Part one of the 2012 DC Pro Sports Year in Review series covered Story of the Year, Team of the Year and Sportsman of the Year.
We continue our 2012 DC Pro Sports Year in Review with a look at the Coach of the Year, Executive of the Year and Decision of the Year. Look for future articles with more year in review awards coming up soon...
Coach of the Year -- Davey Johnson
How many people saw this coming a year or two ago. Johnson had been out of Major League Baseball for 11 years when the Washington Nationals, desperate for a skipper to guide their young team, coaxed Johnson away from the Florida Collegiate Summer League in 2011. Plagued by health scares, family tragedy and a lot closer to 70 than 60, few considered Davey Johnson the hot new managerial prospect. After several years serving as a senior advisor to the team, Johnson became the manager in June 2011 after Jim Riggleman quit on the team. Johnson finished the 2011 season with the team and on Halloween of that year the team announced Johnson would pilot the squad in 2012, as well.
All Johnson did was lead the young Nats to an 18-game improvement over 2011, the best record in baseball and the first winning record in the history of the franchise in Washington, D.C. That Johnson is manager of the year isn't just our opinion at DC Pro Sports Report -- he won that honor handily in the National League this year, easily beating rivals Dusty Baker and Bruce Bochy. This made Johnson one of only six men to win the award in both the American and National leagues.
Johnson was the oldest manager in the Majors in 2012 and in January 2013 he turns 70. This coming year will be Johnson's last as a manager in Major League Baseball. He cited "unfinished business" as the reason he will manage one more year. The brutal loss in game 5 of the NLDS hangs over him and the team as the sole dark spot on an otherwise sparkling and brilliant campaign.
“We made a lot of progress from 2011 to 2012,” Johnson said. “And I was real pleased with the guys. I think we can go further. And I think a lot of inexperience caught up to us a little bit. There’s still room for this club to grow. We’ve still got some young guys that have higher ceilings. We made better steps. A lot of guys came through for being awful young. And now we have more experience and what adjustments to make to be more successful.”
With ace Stephen Strasburg returning for a full season in the game's best starting rotation and Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper a year older, wiser and better, there's no telling what Davey Johnson will accomplish during his final year in the game he loves.
Executive of the Year -- Mike Rizzo
If Davey Johnson was the pilot of the 2012 Washington Nationals, Mike Rizzo was the architect. After a fine career as a scout, Rizzo joined the Nationals in 2006 as assistant General Manger under Jim Bowden, but took over the top job on an interim basis when Bowden resigned in disgrace in March 2009. He got the interim tag removed in August of that year and received a 5-year extension from the club in 2010.
Rizzo made a number of smart moves that paid off in 2012 and will pay off in future years, as well. His last decision of the year, to bring Davey Johnson [see above] back in 2013 was a smart one, but also a no-brainer. Requiring a bit more thought was trading four promising minor leaguers to the Oakland Athletics for starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez, a move that paid off handsomely. Gonzalez won a career-high 21 games and lost only 8 -- his lowest total in any season with more than 20 starts. His ERA of 2.89 was another career-best. His 207 strikeouts is tops in his career and the 76 walks the lowest i any season with more than 20 starts. At only 27 years of age and with several more years under contract, the Nationals look forward to a lot more pitching gems from Gio in the seasons to come.
With Wilson Ramos injured and out for the season and Jesus Flores struggling at the plate, Rizzo went back to Oakland and traded for catcher Kurt Suzuki in early August. Suzuki immediately solidifed the position and became a favorite of fans, pitchers and manager Davey Johnson. In addition to his fine fielding, Suzuki hit .267 with the Nats, his highest batting average since 2009. Suzuki played in all five playoff games, reaching base six times. He figures to be a key part of Washington's roster in 2013.
Rizzo drafted or traded for 20 of the 25 players on the Nationals' playoff roster so he can truly be said to be the man who put that terrific team together. More awards await Rizzo, no doubt, should the Nationals take the next step and fulfill their destiny as world champs.
