Browsing all articles from January, 2012
Jan
24

Redskins QB Quandary: Should the Skins Pursue Peyton?

After a disappointing 6-10 2011 campaign by Mike Shanahan and the Redskins, there are many areas on this team that need to be upgraded.  While the defense made strides in their second year of a 3-4 defense; the offense, aside for a late year improvement in the running game, left much to be desired.  Excuses regarding learning “systems” and injuries are overused and non-applicable.  What is clear is that despite Mike Shanahan’s reputation being staked on the quarterback pairing of Rex Grossman and John Beck, there was no starting talent lining up behind center for the Redskins in 2011.  Indeed, the second year of the Shanahan offense yielded poorer quarterback play than the first.

QB                                        Comp %        Yards             TD             INT   Rating

Donovan McNabb in 2010: 58.3%            3,377              14                15       77.1

Rex Grossman in 2010         55.6%            884                7                   4         81.2

Rex Grossman in 2011          57.9%            3151               16                  20       72.4

John Beck in 2011                 60.6%            858                2                    4         72.1

This, of course, was with another year of familiarity in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s (and Mike’s son) offense.  Interceptions were up and touchdowns were down.  Now, I would never say that Donovan McNabb should have been kept for another year. It is clear that his skills diminished even more this year and proved to more of a malcontent than what he was worth  (sad to see, I’ve got to say). But giving the reins to “system” quarterbacks Grossman and Beck, didn’t yield any better results.

One thing is clear when seeing this offense for two years under Shanahan: learning this system is overrated, the Redskins need talent at this position more than any other.

It’s good to have options…

The Skins were so bad this year, they are given the opportunity to improve their team with the 6th overall pick of the draft.  However, with USC QB  Matt Barkley returning to school for a shot at becoming the number 1 pick next year, and Oklahoma QB Landry Jones following suit, the Skins may likely be out of the running for the two top QB prospects – Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III. The lack of quarterback talent across the league across the NFL exacerbates the issue.  Obviously for Luck there’s a  99.9% chance of the Colts picking him #1 overall. For Robert Griffin III there’s a good chance the Rams hold an auction for the 2nd overall pick for teams willing to sell the farm. Even if he slides to number 3, the Cleveland Browns are poised to take him and show a slightly struggling Colt McCoy the door.

Some are reporting the Skins should sign Aaron Rodgers’ back up Matt Flynn to a long term deal for the potential he’s shown in limited action.  While others in the media spread rumors of the Skins being willing to package future first round picks and/or players to draft RG III or Luck.  While those are interesting propositions, the most intriguing and possibly the most destructive (maybe even more so than keeping Grossman and Beck for another year) is the scenario that the Redskins either trade for or pick up in free agency, one of the greatest signal callers the game has seen, Peyton Manning.

The Peyton Propositon

Peyton Manning at 36, is one of the best the NFL has ever seen.  But after three neck surgeries in one year, he is possibly one hit away from retirement (assuming he’s healthy even now-which is a big assumption in and of itself).

Pro’s for Peyton:

  1. He has a huge impact on the team around him through motivation, excellent quarterback play, and elevating the play of those around him significantly.The Colts have been a perennial playoff contender, but became the worst team in the NFL without him this year. Replacement QBs Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky, and Kerry Collins weren’t able to make much use of the same cast that Peyton had and the Colts only put up two wins.
  2. No one in the league is like Peyton: 94.9 career passer rating with 64.9 completion %, 399 TDs to only 198 Interceptions.
  3. IF he’s healthy, this differs from a Donovan McNabb situation in two ways
  4. No one works harder than Peyton in regards to film study, and being on top of his game.
  5. Peyton is not statistically in decline, his last full year played in Indianapolis was solid: 91.9 passer rating, 66.3%, 33 TD’s and 17 INT’s.
  6. FILLING OTHER NEEDS: The Skins have a lack of talent at many different positions on this squad.  That’s why they were 6-10 last year.  Picking up Peyton gives the Skins the ability to address other needs in the draft like cornerback, offensive line, linebacker, and wide receiver.  The Redskins may even be able to draft a QB in a later round to groom under Peyton for two to three years.

Problems with the Peyton Plan

  1. Health- The Redskins would be gambling on Peyton not only being able to recover from his neck surgeries but to stay healthy for a 16 game (or more, hopefully) season.  For a veteran of 14 years, this is nearly impossible and more difficult with an often times shaky Redskins offensive line.
  2. Short term vs. long term- The Redskins may risk mortgaging future progress by taking the band-aid solution now.  A young quarterback can often progress much more easily if they are enabled to grow with their offense early on (see Andy Dalton in Cincinnati) and the Shanahan club can ill afford to waste ANOTHER year of quarterback quagmires after the lost years of McNabb and Grossman.  This could be a fix for a year or two, but a  franchise quarterback be groomed for the next decade and beyond in that time period.
  3. $$$- Getting Peyton Manning may be costly even though it’s a high risk.  There are reports that the Jets, Dolphins and Cardinals are also interested in getting Manning’s services.  With the exception of the Dolphins, Manning may see other teams as being closer to another Super Bowl with his help putting them over the top.  The Skins may have to make up for that in extra cash (and thus limiting their options for surrounding Peyton with playmakers to help him in his quest).
  4. Personality, Experience, and Strife – Clashing is bound to happen.  Peyton has proved his worth and skill as has Mike Shanahan.  But Kyle Shanahan… has not.  There could be a clash of epic proportions that made the McNabb wristband, cardiovascular battles look like nothing.  This would embarrass and crush the fan base even more than the Swinging Gate or Spurrier years.

