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November 21, 2011

11:01
A.M.

Ask Boswell about the Redskins, Washington sports

Total Responses: 29

About the hosts

About the host

Host: Thomas Boswell

Thomas Boswell

A Washington Post columnist since 1984, Thomas Boswell is known for the many books he has written on baseball, including "How Life Imitates the World Series" and "Why Time Begins on Opening Day."

About the topic

Washington Post Sports Columnist Tom Boswell answered your questions about the Redskins' game, the Capitals, the Nationals, the rest of D.C. sports and more.

Past Ask Boswell chats
Q.

Rex Grossman

With Grossman not looking like a total and absolute dud running this offense (when he doesn't make headslapping turnovers) does the probability of drafting a 1st round QB diminish? Or is it inevitable that it's happening no matter what. This team has a lot of holes to fill and a miss on a 1st round QB would only set them further back.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

This would be an easy answer for me; No, Grossman will never be an above-average NFL QB no matter that you build around him. He will always make the same mistakes. He was born to play QB. He has the inate swagger, the attitude, it's his identity. But that's also part of the problem __the way he plays, the gambles, the desire to be daring, the love of the perfect pass fitted into a tight space, is in nhis QB DNA. Also, he's not a big guy. Listed at 6-2. No way. More like 6-0. When he gets hit, sometimes the ball is just going to come out.

Most fans probably agree with this analysis, at least in a general sense. BUT here's the potential problem. At least one of the Shanahans may actually believe that that Grossman can be one of the btter QBs IF he has a running game __which Mike Shanahan will always believe to the soles of his feet that he can build__ and the decent protection that rebuilt O-line can provide. I wonder how much time they will waste (in my view) trying to build an offense AROUND the QB position so that they can prove __to the world__ that they were right all along about Grossman and/or Beck.

What percentage of the brave things that Mike said did he really believe? I still have no idea. All coaches try to build up their player's egos, support them. But Shanny went way beyond that. A mule-headed streak is good in many football coaches; it's a kind of mental toughness. Don't be swayed by what the world thinks. But you can be too stubborn.

 

Will the Shanahans see Grossman and Beck for what they are (imo) __backups or bottom-10-in-the-NFL starters at best? If so, then you draft a QB and think of Grossman as a decent place-holder at QB until the younger player comes along.  That's what I'd recommend. Every year you wait is one more year before you have a chance of developing your real QB of the future.

There are lots of questions about the Skins, but none is  bigger than QB. The list of gawdawful D.C. QBs is so long its unbelievable. I actually enjoy watching Grossman play __just on attitude, moxie. I admire that he's so limited, yet refuses to see himself that way. As soon as he has to throw on the run his passing degrades. He's not very mobile. A little in the pocket, but not much. And, including his lost fumbles, he's the most turnover-prone QB in the NFL among active players. That includes 41 QBs who have enuff pass attempts to qualify (see pro-football-reference.com).

Sorry for the long answer, but this is Question No. 1 for the off-season. The whole world thinks that '11 proved the Shannys wrong on their QB picks. DO THEY AGREE. Not publicly. But privately. They can resign Grossman pretty cheaply.

You, me and the postman think the Skins MUST draft a future QB. I'm not sure Mike Shanahan feels the same. He sees games like Sunday when Grossman plays the Cowboys even with NOTHING around him __guys like Stallworth off the street, oldsters like Gaffney and nobodies__ and thinks, "What could he do with a Mike Shanahan-build offense around him (the Official Genius Offense in human history) and Kyle(son of the Official Genius of all time) calling plays?"

I suspect Shanny goes for a QB with the No. 1 pick. Whether he does or not will tell us a lot about HIM.

– November 21, 2011 11:03 AM
Q.

Clinching Point?

So why all the fuss about Tiger getting the "clinching point" at the President's Cup? The fact that his point clinched the victory was just a fluke of timing. His point was no more important than Hunter Mahan's or Jim Furyk's. Yet everyone seems to be attaching some significance to it. Fact of the matter is that Tiger was 2-3 in his matches including an embarrassing 7 and 6 rout in the first match.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

It was a nice fluke. That's all. Tiger didn't play particularly well. The 2-3 record reflects the reality.

