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DCSween Guest Blog

Good morning, all. Hope you're doing well. DCSween wanted to share something with you guys about the secondary play last season, so here's his guest blog. I'll post something later today (updating news and also something on Casey Bramlet) and still have my Redskins/English Premier League idea to flesh out at some point before free agent madness begins.

Here's DCSween's post

Conspiracy Theory about Skins Secondary with Alternate Ending

I've been thinking about the Skins secondary woes, esp. since that ESPN article by Tom Friend, and wondering whether there weren't structural problems dooming that unit to long-term shanbinging. Redskins Park never responded to any of that, which from a management perspective (as opposed to a fan soothing perspective) makes complete sense.

At the RI gathering at the Ugly Mug, I asked Jason, "So are they going to fire Steve Jackson?" [Jackson is the safeties coach The Friend article had mentioned something about Jackson "pouting" when Jerry Gray was practicing the secondary as a unit. Jerry Gray is the corners coach, plus has another title "defensive secondary coach.] I remarked about the bit about Jackson telling safeties to follow the QB, not the lineman.

In response, Jason reminded me that Steve Jackson was the safeties coach the year before, and that this is not the first year that safeties and corners met separately and practiced separately. Second, he remarked that the way Williams' defense is designed, the big plays are supposed to be made by the LBs and the safeties, not the corners. Third, you remarked 2005 DeWayne Walker bent over backwards to try to get his corners in line with the safeties and spent a lot of time refining their technique in order to get the corners on the same page with them, even when they were not meeting as a unit.

This season, that was not really the case; there were some dynamics that had not been worked out. Jackson has always been "the next in line" -- a strong Williams guy and someone who most people thought would move up the ranks in Williams' defenses no matter where they were. Then Gray arrived -- another guy with whom Gregg Williams has equally strong ties AND someone who has already served as a D Coordinator in the league (something Jackson hasn't yet done). So in 2006, there wasn't a DeWayne type there kind of subjugating himself as a coach and making sure that the corners were playing to the safeties' strengths (note that: remember the feature role of safeties in Gregg Williams' D).

It's not like Jerry Gray and Steve Jackson hate each other or anything like that; these guys are professional coaches (and former professional athletes). As demonstrated late in the season, however, it took a lot of time for everyone (position coaches and D backs) to get on the same page and get all the personalities aligned.

With those three points, I want to spin off some of my own thoughts about the secondary. First, to me, it seems like there might be another set of conclusions to draw from the Tom Friend article, esp. that the shabingus might not have been the entire fault of Steve Jackson and Archuleta. An alternative deep source (rather than Archuleta) could well have been a D back other than a safety, particularly a disgruntled vet corner unable or unwilling to get with the program that features safeties to keep the trains moving, e.g., Wright or Rumph (and given how quickly he was canned, probably Rumph).

It also might mean that, after another offseason together, Jerry Grey/Jackson/Williams might be able to get their games together. Also, I would remind people (apropos of nothing) that in the previous year, the Skins' nickel was Prioleau, a safety, compared to this past season's nickel (a rotating position) that was played by a corner ... and that maybe the different mentalities of the positions had something to do with some of the abysmalness of the secondary this season. Finally, it seems that a corner with a large ego might suffer from the same indignities of any CB in the GG defense, i.e., where the safeties come first. If the Skins CAN trade down, I do think the draft has some nifty CBs after the first couple (who I presume will be Leon Hall and Darielle Revis). Daymeion Hughes (Cal) and, my personal fave based his pick numbers, Aaron Ross of Texas.

OK, RI posters, chew it up and spit it out.

By Jason La Canfora  |  February 28, 2007; 9:00 AM ET
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I dunno -- this is all based on the assumption that professionalism is sort of the "natural" state of things and that all these guys will return to the norm this season. I'm not positive that the ESPN articles points about Jackson aren't just dead on and reveal a guy whose ego and lack of professionalism aren't just core attributes. If gettin' along will require someone else to subjugate themselves to make the trains run on time, that is NOT a professional environment and Jackson is still a core problem.

