The Redskins choice for the draft was not QB Mark Sanchez. Nor was it any one of the wide receivers. In an effort to improve the defensive line, they selected DE Brian Orakpo out of Texas. Orakpo fell to the Redskins after a series of moves and surprises before them. The New York Jets traded up to #5 to take Sanchez. And in Al Davis' brilliance, the Oakland-LA-Oakland Raiders took Terp WR Derrius Heyward-Bey.
Orakpo fills a void the Redskins have had since the days of Charles Mann and Dexter Manley. Sure, they've had players there, but while stars were targeted, then turned out less than stellar in their Redskin careers. Orakpo may finally fulfill that role.
Back to the moves that caused Orakpo to fall to #13, the Jets taking Sanchez left the Redskins with no reason to move up in the draft. Then the Raiders surprise pick of Heyward-Bey, who was projected at a mid-first rounder at best, made WR Michael Crabtree available to teams who figured he wouldn't be there for them. The Heyward-Bey pick was criticized by many including the one and only Mr. Draft Mel Kiper, who said that the Raiders should've traded down if they wanted Heyward-Bey that bad. Nobody was going to go after him that early. We're all happy for Heyward-Bey as now he can demand a Top 10 conract. His pick also caused some Redskins fans, including the Sports Freak and myself, to worry that Crabtree might interest the Redskins. There was little chance he would fall to 13, but if San Francisco had not picked him up at 10, who knows what would have happened?
While Orakpo was a lucky break for the Redskins, it's also a smart one. It also again puts pressure on Jason Campbell, since the defense has shored up some more. He needs to prove himself throughout the 2009 season to justify a new contract. Otherwise, he'll follow in the footsteps of Gus Frerotte, Patrick Ramsey, and other Redskins QB's of the past in journeymen roles. That's if he's lucky.
Sergei Fedorov's 12th Playoff Game Winning Goal gave the Caps a 2-1 advantage over the New York Rangers with 4:52 left in the game. Most of what Fedorov has accomplished the past two season's can't be measured with statistics alone. He's mentored much of the young talent that McPhee has assembled. His leadership along with his calm demeanor and assertiveness on ice has kick started the top scoring line once more. Bruce Beadreau often relies on Sergei and has him center the top line to add stability. It's only fitting that Sergei Fedorov ripped the game winner past Lundqvuist to close the door on the series.
After the Rangers took an early one goal advantage in the 1st Period, Semin responded with a takeaway. He skated down ice on a breakaway and evened the game at one goal apiece. Aside from the one brilliant play of Semin, the Rangers dominated much of the period. The Caps won few of the hustle plays for the loose pucks or skirmishes in the corners.
The game was pretty clean as the penalty box was empty during the 2nd Period and for much of the game. By the 3rd Period, the Caps began asserting themselves. They controlled possession of the puck and by mid way through the period over took the Rangers in shots on goal. All of the hustle plays and action in the corners tilted in favor of the Capitals.
Due to the six game suspension levied on Donald Brashear by Commissioner Gary Bettman, Captain Chris Clark returned to see his first action since Jan. 27th. His veteran leadership and fresh legs helped spur the Caps onto a 2-1 victory. Late in the 3rd period, the duo of Flash & Clark appeared very sharp. Having such veterans like Fedorov and Clark helped the Capitals battle back after falling behind two games to none early in the series.
The Capitals defense shined bright clamping down on the Rangers stifling the number of shots on Varlamov. Jurcina had one of his best performances of the season. He pinched in taking shots and didn't get caught out of position.
The Verizon Center was as loud as it has ever been by game’s end. The fans did indeed "Rock the Red." It was a sea of red inside the arena. Those in attendance and watching at home witnessed the first series victory since the 1998 Finals run eleven years ago. Next up for the Caps, Sydney Crosby and the Penguins. The first two home games are scheduled for Sat. & Mon. The Caps prevailed during the regular season and look to continue the trend in the playoffs as one of the most anticipated series gets underway this weekend.
The Penguins can look forward to a packed screaming house of home town fans and one of the league's hottest goaltenders (Varlamov). Just days ago the media and fans were questioning Coach Bruce Boudreau's decision to replace Theo. Boudreau has accomplished so much in his short tenure behind the bench. He's righted the ship, brought back division titles, and a playoff series win to his young team. The road may appear rocky ahead, but with a rockin' crowd, hot goaltending, and the league's leading goal scorer not even warmed up, it's the Penguins that have more to contain in the upcoming series.
Chicago - The Bears also signed OT Orlando Pace to help sure up the O-line play to protect Cutler, but so many picks were traded away that it will be difficult for the Bears to rebuild the defense and improve the offense without free agency. The Bears should look much better three years out from this trade especially if they're willing to open up the purse strings, which traditionally Chicago hasn't been one of the leading FA spenders in the league.
