Posts Tagged ‘Gilbert Arenas’

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Who’s to blame in DC for the craziness that is sports in our Nation’s Capital?  As of November 10th, the Redskins and Wizards have a combined 4-12 record, both teams are in the midst of at least a 4 game losing streak, while on the other end of the thermometer, the Capitals are off to one of their hottest starts in franchise history with a 10-3-4 record.  While the Caps currently hold the top offense in the NHL, averaging 3.76 goals per game, both the Wizards and Skins hold the 24th and 29th best scoring offenses in their leagues respectively.

Its hard to say where each team went wrong, or right in the Caps situation, since all three teams entered this season with similar expectations but very different off seasons.  To start, we will have to take a look at the Redskins.  Entering the 2009 off season, Jim Zorn was coming off a 8-8 season as a first time head coach.  During the draft, the Redskins took defensive end Brian Orakpo with the the 13th overall pick, adding to an already talented defensive unit that finished 4th overall in the league.  That move was followed by the $100 million addition of pro bowl defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.  These moves were heavily scrutinized by the media, suggesting that the team should have focused on improving their often injured and some what old offensive line.

Vinny Cerrato, the teams Vice President of Football Operations, assured everyone that the roster he provided Coach Zorn with was more than adequate to make the playoffs this season.  After all it was the same team that started 6-2, produced 4 pro bowlers in Chris Samuels, Clinton Portis, Mike Sellers and Chris Cooley.  This team was destined to make it the playoffs and compete for the division title right?  Boy were we all wrong.  This team as seen its fair share of injures this season, including all pro left tackle Chris Samuels and right guard Randy Thomas.  Against Denver this week, the Redskins will be starting their 5th different offensive line alignment this season.  That’s five different combination’s in nine games, talk about consistency.  The team also suffered several blow s when tight end Chris Cooley broke his ankle against the Eagles, Clinton Portis suffered a concussion against the Falcons, and just yesterday, safety Chris Horton was placed on IR with an ankle injury.  But still who is to blame?  I don’t think you can put all the blame on owner Dan Snyder, the players still have to play. Last weekend, the Redskins gave up 31 points to the Falcons and only managed to score 17 points.  I think the team has given up on each other and the media has caused such a stir that at this point, the players can point their finger in any direction for an excuse and get away with it.

Now, moving on to the Washington Wizards, who were coming off one of their worst seasons in franchise history, boasting a 19-63 record last year.  Now with that said, last year’s team was without some of its most important players, losing several starters to injury, including All Star point guard Gilbert Arenas.  So this off season, the Wizards brought in a well respected coach in Flip Saunders, who has brought every team he as coached into the playoffs in all but 2 seasons he has coached.  The team also opted to trade away its 5th overall draft pick to at depth in the back court, acquiring Mike Miller and Randy Foye from Minnesota.  With the return of a healthy line up and the addition of a proven coach, the Wizards were bound to return to playoff form this season…

Well, once again DC was let down with a poor start to the season.  In the preseason the Wizards saw their most reliable player, Antawn Jamison go down with a separated shoulder.  He has yet to return to action and his return date is still in question.  To make matters worse, Mike Miller suffered a shoulder injury last week in a loss against the Heat, he is expected to make his return within the next week or two.  Even though the team’s most important star, Arenas has started every game this season, the Wizards still don’t look in sync.   In last night’s loss to the Heat, Arenas turned the ball over a career high 12 times and allowed Heat star Dwyane Wade to put up 41 points.  Wade outscored the entire Wizards in the second half 29-27.  Oh yea, not to mention Randy Foye went down in that game with an ankle injury, his status is still uncertain.  Things cannot possibly get worse right?  But who is to blame for the Wizards poor start?  Is Gilbert past his prime? can anyone play defense on this team?

Ok, now we can look at that lone bright spot in DC, the Washington Capitals.  The team entered the off season after a disappointing game seven loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the playoffs.  The off season buzz was whether or not the team could keep two of their valuable Russian veterans in Viktor Kozlov and Sergei Federov.  The team was also in need of a strong defender, but due to salary cap restraints, the team only managed to find replacements for Kozlov and Federov in Mike Knuble and Brendan Morrison, and hope that the teams farm system could help provided the team with depth when called upon.  This is where the Caps differ from both the Wizards and Redskins, with their ability to scout young talent and successfully develop them in Hershey.  This off season we saw both the Skins and Wiz pass up on bringing in younger guys and instead, went for the some-what proven veterans in hopes of filling the missing pieces of talented, but aging roster.

With the Caps already a month into their season, the ride hasn’t exactly been smooth, the biggest bump coming when two time MVP Alex Ovechkin went out with an upper body injury against the Columbus Blue Jackets on November 1st.  When he first went down he was listed as day to day, but after missing a week and a half with his unspecified injury, there is no specific return date in site.  But thanks to Capitals General Manager George McPhee, the team hasnt missed a beat since Ovechkin was taken out of the line up.  The team has gone 2-1 in three games without him and audiences have gotten a taste of that youth movement that Caps have been quietly developing in Hershey.  The most surprising addition came from young Mathieu Perreault, who in the three games Ovechkin has missed, has tallied 1 goal and 2 assists.  Although Ovechkin is still leading the league with 14 goals through 14 games, the team is averaging 4.67 goals in the three games without him, and one more then, Alex Semin was held without a point in two of those games.

So as the winter rolls on in DC, you can say what you want about the three main sports teams in our area, but as of right now, it has been proven that building a team through the draft and developing your  young talent will help you, regardless of injuries.  The front office may be the ones who take the bulk of the blame, but it ultimately comes down to the players, those who are willing to step up and fill in the voids, proving that they belong in the professional level and that they want to win.

I hate to give up on a team at any point during the season, but with that being said, I think the Redskins still have a lot to play for and by no means should they lose their next eight games.  The Wizards’ season is still young and hopefully they can get healthy and gain some consistency playing together and turn this season around and fight for one of the eight playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.  And as for those Capitals, keep on playing and trying to get better, sure not having number eight in the lineup is concerning, but this is shining light on the rest of the players who have been hiding under Ovechkin’s shadow the past two seasons, proving that the Caps are a real team to be reckoned with.