The Washington Redskins released their preseason depth chart yesterday and I am shocked, SHOCKED, at the placement of Albert Haynesworth and Justin Tryon.
Haynesworth just joined the team in actual practice and is already shown on the second team defense. No surprise there, but he is only listed at nose tackle, backing up Ma'ake Kemoeatu.
I'm not buying it. Look for Haynesworth to line up at defensive end for at least half the plays in the regular season. Kedric Golston is listed as the starter in that spot today.
Is Shanahan still making a point with Big Al? Or just keeping NFL opponents in the dark?
Tryon is listed with the fourth team at cornerback. Fourth team?
Tryon's had a lot of good press lately. So I looked for him to challenge for second on the depth chart behind DeAngelo Hall. I don't know how the coaches are grading his practices, but last on the depth chart is no place to be on a team under new management.
This only shows there are only two types of people in football. Coaches and everybody else. Like the rich, coaches are different than you and me. It's pretty clear they do not consult Football Outsiders or blogs like, you know, this one.
It's preseason and nothing's locked except maybe 16 of the 22 starting positions. The depth chart will change between now and September. We hope that Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen are making better decisions about the roster. This is part of it. It won't be the last surprise in Shanahan's line-up. Predicting now how the Redskins will end the year is a fool's errand.
Watch how, or whether, Haynesworth and Tryon move up.
"The 6'3", 273-pound Grimm became a steadying force on the Redskins vaunted offensive line of the 1980s that earned the nickname "The Hogs." By his second season in the NFL, Grimm gained much notice from around the league. Teaming with tackle Joe Jacoby, the pair formed what was perhaps the most punishing side of an offensive line in football at the time."
"Last but not least, to burgundy and gold fans, there's many a time when I closed my eyes and I picture myself still putting on those pads at old RFK Stadium, and those stands are rocking up and down and 50 some thousand chanting, We want Dallas. I can hear the diesel horns blowing when 44 was carrying the football, and I remember standing there in the pouring rain when everyone was throwing the seat cushions down on the field in the playoff game versus Atlanta. "
"Grimm was a throwback to the old days when offensive linemen were simply modern-day Vikings with a legitimate way to plunder. Grimm and his compatriots played hard and drank harder." (From the time when men were men and expected to hold their liquor. What would the Commish make of that today?)
"'They all planned to be there Saturday, from different Hog eras. Starke, the Head Hog. Bostic. Jim Lachey. Mark May. Rick 'Doc' Walker. Jacoby, Donnie Warren, Mark Schlereth, Raleigh McKenzie. Jim Hanifan. Fred Dean.
"On Saturday night, Cardinals assistant coach Russ Grimm moved back to the A list for any and all head-coaching vacancies.
"Largely forgotten since missing out on the Steelers' job three years in a haze of ambiguity and/or the Rooney Rule, Grimm used his speech as an open audition for his ability to communicate to a team, a fan base, and a media corps.
"The son's (Cody Grimm) earliest recollection of his dad's playing days is Russ limping around the house after having knee surgery. He said he was never pressured him to play sports when he was growing up and that Russ has steered clear of offering him much in the way of tips or advice about the pro game."
There is no reference to Grimm's Hall Of Fame induction in his biography on the Arizona Cardinals web site. But Arizona is always three hours behind and a world away from Washington.
From Me at Redskins Hog Heaven:
The Hogs are more than the nickname of a component of the 1980s offense, in which Russ Grimm was a key player. The Hogs are a mystique. They are not just what the Redskins were. They are what we want them to be, whomever the owner or coach, whatever the offensive or defensive scheme: hard nosed, hard working, slobber-knocking bruisers who push you around against your will, as Grimm himself put it. We want them to be characters without being egotists. If Hogs had not come to personify that, then the name would have fallen to disuse decades ago and Grimm as forgotten as Len Hauss.
If they ever do change the team name, Washington Hogs suits me just fine.
Russ Grimm, left guard of the greatest offensive line in pro football history, is in Canton, Ohio, today for his induction to the NFL Hall Of Fame. He deserves to be there. In fact a Hog should have gone into the Hall when Joe Gibbs and John Riggins went in.
They say Joe Gibbs won three Super Bowls with different quarterbacks as though that's a big deal. Heck, he won three Super Bowls with different running backs. Gibbs won and lost a Super bowl with John Riggins. (The loss was Super Bowl 18, the only Super Bowl I personally attended. Still traumatized by that.)
But Gibbs always had The Hogs. The Hogs carried the Washington Redskins through the 'Eighties. The Hogs should be in the Hall, individually and as a group. But why not the left guard of the group?
Joe Jacoby was the left tackle for the Redskin from the 1981 season through the 1993 season. It's common knowledge that left tackle is the critical spot on the line. Media accounts at the time gave more love to Big Jake than to any other Hog. Even the Redskins call Jacoby the heart of The Hogs. You can look it up yourself on redskins.com right there under the post Joe Jacoby Was The Heart Of 'The Hogs.'
