Jun
11

Washington Sportsjam MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings: June 2012 Edition

So this is going to count for both May and June as no fighters on this list are fighting until July and I’m late on the May rankings anyway. With his first UFC title defense Junior Dos Santos enters the top five for the first time this year. With that Benson Henderson drops down to “In Consideration”. This is nothing against Henderson, who’s had an impressive UFC run recently, it’s just that winning and defending a title is more impressive than just winning one.

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 – vs. Chael Sonnen @UFC148 7/7/12

2. Jon Jones (UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Record 16-1)

For the first time as champ, Jones didn’t finish his opponent. Jones was smart to keep challenger Rashad Evans at arm’s length all fight, as he was the most complete fighter he’s faced yet. While it wasn’t the type of exciting fight we’ve been accustomed to from Jones, we did see something new – elbows as jabs! Bones methodically outstruck and outpointed Evans the whole fight and handily avoided all takedowns. Jones doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses in his game and refuses to play to his opponent’s strength. If he keeps that up he’ll be almost unbeatable. 

Next Fight – TBA vs. Dan Henderson

3. Jose Aldo (UFC Featherweight Champion, Record 21-1)

In the first UFC event of 2012 Aldo defended his belt against one of his toughest opponents yet. Chad “Money” Mendes is the most accomplished wrestler in the division, yet Aldo’s takedown defense never looked better. After shutting down Mendes’ wrestling, Aldo stopped “Money” with a spinning back elbow. Aldo, the brilliant tactician has been present in all three of his UFC fights. Aldo, the exciting finisher and creative striker from the WEC finally showed up again. In three straight title defenses in the UFC he’s been dominant, only dropping three rounds. Like his contemporaries in the bantamweight and middleweight divisions Aldo is running out of challenges at his weight class.

Next Fight – vs. Eric Koch @UFC149 7/21/12)

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 Urijah Faber. At the beginning of 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

5. Junior Dos Santos ↑ (UFC Heavyweight Champion Record 15-1)

At UFC 146 in May Junior Dos Santos thoroughly dominated Frank Mir in his first title defense. JDS was vastly superior to Mir in the stand-up game and Mir was unable to get the fight to the ground. Dos Santos boxing skills are superior to almost everyone in the division and seems almost impossible to takedown. He looks unbeatable at heavyweight at this point, but that is a division full of surprises.

Next Fight TBA

Other fighters in consideration: Ben Askren, Carlos Condit, Benson Henderson, Cole Konrad, Gilbert Melendez

May
23

Episode 74 – Capitals Season in Review

Bryan, Jake, and Bobby discuss the Capitals 2011-2012 as well as what’s next for the team. Plus a quick Skins draft recap and Wizards Season wrap-up.

May
3

Washington Sportsjam MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings:April 2012 Edition

There is a lot of movement this month as UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre drops off the list because of a year of inactivity. Former Bellator middleweight belt-holder Hector Lombard drops out of the “In Consideration” list because he vacated his belt to join the UFC. That means new UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson comes in at number five. New UFC interim welterweight champ Carlos Condit and Bellator welterweight champ Ben Askren join the “In Consideration list”. Askren has defended his Bellator strap twice against as tough competition as you’d get outside the UFC. Henderson gets the nod over Condit at five here, because his list of downed opponents has a few higher ranked fighters.

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 – vs Chael Sonnen @UFC148 7/7/12

 2. Jon Jones (UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Record 16-1)

For the first time as champ, Jones didn’t finish his opponent. Jones was smart to keep challenger Rashad Evans at arm’s length all fight, as Evans is the most complete fighter he’s faced yet. While it wasn’t the type of exciting fight we’ve become accustomed to from Jones, we did see something new – elbows as jabs! Bones methodically out struck and outpointed Evans the whole fight and handily avoided all takedowns. Jones doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses in his game and refuses to play to his opponent’s strength. If he keeps that up he’ll be almost unbeatable. 

Next Fight – TBA vs Dan Henderson

 3. Jose Aldo ↑ (UFC Featherweight Champion, Record 21-1)

In the first UFC event of 2012 Aldo defended his belt against one of his toughest opponents yet. Chad “Money” Mendes is the most accomplished wrestler in the division, yet Aldo’s takedown defense never looked better. After shutting down Mendes’ wrestling, Aldo stopped “Money” with a spinning back elbow. Aldo, the brilliant tactician has been present in all three of his UFC fights. Aldo, the exciting finisher and creative striker from the WEC finally showed up again. In three straight title defenses in the UFC he’s been dominant, only dropping three rounds. Like his contemporaries in the bantamweight and middleweight divisions Aldo is running out of challenges at his weight class.

Next Fight – vs Eric Koch @UFC149 7/21/12)

 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 Urijah Faber. At the beginning of 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 – vs Urijah Faber @UFC148 7/7/12

 5. Benson Henderson ↑ (UFC Lightweight Champion, Record 15-2)

Next Fight -vs Frankie Edgar @UFC150 8/11/12

Benson “Smooth” Henderson narrowly edged out the tough Frankie Edgar in their title fight in February. Though earlier rounds probably should have gone to Edgar because of his takedowns, Henderson significant strikes were more significant all fight. In the final rounds he stuffed almost all of Edgar’s takedowns and continued his leg kick assault. Henderson has been on a tear since joining the UFC and just put away one of the toughest guys in all of MMA.

Other fighters in consideration: Ben Askren, Carlos Condit, Cole Konrad, Gilbert Melendez, Junior Dos Santos

Apr
11

Washington Sportsjam NHL Playoff Preview Special

Bryan and Bobby discuss the NHL playoffs and pick their winners in each of the first round match-ups as well as make their Stanley Cup Prediction.

