Monday, August 31, 2009

#Redskins Musings - Mason, Fincher, Defense

Why Fincher Was Cut
He is what he is. Fincher, as a veteran, and is now what he ever will be. There is no realistic expectation that he will suddenly blossom into a starter after four years as a journeyman. The youngsters do have that upside possibility. Today, the WaTimes quoted Zorn as saying the same:

"I don't want to take anything away from Fincher, because he's worked really hard and he has improved," Redskins coach Jim Zorn said. "But to us, there was kind of a ceiling there on him, compared to some of the other guys that are coming on.

"He may have been more seasoned, but sometimes with a younger guy there is a potential that you like in speed or a flash that I think coaches are looking at. You kind of give those guys a little bit longer look."

At this point in his career, Fincher had to show more separation and ability. He didn't.

Defensive Systems and Hybrids

Here's a good item from the NY Times on how defense and defensive players are evolving in NCAA. It has some echos for the NFL both in the type of players that will be coming out of NCAA and in how we've seen the NFL adjust to wide open offenses. I'm reminded of how the Skins this year are using Orakpo and Wilson, and the several hybrid formations Blache uses such as the Cobra, et al...

When the item started about getting players with speed I immediately thought of the Dallas era of the early Nineties - and presto - there's Wannstedt being interviewed. Wannstedt and Johnson used speed and athleticism better than almost any other staff to produce terrific defenses with the Hurricanes and then in the NFL at Dallas.

We've had our chances at using speed on defense. Lavar Arrington and Sean Taylor both embodied freakish speed for their body types. Orakpo and some of the other recent additions show the Skins have found a realization that this trait is essential and their experimentation with variations on their Cover Three like the Cobra and moving Orakpo/Wilson around are examples of the right course.

The Skins must be watchful for a decline in speed/athleticism in these players, though. Watching the Bears/Broncos last night I was astounded at how much Urlacher has lost from a couple years ago. Urlacher used to rule the middle of the field from the line to the end zone with his speed and prowess in the Cover Two. Now backs and receivers just blow by him.

Will Mason Make It?

In one item at Redskins Insider Offensive Co-ordinator Sherman Smith was quoted as saying:

"Might as well not be concerned about it [Portis missing time], because it is what it is," Smith said. "He hasn't gotten a lot of reps this offseason, but he usually doesn't. It's just one of those situations where you say, 'Hey, let's see how it works out.' What we're doing is we're just trying to get ready, inevitably. If he does go down, Ladell, Rock, Marcus -- those guys will be ready to play."

Now that sounds as if Smith thinks Mason will be available in the RB mix. Today the following was quoted in Insider from Special Teams coach Danny Smith:

"This is just my opinion, you guys use this as you see fit, and I love Marcus Mason," Smith said. "But Marcus Mason has never played in an NFL football game. And he's been on three teams. Let's not name him the MVP today. He's never played in an NFL football game. He's been on three teams. Okay?"

First, this is the coach of the Teams group that should have nothing to do with the word "special." Second, Mason was on the roster of those other two NFL teams last year after having been plucked from our practice squad. Third, no one is talking MVP, we're talking making the 53 man roster. Get a grip, Coach, and try getting something special from our special teams, for a change.

Look, the Redskins have shown a marked inability to get into the end zone or make the tough yards on 3rd or 4th and short over the past several years. Here comes this kid showing the ability to make the most of the slightest crack to get six points or the first down, and a fluidness and hard hitting style that gets yards when the line doesn't make much room - an ability the Skins haven't seen for a while in a backup RB. Mason brings a toughness at running back that Betts hasn't shown for almost three years. The kid is a gritty running back and we need that quality backing up and spelling Portis.

Hey, Danny Smith, that's something special. Get the point?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Reaction to Redskins-Ravens

#Redskins .
After watching a replay of the Ravens practice game last Thursday a couple (or more) things stand out...

  • Brian Orakpo needs to be at DE full time. He has one move - which is exciting - and needs to develop into a starting DE that will vie each year for the Pro Bowl. The kid can start now. Please forget about the SAM backer experiment. Orakpo needs to be at DE. Let Wilson continue the experiment...
  • The Skins are loaded at DE. Jarmon is everything that the Skins could have hoped. Even Skolnitski made an arguement for roster consideration. It's hard for me to find a spot for Wynn with the new guys, Carter, and Daniels on the team. That's a shame. I've liked Wynn every since we got him from the Jags in a de facto trade for Marco Coleman.
  • The Skins look to be good at TE, too, even with Davis having dropsie/fumble problems. Agnone looked good late and Yoder is solid. Cooley is the perennial All Pro. Even with Eddie Williams listed at FB one of the TEs will be cut.
  • We have some good young safeties, too. Grant, Holmes, Moore, and Doughty are going to give the coaches fits at cut down time.
  • Antonio Dixon has to have a place on the final roster.
  • Justin Tryon is not all that. At least he wasn't Thursday. Pegging him with the Toast award would be too kind.
  • Neither is Anthony Montgomery. For a guy that is 6'6" and 330lbs he sure plays soft. Between Tryon and Montgomery all the first half points can be assigned...
  • Nor is Devan Clark or D'Anthony Batiste or Will Montgomery or Scott Burley. Lord help us if we have injuries. There ain't no depth on the Offensive Line.
  • The defense has several weaknesses. The Linebackers are sub-standard even with Fletcher in the middle. MacIntosh is brittle, Blades is a solid backup, Wilson is learning, Orakpo is out of place... None of them can cover. Henson, Fincher and Thomas show promise. They can't cover, either. Without Haynesworth in the middle the Skins are soft up the middle.

Of course, this was one practise exhibition. Three more to go... As it looks now we have a wealth of talent at DE, TE, and Safety. We'll cut some players there that will play on other teams. The offensive line, however... Ah, crap. Sign a veteran OT quickly, Cerrato.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Caro Kann Over at Blunderprone

Blunderprone plays my fave Black defense and is writing about it...
This wasn’t a deep dive by any means but I felt like sharing my evolutionay study in the mainline of this relatively young opening known as the Caro-Kann. I play the main line and now am eager to play the 4…Nd7 variation in an upcoming event.

Yes, I detail my repertoire liberally here on my blog. When I play you, I expect a good game now. You’d better be prepared, I want to learn this one!
Hey, just wait until you discover the CK Gurgenidze!

ICCF-US Announces US CorrChess Championship Finals for USCCC18

Oh, great. Now I have to make sure my ICCF rating doesn't fall under 2000! Both my USCF and CCLA are under 2000, so if I have any hope... But with the way I've played so far this year a precipitous drop is likely considering I'm at 2028 currently.


August 5, 2009

US Correspondence Chess Championship (USCCC) News

All qualifiers for USCCC18 Final have been determined (crosstables at under National Tournaments, USA, Semifinals). First or tied for first in each section qualified for the Final. USCF and CCLA will be invited to nominate a participant, and one or more previous Champions may be invited to complete a field of 13 or 15 players. With a number of international tournaments starting early this Fall, and several of our finalists in them, the Final will likely start late this year.

USCCC19 is planned for early 2010, again by server with seven player sections. An ICCF rating of 2000 is required, or a USCF or CCLA rating of 2000 for players without a fixed ICCF rating. With a less than perfect mailing list, please watch for an announcement here on

Corky Schakel, ICCF-US Secretary