What About The LBs?
When you look at game breakers on defense, it's hard not to think of dominant linebackers. That's kind of how it works in this league. Watching Brian Urlacher single-handedly destroy an NFL team Monday night kind of got me thinking about the last time a Redskins' backer had a day like that. I know LaVar, for all of his warts and breakdowns, had some monster games under Marty. And Marcus Washington is clearly a force to be reckoned with. But I can't recall anyone inflicting their will on an outcome like that.
I fully realize there are very few players as fierce as Urlacher in the league, and I am not trying to compare anyone here with him. But it seems like that while the secondary has been scotched and the defensive line has been kicked around (Andre Carter, in particular), not much is said about the LBs.
As I have said before, teams can essentially avoid Marcus by running and throwing away from him. The teeth grinding over the weak side and LB Warrick Holdman is well documented, and, as much as I am huge Lemar Marshall guy, he doesn't seem to be as active this season as last. He's asked to do a lot in downfield coverage, which does not seem to be his forte in matchups with speedy receivers (although he was a DB in college), and, after rescanning some recent games, he isn't cracking people at the line of scrimmage, jumping on plays or disrupting like he has in the past. He was also getting around The Park with a walking cast on his left foot Tuesday, which is something we'll monitor through the week.
Besides signing Marcus to a significant contract, this staff has been content to go with guys who previously played mostly special teams or were low level free agents like Holdman and Jeff Posey to fill gaps at this position. They've moved starters to new positions freely - like Marshall from weak side to middle, and, to their credit, gave young and previously overlooked players like Pierce, Marshall and Chris Clemons a good look.
But letting Pierce go in free agency in 2005 might be the biggest mistake the defensive staff and personnel department made. I just keep thinking about the way he was essentially calling out the Redskins' offensive plays during that game a few weeks ago - even though they were running an offense different to what they ran when he played in Washington - and after seeing him making up for the mistakes of others whenever I watch the Giants, it seems like a huge loss.
Again, Lemar is a gamer. He moved inside even though he is not a huge guy - neither is Pierce - and he spends probably more time at Redskins Park in the film room than anyone. He is a completely self-made player who rose above being discarded by franchise after franchise. He is a proven NFL starter who mastered two positions. But I can't help thinking that a LB corps of Marshall - Pierce - Washington would change the fortunes of this defense. Offenses would have worry about both sides of the field. You would have more playmakers working in tandem at once.
I have to think Rocky The Rookie sees some time after the bye, and he could be a real good one. But to expect too much out of him this season would be foolish, and in the interim you wonder where the big plays are going to come from.
Randoms: Thought we should do a little poll on the all-time best Hairband/metal ballad, as a midweek diversion from the misery of Redskins Nation. I'm guessing "Beth" might win, and I'd be totally cool with that. Personally, though I'd have to go with "I Remember You," by Skid Row, and, while not much of a Scorpions guy, think that "Still Loving You," is underrated. Also, not sure if "Foolin'" by Def Leppard qualifies as a ballad, but if it does, damn, that's gotta be top-five, right? Also, I'd put "Nobody's Fool," up there, too does And while I'm at it, wouldya call "Sweet Child 'O Mine" a ballad? If so, obviously should be right near the top Oh, and right off the bat, you're not allowed to vote for "Every Rose Has A Thorn," - that's complete an utter crap - or anything made by Poison, Warrant, Slaughter, Trixter, Winger, or probably any band that ends in er (Stryper, just thought of another one, doesn't seem like er bands make any decent tunes). We've got to have some kind of standards around here people. And, as much as I love Crue, I always thought "Without You," was pretty stale. "Girl Don't Go Away Mad," probably isn't a ballad, but it's gotta be my favorite slower tune by Vince, Mick, Tommy and Nikki ...
Just thought of something while brainstorming about metal - anyone seen comments from Mucus Membrane lately? Mucus, you still out there, bro? We miss you (and if you are still posting and I just somehow missed your comments - although I do make a point to read them all - then it just reinforces what an idiot I am). Hope we're not losing any of OBs (Original Bloggers, not to be confused with OGs) as this season has spiraled towards the abyss.
Jason La Canfora
October 18, 2006; 9:00 AM ET
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