Apr
1

Why Trading Up for RG3 was the Right Choice

The decision by the Redskins to trade up to the number 2 overall pick in this year’s draft has divided Redskins nation. The Redskins will presumably pick up Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III with that second pick and hopefully finally solve the quarterback question.

There are those that think the price was too high no matter how good he is. There are those that think the price was too high and he’s going to be bust. And then there are those that think a future franchise QB is worth it. I am firmly in the worth it camp. Let’s look at why this was the right decision for the Redskins.

The Redskins desperately needed a franchise QB
The Redskins have been searching for the answer at QB ever since Joe Theismann’s career ended in 1985. Since then the Redskins have had 26 different men starting under center. In Mike Shanahan’s two years as head coach he has already used three different starting QBs. Rex Grossman began last year as the starter, but performed so poorly against the Eagles in Week 6 that he was benched for John Beck. Beck was an even bigger disaster, and Grossman was eventually given his job back. Last year Grossman and Beck combined for only 21 touchdowns against 33 turnovers. The Redskins ranked 29th in Red Zone Scoring
and 26th in Points Scored.

Not all of the blame for that goes to the QBs, but the fact is Beck couldn’t move the ball at all and Grossman couldn’t move the ball without taking too many chances.

There is no way that Shanahan and General Manager Bruce Allen could stand pat at QB. After two seasons of six wins or less and three QBs that didn’t work out, they had to make a move. Not doing something and bringing back Beck and Grossman for round two would have been the end of their careers in Washington. Let’s look at the other options that were available at and why those other options would have been worse choices.

Go After Peyton Manning
The most obvious flaw with this plan is that Manning never seemed in interested in coming to Washington in the first place. But there would have been other potential problems if the Skins had snagged Manning.

Firstly, no one knows for sure if Manning is truly healthy and recovered from his neck surgery. The Broncos are taking a huge risk to sign him to a big contract if he’s not as game-ready as he says. Secondly, supposing he is completely healed, he’s already 36. That would mean he would play in DC for four years tops. The first year  he would be learning the system and the last year he would probably be declining. So the Redskins would only get prime Peyton Manning for two years.

But the biggest potential problem would be Manning fitting into the Shanahan system. Manning had a great offensive line in Indy that allowed him to be pocket passer. Shanahan designed his offensive line schemes and has acquired personnel based around a mobile QB running the plays. In Indy Manning had speedy receivers and pass-catching running backs.The Redskins have acquired faster wideouts this offseason(including Manning’s one-time teammate Garcon) and their running backs can catch out of the backfield but it’s still not a great fit. Roy Helu and Evan Royster rushed well last year, but if Manning ran his type of offense their talents would be largely wasted.

Finally, Manning had a lot of say in how the Colts offense was run and Mike Shanahan is control-freak. There would be instant head-butting over not only the offensive approach but playcalling. From a personnel standpoint, Manning could potentially fit the Shanahan system even worse than Donovan McNabb.

Drafting a different QB
Another route the Redskins could have chosen to go was to keep the picks they had and draft a QB other than Stanford’s Andrew Luck(projected to go #1 overall to the Colts) or RG3. The problem with this is that they would be gambling on a prospect’s upside. After Luck and Griffin, draft experts think this year’s QB crop is pretty weak. Texas A & M’s Ryan Tannehill is the only other QB consistently mocked to go in the first or second round, but the feeling is in another draft year he wouldn’t go until at least the second round. He has a lot of upside, but is very raw. His completion percentage and QB rating wasn’t anywhere near Griffin’s numbers. He is also coming off a foot injury. Additionally, the Redskins would likely had to have used their sixth overall pick on him, despite his borderline first round talent.

Some are saying that the Redskins needs are so large, they should have drafted another position like cornerback or wide receiver at number 6 overall and drafted a QB in the later rounds. By then it is likely Luck, Griffin, and Tannehill would all be gone and the Redskins would be stuck drafting someone based almost solely on potential. The thought being if you can fill out the Redskins roster around a decent prospect they might have more success than a potentially great QB like Griffin.

The number of “decent” QBs leading their NFL teams to playoff and Super Bowl victories over the last few years has been very few. The NFL has become more and more of a passing league and coaches can’t simply plan on winning based on their great defense and rushing attack like they used to.

Signing a Free Agent QB
Signing a former backup to become your starter has almost as much risk as drafting a QB. It worked for the Texans and Matt Schaub and to a certain extent for the Chiefs and Matt Cassell, but Kevin Kolb was a huge disappointment for the Cardinals last year. Having a few good games in one NFL city, doesn’t necessarily make you a franchise QB.

Green Bay’s Matt Flynn was most highly regarded free agent QB out there, but he’s only played a few games. The Redskins reportedly weren’t very impressed by him anyway.

There were a number of starting QBs or former starting QBs out there like Alex Smith of the 49ers, the Chiefs Kyle Orton, and the Dolphins Chad Henne. None of the older veterans would have been much of an improvement over Rex Grossman. Some of the younger QBs have potential,  but they haven’t lit the league on fire despite their starting opportunities. The fact is most of the free agent QBs were signed on as backups in their new cities. Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn are the only two free agent QBs who are locks to start for their new teams.

In the end, trading up for RG3 was really the only choice Shanahan and Bruce Allen could have made. If they had more faith in some of the free agent QBs or had rated some of the other draft prospects higher maybe they wouldn’t have given up so much. But they didn’t. They saw Griffin as one of the special QBs of his generation and as a possible franchise star to build around. If they’re right they’ll be set at QB and ready to contend for the next decade. If they’re wrong they’ll probably be fired and the next regime will be severely hamstrung in their rebuilding process. This move will either be remembered as the start of a Redskins turnaround or the worst personnel move in the history of the NFL. Either way, it was gamble the Redskins had to take.