Sports Fix

Fan Spring Training: Visiting the Affiliates

April first draws closer everyday, and with it the start of a new baseball season. The Washington Nationals baseball franchise is expected to be one of the best in the majors this season, but they wouldn’t have that distinction if it weren’t for their farm system. There are the obvious top-top prospects that they drafted in Zimmerman, Strasburg, and Harper, but there are also the later round and less heralded prospects that they drafted and developed like Desmond, Zimmermann, Stammen, Moore, Lombardozzi, and Espinosa. If the Nationals hope to remain good for a long time they are eventually going to need another wave of talent to refresh what they will lose to free agency. That is a few years off for now, but visiting the minor leagues isn’t just a great way to see the future of your favorite team, but also a great way to visit parts of our country you may not otherwise.


The Hagerstown Suns are the low A SAL affiliate of the Washington Nationals. In recent years Harper and Strasburg both made stops there. The current crop of talent is a bit of a mystery. The top Nationals prospects are going to start the season at either AA Harrisburg or AAA Syracuse, but part of the fun of the lower minor leagues is seeing players you may never see again. In some ways it makes the outcome less important and the baseball more of the focus, and there is a lot of enjoyment that can be had in watching baseball for the sake of baseball.

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Sports Fix

Fan Spring Training: Sample Sizes

Photo courtesy of MissChatter
courtesy of MissChatter

One of the most important details about stats is that on a long enough time line any stat will give you an indication of if a player is good or not. The effort put into advanced stats is to shorten the timeline. Think about pitching stats. You could wait through a players career to see how many wins they end up and how many seasons they have with 15+ wins, but sports fans are an impatient lot and waiting until someone’s career is almost over isn’t a good way to know if they are really good right then.

ERA does a slightly better job of this but it doesn’t measure exactly what a pitcher does. Three years of ERA should be enough to tell what a players true talent level is, but front offices have to make decisions on less than three years of data and averages of that long of a time period can vary dramatically year to year. FIP is thought of as a more predictive stat because it doesn’t fluctuate as much from year to year as ERA meaning a smaller sample size is needed to judge a players true talent level.

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Sports Fix

Fan Spring Training: Pitching Stats

Photo courtesy of NDwas
courtesy of NDwas

Like a goalie in hockey and a quarterback in football the pitcher in baseball has the most impact on if his team wins or not, and there was a time when a pitcher had even more control. Once the role of the starting pitcher was to pitch all nine innings and the only reason they didn’t was because they massively failed. The Win stat however doesn’t measure how well a pitcher pitched. What it does measure is if a pitcher pitched at least five innings, left with their team in the lead, and no reliever surrendered the lead. Over a long enough time line the pitcher Win stat still will inform on who was good but the win stat is a symptom of a pitcher being good and not the reason.

To more accurately measure what a pitcher is doing ERA can be used, but there are still issues with ERA. Again, like the Win stat, on a long enough time line ERA will inform us a great deal of how a pitcher has done for their career, but for one season even bad pitchers can have good Win or ERA totals. What ERA measures is the earned run average that a pitcher would have given up had he gone nine. An earned run is any run that crosses the plate not due to an error, and an error is decided upon by an official scorer. Beyond that defense can play a great role in ERA. A slow roller to the left of a bad fielder could get by while a smash deep in the hole can be converted to an out by a good fielder. A good pitcher in front of a bad defense will end up with more of his balls in play being hits than a bad pitcher in front of a good defense.

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Sports Fix, The Features

Time To Get Excited, Nats Fans

Spring Training is upon us. It’s celebrated as a holiday in many a home and cheers up folks stuck in deep emotional slumps due to winter (and no baseball). It’s a time to look forward to the sweet summertime yet to come. It’s the time of year where rebirth is ever-present, in the weather and in state-of-mind. That’s why I’m looking forward to the 2013 Major League Baseball season in Washington, D.C. – home of the 2012 National League East Champions.

