Tag:London Fletcher
Posted on: October 25, 2010 6:49 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2010 7:02 pm
 

Lovie Smith knows he messed up not challenging

Posted by Will Brinson



With the Bears leading the Redskins 14-10 (in a game that they would ultimately lose 17-14), Earl Bennett caught a 48-yard pass that was just short of the end zone. Lovie Smith challenged the ruling on the field, believing it was a teeter, but the call was upheld.

On the very next play, Jay Cutler attempted to keep the ball and cross the goal line and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Washington's London Fletcher. Lovie decided not to challenge whether or not the ball crossed the plane of the end zone. Having since seen (probably just a couple ) replays that indicated Cutler scored, he now regrets that decision. Obviously. 

"Yes, I should have [thrown the challenge flag], looking at it of course in hindsight," Smith said. "Normally if there is a critical situation, I throw it whether I have a good look or not on it. Didn't have a great look on it. I understand the reason why, but that was a critical play in the game.

"I need to be able to make that call."

Perhaps less defensible than his call is his logic for not using the second challenge there -- Smith said he thought the Bears "were in control of the game" and that they would be able to "get the ball back right away."

That Chicago DID get the ball back quickly is irrelevant, considering that they were up just four point, and a touchdown would have given them a two score lead. Additionally, on the first play after getting the ball back, Jay Cutler threw an interception.

In fact, here's how the remaining possessions ended for the Bears: INT, INT (returned for a TD by Washington), Fumble, INT, Punt, INT. (I mean, just ... wow.)

Lest you want to give Lovie credit for not knowing his team would turn the ball over and/or not score much following the third quarter review folly, here's how their other drives went: Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, TD. They also returned a Donovan McNabb interception for a touchdown, but to state unequivocally that Chicago was "in control" of a game where they'd gone 1/7 on their drives to that point is just absurd.

And yes, it would have been a pretty big blow to lose their challenges that early in the third quarter. But his excuses -- didn't have a great look at it! -- are about as viable as him looking at the media, informing them that he's seven for 25 on challenges since 2008, and asking them what they expected.

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Posted on: August 5, 2010 7:20 pm
 

Skins call Goodell's visit 'total waste of time'

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Seems like some of the Redskins weren’t exactly impressed by the visit today from commissioner Roger Goodell.

From the Washington Post :

As part of his training camp tour, Goodell met with players Wednesday at the complex to discuss the upcoming season. He encouraged players to ask questions about the negotiations between owners and the players' union on a new collective bargaining agreement, and that's where things broke down. Instead of offering insight into the negotiation process, players said, Goodell seemed evasive.

"He's walking around kissing babies, you know, shaking hands, and he just wants to say that the owners are over here, the players are over here and I'm in the middle, I'm for the game," top cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "But to ask him a question about anything, he couldn't answer.

"He couldn't answer this, go check with this, go ask these people, I don't really know. It was a waste of time. We sat there and shot questions at him for 45 minutes, and pushed meetings back and had to be here longer for nothing. A total waste of time."

Hall’s candor is refreshing. But what did the Redskins really expect from Goodell? That he’d be open and honest with them? Well, yeah, said LB London Fletcher.

“He opened up the ability for us to ask him questions,” Fletcher told the newspaper. “If you open up that ability then you have to be prepared to answer our questions. Certain things, he said, were part of the negotiations. But again, he was the one who opened up the possibility for us to ask him questions. When he did that, and guys had some real questions that we wanted hard answers to, not the typical questions, he didn't really answer. He didn't give us sound answers on a lot of the issues."

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Posted on: July 7, 2010 12:21 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2010 12:37 pm
 

Position rankings: inside linebackers

P. Willis celebrates (US Presswire) Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit resume their debate, with today’s focus on inside linebackers.

Josh Katzowitz’s top five

5. Jonathan Vilma, Saints

4. London Fletcher, Redskins

3. Ray Lewis, Ravens

2. Brian Urlacher, Bears

1. Patrick Willis, 49ers


Unlike our 3-4 and 4-3 outside linebackers list – which, frankly, weren’t easy to put together, because there just aren’t many stars at those positions – we’ve hit a motherload of talent at the inside linebackers spot. 

Willis seems pretty clear cut to me. He has the phenomenal statistics, he’s proven he can play the run and the pass equally well, and he’s still only 25. He’s going to be a dominant linebacker years into the future. It’s hard to believe Urlacher has been in the league since 2000. His 2008 season was unimpressive (by his standards), and he didn’t play most of last year. But is he still a top-two ILB? Yes.

Lewis is still very, very good. But he’s lost a step, and he’s not quite as feared by offensive coordinators as he once was. Notice the “not quite.” He can still rush a passer, and he still clogs up the middle of the Ravens defense, but he’s not a machine anymore and he has a tougher time in pass coverage. Though Fletcher is 35, he’s coming off one of his better seasons and he finally made his first Pro Bowl last year. Vilma racks up the statistics, in part because he’s easily the best LB on the team. But without him, the Saints might not have won the Super Bowl.

Andy Benoit’s top five

5. DeMeco Ryans, Texans

4. London Fletcher, Redskins

3. Ray Lewis, Ravens

2. Brian Urlacher, Bears

1. Patrick Willis, 49ers


I figure our editors wouldn’t appreciate me responding to your top five with a simple “ditto," but what more can be said? I’d love to debate you about Urlacher – I’m sure more than a few readers will disagree with us – but I think his instincts are second to none. I’ve heard of a few players around the league privately criticizing Urlacher’s toughness – word is he’d would rather side-step a lead blocker than attack him square on – but I simply haven’t seen that on film.

