Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wizards Fall to Cavs 94-84

For the first few weeks of the season, or from now until John Wall comes back, don't look too deeply at what the Wizards are doing on the court. Once they get their two key players back, things will improve.

Last night against the Cavaliers was a bit of a let down for Wizards fans alike. Bradley Beal scored all eight of his points in the first half and Cavaliers big man Anderson Varejao dominated the paint collecting 23 rebounds and scoring nine points and dishing out nine assists.

The front court of Beal, Jordan Crawford, and AJ Price had their moments of glory and their moments we'd all rather forget. Overall, I thought that AJ Price did a decent job of directing the offense. However, he is no John Wall and that is something that needs to be kept in mind.

Crawford came off the bench and scored a team high 11 points for the Wizards as well as dishing out five assists. Having Bradley Beal and AJ Price on the floor took some of the focus off of Crawford and allowed him to make some plays.

The Wizards were out-rebounded 54-39 by the Cavaliers and that can be attributed to the absence of Nene. The Wizards top two rebounders, Emeka Okafor (7) and Earl Barron (8) combined didn't add up to the same number of rebounds that Anderson Varejao (23) had. With Nene on the floor, the Wizards would have a bit more fight under the basket and could have come away with more rebounds and more second-chance points.

The biggest problem for the Wizards was shooting the three-point shot. The Wizards shot just 25 percent (8-32) from behind the arc. Only three players, Price, Ariza, and Beal, made multiple three points (two each).

So before you put the Wizards down as one of the worst teams in the league, remember that they are missing their best big man presence, Nene, and the leader of their offense and team, John Wall. When those two return, the level of play should get better and they might be able to keep up with teams down the stretch (instead of blowing it at the end like last night).

Question: After watching last nights game, how do you think the Wizards will fare this season?

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Redskins Biggest Problem

It may be obvious, but the Redskins have one glaring problem with their team: the passing game.

Both on offense and defense, the Redskins will live and die by the passing game this season. Against the Steelers, this weakness was exploited and used to the advantage of the Redskins opponent.

All season long, the Redskins have been able to give up over 300 pass yards a game and still keep it close at the end or even come away with the win. What the defense has lacked in pass defense, the offense has made up for in pass offense.

Since the Redskins pass offense has been so solid the entire season, the running game has felt the positive effects and the Redskins have averaged 166.3 yards on the ground per game which is second in the NFL.

When the Redskins passing game suffers, however, the whole offense falls apart. There becomes no balance because the defense can then zero in on stopping the run. Against the Steelers, the Redskins offense made THEMSELVES one dimensional.

Over the course of the game, the Redskins nearly doubled their season drops. Coming into the game, the Redskins had 11 dropped passes through the first seven games. Against the Steelers, the Redskins receivers came within one or two drops of doubling that season mark.

That inability to hang on to the football led the Redskins offense becoming one dimensional. One drive in the fourth quarter, the receivers dropped a pass on first, second, and third down which forced a three-and-out for the Redskins offense.

The same can be said on defense. The secondary is simply over matched. The Redskins don't have the athletes to match up against the receivers on the opposing teams. DeAngelo Hall was good...once. But, he's not as good as he used to be. He has his moments, but they are few and far between.

As a defense, the Redskins gives up over 314 yards per game passing. Yes, that's good enough for 32nd in the NFL. Notice my wording: "as a defense".

It starts at the bottom, the Redskins need to get pressure on the quarterback. One of the few times the Redskins got pressure on Ben Rothelisberger it actually saved a touchdown. Ben was ready to launch the ball down field but had to tuck it to save himself from being sacked.

Unfortunately, the Redskins really only have one pass rusher that's any good: Ryan Kerrigan. So, the opposing offense just game plans to block him and the pass rush literally becomes non-existent. In turn, the Redskins secondary gets put on an island and that does not bode well for the secondary.

The Redskins style of offense, believe it or not, is not setup by the running game. The passing game sets up the running game. That's what makes the pistol/triple option formation so successful. It looks like a pass, could be run, but then sometimes it comes out as an option play.

To sum it all up, if the Redskins pass offense doesn't get going, the team doesn't get going. The defense can't stop the pass and the running game will never get going without the pass offense making plays.

Robert Griffin III is the hinge point for the Redskins as a team. His ability to make plays allows the Redskins to keep up with their opponents (because they have by no means stopped anybody). The success of this team is a direct reflection of RG3 and what he can/can't do during a game.

Question: What do you think is the Redskins biggest problem? Comment your answer in the section below!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Golden Night for LaRoche

Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones (10) and Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche (25)
LaRoche, right, won his first Gold Glove. (Photo: Keith Allison)
Tonight, Nationals first baseman finally got some hardware for his impressive skill in the field. He was awarded the National League first baseman Gold Glove Award. It is the first such award for his LaRoche in his career.

LaRoche is coming off of one of the best seasons of his entire career. His 33 home runs are a career high and he tied his career high in RBI with 100. He batted .271 with a slugging percentage of .510.

But, LaRoche earned his Gold Glove for his play in the field.

LaRoche was tied for the NL lead in fielding percentage with 99.5%. That's right...darn near perfect. In 1,367 total chances, LaRoche committed just seven errors and made 1,260 put-outs. LaRoche also turned 113 double plays.

LaRoche beat out Joey Votto of the Reds and Freddie Freeman of the Braves for the award.

In related news, shortstop Ian Desmond lost to Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins for that position's Gold Glove.

For a complete list of winners, go to this link.

Question: Do you think Adam LaRoche was worthy of a Gold Glove? Do you think Ian Desmond should have won his? Comment with your opinion below!

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Nats Up For Award

Ian Desmond
Desmond, above, is up for a Golden Glove Award. (Photo: Keith Allison)
Yesterday, Rawlings announced its finalists for the coveted defensive award of the Golden Glove. The award is given to the top fielder from each position. From the National League side, the Washington Nationals had two players make the final list.

At first base, Adam LaRoche is up against Freddie Freeman and Joey Votto for the award. The fact that Votto did not play for a good chunk of the season bodes well and aids in LaRoche's campaign.

This season, LaRoche had a fielding percentage of 99 percent and committed just seven errors on 1,367 total chances. He made 100 assists and turned 113 double plays. Of those 1,367 total chances, he converted on 1,260 of them for an out.

At shortstop, All-Star Ian Desmond Zack Cozart, Jimmy Rollins, and Jose Reyes for the award. Desmond is coming off of his best year for the Nationals. It has been highlighted by his first All-Star game, which he didn't attend due to injury, and now his nomination for a Golden Glove.

This season, Desmond had a fielding percentage of 97 percent. He committed just 15 errors on 492 total chances. Desmond had 306 assists and turned 65 double plays. Desmond also made 171 put outs this past season.

The award winners will be announced live on ESPN2 at 9 PM eastern on Tuesday, October 30th. For the complete list of finalists, go here.

Question: Do you think that Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond are worthy of winning the award? Do you believe that any other Nationals should be on this list? Leave your answer in a comment below!

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Source: CBS Sports

Monday, October 29, 2012

Wizards Waive Two

Andrew Goudelock, Shelvin Mack
Shelvin Mack, 22, was waived yesterday. (Photo: Keith Allison)
Yesterday, the Washington Wizards waived two players from their roster.

The first player that the Wizards waived was 2011 draft pick Shelvin Mack. Mack was drafted out of Butler University and played minimally behind John Wall and Jordan Crawford. With the newest addition of Bradley Beal and the quality of play from AJ Price this pre-season, it was expected that Mack would be the odd-man out.

The next player released by the Wizards was big man Brian Cook. Cook was given a chance this pre-season when the Wizards signed him to a preseason contract. He was up against the likes of Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker, Emeka Okafor, and also the anticipated return of star big-man Nene did not help his cause.

With the release of these two players, the Wizards are now down to their league-required 15 player roster. For the complete list of players, click on this link.

Question: What do you think of the Wizards roster this year? Do they have a chance to make some noise in the NBA this season? Or are they still early in the rebuilding stages?

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Nats Tracy Has Knee Surgery

Chad Tracy
Chad Tracy should be good to go by spring training. (Photo: Keith Allison)
The second Washington National has undergone arthroscopic surgery. Utility man Chad Tracy went under the knife for a procedure done to his left knee. NBC Hardball Talk has more.

