NFC East: Marcus Washington
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Welcome to this special weekend edition of The Bag. I just finished reading through 4,609 of your questions and I've selected the seven best/easiest to answer. And just a reminder: This is probably not the best forum to track me down if you're a college head coach or former high school classmate. Now let's get started:
K.C. from the University of Maryland, you're up first: Hey Matt, I'm really enjoying the blog, good balance for the four teams. This offseason, the Skins made a HUGE (literally) addition on D to a unit ranked No. 4, and they added Dockery to help the line Now I know the line isn't great, but even if only one of the three receiving rooks steps up, our offense will be tons better. Plus, this is Campbell's first time being in a system for two years! What do you think? I can't see why we are getting no love this offseason, but I'd like to rise up rather than fall like we do most years. Thanks.
Mosley: Thanks, K.C. I'm sure you enjoyed seeing the Maryland cornerback (Barnes) go in the third round. I think the Redskins definitely have a chance to make a run at the playoffs, but they're playing in a brutal division. If they can go 3-3 in the division, they have a great shot. I like their early schedule, so it's not hard to see them coming out of the gate 5-1. But we all know what happened last season. I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon of any of those '08 second-rounders until I see them do something when it counts. Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly better be ready to go for training camp. If they have a summer filled with hamstring and knee injuries, then it will be much of the same in '09. And don't get too fascinated with that No. 4 ranking. The defense didn't cause enough sacks and turnovers. Albert Haynesworth and Brian Orakpo are supposed to chage that. Right now, I see them as the fourth-best team in the division.
Longtime reader Jason in Bryn Mawr, Pa., has an Eagles question: Matt, what do you think about the apparent offer the Eagles made for Anquan Boldin (reported by the Arizona Republic), third-round pick and Sheldon Brown? The media and fans here in Philadelphia seems to think it was a very good offer, but I think it's an embarrassing offer; the Eagles would be lucky to get a fourth-round pick for Sheldon Brown. Would he definitely start in Arizona, where they have two very promising young cornerbacks? Arizona wants a first, third and fifth for Boldin, not a third and fourth.
Mosley: Basically, the Cardinals were asking for the same thing the Detroit Lions received in the Roy Williams trade. Unfortunately for the Cardinals (and Boldin), there's only one Jerry Jones in the league. To land a third-round pick and a potential starting cornerback doesn't qualify as an "embarrassment" in my mind, but you're correct to say the Cardinals aren't hurting that much in the secondary. And it's not just about the draft picks either. Teams don't want to pay the $10 million per year that Boldin is asking for. It remains to be seen whether Boldin will try to force a trade via a training camp holdout. For now, he may just come down with some "timely" injuries during OTAs and minicamps.
Josh from Winston Salem, N.C., thinks I'm too hard on Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams: Mr Mosley, why dont you believe in Roy Williams? He emerged as the No. 1 guy in Detroit by his third year, and in his fourth year, had 838 yards in 12 games, which is about an 1,120-yard season. I understand that Calvin Johnson is playing with bad quarterbacks like Roy did and putting up better numbers, but it doesnt mean Roy is not a 1000-yard reciever, it just means Calvin Johnson is better. Can you name me a wide receiver in the NFC East that is better then Roy Williams?
Mosley: Josh, call me Matt. When a player has been in the league five seasons and only has one 1,000-yard season, then I don't think you can call him a "1,000-yard receiver." I think Williams is an exciting player who can occassionally take over games. But I'd want my No. 1 receiver to consistently make an impact. His career in the NFL has been anything but consistent. And here's my list of Beast receivers who are better than Williams: DeSean Jackson of the Eagles, Santana Moss of the Redskins and I'd almost put Steve Smith of the Giants ahead of him -- based on last season's results. Smith makes clutch catches on a consistent basis. I've only seen Williams put up big numbers once -- and it was in Mike Martz's anti-run offense in Detroit.
Steve from Harrisburg, Pa., writes: I hate to keep saying this Matt Mosley but you are an NFC East beat writer. Please give all the teams equal coverage. We are Dallas Cowboys news fed all the time while the Eagles and the Redskins get the least coverage. Of course your subtle negativity toward the Eagles articles is not becoming, either. Objective writing must be an afterthought in your book. ESPN.com needs to assign the NFC East a new beat writer.