I have no problem with Vilma being top five. I chose to go with Ryans because I thought he finally made more tackles near the line of scrimmage last season. Of course, I realize Ryans had better players around him and didn’t lead his defense to the postseason.

What’s most impressive about Willis is the way he’s improved in coverage. That was a weakness for him as a rookie. He also made more big plays in the backfield last year.

Fletcher and Lewis are machines. It’s remarkable the way they make their teammates better.

Since we’re in agreement here, want to expand to top eight? My next three ILB’s are: 6. Jerod Mayo (struggled with injuries last season but was, in my opinion, the best inside linebacker in all of football as a rookie in ’08) 7. Bart Scott (arguably the most versatile inside ‘backer in the game) and 8. David Harris (a thumper against the run). I’d put Vilma at 10, though again, tell me he’s five and you won’t get a very passionate debate.

Josh’s rebuttal

I really don’t see how one can argue at this point that Urlacher is better than Willis. Urlacher is on the downside while Willis continues to climb. The only question I have: will Willis consistently reach the level at which Ray Lewis has played for so many years as one of the best middle linebackers of all time? Time will tell. I accept your top eight challenge. 6. Ryans (I like him too, especially because his physical tools aren’t that great – he’s not big, and he’s not all that fast. He just makes plays). 7. Barrett Ruud (he disrupts plays in the middle of the field and has consecutive 135-plus tackle seasons). No. 8 Curtis Lofton (He has a chance to be a star, and the foundation for the Falcons defense. He hits hard and does well vs. the run and the pass.) I’ll reserve judgment for Mayo until after this season, but I agree that he’s a top-10 guy.

Andy’s final word

Okay good, we’ll get a debate here after all. I’m sick of everyone cramming Barrett Ruud down our throats. Ruud is nothing more than an average player (and I hesitate to even honor him with that distinction). He isn’t physical at the point of contact, he lacks ideal speed and agility, and his instincts are good but not great. I don’t understand how the middle linebacker for the league’s worst run defense (Tampa Bay allowed 158.2 yards per game on the ground last year) can get so much love. Yes, Ruud makes tackles, but most of them are miles downfield. There’s a reason the Bucs haven’t given him a long-term contract.

Feel free to argue back (we got away with going past the “final word” in the 3-4 outside linebackers debate, we can push the envelope again). I’m curious what kind of specifics a Ruud supporter can drum up.

Josh’s rebuttal to the final word


Your criticism of Ruud not doing much more than tackling runners downfield is not a new one. Ruud hears it as well. From a recent St. Petersburg Times story: "I read that I make all of my tackles seven yards downfield. But a lot of times, a tackle seven yards downfield is a great tackle, because you can keep a guy from going 60 yards. When I evaluate the great linebackers of the NFL, I see a lot of guys making tackles seven yards down the field. They're making a great play when a guy looks like he's about to break it outside.''

You might say that’s a cop-out, but he tells the truth there. Sometimes, it’s not about making the fabulous play that will get you on a highlight show. Sometimes, it’s about stopping the other guy from doing so.

The argument of not giving him a long-term deal holds no water with me, because of the impending lockout and the fact that hardly anybody is getting long-term deals this year. And now that the Buccaneers have made a commitment to their defense by drafting DT Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, that only will help Ruud – who, as I said, does a nice job causing havoc in the middle of the field even without the help of a defensive line who can disrupt a play up front. Plus, coach Raheem Morris calls him “The General.” That’s a pretty sweet nickname.

Andy’s final, final word

If Ruud is “The General”, he’s a lot more McChrystal than Petraeus. The Bucs denied Ruud’s contract request last year, even though they were well under the salary cap and focusing on securing young building blocks. Sure, a tackle downfield is certainly better than no tackle at all. But the reality is this topic never comes up with the Ray Lewis’s, Brian Urlachers, Patrick Willis’s and perhaps even James Farriors of the world. Again, the Buc run defense that Ruud spearheaded last season ranked dead last.

(Other positions: Safety | Cornerback | 3-4 Scheme Outside Linebacker | Punter  | Kicker | 4-3 Scheme Outside Linebacker )

--Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit

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Posted on: June 16, 2010 1:39 pm
 

Teammates call Haynesworth 'selfish'

Not surprisingly, Albert Haynesworth’s teammates aren’t particularly pleased that the $100 million man won’t be at training camp and that he's declared that he wants a trade.

“He decided to take our check and we’re very disappointed he wasn’t here today,” coach Mike Shanahan told reporters.

LB London Fletcher called his teammate “selfish,” and unlike the Patriots who declined to address the Logan Mankins contract dispute Tuesday, the Redskins on Wednesday didn’t have a problem teeing off on Haynesworth – who signed his $100 million contract, which included a $41 million guarantee, last season.

“What he's decided to do is make a decision based all about him,” Fletcher told reporters. “It's no different than his attitude and his approach to last year's defense, about wanting everything to revolve around him and him making plays. And if it didn't benefit him, he wasn't really willing to do it."

Said C Casey Rabach: “It doesn’t sit well with the players.”

In an interesting development, Shanahan told Haynesworth in February that he was free to find another place to work if that’s what he wanted and if he was willing to forget about the $21 million bonus he was due .

The Redskins also have continued to claim they haven’t been trying to trade Haynesworth.

--Josh Katzowitz

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