Tuesday, December 15, 2009

At Raiders, After Further Review

Maroon and black attack

With a day to reflect on the Redskins big game thirteen win over the Raiders Sunday, and to read what the tastemakers have to say, some items worth discussion arise, in no particular order:

LaRon Landry is better close to the line than in coverage on every play. Time to face it, the experiment needs to end, LaRon should not be out at free safety playing center field, he gets burned too easily, distracted by what is happening at the line or in the pocket, he is a pump faking playaction quarterback's dream. Sunday he spent much of the day playing strong safety closer to the line, his play there factored into the Redskins solid pass rush. When he was out in coverage it seemed obvious to me that the Raiders had scouted his presumed coverage weaknesses and were going after him.

This means the Redskins will have to deconflict the strong safety position for 2010, Chris Horton and Reed Doughty are both tooled as strong safeties, and both are cheap so there will be plenty of depth at that position. Kareem Moore is the only full time free safety on the roster, he will continue to develop but the team will need to review the position. Reed was primarily a free safety in college, drafted to back up Sean Taylor who was then mainly a strong safety, Sean did not make the move to full time free safety until the dust settled in the Adam Archuleta FAIL, as of December 2006 there was a story that Reed was getting practice time at free safety so perhaps he can make the move.

The offensive tackles still are not getting it done. Undrafted right tackle Stephon Heyer and off the street free agent left tackle Levi Jones may be serviceable to use an NFL term of art, neither appears ready to carry the load as an NFL starter. Both would look good as backups for spot duty, neither should be starting. Levi has struggled as much as performed and Stephon continues to be a liability in the passing game.

Both of these positions need to be addressed in the offseason, my fear though is that the team will sign Levi to a two of three year stopgap contract a la Pete Kendall to tide that postition over, and the right tackle position simply will be overlooked in the offseason, as it was this year. Sorry to shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato, cutting Jon Jansen then signing Jeremy Bridges who was cut and former 400 pound man Mike Williams to challenge Stephon for the spot does not constitute paying attention to the position. Tackles need to be quality.

Brian Orakpo is a monfster. I love what I see from this guy, he has a huge upside and should be in the running for NFL Rookie of the Year. Sunday we saw him line up on both sides of the line, rush from the edge, stunt through the middle, basically make life miserable for the Oakland quarterbacks. If moving him around works then so be it, he should not be constrained to a place on the field. I would not however want to see Brian become a latter day LaVar Arrington, our former Pro Bowl linebacker who got in trouble becoming too much of a freelancer. With all the talk of Brian quote maturing unquote into a down lineman in the future, the coaching staff, whoever that is, needs to build around Brian and not in spite of.

Jason Campbell is all the Redskins need at quarterback. Curly R is like a broken record on this point and it needs to be reinforced: Jason Campbell is everything the Redskins need to win in this league. We saw him miss a couple of open receivers Sunday, including a depressingly wide open Santana Moss at one point, I do not attribute these misses to Jason's lack of field vision, rather I believe Jason has legitimately learned to hustle, he has realized he is going to get creamed every game and if he is going to succeed he needs to be decisive. How quickly can he take his time?

Put a real offensive line in front of Jason and watch him progress. Last season we saw him improve his ball handling and decisions on when to throw. This season we saw him learn how to keep his eyes downfield even with disastrous blocking. With Jason showing career improvement this season despite getting the shit kicked out of him every week, he deserves to stick around, I think many Redskins fans that were down on Jason early in the season may have changed their tune, and if you have not and still want to see Jason gone then you are not being realistic about short term prospects at the quarterback position. I do not want to see any of these guys coming out of college in burgundy and gold.

I have extreme hope for the final three games of the season.

Jim Zorn: AP Photo from here.