Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Catch Radius: Best of the NFC

Part I of our catch radius season finale spotlights the NFC kings of double coverage (Calvin Johnson), the sideline (Jordy Nelson), the drag route (DeSean Jackson) and the red zone (Dez Bryant).

15 Mar 2012

Walkthrough: Parade Route

by Mike Tanier

I Love a Parade

LOCAL NEWSGUY: Good afternoon, Redskins fans, and welcome to Landover, Maryland on a beautiful day in mid-March. Thanks for joining us for the 12th annual Redskins Premature Celebration Parade. We will be broadcasting live for all of the excitement, all of the marching bands and floats, and of course the presentation of the Vince LombEarly Trophy.

With me again for all of the pageantry is Football Outsiders senior writer and noted Redskins skeptic Mike Tanier. Mike, it seems like only yesterday that we sat here and watched Donovan McNabb lead the parade as Grand Marshall.

ME: That’s right, whatever your name is. But that was nearly two years ago. And I say "nearly" because this is the earliest premature celebration parade since 2002, when Steve Spurrier was Grand Marshall. Typically, the Redskins wait until they have signed some free agents before scheduling the parade. This is the first year that a draft pick has ever been Grand Marshall.

NEWSGUY: And here comes the Grand Marshall’s float now! It is made from over 300,000 genetically engineered maroon-and-gold roses. Dan Snyder is waving to the crowd, and he is holding up this year’s symbolic Grand Marshall, a Styrofoam "2" with a crowd on top of it.

ME: And listen to the hundreds in this crowd roar with approval. Of course, they all know that the number two will likely become Robert Griffin on draft day. Most of these folks knew nothing about RG3 a few weeks ago, but they are now 100 percent certain that he is going to be their franchise quarterback for the next decade. For now, they are just happy to see Snyder proudly displaying his number two.

NEWSGUY: The float certainly does look beautiful. It was originally outfitted to say "Welcome Peyton" along both sides, but the designers did a great job covering those spots at the last second. As the Grand Marshall’s float passes, we enjoy the Glen Burnie High School marching band’s musical tribute to DeAngelo Hall.

ME: What a talented group of youngsters. Notice how the color guard girls keep trying and failing to intercept each other’s batons. That’s excellent choreography. Hall came to the Redskins in midseason of 2008, so he never got to be an honored guest at this parade. He did ride on the Grand Marshall’s float when Albert Haynesworth had that honor in 2009.

NEWSGUY: Who can forget that? And of course, a percentage of the proceeds from this year’s Premature Celebration Parade will go to the victims of the Haynesworth float crash. Coming up next is the coaches float, and the parade will pause for a very special ceremony. The Pro Football Writers Association is awarding Mike Shanahan with the Meaningless Achievement Award for beating the Giants twice last season.

ME: That’s right. The Meaningless Achievement Award is given each year to the team that accomplishes something that is essentially random but can be creatively interpreted as important. Typically, the award goes to a team that ends the season with a winning streak, but by beating the world champion Giants twice, the Redskins created some superficial justification for claiming to be close to contention and mortgaging their future for one rookie quarterback.

NEWSGUY: The Redskins haven’t won this award since 2001, when they won their last two games under Marty Schottenheimer. Do you remember those early parades, Mike?

ME: Oh, they were much smaller then. Back when Deion Sanders or Bruce Smith was Grand Marshall, there was a real sense that the Redskins might host an honest-to-goodness Super Bowl parade the following February. That was before they started focusing all of their energy on having the most exciting possible offseason and stopped pretending that there was some kind of coherent plan to build a sustainable, winning football program. These parades have gotten much better since they became self-conscious celebrations of short-sightedness.

NEWSGUY: As the Irish clog dancers approach the main staging area, I have to ask: why are you so pessimistic? Robert Griffin is going to be a great quarterback, right?

ME: He has franchise quarterback potential. Deion Sanders was a great player. Clinton Portis was great. It should be noted that the Redskins have made some outstanding draft choices on the rare occasions that they have focused on the draft. The problem with this team has never been star power, but the other 40 roster spots. Every time they trade four potentially great players for one potentially excellent one, Redskins fans should cringe, because the team is never in position to give up red chips for a blue one. They never have enough red chips.

No, this is classic Redskins pie in the sky. We’re not even penciling in a development period for RG3 with this move. Everyone is expecting a Cam Newton season, followed by a John Elway career. Let me ask you this: what if RG3 is not Elway, but McNabb? McNabb was better than 98 percent of the quarterbacks in NFL history. But would you trade three first-round picks and a second-rounder for him, even in his prime?

And as for all of those receivers, the Redskins did not need three so-so wide receivers. They needed one good one. As usual, younger players who could help the team will get lost in the shuffle once it comes time to dole out practice reps.

