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Andre Carter deserves another look

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Back in December Hogs Haven happily welcomed Andre Carter to this defense after a series of dominating performances. By season's end the facts were:

  1. Andre Carter led defensive linemen in tackles.
  2. Andre Carter led the team in sacks, and had twice as many as Phillip Daniels who finished 2nd.
  3. Andre Carter led the defense in tackles for a loss; he had over twice as many as everyone else.
  4. Andre Carter was the best defensive linemen we had.
Ok so maybe 4 is like, my opinion, man. But the rest are statistics and they never lie, right? I think Andre Carter has a ways to go towards earning the contract we gave him but he's well on his way, certainly moreso than many fans and columnists are willing to grant. And that's why I appreciated Mark Steven's Blog today, on this precise subject:
That he was a major disappointment for a good part of his first season in Washington is undeniable. But what if the "real" Andre Carter turns out to be the one we saw emerging in December? [A] young player capable of stringing together dominant performances?...

Over his last five games, Carter recorded 27 solo tackles, six assists and four sacks. Included in that run were games of 9/2/1, 7/1/1 and 8/0/1.

I'm not a big believer in "projected" stats, but just for grins: over the course of a full season, Carter's numbers over the stretch noted above project out to 86 solo tackles, 19 assists and 12.8 sacks. To put that in some kind of context, here are the tackle/assist/sack totals for the four starting DE's in last years Pro Bowl:

Julius Peppers, CAR (48/9/13)
Will Smith, NO (31/18/10.5)
Jason Taylor, MIA (40/20/13.5)
Aaron Schobel, BUF (35/18/14)

Mark admits he's not trying to sell Carter as a 90 tackle Defensive End, but we shouldn't ignore what he accomplished late last year either. The only point Om (Mark's alias at Extreme Skins) and I disagree with is to what extent this changes our view of the Redskins pass rush. I think Carter should progress as he's a young guy now firmly entrenched in the Defense. Om agrees:
Regardless of what Washington does in the draft and the remainder of free agency, in looking forward to the start of the 2007 season one should not overlook the possibility that the "impact defensive end" that most of the football world continues to insist the Redskins are lacking may already be in the fold.
And that's exciting. But just as Carter's stock is rising, Phillip Daniels turned 34 last month and clearly took a step backwards in '06. Even if Carter gets 10 sacks next year (a fair projection, I think) it may not be enough to make up for Daniels continued regression. For that reason I still think we stick with a DE in the draft. As Carter took a good bit of '06 to get comfortable in this defense, so too will a Rookie DE out of College. Unless we want to be stuck with a 35 year old Phillip Daniels in '08, we need to address the other side of our defensive line ASAP and that means burning at least one pick on someone at the end of this month.

Beyond that, Om and I are on the same page and I'll leave him with the final words, which mirror my own regarding Andre Carter (because it partially projects an animosity and belligerence I happily imagine AC as having):

And just for fun, while we're at it let's consider that said player is healthy, working out, preparing to take in his second full off season of study under Gregg Williams...and probably getting good and irritated at the persistent, loudly proclaimed mantra that the Washington Redskins most glaring deficiency is at the position where he not just earns his living, but makes his name.
And when Andre Carter gets irate, kittens get eaten whole. Just what I heard.