Mr. Irrelevant’s Annual D.C. Pro Sports Team Power Rankings

I’m not sure if this is actually an *annual* ranking of the five major D.C. pro sports teams, but it is a nice time of year to do such a thing.

5. Washington Redskins

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As Tom Boswell so kindly points out, the past two Redskins seasons were the franchise’s worst since 1961. Incredible.

But! Short of Dan Snyder selling the team, the best possible thing that could happen just happened: They finally hired a real GM. And a highly regarded one to boot!

Of course, he has a drinking problem, and this is the Redskins. Our enthusiasm is curbed by hopelessness. Continue reading

The Wizards Have Four Healthy Small Forwards

Here with your weekly look at the Wiz is Mr. Irrelevant contributing writer Bryan Frantz.

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For your first Wizards update of 2015, we’re going to focus on the rotation at small forward now that Martell Webster has rejoined the team. With four players that all primarily play the position and are deserving of significant minutes, Washington has to sort it out.

Paul Pierce (The Starter)

Paul Pierce has been solid in his first season as a Wizard and is likely entrenched as the starter, though if one of the others dramatically steps up his game, he could be moved to the bench. The future Hall of Famer may not take nice to being replaced by one of the ragtag bunch that currently backs him up.

After all, the man won an NBA Championship and the Finals MVP in ’08. Do you think he’d be particularly enthused to be benched in favor of Martell Webster?

Martell Webster (The Newcomer)

Webster offers three-point shooting and athleticism, not to mention a great rapport with Marcin Gortat. He came to Washington with fellow small forward Trevor Ariza before the 2012-13 season and has started 75 games in a Wizards uniform, but he was eventually moved to the sixth man role in favor of Ariza. Ariza of course plays in Houston now, and after a hot start to the season is now struggling mightily. Before Thursday’s game, Ariza shot below 50 percent in 27 consecutive games, so that’s something to feel good about if you’re a Wizards fan.

Otto Porter Jr. (The Youngster)

Otto Porter Jr. was the third overall pick in the 2013 draft and had an incredibly disappointing rookie season, which was immediately derailed by a hip injury that forced him to miss the first 18 games. He never got back on track and his season, along with those of most of the 2013 draft class, was forgettable.

This season, Porter has shown flashes of the star he became at Georgetown, where he led the Hoyas in points, rebounds and steals in 2012-13. He had a career-high 21 points in the Wizards’ home opener back in November, when Pierce got ejected right before halftime. All but two of Porter’s points came in the second half.

He has scored in double-digits seven times this season, and at just 21 years old, his potential is enormous. Also, he makes a badass Ninja Turtle.

Rasual Butler (The Sharpshooter)

Last, but most assuredly not least, is “Casual” Rasual Butler. Butler, the last Wizard to make the roster, bounces around the top of the league in three-point shooting percentage, and he currently sits around 50 percent from deep. His shot selection is often questionable and sometimes preposterous, but for a 35-year-old making less than what Garrett Temple makes, he’s doing alright.

So, What Now?

Pierce isn’t likely to go anywhere, and I’d be surprised if Butler got traded too. Both players are savvy veterans who would likely only be targeted by teams who think they’re one savvy veteran away from a championship. Like the Wizards.

Webster and Porter are the most likely trade candidates, though it’s not as if Washington is dying to get rid of either one. Webster makes the most sense, as he doesn’t really offer anything that the Wizards can’t get from the other three and his contract is excessive at more than $5 million annually.

If Porter has a few more solid games in the coming weeks, he could be shipped out before the Feb. 19 trade deadline. The Wizards might want to capitalize on his value, and if they’re serious about making a run for Kevin Durant in 2016, there won’t be much room (or money) to keep Porter around past his rookie contract.

What Washington could use in return is backcourt help or a rim protector off the bench, but the likeliest scenario is all four remain on the team through the end of the season. It’s a good problem to have.

How Many Decent Players Do The Redskins Actually Have?

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This is an inexact tally, but if you care to see what new Redskins GM/recovering alcoholic/personnel guru/light beer drinker Scot McCloughlan has to work with, carry on.

What we’re trying to determine is how many players on the Redskins roster are legitimate NFL starters. In this case, that means they’re at least in the top half of starters at their position in the league. Meaning, if Robert Griffin III is one of the 16 best QBs, then he’s considered to be decent. If he is not, then he’s not. (Spoiler: He’s not.)

To help us figure this out we asked three national NFL writers for their take on the matter. They are Michael David Smith from Pro Football Talk, Bill Barnwell from Grantland and Will Brinson from CBS Sports. We thank them for their time. Here’s what they said …

1. Trent Williams (LT)

“Above average. I’m not as high on him as some people are — I wouldn’t put him in the Top 5 — but he’s certainly in the Top 16 left tackles in the NFL.” — MDS

Top five in the league at his position. — Barnwell

“Easiest guy on the list to say above average for between his talent and the lack of great offensive linemen.” — Brinson

Verdict: Way above average.