NEWSGUY: Interesting points. Of course, the Premature Celebration Parade is no time for such talk. RG3 will be better than Elway and Steve Young combined, the Redskins will pick incredibly well in later rounds, and the league was evil and vindictive for imposing a cap fine that prevented the Redskins from surrounding RG3 with Mario Williams, Vincent Jackson, Eric Winston, Carl Nicks, and Cortland Finnegan. This offseason is completely different from all the others, as we say every year.

And with that, here comes the final float with the LombEarly Trophy. Because of the new cap restriction, the float is just a 2004 Nissan Ultima with the roof cut off and some streamers stapled to the side. Hoisting the LombEarly this year are Josh Morgan and Pierre Garcon. They will be adding their names to the list of random players the Redskins acquired over the last decade who are no better than the mid-round draft choices good teams develop, but cost much more. Their names will go right beneath Tim Hightower’s, Joey Galloway’s, Brandon Lloyd’s, and ... well, there are too many to mention. The LombEarly Trophy is a beautiful sold gold statue of two players holding up a smaller version of the trophy, which of course includes a tinier statute of tinier players holding a smaller trophy. It’s a model of recursion, Mike.

MIKE: And so are the Redskins! This has been as much fun as ever. Same time next year?

NEWSGUY: You can count on it!

Little Victories

The best moves at the start of free agency are usually the smallest ones, and they are often re-signings.

The Giants re-signed injured cornerback Terrell Thomas hours before the opening bell on Tuesday. Thomas is recovering from an ACL tear. The deal is modest, with most of the $17.4 million in reported money coming in the third and fourth years of the deal. Assuming Thomas returns to form, the Giants added a high-level cornerback to their Super Bowl defense for an incredibly low price.

The Thomas signing was reminiscent of last offseason, when Giants GM Jerry Reese reacted to his team’s cap woes and the lockout chaos by busily re-signing role players. While the Eagles and Redskins redskinned everyone they could find, Reese quietly brought back Deon Grant and Dave Tollefson, made what peace he could with Osi Umenyiora, and restructured contracts so Ahmad Bradshaw could return. Reese took criticism for not making a "sexy splash" (words he used about a dozen times in one hilarious press conference). Instead, he acquired system fits who were familiar with the Giants playbook and culture, all for reasonable prices.

The Thomas signing was just another example of that kind of move. It was easy to overlook because we are busily tracking Brandon Carr’s movements around the country. Thomas is every bit as good as Carr.

The Seahawks re-signed Red Bryant on Tuesday, a hulking defensive end who is an incredible fit in their defense but would be a square peg in many others. Pete Carroll spoke at length during the Combine about what a revelation Bryant was after moving over from defensive tackle to more of a five-technique (outside the tackle or over the tight end) type of player. Bryant had just one sack, and our numbers credit him with just six total Defeats, two of them on interceptions. Watch the tape, though and you see teams trying to string out running plays to his side of the field and going absolutely nowhere as he disrupts the left side of the offensive line. Carroll is an outside-the-box thinker on defense, and Bryant is an outside-the-box player.

Had some other team acquired Bryant, there would be a press conference, Bryant would hold up a jersey, and we would all write "impact" articles while the local press profiles the new defensive behemoth. For a team like the Texans, Bryant would probably then develop into a force. For about a dozen other teams with less inspired defensive coordinators, he would get shifted back to the three-technique and become slightly better than just another guy. The Bryant signing was a minor headline; had he changed teams, it would be bigger news but less of a story.

The Saints retained Marques Colston, which was another smart move, though it got more attention because Colston is a fantasy football star and the Saints are eager to do something non-stupid right now. A lot of wide receiver fur flew on Tuesday, which was great for Football Outsiders –- we can start running projections! –- but many of the acquisitions are probably going to prove disappointing. Brandon Marshall and his traveling bar brawl in Chicago? Randy Moss in San Francisco? (Probably the best place for a noted food snob, but anyway.) The Redskins Lilliputians? Drew Brees to Marques Colston will look comforting to Saints fans when the team moves forward under bounty penalties.

The Carlos Rogers re-signing came over the wire as I was editing this. Another smart move: a great system fit in San Francisco, and a guy who came into his own when he arrived there. The story was overshadowed by questions about whether the Bears knew about Brandon Marshall’s barroom incident. They did. They sure do drive a hard bargain.

As free agency marches on, don’t forget about the re-signings, extensions, and restructurings. They aren’t evidence of a general manager sitting on his hands. They are evidence of a general manager managing.

As for the Mark Sanchez extension, well, nobody’s perfect.

