Archive for December, 2009

30
Dec
09

Ravens Send 5 Bowling

pro bowl 2010By Jesse Jones

The Baltimore Ravens are sending five players to the Pro Bowl in Miami this year.  Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are going again, and Le’Ron McClain is joining them for his second consecutive trip.  Going with them are two first-timers, Ray Rice and Haloti Ngata.

Ray Rice has established himself as one of the best all-around backs in the league, and has made fantasy owners (such as Ben Linton) very happy.  Le’Ron McClain has a lot of heart, and even though he hasn’t carried as much this year, he brings it all when he goes for blocks.  Ray Lewis is once again leading the team in tackles, and is now just two interceptions away from joining the 30/30 club (30 sacks, 30 interceptions).  His leadership and heart are unquestioned.   Ed Reed is starting as well for the AFC, which I thought was a little strange.  He hasn’t played for about a month now, and his interception totals weren’t where they were last year.  But with that being said, he is still a huge threat to any quarterback.

Haloti Ngata is making his first trip, and rightfully so.  Ngata has been a presence on the defensive line since joining the team, and is also one of the most athletic linemen in the league.  He sprints across the field to make tackles, returned an interception for a touchdown in the preseason, and is so large (340 pounds) that he fills most “holes” backs are looking for.

However, I do feel that there is one problem with the Pro Bowl roster for the AFC.  I do not like the Cincinnati Bengals at all, but the fact that nobody is going from their team to represent is wrong!!  Jonathan Joseph has had a great year, and is definitely one of the best corners in the game.  He can shut down anybody in the league and has the hands to make interceptions.  Voters, what were you thinking??

Now for those players who did not make the Pro Bowl, there is still hope.  The players from the two Super Bowl teams will not be allowed to play because the game is the weekend before the Super Bowl (another awful idea from the “commish”).  So NFL players, don’t put your head down just yet.

30
Dec
09

Brian Orakpo Named to Pro Bowl

By Ben Linton

Rookie Linebacker Brian Orakpo is the lone Washington Redskin that will participate in the 2010 Pro Bowl in Miami on January 31st. Orakpo was tied for the team lead with 11 sacks, and recorded 58 tackles in his first season.

This was a pleasant surprise, as most were not expecting Orakpo to be a Pro Bowl Selection, but it shows promise for the future and hopefully Orakpo can make many more appearances for years to come.

However when selections like these are made there are always players who are left out. London Fletcher is one of them. In his 12 seasons in the NFL, Fletcher has 1,236 career tackles, and no pro bowls. This season it seemed likely that he would receive Pro Bowl honors, with 134 tackles (tied for second in the NFL).

If you compare Fletcher with the other players that made the Pro Bowl, there is no comparison. Patrick Willis from San Fransisco deserves the honors by leading the NFL in tackles, Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware is an acceptable pick with 11 sacks on the season. But Lance Briggs from Chicago is an absolutely rediculous pick. He has 106 tackles, 28 less than Fletcher, the same amount of interceptions (1) and .5 more sacks (2.5). Also the Bears have a much worse defense than Washington so this is just a frustrating decision.

If you want to compare this even further, stack Fletcher up with one of the best linebackers of all time, Ray Lewis. In 14 seasons, Lewis has 1,036 tackles, compared to Fletcher’s 1,236 in 12. The reason players like Lewis and Briggs make the rosters is because they promote themselves by dance around after every big play while Fletcher just gets the job done quietly and acts like he’s done it before. Fletcher will continue to fly under the radar, which is a shame.

It just goes to show how the selections in the Pro Bowl are political. Not always the best players and most deserving are chosen, just the most popular.

29
Dec
09

Caps Update

By Jesse Jones

Last night the Washington Capitals tried to defend their home ice against the divisional opponent Carolina Hurricanes.  They were down 3-0 early, but got the score within 1 at 4-3.  However, poor defense and goal tending cost them two more goals and the game, as they lost 6-3.

Before the game the Caps were in first place in the East, ahead of the New Jersey Devils who they had just recently beaten 4-1 last Saturday.  After the loss, they stand in second, one point behind the Devils (55, 54).  The third and fourth seeds are taken by the Sabres and Penguins.

Now onto the player that is most talked about on the team, and possibly in the league, Alexander Ovechkin.  Anybody remember when he was suspended and people were saying that he was going to fall off a little to make sure he doesn’t get suspended again?  Well those critics were wrong.  In 9 games back, Ovechkin has scored 7 goals and assisted on 10 other goals.  His penalty minutes in this stretch?  Just two.  His aggression is a little down, but his performance hasn’t fallen off one bit.

Washington faces the second place San Jose Sharks in San Jose Wednesday night.

29
Dec
09

Finishing with a Thud

By Ben Linton

Following a 17-0 loss to rival Dallas, the Washington Redskins are scratching their heads wondering what exactly is going on. The past two weeks Washington has had home games on National Television against division rivals, and fell flat losing by a combined score of 62-12 (ouch). Some may wonder where the team was a few weeks ago that gave a much better effort, but with one game remaining most of these players are just ready for this disaster to be over. Whereas the Ravens wish there were more games to solidify a playoff spot, the Redskins can’t wait for this one to be over. No good, bad, and ugly this week. It was pretty much all bad if you ask me. This tragedy will be over this Sunday at 4:15 in San Diego.

29
Dec
09

Their Own Worst Enemy

Derrick Mason Dropped A Wide Open Go-Ahead Touchdown

By Jesse Jones

Going into Sunday’s rivalry matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens were in control of their own playoff destiny, sitting in fifth place in the East with a chance to clinch a playoff birth.