I just get the sense that Jackson is the type of guy who, I don't know, would cheat at fantasy football or something. That kind of guy.

Posted by: HaikuMan | February 28, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Nice work, sween.

I'm trying to think up a line about the trains running on time because they're afraid of Sean Taylor, but too groggy at this early hour to make it happen.

Posted by: Nate in the PDX | February 28, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Blog Captain | February 28, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

What CB is going to want to come into the league and be a no name supporting cast? Back when I was in the NFL (joke), the CBs were sorta the hotdogs of the defense. Just thinking out loud.

hooray for quick comment submitting!

Posted by: Dorf | February 28, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

N.Y. Giants,
N.Y. Giants,
Green Bay,
Tampa Bay,
New England,
N.Y. Jets

Posted by: Anonymous | February 28, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I see two issues on defense.

1. A lack of talent
2. A defense that does not play on the page.

Expanding on point 1, specifcally we lack an impact player, someone up front that other teams need to game plan for. (Don't give me Grif, or Marcus). We also start 3 guys who probbally are at best backups and probbally have limited futures in the league (Marshall, Holdman, Fox).Our most talented players are either hurt springs Grif or play out of control taylor or underperform Doublemove. other "key guys are old (daniels, wynn). That my blog freinds is a recipe for disaster.

Which brings us to point 2.

With the lack of talent and underperformance there is bound to fingerpointing and second guessing undermining coaches etc we don't meet together we should be better,on and on.

The griliams D has been put together I won't say by mirrors but by a bunch of complementary guys who in the first 2 years got the most out of each other and played at a high level, but the lack of turn overs and sacks the (impact plays) has been lacking from the git go.

We need an impact player upfront, bench or cut the rif raf, Taylor and doublemove need to step up there games, keep the good complementary guys around and you will see a defense that gets on the same page and plays together

Posted by: Old School | February 28, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Question for whoever has any thoughts on the issue. Is the lack of turnovers by this defense a function of the players, the defensive scheme, or both?

Posted by: Mark | February 28, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I forgot to include the actual alternate ending, i.e., that the Skins' secondary is not doomed to irrevocable shabingutude.

I have to concede that, until talking it up with J-La, I did not fully appreciate the nature of the safety position in the Grilliams' D. I don't think it requires the CBs to be no names, but it does definitely mean a different role for the CB compared to the role that the CB plays in other Ds.

In addition to the injury problems with Springs (which made Double Move the #1 CB) and Prioleau (which deprived the team of a returning nickel from the two previously successful seasons), even Double Move was not quite right. The number I heard about the number of passes that hit both of his hands and ended up on the ground was something like 10. How does that happen? Think about it for a second ... Week 6 (Titans) he breaks a bone in his thumb requiring TWO screws. He sits out Week 7 and Week 8 is the bye week. He returns (with two screws in his thumb) for the rest of the season. I'm not saying, I'm just saying. Maybe Double Move's unpickable (i.e., impeccable) performance is a result of the Double Screw. No depth means no rest. I think he can only improve.

Bottom line and alternate ending: After changes in the recipe of the coaches chemistry, plus some off-season healing, the Skins' secondary will NOT return completely shabingufucated, and may even play better.

HK: Nice on the inside Insider snark ... I've been saving that one.

Note to everyone else and teaser for the next RI pub crawl: Jason, in his off-the-cuff remarks, seems to have a lot of respect for lots of people, esp. players and coaches and GMs and agent, who wouldn't get that type of respect here. There is one person, however, in the field of sports broadcasting (I did not say journalism) for whom Jason serves up particular invective, which is very hilarious (or as Gibbs might say, real hilarious).

Posted by: dcsween | February 28, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Mark, my latest pet theory about the lack of turnovers was the cascading effect of injuries to players, not coaches or scheme. Everyone's performance was effected by everyone else who was injured, and lots of the players who did play were themselves injured. Reading HoBry today, the core vets attribute some of problem (early gassing and, thus injury) to not allowing for offseason recovery and pushing too early for inhouse conditioning.