Eagles Top Five Running Backs

We continue our weekly series on the best running backs from each franchise. The Eagles had a lot of fine running backs during their mostly pointless history. The very best of the bunch played long, long ago.

1. Steve Van Buren

Author Will Bunch recently released a book about Van Buren called Give it to Steve!, which is available wherever e-books are sold. Using the 1948 NFL Championship Game –- which Van Buren nearly missed because he thought the game was cancelled due to a snowstorm –- as a framing device, Bunch weaves a tale of Depression and World War II-era football. Van Buren, a Honduras-born descendant of British pirates, spent his early life in New Orleans, dropped out of high school to work in a foundry, returned to school long enough to impress L.S.U. recruiters, spent most of his college career blocking for future baseball manager Alvin Dark, and got drafted by the Eagles, a perennial doormat of the preadolescent NFL. With the help of a quarterback with no depth perception (Tommy Thompson was blind in one eye), a head coach with a World Series ring (Greasy Neale, who helped the Black Sox beat themselves), and a bunch of returning World War II vets, Van Buren gave Philadelphia two of the three football championships in city history.

Like any good sports history book, Bunch’s biography touches on the issues of the time, from the war to the Depression, civil rights and economic changes. It’s also full of vintage Philadelphia flavor: lots of Bookbinders and Shibe Park. If you are looking for something to bundle The Philly Fan’s Code with, pick up Give it to Steve!.

Van Buren was the NFL’s all-time leading rusher when he retired. He may be the only figure from ancient history who will top one of these Top Fives. Most of the teams that have a true contender from the Dark Ages, like the Bears, also have a more obvious top pick from recent history.

2. Wilbert Montgomery

3. Brian Westbrook

Montgomery and Westbrook were alike in many ways. Both were primarily speed backs. Both were outstanding receivers. Both battled injuries constantly, and Eagles fans were more likely to obsess about Montgomery’s or Westbrook’s health than their own. Montgomery was overused in his early seasons, because it was 1970s football and he looked like Tony Dorsett Junior, and by the end of his career he was often spotted in important situations when he was healthy enough to play. Andy Reid underused Westbrook to a fault early in his career, then asked too much of him in lost causes like 2007.

Westbrook’s 2006 and 2007 seasons rank 31st and 36th on the DYAR top-50 list without factoring in receiving value. Montgomery’s 1979 season would rank very high in just about any statistical list worth making, and both 1978 and 1981 are nearly as good. Both Westbrook and Montgomery led the NFL in yards from scrimmage once. Westbrook made several of the most famous plays in Eagles history, including his punt return against the Giants and his kneel at the goal line. Montgomery made the greatest play in the last 50 years of Eagles history: his 42-yard run against the Cowboys in the 1980 NFC championship game.

Westbrook is a little overrated in Philly because someone had to get credit when the offense played well, and it sure as hell wasn’t going to be the quarterback. Montgomery got lost in the shuffle a bit because when he was in his heyday, Philly fans could watch Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Pete Rose, Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber, Harold Carmichael, Ron Jaworski, Julius Erving, and so on. And yeah, we griped about it.

The best argument for ranking Montgomery ahead of Westbrook is that he is still the Eagles all-time leading rusher, even though his career was cut short by injuries. Westbrook spent several seasons as a committee back, then had a handful of seasons as the focal point of the offense, but Montgomery still out-rushed him. And it is not like Montgomery was a slouch in the passing game. Still, it’s a judgment call.

4. Timmy Brown

The Eagles won the NFL Championship in 1960, were very good in 1961, and then burrowed into a deep awfulness that lasted about 16 years. Early in that run to nowhere, the team was loaded with talent: Sonny Jurgensen at quarterback, Pete Retzlaff at tight end, Tommy McDonald at wide receiver, and Brown at halfback and return man. Brown was a 180-pounder with track speed. His best year was probably 1965, when he rushed for 861 yards and six touchdowns on 158 carries, and also caught 50 passes. He led the league in kickoff returns and yards for several years, but that will happen when the opponents score a lot. He returned five career kickoffs for touchdowns.

Unfortunately, the Eagles had terrible management and coaches that ran the gamut from insane to idiotic for most of that era. Brown started his career as a sub on a team with Norm Van Brocklin at quarterback and Chuck Bednarik at center and linebacker. He ended it for a team that used a three-quarterback mystery rotation; coach Joe Kuharich would not tell anyone which of three quarterbacks was starting until kickoff, not even the quarterbacks themselves. Yeah, it was that kind of era.