There’s a lot to be excited about if you’re a Nats fan. For example: a lead-off hitting hustler of a center fielder in Denard Span, no pitch limit for Stephen Strasburg, newly crowned National League Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper (and everything he does #fangirling), a starting rotation and bullpen worthy of evoking envy throughout all of baseball, and a roster that’s just as cohesive (if not more so) as Gordon Bombay’s Mighty Ducks from Minnesota. Continue reading

Sports Fix

Fan Spring Training: wOBA

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison
Washington Nationals Mike Rizzo
courtesy of Keith Allison

wOBA = (0.691×uBB + 0.722×HBP + 0.884×1B + 1.257×2B + 1.593×3B + 2.058×HR) / (AB + BB – IBB + SF + HBP)

That above is the formula for wOBA (Weighted On Base Average). Looks complex, doesn’t it? It isn’t. I should point out that is was just last week when it hit me exactly what wOBA was measuring and gave me a good anecdote. When Tom, Rachael, and I had our pre-Spring Training meeting on the direction of Nationals coverage for the site Tom had the idea to do a fan Spring Training. To write a serious of articles about advanced stats. This scared the hell out of me, because there are a lot of people smarter than me and many of them happen to be Nationals fans and some of them may be reading this right now. The big fear I had was that in explaining advanced stats my tone would come across as if I was talking down to my audience.

So last week I was working on some things trying to figure out how many runs Denard Span at lead-off and Wilson Ramos at catcher would be worth. You can look at the wOBA formula and see that it assigns a run value to each batting event, and these values are based on the average run expectency of the 24 base out states. If we remove all context then a base is worth 0.25 runs, because you need four bases to score a run, but that would be in a line-up where no one ever hits anything but a single or walks and no batter ever advances more than one base. So more or less a base is only worth 0.25 runs in a world that doesn’t exist. I kept thinking about it and trying to figure how much to add to get a truer value based on the game of baseball that is actually played.

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Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Flashes of Greatness, Flashes of Suck for Capitals

Slapshot at Center Ice

The Capitals had flashes of greatness on Thursday night, slicing through the Devils lines like the team that won the Presidents Trophy in 2010, but a maddening display of undisciplined behavior in the third period undermined what should’ve been a Caps triumph. New Jersey 3, Capitals 2 was the final as the Caps dropped to 5-11-1, their 11 points is worst in the league.

There were some highlights, though: Braden Holtby made 35 saves — a number that usually means a win for the young net-minder — but tonight it wasn’t enough, as penalties mounted late.  Twice in the third period the Caps were missing two men, part of a disastrous collapse marred by mistake after mistake.  The Caps racked up 12 penalty minutes in the third on six minor penalties, giving the Devils the edge they needed to even the game, and then move ahead, on tallies from Loktionov and Kovalchuk.

One last thought: tonight was the first time since last May that we saw Alex Ovechkin display any of his unique talents. There were three breakaways tonight that carried that same fire that the talented forward can demonstrate. When he chooses to, Ovechkin can dazzle your senses, and do things that mortal forwards cannot, but so often this season that Ovechkin is absent from the ice. Tonight he was present and accounted for, if he was shut out by the Devils’ Brodeur. We also saw a careless tripping penalty (which really looked like a roughing penalty from where I was sitting. I’m fairly sure it’s hard to trip someone with an elbow to their face) from the Russian, though, which made him look petty amid the pretty.

The Capitals are running out of time. Now at the one-third mark of the shortened season, the Caps are six points behind the division lead and the last playoff slot. They will rematch with the Devils on Saturday at the Phone Booth. Tickets, as you might imagine, are plentiful on the open markets.

Sports Fix

Fan Spring Training: Positional Difference

Photo courtesy of ameschen
Adam LaRoche
courtesy of ameschen

Many Nationals fans would label Adam LaRoche as the team’s 2012 MVP, and many would label Danny Espinosa as the Nat on the hottest of hot seats. You see in 2012 Adam LaRoche hit .271/.343/.510 with 33 homers and 100 RBI while Danny Espinosa hit .247/.315/.402 and led the NL in strikeouts. That makes Adam LaRoche a highly valuable batter and Danny Espinosa below average batter. In 2012 the MLB average hitter batted .255/.319/.405. Espinosa is below that slash line in every category while LaRoche is over it and in some cases significantly over it. Now that I have made the brief case as to why LaRoche is better than Espinosa I am going to tell you it isn’t true. By the advanced metric fWAR both LaRoche and Espinosa were 3.8 win players. Meaning they were equally valuable to the Nats.