But lots of people, ESPECIALLY lots of people in the golf industry/media, would much prefer a Tiger comeback to a Tiger-is-washed-up-and-No.-30-in-the-world future for the sport. So, some folks hope for a Woods turning point that helps him feel like his game or his karma is turning. I don't think either of his good moments this month overseas mean anything __good or bad. At least he avoided embarrassing himself while playing for his country. That's better than a sharp stick in the eye. But it's '12 that matters, especially the Masters which is still the course (in a m ajor) that suits him best.   

– November 21, 2011 11:03 AM
Q.

Woodbridge

When is someone gonna tell Graham Gano that every point counts? Does he want to be around next year or not?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Gano confuses and concerns me a little! At his locker, in a mob scene, he said, "It's frustrating. I feel like I am agreat kicker and I've proved it...I hit it well (the 52-yarder) and I missed it...The same with the other (49-yard) one."

He leads the NFL in missed field goals (8). I know self-confidence matters enormously to a kicker, but I must have missed the 2-3-4-season span when he proved he was a great kicker! And when a golfer or a kicker __mechanically two very similar athletic acts__ says, "I hit it well and I missed it," I hear alarm bells going off. Denial? An insufficiently rigorous definition of what it means to do something "well" in your profession.

Lets reduce it to this: the "great" ones never think that they "hit it well," but still missed the kick that could have won the game. Of note, Gano said the wind was not a factor but the field was "atrocious." When I rewatched the game, I was surprised __the FedEx Field IS atrocious. It's totally chopped up inside the hash marks. We've all seen better high school fields. What's up with that? Has it been that way all year? Did they want a 'slow track" for the Boys? Yes, 300-pounders chew up turf. But not THAT much.   

– November 21, 2011 11:04 AM
Q.

Capitals

How much longer can Leonsis and McPhee stick with BB? His growing rift with OV would seem indicate that a change might be warranted. Do you think the team has tuned Bruce out at this point?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The danger with NOT firing Boudxreau after last season was that you would have to 1) tighten the discipline on an undisciplined team in '11-'12, 2) that Boudreau, not a disciplinarian, would be in charge of that change and that 3) if things started to go bad, you might have the problems you are seeing right now.

I wrote in a column and in chats last year after their playoff loss that they needed to think about whether Boudreau was sthe coach they wanted for the kind of team-style changes and behavior changes that the Caps were going to have to demand. Any parent, school teacher (or even summer camp counselor)  knows how harde it is to change the house rules after you have set them too loosely. It's easier to start off tough, then relax the rules than the other way around.

An Ovie-BB problem is the worst of all possible rifts. So the Caps better hope it's not too real or, at least, that it can be fixed. Ovechkin may not think his reputation in the league is tied to this, but, to a degree, it is. You don't want Coach Killer on your resume. 

– November 21, 2011 11:04 AM
Q.

One Player to Build a Team

Boz, If you pick any current baseball player (assuming current ages) to start a team with who would it be? I'm assuming at this point it has to be Rodgers in football.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Do Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper count?

Kidding. Stras hasn't proved he can stay healthy for a string of 200-IP seasons and, despite that excellent Arizona Fall League performance (.333, slug over .640 in 97 ABs), they are too far away. I'll think about it and post later in the chat.

– November 21, 2011 11:04 AM
Q.

2013 MLB Schedule

I'm sure glad I don't have to come up with it! Why not just have one big league, and be done with it?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I'm going to be very interested in seeing how they lower the 18-games the Nats (and everybody else) has to play against division rivals. What is the right number? And how do you achieve it?

A lot of Nats-Phils, Nats-Braves and Nats-Marlins (as they im prove) will be fun. But 18 is just too much of any one team.

One big league? Not going to happen. Every sport has conferences or leagues that end up playing eachother very little in regular season then meet for The Title. It's a system that works. Even though, sooner or later, everybody plays everybody in interleague play in all major sports, it still adds a little mystery.