Mosley: Steve, I appreciate the note. Seriously. You may not realize that a "beat writer" is someone assigned to cover a team on an almost daily basis. We have some wonderful beat writers across the country -- and fortunately several of them reside in the NFC East. I'm not a beat writer for any of the four teams in the division, although from time to time, it may seem like that's the case because I interview coaches and players for blog entries and columns. My main role is to provide commentary/opinion on what's happening around the division. On some occasions, Eagles fans will think I'm being too critical of their team. And yes, there are Cowboys fans who think I'm much too critical of their club. It's a little tricky striking the right balance some days. Last season, the Cowboys seemed to provide the most off-the-field drama, but Plaxico Burress and the Giants made a late run. But whether it's positive or negative, I always appreciate the feedback. OK, let's get back to the field.
Paul in Boston has a Cowboys question: Hey Matt: As always, the blog kicks -- it's a must-read on a daily basis. I was wondering if you knew anything about the current state of the relationship between Brian Stewart and Wade Phillips in the aftermath of Stewart's dismissal as defensive coordinator of the 'Boys last season. I know the two were close, and had worked together for a while. It's also speculated that the decision to fire Stewart came from the brass and not from Phillips. Has Stewart found work anyw
Mosley: Thanks for reading, Paul. I spoke to Stewart two days ago, and I think the relationship is fine. He still views Phillips as a mentor and recognizes the role he's played in his career. Phillips never wanted to fire his close friend, but Jerry Jones didn't give him a choice. In Jones' mind, it was important for Phillips to take on the full role of defensive coordinator. And with former Cowboys head coach Dave Campo on the staff, Phillips will have some help. Stewart will be the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco team in the United Football League this fall. Dennis Green will be the head coach. Former Notre Dame head coach Tyrone Willingham was supposed to be on the staff, but he's decided to walk away. The league will only have a six-game schedule this fall.
Craig from somewhere in Pennsylvania: I want to preface this e-mail with the fact that I usually love your writing and think your opinions make a ton of sense. But I am not sure what you are talking about with Sinorice Moss in your blog posting, Matt. In very limited playing, he flashed on several occasions and looked good when given chances. Just because of the depth and amount of young guys, his opportunities were few and far between. Check out the film from the Week 5 game when Burress was suspended and Domenik Hixon went out hurt and he had 45 yards and two touchdowns .... so two guys ahead of him go down and he racks up 45 yards and two touchdowns in half a game. And then Plax and Hixon come back and he goes silent. How can you put that on him? He got his chance, shined and got put back on the shelf. And I know you're gonna say the Seahawks sucked but still it was his biggest chance and he looked good.
Mosley: Actually I had no plans to say the "Seahawks sucked," but it's a fair point on your part, Craig. I have nothing against Sinorice Moss. I think he has incredible speed and he might be able to make some plays downfield. I've just never thought he had the potential to become a consistent threat. Smaller players such as Steve Smith (Panthers version) and Santana Moss (big brother) have learned how to make contested catches on a regular basis. If the Giants thought Sinorice could do that, he would've been on the field by now. In my mind, this training camp is his last opportunity to shine. He'll be competing with Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks and David Tyree for that third receiver role. I don't like his chances at this point.
Mark W. left this question in The Bag a couple weeks ago: Matt, I'm a huge fan of yours. I just wanted to comment on the Orakpo story (your concern that the Skins may not use him properly). A few points: A) Greg Blache is the defensive coordinator and is no dummy. B) Blache knows he needs to get more pressure on the quarterback, hence the Skins' eagerness to draft a pass-rushing specialist in the first place. C) The Skins have major concerns at the LB position with the departure of Marcus Washington and the degenerative knee condition of Rocky McIntosh. D) The Skins are relying on H.B. Blades (a special teamer) to start a linebacker. Ok, so how to balance A/B with C/D when Orakpo could be also develop into a standout at linebacker? If the Skins were solid at linebacker, there isn't even a thought to playing Orakpo at linebacker right now. But they aren't, and they need to find some depth there. If Orakpo proves he can play the position, outstanding, but they need to find out now. Although ideally you want him rushing every down, with Albert Haynesworth, Philip Daniels, Cornelius Griffin and Andre Carter, you're not in horrible shape on the line. To me, this is all about a team with little depth at key positions. This is, as you pointed out, May, and you need to find out who is versatile and can fill gaps for you at other positions if calamity strikes. Rushing the passer isn't something you need to study the playbook to do. With Orakpo, you just cut him loose, so it isn't as though he needs a ton of reps on defensive end at this point.