2. DeSean Jackson (WR)

“Way, way above average. Elite talent. Not sure I’ve ever seen a WR just keep making big plays no matter who his QB is the way Jackson does. Eagles would’ve been in the playoffs this year if they’d kept him.” — MDS

Above average, at least. — Barnwell

“Surprisingly good year for DeSean considering their terrible season; there aren’t many wideouts like him in the league.” — Brinson

Verdict: Way above average.

3. Ryan Kerrigan (OLB)

“Above average. Sack numbers are a little inflated by one big game against a terrible Jaguars offense, but he’s a good player.” — MDS

Above average. Not quite top five at his position. — Barnwell

“Definitely above average. Winning on the field.” — Brinson

Verdict: Way above average.

4. Tress Way (P)

“There are better people than me to analyze punters but from my observations I’d say average. Kicks it far but too returnable — looks like he sacrifices hang time for length, which makes it harder on his coverage units. I feel like he has the talent to be above average but a better special teams coach needs to get him more in tune with how to kick a less returnable ball.” — MDS

Average to above average. — Barnwell

“Statistically above average!” — Brinson

Verdict: Above average.

5. Alfred Morris (RB)

“Average. Just looked up his Football Outsiders stats. Almost exactly league average DVOA two years in a row. About right with what my eyes tell me.” — MDS

Average to above average, at least. — Barnwell

“Isn’t versatile or dynamic but he’s underrated and consistent. Had 1,000 yards. The 16th leading rusher in the NFL, Russell Wilson, had 849 yards.” — Brinson

Verdict: Average.

6. Pierre Garcon (WR)

“Average. Was overrated in 2013, caught a lot of passes but didn’t make the most of his opportunities.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

“Someone had to suffer after two dudes with 1,300 yards last year joined forces. Feel like he’s an above average WR2.” — Brinson

Verdict: Average.

7. Jordan Reed (TE)

“Average overall. a little above average as a receiver, a little below average as a blocker.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

“Has the talent to be above average, I think it would be close if you broke down the top 16 tight ends.” — Brinson

Verdict: Average.

8. Kory Lichtensteiger (C)

“Above average. Good run blocker. OK pass blocker.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

“Almost definitely maybe above average.” — Brinson

Verdict: Average.

9. Darrel Young (FB)

“Above average. Fullback is a dying position but with the limited stuff an NFL fullback is asked to do these days, he’s better at it than most.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

Verdict: Average.

10. Keenan Robinson (MLB)

“Average in 2014 but trending in the right direction. If he’s healthy I bet he’ll be an above-average player in 2015.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

Verdict: Slightly below average.

11. Chris Baker (DT)

“Average. One of those big guys you need in the middle but doesn’t make many splash plays.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

Verdict: Slightly below average.

12. Bashaud Breeland (CB)

“Below average. I didn’t see anyone playing even average in the Washington secondary this season.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

Verdict: Below average.

That’s it. Only 12 Redskins players even made it into the conversation. Of those 12, only nine came out average or better. Of those nine, excluding punters, only three were clearly above average at their position and only one plays defense.

Who knows what these numbers look like for a good team, or even an average team. All of which is to say, please join us in welcoming Scot McCloughlan.

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Note: We didn’t include Brian Orakpo here, because his contract is up, and we don’t expect him to return. And didn’t include DeAngelo Hall because, well, we forgot about D-Hall. Sorry, dude.

10 Reasons To Be Excited About The Top-10 Terps

Hello there. While we’ve been away, Maryland basketball shockingly ascended to No. 9 in the Coaches Poll. We’re surprised and delighted by this, so here to explain it are Mr. Irrelevant Maryland sports correspondents JP Finlay, Brad Parker and Andy Peden.

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1. Melo!

Ah yes, freshman sensation Melo Trimble. We’ll let Grantland take this one:

“He’s the best player on the best team in the Big Ten.”

2. Interior D!

Defensive bigs Damonte Dodd (sophomore) and Jonathan Graham (senior) protect the rim and rebound.

3. Nickens & Wiley & Pack!

In addition to Trimble, two freshman (Jared Nickens and Dion Wiley) and a senior (Richaud Pack) in the backcourt are averaging a combined 31 PPG.

4. Layman without Dez!

Junior forward Jake Layman has stepped up, averaging over 17 PPG during the seven games Dez Wells missed. Overall, he’s shooting 40% from three and 55% the field.

5. Scoring depth!

It’s been awhile since Maryland could rely on more than one or two guys every night. Now there are about seven who could get hot from deep in any game and can close out games at the line. Speaking of …

6. Free throws!

Free throws are a reliable way to score. If you’re getting to the line 26 times a night that’s huge.

7. Quality wins!

Wins over Iowa St. and Michigan St. and Oklahoma St. and Arizona St. (and any other state) are wins that matter in March.

8. Intangibles!

This team is playing hard and playing together. There’s a toughness that’s been missing.

9. The Future!

There are two non-seniors (Melo and Layman) who might end up in the NBA eventually but aren’t going anywhere next season. Plus they don’t have to rebuild when the four seniors graduate, because they have seven players coming back.

10. March!

There may actually be some meaningful games for Maryland to play this time around.

Skins Postmortem: ‘We Are The Team Everybody Loves To Hate’

Here with his guest post for predicting the Redskins’ loss at Arizona is frequent guest contributor Michael McElroy (@Mikeyvanili on Twitter).