Tracy got his surgery done by the same doctor that preformed the same style of surgery on Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Like Zimmerman, Tracy is expected to be ready to go by spring training.

Tracy became the Nationals go to pinch-hitter during the season and even led the MLB in pinch-hit RBI. He batted .269 with a .343 on base percentage. Over the season, he had 14 RBI and scored three runs personally. Also, when first baseman Adam LaRoche had to sit a couple games early in the summer, Tracy stepped in a played first base for the Nationals.

This past August, the Nationals gave Tracy a one-year $1-million extension so he can be a part of the club next season.

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Source: NBC Hardball Talk

Garcon Needs Surgery?

 Pierre Garcon
Garcon, above, has played in just three games this season. (Photo: Keith Allison)
Hopefully not. But, Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon was told by a foot specialist that he may need surgery to repair the plantar-plate tear in his right second toe. The Washington Post has more.

Garcon first suffered the injury against the New Orleans Saints. After posting 109 yards and a touchdown, the Redskins off-season acquisition had to sit for most of the game with the foot injury. He reappeared in weeks four and five, but failed to post the numbers that he did against the Saints due to his foot.

After getting an MRI, it was revealed that Garcon had injured his right second toe and was more serious than once thought. Prior to the MRI, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan said that the pain could be all mental, but it should still be checked out.

Garcon now has two options: he could undergo surgery to repair his toe and miss the season or take full rest and wait for it to heal 100%. If Garcon goes the full-rest route, he could still have to go under-the-knife following the season.

The biggest problem that Garcon says stems from this injury is his explosion. He has trouble pushing off of it and exploding off the line. He can run straight line, as well, but has troubles cutting and going side-to-side. For the receiver position, those are some key characteristics that he must be good at if he wants to make a difference.

For now, Garcon will be sidelined while they wait to let his toe heal. Garcon, his agent, and the Redskins have said that they don't want to go the surgery route as that will cost him his season.

Before you go crazy and call Garcon another "bust", remember that we know what he's capable of. He and quarterback Robert Griffin III had quite the chemistry prior to Garcons injury. Garcon is a good receiver and can really make a difference in this offense. In the few glimpses we've had of him at 100 percent health, he has been a standout receiver and the one the Redskins hoped they signed.

Garcon has unfortunately been bitten by the injury bug. This is one of those weird injuries that seems to be nagging and in order for it to heal completely without surgery, Garcon is going to have to be off of it for a while.

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Source: Washington Post

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Zimmerman Undergoes Surgery

Ryan Zimmerman
Zimmerman, above, will be good-to-go in six weeks following surgery. (Photo: Keith Allison)
The face of the Washington Nationals, and starting third baseman, Ryan Zimmerman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. The Washington Post has more here.

For most of the season, pretty much all of the season, Zimmerman has been feeling the effects of the injury, but has been limiting the side-effects with multiple cortisone shots. He first experienced problems with his shoulder following the Nationals season opening homestand.

During that homestand, Zimmerman made several diving stops at third base and also had a head-first slide into home. That constant stretch and almost unnatural movement left him feeling the effects for quite some time. Zimmerman even went on the disabled list and was replaced by Steve Lombardozzi.

After getting his first cortisone shot, his hitting improved and his play in the field improved. However, you could still tell that he was feeling some discomfort in that shoulder. His usual web-gems were not always a sure-fire play for the usual sure-fire infielder.

Zimmerman experienced one of his worst statistical seasons for the Nationals. He batted a career low .282 and a second worst in his career .346 on base percentage. However, Zimmerman did hit 25 home runs, 95 RBI, and 36 doubles.

General Manager Mike Rizzo told the Washington Post that Ryan Zimmerman should be ready to go full speed in six weeks. The procedure was preformed by team doctor Wiemi Douoguih.

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Source: The Washington Post

Fletcher Limited In Practice

One of the greatest streaks in sports today is in jeopardy. London Fletcher has appeared in 231 consecutive games for in his NFL career and that could all come to an end this week against the Steelers.

Due to a hamstring injury that kept him out of much of the second half against the Giants, Fletcher has been limited in practice. The Washington Post has more.

The report states that the Redskins linebacker's hamstring was sore and he did not compete in drills in practice yesterday, but was on the field observing practice.

Like stated above, Fletcher has appeared in 231 straight games and has always been an integral part of the Redskins defense since arrived several years ago. If Fletcher is not able to go on Sunday, Lorenzo Alexander will likely assume the middle linebacker role against the Steelers. Alexander took over for Fletcher when he went down against the Giants.

I, however, feel that Fletcher will play against the Steelers. He is as tough as they come and the Redskins could just be limiting him practice to make sure that he will be ready to go against the Steelers.

If hamstring injuries aren't handle correctly, they could keep a player out for a few weeks. The Redskins want to make sure that there team leader is ready to go against one of their toughest tests of the season. While the Steelers may not boast the NFL's best record, let's keep in mind that these are the Pittsburgh Steelers.

For more information on a couple other injured Redskins, click on the link above.

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Source: Washington Post

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Morris Nominated for Award

In what could be looked at as a bit of a shock, Redskins running back Alfred Morris was nominated for Rookie of the Week for his performance this past weekend against the Giants.

Why is that somewhat of a shock? Well, Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns while also running for nearly 100 yards. Morris, however, totaled 120 yards on 22 carries.

According to the report, Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, Buccaneers running back Doug Martin, and Vikings safety Harrison Smith were also nominated for the award.

If he wins the award, Morris would join Robert Griffin III to win a weekly award this season. Griffin was awarded offensive player of the week in the first week of the season for his performance against the Saints.

Want to vote for Alfred Morris in the award race? Go here to cast your vote.

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Source: Football News Now

Beal Twists Ankle

It sounds worse than it was and it also happened in practice earlier this week. But, Wizards top draft pick and shooting guard Bradley Beal twisted his ankle in practice earlier this week and he was limited in practice today.

According to the team and reports, it's not as bad as it sounds. Beal simply came down funny on his ankle it rolled a little bit. He was taken off the court by the trainers and they treated him for an ankle injury (obviously). Beal then tried to walk on it, but limped off the court as practice came to an end.

The Wizards have already lost star point guard John Wall and star post-player Nene for a few more weeks due to a knee injury (Wall) and plantar facitis (Nene). At this point, the last thing they need is their top draft pick to go down with a nagging ankle injury.

It is safe to expect the Wizards to be careful with Beal. While the injury may not be that serious now, ankles take a serious beating in the NBA with all the lateral movement and cutting that players do. Any little bit of swelling left in that ankle could seriously limit his range of motion and will hurt his ability to play.

So far this preseason, Beal is averaging just over 13 points per game and about three assists per game. When he is on the floor, the Wizards score an average of 12.83 more points that there opponents. He is becoming the difference maker that the Wizards had hoped and when you combine him with John Wall, the Wizards have a pretty stout set of one and two guards.

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Source: Inside Hoops

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Redskins Make Roster Moves

Chris Cooley
Chris Cooley is back with the Redskins. (Photo: Keith Allison)
Over the past two days, the Redskins have made several important roster moves that you need to know about.

The first was the re-signing of tight end Chris Cooley. After being on the team for his entire playing career, Cooley was released by the Redskins following preseason. It was an emotional goodbye that shocked many, but was necessary.

However, after tight end Fred Davis tore his Achilles tendon and ended his season against the Giants this past weekend, the move to resign Cooley became necessary. While having Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen will do, Chris Cooley is a fan favorite and household name.

Cooley is a versatile player that can do a couple different things for the Redskins on offense. During camp and preseason he played fullback for the Redskins, as well. He can block, carry the ball, and can catch it. There are many different things the Redskins will be able to do with him.

Today, the Redskins released Ryan Grant and resigned Keiland Williams. While Alfred Morris and Evan will still be the teams top two running backs, it doesn't hurt to have a quality third running back. Ryan Grant, however, was not that guy.

Grant had a minor impact on the team and only had five yards on one carry. Williams, however, had an impact on the team since he was undrafted rookie out of LSU in 2010. That year, Williams ran for 261 yards and three touchdowns.

Don't expect Williams to be a standout running back or someone that the Redskins will rely on heavily. He will simply a back used when Royster and Morris need a breather. Morris will still be the teams starter and Royster will still be the back-up.