In the World Series, the Cards and Rangers (in existence for 50 years) had only played THREE games against one another in the HISTORY of major league baseball. Hard to believe, but it was cool. Both teams talked about how important it was to figure-out-on-the-fly all the hitters and pitchers they had never faced before __like the Felix-Freese showdown in the ninth inning of Game Six.

– November 21, 2011 11:14 AM
Q.

2012 QB???

Will you make a prediction who will be the QB in 2012 for the Skins?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Still Grossman for Game 1, even if they draft a QB.

– November 21, 2011 11:16 AM
Q.

Pitchers

Better Pitcher for the Nats - Oswalt or Buerhle?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Buerhle is a lefthander which is better in the N.L. East against the Phils and Braves. Davey Johnson, all things being equal, would like another LHer. Also, Buerhle has less history of injury and almost everybody who moves to the N.L., where they face pitchers at the plate, has a lower ERA than in their AL years. That's the case for Buerhle. But he throws his pitches at exactly the same speeds as Tom Milone. In fact, Buerhle was the only LHer in baseball that I could find as a comparable to Milone for "modest fastball, but still a big success."

If you go for Oswalt, you subtract from the Phils. They could still get him back. He's older. His fastball doesn't seem to be as alive as it was a couple of years ago. But he's still good and very tough.

Either would be a big help short term. Biut how much do they cost? And do they prevent you from finding out what you are holding in Peacock and Milone. It's a classic mistake to overvalue your own young prospects. The Nats need one of their Top Three rotation stars to be somebody who's been through the wars.

– November 21, 2011 11:21 AM
Q.

Nats CF?

So who do you think we have in CF starting next year?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

B.J. Upton __as a free agent. 

Haven't checked recently on his non-tender status with Rays. I'd risk money on him. I wouldn't risk players in a trade. You can make back the money with better attendance, better local TV deal with MASN. But the players are gone forever.

Add Upton, Buerhle and have Harper up by June and you can do a lot of dreaming about '12. That's part of what the off-season is for __especially when the Skins are 3-7 (again), the NBA may be out a long time, Maryland football and basketball both look like they may be bad for years and even the Caps are fussing.

BTW, I don't know how two coaches could make much worse a first impression on me than Randy E and Turgeon.  Rip the players. Little accountability. Football coaches are supposed to sound cliched, but there's a limit on banal and it's been shattered.

Turgeon's rant at his team after losing by 26 points to Iona, is everything that a great coach, great motivator, does NOT say to his team EVER. And certainly not after four games. Neither John Wooden or Morgan Wootten ever went that negative on their teams in public or in private in their whole careers.

 I remember being in Morgan's halftime locker room session when they were losing a big game at halftime. Aside from a passing reference to "Mrs. Dantley's two rebounds," everything was positive.  Fans think coaches/managers tend to yell at players. Far more often the good-to-great ones are the opposite __they inspire, they don't berate.

Maryland may look back, for a long time, on the Gary-Fridge-Yow era as a time when there were internal tiffs and riffs, but all three were as good at their three respective jobs as Maryland is likely to see.     

– November 21, 2011 11:32 AM
Q.

Hot Stove

Boz - Rizzo makes numerous references to the Nats being open to trades. The team is in the unique position of having a surplus of young talent. Who do you think are the untouchables and who are the prospects that we may never see play in a Nats uniform because they were traded away?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The Nats situation __which, frankly, is so far ahead of where the Redskins are that it's almost staggering__ tempts you to go slow. I'm torn. Recent drafts have been exceptional __on paper. The new CBA that will come out this week will mean it will be much tougher (expensive) for teams to pay amateur draft picks the kind of money the Nats gave to Strasburg/Storen, Harper class and last year's (on paper) blockbuster draft. Most experts on prospects think that Anthony Rendon and Matt Purke (LHP) could really be fast track to the majors.

