Tag:Ryan Torain
Posted on: October 20, 2011 11:27 am
 

Top Ten with a Twist: New Faces

J. Harbaugh has been the best new face in the league this year (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Every year, NFL teams make terrible calls. They draft the wrong player, they make ridiculous free agent signings, they let somebody quite valuable go to another team, they make their fan base collectively scratch their head.

Ah, but occasionally, these squads get it right. They draft the right guy, they sign the free agent that’s on the cusp of blowing up, they take somebody valuable from another team, they give their fan base a reason to smile and cheer.

Last year, I recounted the Top Ten new faces, and among the group were Terrell Owens, a combination of Thomas Jones/Ryan Torain/Peyton Hills, and LaDainian Tomlinson. All those guys played well last year, but it just goes to show that this list has less than a one-year expiration.

That said, here are the best pickups thus far in 2011. As I wrote last year, "All of the following have impacted their new teams in many ways and all have made the front offices who signed them seem clairvoyant in the process (though, in the case of a couple players, the decision to add them wasn’t exactly brain surgery). So, here’s to those who have found a new lease on life (or a new burgeoning career) with their new team."

10. Paul Posluszny: Though we could argue about whether the fact the Jaguars stole Posluszny away from the Bills by signing him to a six-year, $42 million contract ($15 million guaranteed) will help the team during the long haul -- Jacksonville, after all, is 1-5 and most likely will lose its head coach sooner rather than later -- but Posluszny has been a tackling machine. As the middle linebacker, he helped hold the Steelers to 55 yards of offense and no points in the second half of Pittsburgh’s 17-13 escape last Sunday while piling up a game-high 16 tackles. The Jaguars have a myriad of problems, but acquiring Posluszny, whatever the cost, was still a solid move.

9. Carson Palmer: OK, he’s been a member of the Oakland organization for less than 48 hours. He’s practiced exactly one time. It’s still unclear whether he’ll start this week (though I imagine he will), and I think there’s a better he doesn’t play well than him actually playing well. But the fact is: the Raiders are making solid moves, and they’re doing all they can to win today. Sure, giving up two first-round draft picks will hurt, but you have to admire the attitude that says, “Screw it, we’re going for it all this year.” And if Palmer plays well and leads Oakland to the postseason, the Raiders will have completely flipped the script.

8. Daniel Thomas: When the Dolphins failed to re-sign Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown, that put the onus on the second-round pick to step into a featured back role and immediately contribute. With Reggie Bush around to take some of his load, Thomas has done that, ranking 10th in the league with 249 yards despite a hamstring problem, and he’s averaging a solid 4.4 yards per carry. He hasn’t scored a touchdown yet, but then again, the Dolphins might be the worst team in the league, so not many touchdowns have been scored by that squad. That doesn't take away from the strides Thomas has made early in his career.

7. Victor Cruz: Technically, he’s not a newcomer, since he made the Giants squad as an undrafted free agent in 2010, but considering he was placed on IR early in the season before he had accumulated any stats, I’ll forgive myself. Cruz has become a player who makes outstanding, circus-type catches and then makes silly mistakes. But he’s also caught 21 passes for 398 yards and three touchdowns, and behind Hakeem Nicks, Cruz has developed into a solid No. 2 receiver for a team that still should contend for an NFC East crown.

6. Johnathan Joseph: He was considered the poor man’s Nnamdi Asomugha in the offseason, signing with the Texans for the reasonable cost of $48.75 million over five years. But he’s been better than Asomugha this year, collecting three interceptions and nine passes defended for an improved Houston defense that ranks 10th in the league. Joseph, though he’s flirted with injuries early on, was the right call for Houston.

Babin5. Ryan Kerrigan/Aldon Smith: These two rookie linebackers are some of the most exciting new players in the league. For the Redskins and 49ers, respectively, the two have combined for 33 tackles, 7 ½ sacks, six passes defended, one interception and three forced fumbles. Forget about Von Miller and Nick Fairley as the two most important defensive rookies emerging from last year’s draft. Kerrigan and Smith, so far, are the two best defensive freshmen in the league.

