Friday, May 25, 2007

Michael Vick STILL in the News

Nationals fan? Woulda thought his dog in that fight was the Braves.

The Michael Vick dogfighting story stays in the news for another cycle, and not all the news is bad. The Onion reports on Bob Costas' self-important glassy-eyed bloviation wrapping effusive praise and superlative overstatement into one extra crispy bucket of enthusiasm. Money shot:

Costas has often criticized the recent decline in quality of the illegal death sport, saying dog-fighting has become "shameless in its pandering to the worst echelon of sports fanhood" and "has sunk nearly as low as boxing."
And almost unnoticed went revelations of new discoveries at Michael's Smithfield, Virginia house. The most interesting:
* Embarrassingly thick glasses Vick needs to see more than 20 yards in front of him.

* Water cooler with secret compartment containing stash of Oreos.
Full list here.

Michael Vick sporting Nationals schwag from here.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Stepping in Dog Turd

Because this is totally like football

It is now conventional wisdom that the San Diego Chargers got the better of the deal that sent 2004 number one overall pick Eli Manning (lol) to the Giants for number four overall Philip Rivers (picked one spot ahead of Sean Taylor) plus draft picks that turned into Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding.

But because it was before teh blogging I had toally forgotten that San Diego had pulled off the same thing five years earlier. One day before the 2001 NFL draft, San Diego sent the number one overall pick to Atlanta for the number five overall pick, the 2001 3rd round pick and the 2002 second round pick and receiver Tim Dwight.

Atlanta used the pick on Michael Vick and San Diego used the number five on LaDainian Tomlinson. LaDainian Tomlinson. I say. The other two picks turned into receiver Reche Caldwell and a cornerback that did not stick. Reche and Tim together caught 77 passes in 2002.

Michael has been sensational for Atlanta in six seasons though only been to the playoffs twice. Lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery and I spent the coldest day of my life watching Michael lose the NFC Championship on 23 January 2005. His contract is so big that Atlanta cannot get out from under it and they had to let Matt Schaub go. Poor Bobby Petrino he has no idea what he is in for.

In both cases, San Diego and GM AJ Smith got the better player with a lower pick and managed to convert the difference into value, unlike the Redskins who did not need to take a safety despite a safety being the best player on the board.


Michael Vick is something of a hobby for me, at first because he was just a hated Hokie. As a UVA alum it was painful to watch Michael's team shred the Cavaliers 77 to 28 in two games in 1999 and 2000.

When he was drafted, he was Superman, he was the future of the quarterback position. He can put up mad numbers but in the end he's been a sideshow. There was Ron Mexico in 2005, flipping off hometown fans in 2006 and the water bottle with the false bottom that reeked of pot in 2007 (op. cit.). Now there is the dogfighting.

Running Redskins owns this story but the basic details are that (1) a drug investigation led Virginia police to a house owned by Michael but inhabited by a cousin that was arrested for possession of drugs and paraphernalia. The ohthorties (2) found over 60 dogs, mostly pit bulls and 'evidence' of dogfighting. Just feeding that many dogs alone would cost over one hundred dollars a day and the Humane Society says Michael has long been a dogfighting lover and according to reports, the ohthorities (3) found some fucked up stuff on-site but everything is going to be ok because (4) coach Petrino toally buys Michael's story. Commence (5) the ritual dodge which ends with Michael copping a plea, probably before the 2007 NFL season

As if by magic, this story was given new legs when none other than Clinton Portis (6) said dogfighting was no big deal prompting (7) more response from the Humane Society, (8, 9) an official statement from the team and (10) and a statement of embarrassment and condemnation from new toughguy NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

For the record, Clinton did not weigh in on bull baiting, cockfighting, bear baiting, quail fighting, Siamese fighting fish or stallion fighting, but dogfighting is a very serious crime, it is a felony in Virginia. Two dogs go into a ring and fight, with teeth and claws. They get hurt and die. It requires a syndicate and therefore conspiracy so there are always others involved.

Michael, you dumbshit, it's your family. There's no way you didn't know something was going on at your house.

Clinton, just keep your mouth shut. If you don't think dogfighting or other forms of animal cruelty are a big deal I can't do anything about that but please keep it to yourself. That goes for all you players that are into kiddie porn and date rape.