5. Duce Staley

Powerful, dependable all-purpose back who provided nearly all of the offense for two of the worst Eagles teams ever: the 1998 Eagles (last year of Ray Rhodes) and 1999 team (Andy Reid’s rebuild). He stuck around for the good times as part of the Three-Headed Monster with Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter, catching 114 passes and doing most of the power running in 2001 and 2002. That’s right, children: Andy Reid gave a regular role to a 240-pound running back. For several years.

Those who know me know that Ricky Watters was not making this list. Watters is the beneficiary of the greatest whitewash in Philly sports history: some people want to make "for who, for what" into an overblown isolated incident. Great, except that it overlooks the time Watters and his girlfriend yelled at Jon Gruden about his playing time in front of reporters after a game, the time Watters sulked under a parka with the defensive backups when he was replaced for a few plays (Gruden could not find him to bring him back on the field), the numerous closed-door meetings with Gruden and Rhodes, and so on.

We can make a lot of statistical arguments about how good Watters was, but please keep in mind that no one cared more about Watters’ statistics than Watters. Charlie Garner was averaging over five yards per carry off the bench through Watters’ Eagles tenure, but Rhodes and Gruden couldn’t exactly count on Watters taking it in stride if they gave Garner an increased role. Head to Seattle, and we see Ahman Green stuck on the bench for two years so Watters can rush 300 times at 3.7 yards per carry. This is a guy who would tell coaches how often he wanted the ball, or have his paramours do it, and he was just good enough when he got his carries -– and just childish enough when he didn’t –- that coaches would give him what he wanted for a year or two. So we have this parade of pretty 1,200 yard seasons, most of them for teams that went nowhere, teams that would have had better running games if the No. 2 back played more.

Screw him. Watters goes behind Keith Byars, a terrible running back but outstanding blocker and receiver, on the honorable mention list. And LeSean McCoy will pass him in late September. We will talk about Herschel Walker in the Vikings segment, or maybe give him his very own category.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 15 Mar 2012

77 comments, Last at 20 Mar 2012, 3:34pm by Bright Blue Shorts

Comments

1
by Ryan :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 12:41pm

I'm sure fixing that float was easy. Just tinker with the lettering until it reads "Welcome to PayTown."

7
by tuluse :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 1:19pm

We have always been at war with Oceania!

2
by CathyW :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 12:50pm

So Mike, how do you really feel about Ricky Watters?

3
by Blake (not verified) :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 12:56pm

Ugh, what a waste of 5 minutes. Parade bit had me cringing.

McCoy has already passed Duce.

5
by drobviousso :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 1:05pm

We can't make that comparison before McCoy stands on the Steelers sidelines for two years with his hands in his pants.

9
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 1:34pm

McCoy spent four seasons on those same sidelines. Does that count?

64
by Jerry :: Sat, 03/17/2012 - 1:44am

Duce actually got a ring out of the deal.

65
by Intropy :: Sat, 03/17/2012 - 2:04am

He earned it. The guy got injured. That happens. I joke about the Duce Staley memorial gameday sweats, but the guy who got injured playing for the team is just as much a part of the team as the guy who makes it through the season. And Staley was actually pretty decent when he was healthy and playing.

(not that you were saying otherwise)

67
by rk (not verified) :: Sat, 03/17/2012 - 12:35pm

Actually, Staley was hurt for much of 2004. But in 2005, when the Steelers won the Su[er Bowl, he was buried on the depth chart behind Willie Parker, Jerome Bettis, and Verron Haynes (who played special teams) even when healthy.

69
by Intropy :: Sat, 03/17/2012 - 2:02pm

He got injured in 2005 as well. And when he was playing think he was playing injured. The same goes for the end of 2004. I don't think he ever really recovered from that first injury.

70
by Jerry :: Sat, 03/17/2012 - 3:55pm

He started 2004 as the starter, got hurt, and did get back to play in the playoffs. My recollection is that in 2005, a combination of injuries and Fast Willie's emergence left him at the bottom of the depth chart. (Verron Haynes was the third down back.) IIRC, Duce was officially active for the Super Bowl, but didn't actually play.

4
by drobviousso :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 1:05pm

The summary of Give it to Steve totally sold me on the book. The fact that it's only 2 bucks is really cool.

I recall many Sundays of Eagles games where my dad would really be digging the bottom of the pun barrel whenever Watters had a bad play, in response to the stupid Ricky "Running" Watters the announcers would toss out. Ricky "Frank Lloyd Wright Got Nothing On Me" Watters was his favorite whenever Watters lost his footing.

PS - My dad loves The Philly Fan’s Code. I got it for him for Xmas, he finished it before new year.

6
by justanothersteve :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 1:06pm

Enjoyed the parade stuff and it was nice to see Van Buren get some recognition. But relax a little about Watters. Don't know much about the Eagles years, but he was ahead of Ahman Green because Green fumbled more than a young Tiki Barber.

