Monday, January 18, 2010

Weekly Recap - January 18

I'm gonna try to do this every Monday. I know I'll forget a lot, but you're more than welcome to leave comments...

Gilbert Arenas
BIG week for him. Having been charged with - and pleaded to - a felony, the door is now officially open for the Bullets to void his contract. I have very mixed feelings on this of course. On the one hand, it would clear up a ton of cap space, and that combined with the likely jettisoning of Antawn Jamison and/or Caron Butler would put the team in a good spot to be major players this offseason. This seems to be the must reasonable course of action.

*Make two trades: 1. Butler and Brendan Haywood for Jermaine O'Neal and Miami's two first round picks; and 2. Jamison for Zydrunas Ilgauskas, ideally with JJ Hickson thrown in as well (You can see the whole trade here). This would clear up over $20 million in cap space to go after the greatest free agent class in history AND give the Bullets three first rounders, including their likely top 5, Miami's likely mid-20 and Toronto's likely late-teen early-20 (Toronto's pick is lottery protected). Meaning opportunities to take three good young players (so long as they draft well...), one of whom could theoretically be John Wall, with Greg Monroe as a great consolation. Or maybe even ammo to trade for Wall.

But I digress, and admittedly with a LOT of hypothetical events. There IS another side to this. If the Bullets void Arenas' contract, they'd be committing an unheard-of (at least to me) act. (EDIT: Latrell Sprewell had his contract voided after choking his coach.) And if you're looking for employment, are you gonna go to the ONLY company in your chosen field's history to void an employee's contract? Not to mention a little thing called loyalty, but that seems to be a foreign concept in the business world. Even if you keep Arenas and do the above trades you still have money to throw at FAs, AND the three picks. That would give the Bullets the chance to get what they paid for; build around Gilbert Arenas the scorer and not the point guard.

Let's get real. We're not signing LeBron. We're not signing Wade. We're not signing Bosh. Is it really worth it to go after any of the other guys when in all likelihood the end result wouldn't include the acquisition of a player who's even the same caliber player as Arenas? Not if I'm in charge. I DID say that it's time for the team and Arenas to part ways, but upon further review, it just doesn't make sense. Make those two trades though...

(P.S. Jamison and Butler are my dudes, but this team DOES need to be blown up. How many teams have ever had the opportunity to do that AND keep their franchise player?)

(P.P.S. Is that not the most depressing image of Gil you've ever seen?)

NFL Playoffs Observations
-The NFL HATES the Ravens. Probably will until Ray Lewis dies.
-The NFL LOVES the Saints. Probably will until Haiti gets a franchise (Though it would've been nice if the Cards left Arizona).
-Vikings-Saints is gonna be interesting (note how the NFL got exactly what it wanted. These were the top two seeds in the conference, I know. Just making an observation). New Orleans vs Brett Favre. I got Favre.
-Everyone took the Jets too lightly. I'll include myself in that list, even though my gut DID tell me to go with the Jets. I need to trust my gut more...but enough about me. That defense is a BEAST, and Darrelle Revis is too good. I can't imagine how good they'd be with Kris Jenkins. By the way, Jerricho Cotchery is one of the most under-appreciated talents in the league. Jets-Colts will be a good one.
-FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET RID OF KICKERS. Not to take anything away from the Jets - they won the game fair and square - but games between grown men with athletic ability shouldn't be decided by puny nobodies. Especially ones who look like they have a birth defect.

UNC Basketball
Summarizing that last point is UNC. They are the softest, most unprepared team I've seen in a while (relative to the talent on their roster). Roy Williams seems as if he's at a loss for what to do with these players. Their "senior leadership" is a joke (Deon Thompson and Marcus Ginyard define soft. Sorry, but that's the only conclusion I can come to from what I've seen. Will Graves...uhhh...). They have three guards on the roster, Larry Drew, Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald. Strickland and McDonald don't play nearly as much as they should, while some argue Drew plays too much (I'll get into that in a little bit). Ed Davis is their best player in my opinion, but far from anything reliable with the ball in his hands.