Pitbull injured in a dogfight from here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Alternate Universe Up I-95

Code of conduct posted over every entrance at Eagles Stadium

Lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery pointed out a worlds-collide thing to me yesterday. Jamie Mottram, aka Mr. Irrelevant, posted a great piece on the essential blog of Philadelphia sports and right-wing Christiantity, The 700 Club Level. His topic? Why he, as a Redskins fan, 'hates' the Eagles. It's a great read and reflects much of my own thinking about the team I love to hate, and when they play the team I hate to love in the second game of the 2007 season, it will be the 16th of the last 17 Eagles-Redskins games that Wilbert Montgomery and I will have attended regardless of venue, and the 15th in a row for me going back to 1999.

It's funny because Wilbert Montgomery himself is an Eagles fan that trolls Redskins blogs and often posts about his 'love' for the Redskins (as exemplified here and in many many comments here and on Hogs Haven).

Everyone have a good weekend and take a moment to think about what really motivates you to hate another sports team.

Bizarro World code of conduct from here.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Clouds on the Horizon - Part Three

Decision making

Two players, two problems, one common denominator: money. As the 5-11 2006 season recedes into the past and the Redskins look toward 2007, two key defensive players, Shawn Springs and Sean Taylor elected not to attend voluntary workouts, publicly exposing rifts between player and team. In this three-part series, The Curly R examines league and team factors contributing to this development.

Part One: The Modern Era
Part Two: Terrell Owens, Shawn Springs and Sean Taylor
Part Three: Policy, Practice and Personnel

Success in the NFL is always elusive, but teams also make their own luck. Behind the roster and the playcalls is an organization dedicated to winning, but the rhetoric and the results aren't matching...

The policy doesn't encourage winning. Under Dan Snyder, the Redskins have adopted a policy of playing players premium salaries. Dan gets what Dan wants, and players long ago took notice. Although it is anecdotal to any reader of NFL media coverage, Howard Bryant quotes Shawn Springs:

"Sometimes I get so depressed talking about the Redskins," Springs said. "You know, during the season, when I talk to guys who are going to be free agents, you know how they talk about the Redskins? They talk about getting paid. I want to win. I want to win football games."
It's not that players that come to the Redskins don't want to win games, it's that winning is increasingly not the reason they come here. Much like any public company that needs a short-term boost in stock price can float a bullshit merger or acquisition rumor, any agent that needs to gain some traction with a team can simply float the Redskins as a potential suitor for his player. They are known at this point for being about money not performance and once the player gets that 10 million dollar signing bonus in his pocket, he's home free. What, are you going to release me after two years? I'll just go somewhere else and get what you were going to give me in weekly salary all at once in a new signing bonus while you try and explain the cap hit to the fans.

And if you are a believer that players need motivation at every level to bring out their best game, then you can get your head around the idea that once a player signs that big deal with Washington, he loses a good deal of motivation. There will be no new monies coming in the next few years, and the player suddenly has a shitload of money in his pocket. Any Redskins fans remember Dana Stubblefield?

Every NFL organization has to cope with the same salary scale, but there are obviously those that manage to keep an advantage, either or both in terms of keeping salaries reasonable by signing players to long term deals early in their careers (Philadelphia, Jacksonville) thus avoiding the annual panic of the Redskins as they realize they are tens of millions over the cap, or putting management and coaching in place that can keep players motivated after they get paid (Philadelphia, Indianapolis, New England) thus avoiding the cliqueishness the Redskins experience every year as the new batch of free agents remind the old batch that they are yesterday's fad.

Washington is where players come to get paid, not to win games.

The practice is inconsistent. Famously once with the Cowboys, one of Jimmy Johnson's players, a defensive back, asked how 'voluntary' the Cowboys' voluntary workouts really were. As I remember this story (I could not find an online reference), Jimmy smiled and told the player the team could not force players to be there, whereupon he went back to his office, made some phone calls to other teams and when no one would take the player in trade, Jimmy cut him, that day.

Maybe that story is apocryphal, but the lesson is still relevant. The NFL is a year-round job, and the singular purpose of every team, every player, every coach and every owner is to be on the podium in the confetti storm hoisting the trophy after the last game. From this fan's perspective, there is no offseason and I will stand behind players that show me they give a shit.

