Monday, July 21, 2008

Sunday Bloody Sunday

When does an NFL season begin? According to the NFL the first day of the league year is March 1. The preseason this year begins with the Hall of Fame game, three weeks from yesterday, featuring the Colts and Redskins. The regular season now opens on a Thursday (September 4, Redskins at Giants, coincidentally), but most teams open on that Sunday. But if you define the season starting when teams are allowed to start practicing in pads, the the 2008 NFL season began yesterday with the Washington Redskins first practice. It didn't go well.

The Redskins lost starting end Philip Daniels for the year an hour in. They also lost end Alex Busbee for the year and Fred Smoot for the day. By dinner they traded a 2009 2nd rounder and a 2010 6th rounder for 2006 Defensive Player of the Year and 2008 Dancing with the Stars runner up Jason Taylor. What I had heard during the draft was that the high bid for Jason Taylor was a 3rd round pick, which is a steal for a guy you can be reasonably certain will get you 10 sacks. It's generally accepted that a draft pick from the following year is worth a round less, so next year's 2nd is worth this year's 3rd, and a 2010 6th is worth less than a 7th this year. In other words, the Redskins package is the equivalent of what Miami turned down during the draft.

The most obvious result of the deal is that the Redskins now have arguably the best set of defensive ends in the NFL, with Taylor and Andre Carter. Mike Florio really breaks it down at Sporting News, and seems to favor the Dolphins slightly in the trade. Peter King is fascinated by how quickly the trade went down, and thinks that any package for Favre has to be greater than the one for Taylor. I think there is a far greater market for Taylor. Taylor step right in and can start on any team in the NFL; Favre would have to learn a new playbook and wouldn't start on at least five teams.

I think Washington went from being a 6-10 or 7-9 team to 9-7. Looking at the NFC East on paper, the only team that looks better than the Skins is the Cowboys. The Giants lose Strahan and have the subtraction by addition of Shockey. Washington was weak last year at receiver, and they really weren't generating a pass rush until late in the season. Now they add two of the top receivers in the draft and a top five defensive end.

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