A lot of people are calling for Larry Drew's head right now. And I promise you that 99% of those people range from being basketball ignorant to unsure of how to root for a team that goes from national champions to this. I feel like Roy's plan is that his season lasts two years, this one being the first half (while the second half - next year - will culminate in a championship). Regardless of whether you buy into that nor not, it makes sense for Drew to be playing significant minutes now since he's their point guard for the foreseeable future (Strickland isn't a PG). And while he's playing like someone who hasn't been in charge of a team before this year (...) he's NOT playing poorly, all things considered. He's aggressive, and he's displayed obvious talent. Is he Ty Lawson? Obviously not. But there's no reason to hold Drew to those standards either. Allow him to develop, and become LARRY DREW. Trust, he's gonna be very good.

But Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald DO need to play more. Especially Strickland. But I'm not coaching the team...

College Basketball
-Damion James is the player of the year as of right now. No question about it in my mind. John Wall MUST cut down on the turnovers. I got Greg Monroe up there too.
-Much in the same matter that UNC is, college basketball is DOWN this year. Might as well admit it. Next year will be great.


RIP Gaines Adams

Friday, January 15, 2010

Washington Redskins 2009 Recap

This was an extraordinarily depressing year for the Skins. We kicked the season off by giving each of the Giants, LIONS, Chiefs and Panthers their first wins of the season, AND beat the Rams and Bucs by a combined five points, all in the first six games of the season. Add to that the fact that in four of the last five games we were: robbed of a win against New Orleans, torn apart by the Giants, SHUT OUT AT HOME AGAINST DALLAS, and lost a late lead to the Chargers' backups. For those keeping count, that's ten unequivocally embarrassing games. And that doesn't even include Jim Zorn's now-famous play call.

But it wasn't ALL bad...tho bright spots would be easier to find in a blown up school bus. Let's try to see where they are:

GRADES

2009 Offseason: B-
That grade could go up in a year from now. The Haynesworth signing was obviously the major news, and while his contract is absurdly high, he's still an elite defensive player. Underutilized throughout the season, he'll earn his money with better play calling. Joining Fat Albert on the d-line was rookie Brian Orakpo, who was a great success in his Pro Bowl season. Bringing back Derrick Dockery went under the radar somewhat, and he wasn't quite as abysmal as I remembered him. I guess that's good news, right?

COACHING: F
Obviously. But to be fair, I'm a fan of Jim Zorn, the man. As for the coach? He just wasn't ready. Which was surprising since he was such a great offensive coordinator in Seattle.

Wait, what's that? He was a quarterbacks coach? Well then why was he hired to be HEAD COACH? More on that in a bit...

Allow me to digress for a moment. As I said, Jim Zorn the man is, well The Man ha. He was jerked around for the duration of his employment with the team - my initial reaction to the decision to promote him from offensive coordinator to head coach was just so it'd be easy to fire him a year later in lieu of a big name. Every public interaction between Zorn and Snyder throughout the year pointed towards that hypothesis being true. But as one knowledgeable fanaccurately put it, Snyder hired Zorn expecting him to be a weak-willed, starry-eyed QB coach merely excited to have a head coaching job. WRONG. As I said, Jim Zorn is the man (as I found out throughout the season), and no way was he gonna take DAN SNYDER'S shit of all people. After Snyder asked him to resign early in the season, Zorn's coaching behavior appeared to be, well, a little rogue. And once Snyder OPENLY began to court Mike Shanahan, it is my personal belief that Zorn responded with The Play, a nationally televised backhand to the face of Snyder. I wish Jim Zorn all the best.

But yea, coaching was awful. Shoulda been zone-blocking all year (hello Coach Shanahan...), Haynesworth was used to fill gaps essentially (moronic), and the platoon at safety...DEAR GOD (tho a lot of that had to do with personnel).

QUARTERBACK: B-
I have a name for the people who hate Jason Campbell: FOOLS. Was he great? By no means. But can we win with him? Absolutely. He's run a different offense every year he's been alive, and yet he's still managed to at least show promise each year. Not only has '09 been no different, but he showed an aggressiveness that he had yet to display previously. Give him a little protection, maybe a good running game as well...well, you saw how this team won each of its three Super Bowls. (I have a theory that every franchise can be successful on the field with one, preordained (if you will) formula. Just look back on history, you'll see it too.) He's proven himself in the face of endless bullshit, and if we drafted someone they'd be facing the exact same problems anyway.

