Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hibachi Warm, Wizards Cold in Opener

The Wizards dropped their season opener in a 119-110 overtime loss to Indiana on the road. We did not, unfortunately, look very good, as several parts of our game let us down. Poor shooting, a common culprit for this team, hurt us again: the Wiz shot 36% from the field. We bricked too many 3's (6 for 20) and let the Pacers make too many (13 for 29). Worst of all was our performance from the charity stripe: 13 missed free throws.

But despite their poor play, I don't think the Wizards play was Halloween-frightful. There were some things to be pleased about, foremost among them Gilbert Arenas' first crowd-pleasing moment of the year. Agent Zero buried a 3-pointer from deep downtown as time expired to send the game into OT. (See video here. Ignore the fact that the Wizards then failed to show up during the extra period.) This was Arenas' first regular season game in almost 7 months, and it looks like his hard work in rehabbing his knee have paid off. Although he didn't dominate the floor this game, and he only made 1 of 8 3-pointers, he certainly looked like he had his wind. 34 points is not a bad welcome back.

Like Arenas, Caron Butler also had his last season curtailed abruptly due to injury. This was also his first game back, and he looked a lot more rusty. He did lead the team in minutes in this game and I'm sure he's going to get better, but tonight his shot was rusty and he was turnover-prone (8!). He also missed 3 free throws in the deciding seconds of regulation that could have turned the game our way. C'mon Tuff Juice!

I don't want to overanalyze the team from just one game, so I'll leave off by complimenting two players who had good games for us. Antawn Jamison, the other member of our Big Three (though maybe we should be the Little Three now since Boston has K.G./Allen/Pierce) had an off-shooting night (17 missed FGs) but still scored 27 points. More importantly, he was a beast on the boards, leading all players with 16. 'Tawn is a streaky shooter, but I'm sure once Caron and others put up more points, he won't have to attempt 25 shots in a game.

Lastly, props to Brendan Haywood, who I usually malign, for putting up a solid double-double (10 pts., 13 rebounds). He didn't have to deal with Jermaine O'Neal (sat out this game) so he actually looked like a decent big man tonight.

Next up: much-anticipated game against Boston on the road Friday night!

J. Camp's Growing Pains

The D.C. Sports Bog by the Washington Post's Dan Steinberg takes a look at Jason Campbell's performance this season as compared to the other 16 quarterbacks who have started every game for their team. The verdict? Not great.

Campbell is dead last (17th of 17) in completions, passing yards, yards per game, and QB rating. Only Eli Manning has a worse completion percentage, and only Matt Schaub (who has missed time recently due to injury) has thrown fewer touchdowns.

Cause for concern? Certainly a little is warranted, given the offense's struggles to move the football and score points the past few weeks. The complete absence of a running game has both underscored the need for Campbell to play better, and made it harder for him to do so. The offensive line being ravaged by injury is hugely responsible for the offense's struggle through the air and on the ground, but the Redskins need and should get more production from J. Camp.

(Btw, what is a good nickname for Jason Campbell? "J. Camp" or some variant thereof seems to most common, but it, like his play, has not been "M'm m'm good". If he is able to resurrect this team and become the Redskins' messiah, then I think it's fair to call him Our Savior J.C. But we're not there yet.)

Most of the time, when you watch Campbell, you see a guy with tremendous potential: he has a huge arm, looks comfortable in the pocket, and exudes leadership like a veteran. But too often we (still) see his passes sailing way over the heads of receivers, or him making questionable reads, or (in last weekend's debacle against the Patriots) doing a poor job just holding onto the football. While I still think this guy is going to be a terrific QB for us, it's not unreasonable to fear that he might be a Jeff George-type: strong arm, poor accuracy.

Honestly, I think the patchwork offensive line will limit Campbell's growth this year. The running game is not scaring any defenses, and he needs more time to throw in the pocket. I think the most shocking statistic for the Redskins (who, despite all the gloom surrounding this team in the aftermath of The-Game-Which-Must-Not-Be-Referenced, are still 4-3 and very much alive) is that none of the WRs has a TD, and big-play Santana Moss (only 20 catches so far) is on pace to post another season decline in output after 84 catches in 2005, 55 last year.

So for Redskins fans looking for Jason Campbell to breakout and affirm his status as the future face of the franchise, the answer is one they've heard before: wait till next year.


Well, maybe this is more of a re-introduction then something completely brand new. While DSA was on hiatus, logging one post in the past six months, it missed out on a plethora of fun-for-blogging topics, including Barry Bonds setting the all-time HR record, the Tim Donaghy NBA fixing scandal, Mike Vick's dogfighting downfall, Bill Belichick cheating, short-lived Beckhamania in the States, and half of the current NFL season.

Also missing, an expose on how someone must have put steroids in the Boston-area tap water, because that region is winning everything right now. The Red Sox just swept the World Series. The 8-0 Patriots are running up scores and looking like an all-time-great team. #2 Boston College is undefeated and gunning for a national title. And the Celtics are about to start play with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joining Paul Pierce in hopes of dominating a weak Eastern Conference.

On top of all that--yes, maybe I'm just jealous--Red Sox fans must be the most annoying in all of sports! Memo to you people: the Red Sox are the new Evil Empire. You may think of yourselves as the anti-Yankees, but everyone in the U.S. outside of New England can't tell you and "big money" NYY apart. In fact, it looks like the Yankees might be headed for a rebuilding mode (if their team ever has such a thing), so enjoy polishing your World Series trophy and being the new bad guys on the block.

Anyway, I hope to be back on the blog on a regular basis now, until whenever I next run out of steam. The site's layout has been revamped in the past week, but I'm most pleased that the URL has been officially converted to (but no worries, the old still works). Let's have some fun!