Mosley: You make some great points, but I don't agree with your conclusion. I watched Brian Orakpo in person at least four or five times in college. I realize he's an outstanding pass rusher, but he's about to face a completely different level of offensive tackles. He won't run into a lot of Phil Loadholts (No. 54 overall) this season. He'll have to refine his pass-rushing moves and learn some new ones. And that's why I'd have him at defensive end from Day 1. And there are people within the organization who agree with me. You don't draft a pass-rusher and then switch him to strong-side linebacker in a 4-3 just because you want some versatility. H.B. Blades or whomever you want to throw in there (Fincher) will be better at the strong-side position than Orakpo will be in his first season. Why do we think a guy who's played with one hand on the ground for years will suddenly be fine at linebacker? The more I think about the Redskins using Orakpo at linebacker on first and second downs, the more ridiculous it seems. And please don't try to hang your hat on Phillip Daniels and Andre Carter. They're decent defensive ends, but even the great Haynesworth won't turn them into 12-sack guys.
OK, thanks for your time. I'll try to answer a couple more on Sunday.
Huge game for the Redskins after watching the Cowboys improve to 8-4 Thursday. The Giants are the best team in football, though, and coach Tom Coughlin doesn't allow for letdowns. The Giants got that loss out of the way against Cleveland and haven't looked back.
The Redskins are a completely different team than the one that opened the season in the Meadowlands. The Giants feasted on Jim Zorn's West Coast offense and did a nice job of taking running back Clinton Portis out of the game. Jason Campbell has been up and down since that game, but he's certainly capable of burning you if given enough time in the pocket.
Expect Zorn to commit to the running game from the start. Everything in this offense feeds off Portis' success on the ground. The Giants are the sixth-best rushing defense in the league heading into Sunday. They'll have to survive what should be a huge emotional wave from the Redskins early. The late Sean Taylor will be inducted into the Ring of Fame before the game. Zorn wants his players to absorb the special moment and then re-focus on playing.
Both teams have some key injuries. For the Giants, Plaxico Burress and Brandon Jacobs are still banged up. And you should keep an eye on Fred Robbins' shoulder injury. He's a big part of that elite defensive line. The Redskins might have to go without middle linebacker London Fletcher and defensive end Andre Carter, who both have foot injuries. Linebacker Marcus Washington has already been ruled out.
Carter actually went through some drills in Thursday's practice, but Fletcher didn't do anything. It would be a big surprise, though, if Fletcher sits out. He's one of the most durable players in the league and he's played through pain before. Plus, he's the emotional leader for this defense.
I think this is the type of game that could hinge on a big play on special teams. Rock Cartwright does a really nice job in all phases of special teams for the Redskins. But Domenik Hixon is the Giants player who can absolutely take over a game.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Start your Tuesday with the Beast. We're determined to bring you the best stories across the division each and every weekday:
- Quarterback Tony Romo will wear the pinkie splint for at least the next two games, according to Wade Phillips.
- The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Mac Engel has more on Romo's song selection after Sunday's game.
- Jean-Jacques Taylor says the Cowboys have to continue playing like a desperate team.
- Jim Reeves talks about what the season-saving win over the Redskins means to the Cowboys.
- Phillips would welcome Adam "Pacman" Jones back into the fold.
- Ashley Fox writes that Donovan McNabb will remain the starter -- at least until the end of the season. And the one thing I disagree with her on is saying that Kevin Kolb wouldn't benefit from playing this season. I'm not saying he should start, but Kolb would absolutely benefit from the playing time.
- Rich Hofmann talks about McNabb's "wet-chart" moment.
- Larry O'Rourke has more on McNabb not knowing the rules.
- So what does Andy Reid have against the run?
- Per Mike Garafolo of the Star-Ledger, Brandon Jacobs' MRI didn't reveal any structural damage.
- Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily News isn't sure Jacobs will play against the Cardinals.
- This trip will bring back some great memories for the Giants.