4. Jason Babin: I had Babin at No. 10 on this list last year, and with the Titans in 2010 -- in his only year with the Titans, it turns out -- he accumulated 12.5 sacks and 58 tackles. This year, he’s been even better, and he’s the new guy who’s done the most damage with the Eagles defense. He ranks tied for third in the league with seven sacks, and though the rest of Philadelphia’s squad has been disappointing, Babin has been a monster. With some scary tattoos.
 
3. Andy Dalton/A.J. Green: So much of the time, Bengals owner Mike Brown comes off as clueless (or maybe he’s just ingenious). Like the time he said, “I don’t apologize for our scouting. It’s an easy target. But if you look at the real facts, you’ll see it different” when it’s clearly evident that many of Cincinnati’s drafts have absolutely stunk. But Brown, also the general manager, hit a home run with Green in the first round of the 2011 draft and Dalton in the second. Green has made some incredible catches, and Dalton has played better than expected. Cincinnati is 4-2, and Green and Dalton deserve some of the credit. As does Brown.

2. Cam Newton: Unfortunately for Newton and the Panthers, we’ve begun to see him play a little more like a rookie recently (he hasn’t even broken the 300-yard mark in the past two weeks!), but there’s no denying that Newton is a special talent. No matter the amount of negativity and doubt Newton received before he took his first snap, he threw for 420-plus yards in his first two outings and then for 374 yards in Week 4. The Panthers aren’t winning, but at least they’re relevant these days. And exciting.

1. Jim Harbaugh: Forgive the guy for showing his belly, jumping up and down like he had just won tickets to see Justin Bieber, and giving Jim Schwartz a hearty handshake and a friendly tap on the back last week. He should be excited. The 49ers, through six games, are running away with the division, and the former Stanford coach in his first season in the NFL has been a huge reason why. Is Harbaugh the sole reason Alex Smith has played well or that the defense is ranked second in the NFL in points allowed? No, but is Harbaugh getting his team to play like Mike Singletary only could have dreamed about? Yes.

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Posted on: October 19, 2011 9:44 am
Edited on: October 19, 2011 10:39 am
 

John Beck named Redskins starter by Mike Shanahan

Posted by Will Brinson

On Tuesday, we got word there would be a quarterback change in Minnesota -- Wednesday morning brought word of a swap in Washington as well, with Mike Shanahan informing his players that John Beck would replace Rex Grossman in the Redskins starting lineup Sunday.

This isn't a huge surprise, considering that Grossman threw four picks (three to the Eye on Defense Award winner Kurt Coleman, who was able to "read Rex all day") and basically sunk the Redskins battleship before they ever even pulled out of the harbor.

Grossman got benched and Beck came in, gave the team a bit of the classic "backup quarterback spark" and managed to actually put a touchdown on the board.

Beck's better than "BAD REX." But he might not be better than "Good Rex." The problem is that Shanahan, like the rest of America, can't predict which Rex will show up, so he's left hoping that Beck's prepared to come in and run his offense effectively.

Mitigating some potential damage is Beck starting against the Panthers on Sunday. Yes, it's an away game, but the Panthers defense has looked like one of the worst units in the league. They're just 11th against the pass, but that's because teams are typically keeping the ball on the ground against Carolina, who rank 31st in the NFL against the run, giving up 140.3 yards per game on the ground.

Beck's job, then, should consist mainly of handing the ball to Tim Hightower, Roy Helu and Ryan Torain. Of course, that's what we though Grossman would be doing in Week 6 against the Eagles too.

For those keeping score at home, here's a list of the quarterbacks that have started for Washington since Dan Snyder took over as owner: Brad Johnson, Jeff George, Tony Banks, Shane Matthews, Patrick Ramsey, Danny Wuerffel, Tim Hasselbeck, Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell, Todd Collins, Donovan McNabb, Grossman and Beck.

As Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post tweeted, if you're a Redskins fan and you just read that list, go ahead and punch yourself in the face.

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Posted on: September 21, 2011 2:56 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 3:31 pm
 

Film Room: Cowboys vs. Redskins preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



One of the most storied rivalries in pro football is renewed Monday night when the Cowboys welcome the Redskins to Big D for their home opener. Mike Shanahan’s team is a surprising 2-0. The Cowboys, after two close games, are 1-1, ensuring their performance on Monday’s national stage will spark an overreaction from Football America (at 2-1, people will ask if the Cowboys are legit Super Bowl contenders; at 1-2 they’ll ask if Jason Garrett is right for the job).