8
by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 1:23pm

Watters may well have been a self serving egoist but it's odd to see a write up of him that doesn't mention what a great receiving back he was. One of the first modern backs who could genuinely run the whole route tree when split out wide, with the hands, speed and height to be a threat on the post as well as a wheel route. He was a Matt Forte for the 49ers in a era when quite a few starting running backs couldn't catch at all. His touchdown in the 94 Superbowl remains my favourite offensive play of all time, a fake-halfback-pitch-fake-fullback-dive-playaction-pass-to-the-halfback-post. It resulted in both the middle and weakside linebackers spinning on the spot and then falling over, they don't draw them up like that anymore.

But if he hadn't been such a tit then he might have stayed in San Francisco and we wouldn't have been stuck with Derek Loville for two years.

12
by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 2:19pm

I don't get how his being a jerk should hurt his standing on the list any more than being a great guy would help it. He's a 10,000 yard career rusher and had 4,000 receiving yards. He averaged over 4 yards per carry for his career.

Mike singles out that 3.7 yards per carry season with the Seahawks but the very next year he ran for 1,200 yards averaging 4.5 per carry. He had a 1,400 yard season for the Eagles and is 6th on their all-time rushing list despite only playing there 3 seasons.

15
by chemical burn :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 3:29pm

Mike really points out the main argument against Watters as an Eagle: he wasn't there that long and his back-up, Charlie Garner, put up insanely good production in relief - Watters being around prevented a better player from getting on the field. That's an iffy argument and I might have put Watters at #5, but Duce/Watters is basically a toss-up if you only consider them as Eagles and not in terms of their entire career.

10
by AJ (not verified) :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 2:05pm

Mike...sold gold statue...think you meant SOLID. Also, was mcnabb better than 98 percent of the qbs in the league? Sure...not to nitpick but 98 percent of 32 nfl starters is 31.36- or the 2nd best qb roughly in the nfl during his prime. Well...i doubt he was ever better than P Manning other than during Manning's rookie year. You could make an argument he was better than brady at certain spots, but for most of his career...no. Then we can throw in others, favre, warner, later brees, rivers, big ben... but i get the point.

Asking and assuming a high draft pick qb to just become elite is really a dicey prop. There are a slew of good competent qbs in the nfl that may never become elite themselves: matt ryan, tony romo, even eli all come to mind. Rg3 jumps off the charts...but so did vick and leaf and those were just the most extreme examples. Even with luck, i think the general consensus already has him penciled in as the next Rodgers to Favre.

16
by chemical burn :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 3:31pm

Poor McNabb - all he accomplished and he still gets "he's no Phillip Rivers or Kurt Warner!" thrown in his face. McNabb and Dawkins' coming Hall of Fame snubs are going to drive me to drink...

20
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 4:28pm

Dawkins deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and may well not make it. That would be a snub. McNabb doesn't even deserve serious consideration. Peak not high enough, end of story. He's the best quarterback of his era who won't get in. That doesn't make him a snub.

41
by Adam B. :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 10:47am

Maybe Roethlisberger, if character issues keep him out.

42
by tuluse :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 11:42am

Depends how you define era in football. McNabb was in the league for 6 years before Big Ben showed up.

Also, I think Ben is basically a lock with all those rings (whether he deserves it or not).

50
by chemical burn :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 2:23pm

I have a tendency to look at the HOF more in line with the actual Hall of Fame voters, that is to say, I am ok on putting a solid emphasis on "the story" of the NFL and not hesitating to put in guys like Stallworth and Swann who you really can't tell the story of Pro Football without mentioning repeatedly... but don't have nearly the stats to go in on stats alone. I think McNabb's fame (as in "Hall of Fame") deserves consideration because he was a crucial player on one of the best teams in the NFC for a decade and was also a magnet for controversy (which he suffered with more dignity and class that many players would have.) He's a borderline stat-candidate, but as a personality star and leader on relevant teams, he should go in. It's why I think the "Art Monk shouldn't be in!" people are crazy - try to talk about the NFL in the 80's and not mention Art Monk all the time and the champions he played a crucial role for.

(Also, yes, this means I think Curtis Martin, an boring player on marginal teams doesn't deserve to be in the Hall if McNabb isn't... Also, I am not saying David Tyree should be in - stats and cumulative accomplishments obviously shouldn't be ignored...)

17
by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 3:40pm

Mike didn't say 98% of starters, he said 98% of QBs in history. Given that that includes guys who never panned out, career backups and guys from the 30's and 40's that threw the ball only when absolutely necessary - yeah, McNabb probably IS that. Still doesn't make him a great QB, but better than most? Absolutely.