So, you have players who could be in a trade like Desmond (because Espinosa, Lombardozzi and Rendon, presumably at 2nd are still with you.) With Wang signed, you could certainly package Lannan, especially if you thought Buerhle was in your future. None of the catchers behind Ramos will bring as much as they may prove to be worth.

For an 80-81 team, the Nats have a lot of players that, while certainly not "untouchable," you'd prefer to simply develop, enjoy __and at low cost. It really is a long list. That's why Davey is so upbeat. Stras, Storen, Espinosa, Ramos, Harper, Z'mann, Purke, Rendon, Peacock, Milone, the late-blooming surpruise Morse. Whjo wants to trade such low-cost talent when you can use payroll to add players through free agency?

Nice problem to have. Contrast that to the Redskins. Wow. Shows that, at least in baseball, you can get quite a rebuilding project well under way with just three years of patience and some brains. But it'll take another couple of years for this team to be "forged in the fire." Gaining experience, in baseball, is almost always a painful process.    

– November 21, 2011 11:42 AM
Q.

Ryan Z?

So do you think there is a chance that they sign Zim to a long term contrat now or are we in danger of him going to free agency? I don't want to see him in a Yankees/Phillies uniform
A.
Thomas Boswell :

A Zimmerman deal can, and should get done. The Lerners/Rizzo should understand, and I think they do, that while Z'amn will be expensive he will never be as 'sanely' priced as he is now. He's had injuries two of the last three years. That has to be "in" his market price. He gets it. Let him have a monster 160-game season in '12 and his price can go way up. 

I always say that you should only pay full price for stars on the open market __meaning extending your own stars and buying free agaents__ if you feel confident that someday they will be on the Hall of Fame BALLOT. Not IN Cooperstown, but on the ballot. That's a much bigger group of players, but you still have to have a wonderful long career to get that distinction. Z'man, even early in his cvareer, is in that "ballot" category. So, go ahead and pay fair market for your own F of F. All contracts are risky. But this is the right kind of risk.

I'll concede that Werth was a classic case of breaking this rule and was one reason I was shocked when work of the deal broke after the Skins game in the Meadowlands last year. I think my incredulous, "WHAT!!!?????? made the whole pressbox jump. As in chess notation, I'd say the ratio of question marks to exclamation points was about two-to-one __meaning high-risk move with more danger than winning potential. But gutsy.

– November 21, 2011 11:51 AM
Q.

Redskins

The defense and special teams played well yesterday. They almost pulled the game out. Since this season is over as far as post season, who would you like to see get some more playing time on the team? Someone on the practice squad?

A.
Thomas Boswell :

Good Lord, who's left that HASN'T had a chance?

Look at the rookies on the field yesterday: Kerrigan, Maurice Hurt, Roy Helu, DeJon Gomes. Other young players like Darrel Young (FB), Logan Paulsen and (yes!!) Banks getting touches. P:aulsen has had two damaging holding calls in consecutive weeks, but seems to have promise.

Perry Riley seems to be working out pretty well, too.

The youth movement and play-'em-all is fully underway. Out of necessity. You know I think that Trent Williams looks like he should have been take about 50 spots lower in the draft. Way too many penalties at bad times and mistakes. But he's still a legit starting LT. Losing him will be tough.

– November 21, 2011 11:57 AM
Q.

Kershaw or Strasburg?

If you were starting an MLB team today, who would you want as your ace? Clayton Kershaw or Stephen Strasburg? Kershaw already has a Cy Young yet is only four months older than Strasburg.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Kershaw. He's done it.

Strasburg is more breathtaking. It's going to be tough for anybody to be better than 21-5 and 2.24 ERA (top of my head).

Got an e-mail from a fan daydreaming about trading Ryan Zimmerman and prospects for Kershaw. Rotation of Strasburg, Kershaw and Zimmermann with Rendon the 3rd baseman in time. I told him, "Nice try, but never happen." The Dodgers would never trade Kershaw.

I'll admit that the range of moves the Nats could make __trades and FA signings and even Harper up sometime in '12__ makes your head swim a little.