Why Grimm before Jacoby? Because of the pernicious effect of the Super Bowl on Hall Of Fame voters. Grimm made the more recent Super Bowl appearance as co-head coach of the Arizona Cardinals; Super Bowl 43, when the Steelers and Cardinals drew up a thriller--Pittsburgh 27-23.
Jacoby was last seen in a Super Bowl nearly two decades ago.
Neither players, nor coaches nor general managers make up the college of HOF voters. Votes are cast by sports reporters and media types. You know, mostly guys who are overly influenced by players the public's heard of.
That makes good business sense, I guess. Football fans will pay to go see the bust of already familiar players you've seen on ESPN. They usually aren't offensive linemen, even when those linemen make key plays that lead to the winning score.
That's why I'm so glad that Art Monk made the Hall Of Fame last year. Jerry Rice will be inducted to the Hall today. Rice was selected in his first year of eligibility. Rice more than anyone is responsible for Monk's delayed selection.
Monk retired in 1995 as football's leading receiver (940 receptions, 68 TDs). When he broke the season reception record (106) on 1985, Monk was always, always, referred to as "future Hall Of Famer Art Monk."
Rice broke the mold over the course of his career, especially after the league tweaked the rules for passing friendliness in the 'Nineties. One thousand career receptions, 1,000 yards in a season and Super Bowl appearances became Hall Of Fame benchmarks for wide receivers from then on. And Rice, whose career lasted nine seasons beyond Monk's, was always, always referred to as a future Hall Of Famer.
Hall voters forgot Monk; or if they remembered, dismissed him as a generic possession receiver of no importance, like offensive linemen. With players like Chris Carter and Andre Reed eligible for the Hall, Monk might never have made it were he not selected in 2008. Monk faded in Rice's shadow.
So give a cheer for Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby, Art Monk and all the players whose body of work should give them a leg up for getting into the Hall, but usually doesn't. Here's to the Hogs, whose legacy in Washington is now guarded by a group of cross-dressing men with pig noses.
Points After: Joe Bugel will introduce Grimm at the Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony.
Russ Grimm should have been selected to the Hall on his name alone. "Russ Grimm" sounds like a Marvel Cartoon hero. Only Johnny Blood is a better football name that Russ Grimm.
Grimm's son, Cody, is a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Russ Grimm played 11 seasons for the Redskins, helped the team to four Super Bowls, was named one of the 70 Greatest Redskins and the NFL 1980's All Decade team. He worked the coaching staffs for the Steelers and Cardinals, but was not once invited to interview for the Redskins head coach job.
Here's a tip o' the hat to Ken and Kevin over at SBN's Hog Haven for scoring an interview with Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder.
Here are three things to like about the interview:
1. Dan the Man made himself available to the fans. It's rare that Snyder publicly holds himself accountable for the fortunes of the Redskins. That's a sharp contrast to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones who may be no more loved in Texas than Snyder is around here. Compared to Snyder though, Jones is more available to fans through the media. You might not agree with him, but you know where he's coming from. That's something Snyder has to get comfortable with.
2. A blog scored this interview. No doubt the team selected Hogs Haven for its connection with committed fans. Talking to Kevin and Ken isn't the same as facing Ryan O'Halloran or Rick Snider. Ken and Kevin asked the questions without making it investigative reporting. Never-the-less, the event gave Hogs Haven media credibility. Some of that rubs off on the whole sports blog movement.
3. Snyder used the word "stewardship" to define his ownership. Here's the quote:
"...you're responsible as the owner of the team... so because you own the team, it's your fault. On the other hand, I don't look at it that way. I really see this as a stewardship...it's something that the fans own the team and my responsibility is to try and do the right thing."
Snyder was asked if it was hard to be hands-off with team management when he was blamed for everything anyway.
In 10 years of ownership, I don't think he ever used that word. Words are cheap. Action counts. The Redskins is not Snyder's personal plaything. It's certainly not his to mismanage. Maybe he's starting to get that.
Snyder's image bumped up when he hired Bruce Allen as general manager. Snyder is most dangerous the year after he hires a new coach. His true test will come in the 2011 offseason. He has a ways to go.
There is one little test Snyder could pass now. Snyder's full page portrait and a full-page bio appears on the opening spread of GAMEDAY Magazine, the programs sold at home games. That was the case when he bought the team. It was the case when Joe Gibbs was here, as if Snyder had anything to do with the trophies Gibbs won. He did not, but the placement made it seem as though Snyder himself was the most critical factor to Redskins success. It always irked me, all the more so when the team loses.
When I buy a GAMEDAY this season and see head coach Mike Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen on that opening spread, I'll be ready to believe that maybe, possibly, perhaps things are beginning to change around here.
"Imagine you're a pastry chef. The top pastry chef in New York. A bunch of restaurants want you. One restaurant offers you more money than the others, plus the opportunity to run the dessert menu. You take it. A year later, the same restaurant switches to an all-fondue format and demands that you become a sous chef, chopping chocolate-dippable fruit wedges in the back room."
Hruby says Big Al has a right to act out in frustration. I get that. He says anyone so annoyed at being jerked around would call in sick and check the want ads. I get that too. Then he insults Redskins fans by says we should direct our ire over his position at some of the team's decision makers for striking the bonus-rich deal with Haynesworth.