Jay Cutler - An episode of the original Star Trek - Amok Time - Spock and Kirk had to battle for Spock's right to marry his fiancé'. In the end, Spock informed his fiancé's suitor that, "After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true." Cutler now plays in a higher market location with higher expectations, less talent around him, and less draft picks to rebuild.
Denver - The Broncos make this side of the list for the short term outcome of the trade. The Broncos receive a player that no contender should consider starting at QB. That should be the beginning and end right there for Broncos fans. With all the picks they acquired they may make a dent in rebuilding the DL, QB, & RB positions. McDaniels appears to have already dug himself a huge hole in the eyes of his former QB, players, and possibly owner. Now that Denver is a work in progress his shelf life may be even more fleeting.
Washington - Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make. The Skins are fortunate they didn't trade away valuable picks to marginally improve the position. As a result, the Redskins still have their top picks and that's saying a lot for Washington.
Denver - The long term future of the franchise will be determined by the picks acquired in the trade. Most likely Denver will use the picks to rebuild the defensive line, as well as find a new franchise quarterback.
AFC West - Ultimately the AFC West is the big winners in the trade. The Chargers could barely make .500 and the playoffs last season. With Denver in a rebuilding mode for the foreseeable future, the rest of the division can catch up and for Chargers fans this season looks even brighter.
The Nationals left Spring Training amid a myriad of hope. This season started with the hope that the relatively young pitching staff can come together and sustain itself over the long course of the season. There’s also the hope that the starting pitching won’t rely heavily upon the questionable bullpen which was overworked much of last year due to starting pitching rarely working deep into games and the hope that the depth in the outfield would yield to more production in scoring. Even after three straight losses it's too early to judge this team and the season. There's still lots to be learned and lots of games yet to be played.
As often with any start to the season, every team and fan base feels excitement about the start of a new season. Every team starts with high hopes whatever the expectations may be whether it's the post season or the fight for a .500 record.
After being swept by the Marlins to start the season 0-3, the Nationals paint a scary picture about what type of season lay in store. Yet even in these losses there is a bright side to be recognized. The fielding in the outfield can improve slightly and the Nationals haven't had a complete power failure that plagued them much of the previous season.
Milledge may be struggling in CF and in his new lead off role, but changes can be made. The errors that occurred at the start of this season aren't any different than some of the errors last season, but practicing with new coach Grissom can help correct the issues in fielding.
Ideally Guzman would bat second in the order, but Milledge has struggled to start the season in the lead off role. Guzman found himself batting in the lead off role last season and didn't perform poorly. Look for a possible change in the line-up if this continues. Much of the top position in the order isn't just about getting a hit to start the inning but ensuring that there is a runner on base i.e. on base percentage, so Guzman could be a short term solution should Lastings continue to struggle.
All in all, the batting has improved and it's only the first swing through the pitching rotation without even playing a home game. Baseball is a marathon of 162 games. They've already demonstrated better hitting which was also something the Nationals lacked last season. The addition of Dunn should help the Nats draw closer to a 70 + win plateau.
There are still tix available so be sure to catch the home opener next Monday. If the pains of last season still resonate then keep watching the Nats. The Nationals now have an anchor in the middle of the line-up and some protection for Zimmerman in Adam Dunn. One of the best ticket representatives in the area works for the Nationals and would be happy to take your call regarding various season and partial plans - Alia Short at (202) 640-7652 so be sure to tell her The DC Sports Page sent you.
As part of the Jay Cutler and Josh McDaniels' fall out in Losenoidoomock, Denver, the Bears acquired Cutler by surrendering a 1st Round Pick in 2009, a 1st Round Pick in 2010, a 3rd Round Pick in 2009, plus Orton QB and receive a 5th Round Pick in 2009.
Below are the Winners & Losers from this trade:
Detroit Lions - How could the Lions not make an attempt at acquiring Cutler? It's one thing if your QB is as good or better to not be interested in Cutler, but to totally stay on the sidelines and rebuff the notion of improving the team makes no sense. Most insiders would take a proven veteran with a locked in contract vs. an unproven rookie (potentially if Detroit takes a QB with the 1st Pick in the draft) more times than not. It also allows the Lions to avoid the risk of drafting a player as the #1 overall pick in the draft and all the evaluations afterwards.
Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, & Tampa Bay Bucs - In the case of Cleveland and Tampa more components are already in place to receive a starter like Cutler. They all had players that could have been dealt back to Denver. The Broncos may have received some top picks from the Bears, but the other teams listed could have provided picks with better players than Orton regardless of position.
Minnesota - One of the best active running backs in the NFL resides in Minnesota. It's too bad the organization doesn't surround him with a quarterback and some receivers, but that would make too much sense to attempt to win some playoff games. After all this organization made the decision to not go after Cassel and had a repeat performance with regards to Cutler. The front office should remember these moves when the lack of production from the QB position forces them to watch much of the playoffs from home.