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Pig-Headed?

By Mark Solway | October 4th, 2007

A very concerning trend is emerging from Redskin Park lately – pig-headed personnel decisions. Now I know that it’s near sacrilege to speak ill of Mr. Gibbs in Washington, and I’m certainly one of his biggest fans and supporters, but where is the football logic behind some of these decisions? I don’t even know that it is Gibbs, I just know that there continue to be cases to point at and wonder what on earth… Lavar Arrington. I’m not going to make this a ‘should he / shouldn’t he be a Redskin’ type blog entry. It’s up to the individual to decide if Arrington was worth keeping around despite his freelance tendencies. I do know that it seemed that the team deliberately turned him INTO a pariah in the middle of a season. I do know that the team consistently made the wrong moves with benching him, and playing him only on certain downs. I do know that regardless of what you thought of Lavar’s play, he was a team leader at the time – if not THE team leader. They virtually assured his failure by crushing the very essence of what made him – his spirit. He was castigated to what – make a point? It’s one thing to tailor or reduce a role for a player, but it’s another thing entirely to just turn him into a scapegoat, and then pay millions of dollars to get rid of him. Adam Archuletta. Pay a guy a boat load of money to come and play in D.C. and then put him at free safety instead of at strong (where he belongs) when he gets here. Then, because he really isn’t suited to his new role, he doen’t do well, you ostracize him, you stick him on the bench, and you pay him big money to do absolutely nothing. The guy never even got a chance to play his position. If you look at both how Arch is fitting in with the Bears, and the fact that the Redskins moved Sean Taylor BACK to free safety this year – how was Arculetta not a personnel error? Not only did he not live up to his fullest potential, but the Redskins panicked, dumped him, and ate another huge cap hit. You just can’t do business like that in modern football, let alone repeatedly. The salary cap mandates that you take your ‘investment’ into consideration or you’re constantly paying millions and millions of dollars in dead cap, while you make ‘points’. It’s CRAZY to think that having millions and millions of dollars in dead cap money DOESN’T affect the product tht you’re able to put on the field. And now the Redskins are doing it again with Brandon Lloyd. I know that I’ll be accused of being biased because we did a show with the guy last year, but in reality, that really just gives me FIRST HAND knowledge of a lot of what went on. Not press snippets conjured up by sensationalist writers, but the actual facts and events as Brandon experienced them. I also know that Brandon worked really hard in the off-season both at getting in great shape, and at putting last year behind him. That’s admirable whether you like the guy or not. He came to camp hoping to make a difference and it was all for not. Why? Pig-headedness. He was never even given a chance and it seems that the longer we go, the less chance there is that B.Lloyd will ever make a meaningful contribution to the team. The real question is, is that all Brandon’s fault? In my opinion, the answer is no. I’m not going to defend the guy because as I said, I’ll be accused of bias and the point will be entirely missed. He must accept some of the blame as there have been some issues, but all of it? No way. Still, I want to remove any potential for accusation of ‘feelings’ towards Brandon, so let’s just look at the results of the actions as it pertains to the product that the Washington Redskins put on the field. The Redskins moved Antwaan Randle El to the number two spot. With all due respect to El, he just isn’t a number two guy and now he’s just playing at a position that doesn’t really allow his particular skill set to be showcased. He had a great first game, but he’s really struggled to get open and make much impact at receiver since then. Let’s remember that in the Redskin offense, a lot of what the number two guy needs to do is draw coverage away from Santana Moss – that isn’t happening. So not only do you have El out of place at number two, the Redskins aren’t getting anything in coverage that helps their number one receiver. Since personnel-wise we also seem to have decided that Chris Cooley should block the opposition’s leading pass rusher as many as 15 times in a half (Giants), the Redskins have once again become a very predictable, defendable offense. Next part of the equation – the number three spot. The Redskins said that they were going to use Lloyd in the slot due to the move, but they haven’t. Brandon’s lucky to see the field five times in a game and usually he’s blocking. Gibbs or Saunders decided that James Thrash would be better suited to the role. The result? Zero catches for zero yards for Thrash. I love Thrash, but not as my number three receiver in an offense with a ton of three receiver sets. Why? Because he could go the whole season without a catch – he’s not getting open – he belongs on special teams and as an injury back-up at this point in his career. He isn’t scaring any secondaries that’s for sure. Then the Redskins bring in Reche Caldwell. Caldwell has the same number of catches as Thrash so far – zero. But wait you’re saying – he doesn’t know the offense. Yeah – so what? That’s what happens when you pick up a guy in September – what do you expect? By the time he learns the offense well enough to make a contribution, it might be too late. All the while, catches are being taken away from others at practce as Caldwell tries to get up to speed. Now Moss has a tweaked hammy and the Redskins bring in Keenan McCardell. Awesome, see Caldwell entry for thoughts. How long will it take him to get up to speed and make a contribution? Days… weeks… months… how’s it going to help with Moss’ injury unless they plug him in right away? How is McCardell’s signing NOT also proof that Caldwell hasn’t exactly blown the barn doors off. So instead of what was potentally a solid receiver line-up with Moss, El and Lloyd, it’s turned into a horror show. We could actually have El, Thrash, McCardell, and Caldwell in against the Lions? Yeah, that’ll put the fear of God into the opposition – three guys with a sum total of zero catches this year. All instead of just trying to be professionals and using the receiver that you already have, that already knows the offense, and that has kept his mouth shut through this entire debacle. Let’s face it – this could have (and still might) get ugly, but at least Brandon has done the right thing and not bitched and complained to everyone that wanted to listen. From a football stand point – none of it makes any sense. The Redskins are just a better team with Lloyd contributing than sitting on the bench and collecting a pay check. Clinton Portis said this week that, “… the sooner he can get on the field, the better we’ll be.” He paraphrased it with some player speak about practicing well, but wasn’t he really just keeping the peace and getting it out there that the Redskins should at least give Lloyd a chance at this point? But it just doesn’t look like it’s ever going to happen. Miraculously though, management and coaching get a pass and this is all Lloyd’s fault. Of course it’s Brandon, this couldn’t possibly be anyone else’s fault, because it might require pointing at the infallible Joe Gibbs. After all, whether certain decisions are made by Gibbs or not, he’s the team president, so he’s accountable for the results of those decisions. I love Gibbs. None of this affects my feelings for the man who has brought so much Redskin happiness my way – but this obvious trend is both alarming, and disconcerting. It’s not putting the best possible product on the field for the Washington Redskins – and what else should matter? I’ve heard Mr. Gibbs called a ‘father figure’ by so many former players that there must be truth to it. So riddle me this – do fathers send their kids for five-minute timeouts, or do they ground them for the rest of their lives? The situation with Lloyd isn’t much more complicated than that. Benching him just smacks of pig-headeness and stubbornness, especially given the potential injury that Moss has (again). How does it make sense to penalize an entire roster of players by NOT giving them their best opportunity to win? It doesn’t; yet, here we are. I don’t know if it’s Gibbs’ decision, or Al Saunders’ decision, or Dan Snyder’s decision… I just know it’s a crappy football decision. This is theHogs.net; we love almost anything related to the pig. But not pig-headedness. My 2 cents My 2…

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