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The “Get a new one!” fallacy

By Mark Solway | August 31st, 2006

Weaknesses on a football team are the bane of any fan’s existence. Come Sunday, you simply hope that Ade Jimoh isn’t in there on a big 3rd down play, or that the game won’t come down to a last-second 50+ yard field goal when Hall is out with an injury. You hope that we won’t need a long bomb from Brunell, even after his arm made for one of the better moments in Redskin’s history. Whatever your opinions are of particular players, last year Redskins fans were unquestionably unified in our horror of every 4th down punting situation. We’ve become accustomed to “Frost bounces”–lucky rolls that make our punter look statistically competitive to other punters in the league–but Skins fans see beyond the numbers to numerous 15-yard shanks and booming end-zone-bound kicks. With Frost, you’re never quite sure whether the other team will start on their 4-yard line or on your 40. Lately I’ve heard a lot of talk about Gibbs and our front office not addressing this dire need in this year’s offseason. While I can sympathize with the sentiment, I’m not sure how much blame there really is to go around. Please remember that there is a limited supply of good punters out there. For everyone saying that we should have used a draft pick on a punter, how about listing a single punter that was selected in this past year’s draft? (Hint: there were two, and you can find them here and here ). Only one of them is looking to start this season. Will he be better than Frost? I don’t know–only time will tell. But it would have been a gamble to have drafted him, and if we had there’s a good chance people would still be complaining right now. (Is it even debatable that weak positions are rarely fixed with a 5th round-or later-draft pick?) Was this year’s class a good class for punters? Probably not. After all, guess where did David Lonie came from? (Hint, “Australia” isn’t the answer that I’m looking for ). Suppose we had drafted Lonie rather than picking him up as a walkon–would wasting the draft pick have made anyone feel much better? There is an argument to be made that we could have selected Plackemeier or Koch (who is, by the way, 2nd on the Ravens depth chart). By midseason we’ll know for sure whether such a move would have been effective at all. Hindsight is 20/20, after all. So here is what I call the “Get a new one!” fallacy: the belief that a front office–if they really want to–can simply upgrade a position whenever they please. This is similar to the thinking that we can always “just trade our 1st round pick for lots of mid round picks!” or that we can “just trade x here (like Ramsey) for some draft picks!” The NFL isn’t Madden, and often it can be very hard to find good players. It could be that Frost *shudder* is our best option right now. So the next time Frost trots out to punt and we all cringe, remember these two things: (1) You don’t pull these guys out of thin air –they have to come from some place. (2) If he’s really this bad, Frost won’t last much longer on the team. Lastly, there’s always hope that a player can improve. After all, I don’t mind it as much anymore when Ade Jimoh takes to the…

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