Williams does have more capabilities than Grant. He can play special teams and can catch. He had 300 receiving for the Redskins 2010 so that is another plus for him.

Are you excited about the Redskins bringing back Cooley or are you concerned about Fred Davis? Leave a comment below and start the discussion!

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Source(s): USA Today, Hogs Haven

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

NHL Submits Offer

Today, the NHL took a huge swing at trying to end the lockout. The NHL submitted a 50/50 revenue split offer to the NHLPA this morning during negotiations. Mark Driver has more here.

In the previous collective bargaining agreement, the players owned 57 percent of the revenue and the owners collected just 47 percent of the total annual revenue. For the new CBA, the owners certainly want that number to increase.

In the proposal that was submitted to Donald Fehr, head of the NHLPA, and his staff calls for a 50/50 split of the total revenue. As of right now, Fehr and his staff are looking over the proposal.

The offer also stats that the NHL season would begin on November 2nd and a full 82 game season would happen. Since it would start late, it would end up extending into June.

One expert tweeted today that he expects negotiations to continue on for a few more weeks before a deal is finally agreed upon. One things for certain, the ice has been broken (no pun intended) and the two sides actually appear to be making progress.

After the last set of discussions last week, many believed that the lockout would go well into December. Neither side had yet to discuss the revenue sharing aspect of the deal and that was the biggest and most complicated issue.

The NHL and the NHLPA made a huge step towards ending the lockout. The NHL had yet to offer the NHLPA a deal this good  in negotiations so the fact that they conceded that much is positive. The NHLPA, however, still has the opportunity to decline this proposal and basically start from square one.

But, least they are talking.

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Source: Providence Journal

NHL Labor Talks Resume

Just a day past the one month mark in the lockout, the NHL and the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) are set to meet for yet another session of negotiations. The LA Times has the full report here.

In the last set of negotiations, which was last week, not much progress was made. When it comes to the core reason for the lockout, revenue sharing, neither side has yet to budge on it's stance.

What is expected to happen in today's talks will be to discuss player safety and drug testing. In the article, it brings up an interesting point. It says that if both sides can start to come to agreements on small, but important, issues then maybe that will help break the ice and further negotiations will follow after.

Unfortunately, the article goes on to say that neither side has done much budging on its position for the little topics so it doesn't "appear to be weak". Come on...seriously?

The NHL and NHLPA need to see the big picture. If both sides don't loosen up a little and start compromising then it won't matter which side is stronger if there is no sport, anyways. Many of the NHL's top stars have headed overseas and I'm sure most of them don't see a problem with playing out their careers with their current overseas teams.

Expect more games to be canceled in the coming weeks. It seems that little to no progress has been made and won't be made anytime soon. Most experts think that this lockout will last into December. At their current pace, it wouldn't surprise me if it lasts into 2013.

Have an idea on how to settle the lockout? Leave a comment with your thoughts to start the conversation!

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Source: LA Times

Garcon To Miss More Time

After an MRI today revealed inflammation in a capsule under his second toe in his right foot, Mike Shanahan said today that wide receiver Pierre Garcon will be missing more time. Mike Jones has more here.

After a fast start to the season, four catches for 109 yards and a touchdown against the Saints, Garcon has had troubles staying on the field. And when he is on the field, he doesn't have much of an impact. In the other two games he has appeared in, he's got four catches for 44 yards.

Garcon was supposed to be Robert Griffin III's biggest weapon. The receiver was signed to a multi-year multi-million dollar deal and has only appeared in three of the Redskins first six games and he will likely miss at least one more.

According to the report, there are some that believe this is a pain tolerance issue above anything else. Garcon went full speed in practice Wednesday and Thursday before being limited in practice last Friday. He was then ruled out of the game during pregame Sunday.

Hopefully, Garcon doesn't get added to the list of multi-million dollar players that the Redskins have signed and have fallen flat due to injury or anything else. Personally,  I don't see that happening.

Unless this inflammation permanently affects his ability to run, Garcon should be fine once this heals and the pain goes away. He's got great speed and we know he is capable of big things just based off of preseason and week one against the Saints.

His poor performances in weeks four and five could be ruled out due to the injury. The pain in his foot may have hampered his ability to be effective in the Redskins passing attack.

In the absence of Garcon, the Redskins will continue to look to Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, and Fred Davis. The Redskins added an interesting little wrinkle to their offense when it comes to Davis. They lined him up on the edge as a receiver and against a much smaller cornerback.

Instead of running deep, Davis used his big body in the short-to-intermediate passing game to get open against man coverage. Davis was much bigger than the Vikings corners so they had all sort of trouble covering him.

The Redskins should be just fine without Garcon. To be quite honest, they haven't really had him much since he's been out with injury. They have figured out a way to play without. Morgan, Moss, Hankerson, and Davis have been good enough targets for Griffin.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Wizards Lose To Nets

It may only be preseason, but the Wizards left me wanting more after tonight's 98-88 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

They weren't awful...the entire game. As a team, they showed signs of improvement over last season's joke of a team. Honestly, they just need a little more time to gel and get better.

On offense, it seemed to me as though they were confused and organized when it came to actually running an offense. That's fine, at times, especially when you have a player as electric as John Wall that can create with ease. Unfortunately, tonight and for the next eight weeks they will not have John Wall.

They don't have a player that can create like Wall can. Jordan Crawford, Bradley Beal, Shelvin Mack, AJ Price, and Jannero Pargo all tried their hand at running the offense and all five had troubles. Beal and Mack had the most success, but even their success isn't going to be good enough in this league.

Crawford, Price, and Pargo all looked lost at some during this game. Crawford was too inconsistent to have a positive impact on the game. He would show signs of brilliance, such as a beautiful spin move and hitting the open jumper, and then he would make you scratch your head in confusion after a play he attempted.

The front court of Emeka Okafor, Shavlik Rudolph, Trevor Ariza, and Jan Vesely were solid. That position is definitely improving from last season. Okafor had a very productive game for the Wizards. In 28 minutes, he had 12 points and eight rebounds.

The top scorer for the Wizards was Martell Webster. Webster had 18 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists. Webster's performance was certainly a surprise.

All in all, the teams biggest issue to start the season will be at the point guard position (DUH!). It doesn't appear that they have a bonafide guard to run point. They have a good supporting cast, but nobody consistent enough to run such a crucial position.

The Wizards are certainly improving. They know that they are still in the rebuilding process, but they are handling that process well. There is talent there. Now, they need to find a way to bring that talent out and make it more consistent.

What do you think of the Wizards performance tonight against the Nets? Leave a comment below with your thoughts and start the discussion!

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Williams, Alexander Shine for Redskins

In the Redskins game against the Vikings this past weekend, two unexpected players (not name Robert Griffin III) rose above the rest and proved to be key in the Redskins victory.

The first Washington Redskins player that deserves a game ball is left tackle Trent Williams. Williams, who has been spotty at best this season, had the difficult task of blocking arguably the Vikings best defensive player, Jared Allen.

While Allen, still managed two hits on quarterback Robert Griffin III, one came when he went one-on-one with tight end Logan Paulsen. When Williams was blocking Allen, he held his ground and delivered easily his best performance of the season.

Williams protected Griffin's blind side well and abled him to complete 17/22 passes. The rookie quarterback was able to comfortably stand tall in the pocket and deliver good passes because Williams had the back side locked up and protected.

As a collective unit, the offensive line should be commended. While the straight forward running suffered, running back Alfred Morris only managed 47 yards and much RG3's 138 were due to his ability to create, the pass protection was excellent. Griffin was hit just three times and sacked only once.

The other Redskins player that deserves a game ball in Lorenzo Alexander. Alexander replaced Brian Orakpo as a backside rusher opposite of Ryan Kerrigan and delivered in a big way.

The "One Man Gang" as he is referred to was just that. Alexander was all over the field making plays. He made plays on special teams and had one of the best games of his career on defense. Alexander had 5 tackles (3 solo), 1.5 sacks, and a tackle for a loss. He also laid a hit on Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder four times.

His biggest play came in the second quarter when he appeared to intercept a pass. As the play happened, Adrian Peterson appeared to run into Ponder which forced the football out of Ponder's hand and straight up in the air. The official ruling on the play ended up being an interception.

