Sunday, July 20, 2008

JT Dancing with the Skins?

Well with Redskins training camp starting today, I was all ready to break out my skeptically optimistic preview as the team heads into a new generation with Jim Zorn at the helm. But then news broke that defensive end Phillip Daniels suffered a season-ending knee injury on the first snap of 7-on-7 drills in the first practice of the year. Not exactly an awe-inspiring start to what many felt could be a disappointing season anyways.

Daniels' loss isn't all that important, if you ask me. Yeah, he was our starting defensive end, but since coming over with Gregg Williams and Greg Blatche a few years ago, he hasn't really been anything resembling an unstoppable force. I'm sure he'd be a starter for the Mudbowl squad, but anything higher than that echelon of athletics is kind of pushing it at this point.

Basically, the only time during Phillip's four years with the Skins that he's been anywhere close to looking like more than a run-of-the-mill defensive lineman was during the 2005 stretch run when the Skins made the playoffs. He had eight sacks that season, a majority of which came at that point.

Phillip Daniels beating on Marion Barber.

So the talk I've been seeing on message boards about how disastrous this injury is for the Skins this year is very much overblown. Yes, the Redskins had an atrocious D-line to begin with, one that many questioned would be able to put adequate pressure on the quarterback. But Daniels was part of that problem, and judging from the 2.5 sacks he registered a year ago, he wasn't going to be a huge part of the solution. If anything, I think this injury may be a blessing in disguise because it may force the Skins' hands.

It appears as if the Redskins management team of Vinny and the Danny were perfectly content to enter this season with a below-average defensive line. But now with a starter from that barely adequate line gone, the Danny is going to have to do something if he wants to seriously discuss the playoffs this year.

As you probably already know, ESPN is reporting the Skins are now chasing Jason Taylor, the oft-discussed dancer/sack extroadinaire who has openly been pursuing a trade this offseason. It would be a step back into the old Snyder ways to go after someone like Taylor, who would likely take some future draft picks to pry away from Bill Parcells and the Dolphins. It seemed in this year's draft that Snyder was heeding the advice of the Pats and Giants who stockpile and wisely use their draft picks (although unlike the Danny, they don't use all their top picks on the same position).

So it comes down to somewhat of a conundrum for the Redskins. Do they stay the course and not add more salary and age to an already old roster? Or do they follow Danny's fan-like heart to the promised land of aging superstars and make a run at Jason Taylor?

I think it really depends on what Taylor is going to bring to the table. As he showed last season, JT is still a dominating force, even on a really, really bad team, and he would instantly revamp the Skins' sagging defensive line. He's the type of player opposing offenses have to prepare for every week and would replace (maybe more than replace) the play-making void on defense left following Sean Taylor's death. But JTaylor has age issues (he's 35), a pretty sizable contract, and a stated desire to play one more season before entering the entertainment world.

After seeing this photo, now I'm really not sure whether he should don the burgundy and gold.

I read a Sports Illustrated article a couple years back about Taylor that went into his soul about the entertainment thing. Make no mistake, this guy isn't saying this sort of stuff on a whim after a successful turn on Dancing with the Stars. He knows what he wants to accomplish and one of his goals has always been to enter into the entertainment industry, and become bigger than just a football star. So the question remains: Is Jason Taylor worth giving up a first or second round draft pick if he's only going to play one season?

My answer is if he promises (and obviously there would have to be some kind of provision in the trade to guarantee this) to play at least two seasons, you make next year's first-round draft pick a conditional part of the deal. If he only plays next season, it would downgrade to a second-round, or preferably if Vinny can out-maneuver the Fins, a third-round pick or a couple third-round picks. I'll add as a disclaimer that I don't know what draft choices the Redskins have next year. I'm going to assume most of them since they haven't made any big time trades since acquiring Pete Kendall a year ago and getting Erasmus James for next year's seventh-round pick.

Yes, this Daniels injury points out a weakness in this season's version of the Skins' armor. But the bigger picture problem is one that has clouded over this franchise since Daniel Snyder took over the team. Whether it's hiring a quarterbacks coach as a head coach when you seemingly had a successor (Gregg Williams) in place or drafting three players from the same position with your top picks, nobody seems to know just what direction this franchise is headed. At least with Gibbs, there was some kind of clarity as to what philosophy would be followed. From management on down to the players, the 2008 Redskins are shrouded in mystery to me.

I don't think that's a good thing coming from (in my humble opinion) an educated and devoted fan.

I'm unsure whether these two should be running a pro football franchise or a local Burger King franchise.

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