Tag:Anthony Armstrong
Posted on: October 27, 2011 11:39 am

Keep an Eye On: Week 8's finer points of analysis

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

Giants vs. Dolphins
One of the more confounding issues with the Dolphins this season has been the decline of their pass-rush. After recording 39 sacks in 2010 (tied for 10th best in the NFL) Miami entered last week’s game against Denver with just eight. They wound up recording seven sacks in the game, but that was in part because of Tim Tebow’s inability to make quick reads or get the ball out.

The Giants’ reshuffled offensive line has been hit or miss in pass protection thus far (more “hit” than “miss”). At Arizona in Week 4, their brilliant protection practically won the game. But the next week it waffled against Seattle’s underrated D-line (Chris Clemons rather enjoyed facing left tackle Will Beatty).

The Dolphins have one of the game’s best all-around edge-rushers in Cameron Wake, the reigning AFC sack leader. His leverage and tenacity give him strength that’s much better than his size indicates. Wake has been oddly quiet in non-two minute situations this season, though he abused Denver’s somewhat lumbering right tackle, Orlando Franklin, last week.

Giants right tackle Kareem McKenzie is more polished than Franklin but has slower feet. He’ll need help. On the other side, Miami may have an under-the-radar pass-rushing talent in Jared Odrick, who somewhat resembles a thicker Jason Taylor.

Ravens vs. Cardinals
The Ravens offense owes everyone a good performance after ruining one of our 17 precious Monday night games. They should be able to get on track against a Cardinals defense that has struggled to generate a consistent pass-rush despite aggressive blitzes from new coordinator Ray Horton.

The intrigue is on the other side of the ball. Roughly two months after the trade and $20-million-plus investment in Kevin Kolb, some Cardinal fans are actually wondering if the 27-year-old quarterback should be benched. That’s the kind of ridiculous thinking that those who don’t actually contribute any skin in the game can get away with. Ken Whisenhunt knows that he’d never get another coaching job if he were to bench Kolb for John Skelton.

Kolb hasn’t been great, but he’s hardly the problem. Arizona’s “non-Fitzgerald” receivers have not been able to get open. General manager Rod Graves may deserve some heat for letting Steve Breaston get away this past offseason, though Graves’ logic was understandable at the time. Third-round rookie Andre Roberts showed intriguing potential as a speedy slasher last season.

Roberts looked like a future starter, and he cost a fraction of what Breaston would have cost. So Graves banked on him. Roberts has responded by failing to reach 40 yards receiving in every game this season. The good-looking prospect prior to Roberts, Early Doucet, has been equally ineffective.

Teams can sometimes get away with having only one quality wide receiver, but not if their offensive tackles stink. And there’s no denying that Levi Brown and Brandon Keith – two heavy-footed lumberers with inconsistent technique – stink.

So far Kolb has been awful when throwing off-balance. It’s doubtful he’ll get to be on balance much against a staunch Ravens D.

Bills vs. Redskins
Don’t pick the Redskins this week. It’s a matter of principle, if nothing else. No team should have expectations placed on it after making a change at quarterback and losing its top wide receiver, running back, tight end, left tackle and left guard in a two-week span. This will look like a preseason version of the Redskins. How will they cope?

It helps that Mike Shanahan’s system runs more fluidly with John Beck than it does with Rex Grossman. Beck is smoother reading the field and much better at play-action rollouts and bootlegs than Grossman. Accuracy is a bit of a concern, however. As for the other injuries and replacement ...

RB Tim Hightower (knee – out for season) had found his niche in this zone-run scheme, but he’ll be missed most in the passing game. Ryan Torain is a decent upright power-runner with a spring in his step, but he can’t stick pass-rushers the way Hightower could.

WR Santana Moss (hand – out 5-7 weeks) was Washington’s only creator on offense. He could generate his own space and turn an underneath catch into a 60-yard scamper. Either Niles Paul or Anthony Armstrong will replace him. Both have flashed at times, but neither is completely trustworthy. And, unlike with Moss, defenses won’t have to even ponder the possibility of double coverage.

TE Chris Cooley (finger, knee – out for season) was trending down and losing his role to Fred Davis prior to get hurting. Davis can fill Cooley’s receiving shoes. But the Redskins are now down a good in-line blocker in the run game. With Cooley and Davis, Washington had the benefit of balancing its formation with a viable pass-catching tight end on each side. This often compelled defenses to stay in basic front seven looks. New backup tight end Logan Paulsen won’t command that kind of respect.

LT Trent Williams (high ankle sprain – out 0-4 weeks) has missed most of the last two games. Pretty easy to identify the impact of his absence: backup Sean Locklear is experienced but much slower than Williams all-around.