Simply put, both these players were instrumental in defeating the Vikings 38-26 yesterday. Hopefully, the new found strength of Lorenzo Alexander will be more than enough to make up for the absence of Brian Orakpo.

At any rate, if both of these players, Trent Williams and Lorenzo Alexander, can manage to play at this level for the rest of the season, the Redskins should have no problem winning more football games and have a final record above .500.

Any other players stand out to you yesterday? Leave their name and a reason why in the comments section!

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Redskins Defeat Vikings 38-26

If you had Vikings kicker Blair Walsh on your  fantasy team today, you're golden. If you had the Vikings defense on your fantasy team today, you're not so golden.

The Vikings offense came out of the gate fast in yesterday's game at FedEx field. On three straight possessions to open the game, they got inside the Redskins 20 yard line. All three times, however, the Redskins defense stood tall in the redzone and held them to a field goal.

With just under two minutes left in the first quarter, new Redskins kicker Kai Forbath came on to kick his first NFL field goal. How do the Redskins welcome him to the NFL? A 50 yard field goal attempt, of course. Forbath, however, split the uprights and it looked as though the kick could have been good from 60 yards away, as well.

The Redskins defense then tightened up in the second quarter. In three drives by the Vikings, they forced two punts and an interception (according to ESPN).

The interception came when Redskins linebacker Lorenzo Alexander picked the ball out of the air following Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder getting by Adrian Peterson. On the ensuing offense play for the Redskins, Robert Griffin III found fullback Darrell Young for a six-yard touchdown pass.

Earlier in the quarter, running back Alfred Morris capped off an 11 play, 90 yard scoring drive with a 1-yard run of his own.

The Redskins got the ball to start the second half and were looking to put more points on the board. Robert Griffin III led the offense on a 10 play, 80 yard drive that he capped off all by himself when he took it in from seven yards for a rushing touchdown.

The Redskins were rolling and had scored 24 straight points on the Vikings to take a 24-9 lead. Blair Walsh added a field goal late in the third quarter for the Vikings and the score was 24-12 to start the fourth quarter.

At the beginning of the final quarter of play, newly acquired Redskins safety Madieu Williams picked off a bad pass from Christian Ponder and returned it 24 yards for the touchdown. It was the Redskins fourth defensive touchdown of the season. The Redskins just kept pouring it on and were now up 31-12.

If only for a few moments, however, as it looked as though they might blow it...

The Redskins offense began to falter in the fourth quarter and the Viking defense began to tighten up their play. They forced two short drives by the Redskins and converted both ensuing offensive possessions for touchdowns to bring the score to 26-31.

On the ensuing drive by the Redskins, they were one play away from yet another 3-and-out and handing the ball back to a Viking offense that had momentum. On third and short, they put the ball, and the game, in the hands of their prized draft pick: Robert Griffin III.

On third and short, Kyle Shanahan drew up a designed quarterback draw and Robert Griffin III had more than just a first down in mind when he tucked the ball away.

Robert Griffin III danced his way through the line of scrimmage and past the Vikings secondary and took it 79 yards for a touchdown to deliver the final blow the Vikings. As soon as he crossed the goal line, chants of "R-G-3!!" could be heard throughout the stadium.

DeAngelo Hall then picked off a pass in the endzone with under a minute left to play and then Griffin took a knee to seal the victory.

With a 38-26 victory yesterday, the Redskins snapped an eight game home losing streak and improved to 3-3 on the season.

Robert Griffin III finished today 17/22 with 182 yards and  a touchdown through the air. On the ground, he had 13 carries for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Alfred Morris finished the game with 16 carries for 47 yards and a touchdown.

Santana Moss was the teams leading receiver with four receptions for 46 yards. Fred Davis and Josh Morgan both had three receptions each and Leonard Hankerson had two receptions.

Linebacker Perry Riley led the way for the defense with 13 tackles (6 solo). Safety Madieu Williams had 12 tackles (8 solo) to go along with his pick-six. London Fletcher had 11 tackles (6 solo), as well.

The newest Redskins, Kai Forbath, was perfect on the day. He finished 1/1 on field goal attempts and 5/5 on extra point attempts.

Next week, the Redskins play the first NFC East division game against the New York Giants in New York. Last season, the Redskins swept the season series against the Giants. Kickoff is set for 1 PM EST on Fox.

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cards Knock Off Nats

In possibly the most emotional night in D.C. sports history, the Washington Nationals playoff run ended in a dramatic 9-7 collapse to the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals.

The Nationals offense finally had the outburst that everyone was waiting for in the opening innings of the game.

Following a Jayson Werth leadoff double, Bryce Harper hit an RBI triple off the wall to score Werth. The face of the franchise, Ryan Zimmerman, then crushed a two-run homer to put the Nationals up 3-0 after one inning.

In the third inning, the Nationals had the heart of the order up and looking for more. Bryce Harper started the inning with a leadoff home run. After Ryan Zimmerman got a base hit, Michael Morse stepped  up to the plate and put one in Cardinals bullpen and the Nationals were up 6-0 after three innings.

While the offense was rocking the Cardinal pitching, the Nationals starter, Gio Gonzalez, was fairing much better against the Cardinals offense. Gonzalez held them scoreless into the fourth inning when Matt Holiday doubled to score Carlos Beltran.

In the fifth inning, Gonzalez found himself in a bases loaded jam. With Holiday at the plate, a ball took a funny bounce off of the dirt just behind home plate and skipped off and away from catcher Kurt Suzuki's shoulder pad. The wild pitch brought home David Descalso. Gonzalez then walked Holiday to load the bases. Allen Craig then drew a walk that scored Shane Robinson.

That would be the only damage done, however, as Gonzalez worked his out of it allowing just two runs to score and the Nationals lead was cut in half to 6-3 after five innings. Gonzalez's final line: 5 innings pitched, 5 hits, 3 earned runs, 4 walks, and 5 strikeouts.

The Cardinals continued to chip away at the Nationals lead as the innings wore on. With Edwin Jackson on the mound for the seventh, Holiday grounded out to the shortstop, Ian Desmond, which scored Jon Jay. The Cardinals had cut the lead to 2, 6-4.

Reliever Tyler Clippard came on to pitch the eighth. After allowing a leadoff homer to David Descalso, Clippard recovered to get three outs and hold the lead for closer Drew Storen.

However, Kurt Suzuki capped off his productive night (3-4 with an RBI) with an RBI single that scored Adam LaRoche. Storen was given a much needed insurance run.

With the bases loaded, David Descalso hit a hard grounder up the middle that hit off the glove of short stop Ian Desmond and into center field. Two runs scored for the Cardinals and the game was tied. Pete Kozma then followed that with a 2-RBI single and the Cardinals were suddenly winning 9-7.

Those four runs came with two outs in the inning. Five times, the Nationals were one strike away from the National League Championship Series. Five times, however, the Cardinals hitters either fouled off a pitch or took it for ball four.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Nationals went down in order of Werth-Harper-Zimmerman.

As quickly as they had taken the lead, they lost it and their season was over. The Cardinals completed the six run comeback to defeat the Nationals 9-7 and advance to the NLCS to play the Giants. For the Nationals, who have a lot to be proud of this season, it's game over.

As I stared at my television in disbelief last night, I couldn't help but feel a sense of pride for (my) the Nationals. A team that lost 100 games just a few years ago made it all the way to game five of the NLDS. Not only did this team exceed expectations, they did it by being the best team in baseball.

They weren't "supposed" to go to the playoffs until next year. They were just supposed to play a good season and leave us all with something to look forward to next year. The fact that we can sit here today and debate what went wrong last night in and of itself is a blessing given to us by an overachieving baseball team.

So what exactly did go wrong? Simply put, while the Nationals exceeded expectations and got to the playoffs, they weren't ready. This team was not ready to go to the playoffs. Look at the teams in the AL/NLCS's: Yankees vs Tigers, Cardinals vs Giants. All those teams have years of playoff experience. It doesn't matter how great you play in the regular season, the best will rise in October.

The Rangers, Reds, Dodgers, and Nationals were all at the top of the baseball world at some point during the regular season. Now, however, they are all at the bottom and out of the postseason. The playoff experienced teams did what they always do: they got the playoffs and won.