When I showed you that LaRoche was a well above league average hitter and Espinosa was a below league average hitter I left off a lot of information. WAR takes everything into account (Sam Miller of ESPN and Baseball Prospectus had a great article on WAR come out yesterday and all baseball fans should give it a read). One of the things that WAR takes into account is positional difference. Basically it is the old baseball adage of defense up the middle, power at the corners. Comparing the batting ability of a first baseman to a second baseman head to head is unfair and misses a large portion of the important of the middle infield position.

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Sports Fix

Fan Spring Training

Photo courtesy of Dru Bloomfield - At Home in Scottsdale
Diamondbacks Spring Training 2011
courtesy of Dru Bloomfield – At Home in Scottsdale

Pitchers and catchers have reported to Spring Training sites in Arizona and Florida, and soon we will have baseball to talk about, but the big question is will we be speaking the same language. I have had many conversations with many folks about baseball through the years and not all of them have gone well and not every time were we even speaking the same language. Baseball is a spot of numbers. The events end up displayed in columns and rows of numbers in a box score. The single event of a game repeats itself until a season occurs, and the players that played in those games go on to have careers.

It is these stats that make up most of our conversations about baseball. It is hard to even talk about the sport without bringing up a stat. You go to a game, drink some beers and eat some hot dogs, and have a general good time, but sooner or later someone is going to ask you about what you saw, and that is near impossible to talk about without using stats. Understand stats is then important to our conversation about the game. What does it mean if player X got a hit and would it have meant as much if it were player Y, and what type of hit was it, what was the game situation when the hit occurred  All of this is important to our understanding of the game.

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Sports Fix

Nationals add to the Presidential roster, spark rivalry


Photo by Luis Albisu, special to We Love DC

If the Nationals ever move from racing presidents, to racing supreme court justices, they’ve made a huge swing pickup.

On Saturday, the Nationals unveiled their latest signing: 27th President (and 10th Supreme Court Chief Justice) William Howard Taft, unveiled before a packed hall of fans and friends at the Washington Convention Center. The singular highlight of the day-long fan fest, the addition of a fifth racing president promises to provide some interesting rivalry options for the mid-game “main event” along the warning track.

In real life, Taft and Roosevelt were rivals that split the Republican Party in the 1912 election, leading to the election of Woodrow Wilson. Taft and Roosevelt split over the firing of Gifford Pinchot from the top of the Forestry Service at the USDA. A conservationist, Pinchot was canned when he opposed the Taft policies at USDA which he felt were an attempt to shutdown the conservation movement that Roosevelt had begun. Roosevelt had initially backed Taft as a good successor, but the divisions between the two men grew with the 1910 Pinchot-Ballinger affair, and then the 1912 prosecution of U.S. Steel split the party in half. Roosevelt would best Taft, but neither could assemble a majority. The rift that followed split the Republican party, formed the Bullmoose Party, and sunk the reelection chances for President Taft.

Nine years after the electoral disaster, Taft would accept President Harding’s nomination to the Supreme Court as Chief Justice, where he was approved 60-4 by the Senate.  Taft would push for the Supreme Court to get their own office space – a building immediately recognizable to all DC residents – instead of using the old Senate Chamber in the Capitol. In addition, he would reorganize their docketing structure to give the court more flexibility in modern scheduling and control. 

Taft wouldn’t live to see the new Supreme Court building built, though, as he would pass on in 1930.

He is buried at Arlington Cemetery, one of two presidents to bear that honor, and one of four chief justices.

Oh – and just to cut one off at the pass – Taft is not the inventor of the Seventh Inning Stretch, despite the anecdote of a seventh inning stretch inspired by Taft’s restless attendance at a Senators game, the practice predates his term by 50 years.