Runner-up for Executive of the Year -- Mike Shanahan
DECISION OF THE YEAR -- Redskins trade 4 high draft picks for #2 pick in the NFL Draft
On March 12, 2012 the Washington Redskins traded their first round picks in 2012 [6th overall], 2013 and 2014, as well as a second round pick in 2012 39th overall], to the St. Louis Rams for their first round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the second overall selection. The move was made for one reason -- to draft Heisman Trophy winner and Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. Although team owner Dan Snyder no doubt signed off on the deal, the author of that trade was Washington's head coach and boss of all personnel decisions, Mike Shanahan. The Redskins acknowledged the steep price they had to pay:
"We understand it was a heavy price but when you bought your home you probably wanted to pay a little less too," Washington general manager Bruce Allen said Saturday. "But you like your home once you live in it."
The Redskins had not had a winning season since 2007 and had spent every year since in last place in the NFC East. A once-proud franchise had become a laughingstock and a symbol of everything a team should not do with one bad personnel decison after another. Turning all that around would not be easy, but it began with one big, momentous decision. A decision that would surely end the career of Mike Shanahan in Washington -- and perhaps the NFL -- if it did not work.
So far, it has worked. With Redskins quarterbacks Rex Grossman and John Beck throwing 24 interceptions in 2011, Washington needed a playmaker who would make good decisions at quarterback. Enter Robert Griffin III, the DC Pro Sports Report Sportsman of the Year for 2012. Through the first 15 games of the season, Griffin has thrown only 5 interceptions and lost 2 fumbles. Against that puny number of 7 turnovers, Griffin has thrown 20 touchdown passes and run for six more. Griffin has led the offense that has committed fewer turnovers  than any other in the NFL. In 2011 the Redskins offense turned the ball over 35 times, third-worst in the NFL. As a consequence, Washington's turnover ratio has gone from -14 in 2011 to +14 in 2012 -- second-worst to third-best.
Washington's went from scoring 18 points per game in 2011 -- 26th in the NFL -- to 27.2 points per game in 2012 -- good for 4th-best in the league. The Redskins went from a 73.3 passer rating under Grossman and Beck to 104.1 under RG3, second-best in the NFL. Meanwhile, Griffin's 752 rushing yards is a record for NFL rookie quarterbacks. On December 26 Griffin became the first rookie quarterback to be named to the original Pro Bowl roster since Dan Marino in 1983.
Finally, the most important statistic of all -- the Redskins went from 5-11 and last place in the NFC East to 9-6 and playing for the division title in the final week of the regular season. The decision to trade for RG3 turned the Redskins from a perennial loser to a playoff contender in one fell swoop.
Meanwhile, the draft pick the Redskins will yield to the Rams in 2013 will not be nearly so valuable as the Rams no doubt hoped it would be. Instead of picking in the top ten, the St. Louis will have to wait until well into the second half of the first round to use Washington's pick. Currently, the Redskins pick would be 22nd overall and may fall even further if the Redskins win their division and perhaps even a playoff game.
Although Mike Shanahan made other good decisions in 2012 that have contributed to the Redskins' success this year, the trade for RG3, far more than any other one single move, has transformed not only the team, but also the reputation of the man who guides that team. This one decision helped make 2012 the year Mike Shanahan became a smart guy again.
Part one of the 2012 DC Pro Sports Year in Review series covered Story of the Year, Team of the Year and Sportsman of the Year.
We begin our 2012 DC Pro Sports Year in Review with a look at the Story of the Year, the Team of the Year and the Sportsman of the Year. Don't forget to check out Part 2 of our 2012 DC Pro Sports Year in Review, which focuses on Coach of the Year, Executive of the Year and Decision of the Year. Look for future articles with more year in review awards coming up soon...