The Nationals took a HUGE step forward this season. Next season, assuming a few offseason re-signings, this whole team will return. More importantly, they'll return with postseason experience. (Don't even get me started about whether or not Stephen Strasburg would have made a difference. His replacement, Ross Detwiler, won his game.)

The Nationals have a lot to be proud of. They simply were a season ahead of time. The last thing that Davey Johnson said to the press last night could sum up this entire season: "We proved our worth and we just need to let this be a lesson and ... learn from it, have more resolve, come back, and carry it a lot farther."

Thanks for the ride, Nationals. They'll be back, folks....they'll be back.

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Quote Source: Washington Post Sports website

Friday, October 12, 2012

Beal Shines In DC Debut

Last night, Wizards first round draft pick Bradley Beal gave Wizards their first glimpse at home of what he is capable of. However, it ended in a 108-101 loss the New York Knicks. But, it's preseason.

Beal was one of four players that scored in double figures for the Wizards. Jordan Crawford (17), Beal (15), Martell Webster (12), and Kevin Seraphin (10) were the four leading scorers for the Wizards.

The off-season acquisitions of Jannero Pargo, AJ Price, and Trevor Ariza combined for 25 points. Webster lead the way on the boards for the Wizards with 10 rebounds and Beal and Pargo both had 5 assists each.

Jordan Crawford, Cartier Martin, and Brian Cook all were 2/3 from behind the arc. Bradley Beal led the team from the free-throw line shooting 6/7. Trevor Ariza was a perfect 4/4 from the charity stripe.

Martell Webster spent the most time on the floor for the Wizards with 27 minutes. Beal had 26 minutes and Singleton and Seraphin both had 25 minutes a piece.

As a team, the Wizards shot 42.3% from the floor and and 85.7% from the free throw line. They collected 45 rebounds including 30 defensive rebounds. They dished out 22 assists, but, turned the ball over 15 times.

There were a few key Wizards that sat out last night's game. Trevor Booker, Nene, John Wall, Emeka Okafor, Shavlik Randolph, and Steven Gray all did not play for various reasons.

Were you impressed with the Wizards performance last night? Start the discussion below and leave a comment with your thoughts!

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Stat Source: ESPN

Nats Force Game 5

Jayson Werth jumps on home plate following his walk-off home run. (Photo: dbking)
With the series, and season, on the line, the Nationals turned to a pitcher that was at one point removed from the lineup. Ironically, he's the same pitcher that replaced Stephen Strasburg in the postseason rotation.

Through six innings with not a single run was earned, one was a sac-fly, Ross Detwiler delivered possibly the best performance of his life.

Over six innings, Detwiler gave up just one run (unearned) and three hits. He walked three, including Pete Kozas to setup the Cardinals only run which was scored on a Carlos Beltran sac-fly, and struck out three. Simply put, it was the best start of Detwiler's young career.

His adversary, Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse, was just as solid. He allowed just two hits. One, however, came on a solo home run to center field from Adam LaRoche in the second inning. Lohse also struck out five Nationals.

But, prior to the bottom of the ninth inning, the star(s) of the game was the National pitching staff. Detwiler made it all the way through the sixth inning allowing just one run and that's when Davey Johnson handed the game over to his bullpen.

The first pitcher in the game was game two's starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann. Zimmermann had arguably the best stuff of his season as he struck out the side on just 12 pitches. Tyler Clippard then came in for the eighth inning and kept the K-streak alive. Clippard allowed just one base runner, a walk, and struck out three in his inning of work.

The top of the ninth, and the 1-1 tie, belonged to Drew Storen. Like Clippard, Storen allowed a baserunner with a walk, but battled to strike out  two. The third out came on a ground-out and the game went to the bottom of the ninth.

When outfielder Jayson Werth stepped to the plate to leadoff the ninth for the Nationals, he had yet to collect a hit. During the season, Werth ranked fourth in the MLB for most pitches seen during an at bat. Last night, Werth had the at bat of his Nationals career.

Werth finally connected with the 13th pitch he saw and put it in the Cardinals bullpen for the walk off home run. It was the 14th home run of his playoff career. Drew Storen was credited with the win.

The Nationals had just three hits on the game, yesterday, but two of them were home runs. The only other National to collect a hit yesterday was Ryan Zimmerman.

Yesterday was an example of what the Nationals are capable of. Ross Detwiler is the bottom of the rotation starter and is only pitching in the post-season because Stephen Strasburg was shutdown. The bullpen showed us all that they still got it after not giving up a hit and striking out 8 over three shutout innings.

The only left is for the bats to pick up. The Nationals have struggled mightily this post-season offensively. If they want to have success tonight, they'll need to find a way to get the offense going.

Last night, however, all they needed was two two-run homers to win the game. Tonight, it's game five at Nationals Park and Gio Gonzalez will be facing Adam Wainwright. First pitch is at 8:37 PM EST.

Check back here on The Skinny On Sports prior to tonight's game for my game five preview!

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

NHL, NHLPA Resume CBA Talks

Today, the NHL and the players association are set to resume talks on negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Fox Sports has more here.

While the two sides met twice yesterday, little to no progress was made in negotiations. One meeting yesterday was simply made to both sides could discuss what exactly they are going to be discussing. Also, if talks go well today, they could meet again tomorrow.

Ironically, today marks what should have been the opening day for the NHL. Instead, it marks just another day where both sides can't come to an agreement. The core issue, economics, has yet to see any progress made.

What was discussed in the second meeting yesterday was simple legal issues and medical issues that will be included in the CBA. The topic of revenue division has yet to be talked about between the two.

That topic will be the area that takes the longest to figure out for the new CBA. In the previous CBA, the NHL only got 43 percent of the total revenue while the NHLPA got 57 percent. The owners want more and the players are willing to give them more. However, according to the report, it seems as though the owners are being greedy and not willing to meet in the middle somewhere.

Already, the first two weeks, 81 games and seven for the Capitals, have been canceled. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if we see several more weeks of NHL action canceled due to this.

This is the third time under NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman that the NHL has been locked out. The last lockout eliminated the entire 2004-2005 season.

Do you have an idea for how the lockout could be resolved? Start the discussion below and leave a comment with your thoughts!

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Source: Fox Sports

Nats Turn To Detwiler For Save

Ross Detwiler
Detwiler, above, could become an unlikely hero in this Nationals season today. (Photo: Keith Allison)
Today, the Nationals face elimination from the playoffs to the St. Louis Cardinals. Who will be on the mound to keep their playoff hopes alive? Well, that would St. Louis native Ross Detwiler.

This season was Detwiles first full season as a starter for the Nationals. He's seen the lowest of the lows, being benched for Chien-Ming Wang, and the highest of the highs, he struckout seven in April against the Marlins while giving up just three hits in a 2-0 victory. Today's game, however is by far the most important in his career.

The last time Detwiler squared off against the team from his hometown, the Cardinals, it didn't end well. He lasted just 2.1 innings and gave up seven runs, three earned, and four hits including a home run. He walked five and struckout just three while throwing 81 pitches. It was a dismal start to say the least.

Detwiler has yet to be put in this kind of position in his young career. He's never been the guy that a team has turned to with literally the season on the line. Today, he'll get his chance to make a huge statement against a line-up that has torn apart the Nationals pitching so far this series.

So far in this series, the Cardinals have put together 18 hits collectivley. They've hit two home runs and seven RBI. David Freese, Daniel Descalso, and Carlos Beltran have been the big three for the Cardinals. Freese has a batting average of .429, Beltran has collected three RBI, and Descalso has scored three runs.

If Detwiler wants to keep the Nationals playoff run alive, he'll need to bring his best stuff; which is something we haven't seen in a while. Detwiler lost three of his last four starts in the regular season including a 6-4 loss to the Phillies and a 10-4 loss to the Cardinals.

Detwiler hasn't pitched since September 30th and that will have a huge impact on how comfortable he is to start the game. Throwing a game simulation is nothing compared to the pressure of an elimination game.

If he can survive the early innings, the Nationals will have a chance. Another thing that will need to happen is for the bats to come alive. Simply put, the Cardinals have been hitting everything and the Nationals haven't been to get something going. They'll get a leadoff double and then spoil with three poor at-bats following that.

This team has relied and Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmermann all season long as their aces. Detwiler has been the guy at the end of the rotation that takes up a slot. Today, however, Detwiler will have his chance to solidify himself as a regular on the Nationals rotation.

