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Results more important than process

Results more important than process

The main complaint about the Washington Redskins draft that is making the rounds is that they didn't "address" the defensive line. It's a complaint heard almost every year as the Redskins do generally ignore the D-line during the annual selection meeting.

Of course, Rob Jackson of Kansas State, the defensive end that the Redskins took in the seventh round in the last dozen picks might take umbrage to such remarks, but nobody is expecting big things out of him, probably not even Mr. and Mrs. Jackson.

Not since 1997, when they tabbed Kennard Lang in the first round, have the Skins used their initial pick for a defensive lineman. Since then the first line of defense has received very limited draft-day attention in the form of late-round draft picks like Anthony Montgomery and Kedric Golston.

A funny thing has happened during the time that the Redskins have been neglecting the defensive line on the last weekend in April. The defense has been pretty good. Not necessarily great, not dominant, but good enough to win with.

How good? Starting with the 2000 season, the Redskins defense has been ranked 7, 13, 21, 24, 5, 9, 27, and 11 in points allowed. In those eight years they've been in the top 10 three times and in the top half of the league a total of five times.

Whatever method the Redskins are using to acquire defensive players has been working. To worry about where they have acquired their personnel is to be concerned with process over results.

The Redskins have not been mediocre this decade because of their defense. They have struggled because they haven't been able to score points. In that same eight-year span, from 2000-2007 their NFL rankings in point scored have been 24, 28, 25, 22, 31, 13, 20, and 18. They haven't been in the top 10 once and they were in the bottom half of the league in seven of the eight years.

That sounds to me like a team that needs to score more points. They have a ways to go here to move from being awful to merely run of the mill.

We keep on hearing that the Redskins should go after beefing up the defensive line because that's how the Giants won the Super Bowl. It's a copycat league and trying to overwhelm the other team with a fierce pass rush is a solid strategy in any era.

But the Giants weren't the team that was on the verge of being anointed the greatest of all time. That team was the Patriots, the team that added three veteran wide receivers in the offseason and became the greatest scoring machine in league history.

Now, which team do you want to copy? The one that lost six games, had to become road warriors, and needed a miracle throw and catch to become the champs? Or the one that cruised through its schedule undefeated, stayed at home for the playoffs and was a mis-timed jump by Assante Samuel on what would have been a game-ending interception away from the best season ever?

It's funny how just a couple of plays can turn the perception of how you should build your team. If the ball bounces out of David Tyree's grasp when he hits the ground, you should build your team to score points and obliterate the opposition. He catches it and suddenly every team needs to find an Osi and a Strahan in the middle rounds.

Devin Thomas, Fred Davis, and Malcolm Kelly will not turn Jason Campbell into Tom Brady. The Redskins will not win their first 18 games in 2008 or set the all time scoring record. But in time, perhaps as early as midseason, Thomas, Davis, and Kelly will be helping the Redskins score more points. By then Campbell should find the trio providing much more appealing targets than were Keenan McCardell, Reche Caldwell, and Todd Yoder.

If that happens, the biggest problem the team has had over the past eight years will be on its way to being solved.

They do not have to become a Pats-like dynamo to win more games. If they consistently can even score as many points as the average team in the league, that will be a major improvement.

Those who would rather fret over the process rather than look at the result will continue to do so. Too bad, they could be missing out on a lot of fun.

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Eagles coach's comments on effort create a stir in the locker room

Eagles coach's comments on effort create a stir in the locker room

The day after the Eagles 32-14 loss to the Bengals on Sunday, Philadelphia coach Doug Peterson said that he didn’t think that all his players played hard.

Not everybody, and that’s the accountability that I talk about,” Pederson said, via the Birds 24/7 blog. “I hold coaches accountable for that; I hold myself accountable for that because it all starts with me. I pride myself each week to make sure the guys are ready to go, but at the same time, it comes down to a mentality by each individual player. This is a business where we have to be ready to go every single weekend because every team in the league — there are some teams that are better than others, but for the most part anything can happen any weekend.”

This sort of vague shot fired at the team did not sit well with the players. Safety Malcolm Jenkins, one of the most respected voices on the team, said that the comments put players in a bad spot.

“I know the intent of the guys that I practice with and play with every day, and I didn’t see effort being an issue,” Jenkins said. “It puts us in a little bit of a tough position as players because now everybody wants to know, ‘Well, who were you talking about?’”

Some in the media in Philadelphia surmised that two of the players Pederson was talking about were tight end Zach Ertz and safety Rodney McLeod. One on play it looked like Ertz failed to block Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict on a Carson Wentz scramble.

“I’m not going to get into the details of every thought I had on that play,” said Ertz. “I’m focused on giving this city everything I have on each and every play. I promise going forward, I will do that. I think I have done that in the past.”

It didn’t look like McLeod did everything he could to keep Bengals running back Jeremy Hill from scoring a touchdown on a two-yard run in the first quarter.

“I thought the ball was going to hit somewhere else, and then obviously it came through. By the time I could react, Hill already crossed the plane,” said McLeod. “Just got caught flat-footed, tried to react and by the time I did, I feel like if I were to hit him it could possibly be late. Just a tough situation.”

You can see both of the plays in question here.

We don’t know if Ertz and McLeod are among the players that Pederson was talking about when he spoke of issues with effort. Leaving things vague like that doesn’t do much for the coach’s credibility in the locker room. And when that starts to be in doubt the coach gets asked about his job security. Pederson said that owner Jeffrey Lurie and GM Howie Roseman have been supportive.

“From both of them, it’s been 100 percent support on everything. I meet with Jeffrey and Howie every week and we discuss a lot of things and go over a lot of things. Every week, it’s very positive,” Pederson said. “I just don’t think you can base a guy’s career on one season. I think you got to give it time to develop.

But the fact that these questions are being asked after he has been in his job for a dozen games is an indication that he is facing at least a minor crisis as his team prepares for four games that are likely to be meaningless in terms of the playoff picture. We will see if he can get the train back on the tracks by Sunday.

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Poll: What is your approval rating for the play of Redskins QB Kirk Cousins?

Poll: What is your approval rating for the play of Redskins QB Kirk Cousins?

As usual, answer the poll and either rely on Twitter or come back here and hit the comments section.