By the way, Todd Collins sucks. Sorry to you MORONS who say otherwise, and that he should start...

RUNNINGBACK: D
As big a fan of Clinton Portis as I am, it's just about that time where I wake up and smell the coffee, so to speak. I still think he can be effective, but the way he treated his body as a missile throughout his career has finally caught up to him in a major way. It certainly didn't help that he there's no blocking in front of him. Nor did it help the team that they have NOTHING in the way of a serviceable backup. Positives: Clinton Portis isn't dead, and Ladell Betts didn't fumble any games away (actually didn't fumble at all, surprisingly enough).

FULLBACK: D
Mike Sellers regressed more than anyone else on the team. End of story. He whiffed on more assignments than Peter Vescey.

OFFENSIVE LINE: F
Embarrassing. Schemes were terrible. Players were injured and/or awful. The team finished with the 4th most sacks allowed and the 4th worst yards/carry. Throw in the fact that this is one of the most expensive lines in the league, and, well...

WIDE RECEIVER: C-
Santana Moss is great. But he's not Steve Smith; he can't be relied upon as a #1 receiver, let alone the ONLY receiver. Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas both looked good for brief moments. Antwaan Randle El is done. Go away now.

TIGHT END: B+
Chris Cooley might be the most under-appreciated TE in the NFL. He played as well as circumstances allowed before he went down for the year. And that injury opened the door for Fred Davis to emerge as a legit receiving threat as well. And outside of a few mistakes that I'm gonna attribute to being new to the NFL field, he's a pretty good blocker as well.

DEFENSIVE LINE: B+
Albert Haynesworth was disappointing - as I've already stated - but disappointing by his standards is still high quality production. Andre Carter was one of the best ends in football, and Brian Orakpo was a force - especially as the season progressed - when he lined up at end. Beyond those three, it's a bunch of guys who aren't much of anything special, but they do their jobs. Cornelius Griffin is long past his prime but still playing well. Kedric Gholston has show himself to be a reliable backup at the DT spot. And Phillip Daniels was solid.

LINEBACKERS: B
We really only have two linebackers of note, London Fletcher and Rocky McIntosh. Orakpo may be a pretty good OLB in a 3-4, but not in this defense. HB Blades is a good tackler and a good special teams player. I like Chris Wilson, but I have for three years now, and nothing's really come of his abilities. And he's an undersized DE anyway.

But back to the two starters. London Fletcher is a Pro Bowler, regardless of what accolades he doesn't receive. He plays sideline to sideline, stuffs the run as well as anyone, plays well in pass coverage, and is the undisputed leader in the locker room. Rocky McIntosh just has a nose for the football. He's an athletic playmaker in the same mold as many other linebackers from The U, but he's not quite as loud so you don't know him. Yet.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: F
One word: DISASTER. LaRon Landry is a great player when he's got a centerfielder (RIP Sean Taylor) allowing him to play up in the box. But when he's forced to play that centerfield position he's one of the worst players, and one of the most poorly utilized talents, in the league. DeAngelo Falls is a terrible waste of money. I don't know where '08 Carlos Rogers went, but he's gone. Fred Smoot is my dude, but he's worthless. He's good for about 2-3 good plays each game, and losing his man about 10x that. I'd also like to know where the promise Chris Horton showed in '08 disappeared to. Like any semblance of it. The only bright spot was Kareem Moore, who proved that he can back up both safety positions.

SPECIAL TEAMS

KICKING/PUNTING: F
Next.

RETURNS: D
I like Rock Cartwright a lot. He's tough. He makes some plays defensively on special teams too. He's also really good at running at full speed for 20-25 yards and getting tackled. Sadly that's the bright spot. Antwaan Randle El is AWFUL. GO AWAY NOW.

DEFENSE: N/A
Don't really know. I can't recall any major blunders, so it couldn't have been that bad...