LG Kory Lichtensteiger (knee – out for season) was one of the unheralded heroes for this team down the stretch last year and prior to going down in Week 6. Center Will Montgomery moved one spot to the left to fill Lichtensteiger’s void. Montgomery is interchangeable that way, but his replacement in the middle, Erik Cook, a seventh-round pick in ’10, was a noticeable downgrade coming off the bench. He had issues snapping the ball and was overwhelmed by defensive tackle Mike Peterson on a few plays. The Redskins can only hope those were Cook’s jitters working themselves out.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 8 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: April 12, 2011 12:18 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 12:32 pm

Offseason Checkup: Washington Redskins

Posted by Andy Benoit

Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups

New coach, new system, new quarterback, even new yellow pants. Didn’t matter, it was the same old Redskins in 2010. The new quarterback never mastered the new coach’s new system, which is why there actually wound up being another new quarterback at the end of the season. Rex Grossman wasn’t much better than Donovan McNabb, but then again, Grossman had to work with the same ho-hum supporting cast as McNabb.

But enough about the offense. How about Washington’s disappointing defense? Albert Haynesworth was a cross between the Cowardly Lion and Tin Man. Instead of finding a phony wizard to help spark some soul-saving confidence within him at the end, the most expensive defensive tackle in history found himself suspended.

The team unofficially charged Haynesworth with Owensism (i.e. being a jerk). Haynesworth wasn’t the lone disappointment on D. The secondary let more big plays pass through than Broadway.

Mike Shanahan’s famous zone blocking scheme works just about anywhere. There’s no reason to think powerful but spry running back Ryan Torain can’t be a 1,200-yard back behind such a scheme. However, Shanahan needs better athletes at center, right guard and right tackle. C Casey Rabach does not elevate the game of those around him. RG Artis Hicks is valuable only as a utility backup. And RT Heyer is too upright and stiff in the knees.

Finding more fluid linemen, even if it means settling for other teams’ undersized dregs, would be a worthwhile endeavor for the Skins.

1. Quarterback
It’s pretty clear Mike Shanahan does not want Donovan McNabb, right?

2. Wide Receiver
Santana Moss is an unrestricted free agent and probably not worth whatever he thinks he’s worth. Anthony Armstrong might be too much of a hard-handed plodder to hold down a starting spot long term. He’s certainly not a No. 1. The only other receivers on the roster are return specialist Brandon Banks and Terrence Austin and underachieves Roydell Williams and Malcolm Kelly.

3. Defensive End
There was talk that Adam Carriker had a strong season in 2010. Where’s the evidence? Carriker blended in like camouflage. Vonnie Holiday can still contribute in a limited backup role, but like with fellow end Phillip Daniels, age is a major issue.

It’s the NFL, where instant improvements are not only possible, but common. It helps having an adept coaching staff. Shanahan will be prepared for the D.C. scene in 2011 after being caught off-guard by the intense media in his debut season.

Still, a great coach can only go so far. The Redskins desperately need more talent at the skill positions if they want to give .500 a run.

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Posted on: October 15, 2010 4:27 pm

Five Questions (or more) with Anthony Armstrong

A. Armstrong had a big impact last week for Washington. He's seen here catching a 48-yard TD pass (AP). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

You probably didn’t know about Redskins WR Anthony Armstrong before last Sunday when you saw him make that outstanding fourth-quarter 48-yard leaping touchdown catch to get Washington back into the game – a game the Redskins eventually would win in overtime against Green Bay.

Why would you have known about Armstrong before that very moment, anyway? He played collegiately at West Texas A&M, a school I’m sure you don’t follow. In 2006, he played with the Odessa Roughnecks of the Intense Football League where he finished THIRD on his team in receptions. If anybody knows anything about the Intense Football League, please raise your hand. He moved on the next season to the Dallas Desperadoes of the Arena Football League. Then, he had stints on the practice squads of the Dolphins and the Redskins. He wasn’t exactly a household name.

Although he’s 27 years old, he’s still classified as a first-year player. “The normal rookie,” he says, “is 21 or 22 years old. I’m 27. It’s kind of weird, but I take it and go with it.” He’s tied for fourth on the team with seven catches, but he’s averaging an amazing 26.9 yards per reception. Plus, he has that highlight-reel touchdown catch. We spoke to him this week about his minor-league stints, his part-time job in a jewelry story and whatever the hell the Intense Football League was.

Previous Five Questions (or More):

Oct. 8:
Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich

Oct. 1: Kent Babb of the KC Star

Sept. 24: Texans WR Kevin Walter

Sept. 17: former Bengals, Titans DT John Thornton

Sept. 11: Seahawks RB Leon Washington

1. CBSSports: Before last week’s game, there probably weren’t very many people outside the Washington area that had heard your name before. But then you came out with that leaping TD catch that made such a big impact. Because I know you toiled for so long in the deep minor leagues, what was last week like for you?

Anthony Armstrong:
It ended up being a pretty good week (laughs). Going into that game and of course getting some extended playing time and having that big touchdown that changed the momentum, coming out of that game was huge.