Posted by: dcsween | February 28, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Mark, at midseason '06 I would have said plain bad luck was to blame, and that it was just a matter of a 'few bounces going our way,' but such a swing never occurred, and the record shows we were historically inept at getting the ball away from the other dudes.

I think that's a combination of lack of talent and poor execution of the scheme. Guys desperate to make tackles after being beaten or caught out of position aren't as likely to make those ballhawk plays. I think.

Posted by: Nate in the PDX | February 28, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse


Thanks, I sometimes forget about how devasting injuries can be to a team. I some how missed the injury to DoubleMove this past season. I have always believed that injuries to key players can doom a season and that to win a superbowl, you must have good players, good coaches, good depth, and good luck (from an injury standpoint).

A piece of trivia - during Gibbs 1, Joe used the word "flustrated" a lot. I have not heard it since he returned. I am sue he meant frustrated, but I sort of liked his mixing it with flustered.

Posted by: Mark | February 28, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Nate, thanks to you, too.

Posted by: Mark | February 28, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Somebody stole the Blog Captain moniker. What a schmuck.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 28, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I just figured out that the list of teams above are our 8 home and 8 away opponents for the upcoming season. Which is a useful context for our discussions about WTF our defense is going to look like, and why. Thanks, anonymous poster.

Posted by: Nate in the PDX | February 28, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

you are welcome

Posted by: Anonymous | February 28, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Patriots went to a SB with 11 on IR so the injury excuse is only for teams who overpay starters and cant afford quality depth!!

Posted by: lame excuse | February 28, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I definitely agree with old school that we lacked an impact player in '06. In '05, that player was Marcus Washington -- but what made him such an impact player was Lavar sitting on the other side. Even though hew was still recovering -- and clearly not the same player he was -- he was a wild card you had to account for. Once he left, you ended up having to account for Washington, which turned out to be not so difficult (he was playing hurt, too), which put a burden on Holdman, who may be a decent guy but is the epitome of "just a guy".

Posted by: cload and daggar | February 28, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

More secondary news ...

The question is who gets traded? From my perspective, the Skins have more depth than necessary at safety. Fox just arrived from the Lions. If Lions can't afford Bly, then they really can't afford Archuleta. Doughty is too unproven. I'm worried about losing Prioleau.

Posted by: dcsween | February 28, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I though DoubleMove went to the TO offseason camp, and that explained all the drops?

Posted by: cload and daggar | February 28, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Not Bly. He's 30. That's all the Skins can think about - this upcoming year. If we get him it'll be another future cap casualty in a couple of years. *sigh*

Posted by: charlie | February 28, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Well, to follow up on your comment, Old School, I think the coaching staff and the FO would be equally culpable in the defensive muddle that was last season as the players. Yes, the players haven't performed up to the par we expected, but I think it has just as much to do with how they were told to play as it did the individual performances.

1. Personnel management

Now, I'm not going to leap on the 'letting go of Clark f'ed up Taylor's entire season' bandwagon, or harp on LaVargate any more than it has been already. What I will say is this, however - the FO and the coaching staff not only failed to pick up the right players, but they also failed in maintaining decent depth within the defense. As Ocho Doble has so eloquently pointed out previously, our older free agents have been growing increasingly fragile. Though we got lucky in that Gomer and Gallstone played with decent ability as rookie defensive tackles, many other positions were left lacking. The situation was only worsened with the benching of Archuleta (yes, it's a new year, he can undo his previous nickname...), and lets not get started with the cornerbacking....

2. Coaching hubris

... OK, maybe we'll talk about the CB situation after all. I think that the choice of who the Skins chose to acquire, keep or dump in the last offseason was fostered by the truly self-aggrandizing manner in the way the defense was handled by the Defensive Coach (D'oach!) and staff. Grilliggan's belief in his 'plug and play' (or as the more apt pronunciation by a Japanese friend, 'prug and pray') fit-all, great-for-everyone, does-everything, stops-floods-and-hurricanes, scares-small-children system allowed them to believe that you can take done-nothing players like Speedbumph and Can't Getta and get them to perform above their actual talent level.