Joe Gibbs wanted his players to stay in Washington to participate in conditioning locally, where the team and the player could communicate and track progress. Conditioning of a player is not just about the player staying in shape, it's about the player staying in the shape the team needs him to be. There is such a thing as too much muscle and there is such a thing as improving quickness and footwork. The players may know their bodies, but the team should know how the players will be using their bodies.

When Joe decided to let players handle their own conditioning out of town, it was not because he believes his players know what to do, or that he trusts them to the point where he knows they will do right by the team, it was because the players were not going to be there anyway, so he simply lowered the bar to where noncompliance (skipping offseason conditioning and OTAs) is compliance. Letting these players stay away from the team all winter and spring is a little like a parent giving the problem child a Mustang when he turns 16 in the hopes that this will bribe him into doing better in life. Meantime the A student golden child is driving around in a used K car wondering why the fuck she should keep trying.

Joe Gibbs, who once traded away a future Super Bowl quarterback for failing to stay in town in the offseason, has lost his ability to link his old school rhetoric with his current management practices, if he even ever had that to begin with. For more on this policy, see also.

The personnel is weak. As indicated in part one of this series, the NFL has given rise to a breed of agent focused solely on short-term gains for their clients and a breed of player more concerned with getting paid than with playing the game. This cart-before-the-horse mentality weakens the team core in the same way the bonus babies of the early 90s turned the NBA into a street game where defense is not respected, passing is down and e'eybody is looking for their shot.

Rapper-footballer Brandon Lloyd, I Don't Take Paycuts Shawn Springs and I Already Hate My Next Contract Sean Taylor seem to be of this type. No one wondered why San Francisco was so eager to get rid of Brandon, then he flipped out at least twice on the sidelines. I wonder what he's like in private. His contract is such that no matter what the team wants to do with him, they can't do it until at least next offseason. Maybe he will get his head out of his ass and be a player this season. If so, I'll apologize to him.

Shawn, well a reason for him not taking paycuts is some future possible half million dollar medical bill. While I sympathize with him and the plight of his ailing father, former Dallas Cowboy Ron Springs, Shawn could use a little perspective. In the first place, he has been in the top percentages of the top one percent of earners so to hear Shawn talk about how he doesn't take paycuts because he may have healthcare needs someday is akin to hearing how Tom Ridge, who was a governor and made 154 thousand dollars a year as the head of Homeland Security, made the decision to leave government because he has college-aged kids and needs to earn some 'real' money to get them through school. It's mildly insulting in that way the privileged talk idly about material things most people in life will never ever have. He clearly does not understand how fortunate he is to have earned so much money at such a young age.

If the Redskins cut him and he gets nothing from them, then he faces starting over, where he may get a signing bonus equal to or greater than the 7 million dollars he would have gotten from the Redskins, or maybe not. Either way, his public rationale is pathetic. He's not refusing to take a paycut on account of his ailing father or some lofty principle, he's just confident the Redskins can't afford to take the field without him and is willing to bet millions he's right. But that doesn't sound as compassionate as 'hey here's my sick dad can't we all just get along,' does it?

Sean, well he's turning into more trouble than he's worth. When George Solomon turns on you, you're done. Maybe the Redskins won't trade him like George has suggested, but you do get the sense that even if the Redskins made Sean the highest paid safety in history right now, he'd be unhappy with the contract by the opening of training camp. George is not so high on Shawn either.

Beyond these examples of players, there is a deeper personnel problem, one of qualifications. As owner, Dan Snyder is the wrong person for the job. He seems able to sign players to big money, but gets bored of his players so fast that they turn over before they realize their potential at their position. Vinny Cerrato, Dan's righthand yesman seems unable to generate the perception that he is anything beyond a toadie.

Ooh, so Gregg Williams is making some serious changes, like noting a difference between the two safety positions and watching even more film. The former brings him into last century and the latter, given what we know about is attitudes toward players and criticism, gives him the perfect opportunity to find even more fault in others. Throw in some infantile behavior by the secondary coaches you wonder sometimes if this is even a pro outfit.

Al Saunders was brought in to run the offense, something Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs never had a problem doing in his first run of four Super Bowl appearances, nominally so that Joe could focus on the management aspects of being the coach. So how surprised am I that Al does not run a terrific offense and Joe can't manage the personalities? The Redskins have the most coaches in the league and seem to be the least able to do anything.

As usual, I'm burgundy and gold to the core, and if all this shit from last season turns around, I'll eat crow and write about it. A lot. I'm just looking at the radar right now and seeing trouble ahead.