What do you think about Detwiler's chances at winning the game? Start the conversation and leave a comment below with your thoughts!!

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Capitals Wolski Heads Overseas

Capitals forward Wojtek Wolski has joined Alex Ovechkin, Brooks Laich, Michal Neuvirth Joey Crabb as Capitals players that have gone overseas. Chuck Gormely has the full report here.

Wolski has signed with Ciarko PBS Bank KH Sanok of the Polish league earlier this week. Like most other NHL players to go overseas, one would be wise to think that there is a clause in his contract allowing him to return to the NHL in the event that the lockout ends. Wolski was signed to a one-year contract shortly before summer ended.

However, that won't happen anytime soon. The NHL has canceled games through October 24th. That means that a total of 81 games have been canceled. For the Capitals, that makes seven games canceled. For more on that story, check out Chuck Gormely's post.

Simply put, the NHL and NHLPA are too far apart on how to split the revenue. The owners want more than the 43 percent they got with the last collective bargaining and the players aren't willing to budge on the 57 percent that they had.

Unfortunately, we could be in the beginning stages of the second full season NHL lockout in the past decade and third for current commissioner Gary Bettman.

How do you think the NHL should solve it's lockout? What deal do you propose? Leave a comment below with your thoughts to start the debate!

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Source: CSN Washington

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Redskins Release Cundiff, Sign Forbath

Forbath, 25, was 90% for the Bruins his junior year. (Photo: John Martinez Pavliga)
The Redskins have officially signed their fourth kicker this season and their 19th kicker since 1994. Today, the team signed kicker Kai Forbath and released Billy Cundiff. Dan Hanzus has the full report here.

This was expected. After Cundiff started the season 4/4 against the Saints, it looked as though the Redskins might have found their kicker of the future. Cundiff then went 3/8 over the next four games including 1/4 against the Buccaneers and 1/2 against the Falcons. All in all, Cundiff took 15 points off the board all by himself this season.

Following the game against the Falcon this past Sunday, the Redskins announced that they would be holding tryouts for what was becoming a vacant place kicker position. Even former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley was getting in on the fun when he told reporters that he could probably make field goals from 30-40 yards away.

Today, however, the Redskins welcomed Olindo Mare, Josh Brown, and Kai Forbath to Redskins Park for a duel to the death!...okay, a competition to see who would become the next, and 19th since 1994, kicker for the Washington Redskins.

And the winner is....drum roll please!!!!!!.................

The Redskins decided to go with UCLA grad Kai Forbath. In his four year career for the Bruins, which ended in 2010, Forbath went 86/101 with a career percentage of 85 percent. More importantly, Forbath missed just one field goal from 30-39 yards away (29/30). He has a career long of 54 yards and was 28/31 his junior year.

At this point, it won't take much for the Forbath to make Redskins fans and coaches happy. Cundiff was awful once he got inside of 40 yards. Twice, the former Raven's Achilles heel missed from 31 yards away this season. Those intermediate distance kicks will be the ones attempted most often. If Forbath can connect on all of those, he'll make it on the Redskins.

Make this take number 19 on the Redskins finding a successful, accurate, and consistent kicker. They decided to go with some fresh blood on this one. This weekend, we'll get our first look at the new kicker when the Redskins play the Vikings.

Do you like the Redskins signing? Leave a comment with you thoughts below and start the discussion!

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Redskins to Try Out Kickers

 Neil Rackers
Neil Rackers, #1, will not (should) be at Redskins kicker tryouts today. (Photo: Keith Allison)
Today, Billy Cundiff will lose his job. His very short, and very wide left/right tenure with the Washington Redskins is expected to come to an end. The Redskins will be trying out Olindo Mare, Josh Brown, and Kai Forbath for the position of kicker. Mike Jones has the full report here.

The Redskins gave Cundiff the old slap on the wrist after missing three field goals, and then hitting the game winner, against the Buccaneers. After missing one from 31 yards away against the Falcons, however, the Redskins are ready to move on.

Cundiff's replacement will likely come down to three players: Olindo Mare, Josh Brown, and Kai Forbath. All have been in the NFL for at least nine years. Mare has been in the league for 15 years.

It is possible that the Redskins keep Cundiff if neither of the three impress the coaches enough to sign them. But, then again, they could just go out and sign someone else all together (*cough* Neil Rackers *cough*).

At any rate, people have claimed that quarterback controversy's have been a huge part of the Redskins for the better part of the past ten years. I say, however, that kicking has been the main controversy in D.C.

Whether it's Shaun Suisham missing an icer against the Saints, or Graham Gano...being Graham Gano, or Nick Novak sending fans home sobbing, it's not the quarterbacks that have proven to be the most difficult position to figure out.

I predict that the Redskins will have a new place kicker by the end of the day. After the past two games, I would be shocked if the Redskins held onto Cundiff. Will it be Mare, Brown, or Forbath? I'm not sure. The Redskins could go in a different direction all together and bring back one of their former kickers...*cough* Neil Rackers *cough*.

Got an idea for the new Redskins kicker? Leave a comment below and start the discussion!

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Source: Washington Post

Monday, October 8, 2012

Redskins Injury Report

The Redskins updated the status of two key players today. One could return as soon as this week and one will be out for at least the next four weeks. Both players, however, are starters.

The Washington Redskins official Twitter page, @Redskins, tweeted this today:

"@Redskins: Shanahan reports doctors have predicted S. Brandon Meriweather (knee) will not be eligible to return for another four weeks."

Meriweather has already missed the first five games of the season due to a knee injury and now it seems he will likely miss the first nine weeks of the season all together. The Pro Bowl safety was set to return to action last weekend against the Buccaneers, but a pre-game collision between he and Aldrick Robinson kept them both out for the game and reaggravated his knee injury.

The Redskins have been going with Reed Doughty in place of Meriweather as of late. Doughty has performed better than expected which has been a pleasant and almost unnoticed surprise for the Redskins. Through the first five games of the season, Doughty has 15 tackles and one interception.

The big news from today regards Redskins rookie phenom Robert Griffin III. Late in the third quarter, Griffin was knocked out of the game due to a mild concussion. Back quarterback Kirk Cousins finished the game for the Redskins and threw a touchdown and two interceptions.

Griffin will be going to see a specialist this evening so he can be examined. Dan Graziano of ESPN has the full report here.

Griffin will have to pass all of the NFL rigorous post-concussion tests if he wants to play this weekend against the Vikings. According to the report, Griffin appears to be feeling better today and could even practice as soon as Wednesday. If he practices, expect to see him play on Sunday. If not, likely Kirk Cousins will get the nod.

How do you think the Redskins should handle RG3's situation? Start the discussion and leave a comment below!

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Source: Redskins, ESPN

Redskins Fall to Falcons

In a very valiant and respectable effort today at FedEx Field, the Washington Redskins fell to the Atlanta Falcons 24-17. For the Redskins, however, that was one of two losses on the day...

Ryan Kerrigan made the play of the day for the Washington Redskins. In the beginning of the second quarter, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan looked to get the ball into the flats. However, defensive end Ryan Kerrigan stepped pawed the ball out of the air for the interception and ran it into the endzone for a touchdown.

Unlike the rest of the season up to this point, it wasn't the Redskins lack of defense that lost them this game. The Falcons offense more than doubled the offense when it came to first downs (28-12) and nearly doubled the Redskins in total plays run (81-48). The Redskins defense was on the field for a total of 37:01.

While the defense had troubles keeping the Falcons to short drives, the offense had troubles sustaining drives. On third down, the Redskins were 1-9 and started the game 0-8. They only had the ball for 22:59 which meant the defense didn't have much time rest and, in the end, that's what cost them this game.

Twice, however, the Redskins were well within field goal range for Billy Cundiff and had him in position to put six total points on the board. However, they only managed to collect three of them. Cundiff was one-for-two today with a missed field goal from 31 yards away.

Cundiffs second field goal attempt came in the third quarter and it put the Redskins ahead 10-7. However, the drive was in vain as the Redskins leader, Robert Griffin III was knocked out of the game due to a concussion after taking a hard hit to the head from Falcons player Sean Weatherspoon.

