The Sports Daily > Redskins Hog Heaven
The GOOD NEWS hidden within Redskins’ season start

Leonard Hankerson and Robert Griffin III
I can think of another “bright spot” to add to Scott Hirsh’s story. The Redskins are the highest scoring team in the NFC East. Not a bright spot – Washington is the most scored against team in the NFC East.

Washington, in fact, ranks 27th in scoring defense. Yikes, that upsets Hog Heaven’s whole premise for 2012 success. We thought the defense would plow the path to recovery. Robert Griffin III will be a success, but defenses will decipher what the Shanahan’s are up to over the next four games. They should defend better thereafter.

It’s disconcerting to see our defense give up 63 points over two games, and then lose Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker for the season. I had hoped to avoid shootouts.

Richie Pettibon says he pays attention to just two stats to evaluate a defense, turnovers and third-down stops. There’s good news on the turnover front. Washington leads the league on net take-aways with +5. On third-down stops, the home team is so-so, ranked 18th allowing a 39.1 percent success rate. That has to get better.

In days past, Washington relied on “proven talent,” a.k.a. veterans from other places, to fill in the gap. The New Age Redskins are turning to youthful exuberance. We are looking at Jarvis Jenkins to grow up fast to replace Carriker. Rob Jackson and Chris Wilson try to occupy attention from opposing tackles so that rival teams don’t roll Ryan Kerrigan.

In the argument between youth and strength vs. old age and cunning, Mike Shanahan sides with youth. That feels good, even to a cunning old-schooler like me.

Want more proof that the young shall inherit the roster spot? NFL.com’s Gil Brandt complimented both Rams rookie running back Darly Richardson and Redskins rookie Alfred Morris, and the scouts who found them. Both are 2012 third-day Draft picks.  

Those are the players you want to take a chance on, says Brandt. The Redskins spurned the tactic of building the roster from the bottom and the middle until recently. I think that will pay off starting next season.

Does that strike you as taking too long? Consider the Washington Nationals who clinched a MLB playoff spot last night. Their rise to prominence coincided with Mike Rizzo’s promotion to (defacto) GM in 2009. Rizzo found the right mix of contributing veterans and rising young stars in a genuine rebuild of the team. Nats owner Ted Lerner is wealthier than Daniel Snyder, according to Forbes Magazine. Yet, he held the team to a strict budget. That forced the Nats front office to to make smarter decisions about players. Here’s the punchline – that required the Nats to find smarter front office people and give them their head.

It turns out that rebuilding is the fastest way to contention. Snyder did not buy into that for most of his ownership. He demanded quick fixes from his people, but it was Hobbit logic. The more he tried with shortcuts, the farther he was from winning. Even Shanahan succumbed in his first season. Now, he seems to be taking a page from the Nationals’ book.

I finally got around to some Hog Heaven housekeeping. The 2012 Schedule and Scores page is live (finally.) We swept the inactive sites from the Hog Heaven Blogroll, except for The Curly R. My deep respect for Redskins essayist Ben Folsom compels me to keep the link alive.

The last to-do is the Redskins Roster page. This year, I will point you to media sites. Rosters are great landing pages, but it has become a chore for a 1.5-man shop to maintain. Others do it better. We will point you to them and trust you will come back.

The folks at Let Me Hear Ya say that 18 of you tuned into my Hog Heaven commentary during last Sunday’s game. That’s 17 more than I expected. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I will broadcast comments during Sunday’s Bengals game in this experimental effort to see where the technology leads. To tune in, go to my profile page shortly before kick-off and follow the steps to hear it over your TV sets.

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Image Source: September 15, 2012, Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America via zimbio.com