The Curly R will continue offseason coverage of the Washington Redskins.

The November 1, 1991 perfect storm of 'The Perfect Storm' fame from NOAA's website here. Dan Snyder from teh internets. Joe Gibbs: John McDonnell / Washington Post from here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Clouds on the Horizon - Part Two

Players with big contracts

Two players, two problems, one common denominator: money. As the 5-11 2006 season recedes into the past and the Redskins look toward 2007, two key defensive players, Shawn Springs and Sean Taylor elected not to attend voluntary workouts, publicly exposing rifts between player and team. In this three-part series, The Curly R examines league and team factors contributing to this development.

Part One: The Modern Era
Part Two: Terrell Owens, Shawn Springs and Sean Taylor
Part Three: Policy, Practice and Personnel

In a league environment where teams sign players to contracts they will never finish and hardballing agents advise players to put themselves ahead of their team, three players serve as interesting examples of stardom in the modern NFL...

Terrell Owens, Shawn Springs and Sean Taylor
The new stars. Terrell Owens signed a seven year, 49 million dollar contract with the Philadelphia Eagles before the 2004 season, then before the 2005 season hired Drew as his agent and stated publicly that he wanted to renegotiate for more money (according to Terrell's Wikipedia entry, his total 2004 plus 2005 compensation would not place him in the money top 10 for receivers). The Eagles, a shrewd team, flatly refused.

Terrell took his gripes to the media, was excused for a week of training camp, had a sitdown with owner Jeff Lurie and coach Andy Reid, but it was to no avail. He made disparaging remarks about his quarterback Donovan McNabb and the team, the Eagles suspended him and deactivated him, then released him. The rest as they say is history as he signed a three year, 25 million dollar deal with the Dallas Cowboys, the sunk cost of which I believe was a reason Jerral W. Jones would not release him after the 2006 season, which I also believe was a contributing factor to Bill Parcells' departure from the team after the 2006 season.

Not many teams these days take a hard line like the Eagles did with Terrell. And you could argue they paid for it. Although Terrell helped get the Eagles to the Super Bowl after the 2004 season, 2005 was a disastrous 6-10 and Terrell did not even play all 16 games that season. Total cost: about 15 million dollars, plus any downstream negative impact Terrell's pro rata signing bonus has on future salary cap numbers.

Right now, this drama is playing itself out with the Redskins and Shawn Springs. Shawn is due 7.25 million dollars in salary for 2007, and the team would like to negotiate that number down, commensurate with his performance. He played in nine games last season, but was only consequential in about six. But, according to Howard Bryant, Shawn 'doesn't accept pay cuts.' So the team is at a Mexican standoff: pay him and play him and hope he's worth that much money, or cut him and take the salary cap hit (trading him is also still an option, but there appear to be few takers).

For his part, Shawn is doing nothing to make the team love him, not staying in contact and not showing up to voluntary workouts. That said, no one put a gun to Dan Snyder's head and forced him to sign a contract that would become sharply less palatable in its later years.

But it's not just the agents calling the shots and continually elevating the payscale. It's the players too, and the University of Miami players typify the moneyed lifestyle of players getting their nut and continuing the NFL's transition from a team sport to the baseball and basketball notions of a bunch of guys living high playing the same sport at the same time but not really working together.

Sean Taylor started complaining about his rookie contract before the ink was dry, then did not return Joe Gibbs' calls, then blew off the mandatory rookie orientation, then got arrested on a weapons charge. He was tossed from a playoff game for spitting on an opponent, then lied to his coach about it when the evidence was broadcast on TV from three angles. He got a late hit call in the 2006 season opener and is just a few hits away from transitioning from a feared hitter to marked man the refs will single out aggressively.

Now not only will he not work out in the offseason at Redskins Park, he won't show up for the voluntary OTAs. Those of us without his gifts and money and potential to be the greatest safety ever do not understand how he cannot be a student of the game and what an incredible learning opportunity playing for Joe Gibbs could be for him. Don't matter onna count of no money coming his way, aside from his rookie contract that does not expire for another two seasons and last I checked pays him dozens of times what the average worker makes (Rotoworld indicates Sean's contract ends after the 2010 season, not 2008, but if I remember correctly, the contract voids after 2008 with certain benchmarks such as playing time, which are certain to be achieved). The core of the issue with Sean is quite simply, that he does not make enough money. (Update: Sean showed up to camp Tuesday and claims there is no dispute over his contract).

