Redskins Blog: The Playmaker?

It looks like McCants will get his chance and taking some journalists to task.

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Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs' Washington Redskins. Get details and order at

November 19, 2004

Gibbs: Playmakers Will Play

Said Joe Gibbs of Darnerien McCants in today's Post
I think he is a playmaker. He's a big guy with really good hands and I think deceptively on deep balls he's very good, also. So it was good seeing him get in there and make some plays for us, and hopefully that will continue and hopefully we can find ways to play him more in the offense. I think now that he's up [dressing for games], I think we can do that and that's to his credit: If you make plays you're going to play.
The Redskins knew that McCants was a playmaker when they kept him off of the restricted free agent market by giving him a three-year, $4.5 million contract. In the preseason, he caught a long touchdown bomb from, yes, Mark Brunell.

Due to an inability to play special teams (the public reason) and poor practice habits (the private reason), McCants was active for just one game until Sunday. Whether his insertion into the game during a fourth-quarter drive was the cause of the team scoring its only touchdown of the day or if was a mere coincidence, time will tell. From what Gibbs says, it looks like he will give us some chances to find out.

It Doesn't Add Up

In Paul Woody's article in Wednesday's Richmond Times-Dispatch, he had this rather peculiar entry:
At the end of the 2001 season, the Redskins were closing in on an 8-8 record, had millions in salary-cap space for 2002 and the name they had on their drawing board at quarterback, according to an NFL source, was an unknown then, but is fairly familiar now: Jake Delhomme.

Had Delhomme been signed, the plan was to team him with running back Stephen Davis for a ball-control offense, then use the salary-cap space to rebuild the defensive line.

It's not a bad plan. It's essentially the same one Carolina used to win the NFC title last season.
Normally, Woody does his homework very well, but this scenario doesn't add up. Carolina signed Delhomme after the 2002 season, the then-Saints quarterback's fourth season in the league, the first for which he was eligible for unrestricted free agency.

The scenario that Woody paints is after the 2001 season. If Delhomme was available then--if he did have a contract that expired after that season--he would have been available as a restricted free agent. He hadn't taken a single NFL snap at that point, and he was undrafted coming out of college, so it's highly unlikely that Marty would have wanted to sign him as a restricted free agent and hang the team's future on him.

If they'd planned on waiting until after '02 to go for Jake, the "poison pill" in Davis' contract--an unacceptably high cap number--would take effect by then, eating up any cap money that might have been spent on a D-lineman.

As I said, I like what Woody writes, but he should probably check his "NFL source" a little better here.

I Just Don't Get It

I guess it's kind of dumb to be dismissive of the opinions of someone like Pete Prisco of CBS and then continue to comment on them, but I must.

Prisco was on the Sports Bash with Eric Kuselias (an excellent show, by the way; EK is an top-notch host). Kuselias asked him who was doing a worse job, Parcells or Gibbs. Prisco reiterated his view that Gibbs was doing a worse job because his offense wasn't working.

Uh, excuse me, Pete, but Parcells' last three losses have been by 21, 23, and 28 points. Over the course of the year, the Redskins have been outscored by 25 points, Parcells' Coboys have ben outscored by 90.

I don't know if Bill is a "offense" or "defensive" guy. I would say, however, if you're in your second year with a team and your scoring margin is three times worse than the guy that is in his first year with his team and your W-L records are identical, you're doing a worse job, period.

November 18, 2004

A Sight to Get Used To

You had better get used to the sight of Patrick Ramsey as the Redskins quarterback. Good, bad, or indifferent, the team just might well be stuck with him.

This isn't a seven-game audition, folks, it's the beginning of an era. For the foreseeable future, the Redskins' fortunes at the quarterback position rest with number 11.

The reason is simple—economics or, more precisely, the allocation of scarce resources. A team has two main assets it can use to acquire players, draft picks and cap dollars. You get six of the former and about 70 million of the former a year. It's a zero sum game; what you spend on one player you don't have to spend on another one.

In the past three years, the Redskins have allocated a lot of resources to the quarterback position. They gave up their first-round draft pick for one in 2002 and eight million cap dollars for another earlier this year. Quarterback is an expensive position to fill in the NFL and you can't keep on flinging draft picks and money at it and expect to have resources left to retain quality players to protect whoever's in there, give him someone to throw to, have someone to prevent the other team from scoring, and so on.

This team has needs on both sides of the line as well as some quality depth in other spots. Drafting a quarterback first or third (the second-rounder has been traded away) could be done, but at the expense of ignoring those needs. In addition, drafting a quarterback is always a crap shoot. I'm sure I don't need to go any further than the names Heath Shuler and Ryan Leaf to make that point.

Barring some sort of miracle turnaround, Mark Brunell is a bust of Shuler proportions only more expensive. It will cost over $7 million in dead cap money to cut him before June 1. Waiting until afterwards puts about $2 million of dead money in '05 and the remaining $5 million in 2006. That's about what it cost to shed Deion Sanders after one season. Such a cap hit virtually precludes the team from going after a free agent quarterback.

There is one alternative, but, like anything else, it would involve some risk. Perhaps the Redskins could trade for a young backup who is stuck behind a young star. Matt Schaub of the Falcons comes to mind here. He's a rookie who played well in the preseason and has almost no chance of ever holding the regular starting job as he's stuck behind Mike Vick. Perhaps he could be pried away for a third-rounder. It's a move that carries somewhat less risk than just taking a third-round quarterback because he has shown something on the NFL level.

This is the route that the Packers took to acquire Bret Favre from the Falcons and that the Jaguars used to get the Brunell that started two AFC title games from Green Bay.

Still, the best option remains the guy who's on your roster already, the one whose cap hits are less than $2 million per season through 2006, the one who has won some NFL games, the one who has shown guts and toughness under pressure, the one who is smart and willing and eager to learn.

There are teams who are in playoff contention this year that are quarterbacked by Craig Krenzel, Kyle Boller, Josh McCown, and other assorted nonentities. It's hard to believe that Joe Gibbs couldn't mold Patrick Ramsey into a quarterback who was capable of doing the same.

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