Following the injury to Griffin, enter the Redskins fourth round draft pick Kirk Cousins. This is exactly the reason the Redskins drafted him behind Robert Griffin III.

To start off his stint in the game, Cousins didn't do too badly. In fact, according to the stats Cousin's had a better game than Griffin. Cousin's finished with 111 yards passing to Griffin's 91.

Following the Falcons touchdown drive to open the fourth quarter, the Redskins found themselves down by four points. On the ensuing Redskins drive, Cousin's found Santana Moss wide open behind the safeties for a 77 yard touchdown to put the Redskins back up 17-14.

The next Falcons lasted nine plays and the Redskins defense was beginning to show signs of fatigue. They were on the field for 4:21 game minutes, but the drive seemed to last an eternity for the men on the field. It ended with a game tying 53 yard field goal from Matt Bryant.

After the Redskins went three and out on their next drive, the tired and battered defense was back at it again. The Falcons used a heavy dose of running back Michael Turner to lead them to the endzone to take the lead 24-17.

Much like Robert Griffin III against the Buccaneers, Kirk Cousins had his shot at a dramatic fourth quarter victory.

It was not meant to be, however, as Cousins final two passes were intercepted by the Falcons secondary. His final interception was one that you would expect from a rookie. He was fooled by the secondary and threw in tight coverage.

It was a very admirable effort from the Redskins as much off the football world didn't even expect this game to be close. Many were calling for this game to be a blowout and the Redskins kept it close.

While the Redskins didn't give up their usual 30+ points a game today, they did employ a very bendable, but not breakable, defense. Matt Ryan finished 34/52 with 345 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Tony Gonzalez shredded the Redskins linebackers for 13 catches and 123 yards and a touchdown. Julio Jones finished with 10 catches for 94 yards and a touchdown, as well.

The run defense was solid again, today. Michael Turner only managed 67 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. The front seven did an excellent job stopping the run including a three-and-out with under two minutes to the give the Redskins offense one last chance.

One place where the offense had an advantage was in the running game. The Falcons statistically don't have that solid of a run defense and Alfred Morris exploited that today. Morris took the handoff 18 times for 115 yards including and long 29 run.

Ironically, the game in which Griffin ran the least was the game that he got hurt, and sustained a mild concussion on, on his just his second rushing attempt of the game. It went down as a sack, but that is only because it occurred behind the line of scrimmage.

For the second consecutive week, Fred Davis led the team in receptions with five for 54 yards. Pierre Garcon spoiled what could have been a sensational game for him with four drops. He still managed for 4 3 receptions for 24 yards. Moss finished with 80 yards and a touchdown catch.

The Washington defense forced two turnovers today. One was the pick-six from Kerrigan and the other was a fumble recovery by Perry Riley. London Fletcher led the game in tackles yesterday with 20 total tackles including eight solo tackles. The Redskins front seven did an excellent job getting their hands in the passing lanes as the defense deflected eight passes.

Following the loss, the Redskins dropped to a strong 2-3 team. Each of the Redskins game this season have been close and they have a had a chance to win each and every one of them. The Redskins front seven will be tested as they take on Adrian Peterson at home next Sunday at 4:25. The Vikings have won the past two games against the Redskins.

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Friday, October 5, 2012

League Leading Nats

While the Washington Nationals locked up the best record and home field advantage in the National League, some other players topped the charts in other categories. Let's take a look!

Most Wins (NL/MLB): Gio Gonzalez
Gio Gonzalez had a season certainly worthy of a Cy Young. The Nationals ace won 21 games and lost just eight. He finished the regular season with an ERA of 2.18 and fanned 207 batters. In 199.1 innings pitched, Gonzalez finished with a Walks, Hits per Innings Pitched (WHIP) rating of 1.13. Opposing batters struggled mightily against him and had an average of just .206.

Least Amount Of Hits Allowed (NL): Gio Gonzalez
Yet another impressive stat that aids his candidacy for the Cy Young Award, Gonzalez allowed just 149 hits over 199.1 innings. He allowed 11 hits less than Edison Volquez.

Least Runs Allowed (NL): Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann
Zimmermann and Gonzalez both tied for tops in this category with 69 runs given up. Of those 69 runs, 64 of the runs were earned. That ties them for first in that category with Clayton Kershaw, as well.

Most Strikeouts (NL): Danny Espinosa
Poor Danny had a rough year at the plate. It started off well, however, as he was near the top of the charts in walks drawn to start the season. However, the old Danny returned as we moved through the season and he finished the season with an NL high 189 strikeouts.

Most Runs Scored by Rookie (NL): Bryce Harper
Who else but the run generating man himself? Harper scored 98 runs for the Nationals this season to lead all rookies in the National League by at least 15. Harper is most certainly in the running for Rookie of the Year after the sensational season that he had.

Most Triples by Rookie (NL/MLB): Bryce Harper
It could have been an infield hit and Harper would have tried to stretch it into a double. If he hit a bloop double into right field he would then try to stretch it into a triple. Harper led all rookies this season with nine triples.

Most Strikeouts by Rookie (NL): Bryce Harper
With great power comes great responsibility. Harper is going to have to learn when to take pitches and when to swing at them. He led all rookies with 120 strikeouts. Toward the end of the season, he started to get more patient in his at-bats, but he will still need to work on that in order to improve for next season.

The Nationals had a lot of great things happen this regular season. Adam LaRoche broke the 100 RBI barrier and Gio Gonzalez led the MLB in wins. As the Nationals head into the post-season, the Nationals will look to continue their winnings ways all the way to the World Series.

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Stat Source:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

RG3 Player of the Month

 Robert Griffin III
Griffin, above, had a very impressive September. (Photo: Keith Allison)
This morning, the NFL announced that Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III is the Offensive Rookie of the Month for the month of September. This is Griffin second award of this kind as he was Offensive Rookie of the Week in week one.

Griffin was nothing short of sensational in September. His fabulous month was capped off by a game winning two-minute drill drive against the Buccaneers this past Sunday.

In the month of September, Griffin completed 69.4 percent of his passes for 1,070 yards and four touchdowns. He threw just one interception and his longest pass was an 88 yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon during the Redskins week one upset of the New Orleans Saints.

Griffin has been just as productive on the ground. He has rushed 41 times for 234 yards and four touchdowns. He averages just under 6 yards per carry and his longest run was for 19 yards. When running the ball, Griffin has created 16 first downs for the Redskins offense.

Overall, Griffin has a quarterback rating of 103.2. That is almost unheard of for a rookie quarterback.

When compared to the rest of the NFL, Griffin ranks near the top in almost all quarterback categories.

His completion percentage of 69.5 percent ranks tied for second with Matt Ryan. He is twelth in the NFL for total pass yards with 1,070. His yards per attempt average of 8.63 puts him at third overall. Griffins 88 yard pass to Garcon is the longest thrown by any quarterback this season. His quarterback rating of 103.2 ranks him fourth and his pass yards per game average of 268 ranks him 14th.

When it comes to running the ball, Robert Griffin III ranks ahead of Cam Newton (167) and Michael Vick (130) in total rush yards (all three quarterbacks have at least 25 carries). He holds the third best yard per carry average of any quarterback or running back. Griffin is tied for first with Arian Foster and fellow Redskins Alfred Morris in rushing touchdowns with four.

Simply put, Robert Griffin III has got to be the leading Rookie of the Year candidate. His numbers are near the top in most categories at the quarterback position. I have a feeling this won't be the last time Griffin receives and All-Rookie award.

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Nats Playoff Picture

(Photo: dbking)
Now that the regular season has finished up, it's time to look toward the post-season (that is still fun to say/type/write!). The playoff picture is set for the Washington Nationals...kinda.

First off, with the Nationals 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies yesterday, they clinched the best record in the National League and will have home field advantage throughout the post-season. They were tied with the Reds for the best record in baseball, but with today's win they take that crown.

For the Nationals opening game of the 2012 National League Division Series, they will play the winner of the Wild Card Round between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves. The outcome of the game, which will played Friday at 5 PM EST, will determine the final two pitching rotation spots. If the Braves win, expect to see John Lannan in the rotation.

No matter the outcome, the Nationals will play their first two games of the five game series on the road at their opponent. The last three games of the series will be played at Nats Park. The series begins this Sunday at 7 PM EST. The Nationals won't have their first home playoff game since the club came to D.C. in 2005 until next Wednesday.