- Paul Schwartz talks about Eli Manning being a good "game manager."
- Gary Myers thinks the Steelers are the biggest threat to the Giants this season.
- Wallace Matthews says other teams missed the boat on Jacobs.
- Linebacker Marcus Washington will be out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain.
- Dan Steinberg has a nice take on the Redskins' passion for crossword puzzles.
- Jim Zorn says you can't tread water on offense in this league.
- Zorn has a trust issue with rookie Fred Davis.
LANDOVER, Md. -- Redskins linebacker Marcus Washington has left the game with a sprained ankle and his return is questionable. Washington has been banged up all season. H.B. Blades has taken his place in the starting lineup. Blades is part of the Redskins' short-yardage unit.
He's sort of a poor man's London Fletcher. Both are little guys who bring a tremendous amount of energy. The Cowboys continue to work the perimeter with Marion Barber. At some point, you'd expect them to run a counter play right at Redskins defensive tackle Kedric Golston.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
As ESPN.com's John Clayton first reported earlier today, former Falcons and Raiders cornerback DeAngelo Hall is now a Redskin. According to a high-ranking club source, head coach Jim Zorn, defensive coordinator Greg Blache and secondary coach Jerry Gray all had phone conversations with Hall before the deal was consummated.
The source also indicated that Redskins defensive captains Cornelius Griffin and London Fletcher were consulted, and both supported the decision. It's a relatively low-risk signing ($492,000) and the Redskins are counting on players such as Fletcher, Griffin, Shawn Springs, Marcus Washington, Jason Campbell and Santana Moss to be able to offset any trouble Hall might cause. (Dan Snyder might want to ask his pal Jerry Jones how this worked out for the Cowboys).
They also know that the 24-year-old will be a free agent at the end of the season, which might give him some extra motivation. In talking to a couple of Redskins insiders, the presence of Hall will allow the Redskins to move Springs to free safety. The Redskins would then have Carlos Rogers, Fred Smoot and Hall at cornerback. Hall might not start immediately, but Smoot and Springs get injured a lot, so he'll see plenty of playing time.
According to a league source, Patriots coach Bill Belichick took an aggressive approach to signing Hall. And the Steelers and Saints were also in the runnng. In the end, the Redskins took advantage of their proximity to Hall's hometown of Chesapeake, Va.
Hall played at Virginia Tech, and he wanted to get back home. The Redskins will be in the best position to sign him as a free agent if he plays well. Oh, and I had a chance to visit with an AFC scout about Hall's work. Back with that in a few hours.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- Greetings from Lincoln Financial Field, where we're about an hour away from kickoff. It's 66 degrees with 63 percent humidity right now. We'll have a high of 73.
In other news, the Redskins will be without starting cornerback Shawn Springs (calf) and linebacker Marcus Washington (hamstring) for today's game against the Eagles. Fred Smoot and H.B. Blades will start.
For the Eagles, Brian Westbrook (ankle) will return after missing last Sunday's game against the Bears. Westbrook came out about two and a half hours before the game and appeared to be cutting pretty well. I still think Correll Buckhalter could end up carrying the load, but Westbrook's presence gives the Eagles a lift.
The Eagles are also missing Pro Bowl right guard Shawn Andrews, but we knew he was going to be out. Andrews doesn't seem to be making much progress with his back, and that's something we should keep our eye on.
Here's the entire list of inactives: Eagles: QB A.J. Feeley (emergency), LB Joe Mays, DE Bryan Smith, G Shawn Andrews, G Mike McGlynn, WR Kevin Curtis, TE Matt Schobel, DE Victor Abiamiri Redskins: QB Colt Brennan (emergency), CB Shawn Springs, S Justin Hamilton, LB Marcus Washington, DE Jason Taylor, T Stephon Heyer, T Chad Rinehart.
That last play was a nightmare for the Redskins' defense. Linebacker Marcus Washington, who's been banged up, was trying to cover Jason Witten one-on-one. Witten used an outside move to lose Washington and freeze the safety.
If you're Jim Zorn, you can't abandon the run here. The Redskins desperately need to string a couple of first downs together. And the quick slant to James Thrash is a good start. The Redskins love to run on second down, so I wouldn't expect any pressure from the Cowboys on this next play.
This is a handoff to Clinton Portis all the way.