Time to Make a Move at Linebacker

Warrack Holdman makes a rare tackle

Tandler's Redskins Blog Ver. 11.01.05--Which would be a more effective element in the Redskins defense--Warrick Holdman or a trashcan?

During practice, the coaches will sometimes put trashcans out of the field to represent defensive players while they are going through plays. They will move the trashcans around to represent shifts in the defensive alignment.

In real games, they don't use trashcans. Instead, at weakside linebacker, the Redskins use Warrick Holdman. Let's look at his performance in the Mara Massacre at the Meadowlands on Sunday.

2-6-WAS 25 (1:31 Second Quarter) 10-E. Manning pass to 17-P.Burress to WAS 21 for 4 yards (57-W.Holdman, 53-M.Washington).

That was it. One assisted tackle. Tiki Barber would have tripped over a well-positioned trash can more often than Holdman stopped anyone.

He did have one other notable contribution to the game:

1-8-NYG 40 (14:09 Second Quarter) T. Barber left tackle to WAS 1 for 59 yards (R. Clark).

Barber's second big run appeared to be clearly on Holdman. The play started left, away from his side and Holdman didn't event think for a second about staying home and guarding against the cutback and he pursued to the left. Barber did exactly what he should have done, cut back to the open area. Yes, Walt Harris was also a bit out of control and overran the play, but had Holdman been in position Barber would have been forced wide and Harris likely would have been able to make the stop.

Clearly, in this case, the Redskins would have been better off with a trashcan at weak side linebacker. At least it would have stayed home and perhaps Barber would have had to go around it and Harris may have made the stop.

And this is not an isolated poor performance. Holdman has started all seven games this year, has played the lion's share of the defensive snaps and yet they need to put out an Amber alert for him. He has 15 tackles. Yes, a small fraction over two a game for a starting NFL linebacker. You can fall on piles or tag runners who have fallen down and get that many.

There is no contention here that Holdman isn't trying his best. But there had to be a reason that he was cut by the Browns, one of the worst teams in the NFL, and subsequently spent three months unemployed before the Redskins picked him up. That's not what you call a prime free agent catch. It was thought that he, just like the trash can on the practice field, was just inserted to hold the slot at WLB until LaVar Arrington was healthy enough to play. But the season started and, lo and behold, the placeholder was in the starting lineup ahead of a healthy Arrington.

Which brings up the obvious, perhaps most compelling point. The trash can isn't being backed up by another, inferior trashcan. He's playing ahead of a three-time Pro Bowl linebacker who is fired up and ready kick some serious butt. Arrington sat out two games completely, played little in three others and still has just as many tackles as Holdman does. And, if for some reason you don't want LaVar in there, put Chris Clemons in; at least the guy can blitz and get a sack every once in a while.

It's not often written here that the coaches should play this player or bench that one. Generally the judgment of those who watch endless hours of film and see the players on the practice field isn't questioned much. But this one seems to be a no-brainer. Gregg Williams needs to take any defensive scheme that call on Warrick Holdman to play a significant role and throw it in the trashcan.

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