1. Perpetually Maligned Quarterbacks
Are any other two quarterbacks, fair or unfair, viewed as blunder-prone as Tony Romo and Rex Grossman? If Grossman were a star, he’d be Romo. If Romo were a bum, he’d be Grossman. Their performances this season have been overanalyzed in contrasting extremes.

Everyone took part in National Dump on Romo Week (Sept. 12-18) and pilloried the sixth-year starter for being a “choke artist”. While Romo has made his share of mistakes in crunch time, in reality, prior to the interception he gifted Darrelle Revis in Week 1, the only late-game mistake that 90 percent of fans could instantly identify with Romo was his botched field goal hold in the January ’07 playoff loss at Seattle (a play that had nothing to do with his quarterbacking ability).

Reputations rarely form by accident, though. The truth is, Romo is mistake prone.

He’s mistake prone because he has trouble deciphering defenses before the snap, and he tends to take aggressive action on faulty hunches. This is problematic, especially if Dallas has Super Bowl aspirations. That said, at the end of the day, Romo still has respectable playmaking talent. Hence his 345-yard performance with a fractured rib and punctured lung at San Francisco.

Grossman is on the other end of the spectrum. He’s not a naturally talented playmaker. But he can be functional when properly used. His two performances this season have received mostly positive reviews. He threw for 305 yards against the Giants and 291 against the Cardinals. But he was somewhat inaccurate in Week 1 and benefited from several terrific catches by Redskins receivers.

He also struggled in the face of pocket pressure (fortunately he had just one turnover from it, which didn’t prove to be costly). Grossman came back to earth a bit against Arizona and, given his track record and limited role in Washington’s offense (his reads are defined, his audible powers are minimal), he’ll likely level off over the coming months.


2. Washington’s ground game
The Redskins have shown a commitment to running the ball these first two weeks. After posting lackluster numbers against New York, Tim Hightower was sharp versus Arizona, registering 96 yards on 20 attempts. Hightower is a much better fit for Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme than he was in Ken Whisenhunt’s pounding approach.

Reason being, Hightower does not have great burst when coming from a standstill, but he has proven to be an effective momentum runner.

A zone-blocking scheme allows for a one-cut downhill run, but as the illustration below shows, the nature of the sliding blocks allows a runner to take a few extra steps in the backfield, which a runner like Hightower needs in order to build momentum before breaking through the line of scrimmage.



Hightower – as well as his backup, fourth-round rookie Roy Helu, who runs with good tempo and changes direction fairly well – benefitted from stellar offensive line play last week. Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger and left tackle Trent Williams were particularly impressive landing blocks on the move and taking angles that created natural running lanes.

3. Tight ends significant
Washington’s offense makes great use of the tight end, in large part because a tight end crossing pattern is a natural outlet off the rollouts and bootlegs that Shanahan’s scheme uses frequently.

While Chris Cooley has had a modicum impact coming off a knee injury, fourth-year pro Fred Davis has emerged as a fluid target in an elevated role. Davis makes good adjustments to the ball and has the athleticism to be effective in space.
 
For the Cowboys, Jason Witten becomes all the more significant with Miles Austin (hamstring) out and Dez Bryant’s (quad) status in question. Witten is the ultimate safety valve. Generally the beneficiary of mismatches created by others outside, he should be able to create a few of his own mismatches inside, as Redskins linebacker London Fletcher tends to struggle covering elite tight ends.
Week 3 NFL Preview

4. The outside ‘backers
DeMarcus Ware has registered more sacks than anyone in pro football over the past five years, and he appears to be even more potent in Rob Ryan’s scheme (Ryan, like Wade Phillips, has aligned Ware primarily on the weak side of the formation, where one-on-one matchups are easier to come by). Opposite Ware, Anthony Spencer (in a contract year) is a stout playside run defender.

But the Cowboys may soon have the second best outside linebacking corps in the NFC East. Brian Orakpo has made two Pro Bowls his first two seasons and has superb strength to compliment his edge speed.

Opposite him, first-round rookie Ryan Kerrigan has flashed monstrous potential through two games. Kerrigan, a high-motored Big Ten player who drew predictable comparisons to Aaron Kampman coming out, has the swiftness to chase plays as a backside run defender and the body control to outmaneuver blockers in the phone booth. He’s a much, much better athlete than many had guessed.