23
by Shattenjager :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 4:54pm

[deleted]

68
by rk (not verified) :: Sat, 03/17/2012 - 12:40pm

I suppose McNabb might have outplayed Manning in Peyton's rookie year, but the competition in the Big East probably wasn't as tough as that in the AFC East.

11
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 2:09pm

LOVED the parade bit because it's a wonderful analysis/description of style over substance :-)

13
by Peregrine :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 2:41pm

Dr J was Julius Erving, not Irving.

14
by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 2:41pm

Ah, the Glen Burnie High School marching band, the Marching Gophers, they would probably all be Ravens fans. Oxon Hill or North Point might have been better.

47
by Jim C. (not verified) :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 1:15pm

Actually, I thought that was a subtle bit of genius. Ravens fans love watching the Redskins self-destruct every off-season, and would take great glee in participating in this parade.

48
by Hurt Bones :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 1:48pm

The emotional scars inflicted on adolescents performing a musical tribute to DeAngelo Hall are too painful to contemplate, even if it means making fun of the Ethnic Slurs.

18
by Bill (not verified) :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 3:44pm

Very much look forward to a Herschel Walker retrospective whenever and however it is packaged.

27
by Arnie Herber (not verified) :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 5:40pm

I am, and am not, looking forward to that... big Walker fan from Georgia days, but pro career never lived up to the promise. (And Trump luring him out a year early kept him from attaining amazing heights in college.)

Perhaps Walker will top the 'top 5 RBs in USFL history' list?

30
by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 9:15pm

1. H. Walker
2. Bryant
3. Cribbs
4. G. Anderosn
5. Some orher guy

Going fo have to think abkut this soem more but rhose are first five come to mind and jave them that order. Walker had 2411 yards one seasln. M. Carthon also go over 1000 yards one season with NJ.
Gart anderson gerta with Steve Spurrie r tampa Bay team. Then go to SD Chargers anx Buccs before finising with Loins if remember right.

Bryant gerta with Stars. Cribbs with stallions.
Bill Johnson delightful with Denver Gold.

Rozier orettyy good with bulls.

54
by buzzorhowl (not verified) :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 3:10pm

#5--Tim Spencer? Seems the most likely candidate to me.

66
by Raiderjoe :: Sat, 03/17/2012 - 2:59am

Spencer good chkice for 5 spot.

71
by Arnie Herber (not verified) :: Sat, 03/17/2012 - 5:27pm

Spencer sounds like a solid choice - but there clearly seems to be a dropoff between a clear top 4, and those outside of the top 4. No clear 5th.

19
by Led :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 4:13pm

Tanier sprained his funny bone whilst mentally shaking his fist at Ricky Watters. Hence the obvious and unfunny parade sketch. Nobody's perfect, but the occasional clunker will go over better when it isn't dripping with condescension.

21
by Cro-mags (not verified) :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 4:41pm

Keith Byars was like a great all-purpose back that could do everything but run. Although in fairness he was a great contributor at H-back and lots of straight TE for the Eagles.

Bummer how that early 90s Eagles team fell apart so quickly.

22
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 4:47pm

Look, I can see plenty of reasons not to like the Griffin trade. I happen to think it risky but rational (ask yourself whether you think the Colts are insane not to have traded Luck away for a similar haul), but I can quite understand why others do not. To regard it as "same old Redskins", however, is just silly. The Redskins have never invested serious resources in acquiring a franchise quarterback - no, the #25 pick does not count. If they are right about how good he is, he will make them competitive for more than a decade even surrounded by dreck, and a contender if they acquire some decent pieces around him - even if it's five years down the line. Hayneworth could never have had that sort of transformative effect, even if he'd played at an all pro level. Nor could Sanders. And neither of them could have had whatever effect they were going to for more than a few years. Maybe it's still folly, but it's a different kind of folly. Draft picks are not cap space, and quarterback is not like other positions.

24
by AJ (not verified) :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 5:31pm

how many qbs can we really say are successful with absolute garbage around them? Take this year alone for instance. Is it a coincidence philip rivers threw so many ints after essentially, gates was hobbled, the o line was in shambles, and the defense was routinely putting him behind?

Or take cutler...he looked like he had the makings of an all pro qb when he was in denver and just last year they were talking about running him out of town? His dvoa and dyar numbers have plumeted since going to chicago and their absolute 0 on offense.

Or take drew brees in 10, when his offensive line was hurt, running backs were on ir, and his receivers were in and out and no sproles---nos passing offense went from first in dvoa to 9th.

We can even lump brady into the mix as well. Pre-welker days, brady looked like a good but hardly an all pro mvp type season.

