Wednesday, January 25, 2012

LaRon Landry

Small update here.

One of the things with which I have received the most disagreement is my evaluation of strong safety LaRon Landry. In this "what have you done for me lately" league, I always choose to remind that Landry was the favorite to win DPOTY through the first half of 2010, prior to his season-ending injury, and even in his injury-riddled  and -slowed 2011, he was still the Redskins best defensive back.

That said, another, more in-depth analysis can be quite enlightening, and I would highly recommend the following article on Landry's value by Advanced NFL Statistics' Brian Burke on behalf of the Washington Post's Redskins Insider blog:

Burke analyzes Landry's contributions in terms of EPA (Expected Points Added) and WPA (Win Percentage Added) compared to a hypothetical league-average player. While I would highly recommend reading the article, the following is one excerpt:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A look at the Redskins Free Agents this offseason

This is a look at impending Redskins free agents with the approximate grade I would give them on their value and as players.

LB London Fletcher: A-. Grade-wise, this one is tricky. Fletcher gets an A+ as a player/team-mate. One of the smartest, most well-respected guys in the league, and incredibly productive and effective in his own right. More like a B- in value, though, because he'll be 37 before next season. Seems to have a bit left in the tank, and is tied with Ronde Barber for the longest active playing streak, having never missed a game, but his age has to catch up to him before too long. Much more valuable to the Skins, and wants to come back.

SS LaRon Landry: A- Absolute stud at SS, dominant player, game-changer when playing. A bit of a blockhead and sometimes not focused on what he needs to do which allows him to get burnt in coverage even though he has the physical ability to stay with and challenge any wide receiver, tight end, or running back in the league. Still young, raw potential to be a HoFer, but the last 2 years there have been big injury concerns. Last year he was the DPOTY through the first half but then couldn't play the second half of the season, and this year he was extremely impactful when he played but was hobbled much of his time on the field and missed more than half the season. Great player but something of a gamble with health and brain. Definitely a SS, not a FS.

TE Fred Davis: B+ Totally outstanding receiving TE who is very physically impressive and excelled despite our offensive mess. Very fast, very strong. Sometimes effective but inconsistent as a blocker. His value is hurt by the fact that he's on thin ice with drug suspensions, but helped by the fact that he's a good guy, not a head case, and is very young.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

DeAngelo Hall

I've mentioned before my desire to replace DHall in the starting lineup. Opinion on him varies as many football-savvy people consider him terrible (largely due to metrics, a lot of the time, and the way he performed at the end of his time in Atlanta and then in Oakland), with casual fans often thinking he's a great corner. Among Redskins fans, the opinions are similarly diverse with some hating him and blaming him for being childish and getting burnt (particularly by Dez Bryant, twice) and others calling him our legit #1 corner for a few years, as evidenced by his Pro Bowl berth last season. Most of what comes out from the team about him is positive about his overall abilities and play (if negative about specific games or instances).

Often the truth is somewhere in the middle, as was the case last year, in my opinion. Hall simply did not deserve to go to the pro bowl, and got there largely on the back of his 4-interception whipping of Jay Cutler. However, he was indeed a good corner for us. He's often been inconsistent, and is definitely prone to giving up big plays, but he's also had a penchant for making big plays to offset that, and is undeniably talented, both in terms of physical attributes and ball skills.

This year, however, he's simply been awful. His bad facets-- proneness to being burnt and making mistakes, occasional immaturity-- have been amplified while his positives-- ability to make huge plays, create turnovers, energize a team and change a game-- has been a fraction of what it was in past years. There have still been flashses, like his beautiful one-handed interception against the Giants in their week 15 routing (pictured to the left from this Washington Post article), but such examples have been few and far between.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Systematic, quantifiable look at Redskins' needs going forward

The Redskins Insider blog at the Washington Post put this piece up the other day.

It's a good read, as most of Burke's contributions this year have been. Sometimes his conclusions are a bit wonky but either way ti's interesting information to factor in. He uses "advanced statistics" to examine and evaluate players and teams, in this case the Estimated Win Percentage (EPA) that each player/position group gives. To excerpt his recommendations:

Assuming Fletcher and Landry are absent, the numbers would put the team’s needs in the following order: QB, OL, S, ILB, WR, CB, DL, TE, RB. Place kicker is a need as well, but it’s a position hard to slot with the others in terms of impact. It should never be a primary need, however, because the true skill of the league’s best and its replacement-level kickers are not as far apart than at the other positions.

Now, I think Fletcher is all but certain to be back and expect Landry to as well, so-- coupling that with the fact that safety woes are due much more to injury than personnel-- you can safely drop safety as a need. I would also raise cornerback and lower wide receiver because, as I've intimated, I've really lost confidence in Hall's ability to be a positive impact, and a top-notch corner would be the big missing piece in our defense. Meanwhile, even if the unit wasn't great this year, we have young guys like Leonard Hankerson(IR), Niles Paul and Terrence Austin who need a chance to show what they can do before we focus on burying them behind new options. All in all, the Skins have 5 draft picks at receiver going into their second or third year in 2012. That may or may not prove to be a good group, but either way it isn't as pressing a need right now, in my opinion. Furthermore, you have to think that with a competent quarterback throwing the ball the receiving group would've had a better showing.

Still, excepting the above and some of my espoused desire for a bottom-heavy, potato-shaped NT, my priorities are very closely in line with Burke's conclusions about the team based on EPA.He groups the DL and I think doing what I said at NT and allowing Cofield to play both NT and DE depending on package and down could be good for both positions and remove any DL need. It all depends on who is available in free agency and the draft and value, though.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Draft update

Been meaning to write up a revision based on final draft order, but haven't gotten around to it. I'm still not going to go in-depth at the moment (though hopefully soon), but to update, the Redskins are a confirmed 6th overall in the draft behind Colts, Rams, Vikings, Browns, and Bucs, in that order. Also of note, the Raiders pick 17th, and we have their 4th rounder from the Jason Campbell trade.

I was also going to mention in my update that it was starting to sound more like Landry Jones would be declaring despite my last draft post expecting otherwise, but he just announced that he is indeed returning to school, so no addendum is needed there. In other words, as predicted, it is now confirmed that Barkley and Jones are not coming out, while Luck is. Griffin is expected to but still hasn't announced one way or another.

Here's hoping that the Browns don't go QB in the first and that the talk of the Rams giving up on Bradford is meaningless, as I expect it is (both for financial and football reasons). Obviously that leaves the possibility of a Dolphins or Seahawks team trading up to be above us as well, but if someone trades up it's quite possible it would be the Redskins, as more and more people are starting to predict. I think Shanahan wants a QB for the Shanaplan and that he's willing to make moves to get him, I'm just hoping that someone else isn't willing to way overpay to take the big two before we're able to get one.

Also of note: As I've been expecting, Shanahan said he'd like to bring Fred Davis back.