It'll be interesting to see how the including of HGH testing in the new MLB CBA will impact the prices that teams are willing to pay for major FA sluggers this winter. Is anybody going to shrink by the time spring training starts after HGH testing arrives? No, I'm not thinking of anybody in particular. Just 'as a class' there is now an added risk factor with signing a big slugging FA.

– November 21, 2011 12:03 PM
Q.

Redskins/Adjustments

Why is it every team in this league adjusts to its players but the Redskins always have a certain "system" the players need to fit into. I feel that if Tim Tebow was a Redskin he would be throwing 40 times a game for us. Look at all the players that leave and end up being great somewhere else. Most recently Carlos Rogers, Andre Carter, and Brandon Lloyd.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

An exceptionally good point. And everybody has noticed what Rogers, Carter (!!) and Lloyd are doing.

At some point I may write a column about Tebow. It is NOT about will power or magic. The reasons fro Tebow's success so far are right in the stats. In his five starts, the Brons have averaged 314.8 yards of total offense, which puts them right in the middle of the league in that time. But Tebow and that offense has generated that decent total while Tebow has only turned the ball over ONE time. Any team that gets average yardage, but with almost NO turnovers is going to have one of the 10 best offenses in the league __and in Denver's case, one that eats clock.

Also, Tebow's style is perfectly suited for late-game comebacks when __for one drive__ he can do everything, carry the ball as much as he has to__ and not be exhausted by it. Can't do that for 4 quarters. So he becomes a much better player late in games and especially in four-down come-from-behind situations.

Will he get hurt? Who knows. But he's built like a LB so why would his risk of injury be a lot greater than any other big tough LB, FB or TE? 

Will the league figure him out? Okay, he's running a glorified high school offense. But option offenses are tough to stop. Especially in an era of spread formation when most defenses have lots of smallish-DBs on the field. You've got big offensive lineman running the option  at 3-4 defenses where the LBers aren't any bigger than Tebow and in nickel-dime packages he can run over most of the DBs.

Trends and counter-trends always come and go. I think, for now, both Tebow and the throw-back offense he runs __it's much more sophisticated, but it actually does resemble what I've been told about single-wing teams with a "tailback" before the T-formation__ have the trends on their side.

As long as he stays healthy, I think Tebow can be effective. And I don't think it's a mystery or any nonsense outside football itself.  His offense is gaining yardage without turnovers and he's especially well-suited to late-game one-man-gang comebacks. I enjoy him. Amd every time somebody says it's "ugly," I think, "And you are a moron, buddy, becauser you never played in a veer-style option offense, so you don't know what it can do with a great and physically tough runner at QB." 

– November 21, 2011 12:14 PM
Q.

Harper

After Harper's Arizona Fall League performance, is there any chance he makes the opening day squad if he is the best candidate coming out of spring training?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Davey's proud that he had Dwight Gooden in his rotation at 19. Johnson loves big egos and big talents. And Davey DOES NOT OBEY. He basically called up Lombardozzi, Marrero, Peacock and Milone __ALL of them__ before the front office was willing to talk about it. Davey talked about how great it would be "when they come up."

I asked Rizzo, "Is your manager calling up players before you figure out whether you want them called up and how it impacts the 40-man roster?"

Rizzo said, paraphrase, "You know him better than I do."

So, I laughed and said, "Yeah, looks like he is." Or some such. If Davey thinks Harper is ready, it'll be a bigger version of the way he said, "I need Detwiler to be my 'No. 6 starter'  out of my bullpen now," and so Rizzo gave him Detwiler.

They work very well together on that. Davey has done just about every job in baseball that exists. So he's perfect for saying to a GM, "What do you need me to do to help you develop your young players and answer your organizational questions as quick as possible." But Rizzo knows that a Davey Johnson team is a Davey Johnson team. He's going to say, "This is what I need. This is who I want on my team." And he'll say it in public first. Rizzo respects that, knows how good Davey is and is willing to learn things about roster-building from him.

