Saturday, January 23, 2016

Prioritizing Keenan Robinson

by Waleo

The top priority for the Washington Redskins is to resign quarterback Kirk Cousins.  Deservingly so, Cousins threw for 4,166 yards—Redskins’ single season passing record for a quarterback.  Cousins showed his worth and should be up for a big payday, however there is another player/free agent that the Redskins should prioritize and bring back.

Inside linebacker Keenan Robinson was benched due to injury and good play by inside linebackers Will Compton and Mason Foster.  Fans and experts were enamored with the fine play of Foster and Compton and have forgotten about the talent Robinson possesses.  This season in only 12 games, eight as a starter, Robinson totaled 63 tackles compared to 109 tackles in 13 games as a starter last season.  Many observers looked at Robinson as a rising star in his 2014 campaign. In 2014, Washington Post sports writer Elliot Smith said “Keenan Robinson is a find at middle linebacker.”   Maurice Barksdale from Riggo’s Rag ( said “Robinson’s play [is] approaching pro bowl level.”  Finally, Tarik EL-Bashir from Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic said “Robinson’s combination of size (6’3, 238), athleticism and instincts figure to make him [a] starter in middle of the Redskins’ defense for years to come.”

At the age of 26, he still has the opportunity to be one of the better inside linebackers in game.  For an inside linebacker Robinson has excellent sideline to sideline speed, good tackler, and a smart player.   When you look at today’s top level defenses you see star inside linebackers with exceptional sideline to sideline speed.  The Carolina Panthers have Luke Kuechly, the Minnesota Vikings Eric Kendrick, and Seattle Seahawks Bobby Wagner.  The Redskins must be careful on how they handle the free agent Robinson.  The Redskins should appreciate the work that Compton and Foster showed during their run to the postseason but they shouldn’t ignore the more talented guy who happens to be a free agent.

A healthy Robinson potentially could be a pro bowl inside linebacker.  Redskins’ tight end Jordan Reed had a similar problem.  He also couldn’t stay healthy.  Matter of fact tight end Niles Paul was over Reed within the Redskins’ depth chart due to the fact that Reed was nursing an injury during camp.  Paul got hurt and Reed was able to put together one of the best seasons for a Redskins’ tight end (87 receptions, 952 receiving yards, and 11 touchdowns).  Reed is more talented tight end than Paul and he got to show it.  Hopefully the Redskins don’t make the mistake of putting more value in Compton and Foster than Robinson.  

The blessing for the Redskins is that Robinson likes being in the Washington, DC area.  Robinson stated “that the team believed in [him] and trusted [him] when [he] had injuries back early in [his] career.”   The Redskins put faith in him in 2014; hopefully that continues in the offseason of 2016.  Only time will tell. 

Check out the Urban Sports Scene podcast show every Tuesday from 8-9 pm ET.  Also check out the Soul~N~Sports on Fox Sports Radio 1340 AM Hopewell, Virginia Monday-Friday from 5-7 pm ET. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Home Court Becoming a Disadvantage as Wizards Fall to Portland on MLK Day

By The USS Blogger

The Washington Wizards suffered yet another defeat on their home floor as the Portland Trailblazers came into the nation’s capital and put on a dominant performance in a 108 – 98 victory.  This defeat for Washington marks the thirteenth loss at Verizon Center, seven of which have come by way of double digits as the midway point of the 2015-16 season nears. As has been the case throughout a season filled with injuries and uninspired play, the franchise is left with many questions, and quite honestly Wizards head coach Randy Wittman appears to be running out of answers. I can see it now; Coach Wittman will eventually start donning a custom made T-shirt reading “STRAIGHT OUTTA ANSWERS.”

After watching his team fall behind by as many as 24 points in the 3rd quarter, Coach Wittman has to be wondering if his message is getting through to his players.  The team came out of the gates flat.  They were outscored in the first quarter 32-17.  Defensively, the Wizards appeared a step behind the Blazers who displayed crisp ball movement and knocked down 17 three pointers at a 54% rate. Following the game, Wittman stated “we had no energy or intensity at the defensive end at all to start the game.”

Here is in part where the questions begin to further arise in response to the Wizards effort. Was this a hangover stemming from a tough defeat at the hands of the Boston Celtics on Saturday? Was the lack of effort and intensity a result of the well documented rash of injuries? Is the head coach properly preparing a team that often appears demoralized when shots are not falling? 

What is well known around the NBA and most professional sports is that defense wins championships and based on Wittman’s tenure as coach, this team is capable of excelling on the defensive end.  The wide spread notion within this organization remains is that a healthy Wizards team can turn this season around. Optimum health can result in better team moral and perhaps better effort, however players must be in tune with their head coach which leaves us with yet another question.  Are they?

In his postgame presser, Coach Wittman repeatedly stated “I don’t have an answer” in response to questions while indicating that change is needed which starts with him. Well coach, a sustainable solution is required to salvage this season or someone could find themselves straight out of a job. 

Check out the Urban Sports Scene podcast show every Tuesday from 8-9 pm ET.  Also check out the Soul~N~Sports on Fox Sports Radio 1340 AMHopewell, Virginia Monday-Friday from 5-7 pm ET. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Wizards Cold Shooting Leads to Blowout Loss Versus Heat

By The USS Blogger

If there was a time where you wanted to cancel your Verizon service, tonight was the night as the Washington Wizards fell at home to the Miami Heat 97 - 75. You could hear a pin drop at Verizon Center as the Wizards gave one of their more uninspiring efforts of the 2015-2016 season and as a matter of fact, the loudest ovation of the night was in recognition of hip hop recording artist Wale, who was in attendance at the game.

The Wizards recorded the seconded lowest point total in a quarter this season with a mere seven second quarter points and for the game shot a woeful 34% from the field. The Wizards, who head coach Randy Wittman describes as a perimeter team, were 4 out of 29 on three pointers and when asked about the over reliance on perimeter shots Wittman gave an uninspiring answer of “that’s who we are, who do you want me to post up?”. Honestly, his response, as baffling as it was stifled me a bit. However, the answer is coach Wittman DRIVE THE BALL. One could argue that Miami Heat starting center Hassan Whiteside’s six blocks in large part forced the Wizards into jump shots, however Washington at times displayed an ability to get to the rim including guard Ramon Sessions who missed several shots at the basket.

From a positive perspective, the Wizards are missing key personnel, most notably shooting guard Bradley Beal who was sorely missed tonight as his shooting ability was desperately needed. However, whether it’s cold shooting or injuries that are causing the team to struggle, I believe coaches must make the proper adjustments which didn’t happen in this game. Many have questioned the decision making of coach Wittman and tonight I felt as though he and the team threw in the towel a bit early as star guard John Wall sat out most of the fourth quarter. With the game seemingly out of reach, some will agree to rest Wall, but when a team is below .500 and out of playoff contention, you again may want to rethink your game strategies.

The Wizards just a few weeks ago defeated the Miami Heat in Miami and days prior to that victory the Wizards defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers who will be in town on this upcoming Wednesday. The Heat made adjustments and it paid off as evidenced by tonight’s thumping. Question now is, will the Cavs do the same or will Randy Wittman alter his game plan and lead his team to a victory? Time will tell, but a sense of urgency needs to set in for this Wizards team quickly.

Check out the Urban Sports Scene podcast show every Tuesday from 7:30-9:30 pm ET.  Also check out the Soul~N~Sports on Fox Sports Radio 1340 AMHopewell, Virginia Monday-Friday from 5-7 pm ET.

Ray Rogers interviewing Dwyane Wade.