The pt is, only peyton manning in my honest view can take an absolute garbage team and get them 10 wins. The rest struggle because their are limitations to what even great qbs can do with no talent. Unless the expectation is rg3 is peyton manning 2.0, this trade was a huuuge gamble.

39
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 10:04am

I said "competitive", not "contender". The very worst of those teams went 7-9 with a fractionally negative point differential. And there's no reason to think that every part of the Redskins roster will be garbage even with Griffin there - Williams, Orakpo, Kerrigan and Davis all look like excellent players, to start with.

"this trade was a huuuge gamble"

Absolutely. But to my mind, probably a justified one.

43
by Noah of Arkadia :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 12:21pm

Mr Shush is right on this one. IF RGIII works out really well, four or five from now -or even more, who cares-, the Redskins will be a contender.

If he doesn't work out, on the other hand... it's going to be some serious kind of pain for them down the road.

------
We are number one. All others are number two, or lower.

44
by tuluse :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 12:33pm

The problem here is if he just kind of works out. If he's *just* Jay Cutler good or Mark Brunell, or Drew Bledsoe. All those QBs are good enough to be considered franchise guys, but they're going to need more help than a Peyton Manning or a John Elway. So unless RGIII is somewhere in the range of one of the best 10 QBs in the history of the NFL, it's going to be hard to build a consistent contender.

55
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 3:11pm

That's true. But if he turns into one of those other guys it's a bad trade, not a horrific disaster. Again, he's not actually going to be surrounded by scrubs. He's just going to get a little less top end supporting talent than he otherwise would have.

56
by tuluse :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 3:15pm

Sure, the Bears had a fairly average team when they traded for Cutler. Of course then the offensive line collapsed.

61
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 4:08pm

And it's not like they've been terrible since (26-22 with one division title).

62
by tuluse :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 4:32pm

Oh sure, I think it has been a good trade for the Bears, but this is another first round pick in addition.

Which is actually what the Bears essentially fielded this year with how early Carimi went down. Think they could have used another capable lineman this year?

76
by BrixtonBear (not verified) :: Mon, 03/19/2012 - 1:25pm

'Another'? Which one did they have that you thought competent? Or are you including those on IR?

49
by Scott P. (not verified) :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 1:54pm

The Redskins expect RG III to make them a contender, not just a competitor. If the Redskins go 9-7 or 10-6 for the next three years followed by first or second-round playoff exits, Griffin will be ridden out of town on a rail (see: McNabb, Donovan).

53
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 3:10pm

Well, competitive's what you get if you surround him with total cack. Even without first round picks for three years, there's no reason why that should be the case. The Redskins have plenty of later round picks to acquire solid role players and depth.

And I do not believe the organization (or any organization, the late Al Davis era Raiders included) is so insane as to get rid of a good young quarterback based on "only" going 9-7 or 10-6 in his first three seasons. McNabb was old and not very good. There's no comparison.

58
by dbostedo :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 3:40pm

If the Redskins make the playoffs each of the next three years with a QB in the first three years of his career, they should be ecstatic.

63
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 5:41pm

Um, no. The Skins haven't made the playoffs twice in a row (or been over 500 3 times in a row) since 1992. If they do that, RG3 will be a hero in Washington. This isn't Philly or New York. We don't kill athletes for being successful (or have I missed all the Capitals fans screaming to trade Alex Ovechkin?).

25
by tuluse :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 5:34pm

Lots of dislike on this one. I liked the parade bit. LombEarly Trophy had me chuckling softly at my desk.

26
by AJ (not verified) :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 5:34pm

Btw, i should add that thats not a knock on brady...when your starting receivers are caldwell and gaffney, looking like a probowler is itself a huge testament.

40
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 10:07am

I actually still think 05 and 06 were probably Brady's best seasons, much as Manning was better in the second half of the decade than he was in 2004.

28
by Nate Jones (not verified) :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 6:23pm

Is anyone else bothered by the "The Redskins traded three first round picks for RGIII" meme? I know it's technically correct, but it's a little misleading. They gave up two, and swapped another for an earlier pick.

29
by tuluse :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 6:34pm

I don't think it is misleading. Ordinarily it takes 1 first round pick to get a QB, the Redskins are using 3. Now maybe saying "2 additional first round picks" would be slightly more accurate, but I'm not bothered by it.

31
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 9:57pm

Imagine if the trade was not official until the Rams picked RG3. in that case, the Skins would literally be trading 3 1st round picks for RG3. Now, is that so different from what actually happened?

34
by RickD :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 11:31pm

So they traded two picks, but the other one was "swapped"?

35
by Vince Verhei :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 1:58am

It's not misleading at all. It's exactly accurate. The Rams sent their first round pick to the Redskins. The Redskins sent three firsts and a second to the Rams. They gave up four picks and got one back. I don't even see any way that could be misinterpreted.