SUMMARY
Just a depressing year. Clinton Portis is more than likely finished as a 300 carry back. The first six, and four of the final five weeks were abysmal, as I explained earlier. Dan Snyder was at his absolute worst (from spending $100 million for a defensive tackle to negotiating with Mike Shanahan MID-SEASON). The best news we have is that we'll be drafting in the top-5 of the draft for the first time since we drafted Sean Taylor...

LOOKING AHEAD
-The offensive line is a disaster. A lot of good players, all of them have injury issues. I'm praying for health (obviously) and that Shanahan can fix the (implement) blocking schemes.
-We NEED a running back to actually take significant carries from Portis. I think he can still be effective, but Ladell Betts is a bum. Rock Cartwright is average at best. Nobody knows who Quinton Ganther or Marcus Mason are, nor should they. We need to sign, or possibly draft someone.
-We still need offensive line help, ESPECIALLY if Chris Samuels retires, as he may be forced to do (neck injury).
-Our number one need on defense is a centerfielder at free safety. It would allow Landry to play his real position, and provide a safety blanket for the gamblers at corner.

DRAFT
I realize everyone says we need to draft an offensive lineman. But if Eric Berry is available at #4, we have to take him. The defense would be elite with the centerfielder I've been talking about, and Berry is just that, not to mention the fact that he's the best safety prospect since Sean Taylor. The scenario changes somewhat if Chris Samuels does indeed retire, in which case Russell Okung immediately comes into play.

Second round, if a guy like Bruce Campbell falls (OT from Maryland) that'd be great, assuming Berry is the choice first. But the player I'd LOVE to draft, is WR Arrelious Benn. Born and raised in DC. In my opinion, he's the Hakeem Nicks of this draft. With Thomas and Kelly being Zorn's guys, this seems like a pretty easy pick to me.

Beyond that, obviously address the offensive line. The only other name I'll throw out there is Javier Arenas. Great return man, especially on punts (something we desperately need). And for those of you who don't know, he's Gilbert's cousin...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Gilbert Arenas Sticking To His Guns

(First off, forgive the pun, but it seemed fitting as there are COUNTLESS numbers of them out there referring to this situation. And yes, I moved the site again - almost definitely for the last time - and yes I know I'm using what some may consider a "corny" name. This was just TOO fitting and I couldn't resist.)

Needless to say (if you know me) I have a LOT of thoughts on this issue, and I'm gonna do my best to organize those thoughts here. First, the event in question as I understand it is that Arenas laid out his arsenal at Crittenton's locker and in response, Crittenton loaded and chambered a gun of his own. That seems to be the consensus between all the level-headed observers.

Let me say this now: this was a display of immature foolishness of EPIC proportions on Gil's part.

I'm not going to spend time making excuses. I very easily could, but at a point you just have to grow up (remember Arenas is the father of THREE children). I empathize with his desire to stay true to who you are, regardless of how you're perceived by anybody. But unfortunately times come about in which you must swallow your pride, and avoid cutting off your livelihood to spite your face.

The thing is, however, that Arenas had a LOT of people (myself included) that had the utmost respect for him purely because he always did things his own way, no compromises. How many of YOU are in the public eye all the time, and are lauded for your (sometimes brutal) honesty by legions of fans? Think about it.

The embodiment of all things Gilbert Arenas is the event depicted in the picture to the left. The constant struggle between what's right and what's right - between staying true to yourself and doing right by everyone - is something everyone goes through, certainly every public figure. It's been a struggle that Gil always seems to be constantly in the middle of, and as history has shown any time you ride the fence, you will suffer for it.

Right now you may be thinking that Gil's strong individualistic personality is far from the center. And it's sad that your conditioning forces you to do so. The VAST majority of people lean towards pleasing others, to varying degrees, while leaning the other way is viewed as foolishly selfish. THAT is why Arenas, and countless others for that matter (notably Chad Ochocinco), have always been so difficult for the public to understand...

I have issues with how David Stern handled this situation, and my personal opinion is that Arenas should have been suspended IMMEDIATELY upon admitting to bringing firearms into the lockerroom. I also have a serious issue with how Peter Vecsey broke the story (how vermin like that could actually call themselves journalists is disgusting). But at the end of the day, as everyone is so quick to point out, this DOES fall on Gil's shoulders. My hope is that he finds his way, in every sense of the term.