So, Davey won't want to rush Harper, but he sure won't want to slow him down either if he really thinks he's ready. He likes to have talent develop under his nown eye because he thinks he's the smartest man in baseball, ikncluding bteaching hitting __oh, sorry, Davey would never say that__ but if a great prospect, like Gooden, is  going to get screwed up, Johnson'd like to be the one to screw 'em up, not somebody in the minors.

It's brutal around town right now. No NBA. Year No. 20 of Skins head-banging, etc. But spring's coming. This may not be "the year" when the Nats emerge. But it's a very high probability that such a year is coming. Get ready. Like watching the Caps arrive, it'll be fun.   

– November 21, 2011 12:24 PM
Q.

Ice Fix

Now that he has owned the building a couple years, when is Ted Leonsis going to fix the VC ice to withstand a Washington May's normal temperatures? VC is fine for winter temps but as you know, spring is a short time thing here and summer rears its ugly head early and often. Caps skill players need a superior, not substandard, home ice surface in the playoffs...
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Good point. I'm tired of hearing about the"bad ice" at the crucial times of years. It's Ted's building now. This is one of the kinds of things he's good at. I'd be very surprised if it doesn't get fixed. And the players themselves have certainly considered it a problem.

– November 21, 2011 12:28 PM
Q.

D Hall is a bum

Cowboys threw for 3 touchdowns yesterday. All 3 beat D Hall. The long pass that set up the game winning FG also beat D Hall. There were at least another 3 or 4 first down catches that beat D Hall. So, a question: Is it too late to unload him? (In the offseason, that is.) Is there anyone out there who would eat his salary and give up a 3rd or 4th round draft pick for the privilege? While we're dreaming, any chance they would take Landry, as well? Don't think he was missed much, yesterday. (Except perhaps by D Hall. Maybe Landry could have been beat for one of those TDs instead of 23.)
A.
Thomas Boswell :

You might want to read Mike Jones fascinating story on D9 and online: "Hall: 'The way I'm playing, they need to go and cut me.'"

I thought it sounded honest. But with MeAngelo even when he's bad and stands up like a man and admits it, it still somehow sounds like it's all  'about him.'

Hall's right. I watched the film. He was awful. But the defensive scheme had him playing VERY soft in coverage. So Jim Haslett has to share some blame.

– November 21, 2011 12:33 PM
Q.

Dear Bruce: Enough with the Line Tinkering

Management 101 -- you can only go so far with top-down management by fiat; at some point you need to build bottom up cohesion among colleagues, among co-workers, among peers on the factory floor. You do this within small teams -- low level, modular cells where strong ties develop over time -- within which folks develop horizontal allegiance and feel internal accountability pressure sans management intervention. That's probably one of the best lessons the Japanese shared with us in the '80s. When will the Caps' Coaching staff learn this lesson? Avoiding tinkering with the lines too much, and you'll develop cohesive subunits full of good soldiers on the ice that don't need so much coaching. BB, when challenged, insists "Scotty Bowman did this" and "shaking things up is about distributing the hot hands." Thoughts?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Very interesting. Thanks.

I've always suspected Boudeau switched his lines too much, played hunches and didn't let units develop chemistry. It'll be a good topic for future columns and chats. Bring on the NHL mega-gurus!

– November 21, 2011 12:35 PM
Q.

Running Back Discussion

Boz, How can you explain Ryan Torain continuing to start at running back? Helu has a much higher YPA and clearly runs the famed stretch play better than Torain, yet Torain keeps getting most of the work load? And Helu is a receiving threat while Torain has hands of stone. Why does Mike Shanahan seem so resistant to playing to the strengths of his players?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Helu's not a big guy. You have to share the load. With hightower out for the season, that's Torain. Man, the distance between his best games and the rest is huge.

– November 21, 2011 12:36 PM
Q.

