Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I feel like talking (or more accurately, ranting) about roster sizes. I got to thinking about this when I thought about a player I’m really rooting for, Anthony Aldridge. He’s really, really fast, and plays running back (whereas usually guys with his speed are WRs or DBs). He’s a little guy so definitely not an every down back, or even a second stringer. But with so many teams successfully using 3 backs nowadays, wouldn’t a guy like that be perfect as the 3rd running back? Give him a few carries, and if he pops one, he’s taking it the distance. A home run hitter. Exactly what the Skins need because they seem to move the ball fairly well between the 20s – but they bog down a lot in the red zone. Home run hitters cure bogging down.

The problem. Rock Cartwright is very valuable on special teams. Even if he’s replaced as a kick returner, which might be a mistake because he’s very solid, he’s great as a guy covering kickoffs and punts. But I don’t think the Skins can keep both because Aldridge may not be helpful on special teams, unless he covers kickoffs. And you need more than speed to be a good kickoff returner (can he see the right holes and running lanes? I hope we find out if he has that skill in preseason). My guess is he’s not as good on returns as Rock, and will be left off the roster. I want both of them, though!!! But when you’re only allowed 53 (and only 45 to dress), it means you have to actually cut players who could help your team. And that’s just stupid, isn’t it? Any my best guess for that is the owners are too cheap to expand the rosters. Not all of them, but enough to be in the majority on the issue.

But here’s why I think their cheapness hurts the game. 1) It’s the most violent sport –why are you putting such a tough limit on depth? Not to mention, you can’t hit as hard in practice because a lot of your regulars may be beat up by mid-season, or you want to really avoid getting them injured in practice, 2) You can’t groom younger players – yes, I know that’s what the practice squad is for, but you may groom a player all year and really like him, but if another team places him on their active roster, you lose him. That’s idiotic! What other sport grooms players that they can lose? It’s fair to the player, but if they increased the roster size by at least three, and kept the rest as a practice squad, it would work better. Most likely only 1 or 2 of your practice squad guys are worthy of being on a roster, so you probably wouldn’t lose anyone off the squad.

But here’s where you can get creative with roster sizes. Couldn’t each team use an extra field goal kicker? So many games are decided by 3 points or less—why should a game be impacted so greatly if your kicker gets injured in the first quarter? And I’m not talking about a Martin Grammatica celebration injury, I’m talking what if when someone tries blocking a FG, they dive into your kicker’s leg and it breaks. The rest of the game, you’re punished for that because you probably won’t have anyone to kick field goals beyond 20 yards. So, it makes all the sense in the world to have 2 kickers. One could be one of those 40 year old veteran FG kickers, and the other a young guy with a powerful leg who could learn at the feet of the vet. And the young guy would probably handle kickoffs, and maybe even practice punting so he can be an emergency back up there, too.

What about four 4 QBs? Plenty of teams might like that option. That way you can hedge your bets by grooming two young ones. In the Redskins case, they may put Chase Daniel on the practice squad, and most likely some team won’t snag him, but what if they do and he turns out great? All because of a stupid rule.

Only allowed to dress 45 on game day to me is just as stupid. Do the owners save that much money by deactivating 6 players? What other possible reason besides cheapness would they limit it to 45? One reason I’ve heard is that expanded rosters will lead to competitive imbalance. Huh? Huh?! Am I missing something or is that a mind-numbingly stupid reason? Having only 45 dress hurts the game because players ON BOTH TEAMS get injured all the time. Having more bodies helps both teams. Seriously, what am I missing? And what if you’re in a blowout game? Why not save the vets’ legs, and put more kids in. If owners can’t afford a few extra players on gameday and a few extra on the roster, they should sell to someone who can afford to be an owner. The game shouldn’t have to suffer for their cheapness. Am I right?

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