5. Something to keep an eye on ...
The Redskins are a fairly blitz-heavy team, but those blitzes have usually involved safeties. They caught the Cardinals off-guard last week by blitzing their inside linebackers aggressively. Fletcher in particular blitzed with great timing and downhill speed.

His blitzes were done not necessarily in an effort to get sacks, but to make Kevin Kolb move before throwing. Romo is better throwing off movement than Kolb, so perhaps Jim Haslett won’t use this tactic as much in Week 3.

But with the Cowboys having a young offensive line and depleted receiving corps, the reward could be greater than the risk.

So who will win? Check our expert picks for all Week 1 games


Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: August 17, 2011 3:55 pm
 

Hot Routes 8.17.11: Rest in peace, Pete Pihos



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • Hall of Fame tight end Pete Pihos, one of the first tight ends used as a receiver, has died at the age of 87. He’s considered by some to be one of the best all-around players in NFL history.
  • Once again, the name of Denver’s football stadium has been changed. If you really want to know what its new name is, click this link I suppose.
  • And speaking of the Broncos, here’s something else Denver recently cut loose. That would be new Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. And he appears to be having some fun in his new job.
  • If Jets QB Mark Sanchez wants to take a run at beating up his coach, Rex Ryan feels pretty good about his chances. After all, he sports a spiffy 1,000-0 record

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Posted on: April 12, 2011 12:18 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 12:32 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: Washington Redskins

Posted by Andy Benoit



Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups



New coach, new system, new quarterback, even new yellow pants. Didn’t matter, it was the same old Redskins in 2010. The new quarterback never mastered the new coach’s new system, which is why there actually wound up being another new quarterback at the end of the season. Rex Grossman wasn’t much better than Donovan McNabb, but then again, Grossman had to work with the same ho-hum supporting cast as McNabb.

But enough about the offense. How about Washington’s disappointing defense? Albert Haynesworth was a cross between the Cowardly Lion and Tin Man. Instead of finding a phony wizard to help spark some soul-saving confidence within him at the end, the most expensive defensive tackle in history found himself suspended.

The team unofficially charged Haynesworth with Owensism (i.e. being a jerk). Haynesworth wasn’t the lone disappointment on D. The secondary let more big plays pass through than Broadway.




Mike Shanahan’s famous zone blocking scheme works just about anywhere. There’s no reason to think powerful but spry running back Ryan Torain can’t be a 1,200-yard back behind such a scheme. However, Shanahan needs better athletes at center, right guard and right tackle. C Casey Rabach does not elevate the game of those around him. RG Artis Hicks is valuable only as a utility backup. And RT Heyer is too upright and stiff in the knees.

Finding more fluid linemen, even if it means settling for other teams’ undersized dregs, would be a worthwhile endeavor for the Skins.




1. Quarterback
It’s pretty clear Mike Shanahan does not want Donovan McNabb, right?

2. Wide Receiver
Santana Moss is an unrestricted free agent and probably not worth whatever he thinks he’s worth. Anthony Armstrong might be too much of a hard-handed plodder to hold down a starting spot long term. He’s certainly not a No. 1. The only other receivers on the roster are return specialist Brandon Banks and Terrence Austin and underachieves Roydell Williams and Malcolm Kelly.

3. Defensive End
There was talk that Adam Carriker had a strong season in 2010. Where’s the evidence? Carriker blended in like camouflage. Vonnie Holiday can still contribute in a limited backup role, but like with fellow end Phillip Daniels, age is a major issue.




It’s the NFL, where instant improvements are not only possible, but common. It helps having an adept coaching staff. Shanahan will be prepared for the D.C. scene in 2011 after being caught off-guard by the intense media in his debut season.

Still, a great coach can only go so far. The Redskins desperately need more talent at the skill positions if they want to give .500 a run.

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Posted on: February 28, 2011 2:25 pm
 

Redskins make it final, release Portis

Washington released C. Portis after a good run (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The only surprising aspect of the Redskins announcement today that they had released RB Clinton Portis was that the announcement hadn’t been made Sunday.

As we pointed out the other day, Portis had a great run in Washington, but he had missed 19 games the past two seasons because of injuries, and considering he will turn 30 in September and will cost Washington $8.2 million for the 2011 season, this move was expected.