Doc Walker

What's with the gratuitous cheap shot launched at Rick "Doc' Walker being "supposedly in the media." Doc is a straight-shooter, and calls them like he sees them. No, he won't be mistaken for Costas or Michaels, but often does he bring insight to interesting topics regarding on the field play and off the field, behind the scenes discussions. "Supposedly in the media" is a phrase I would attach to many WPost sportswriters and columnists. These supposed members of the Fourth Estate can be found all over the TV dial, at local bars, and social functions, hamming it up...shilling for publicity...acting like media darlings. Those in glass houses should not throw stones!
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I'm sorry. I certainly didn't mean it as a cheap shot. I really like Doc and his work. "I just ment" __that always comes just before you admit that you didn't write it precisely enough to say exactly what you intended__ that he couldn't help getting psyched on the sideline because Redskin-Cowboy games are in his soul and that got Grossman pumped up.

Doc, sorry, if it came out wrong. You're 'real media' in my book and a 'straight shooter' on the Skins. Remember how, when you were kids, you sometimes got "a free shot" at the other guy. He knew he was wrong, so he'd let you punch him as hard as you could in the arm. I'd give Doc one of those, but he'd probably break my arm and crush my rib cage, too.

– November 21, 2011 12:40 PM
Q.

Switching kickers???

On the blogs, many people are calling for the Skins to get rid of Gano. I disagree - he has a lot of talent. If they replace him, all they will do is replace him with another inconsistent kicker and another one after that. How can I be sure? Because that's what they have been doing since the late 90's, replacing mediocre kickers with mediocre kickers, mediocre coaches with mediocre coaches, mediocre quarterbacks with mediocre QB's, etc. What's the solution? Gano's got talent. Keep the players with talent and be patient. Upgrade at the weakest spots - O-line, QB, O-line, O-line, etc. - and be patient and consistent - over time. It's going to be a while because it's an internal organizational problem. When the people (not players) decide to be patient and consistent in their day-to-day organizational operation will things finally begin to change. Charlie M.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I'd stick with Gano. As you say, he has talent. And the misses were from 49 and 52. Of course, 50 is the new 45 these days. Don't run potentially good kickers out of town. They come back to haunt you.

– November 21, 2011 12:42 PM
Q.

The 3-4 Defense

Hi Boz, Well 26 games into the Shanahan era, the defense is still worse than the one he inherited. Meanwhile, the offense is absent of talent largely because all of the team's resources (FA signing and draft picks) have had to be spent rebuilding a defense that never really needed to be rebuilt in the first place. Not sure there's much of a question in here but I think the switch to the 3-4 still has to be questioned.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Good points. To justify the switch, the Skins 3-4 ultimately has to be dominant, not just pretty good. They'd spent years assembling 4-3 talent.

Ah, welcome to Redskins world. This is about the 5th example of the Skins blowing up the roster __or a biug part of it__ to fit the new coach's schemes. Schottenheimer was the first to do. Norv's guys just didn't suited his head-banging offensive ideas. It's never stopped. 

– November 21, 2011 12:45 PM
Q.

Mark Sanchize

Ignoring the Redskins, Nationals, and Caps for a minute, I have to know if Mark Sanchez is truly as bad as he looks. I thought the 3rd year was when a QB was supposed to take a step forward, but he seems to have regressed. And in this league, where Madden Football rules are enforced, this step back seems especially troubling. Is it the Offensive Coordinator's issue, the QB coach, Sanchez, or the Jets schizophrenic back and forth between 'Ground and Pound' and "Air it Out' philosophies?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

By every career stat measure I can find on Pro-Football-Reference, the only current NFL starter with worse numbers than Mark Sanchez is Rex Grossman.

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/leaders/pass_rating_active.htm

– November 21, 2011 12:47 PM
Q.

Upton trade

I noticed that the Nats added catcher Jhonatan Solano to their 40-man roster. This seems to indicate that they will trade one of their catchers (most likely Derek Norris) in exchange for a centerfielder. My best guess is Norris, LaRoche (assuming the Nats eat most of his contract), and Marrero to the Rays for Upton. What do you think?
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Thomas Boswell :

Interesting point about Solano in the 40-man. It sure provides insurance for a trade.