37
by Intropy :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 3:29am

It's totally inaccurate. The Redskins spent three first round and one second round pick on RG3, assuming they pick him.

Or even better. The Redskins gave up two 1s and a 2 in order to move up four spots.

32
by Jonadan :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 10:45pm

I'm anxiously waiting for the consternation in DC when the Colts take RG3 and man-oh-man, the 'Skins get stuck with Luck. (Okay, unlikely, but I can dream.)

---
"When you absolutely don't know what to do any more, then it's time to panic." - Johann van der Wiel

33
by Shattenjager :: Thu, 03/15/2012 - 10:54pm

That's what I expect to happen.

36
by Guest789 :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 2:10am

Stuck with Luck. It's catchy, I like it.

-----

“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

38
by Dean :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 7:19am

Not sure why the hate on this one, Mike. Picking on the Redskins never stops being funny. Maybe you didn't have enough cartoon references for the kids? Oh well. Great stuff, as usual - including the well-deserved venom for Watters.

Having said that, I'd still take Westbrook over Montgomery, although it is close.

45
by Jimmy :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 1:05pm

Keith Byars deserves an honourable mention for one of the best blow up blocks I have ever seen. Pulling around RT from an H-back position gets underneath the pads of the SLB and then sends him flying off the edge of the TV screen. They had to go to a different camera angle to show you where the guy landed.

74
by Harris :: Mon, 03/19/2012 - 9:55am

That was Pepper Johnson, Byars' former Ohio State teammate and, I think, a groomsman at Byars' wedding. There are no friends on the gridiron.

46
by CathyW :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 1:08pm

I love Duce Staley and I fondly remember the days of the Three Headed Monster. I'm glad that he is back with the Eagles in a coaching capacity. I also loved watching Charlie Garner. But by far, my favorite Eagles RB is #36 - I think Shady is something special, but he's not quite at Westbrook's level yet.

51
by chemical burn :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 2:28pm

To me, Charlie Garner is the one that got away - he was electrifying and should have been made the decisive #1 and had those crappy late 90's teams built around him. (Letting him leave town broke my heart...)

When I was at the Eagles/Giants game this year, the crowd went bananas when Duce walked in front of us on the sidelines. I would say the rest of the crowd was probably surprised to hear what sounded like booing... but would any eagles fan be surprised by any booing under any circumstance?

52
by Geronimo (not verified) :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 2:41pm

Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this piece. A great, smart, hilarious read. Thank you, Mr. Tanier! Take a bow.

57
by DP (not verified) :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 3:19pm

As a 49er fan, I will be curious to see if Ricky Watters ends up on their top 5 list. Some think that had he stayed in SF instead of going to Philly, another 49ers Super Bowl win in the 90's could have been a reality.

60
by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 3:42pm

I doubt he'll make it. Perry, McElhenny, Craig, Gore and Hearst would be before him on my list.

59
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 3:42pm

Found this nice little NFL Network Top 10 not in the HoF about Ricky Watters ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJjTtpK8mYs ... tremendous lack of effort on the "For who, for what" play.

72
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Sat, 03/17/2012 - 5:50pm

He admitted to that poor effort - that's what makes the quote so hilarious and tragic at the same time.

73
by Skins fan # 721 (not verified) :: Sun, 03/18/2012 - 9:43am

Carlos Rogers should have been mentioned somewhere during the parade route. And the LombEarly is not the only trophy the Redskins get to hoist annually. They also own the Forbes Magazine most valuable franchise award, so there. Only sports nuts care about actually winning, it's attention and money that REALLY count.

75
by RoyFlip (not verified) :: Mon, 03/19/2012 - 11:51am

One has to live in this area to get a real sense of how funny the parade bit is. The guy I work for is a Redskin diehard. He was literally jumping up and down in his office when they announced Gibbs 2.0. Another friend chortled in his joy when they announced the Shanahan signing. The same "Here we go!!!" enthusiasm and optimism: Year, after year, after year, after year. It is funny/sad to watch.
Glen Burnie.... Baltimore suburb or baseball trivia answer? I love that name. I always give it to the cops when they question me. You can also use it backwards: Bernie Glenn.

77
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 03/20/2012 - 3:34pm

I have to say that as a Raiders fan I went through a number of years where the hopes were got up by free agent signings, washed up ones at that. I don't recall many of them other than Warren Sapp, Randy Moss, Lamont Jordan.

But in our defense at least it does give you something to get excited about look forward to the following year. Back in 2005, compare that to be a Lions or Cardinals fan ... zero effort in the free agent market. Not even a glimmer of hope for the future.