Sports Fix, The Features

It’s Time To Pay Attention To The Wizards, Washington DC

If you are like some of my Twitter followers, you may have noticed there hasn’t been a lot of Wizards talk lately. That’s because they were terrible. Heading into 2013 they only had four wins and were the butt of jokes around the league. Even perennial basement dweller Charlotte had a better record than the Wiz on January 1st, 2013 despite going on an 18 game losing streak at the end of 2012.

How can you lose 18 games in a row and still have a better record than the Wizards?

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Sports Fix

Capitals drop home opener to Jets 4-1

Skates by yostinator

Every year since 2000, the Capitals have carried their home opener with a victory. Every year until 2013. The Capitals looked ragged and rusty on Tuesday night against the Jets of Winnipeg, and showed that a team that’s only been together a week is going to have some weaknesses that have yet to be purged by the fire of training and hard work.

In a lockout-shortened season, with a new head coach, and a whole new system, the Capitals looked more like a practice squad on Tuesday against the Jets. With two days to recover after a 6-3 loss to the Lightning on Sunday, the Caps had hoped to rebound better. The team looked listless and lost at times, and at least one forward found his playing time limited in the face of criticism from his coach: “I didn’t think he was skating.”

It’s a difficult position to be in, with a drastically shorter run-up to the season than in past years, but the Capitals will have to rally to put themselves together ahead of the rest of the short season. It’s one thing to drop a couple to start an 82-game season, but with just 46 games left, it’s dropping a couple mid-season and looking rusty.

The veteran presence on the DC lines will have to show some spark in the coming games if the Caps will want to succeed this season. There’s something missing, and while conditioning seems part of it, these are professional athletes and conditioning ought to be their bread and butter. At some point, it has to come down to chemistry, and Adam Oates has to show us: is he the master alchemist? Can he make sense of his talent and build it into a cohesive whole? Those are hard questions in a short season, and the Caps appear to be stunted by the short run-up to the season.

Also, before you point to the net as the problem here, as much as Holtby has appeared the human sieve, if you’re not even going to try to stop the cross into the slot, you really can’t blame the goalie. Look for Neuvy to get some playing time soon, but there is much to be desired from the blue line boys in the early offing.

Sports Fix

A Thank You to Michael Morse

This evening, it has been widely reported that Michael Morse has been traded to the Seattle Mariners for prospects A.J. Cole, Blake Treinen and a player to be named later in a three team that also featured the Oakland Athletics.

This deal had likely been in the works since the Nationals completed the contract for Adam LaRoche. With LaRoche re-signing, the opportunity for Morse to play every day was largely gone, as the set outfield of Harper/Span/Werth didn’t have a place for Morse that would give him the playing time that he deserves.

Before he goes, though, I need to tell you what he meant to me as a Nationals fan.

Michael Morse was involved in my two favorite moments of the 2012 season, both of which I observed as a fan from the stands (or in front of the TV), and not as a credentialed blogger.  The first was the phantom grand slam from September, which saw Morse hit a long ball off the second wall at Busch Stadium in Saint Louis, which caromed back onto the field. With the bases loaded, they threw the ball back in and tagged out Morse on his way back to first as the runners were forced back into position.

On review, the umpires declared the ball a home run, but, as they wanted to make sure everyone touched ’em all, Morse took a phantom swing – no bat in his hands – to start the whole play anew and set the runners in motion so they didn’t pass one another on the base paths. Instant classic there as Morse stood with Yadier Molina as the umpires waited to set things in motion.

The second was probably the best moment of the regular season: As the Nationals were playing the Phillies on October 1st at Nationals Park, the team clinched the Playoffs with a Braves loss in the middle of the 9th inning. After a pause to celebrate, Michael Morse stepped into the batters’ box as the PA played A-Ha’s Take on Me, his signature late-innings walk-up music. As had been the case for most of 2012, and much of 2011, the crowd joined in the chorus. It was one of the most joyous moments I’ve seen at Nationals Park, or since baseball returned to the Nation’s Capital.