STORY OF THE YEAR -- Washington Nationals break DC's 79-year baseball playoffs drought
Rob Carr - Getty
TEAM OF THE YEAR -- Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals were expected to improve on their 2011 record of 80-81 and third place in the National League East. But how many could have predicted the Nats would win 98 games -- tops in the Major Leagues -- and score 137 more runs than they allowed? The great Nationals team arrived a year early and it was fun to watch a young team sprinkled with a few veterans run rings around the baseball world for much of the year. From Bryce Harper's Rookie of the Year campaign, to Adam LaRoche's career year to Ian Desmond becoming a star shortstop to the best starting rotation in baseball, so many things went right for the Nats this year. Perhaps more impressive, though, was the way this young team overcame the things that went wrong, such as long injuries to Michael Morse, Jayson Werth, Drew Storen and Ian Desmond -- not to mention Stephen Strasburg's innings limit. [More on that later.] Orchestrating all the magic was Manager Davey Johnson, who did the best work of his career, so far, in the 69th year of his life. Putting all the pieces together was GM Mike Rizzo, who built this young team from the bottom up and watched it all come together a year ahead of time.
The 2012 season ended with a vicious punch to the gut for Nats fans as the team blew a six run lead in game five of the NLDS and lost in the wee small hours of the morning of October 13, but this young team was built to last for years. Expect the Nats to come back roaring in the final year of Davey Johnson's baseball career, determined to send the old man off with a World Series championship.
AP PHOTO/PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS
SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR -- Robert Griffin III
This young man has taken the football world by storm since he being selected by the Washington Redskins with the second overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Redskins gave up four high draft picks over three years to move up from the sixth pick to the second pick -- a steep price, indeed -- but have to feel great about this investment in their future. Griffin became the first quarterback born in the 1990s to start an NFL game on September 9, 2012, when he led a newly-potent Redskins offense to put up 40 points on the New Orleans Saints in their own building. Griffin won Rookie of the Week honors for that performance, as well as Offensive Player of the Week, the first time a rookie QB had won that award in his first game. Griffin went on to win the award again after a week 4 win over Tampa Bay and was named Rookie of the Month for September. [He won the award again in November.]
Griffin faced his first big setback when a hit from Sean Weatherspoon of the Atlanta Falcons in the third quarter of a game in Atlanta gave the young QB a concussion. He missed the rest of the game, but came back for the next one, a home matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, and led the Redskins to victory with a 76-yard scramble for a touchdown. The win ended Washington's inglorious 8-game home losing streak and Griffin won Rookie of the Week honors for the third time in 2012.
The Redskins went into a tailspin, losing three straight games and falling to 3-6 as they headed into the bye. With most of Washington figuring the season was basically over, Griffin assured his teammates the team would recover and contend for the playoffs. His teammates responded by making Griffin a co-captain on November 14 as the Redskins prepared for a home game against division rival Philadelphia, also 3-6.
Griffin made good on his prediction and promotion by completing 14 of 15 passes for 200 yards and 4 TD, as well as rushing for 84 yards against the Eagles. His passer rating for the game was a perfect 158.3. It was the first time a rookie had ever passed for 200 yards, 4 TD and rushed for at least 75 yards in an NFL game and Griffin became the youngest player in NFL history to post a perfect passer rating. He was awarded the Offensive Player of the Week for a second time and won Rookie of the Week honors for the fourth time.
Griffin suffered a knee injury late in the fourth quarter of Washington's 31-28 overtime win against the Baltimore Ravens and missed the next week's game in Cleveland, which the Redskins won with fellow rookie Kirk Cousins behind center. However, Griffin returned in week 16, wearing a special restrictive and protective brace over his injured knee against the Eagles. Clearly unable to run as he normally would, Griffin became a pocket passer, posted a passer rating over 100, threw two TD passes and led Washington to its 9th win of the season. The Redskins had won six straight games since Griffin assured his teammates they would turn their season around.
Griffin was named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad on December 26, the only non-specialist rookie to win that honor in the entire league. It was the first time a rookie QB had been named to the original Pro Bowl rosters since Dan Marino in 1983.