Also galling is the apparent belief of much of the staff in their particular 'whack-a-mole'system of coverage reads on positions that the Prug & Pray system depends on. How else does one explain the numerous blown 'coverages', the missteps, the miscues, the double-move sucktation, unless you want to assume the complete and utter incompetence of all of the entire defense at once? How else would you allow yourself to believe that standing 10 yards back from the line is 'adequate coverage'? They've already purged the exploitative-instinct, "can't play in our system" players like LaVarr, and yet it's not working. I can't imagine how confused the players are, likely fighting every instinct to cover and blitz they've had ingrained in their heads since middle school, just because the QB licked his lips, the RB twitched his right nostril, and the WR sharted coming up to the line!

It's almost as if (and this is speaking without true insider knowledge, mind you) Grilliggan's trying to make this defense his curriculum vitae, the soapbox to stand on when he crows to team owners why he should be made a head coach. It's as if he's trying to say, "My system is so total, so encompassing, so thorough, I can make a winner out of anyone, and save any team cap space to blow on a QB and some offensive stars!" (Almost sounds like a Tony Little infomercial, doesn't it?) So he continues to push this system without adjustment - even as the performance drops.

So should Grilliggan be fired? No, that doesn't help anyone, especially right now. But Grilliggan and company would be well advised to eat their crow pie, humble themselves, and actually focus on working their system around their players, and not the other way around. If they don't, it won't matter who we pick up in UFA and the draft - we're still going to stink.

Posted by: FlimFlam | February 28, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Flim Flam, who is Gomer?

Also, while I agree about the newly prugged-in CBs being no good, the released CBs were not performing so well when they left (Stoutmire, Harris, Bowen). Benefit of hindsight on Harris and Stoutmire, but those two do seem to have been more productive last season than they were anticipated to have been when they left here.

Posted by: dcsween | February 28, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Sorry about that, dcsween - 'Gomer' is the name I dropped on Montgomery.

Agreeably, yes, it would have been hard to see how well Stoutmire and, in particular, Harris managed when not in the Redskins system. It's difficult to see that coming.

What I was more in the mood to indict was the rationale that you could get stupor-low-string players (Ade Munster) and low-average players like Speedbumph into the system and have them play well enough that you don't need to think about keeping decent veterans like Harris and Stoutmire in the system. That's what I find the glaring fault with.

Posted by: FlimFlam | February 28, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Flim Flam, keep it coming with that nicknamery. Ade Munster. I'm dyin' here.

Posted by: dcsween | February 28, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse

What's up with all this nick naming? Seriously, how old are you guys? Like 10 years old? Grow up. You sound pathetic.

Posted by: HiLO | February 28, 2007 5:44 PM | Report abuse

HiLO, why so tense? Is your real name Ade Jimoh? The negativity is not necessary here. Flim Flam is the king of nicknames-that-never-quite-catch-on (hang in there Flim Flam, one of these times ...).

Posted by: dcsween | February 28, 2007 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Less-than-complimentary "naming" of players is a long-standing and time-honored tradition in football. Guys with thin skin typically don't succeed in football. Like it or not, it is a "tough guy" sport, with lots of humor involved to relieve stress.

Do you think Brady Quinn likes his new nickname, "Sunshine"?

If Ade doesn't like his nickname, then he can change it with great performance and a few bone-jarring hits on receivers, a la the Reaper. Give us a good reason or three, and we can quickly change Ade's nickname to "First Ade" or "Foreign Ade" or "Ade de Camp".

Until then, he is "Ade Munster" or "Lemon Ade". (You can't make Lemon Ade unless you break a few lemons.)

Understand, HiLo Hattie?

Posted by: The Mole | February 28, 2007 8:14 PM | Report abuse

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