There was, in that song, whenever it was played, something that belonged just to Washington sports – just to the Nationals – that wasn’t something that was transplanted or orchestrated or outright stolen.

It was ours.

Morse, in so many ways, represented the built-up strength of the Nationals. He was a misfit from the Seattle organization. A talented player who needed a place that could work with his skills, and that was definitely the Nationals. While he wasn’t a defensive wunderkind the way someone like Ryan Zimmerman or Bryce Harper was, he did have that offensive spark that just came to life in the humid summer on the shores of the Potomac.

Morse embodied the moxie  that the Nationals built. His confident approach at the plate paid off through 2011 (.303/.360/.550) and 2012 (.291/.321/.470), in which he combined for 49 HRs and 157 RBI, and won the hearts of Nationals fans across the city. There was much lamentation, first when the Nationals re-signed LaRoche (and started this process), and then again when the trade was reported tonight, that losing Morse was losing a piece of the Nationals’ soul.

In many ways, those feelings are ones that I share. I understand why it was necessary, and why the roster is stronger now than it ever has been.

But it doesn’t mean I have to like seeing Morse go.

Thank you, Beast, for living as this city’s baseball swagger, for being the heart of the 2012 Nationals, and most of all for teaching this city how to hit the high notes, all together.

Here’s hoping we get to sing A-Ha again for you soon.

Sports Fix

Capitals Release Tickets, Start Fan Appreciation Week

Late Saturday night, while the whole city was having a good long party, hockey returned to the District of Columbia. The Caps released their short 48-game schedule – games played in just 98 days – and announced that the team would be holding events leading up to the home opener on the 22nd.

Included in the events the team announced – events the team needs to hold to win back even just the homeliest sliver of good will from a fanbase abused by the lockout – are an open practice on the 17th with free concessions (excluding alcohol), and giveaways at These are but the least of the Caps worries at the moment as they face a whirlwind of travel this season, as well as a division stacked with talent.

They begin home play at Verizon Center on January 22nd, and single game tickets went on sale today ahead of the short 24-game home season. Some highlights if you want a great matchup: Superbowl Sunday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, March 5th against the Boston Bruins, or back-to-back games against the conference champs in late February. For those wanting blowouts, the Leafs are through in February and April, and I would grab both games.

Early news from the Caps has been good, but with some question marks. Specifically, there are concerns around the health of Alternate Captain Brooks Laich, who is day-to-day with a lower body injury of an undisclosed nature. Also in question is Nick Backstrom, who sustained what appears to be a neck injury during KHL play. Both could miss playing time, but much is still unknown about both situations.

capitals hockey, Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Oh Look, an Apology (Sort of)

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison
Ted Leonsis
courtesy of Keith Allison

Oh look, Ted apologized.

Two things. First, where was this on Sunday? Why wasn’t this the email sent out? Not that this is all that much better, mind. (I’m bemused by the fact it’s actually entitled “A Note of Apology and Empathy.”)

Second, I find it interesting it comes out in the wake of other team notifications regarding some of the promos offered and first steps being taken to rebuild burned (nuked?) bridges. I’ve got to say, the timing on this is just…really, really poor.

I think what really irritates me most is this particular statement in Leonsis’ post:

It is now incumbent upon us to be a first-class partner not only with our players but also with our fans. It is time to move forward in the best way we can, together.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but why is it only now ‘they’ (I’m assuming the ownership group) recognize the necessity to partner with the fans? It’s a little late for that light bulb illumination. This tidbit of revelation would’ve been better served coming any day prior to September 15, 2012…

Sports Fix

Nationals finalize LaRoche deal for 2 years

Adam LaRoche will be a National again. After a long period of negotiations between LaRoche and Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, the two came to an agreement midday on Tuesday for LaRoche to remain at first base for the next two years. This news was first reported by the Post’s Adam Kilgore on Twitter. The Nationals had been holding the line for a two-year deal, while LaRoche had been pushing for a three-year deal. 