Waiting in the wings are other problem players. Andre Carter and Brandon Lloyd, recipients of six year, 30 million dollar contracts before the 2006 season, look like they will get one more season to prove themselves worthy of their money before they are in Shawn Springs territory. And Clinton and Santana are still inside their original Redskins contracts and as Drew Rosenhaus players and former Sean Taylor teammates from Miami, are possible Sean Taylor-complaints waiting to happen.

So how did this all this come to pass with the Redskins? What portion of all these problems is simply the reality of the league and what portion is the Redskins own doing? The short answer, paraphrasing John Wayne's Sergeant Stryker in 1949's Sands of Iwo Jima, is that life is hard, but it's harder when you're stupid.

Curly R's Clouds on the Horizon concludes tomorrow with part 3.

The November 1, 1991 perfect storm of 'The Perfect Storm' fame from NOAA's website here. Cover of Terrell Owens's autobiography 'Going Deep' from here. Shawn Springs: Eric Espada. Santana Moss, Sean Taylor and Clinton Portis celebrating New Year's after the Redskins' season-ending and playoff-clinching win against the Eagles on January 1, 2006 uncredited photo from here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Clouds on the Horizon - Part One

Barometric pressure at Redskins Park is dropping, fast

Two players, two problems, one common denominator: money. As the 5-11 2006 season recedes into the past and the Redskins look toward 2007, two key defensive players, Shawn Springs and Sean Taylor elected not to attend voluntary workouts, publicly exposing rifts between player and team. In this three-part series, The Curly R examines league and team factors contributing to this development.

Part One: The Modern Era
Part Two: Terrell Owens, Shawn Springs and Sean Taylor
Part Three: Policy, Practice and Personnel

A perfect storm is brewing, right on top of the Redskins. For now, all fans get to do is speculate and ramble, punctuated by a few breathless and desperate narcissists with an unshakeable belief in the the value of their internet writings. Soon enough though will be mini-camp, the resolution of free agency, more cuts then training camp then the season and we'll get to see it in action. Policy, practice and personnel are converging to ensure that 2007, specifically the defense, will be actually in a worse place than dreadful 2006.

The Modern Era
Like HBO's Entourage, the modern era is about players and agents, not the games they play. The Redskins have been collecting University of Miami players (Santana Moss, Sean Taylor, Clinton Portis) that are also Drew Rosenhaus clients. As early as 1996, Sports Illustrated called Drew 'the most hated man in pro football.' Contrary to everything a football fan would have wished on the league, Drew did not go away and in fact inspired Jay Mohr's Bob Sugar character in the 1996 movie Jerry Maguire and has grown his list of clients to over 90 players, including the aforementioned three Redskins, plus London Flectcher-Baker.

Although Miami players are not satan incarnate and Drew is not to blame for the way things are, this combination serves as an easy example, with some teeth.

Drew is known for taking his tactics to the edge, advocating mid-contract holdouts and using his players to woo other players away from their agents. It is through the tactics of hardball negotiators like Drew that the NFL has its current pay-labor structure: giant non-refundable signing bonuses attached to contracts so long than no one in the room can say with a straight face that the player will see the end of it without a restructure.

Drew's argument is simple: careers are short and upfront money is worth more than money in later years given the NFL's termination rules, ie that a team can cut a player at any point in the player's contract and the team will not be responsible for compensation specified in future years of the contract (way back when, at the dawn of free agency in the early 90s, long-term NFL contracts were often referred to as 'a series of one-year contracts,' terminology that has disappeared). The more he gets for his players, the more secure they will be, and the more he gets up front in fees.

Over the past decade, the model has turned upside down and top-tier players now often have the upper hand in dealing with their team. Drew has been a major advocate of mid-contract holdouts for players whose previous performance reveals them to be compensated below some ever-rising 'market value.' The engagement model goes something like this: you are not paying me enough, so I won't play until you tear up my contract and give me a new one for 'market value.' When teams capitulate, they deliver a big signing bonus that then must be prorated over the years of the contract.

But the model does not usually work in reverse with a growing breed of player. If a player is deemed by his performance to be overpaid, the player is at liberty to refuse to accept a paycut, due to the contractual nature of the team's agreement with the player.