My Thoughts

If the Redskins can’t trade up to nab RGIII or if they don’t find another young QB they believe is worthy of a first-round draft pick,  the Skins should pursue Peyton. I don’t have a problem with a Peyton-led team if everyone on the staff understands their roles AND they draft another qb in a later round they think can groom (not a Chase Daniels or Colt Brennan, but a Ryan Tannehill or Nick Foles).  Peyton is the master and must be given flexibility and freedom.  It’s going to be interesting to see what the Skins do, but one thing is for sure.  This quarterback problem needs to be fixed, and Peyton Manning may be the answer.

What do you think????

Jan
20

2011 MMA Awards

Welcome to the first annual (hopefully) Washington Sportsjam year-end awards! Alright, so I know this is very late, but I watched a lot of MMA in 2011 and think I have a good perspective on the year. Let’s look at the best fights and best fighters of last year.

Fight of the Year: Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Hua at UFC 139

This is the one of the best fights I’ve ever seen. Henderson dominated the first two rounds, tagging Hua multiple times. Somehow, Shogun was able to stay conscious and continue fighting. Hendo won the third round and landed even more shots, but it wasn’t as lopsided as the first two rounds. Then Hua came on and dominated the last two rounds, ironically out-wrestling the All-American and landing a few shots of his own. In the end Henderson won on the cards, but both fighters left it all in the ring.

KO of the Year: Anderson Silva vs Vitor Belfort at UFC 126

With one swift leg kick to the head, Silva KO’d Belfort. Belfort is known for his standup game, but watching this KO, it looked as if Anderson could have ended the fight at any time he chose.

Runner-Up: Lyoto Machida vs. Randy Couture at UFC 129

Submission of the Year: Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria at UFC 140

This was one of the sickest submissions I’ve ever seen. After Nogueria had rocked Mir with shots, Mir was able to get him to the ground and get a hold on him. Mir kept rolling Nogueria over, making the kimura tighter and tighter, until Big Nog’s arm literally snapped. It was gross and violent in a way that reminded you how dangerous MMA can be.

Comeback of the Year: Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard at UFC 136

Two times in 2011, Gray Maynard almost finished Frankie Edgar in Round 1 of a title fight. Maynard wasn’t able to finish Edgar either time. On the 1st occasion Edgar forced a decision draw, but in the comeback of the year he came back and TKO’d Maynard.

In Round 1 Maynard rocked Edgar with an uppercut and Edgar struggled just to survive the round. Round 2 was very close, really hard to say who the judges picked. However, Maynard let Edgar recover in Round 2. By Round 3 Edgar had regained confidence in his boxing and was slipping-and-ripping effectively. By the 4th round Edgar connected enough to TKO Maynard. It was one of the best comebacks ever in MMA and an incredible show of a champion’s heart.

Fighter of the Year: Jon Jones UFC Light Heavyweight Champion

This was the easiest decision. Jones was unstoppable in 2011 winning all four of his with stoppages. The first was a contender matchup, the second was a title fight, and the last two were title defenses. During that stretch he dispatched three MMA legends violently.  His domination was unmatched in 2011.

Newcomer of the Year: Douglas Lima Bellator Welterweight

Before 2011, Lima has never fought in Bellator. By the end of 2011 he was the Bellator Welterweight Tournament Winner and had a title shot lined up. In the tournament final he had an impressive KO win against UFC vet Ben Saunders.

Runner-Up: Benson Henderson UFC Lightweight

Comeback Fighter of the Year: Josh Koscheck UFC Welterweight

In 2010, Koscheck failed miserably in his title-shot against welterweight king Georges St-Pierre. For five consecutive rounds, GSP punished Koscheck’s face with jabs, eventually breaking his orbital bone. He looked like a broken man after that fight and was out for a long recovery.

At UFC 135 in September he faced UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes. Hughes went for the same eye GSP did with jabs, but Koscheck was able to outbox Hughes, and KO’d him with one second left in Round 1. Though he was clearly the superior standup fighter, it still took guts to stand there and risk taking another beating.

So, those are awards for 2011. Agree, disagree, did I overlook something? Let me know in the comments section.

Jan
6

Strikeforce to Limp Another Year

In a somewhat surprising recent press release Strikeforce announced it had renewed its Showtime deal for 2012. Strikeforce promises up to eight events and to retain its marque fighters. They also promise to “put on some really amazing events”, which seems unlikely when they’ve lost so many fighters that they’re giving Keith Jardine a title-shot (against current middleweight champion Luke Rockhold). It’s really hard to see the positive for any players involved in this deal.

