Sunday, September 4, 2011

Redskins cut two SM favorites

I will, of course, be postin a reaction to the entire 53 man roster. But it's so clear that more moves are coming (unless you really think the Redskins will keep eight receivers and only one backup interior lineman) that I am going to hold off for now until things look more settled.

But for now I'd like to address two cuts that were utterly unsurprising and yet noteworthy because they happened to players who I had spent a fair amount of time promoting on this blog.

Horatio Blades

He's not the fastest guy, and yet his very good instincts allowed him to sift through traffic and show up in the hole a step before the running back. And of course he's entirely too small, but when he was delivering the blows he routinely won collisions against much larger blockers. This was most noticeable in the second Dallas game of 2009, in which he repeatedly blew up the massive Leonard Davis whenever Davis attempted to pull.

Given Rocky McIntosh's constant struggles to get himself into the right gap in this defense, the solution to me seemed obvious. The coaches however, despite his solid play in spot duty, never seemed to consider him as a starter. And now that he reached free agency, they showed little interest, at least initially, in bringing him back. This was startling because a) it meant another year of Rocky McIntosh starting at one ILB spot and b) with London Fletcher's contract expiring at the end of the year it stands to reason they should be on the lookout for not one but two new starters.

When Blades was finally brought back in, he was already forced to compete for a backup spot with 2010 draft pick Perry Riley, and then was immediately buried even further with the free agent signing of Keyaron Fox.

Truthfully, Blades did himself no favors. He reacted angrily and publically (by tweet) after the Fox signing and, worse yet, apparently showed up in less than ideal shape. In fairness, his situation had to have been frustrating. After having been an understudy since 2007 and playing well whenever called upon, it must have looked like he was finally paying his dues and he was at the point in his career where he should really be given a chance. It's human nature to react poorly when you're not given an opportunity that you feel you have done more than enough to earn. That said, if you're convinced your team is trying to shove you out the door, it's best not to go giving them more reasons.

Keiland Williams

I had absolutley no expectations for Keiland Williams entering last season; at last no more than I would have for any other undrafted free agent. And, truthfully, at no point did he ever look like a world beater. But he was the type of well rounded player I always like. In preseason he was simply terrible in pass protection, but he improved dramatically as the year went on. There was still room for more progress - he tended to be too passive, and let the contact occur too deep in the backfield. But I took the steady improvement as evidence of coachability. And he was a boring but efficient runner who did not leave yards on the field. He always got what yards the blockers made available to him, though rarely any more. This was in stark contrast to Ryan Torain, who could turn nothing into something, but just as often would be offered something and turn it into nothing.

Mike Shanahan, however, definitely wants big play capability from his backs, and that left Keiland with little chance. I suppose the decision to give him a shot at fullback this year was a sign of respect for his efforts as they could have just dumped him if they had no use for him, but I still found the whole situation extremely odd. Especially since they seemed pretty intent on keeping Mike Sellers as an extra tight end, which would obviate the need for a backup fullback.

And yet, given the seemingly strong state of the Redskins running back corps, I really don't have a problem with what has happened. My main reason for wanting to keep Keiland in the mix was to avoid expending significant resources at running back while there were more pressing areas of need. As it is Roy Helu cost only a fourth round pick and probable starter Tim Hightower was acquired for Vonnie Holliday, who would have ended up as the fourth defensive end or even cut. So the Redskins managed to significantly upgrade the position at very little cost, and Keiland Williams became unnecessary. Can't argue with that.


  1. i was a huge HB Blades supporter throughout his career and was ecstatic when they resigned him... but after this preseason, he just looked lost during the games, was manhandled by the O-Line and had the worst reaction time and speed of any defensive player out there. kinda sad. his first few years, it looked as though he was being groomed to be the next London Fletcher.

  2. That was probably the poor conditioning showing itself. Hope he gets another chance somewhere, but the way he left DC doesn't help him at all.