Yes, in both cases the team's recourse is to release the player. A player holding out can be fined daily, but every day the player accrues another day's fines is another day of disgruntlement and teams would usually rather either pay the guy or just get rid of him, both ways avoiding locker room poison. Of course paying him teaches his teammates and their agents that the team can be forced into regular pay raises at the point of a holdout.

But in many cases in the high-money era of football, teams are so heavily leveraged into the aforementioned longterm contracts. Most of these contracts are structured with astronomical signing bonuses and modest early annual salaries. Pro rating a large bonus over the life of the contract combined with a low salary yields a friendly cap number in the early seasons. These contracts are back-loaded with escalating annual salaries that quickly become cap unfriendly. Unless you have a bona fide star that can earn that money, the natural progression is to restructure in one of a number of ways, sometimes as an effective paycut, sometimes as a method of getting cash to the player in a way that is cap friendlier than the weekly salaries. Mark Brunell is one of the Redskins that agreed to restructure his contract.

When players realize their opportunities may be limited elsewhere, or that the Redskins organization may offer them something they want out of that part of their career, players agree to restructure. When players feel they have the upper hand and that they could command a better contract elsewhere, or that the team literally cannot afford cap-wise to cut the player, they refuse. Shawn Springs was on that list of players expected to restructure, but he declined...

Curly R's Clouds on the Horizon continues tomorrow with part two.

The November 1, 1991 perfect storm of 'The Perfect Storm' fame from NOAA's website here. Drew Rosenhaus Sports Illustrated cover from this eBay auction here. Image hosted here.

Monday, May 14, 2007

RIP Kevin Mitchell

Kevin Mitchell, 1971 - 2007

Kevin Mitchell, the former Redskins linebacker who won a Super Bowl with the 49ers in his first pro season, died April 30 of a heart attack in his Ashburn, Virginia home.

Kevin played collegiate football at Syracuse University, winning Defensive MVP honors in Syracuse' upset of the University of Colorado the 1993 Fiesta Bowl. Among future pro football players on that Orangemen team were Marvin Graves (Syracuse' all-time passing leader and the man to wear number five before Donovan McNabb), Marvin Harrison and Qadry Ismail. Kevin was drafted in the second round (53rd overall) by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1994 draft, playing four seasons in San Francisco. After playing two seasons for the New Orleans Saints, Kevin was signed by the Washington Redskins before the 2000 season.

In 2000, Kevin largely played a reserve role behind LaVar Arrington, Shawn Barber and Greg Jones. In 2001, Shawn suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the third game and Kevin was elevated to starter, playing alongside LaVar and rookie standout Antonio Pierce. That season, Kevin had his best pro season with 81 tackles, 2 sacks and a forced fumble 16 games. In 2002 and 2003, Kevin returned to reserve duty and was released in the transition between Steve Spurrier and Joe Gibbs.

After retiring, Kevin stayed in the Washington, DC area, settling near Redskins Park. Medical examiners determined a contributing factor to his heart attack was sleep apnea, also a contributing factor in the 2004 death of former Eagles and Packers linebacker Reggie White at age 43.

Kevin Mitchell was 36.

Kevin Mitchell Wikipedia page. Washington Post obit, follow up. ESPN obit.

Kevin Mitchell: AP photo from here. Kevin Mitchell and Mark Carrier celebrating Kevin's first career interception on October 15, 2000: Jonathan Newton / Washington Post from here.

Donovan McNabb Fears for Job, Life

Gotta be quicker than this to catch pigs and dodge batteries

Lifetime Eagles fan, season ticketholder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery, in an effort to get me off the couch, off the sauce and back on my meds, pointed me to a post on the great blog of Philadelphia sports and rightwing conservative Christianity, The 700 Club Level about the Eagles new quarterback Kevin Kolb. He's already got a nickname: Hog Killer.