This was your breakthrough game, though. Did you ever think something like this would happen to you?

Armstrong: I’ve said for years if I could just get the opportunity or get the chance to compete, I could show I had the ability to play the game. Just being able to have that type of performance, it’s one of those things that just shows that I do have the ability.

2. CBS: So, what the heck is the Intense Football League?

Armstrong: It was just an independent brand of arena football. It only had six teams at the time, I think. It was a way for me to get back into football after I had missed a year rehabbing an injury. That was going to be a way to get some tape. I was successful down there, and I kept graduating to the next level. I kept getting promotions.

3. CBS: I’ve talked to plenty of guys who have played in the AFL and AF2. In the AF2 especially, those guys are making like $50-$75 a game. What did you get paid, and how do you survive on that?

Armstrong: It was only about a couple hundred dollars a game. It wasn’t very much at all. I wasn’t really in minimalist mode, but every bill I paid was the minimum possible you can pay. I kind of lived off the land almost. I couldn’t do too much, because of the money.

CBS: Did you have another job?

Armstrong: When I was there in Odessa, I didn’t have a job. When I left and went to the Dallas, I started working at a jewelry story. I would practice in the morning and I would go to the jewelry story at the mall and work from 3-9 p.m. Those were some long days.

CBS: Were you a good salesman?

I did well. My first December, I sold a four carat diamond heart solitaire to a guy. It was just something I had to do to pay my (rent and utilities).

CBS: How do you get yourself through a day like that? You’re so far away from the NFL, and you’re working in a jewelry story to make ends meet. How do you keep going through all that just to play football?

Armstrong: Football was my ultimate love. I realized I’m more happy when I’m on the field and when I’m in watching meetings and watching tape, When I was in Dallas, I knew the Desperados were connected to Jerry Jones and the Cowboys. I felt that was going to be a good way in. But I was also preparing to say I could play Arena Football League for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to do that, but that was my plan B.

CBS: Is there anybody else who played in the Intense Football League that made it to the NFL? I can’t imagine there would be.

Not off the top of my head. I think there might have been some guys who were in NFL Europe and were trying to get into the league that way.

4. CBS: I think people are surprised with the Redskins. People were thinking they were going to win five or six games this year – maybe seven – but you guys are 3-2 and are tied for first in the NFC East. I imagine you guys thought you had better potential than most everybody else, but what do you think of where you guys stand right now?

Armstrong: We knew what we had going through OTAs. We knew we had the ability to be good on offense and be solid on defense. We’re still in a growing process. We still haven’t played a full football game. We’re still learning the offense and the defense together. As the season goes along, we’ll be able to jell and play better down the line.

5. CBS:
I read your interview after the game last week when you mentioned on the TD catch that you drank Red Bull and it gave you wings. Then, I saw one of Red Bulls’ competitors sent you some of their product.

Armstrong: Actually, it was a shipment from Liquid Lightening. It’s kind of funny. I didn’t expect it. It surprised me when I pulled up to the park, and security said I had a package waiting.

CBS: How was it?

It didn’t taste too bad. I might have to get some more.

CBS: Is it strange that you now have this power where people – and companies – pay attention to what comes out of your mouth?

Armstrong: It is weird. You just get to know the effects of marketing and product placement. I was a marketing major, so I understand how that works - get your product in your right hands and that’s how it gets blown up.

CBS: You also took your NFL fine for wearing your socks too high. I guess you’re trying to run the entire NFL gamut in one week, huh? Touchdown catch and a fine.

I guess I want to be very efficient and get it all out at once.

But I bet if you knew a few years back when you were playing in the Intense Football League and working at jewelry store that you’d have to take a fine in the NFL after a touchdown catch,  you’d be OK with it.

Well, shoot. I’m not trying to throw away my money. I’m going to do my best to get that money back.

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Posted on: September 5, 2010 10:41 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2010 10:55 pm

Washington, Oakland provide chance for Housh

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

It sounds like former Seattle WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, cut by the Seahawks on Saturday, is down to two options on where he might play this season.

According to the Seattle Times, those two squads are the Redskins and the Raiders.

Washington wouldn’t be a bad spot for Houshmandzadeh. Santana Moss is the No. 1 receiver, but the other starter, Joey Galloway, will turn 39 this season. He had a rough preseason and might be ready to abdicate his starting spot to Devin Thomas or Anthony Armstrong.

Plus, Malcolm Kelly was placed on IR. It’d be a good bet that if the Redskins would sign Houshmandzadeh, he’d immediately take the place of Galloway.

Oakland might make even more sense – from the Raiders perspective, at least.

For now, Louis Murphy is QB Jason Campbell’s top target, while Darrius Heyward-Bey continues to struggle in his pro career and Chaz Schilens is injured. Houshmandzadeh would be a huge upgrade for Oakland.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com