Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said during the final week of the regular season that contract talks with David Wright and R.A. Dickey were his top priority going into the offseason. Six weeks later, there’s no resolution with either player. However, Alderson told Marc Carig of New York Newsday earlier this evening that he’s hoping…
The Capitals’ top line got the better of the Penguins’ top line in Game 1, but don’t expect Pittsburgh to avoid that matchup going forward. Head coach Mike Sullivan saw plenty to like from his line’s performance.
Barry Trotz has shown all season that he likes putting his top line out against his opponents' and it has worked thus far in the postseason.
Sullivan, however, isn’t concerned.
“No, I’m not going to avoid it,” Sullivan said when asked if he would try to free his top line from the Caps’. “We don’t mind that matchup. I think Sid’s line can play against anybody and he's done that all year long and they've produced.”
But they didn’t in Game 1.
The Penguins’ line of Connor Sheary, Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist tallied zero points and each player finished with a minus-3 on Thursday. It was much the same for the Caps who were able to completely shut down the top line of the Philadelphia Flyers in round one, holding Brayden Schenn, Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds to only five total points in six games.
The key for the Caps has been going power vs. power, matching their top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie against their opponent's’ top line. It is a strategy that has worked on both ends of the ice (see Oshie’s hat trick in Game 1).
Despite the lack of production, however, Sullivan remains pleased with the top line’s performance.
"Even though they didn’t score the other night doesn’t mean that they didn’t have quality chances or have a fair amount of offensive zone time so we liked a lot of what Sid’s line did and we feel as though if they continue to play the game the way that they're playing they're going to end up on the score sheet.”
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The Redskins made a draft day trade with the Saints for the second year in a row.
When Washington was on the clock for their fourth round pick, No. 120 overall, they made a deal with New Orleans. The Saints move up from the 152nd pick to the Redskins’ pick. The Redskins went back to the Saints’ pick, which is in the fifth round, and took New Orleans’ fifth-round pick in 2017.
The Saints took linebacker David Onyemata out of Manitoba, Canada with the pick.
The Redskins now have five more picks in this draft, two in the fifth round, one in the sixth, and two in the seventh.
And by getting the fifth-round pick for next year they recoup the selection they sent to the 49ers last year in exchange for tight end Derek Carrier. They now have eight picks in 2017, one in each round and two in the sixth. They got the extra sixth with a trade down in the first round on Thursday.
Don't blink watching the NFL or you will miss the evolution taking place in pro football. For decades stopping the run was the paramount defensive principle, but as offenses around the league transform into a pass-first scheme, changes must happen on both sides of the ball.
For many teams, that means new personnel. And that certainly is apparent with Redskins second round pick Su'a Cravens.
A 6 foot 1, 225 lbs. "football player" Cravens comes to Washington without a clear position. He's likely too small to regularly play linebacker, and with a 40 time of 4.69, lacks the high-end speed to be a true safety.
So, while Redskins coaches are excited about the addition of Cravens, the question lingers: Where will he play?
"They said they see me as a dime linebacker," Cravens told the media Friday night. "So, I’m going to come in and give it my all."
Undoubtedly, Cravens was a playmaker on the college level. Playing a hybrid linebacker/safety role at USC, Cravens took Pac-12 honors and logged 5.5 sacks and two interceptions last season.
"The fact that Washington called me – which I wasn’t expecting – and told me that’s what they wanted me to play, I feel like it’s a spot where I can fit right in the defense," Cravens said of the dime linebacker position.
It sounds like Cravens could be an impact player for the Redskins defense, however, one hurdle remains. Per Pro Football Focus' Rick Drummond, the Redskins only deployed their dime defense on 138 snaps out of 1,159 total defensive snaps, or about 12 percent of the time.
So did the Redskins just use a highly valued second-round pick on a player who will maybe play on 12 percent of defensive snaps?
"When you're talking about defensive football nowadays, you want to get people who can do multiple things and be versatile in what they do and figure out ways to get the ball back for your offense," Washington coach Jay Gruden said of Cravens. "He's one of the top guys at his position. He's got position flex. He's a ball hawk. He's a turnover machine and he's a great player."
Gruden alluded to the changing nature of the NFL, and what defenses must do to keep up. The coach's comments still don't address how much or how little Cravens will see the field.
"Once we get him in the building, we will figure out a way to get him on the field," Gruden said.
Drafted in part for his versatility, last year's second round pick Preston Smith emerged to be one of the Redskins best defenders. But unlike Cravens, Smith had the size to stay on the field in multiple packages and played on nearly 50 percent of the Redskins defensive snaps (577).
For Cravens to prove his draft position worthwhile, either he will need to make a tremendous amount of impact plays in the 12 percent of snaps he projects to be on the field, or his role will have to grow larger than just dime linebacker.
Known for his hard work and football acumen, Cravens seems the type of player fit to grow into a large role. For the Redskins, he better, because he will not grow larger to be a full-time lnebacker, or faster to be a true safety.