Matthew Tosh flickr

This is bad news for the UFC. Dana White has said the UFC is going to stop cherry-picking the elite talent from Strikeforce. So, instead they’re going to have the few remaining top talents in Strikeforce go to waste, laboring another year in crumbling organization? UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre have nearly run out of opponents. Those weight classes could use an infusion of some new contenders. Light-heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones ran through four top-ten opponents in 2011. Right now, there are only three fighters who can realistically be considered a top contender for his belt. And one of them just left Strikeforce.

This isn’t really good news for Strikeforce. Sometime last year, Bellator overtook Strikeforce as the number two North American promotion. Of Strikeforce’s five men’s weight classes, only two have champions. The other three divisions lost their belt-holders to the UFC. Apparently, after the current heavyweight tournament is over that division will be disbanded. But does anyone care about the SF championship anymore? Let me state this again, Keith Jardine is getting a title fight. Jardine who lost his last four fights in the UFC and should have lost his only fight in Strikeforce (it was a Draw on a terrible decision). Defending your belt against him means nothing.

Which is why keeping world-ranked fighters like Gilbert Melendez, Luke Rockhold, and Daniel Cormier in Strikeforce for another year, amounts to a waste of year for them. Sure, they won’t be thrown to the lions right away like they would be in the UFC, but no one in Strikeforce gets them closer to a UFC title-shot. They’re losing valuable experience and a year in their prime by being forced to stay in Strikeforce. I know I’m beating a dead horse, but Luke Rockhold would benefit more by fighting on a UFC undercard against someone like Demain Maia or Vitor Belfort than by defending his Strikeforce belt.

Strikeforce began as an admirable attempt to stage world-class fights outside of the UFC. At the time it was needed, because the UFC stranglehold on the sport could have killed its momentum. Because of Strikeforce, the UFC had deliver quality, it had to continue to increase its presence on cable, and it had to treat its fighters fairly. But now, Strikeforce is just a part of UFC and an increasingly less relevant one. Like a fighter past their prime, Strikeforce should have ended before it got embarrassing to watch. Or it should have been turned into a minor league. Instead MMA fans get to watch a year of a formerly important organization become a joke.

Jan
6

Episode 71 – Washington Redskins Week 17/Season Recap

Bryan, Mark, Matt, and Jake talk about the Skins 34-10 loss to the Eagles and Recap the 5-11 2011 Season.

Jan
1

Washington Sportsjam MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings:December 2011 Edition

I apologize that these rankings are late, but I thought it was necessary for a separate December and January rankings with the recent and upcoming fights. There is also some movement in the top five again. Jon Jones goes up to number two with his second title defense and Georges St-Pierre loses a place because of inactivity. Later this month Jose Aldo defends his featherweight title against unbeaten Chad Mendes, which may have an effect on this list.

1. Anderson Silva (UFC Middleweight Champion, Record 29-4)

In the Yushin Okami fight Silva avenged his most recent loss and extended his title-defense streak to an astounding nine times. He beat one of his most qualified challengers yet, both mentally and physically. His in-ring mind-games showed how he can force an opponent into his gameplan. Unfortunately, it also showed why he is losing fans despite his massive talent. Love him or hate him, he’s the most dominant fighter in the world right now.

Next Fight – TBA

2. Jon Jones ↑ (UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Record 15-1)

In his title defense against Lyoto Machida, Jones had his biggest challenge yet. For the first time in his UFC career, he lost a round and had his chin tested. He didn’t shrink away from contact though; instead he thoroughly dominated his opponent in all aspects in Round Two before finishing Machida with a choke.

Next Fight – TBA

3. Georges St-Pierre ↓ (UFC Welterweight Champion, Record 22-2)

Since his title defense against Jake Shields in April of 2011, GSP has had to pull out of two events because of injuries. The UFC is scheduling an interim title fight and St-Pierre will meet the winner when healthy. It’s unfortunate that GSP will lose a year in his prime because of his health. It remains to be seen if he comes back the same fighter.

Next Fight – TBA

4. Dominick Cruz (UFC Bantamweight Champion, Record 19-1)

The “Dominator” continues to control the bantamweight division. In July, Cruz avenged his only career loss by outpointing Uriah Faber. In October he held off Demetrious Johnson, the only fighter with more speed at his weight class. Cruz’s critics complain his style is boring, but no one can accuse him of not working. He fights at a breakneck pace. That combined with his odd stand-up movement, his excellent takedowns, and complete ground game makes him a tough nut to crack. He’s also just a few more fights away from cleaning out the division of contenders.

Next Fight – TBA vs. Urijah Faber.

5. Junior Dos Santos (UFC Heavyweight Champion, Record 14-1)

In just over one minute Cigano stopped the previously undefeated Cain Velasquez and took his belt. He avoided Velasquez’s takedown attempt and rocked him with a heavy shot. Dos Santos is always a threat to knock someone out and is undefeated in the UFC. After easily beating the most complete fighter in the division it’s hard to imagine him giving up the belt anytime soon.

Next Fight – TBA vs Alistair Overeem

Other fighters in consideration: Jose Aldo, Frankie Edgar, Cole Konrad, Hector Lombard, Gilbert Melendez