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Draft: Separating the Smoke From the Fire

Draft: Separating the Smoke From the Fire

Baseball has its Hot Stove League. NASCAR has what’s called Silly Season. The NFL doesn’t have a catchy name for the annual barrage of chatter that happens every year in the few weeks prior to its annual selection meeting, but it’s just as hot and just as silly nonetheless.

Remember, back in the day, that cloud of hazy smoke that would hang over an event such as a Grateful Dead concert? The atmosphere around the NFL draft is beginning to resemble something just that whacky.

There are a few reasons for all of the buzz other than the immense popularity of the NFL and the intense interest in the draft. One of the very nature of NFL draft deals. While some are completed in advance of the draft, most are made while one of the teams involved is on the clock. It’s not until then that the teams involved know exactly what they’re trading.

Due to the necessity that deals be conducted at the last minute, there is nothing concrete in the days leading up to the draft. In the place of hard news are reports from anonymous team and league sources, speculation and some stuff that was just made up.

Of course, the Internet increases both the number of rumors making the rounds and the speed at which the stories travel exponentially. What used to be speculation being chewed over by a few guys enjoying a cold one after work is now spread to hundreds if not thousands in course of an evening. On top of that, there’s the constant pressure for the major sports Websites such as ESPN.com and CBS Sportsline to come up with new content—something posted three or four hours ago is sometimes considered old news. The compressed news cycle demands that stories be published before they’re fully developed. This leads to an increase in the quantity of stories and a decrease in the quality of them.

Speaking of low quality, there are also dozens of self-declared draft “experts” with their own Websites out there. At best they serve up rehashes of other reports; at worst they engage in sheer, uninformed speculation and rumormongering.

To be sure, there was no shortage of smoke being blown by NFL teams prior to the advent of the Internet. Back when the World Wide Web was just a gleam in Al Gore’s eye, Redskins GM Bobby Beathard would annually dole out vast amounts false information to the media. In fact, a good way to figure out who the Redskins would draft would be to take a list of prospects and cross off the name of any player that Beathard mentioned in public. Whoever was left had a shot at being picked.

In fact, a search of the Post’s archives reveals not one instance of Beathard being quoted uttering the name “Darrell Green” in the weeks prior to the 1983 draft. Green, of course was the Redskins’ first-round selection.

One thing is for sure. As Vinny Cerrato said at this time last year, "These next two weeks, you can't believe anything you hear."

And, just like at that Dead concert, be careful of how much of that smoke you take in. In both cases it can lead to faulty judgment.

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Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked - and what didn't - against Arizona

Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked - and what didn't - against Arizona

CSN has teamed up with The Edge Systems to provide the occasional statistical review of Redskins game film. The Edge is analytical football software currently being used by coaches in the NFL, SEC, ACC and the media, providing some of the fastest and best data in football.

Below is a breakdown of the Redskins run game against Arizona - a game coach Jay Gruden admitted did not feature enough carries for Robert Kelley. 

The Redskins had a lot of success with their GAP runs early in the game.

In the first half they were successful on 75 percent of their GAP runs. 

As the game wore on the Redskins moved away from what had been successful and only ran two GAP runs in the second half.

As their power running game vanishing, mirrored their prospects for winning the game.

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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State of the Redskins: Playoff chances trending in the wrong direction

State of the Redskins: Playoff chances trending in the wrong direction

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 14 of the NFL season.

Record: 6-5-1, 3rd in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 2-2
vs. NFC: 4-4
vs. AFC: 2-1-1
Home: 4-2
Away: 2-3-1

Rankings and changes from Week 13

Offense (yards/game): 418.6 (2nd, no change from Week 13)
Defense (yards/game): 369.6 (23rd, +2)
Points for: 303 (10th, -1)
Points against: 295 (20th, -2)

Passer rating offense:  99.8 (8th, -2)
Opp passer rating: 95.0 (22nd, -3)
Yards/rush attempt: 4.5 (5th, no change)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 4.6 (29th, +2)
Weighted DVOA (Football Outsiders): 9.8% (10th, no change)
Playoff chances per FO: 41.5%, -14.1% from last week

Trending the right way: Not much, really. Their ranking in rushing defense improved a couple of notches but mostly because other teams got worse, not because the Redskins put the clamps down on the rushing game.

Trending the wrong way: For the first time in a few weeks the Redskins’ playoff chances are below 50 percent. Two straight losses will do that.  

Top three storylines:

Letting them have it—Jay Gruden is usually supportive of his team after a loss but that was not the case following the Cardinals game. He could be heard speaking to the team in angry tones in the locker room following the loss. We will see if this rare tirade jump-starts the Redskins’ stretch run.

Dealing with injury issues—Not only do the Redskins have to be concerned about the condition of Jordan Reed, whose status is unclear as he rehabs from a shoulder injury he suffered on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas, their starting center is in the concussion protocol. If Spencer Long can’t go the Redskins may have to add a center to back up John Sullivan.

Help wanted—The Redskins need other teams to lose if they want to make the playoffs. They need a little help if they win out to finish 10-5-1; they need more help if they finish at 9-6-1. Scoreboard watching starts at 4:25 on Sunday when the Bucs, a half-game ahead of Washington, host the Saints and continues on Sunday night football with the Cowboys at the Giants.

Next three games

Sunday @ Eagles (5-7)—The Redskins handled them well in October; the final score did not indicate how Washington dominated the game. The Eagles look more like a rebuilding team than a playoff contender and the Redskins could elimate them for all practical purposes

December 19 vs. Panthers (4-8)—The season of the defending NFC champs officially came off the rails on Sunday night when Cam Newton started the game on the bench because he didn’t wear a tie and he ended it looking at the wrong end of a 40-7 beatdown by the Seahawks. Still, the Redskins have never beaten Newton so this is not one that will come easily.

Christmas Eve vs. Bears (3-9)—There is no such thing as an easy game in the NFL but if the Redskins can’t manage to win this one they don’t deserve to make the playoffs.