Sports

Picking Splinters: Prospects & Musings in August’s Mailbag

Mike,


I know you’re skeptical about the Redskins’ offensive line, but are there any parts of the team that you’re excited about?

Dan S.

There are some intriguing aspects to this year’s team, but I don’t know if I’m particularly excited about anything. The biggest buzz has surrounded the defense and its potential after infusing Albert Haynesworth and Brian Orakpo into the mix. A good pass rush is the new black in football and if the Redskins can keep opposing quarterbacks off balance then it would greatly help what I see as a mediocre secondary.

Mike,


I know you’re skeptical about the Redskins’ offensive line, but are there any parts of the team that you’re excited about?

Dan S.

There are some intriguing aspects to this year’s team, but I don’t know if I’m particularly excited about anything. The biggest buzz has surrounded the defense and its potential after infusing Albert Haynesworth and Brian Orakpo into the mix. A good pass rush is the new black in football and if the Redskins can keep opposing quarterbacks off balance then it would greatly help what I see as a mediocre secondary.

There’s been some hype surrounding the addition of CB DeAngelo Hall during the middle of last season. Excuse me if I tamp down my exuberance over a guy who has completely burned bridges and was a cancer on his previous teams in Oakland and Atlanta. He may have helped, but as metrics-gurus Football Outsiders pointed out in a recent preview of the team on ESPN Insider, the ‘Skins passing defense got worse after Hall’s arrival, while Oakland’s defense improved appreciably without him.

I’m not sold that Hall was the cause of that defensive slip, his arrival roughly coincided to the time the offense regressed to play like Pop Warner all-stars, meaning the defense spent a lot more time on the field than the beginning of the year.

The New York Giants’ defense has been outstanding not just because of its pass rush, but because of its imposing running game. Last year, the Giants led the league in rushing, (meaning they were able to control the tempo of the game and give their defense a rest.) The Redskins had a solid ground attack, finishing eighth in the league in rushing yards in 2008, but during their 2-6 second half, the Redskins’ per game rushing average dropped by over 30 yards per game. And they only won the time of possession battle in three of those games. It should be noted that two of those three instances resulted in wins and the other was a three-point loss.

Strong defensive play and ball possession by the offense often work in concert with each other. So if the ‘Skins defense is going to live up to the hype, the offensive line is going to have to help out. Since I’m sure you all know my regard for that unit is about as high as a kneeling ant, you can see why I’m skeptical the Washington defense will live up to its potential.

Mike,


What’s next for the Nats?

Teddy R.

I had a dream last night that the Nationals won the world series. No joke. I dreamt they had rallied from a bad start like the Colorado Rockies have this season and claimed the title … before a crowd of 546 souls at Nationals Park. Some things really leave an impression on the subconscious I guess.

Seriously, what’s next is September and its roster expansion. The Nats will get to call up 15 players to the bigs and you can bet they will all get extended playing time, particularly the starting pitchers. So grab your minor league statistics, everybody. It’s time to get excited about prospects!

Hume,


Mike Vick returns to game action this week. What do you think about that?

Sincerely,

Everyone who hated your last column about the troubled QB

I think it will be an interesting experiment to see him in action. After prison, you have to expect some fall off from his athletic skills. If he has a big game, that will dominate all of the weekend sports chatter and the Eagles will look very smart.

Personally, I think they look a little hypocritical no matter what. After the signing, ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio reported the Eagles had previously cut two players after catching wind of animal offenses in New Jersey. Meanwhile, they’re pulling out the stops to help former Pro-Bowler Vick. Guess the bigger crime in the Eagles eyes was the inability of those former players to help them win a Super Bowl.

Mike Hume may be e-mailed at [email protected]