Seems Mr. Texan Kevin likes to go out into the mesquite with a pair of hounds and a 12-inch Bowie knife and hunt wild hogs. Anyone that read Old Yeller (btw Donovan McNabb's new nickname) knows those wild hogs are some dangerous motherfuckers, so that makes his dogs really brave. Kevin lets the dogs chase 'em to ground and then comes in and guts them in the dirt. And he does not think this is a strange habit or indicative of some deep psychosis. How this and shooting Bambi squares with his 'Christian upbringing,' it's all very confusing to me. I don't remember Jesus strapping on a high-cal rifle, dousing himself in deer urine and feces and squatting for hours just to get The Shot

The Eagles surprised me when they used their first draft pick two weeks ago on Kevin, former University of Houston Cougars quarterback. Dono is not done yet and second round is a high pick to spend on a player you are not sure will be a starter. Wilbert Montgomery tells me Kevin was the Eagles' highest-rated QB left on the board and so they jumped. Mel Kiper disagreed, saying Kevin was overrated and behind at least three other QBs on his board. Mel's assessment of Kevin is that he is a 'system QB,' producing his gaudy numbers as a result of the Cougars' wide open system (first installed by former Redskins and Oilers coach Jack Pardee -- oooh the teases are getting bad) and not because of his talent. History tends to bear him out: Andre Ware and David Klingler ran the Cougar spigot and when they got the bigs could not replicate.

In any event, this will put some pressure on Dono. No more Koy Detmers, no more AJ Feeleys or Jerry Jeff Garcias, no more stopover QBs intended to stop the bleeding when Dono goes down. Now the (eventual) number two guy is a legitimate possible starter, drafted high onto a team that prides itself on spotting talent and locking it up long term.

Given the now-hilarious chatter about whether 36-year old Jeff Garcia should remain the Eagles starter over Dono, what's the over-under on the number of games before the Philadephia Inquirer wonders aloud if a change is in order?

And props to Enrico at The 700 Club Level for this:

At least if [Kevin]'s pissed off at Eagles fans for booing him he won't have his mom go whine on her blog. Kevin Kolb will just go kill a pig and fry up some scrapple.


Houston Cougar Kevin Kolb: uncredited photo from here.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Landrys always cause problems for Gibbs

Ed. note: Curly R begins begins the long climb back into game shape with this post on the Redskins' draft. Like those pesky OTAs, Curly R got lazy with 'voluntary' posting and blew it off.

*whew* I'm already huffing after just one sentence. Good thing I keep a tank of
nitrous oxygen right here by the bench.

This was a terrible pick and the Redskins drafted weakly overall. More on the terrible draft later, so let us focus for now on the sheer terribleness of the LaRon Landry pick.

Curly R aside: LaRon Landry is terrible like the plague and any ballcarrier that wanders into his gravity suddenly moves at half speed and now the Redskins will need at least two ambulances in the tunnel on gameday, one for LaRon's hits and one for Sean Taylor's revenge hits. I must say that despite badmouthing this pick watching the video linked here makes me happy.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to drafting players in the NFL. In one, teams pick the player or position they want. This is how Mario Williams wound up drafted number one last year despite the Texans' glaring need at running back. The Texans did not slot running back high in draft order and so Reggie Bush's availability was irrelevant.

The other school of thought says you pick the best player available at the time. Although this is a good strategy for middle and late rounds in the draft (good players always fall to later rounds but by day two Mel Kiper has snorted so much meth cut with Old Bay that his tongue is the size of a kielbasa and he can't articulate so teams are on their own), it can be disastrous if a team drafts a position that is already filled.

After two years of lighting it up with Warren Moon in Houston, the Oilers went out and used the third overall pick in the 1986 draft on...Jim Everett. Because he was the best player available with that pick. He never played a down with the Oilers and using that pick for a QB when Warren had been demanding a top shelf receiver for two years just made for offseason hassles that team didn't need (they went 5-11 that year).

Here is why the LaRon Landry pick was terrible for the Redskins:

1. They already have an all-pro hitter at safety, and for such a big dude he's kind of a baby.

Coaches, GMs and owners like to sit around conference tables and talk about how personalities don't play into player selection but in reality they do. Sean Taylor famously did not return Hall of Fame Head Coach Joe Gibbs' phone calls in the 2004 offseason, then did not show for minicamp, then started complaining about his contract before the ink was dry. As Skin Patrol points out, Sean is now the 8th highest paid defensive player on the team, and by the season opener won't even be the highest paid safety on the team (in fairness he was not last season either with the Adam Archuleta experiment). This is Champ Bailey waiting to happen all over again.

