorn had Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson up there to give Campbell any time. This team broke down in the trenches as the season went on and Campbell couldn't really ever get comfortable throwing the ball. And what about targets? Zorn was dealing with an aging Santana Moss (who is a #2 WR anywhere else in this league), ARE (a #4 anywhere else) and James Thrash (a DNP-CD on any other team). It is very hard to implement the west coast without targets and time. Give Zorn both and maybe things are different. My only issue with this guy is that the players don't care for him much. How do I know this? Because if they cared for him they would have showed up to play last Sunday. That was one of the most uninspired Redskins efforts since the Turner years. A December game with the playoffs still in the equation and you come out flat and lose to a 1-11-1 team? That's grounds for dismissal right there. You can knock Joe Gibbs for his conservative play-calling, his time management, etc., but he had these same players fighting their guts out in December the last four years. Zorn isn't even close. Maybe that changes with time. I really hope it does.

Now position by position (until I get bored).

2) RB - Clinton Portis got banged up this year. The mix of his overuse and abusive running style has taken its toll on CP. The entire league is going to the Williams-Stewart mold and its time the Skins do it for real. I believe Portis still has some tough runs in him and can still turn the corner quicker than most in the league, but with that said, its time to bring in some fresh legs. The fast runners these days come in all shapes and sizes - Felix Jones, Sproles, Slaton - the Skins need to draft a speedster and let him bring in a change of pace from Portis. The Portis/Betts combo doesn't work bc Ladell doesn't really change the pace, if anything, he slows it down. If the Skins can bring in a guy who will scare defenses with the big-play speed who can come in after CP wears them down, the running game will take on a much healthier dimension. Am I saying drop Betts on the depth chart? Yes I am.

3) QB - To re-up JC or not? I wouldn't do it this off-season. I don't think he's earned a big contract. The guy has been steady (that's being kind) but not spectacular. He doesn't elevate this team to another level. He's flies though his reads and makes a living with his check downs. He rarely hits the big play and is prone to losing the ball. But is it his fault? Does the scheme stink? Are his targets getting space? Does his line protect him? I'm willing to give JC the benefit of the doubt to the point where the Skins don't bring someone in to compete with him this off season. Let him grow and develop under Zorn more and if he is showing very positive signs by late next year then re-sign him. If it looks like he's part of the problem, well then, fare thee well.

4) WR - As I eluded to, this position is a disaster. Santana Moss isn't getting any faster (and he might be getting dumber), ARE is a joke and James Thrash needs to hang it up. Oh yeah, didn't the Skins draft two outside playmakers? One had a bad wrap for being injured prone - guess what? He's barely been on the field. And the other had a bad wrap for being a one-hit wonder at MSU. Guess what? He's not that good. So where the heck do the Skins go from here? Do not go drafting more WRs (like Matt Millon). If there's a young, sure-thing WR in free agency (I can only think of TJ Howsyourmama) then go after them. If not, give Kelly and Thomas one more training camp and if they stink, boo the heck out of them.

5) O-line - Its scary to say this, but the only guy who probably has two good years left in him is Casey Rabach. Its hard to find a solid center in this league and with younger guards around him, he could be OK. Everyone else can hit the road. I don't know how Snyerrato managed to do this but this line is old, finished and has no backups! Chad Reinhart was supposed to be the answer, but if he was that good, I assume he would have been active more than twice this year. The Skins need to upgrade Jansen (I guess Heyer can get a shot - but he's looked awful). Samuels might have one more year in him, but I'd still draft his replacement now. Kendall wants to come back, but he's got more gray hairs than a mule. And Randy Thomas is deep into the downside of his career (and also can't stay on the field). I propose the Skins draft 2 guards and 2 tackles with their first four picks. They have to. And if they can sign a big-named guard, maybe do that too. Look at what Alan Faneca has done for the Jets running game? The need to blow up this group now. Btw - maybe the Skins can snag the dude from the "Blind Side." I love that guy. Michael Oher, is it?

6) D-line - Looks like the Skins are going to need more draft picks, because its time to blow up this unit too. The front four can't get within sniffing distance of a QB. Andre Carter is AWOL, Jason Taylor wants to go to Hollywood, Griffin will probably retire and Golston/Montgomery aren't NFL starters. So I think you give Carter the chance to bounce back (they can't cut him anyway), but you can draft a young, fast pass rusher for the other side and you can also draft two hefty run-stoppers in the middle. This front four needs some young energy (and not the Rob Jackson/Erasmus James kind of energy). I know Julius Peppers is off a great year and is a FA, but let him go somewhere else and be awesome. There's no way he makes it here.

7) LBs - I guess London Fletcher's got one more year in him. Marcus Washington and Rocky McIntosh don't though. Rocky McIntosh? Yup. Apparently, the degenerative knee thing that the Skins knew about when they drafted him as really slowed this guy down this year. People around the Park don't really know what his deal is. So now we're looking at upgrading two LB positions. Can HB Blades and Albert Fincher be adequate fillers? They might have to be, because at this point I don't think the Skins have draft picks or cap money to address these issues.

8) Secondary - This is the unit the Skins can probably get away without touching. And by not touching, I mean please don't bring back Hall. I know he has great hands, but the dude is a ticking time bomb. Club house cancer is an understatement. He's a me-first guy who's on everyone's target list. Don't bring him back!!! The Skins can live with Carlos, Smoot, and a veteran nickle guy (who they can sign on the cheap). They'll have Landry, Horton and Springs back at safety. With a decent pass rush, the unit will be fine.

9) Special Team - Suisham is miserable. Need to upgrade over there. Placky is worth bringing back - maybe have someone in camp to challenge him. Rock Cartwright can still get it done on kickoffs, but ARE has to be upgraded. The Skins can use Moss if he isn't the number one anymore or put Justin Tryon back there (if that loser is still on the team).

10) Prediction - With the Cowboys losing last night, the Bucs losing early against SD, and Arsenal and Liverpool drawing at Anfield, it looks like everything is in line for the Skins to enter the NFC playoffs through the back door. Just a win today, an Eagles...wait. No. Isn't happening. The Skins will be exposed, yet again, on national TV. No need to discuss how it will play out. Eagles 27 Redskins 10 (shocker?)


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