The move will likely force the Nationals to trade popular 1B/OF Michael Morse, whose iconic late-inning walkup music was the single most unique stadium tradition of the young franchise. Morse lost his outfield spot to the newly acquired Denard Span, who will likely takeover CF duties, moving Bryce Harper to LF. With LaRoche playing at 1B, there is no place for Morse in the starting lineup.

According to’s Bill Ladson, LaRoche is in Kansas City today for the physical.

No word yet on the terms of the deal beyond its length.

Business and Money, capitals hockey, Downtown, Penn Quarter, Sports Fix, The Features

Hockey’s Back – Should We Care?

Photo courtesy of deejayqueue
Empty Verizon Center
courtesy of deejayqueue

In case you missed it among the news of yet another Washington sports team’s playoff collapse, the NHL lockout is over. Which means the Capitals will soon be plying their trade at the Verizon Center.

We’ve had a few people ask over the last few months why we’ve not posted any lockout news here on WeLoveDC. It’s a reasonable question, considering we’ve been covering the Caps pretty solidly since our site debut. But we’ll be honest: we just didn’t feel like it.

On Sunday, messages from various teams around the NHL hit fan inboxes. Around here, the missive from Caps (and Wizards) owner Ted Leonsis sparked a flurry of conversation between Tom, Addison, and myself. Rather than keep it to ourselves, we felt it only right to vent our collective frustration here. After the jump, we break our silence and share our thoughts on the lockout, the league, the Caps’ coming season…and what it means to be a hockey fan in a crumbling hockey town.

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Sports Fix

Seahawks defeat Redskins 24-14

Photo courtesy of Miss Maxine
The Walk
courtesy of Miss Maxine

Welcome to DC sports. It is the place where your 98 win baseball team enters to ninth inning with a lead in game 5 of the NLDS and is bounced by a utility infielder, it is where your hockey team wins the Presidents Cup, takes a 3-1 series lead, and loses, and it is where your football team goes on a near miraculous run to win the division and make the playoffs and then loses because their best player can barely walk. DC sports has become the land of misery and if misery loves company then Redskins fans can go join the Nationals fans still sulking about how their season ended.

The Redskins loss to the Seahawks started out well enough. The Redskins got the ball to start and drove down the field to score on their first possession  The defense was swarming and there was little to nothing the Seahawks could do and the Redskins scored on their second possession. At this point it didn’t look like the game was going to be fair, but something happened at the end of that second scoring drive. RGIII was hit after completing his second touchdown pass and Seattle defender Bruce Irvin was tagged with an unnecessary roughness penalty. After that the Redskins didn’t score again and RGIII never looked the same.

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Sports Fix

NFL Wild Card Round Redskins vs. Seahawks

Photo courtesy of Homer McFanboy
courtesy of Homer McFanboy

Russell Wilson, the Richmond Virginia native and 41st round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 2007, returns to the area this Sunday to take on RGIII and the Redskins. Wilson as a baseball prospect wasn’t much. He hit .229/.354/.342 in a combined two seasons as a Rockies prospect. There were questions as to if he would hit enough at the majors as a 2B to warrant much of a future. So, Russell Wilson decided to go pro in something other than baseball, and this season as the Seahawks quarterback has passed for 3118 yards, 26 touchdowns (a rookie record), a 64.1% completion rate, and only 10 interceptions. Wilson has also rushed for 489 yards on 94 attempts.

If this style of quarterback sounds familiar it should. The Seahawks run a similar read option style offense to the Redskins and Wilson is the surprise entrant into the Luck or RGIII debate for NFL ROY. Comparing the stats of RGIII to Wilson and it is very close except in a couple areas. Griffin has thrown for 3200 yards, thrown 20 touchdowns, a 65.6% completion rate, but has half the interceptions Wilson does and 326 more rushing yard on 26 more attempts, and Griffin did all this in one less game.