Gio Gonzalez will open the series this Sunday and Jordan Zimmermann will follow after that. The rest of the rotation depends on whether the Nationals play the Cardinals or the Braves.

Keep in mind, this is a best-of-five series for the Nationals. If the arrive at Nats Park next Wednesday in a 2-0 game deficit, each game could be the final game of the season. Luckily, the Nationals are very successful at home and should be able to hold that home field advantage through the playoffs.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Johnson Hurts Nerves

Johnson, center, should be just fine despite his recent injury. (Photo: Miss Chatter)
Usually in the late August to early October days we seen players that are a bit dinged up. They can still play, but they are a little sore. A tender ankle here. A tender hand there. It's expected and practical after a grueling 162 game regular season. However, rarely do you see a manager banged up.

Nationals 69-year old manager Davey Johnson left the game today in the seventh inning after his leg went numb. James Wagner of the Washington Post has the complete story here.

The report says that Johnson originally felt the numbness in the third inning. He took some medication to see if it would go away and that didn't help. In the seventh inning, Johnson decided to leave the dugout to get further treatment.

He left to get an x-ray done which revealed that two discs in his spine were narrowing (a normal thing). Due to the narrowing, they were pressing against the nerves and thus his leg went numb. To combat that, Johnson has taken some medicine to help the swelling and if it still doesn't subside, he will have to get a shot.

This will not effect Johnson's ability to manage in the playoffs. After the way this season has gone, I don't think he'll let anything effect his ability to manage in the playoffs. He's a modern day Lou Brown (for you young kids, he was the manager of the Indians in the popular baseball movie series "Major League").

Like everything else this season, Johnson is using humor to get through the situation. When asked about his level of concern for his leg, Johnson simply said "I don't want to miss a step going up (the dugout) and doing a header like Gio or somebody."

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Source: Washington Post

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Life After Strasburg

Gio Gonzalez Hurls the Ball
Gio Gonzalez, above, will be the Nats ace in the post-season. (Photo: Geoff Livingston)
As the Nationals clinch the NL East Division Championship with a loss last night, I couldn't help but come to the realization of something: Once Strasburg got shutdown, the Nationals pitching staff has considerably dropped off.

Strasburg was shutdown for good following a 9-7 loss at the hands of the Miami Marlins. It was by far Strasburg's worst start of the season and some credited that due the fact that he was about to be shutdown. I, personally, think that the Marlins just got the best of him that night.

Since then, however, the Nationals are 11-11 and haven't been able to string together more than three wins in a row and have lost as many as three in a row. Tonight against the Phillies, the Nationals will be looking to stop a two-game losing streak.

Over the past 22 games, the Nationals have given up more than five runs eight times. Twice they have given up more than ten runs including a 12-2 loss against the St. Louis Cardinals. Just once have the Nationals pitching staff shutout a team.

Could the Nationals pitching staff be losing steam? A rotation that was once dominant and tops in the major leagues has been vulnerable as of late and that leaves a lot of decisions as to who will be the starting pitchers in four-man post-season rotation.

The obvious first choice is Gio Gonzalez. He has one 20+ games and has been lights out for the Nationals. He will likely be the starting in game one. The next easiest decision is to put Jordan Zimmermann on the rotation. Zimmermann has been getting better and better as the season goes on and look to him to fair well in the post-season.

The last two spots will likely come down to Ross Detwiler, Edwin Jackson, and John Lannan. All three were at one point dominant in the season. Lannan has the least amount of experience in the MLB this season, but, that does not mean he isn't the least qualified.

This season, Jackson has been much more consistent and reliable one the mound. He also doesn't take long to settle into a groove. So with that in mind, I'm labeling Jackson as the third man in the rotation.

The final spot will come down to Detwiler and Lannan. When at their best this season, both have been lights out. However, when teams are able to string a few hits together, things fall apart quickly for these two.

Detwiler takes a couple innings to settle into a groove. Usually, you'd like to see your starting pitcher be settled and ready to roll as you start the second inning. That is not always the case for the Detwiler. At times, Lannan can be the same way. It can sometimes take him two to three innings to settle in.

So how do you decide? Well, when things get a little out of hand early, who's able to recover the best? In my opinion, it's Ross Detwiler. When things go wrong early for Lannan, they stay wrong until he's finally pulled from the game. For Detwiler, he's able to regain his composure and the damage that has already been done will be the only damage that is done.

So here's my post-season starting pitching staff:

1) Gio Gonzalez
2) Jordan Zimmermann
3) Edwin Jackson
4) Ross Detwiler

We could probably expect the bullpen to be the likely suspects of Craig Stammen, Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett, and Drew Storen.

Like I stated above, the Nationals starting pitching has fallen off since Stephen Strasburg was shutdown. They have a .500 record and there are still two games left in the season. Hopefully, the Nationals haven't peaked too soon. This team has a lot of talent and a lot of potential to go deep into the post-season.

Got an idea for the Nationals pitching staff? Leave a comment below stating who you would pick and why.

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Monday, October 1, 2012


At about the same time Danny Espinosa fielded a ground ball to end the eighth inning, the Pirates did the same to end the game against the Atlanta Braves. In doing so, they clinched the NL East Division Championship for the Washington Nationals.

While the Nationals lost to the Phillies 2-0, there is still plenty to celebrate. This is the first division championship for the DC ball club since they came to the district back in 2005. When watching the team and fans celebrate, you'd never have known that they lost the game.

It's symbolic, in a way. On the same night that the Phillies, who dominated the NL East as of late, are in town, the Nationals clinch their first ever NL East title. Also, the Pirates defeated the long time kings of the division, Atlanta Braves, to hand the Nationals the crown.

It's a changing of the guard. The Nationals have officially completed one of the greatest single season turn arounds in D.C. sports history. They went from a team that lost at least 100 games twice in the past four season and was in the cellar of the division, to a team that will nearly win 100 games and will be at the top of the division when all is said and done.

You can't help but feel the same joy and happiness that we saw when the Nationals players got the word before the ninth inning that they were the NL East Champs. They way the dugout, and Nats Park, came apart after seeing the official announcement was put on the board was sensational.

What made the evening so special was how the players returned to the field following their initial celebrating to celebrate with the fans. All season long "Natitude" has grown in D.C. and it boiled over into one extravagant climax following the game. Players were high-fiving with fans and some even sprayed champagne into the stands.

It's time, D.C. Year after year we've seen the Wizards fall short, the Capitals come so close, and the Redskins collapse in the playoffs. This time, however, the Nationals are stepping up to the plate to bring a title back to D.C.

The playoff are right around the corner and I just have one thing to ask...

Are you ready, DC, to show your #NATITUDE?

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Meriweather Out A Week

 Brandon Meriweather
Meriweather, above, will miss at least one week after re-injuring his knee. (Photo: Keith Allison)
For the fifth consecutive week, the Redskins will be without safety Brandon Meriweather after he and Aldrick Robinson collided in pre-game, yes pre-game, yesterday. Meriweather re-injured his PCL and MCL in his left knee. Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk has the latest here.

In what will likely be seen on "Come On, Man!!!" tonight on ESPN's Monday Night Countdown, receiver Aldrick Robinson collided with Brandon Meriweather in pregame yesterday. Robinson was running a pass route into the endzone where Meriweather had his head down.

Robinson and Meriweather collided and before he hit the ground, it is reported that Robinson was unconscious. Meriweather re-injured his knee on the collision.

Both were immediately removed from the game squad and taken to the locker room so they could be looked at by the training staff. An MRI today confirmed Meriweather's injury.

Once again, the Redskins have been bit by the injury bug in pre-game. If you recall last year against the Patriots, starting tackle Jammal Brown was injured simply running out of the tunnel. He was forced to miss time because of a knee injury. Maybe the Redskins should skip warm-ups...or maybe be a little more relaxed with it.

Anyways, it would have been nice having a Pro Bowl safety in the secondary against Matt Ryan and the high flying Falcons. Their passing attack is one of the most deadliest in the league with Roddy White and Julio Jones as weapons to throw to.

Meriweather, for sure, and Robinson will likely miss this weekends game and could both possibly miss week six as well. Meriweather has yet to appear in a regular season game for the Redskins.

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Source: Pro Football Talk