Wizards at midseason? Still a question mark

 

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Coming into this huge season for the Washington Wizards, two underlying issues were on the agenda.  One, would they overplay their hand on the pursuit of Kevin Durant and will this team full of square pegs for round holes keep itself competitive in an improving Eastern Conference.

Lets answer the first question, the overplay.  Yes, the Wizards have stacked up all their chips in a grand attempt to woo DC native Kevin Durant to sign as a free agent this summer.  Do I believe it was the wrong strategy? I honestly don’t think so.  Currently as roster is constructed, there is the need for one more superstar to take the team to the next level, why not put everything on the table for this special talent, even if its a pipedream.  As we have seen for decades in the NBA, superstars win titles.  Thats just a fact.  The more talent you have on the roster, the better chance you truly have for winning major  hardware in June.  Now, I don’t believe that we will sign him because I think he will resign in Oklahoma City but its better to try (or atleast be in contention to try) than to not have a shot at all.

Secondly, for all of the funky positions that players on the roster have had to play this season either because of the injury factor (most missed games by injury in the league) or by roster construction, the new “Pace and Space” offensive system hasn’t worked the way we all envisioned it to.  Not having a true stretch big really hurts what the offense is supposed to accomplish.  Jared Dudley has done a yeoman’s job trying to be that guy, but at this point of his career, he shouldn’t be the main guy opposing defenses have to acknowledge on that end of the floor.  Guys like Otto Porter and Kris Humphries have tried to stretch the floor but as of today are not able to do that on a consistent basis.

 

As I stated earlier, the injury bug ravaged this team in the first half.  Brad Beal started off the season on fire averaging over 20 points per game and becoming that guy we all wanted him to be, but again a stress fracture in his leg caused him to miss 20 games and is now on a minutes restrictions.  If that wasn’t enough, Nene missed 19 games himself.  Add off season pickup Alan Anderson to the injury heap as he has not seen the floor this season.  Multiple games missed by Drew Gooden, Humphries, Porter, and Gary Neal has given coach Randy Wittman very little to work with at any given moment.

 

It has taken a yeoman’s effort from our resident All-Star John Wall for this team to hover around the .500 mark at this point in the season.  During the first month of the season, Wall was, for lack of a better term, lackluster.  After some self reflecting, he came out in December and played the best basketball of his life and earned December Player of the Month in the Eastern Conference, the first for the Wizards franchise since 2006.  Wall also won Player of the Week for the week of January 17th as well.  Without his stellar play, this team would be competing wit the likes of the Lakers and Sixers for the #1 overall selection in the next draft.

 

All in all, this team, when healthy, can make a run for the playoffs.  Four games out of the divisional lead isn’t an insurmountable lead but something needs to change.  Whether its using one of the pieces on the roster for an upgrade or what.  The inconsistency is killing the fan base.  There is starting to be an apathetic feel for the team and that shouldn’t be the case because the team is still growing.  But lethargic losses to the likes of the Lakers, Blazers etc are causing this team to become an afterthought in its own city.

 

 

We liked that…but TALENT matters

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Good season fellas.

I am proud of what the team accomplished this season.

But at the end of the day, talent matters.

Today in the NFC Wild Card matchup between my Skins and the Green Bay Packers, I watched a top tier QB do what top tier QB’s are PAID to do, beat an inferior product and make winning plays when it mattered.

Was that a product of a defense that didn’t bring their best effort today? Sure…but in the playoffs, even the BEST QBs are humbled by the bright lights and better teams.  Hall of Famers such as Peyton Manning have a losing playoff record.

The reason I bring this up, is the inevitable new contract that the Redskins now have to pay Kirk Cousins to remain our starter.  Don’t get ANY of what I’m about to say twisted, because HE earned the job, HE earned the new deal he’s about to receive, just look at it from the larger point of view and not as a Skins fan for a moment.

Kirk’s new deal will pay him probably around the 16-17 million dollar area.  I call that area the 2nd Tier QB Area…the Carson Palmers/ Matt Staffords/Tony Romos/Jay Cutlers of the world.  A couple of those guys that fit in that criteria have singlehandedly had to win ballgames for their teams, have had to use their singular talent to force results whether good/bad or indifferent, that is what’s expected once you reach that level on the pay scale.

With Kirk, as GREAT as he was the last 8 games of the season (and he was just that again, don’t get it twisted), he will never have a extended run of great quarterbacking as he had in these last 8 games.  Why? Because he just isn’t talented enough.  And that’s not a knock for him, 99% of the QBs that have ever played the game have had a run like that.  He will probably regress to the mean of the other Tier-type QBs because that’s what he is.  He CAN improve alot of things in his game, and he probably will, but honestly, he needs upper echelon talent around him (Jordan Reed, Desean Jackson etc) for his maximum effectiveness.

Just look at the QB’s that he will be grouped with once he signs his new deal:

Matt Ryan

Joe Flacco

Ryan Tannehill

Jay Cutler

Tony Romo

Matt Stafford

Alex Smith

Carson Plamer

Andy Dalton

Sam Bradford

 

A funky mix huh?

Going into next season, is Kirk as talented as these guys? Some yes, some no…

To me, this was one of the basis of the whole Robert Griffin issue.  In the new NFL, you need a Top Tier QB to win meaningful ballgames.  Top Tier guys are the most talented.  Talent sometimes wins games that you just aren’t supposed to win.  Talent makes plays most players just cant make.

 

All season, I’ve compared this season Kirk has had to the season Ryan Fitzpatrick had in Buffalo which was so great that they thought it was time to sign him to a massive extension WHILE that said season was still in session.  We all know how that turned out because he is now a NY Jet.

 

Fitzpatrick is a starting NFL QB…but when it was time to boogie in Week 16 vs Buffalo to make the playoffs, he threw 3 INTs in the 4th quarter when it mattered.  A more talented guy maybe doesn’t do that,  hell I dunno.  But in those pressure packed moments, its usually par for the course for the least talented QB to make crucial errors.

Obviously we need help and continuity in all phases, Kirk DEFINITELY needs a run game and I think with our new front office hierarchy, it looks like we have the start of putting the correct pieces in place for Kirk to grow and develop, I just hope Skins fans aren’t expecting him to produce top tier fireworks when he may just be the box of sprinklers you give your kids on the 4th of July.

Hail….