Further, we already saw this movie with the Redskins putting the same type of player at one position. Santana Moss/David Patten/Brandon Lloyd hasn't worked so far, and maybe someday when I'm old someone will realize that the Redskins need a possession receiver taller than 5 feet 10. Both LaRon and Sean will want to do it all; cover, play run defense, make big hits. But someone has to stay home, stay on the routes, cover the deep man, not take chances and risk giving up the big play. Neither will want to do that. I guarantee someone's ego is going to get bent this season if the defense is not simply stellar.

2. They may be preparing for the eventuality losing Sean Taylor but if they do it will be from mismanagement and not from money.

Dan Snyder has a well-known habit of casting aside his toys before they have worn out. When the newness wears off and the next free agent player at any position comes available, Dan is perfectly willing to give up a young player for the potential of another player. It is as if Dan does not see draft picks as a finite resource, and when you use a valuable pick to replace an existing resource that you may lose before it is depleted, well that's a zero-sum mindset and that's how you wind up being the Raiders.

Whether it's ADD and he gets bored, Dan does not make his players feel wanted, makes them hate him or just feels like he can keep replacing them, I don't know but look at Ryan Clark. He was a fine player, complemented Sean and the amount he was asking for to stay with the Redskins was considerably less than the team wound up paying to a player that sucked so hard the Redskins made history with his coming and his going.

As if by magic, Howard Bryant must have been reading my mind. In today's Washington Post, he writes about Sean's frustration with the Redskins' attention to the safety position. Since not giving role-playing Ryan a new contract the Redskins are looking at a 25 million dollar ballpark on the other safety spot, hurting Sean's play and destabilizing the position. Most importantly though to $ean, none of that 25 million is going into his pocket.

Right or wrong, arrogant or reasonable, Sean feels snubbed a bounch of ways, and it fits the Dan Snyder plan: resent everyone around you, especially the ones that take your money and always remind them who is in charge. Oh Ryan and Sean are a good team? How's about we get rid of Ryan and pay the new guy more than Sean and just see how he likes that. He's like Tony Soprano. Funny thing is if Dan reads this he will think that's a compliment.

Whatever it is, it's a pattern of squandering team experience that no free agent buying sprees have been able to replace. See also Antonio Pierce, Fred Smoot and Champ Bailey.

3. They have completely ignored the defensive line going into 2007.

Now any 19-year old player should give an NFL GM pause so we can argue all day whether Amobi Okoye or Alan Branch would have been good picks at number six. I would not have used the sixth pick. If there was some sucker out there that wanted to go all Mike Ditka and trade nine picks for number six then have at it.

But no one did and for my part, I can't square Dan's incessant need to feel like he won.This deal went down exactly like the Nationals botched non-trade of Alfonso Soriano last season. The Redskins were so vocal about listening to deals and put such a premium on the sixth pick that nothing anyone came to the table with would have made Dan feel like he was getting proper value, which is another way of saying the Redskins overvalued that pick and the opportunity cost was a reasonable deal.

What would I have done with the pick? I sure as hell would not have taken another large rangey safety that prides himself as a hitter. Alray got one. I would have found a trading partner in the first round, and for all I read that this draft's 'real' first round was only about 20 players, it would have been someone below that Tropic of Starters, swap first round picks and ask for a second, third or fourth, whatever they could get. The Redskins could have found some defensive line talent with the lower pick and gotten one or two other picks to replace those that flew out with the Rocky McIntosh draft pick, TJ Duckett and Brandon Lloyd trades.

It can be done. Look at the Chargers-Giants trade that put Eli Manning (lol) in New York and Philip Rivers in San Diego. That deal netted the Chargers Shawne Merriman, a man so fierce the league suspends him once a year for his own good, and Nate Kaeding, a Pro Bowl kicker on top of Philip.

Of course this presupposes that the Redskins brain trust actually knew how to select a quality player lower than the 8th pick in the draft (yes that's a dig on Carlos Rogers, but also the overall retention rate of Redskins draft picks).

Stacking at LB (London Fletcher-Baker and two draft choices, with Lance Briggs rumors still swirling) and safety (Sean and LaRon) and improvement at corner (Loveboat Freddie Smoot) without serious improvement of the miserable defensive line is like trying to sandbag the city AFTER the dam breaks.

Congratulations geniuses, you wasted a good pick on a good player in the wrong place at the wrong time.

LaRon Landry and Joe Gibbs on draft day 2007: uncredited Washington Post photo from here. Linked image of Ricky Williams with Mike Ditka looking like a fool in dreds, AP photo via Sports Illustrated here.