Griffin has become the toast of the town and one of the biggest sports stars in North America. Children sing songs about him during the holidays and companies fall over each other seeking an endorsement deal with RG3. Griffin earned more money than any NFL rookie in history before throwing a single pass due to his endorsement deals.
Look for future 2012 Year in Review articles coming soon...
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan came to Washington under a very dark cloud. The franchise had produced just 5 winning seasons since their 14-2 1991 Superbowl season. They have gone through 20 quarterbacks and 6 head coaches to that point, seven if you include the brief stint of Terry Robiskie.
In 1999, a young, smart, but egotistical businessman, Daniel Snyder, purchased the franchise after the death of late owner Jack Kente Cook. Snyder embraced a philosophy of active ownership and heavy involvement in roster building. Vinny Cerrato, along with Snyder, inflicted heavy damage on the franchise, spending big free agent dollars and draft picks for over aged prima donnas that produced little on the football field. Not only were there serious salary cap implications from awful contracts but the Redskins traded away draft picks, leaving the franchise drained of young talent.
To emphasize the point just take a look at Cerrato's last few draft classes. Cerrato's last draft class was 2009. The Redskins had 6 draft selections. Only one remains, first rounder Brian Orakpo. Cerrato's 2008 draft class yielded ten draft selections, only two remain, TE Fred Davis and LB Rob Jackson. Cerrato took two wide receivers within the first three picks. Both were complete busts. Neither Devin Thomas or Malcolm Kelly are even in the NFL today. Thomas had one good collegiate season and Kelly had massive knee issues throughout his collegiate career. That did not stop Cerrato from targeting both receivers. Although former Redskin S LaRon Landry was selected to the Pro Bowl yesterday, he is no longer a Redskin. None of the five 2007 draft picks remains on the Redskins. Finally, in 2006, the Redskins had 6 selections. Only Kedric Golston, a reserve defensive lineman, remains on the roster. From 2006 to 2009, the Redskins selected 27 players, of which only 4 remain a part of the franchise. That is an absolute recipe for franchise failure.
That is what Mike Shanahan faced when he took over the front office and sidelines on January 5, 2010. I still remember that day. One thing that Shanahan and new GM Bruce Allen preached was patience. Everyone knew it was going to take several season to undo the damage done by years of incompetency in the front office. Snyder knew it too. That is why he backed away as an active roster building owner and turned the keys over to Shanahan.
There had been expressions of frustration from Redskins fans during Shanahan's first two seasons. He produced nothing out of the normal for the Redskins fan base, a 6-10 and 5-11 seasons. Redskins fans were sick of the Redskin normal Still, Shanahan preached patience. After admittedly making a mistake in trading for former Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, Shanahan knew the only way to turn around a morbid franchise was to establish a franchise quarterback. Might even buy him time as well.no comments
Multiple sources are reporting that Washington Redskins rookie quarterback, Robert Griffin III, has been named to the NFC Pro Bowl. Reportedly, Griffin will be the only rookie in the Pro Bowl. Special teams guru Lorenzo Alexander ill join RGIII in Hawaii. Alexander led the NFL in special teams tackles.
In his rookie year, Griffin has helped revitalize a mediocre Redskins franchise, playing a crucial role in the resurgent Redskins. Griffin has helped lead the Redskins from a 3-6 bye week record to a 9-6 record that has them on the verge of an NFC East Championship, if they beat Dallas Sunday night.
In his first season, griffin has thrown for 3100 yards while gaining 752 yards on the ground. He has shattered numerous franchise records as well as NFL rookie records. He has thrown 20 TD passes to just 5 interceptions. Griffin is second overall in the NFL with a 104.1 passer rating. Impressively, he leads the NFL in 8.2 yards per pass attempt. He s fifth overall in completion percentage with 66.2%.
LT Trent Williams will also join RGIII. Williams protects Griffin's blindside and is a former first round pick.
MLB London Fletcher and rookie running back Alfred Morris were named alternates.