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Hello fans of the Washington Football Team.

According to Dictionary.com, the word postmortem has two primary definitions:

1. of, relating to, or occurring in the time following death.
2. occurring after the end of something; after the event.

Following the Washington [Redacted]s 2014 NFL season, I prefer to think of this post as the former, not the latter. I don’t have much to say about this season overall other than I never realized that hate and despair could be so interwoven with apathy.

Continue reading

Redskins-Cowboys Winners & Losers

Handing out labels following Skins games, this time a 44-17 season-ending loss to Dallas.

Winners

DeSean Jackson — He made yet another big play, this time a 69-yard touchdown, to cap off a season full of them. They call him King Turd up here on Shit Mountain, but if you want it you can have the crown.

Losers

Jay Gruden — Lost by 27 to a rival with nothing to gain, finishing 4-12 with no hope, though he does still have a job.

Robert Griffin III — Two picks in the red zone, one fumble for six the other way and boatloads of doubt heading into 2015.

Jim Haslett — One more steaming pile from the Haz. PSGO.

Special teams coach whose name I never remember – Fell for the onside kick.

David Amerson — Burnt by Dez Bryant, burnt by Terrance Williams.

E.J. Biggers — That facemask tackle was textbook horseshit.

Pierre Garcon blindsides Cowboys defender

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Pierre Garcon — The late block that set off a melee after RGIII’s TD was fine by me.

Roy Helu — The little move he pulled on the fake reverse was nice.

Draft position — We have the fifth overall pick to look forward to.

(GIF taken with love from The Big Lead.)

Redskins-Cowboys Predictions

No one picked the Redskins to beat Philly last week, so know one gets to make a guest post! What a perfect way to end this season. High fives all around.

Now, here are our crackerjack staff’s scientific predictions for this week’s game. Make yours down in the comments. Whoever comes closest becomes a published author on this here weblog.

Matt Terl: Redskins, 28-24

Dallas pulls their starters at the half. Washington wins and is way, way too happy about it.

Andy Peden: Redskins, 27-17

Two-game win streak + offseason champs + eight months to forget we suck = stupidly high expectations for 2015.

Continue reading

Tickets To The Winter Classic At Nats Park Are Absurd

Here with a look at the ticket market for Caps-Blackhawks on New Year’s Day is Mr. Irrelevant Tickets partner TiqIQ.

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The average price for tickets to the Winter Classic at Nationals Park on New Year’s Day is $487, which makes it the third-most expensive Winter Classic since TiqIQ started tracking the market five years ago. The only Winter Classic with more expensive tickets came at Citizens Bank Park in 2012 when the Rangers visited the Flyers. That year, there were plenty of Rangers’ fans who made the trip down 95, which was a big part in driving ticket prices above the $500 mark. This year, only the most die-hard of Blackhawk fans will be making the 700-mile trip to D.C. to see the Blackhawks play in their second Winter Classic.

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This Year’s Top Five Bowl Games, According To A Guy Who Loves College Football

Here with a guest post for absolutely nailing his Redskins-Giants prediction is RunsLikeDeer (AKA @JGrat21).

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Greetings all, I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday season. A Redskins win sure does help the Christmas week get that much sweeter, and I look forward to a potential season sweep of Dallas this weekend. I will say I did not see that Eagles win coming at all and I commend the guys on their effort and the fans who ventured to the game.

With the Skins season winding down, I give you this guest post as a little bowl games watch guide. You can take it for what it’s worth, but I love me some college football, and I want to spread my joy and passion about it to all.

I won’t include the Miami Beach Bowl, but that was everything I could have asked for from a game being played in a baseball stadium in Miami on a Monday afternoon. Back and forth all game, double overtime, a 54-yard field goal that would have been good from 64 and a brawl at the end. There’s not much else I need in a game. But I digress … Here are my top five bowl games to watch.

5. Belk Bowl: Dec. 30th, 6:45 p.m., Louisville (9-3) vs. Georgia (9-3)

Probably the most underrated bowl game in my opinion. Two good teams squaring off, but it must be noted that my team plays in the ACC and Georgia is always a team I enjoy watching so this is my only “homer” pick.

4. Cotton Bowl: Jan. 1st, 12:30 p.m., Baylor (11-1) vs. Michgian St. (10-2)

So excited to see how Baylor will play after being left out of the playoffs. Do they show up and take their anger out on Sparty or do they mail it in like Alabama did last year in the Sugar? And who doesn’t like waking up hungover on NYD and having a great game on right away?

3. Sugar Bowl: Jan. 1st, 8:30 p.m., Bama (12-1) vs. Ohio State (12-1)

Was ready to put this game higher in my rankings but just turn on eSECpn and they will take care of that for you. I think Bama has got this, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Urban get B1G on Bama and shake some things up.

2. Peach Bowl: Dec. 31st, 12:30 p.m., TCU (11-1) vs. Ole Miss (9-3)

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Mr. Irrelevant is a D.C. sports blog covering the Redskins, Nationals, Orioles, Wizards, Capitals, Terrapins and more.