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Sports Fix

Redskins defeat Cowboys 28-18 Win NFC East

Photo courtesy of Homer McFanboy
courtesy of Homer McFanboy

Before the season began there were a host of predictions that the Redskins wouldn’t just be worst than last season, but that they would be the worst team in the NFL. They did after all have a rookie quarterback and a rookie running back sharing the same backfield, an offensive line filled with very few names that inspire any confidence, and a secondary that was highly suspect in 2011 and lost two safeties. With the Redskins heading into the bi-week at 3-6 even Mike Shanahan was ready to move to evaluation mode and find out what players were going to help in the years to come.

The Redskins certainly found that out. Rob Jackson, Lorenzo Alexander, Trent Williams, Tyler Polumbus, Richard Crawford, Santana Moss, London Fletcher, Kirk Cousins, Alfred Morris, and RGIII all stepped up after the bi-week and led the Redskins on a seven game win streak to end the regular season. The last game of that win streak came last night against the Dallas Cowboys. With RGIII still dealing with his knee injury and unable to be as effective a passer as normal it was up to his fellow rookie Alfred Morris to take over the game.

What Alfred Morris did in his rookie season is overshadowed by the presence of RGIII, but it could be said that as good a quarterback that RGIII is Morris may be a better running back. Morris is now the Redskins all time leading rusher and when they needed him most last night he stepped up in a big way. With Griffin only passing 18 times with 9 completions for 100 yards Morris was the key to the Redskins offense. Against a Dallas team that at many times had to know Morris was coming right at them he ran for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns on 33 attempts.

With the Redskins RGIII is always a factor even when he isn’t fully healthy and the zone read option opens up holes for both he and Morris. RGIII ran the ball himself 6 times for 63 yards. To put this into perspective Morris averaged 6.0 yards a carry and RGIII 10.5. With the Redskins inability to pass the Cowboys had to know runs were coming, but what they didn’t know was who had the ball in their hands. Watch RGIII on the fake hand-off. The ball is in Morris’ gut with his arms wrapped around it before RGIII pulls it back out. The entire defense has to freeze for that moment and it is then when RGIII decides who should have the ball.

As great as RGIII and Morris have been all season lone the defense deserves a lot of credit for the seven game win streak. The Redskins since the bi have allowed an average of around 20 points a game and have created turnovers. Last night was another example of what the Redskins defense can do. Richard Crawford, Josh Wilson, and Rob Jackson all had key interception, and while the Redskins were unable to turn the first two into points they both came with the Cowboys driving and took points and the ball away from the Cowboys. In total the Redskins won the time of possession battle 33:26 to 26:34.

The Redskins stepped up and did what they had to to put away the Cowboys. The play of Alfred Morris and the defense should be the focus as to why the Redskins won the game, but think back to last season and the biggest flaw of the Redskins offense. It was that they turned the ball over too much. Rex Grossman couldn’t stop himself from turning the ball over. The game against the Cowboys is one of the worst of RGIII’s young NFL career and he had zero interceptions. Even when RGIII isn’t helping the team he also isn’t hurting them, and that allowed Alfred Morris to take over and lead the Redskins to their first NFC title since 1999.

Sports Fix

Redskins Week 17: The Cowboys

Photo courtesy of Arnie K.
Dez Bryant Dallas Cowboys
courtesy of Arnie K.

This is what the season comes down to. The Redskins vs. the Cowboys at FedEx Field with the NFC East title on the line. RGIII has had an additional week of rest and in order to beat the Cowboys he is going to have to be at the top of his game. It isn’t because they have a great defense ranking 21st and 17th against the pass and run respectively. The Cowboys have the third best passing offense in the NFL and the Redskins secondary is well the Redskins secondary.

In the fourth quarter against the Saints last Sunday the Cowboys appeared to be down and out, but then scored two touchdowns in three minutes to send the game to overtime. With Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and Miles Austin the Cowboys have that type of offense. They can strike and strike quickly, and the Redskins secondary has done little to stop any sort of passing attack all season long. If there is a strength to the Redskins defense it is an important one as they are tied for the fifth most interceptions in the league, and Tony Romo and the Cowboys are tied for fourth in interceptions.

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