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
When: Sunday, Dec. 30 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Watch: NBC WRC4
Listen: Sportstalk 980, WTEM
Point Spread: Washington (-3)
The NFC East is at stake when the Redskins host the Cowboys on Sunday night at Fed Ex Field. Essentially, the playoffs begin with Dallas as the nation watches "Football Night in America" on NBC. Weather could be a factor, with the dreaded wintery mix expected. Pro Bowl quarterback Robert Griffin III is getting healthier by the day and should have less restrictions than he had Sunday in Philadelphia. The Washington offense is 484 yards away from setting a team record. Rookie running back Alfred Morris needs 104 yards on the ground to break the All-Time season record currently held by Clinton Portis. A win and the 'Skins host a team from the NFC West during wild-card weekend, a loss and the season may be over.
WINNER clinches NFC East…COWBOYS: QB TONY ROMO has franchise-record 4,685 pass yards & has only 4 4,000-yard seasons in team history. Aims for 3rd in row vs. Was. with 3+ TD passes… When RB DE MARCO MURRAY has 18+ att., Cowboys are 9-0. Has 992 rush yards (110.2 per game) in those 9…WR DEZ BRYANT had 9 catches for career-high 224 yards with 2 TDs last week. Has 46 catches for 808 yards (115.4 per game) & 10 TDs in past 7. Aims for 8th in row with TD. WR MILES AUSTIN had 10 catches for 146 yards in last game at Was. TE JASON WITTEN has 103 catches, most by TE in season in NFL history. Has 95 catches (7.9 per game) since Oct. 1, 2nd most in NFL. Since 2007, has 547 catches, most by NFL TE…CB BRANDON CARR has INT in 2 of past 3. LB DE MARCUS WARE has 37 sacks in past 34. Has 103 sacks since 2006, most in NFL. LB ANTHONY SPENCER has 6.5 sacks in past 6…REDSKINS: Rookie QB ROBERT GRIFFIN III completed 19 of 27 (70.4 pct.) for 304 yards with 4 TDs vs. 1 INT for 131.8 rating in last meeting. Is 2nd in NFL with 104.1 rating. Has 752 rush yards, most by rookie QB in NFL history. Is 1st QB ever with 4+ TD passes of 60+ yards & rush TD of 60+ yards in season…RB ALFRED MORRIS leads NFL rookies with 1,413 rush yards. Has rushed for 544 yards (108.8 per game) & 5 TDs in past 5. Rushed for 113 yards & TD in last meeting. Has 75+ rush yards in 13 of 15 (6 100s)…WR ALDRICK ROBINSON had 68-yard TD in last meeting. WR PIERRE GARCON had 59-yard TD in last game vs. Dal. WR SANTANA MOSS has 6 TDs in past 9. Has 3 TDs in past 3 vs. Dal…LB LONDON FLETCHER has INT in 4 of past 5. CB DE ANGELO HALL had INT in last meeting vs. Cowboys. Since entering NFL in 2011, LB RYAN KERRIGAN is only NFL player w/ 10+ sacks (16) & 2+ INT-TDs (2). Aims for 3rd in row vs. Dal. w/ sack.
CONTINUE READING FOR MORE ON COWBOYS-REDSKINS
All we want for Christmas is a healthy starting quarterback and a win over Dallas on Sunday.no comments
Merry Christmas from DC Pro Sports Report to our readers and your families. May it be a blessed one.
The Redskins goal remains simple, win and your in. A victory over Dallas on Sunday night at Fed Ex Field and Washington is the NFC East champ for the first time since 1999.
Washington could back into the playoffs as a wildcard if they lose on Sunday night, but would need the Vikings to lose to the Packers and the Bears to lose in Detroit.
It's likely that the winner of the Cowboys-Redskins game will be NFC East champ and the loser's season will end. This is definitely the case for Dallas, and will be for Washington as well, should Minnesota and/or Chicago win.
The NFC East champ will be the #4 seed and will host the #5 seed, likely Seattle. Just be thankful that this potential matchup would be at home!no comments