Especially with the solid play of backup Ryan Torain last season.

“Clinton provided excitement from the very first time he touched the ball as a Redskin and we were lucky to witness every ounce of energy, effort and passion he has given ever since,” Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder said in a statement. “We have been through a lot both on and off of the field and we would like to wish him and his family the very best. He will always be a Redskin and go down as one of the franchise’s all-time greats.”

Portis also released a statement through the team:  “I would like to thank the organization. Dan [Snyder] and Mike [Shanahan] were honest, straight-up people with me. I always appreciated the opportunity from Dan to play here. Being a Redskin was a special part of my life. Coming and being in that organization, I turned from a kid having fun to a man carrying responsibilities. I tried to put the world on my shoulders for Coach Gibbs and the Redskins fans.”

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Posted on: February 26, 2011 9:27 pm
 

Report: Redskins to release Portis very soon

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

RB Clinton Portis’ time in Washington grows shorter by the hour. And by the time you read this blog post, he could be officially off the roster.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Redskins, who would have to pay Portis about $8.2 million this season, could release him as early as Sunday.

Portis Portis had a good run in Washington, gaining at least 1,250 rushing yards in four of his first five seasons with the Redskins. But he’s missed 19 games the past two years, and after playing in only five contests before suffering a groin injury this season, backup RB Ryan Torain played well in his absence.

Though he’ll turn 30 by the beginning of the 2011 season -- usually the beginning, if not the middle (or the end), of the end for elite RBs -- Portis still feels he’s retained his skills.

"I know I got good football left in me," Portis told reporters this week. "I think being fresh, having been really in the last two years not having a lot of contact, I think the two injuries -- going out with a concussion, and then the torn groin -- was really fluke injuries. I don't think that's a wear and tear, like, 'Oh his body broke down.' I think that was just fluke injuries."

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Posted on: December 13, 2010 4:34 pm
 

Hot Routes 12.13.10 box score tidbits Week 14

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit

Ryan Torain ripped off 172 yards against a Bucs front seven that had major problems getting off blocks early on.

Thanks to a 64-yard reception, Bucs rookie wideout Arrelious Benn had his first 100-yard game as a pro (122, to be exact). In fact, Benn’s previous high was 53 yards.

The Browns ran nine plays on their opening field goal drive against the Bills but just 37 plays the rest of the game.

The Packers were 2/12 on third down and 0/1 in the red zone at Detroit.

Though no player had more than 51 yards rushing for Detroit, the Lions still racked up 190 yards on the ground.

Hines Ward had his best outing since Week 7, catching eight passes for 115 yards against Cincinnati.

In addition to an interception returned for a touchdown, LaMarr Woodley had two sacks and two tackles for a loss.

Michael Turner rushed for over 100 yards for the third time in four weeks. The Falcons running back is getting stronger as the season wears on.

Kroy Biermann and John Abraham both had two sacks against the Panthers.

The Raiders and Jaguars combined for 387 yards rushing. Three players – Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings – went over the century mark.

Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis had four catches for an important 57 yards. He also scored his career-high ninth touchdown.

The Rams were just 1/4 in the red zone against the Saints. (Unless you count Sam Bradford’s pick-six to Malcom Jenkins as a score.)

Pretty simple what happened in San Francisco: Niners zero turnovers, Seahawks five.

Brian Westbrook had 87 yards on six receptions.

The Patriots recorded 27 first downs at Chicago.

Perhaps the only Bears defender who played well was Brian Urlacher. He had 11 tackles (three for a loss), a sack and three pass breakups.

Chad Henne’s 5/18 performance was the lowest completion percentage that a winning Dolphins quarterback has had since 1980.

Dolphins punter Brandon Fields had 10 punts for 564 yards.

More special teams notes: Cardinals kicker Jay Feely was 5/6 on field goals.

Part of the reason the Cardinals-Broncos game took forever to end: Kyle Orton 19/41; John Skelton 15/37.

The Chargers had 25 first downs, which was 20 more than the Chiefs had.

Brodie Croyle probably isn’t the answer: Kansas City finished the game with 19 total yards passing.

Antoine Cason took over as the punt returner for San Diego. He averaged 15.2 yards per return with a long of 42.

The Eagles held Miles Austin and Roy Williams to a combined four catches for 45 yards.


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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com