Norris, with all his walks, is a Moneyball kind of offensive player. The Rays are huge stat guys. The Rays got lousy offensive numbers at catcher out of John Jaso and Kelly Shoppach __combined .625 OPS. Norris projects are more like .750 eventually, maybe a little better.

Very nice "catch."

– November 21, 2011 12:51 PM
Q.

Redskins Fans: Don't Despair

A "glass is half-full" look at the Redskins: 1. 3 free toppings tonight!. 2. Redskins had an excellent 2011 draft. Kerrigan has been outstanding, and Jenkins, Hankerson, and Helu will probably be starters next year. Gomes and Neild have been solid role contributors. The Redskins have a significantly improved their young talent. 3. This is one of the best QB draft classes in years. The Redskins won't get Luck, but will get Matt Barkley, Landry Jones, or Robert Griffith. All 3 are capable of being the franchise QB the Redskins have needed for years. 4. Svrluga's article yesterday on the Redskins offensive line woes was excellent. The team should spend at least 3 draft picks on offensive linemen this year. Franchise QB + improved offensive line + improved defense will lead to a much better Redskins team next year.
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Thomas Boswell :

Lot of good points there. As I like to say, pay attention to the chatters here!

Seriously, I can't tell you how much I appreciate all the feedback and ideas that show up in your questions __including the MANY that I don't have time to answer.

– November 21, 2011 12:53 PM
Q.

Caps????

WHAT IS GOING ON??? Are they imploding now and getting it out of the way before April?
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Thomas Boswell :

Timing, it's all in the timing.

When the Cards came through D.C. in June and got swept by the Nats, they looked one of the worst LaRussa teams ever. They collapsed early, regrouped, made trades and won a miraculous title. It happens.

But, unfortunately, the word "implode" is generally not a good sign.

– November 21, 2011 12:54 PM
Q.

Sav Rocca - Placekicker

Despite some flashes, Gano will never be a clutch kicker. Recent attempts to bring in competition for him haven't worked. Can Sav Rocca kick field goals? Has any team had worse luck in QBs and PKs over the last two decades?
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Thomas Boswell :

Over the last 20 years, the position where the Redskins have been even worse than QB and Kicker is wide receiver. I went through the last 20 years worth on Saturday. Just unbelievable dregs, year after year. All these guys were the Skins No. 2 receiver in at least one season: Albert Connell, Derrius Thompson, David Patten, Rod Gardner, Michael Westbrook, Leslie Shephard. Remember, Westbrook and Gardner were high picks who were supposed to be No. 1 receivers, not mediocre No. 2s.

– November 21, 2011 12:57 PM
Q.

Offense

Just for fun, I wanted to see how many times the last 5 seasons our offense scored 24 or more points so I pulled a Boswell and consulted the numbers. Here is what I came up with: Since 2007, the Redskins offense (not counting return TDs or defensive TDs) has scored 24 or more points in 18 of 75 games. That isn't going to get it done folks. Until the Redskins show a commitment to increasing the talent level on offense, they will continue to be average to bad. And they probably need a cover corner to stop someone on third and long because they don't have that either. Front defense 7 is relatively solid. Everything else needs to be blown up. Start with oline and QB. Then find a shutdown corner and a receiver.
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Thomas Boswell :

Since Jan. 1, 2000, only ONE NFL: team has scored fewer points than the Redskins. (The Browns).

Okay, that's not a great note to end on. But the last few days haven't been so great 'round here.

See you all next week. Have a great Thanksgiving.

– November 21, 2011 12:59 PM
Q.

Big

Considering the abysmal state of sports in DC (including, right now, the Caps) is it the time for the Nats to take advantage and go big now? Rizzo's MO is to fly under the radar on free agency and trades so there's little that's going to come from the Nats by way of info. Do you think they might be considering going after some of the big names, such as Pujols or Fielder (and trading LaRoche)?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Well put. And a valid factor for a franchise to consider. I don't know how a 'marketing door' could be any more wide open.

– November 21, 2011 1:03 PM
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