One of the new additions for DCPSR coverage in 2013 will be a more regular Stock Up and Stock Down report in the DC sports world. We have done this in the past, but are committed to doing this article on a much more regular basis. Generally, we will provide 5 Stock Ups and 5 Stock Downs.
RB Alfred Morris: Must you ask why. The rookie 7th round pick out of Florida Atlantic only rushed for 200 yards on 33 carriers and scored 3 touchdowns in the final week of the regular season that boosted the Redskins to their first NFC East Division title since 1999. Morris would give credit to his offensive line. So do we. However, let's not be shy about praise for the young running back. His vision was excellent, his cut backs were effective, and his hard running style was expected. That's just the way he plays. He also set the Washington Redskins single season rushing mark, ousting former RB Clinton Portis as record holder. You can bet, with a hobbled Robert Griffin III and the presence of big, physical corners, Seattle's defensive game plan will be centered around not letting Morris control and ultimately win the game for Washington.
LB Rob Jackson: The former seventh round pick has had a terrific year, after being thrust into action early when Brian Orakpo went down for the season with a pec tear. His solid play continued against Dallas, recording a big pass deflection and an amazingly athletic interception of Tony Romo. It was Jackson's fourth pick of the season. His impact continues to impress and may very well raise questions of what to do next season when Brian Orakpo returns.
LB London Fletcher: The ageless wonder continues to be the dominating presence on the Redskins defense and has helped lead the defense since the bye week back to at least a level of consistency. In the Dallas game, Fletcher recorded 4 solo tackles 7 assists, and 2 sacks. An incredible effort that helped fuel an impressive defensive effort against Dallas.
Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett: Haslett crafted a masterful defensive scheme against the Dallas Cowboys. Along with Morris' 200 yards rushing, Haslett deserves most of the credit for the big 28-18 win over Dallas and the clinching of the division title and playoffs. His game plan confused Dallas QB Tony Romo and forced Romo into some pretty awful turnovers. Although we fully expect Haslett to return, he has drawn some interest around the NFL for head coaching possibilities, a clear testament to what he has done with an injury riddled and with lesser talent on the Washington defense. The Redskins will turn to Haslett again this week to draft a game plan to confuse and control Seattle rookie QB Russell Wilson.
G Braden Holtby: While the NHL is locked out, most of Washington Capitals veterans are playing in Europe. Braden Holtby took assignment to Caps affiliate Hershey Bears. Got to feel for the kid. After a stunningly impressive performance late last season and in the NHL playoffs, Holtby was set to secure his first starting goalie job in the NHL. Instead, the owners and players chose greed over the fans. Holtby put together an impressive month of December and was named the AHL's Goalie of the Month. Holtby appeared in 10 games in December and posted a 1.69 GAA and a .943 save percentage. Overall, Holtby has posted a 2.15 GAA and a .932 save percentage. With the NHL lockout possibly nearing resolution, this is the perfect time for Holtby to being playing his best hockey.
Washington Wizards: The whole damn team deserves it. They suck. The Wiz are a miserable 4-26 and many of the 26 losses the Wizards simply do not even look like an NBA caliber basketball team. The Wizards posted a miserable 3-10 record in the month of December. First round pick Bradley Beal is only averaging 12.5 points per game and shooting 35.6% from the field. Meanwhile, 2011 first round pick Jan Vesely has played in 22 games and has averaged just 2.2 points per game Yes, 2.2. Obviously a solid job drafting by the Washington front office.
Ted Leonsis: It is getting more and more difficult to defend Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis. His Washington Wizards sit at 4-26, his GM Ernie Grunfield has an overall won/loss record of 287-462. The trade of Rashard Lewis for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza was stupid. The Wizards will pay out these 2 contracts for a combined $43 Million for the next 2 years for "veteran presence". You can't even justify that. Yet, somehow, Ernie Grunfield retains the confidence of Leonsis. How? How is that possible? Leonsis was not shy about firing former Caps head coach Bruce Boudreau at a record of 12-9 last season. Yet, the Wizards are posting a horrific 4-26 record and Grunfield is still at Verizon Center. Completely dumbfounded. Furthermore, several reports suggest that Leonsis has been one of the defining NHL owner hardliners in the CBA talks with the NHL players. Significant damage has been done to the sports a whole and to the fan base of the NHL, which was still in recovery mode from the previous lockout. Again, it is getting harder and harder to defend or understand Leonsis' positions.
F Nicklas Backstrom: Just as speculation builds that the NHL and NHLPA are nearing a deal to save the season, Backstrom gets injured playing in Europe. Backstrom suffered a bruised neck in a game in Russia on December 26, 2012. Backstrom's agent exclaimed the injury to possibly be week to week. That suggests that if there is a resolution soon to the NHL lockout, the Caps may very well be without their top centerman.