The game started off slow for both teams, with a 6-3 score before the Steelers scored a touchdown putting them ahead 13-3.  Soon after Todd Heap grabbed in a diving touchdown and put Baltimore within three.  With around two minutes left in the first half, Terrell Suggs dropped an interception at the three yard line that would have given Baltimore a 17-13 lead.  This drop, followed by an offsides call lead to a Pittsburgh touchdown, giving them the 20-10 lead at half.

In the third quarter, where the Ravens have been their best this year, Baltimore scored a quick touchdown and Dominique Foxworth intercepted a pass to Santonio Holmes and returned it to the house.  The catch?  Terrell Suggs was called for a block in the back.  The drive ended in a field goal.  With another stop by the defense, the offense got the ball back and Willis McGahee ran for a long touchdown run.  But wait!  Kelley Washington was called for holding.  A few plays later, the reliable Derrick Mason dropped a wide open touchdown that would’ve put the Ravens up 27-20.

The fourth quarter only showed three points, and that went to the Steelers, who won 23-20.  Baltimore was driving late and entered Pittsburgh territory, but the offensive line failed miserably and Flacco was sacked and ended up fumbling the ball, which bounced off a helmet into the hands of the Steelers.

Baltimore also committed 11 penalties to go along with the three touchdowns that should have been.

The Ravens are now 8-7, tied with Pittsburgh, New York, Denver,  and Houston for the 5th and 6th seeds in the playoffs.  If the Ravens and Jets win, they’re in.  With a loss, the season is over.

After a 3-0 start, how did it come to all this?  So many close losses and key mistakes.  Baltimore is lucky to have a team that can still make the playoffs, but the mental mistakes need to change.  Hopefully things turn around with a make-or-break trip to Oakland.

Other NFL Notes

  • Bengals clinched AFC North
  • Patriots clinched AFC East
  • Colts lost to the Jets for the first time this season
  • Titans were eliminated from playoff contention
22
Dec
09

Monday Night Massacre

By Ben Linton

Following a 45-12 defeat at the hands of the New York Giants, it seems as if a lot of changes will be made in D.C. following the end of this season. New General Manager Bruce Allen couldn’t help but be disappointed by the performance his new team had on a big stage, as the Giants jumped out to a 24-0 lead and never looked back. His work is definitely cut out for him.

What Allen must have noticed/ I hope he noticed was that the biggest difference between the Washington Redskins (4-10, 2 winning season in the past 10 years) and the New York Giants (8-6, 7 winning seasons in 10 years, 2 Super Bowl appearances) is on the Offensive and Defensive Lines.

Key Stats to prove this point: Jason Campbell was hit 12 times, resulting in 5 sacks, which led to 2 turnovers, which led to 1 touchdown. Simple math if you ask me. Eli Manning, on the other hand, was hit twice and sacked twice, and was rarely pressured allowing him to throw for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns. You know sometimes its as easy as it sounds, If you hit the other team’s quarterback, good things are going to happen.

Its not that the Giants are far more superior at the skill positions than Washington, they just give their athletes ample time to make plays. Jason Campbell never stood a chance all night but still came back at it, which I applaud him for.

So Bruce Allen has a job to fix an offensive line that has given up 41 sacks, 6th most in the NFL. It has been plagued by Injuries to older players like Chris Samuels, a nine-year veteran, and Randy Thomas, a 10-year player. Washington needs to find a way to bring some youth back into the offensive line that had been so neglected by former GM Vinny Cerato, and it all could start with the Skins first round draft pick.

Although the Defensive Line has played much better this season, it is still an older bunch that has three players over 30 in Andre Carter, Phillip Daniels, and Cornelius Griffin. In order to have an effective pass rush and run stop you need at least three strong defensive lineman, and you have got to be concerned with how much left these players have to give.

Then we will be able to compete with the upper-echelon teams of the NFC. Actually, forget competing, how about winning? Ron Jaworski said it best, “You can talk about how hard a team plays or how much effort they give, but who cares, they’re NFL players that’s what they’re supposed to do! At the end of the day, it’s all about wins.”

Bruce Allen sure has a lot of food on his plate right now, and it may be more than he can eat. But hey, that’s why we hired this guy, right?

21
Dec
09

Wizards Miss Great Opportunity On West Coast

Golden State Was The Only Team The Wizards Beat On A Four Game West Coast Trip

By Jesse Jones

The Washington Wizards just returned from a four game West Coast road trip.  The team only played one team with a winning record.  Good right? Wrong.  They went 1-3 on the trip, with their only win coming at Golden State.  In that game, Arenas dropped 45 points and 13 assists, Caron dropped 28 and 10 rebounds, and the team all together put in a very good performance.

The rest of the of the trip was a heartbreaker.  They lost two games in the final seconds (at Clippers, at Kings) and got blown out in Phoenix.  After a small stretch where the team went 4-1 and things looked like they were back to how they should be, the Wizards have dropped several close games and now sit at 8-17.

Something is wrong.

Arenas is getting out of his slump, but for some reason his free throw shooting in the clutch has been off par.  Caron hasn’t been the same playmaker we’ve seen the past two years, and the bench has been struggling to keep any momentum the starters have when they enter the game.

The two bright spots for the Wizards have been the play of Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood.

It’s hard to say if the team needs a change (a trade) or just better coaching.  However, it’s easy to say it needs to come soon or Washington is in for another unexpected, long season.




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