Where the bleap has this guy been since game three last season? In making his case, Hruby omits a few key points.
Fan ire's already been directed at the decision-makers, one of whom is already gone, the other urged to fire himself.
As for Hruby's analogy, if that guy is indeed the best chef in town, he could and would quit and get a better job anywhere.
That's exactly the deal Haynesworth was offered by Mike Shanahan. We'll let you out of your contract. Make your best deal anywhere and you're free to go--as long as you don't take the big bonus to stay.
Guess what? The great chef found out that he's not so much in-demand. His last restaurant refused to take him back. Maybe he's lost some skills or has a bad attitude. The other joints in town know that conditions change all the time. If they don't change, they will lose. They need chefs who can help them. Nobody else loves him like his current restaurant. If he stays, he might become a better chef.
Hill wonders if the Redskins are overplaying their hand. With so much at stake, with a Pro Bowl quarterback under center, Washington needs a Pro Bowl season from Haynesworth to get anywhere this year.
"The last thing this team needs is a distraction of this magnitude before the season even begins."
Preseason is just the time to get distractions out of the way. Haynesworth played better than given credit for last year. It was not a Pro Bowl performance, largely because of conditioning. What's the issue now? Conditioning.
It's football. What happens when an injury forces coaches to move players to different positions? Can't Haynesworth do what Lorenzo Alexander did last year and play on the defensive and offensive line? (Come to think of it, Big Al would be a pretty fierce tackle. But don't mention that to Shanahan.)
Here's what will happen if Shanahan goes too far. The veteran team captains will whisper in Shanny's ear: enough. Shanny will whisper in the strength coach's ear: your watch is too slow." The strength coach will declare Haynesworth fit without ever saying whether he passed or not. The coach will mumble something about employee confidentially.
Whispers may already have gone into Shanahan's ear. Commissioner Roger Goodell visited Redskins Park. He met privately with Haynesworth. Hmmm.
This whole issue is a crises only to Haynesworth. Sooner or later, he and the coach will resolve it like men, professionally and quietly.
Point After: Goodell said he passed the conditioning test. Right. So did I. So did you. And your grandmother.
Over the past two offseasons, the much maligned Washington Redskins front office addressed the two biggest weaknesses on the team--the offensive and defensive lines. Along the way, Danny Snyder upgraded the head coach and quarterback while adding the first general manager since Charley Casserly.
That brings wide receiver to the top of the fix-it list.
Failure to get this done cannot be laid completely at the feet of Vinny Cerrato. The Skins have tried and failed to build an elite receiving corps since Art Monk and Gary Clark retired. Desperate Redskins fans were elated with rumors of Washington's interest in San Diego wideout Vincent Jackson.
Slow down there, cowboy. There are six reasons why Jackson won't have an impact on the Redskins' 2010 season.
1. Jackson may not be available. Charger GM A.J. Smith has the inconvenient habit of not renegotiating contracts when players hold out. He will not talk trade with Jackson's camp until Jackson signs his Restricted Free Agent tender. Jackson says he'll stay out for as long as the CBA allows (10 games) and Smith is preparing the Chargers to compete without him. This impasse will end sometime, but there is no end in sight now.
2. Jackson may go to Seattle. The Seahawks are just as desperate for a wide receiver threat as the Redskins. Their No. 1 draft pick is just as good as Washington's draft pick. Bottom line: Jackson is just as likely to play for the Chargers or the Seahawks as the Redskins.
3. Jackson is only good for 13 games this season. Fortunately, it will be the last 13 games in the season. The NFL suspended Jackson for three games this season for violating the league's substance abuse policy. That means Jackson won't be available for Washington's home game against Dallas September 12.
4. Jackson missed the Redskins OTAs. By the Haynesworth precedent, that means he can't practice with the team until he passes the Shanahan conditioning test. We don't know what shape Jackson is in. Bringing him on board now adds spice to the Haynesworth stew. Mmmm, delicious.
5. Will the Jackson accept what he is worth? Not what Jackson wants; what he's worth? Jackson wants a deal comparable to Brandon Marshall's contract with Miami (four-year, $47 million, $24 million guaranteed). Jackson's value may be half to one-third less. With Washington anxious to show how they've changed, would they pay the big bucks just to land a flashy player who will solve all their problems? Would Jackson be happy with a six year, $30 million contract with $10 million guaranteed? Would he happy with that deal a year from now, if he's trumped by another wide receiver contract? Would he restructure if the Skins need to adjust to a new salary cap? Would he show up while a deal is being worked out? See where this is going?
6. Does Jackson fit the Redskins offense? This is the big one. The Redskins are a West Coast team. Jackson plays in a Downfield Offense team. He will have a steep learning curve when he arrives, if ever. He missed the OTAs, is missing training camp and will miss at least three games this year. There's a price to be paid for that. The currency is time. It cannot be avoided.
Don't get the idea I'm opposed to landing Jackson. I'm all for it. He would be the best receiver on the roster. But, there's a but. However good Jackson looks on paper, adding him now won't do much for the Redskins this season.