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Friday, March 27: Return of the Red Zone

Posted by Matt Terl on March 27, 2009 – 10:22 am

“Inside The Red Zone With Vinny Cerrato” returned to the ESPN980 airwaves this morning, airing for an hour with Rick “Doc” Walker in the host’s seat in place of Redskins beat reporter (and excellent T-shirt wearer) Frank Hanrahan.

The themes were familiar — the Jason Taylor trade, the young wide receivers, the upcoming draft — but it’s always interesting to hear Cerrato face the questions head on.

(Also of interest in this particular broadcast was Walker’s ever-evolving roster of imaginary call-in guests. “Louie from Landover and I want to know,” he’d say, or “Luther from Landover.” Or “Ray from Reston” and “Ray from Rockville.” I was eagerly awaiting the thoughts of Quincy in Quantico, Yolanda in Yorkshire Knolls, or Wallace from Winchester-on-the-Severn.)

If you want to listen to the show, it’s up in ESPN980’s Audio Vault, but here are some of the more interesting answers.

On trading for Jason Taylor last year:

Cerrato: “Let’s go back to the Jason Taylor thing: would I do it again if it were the same thing right now? Yeah, I think I’d have to. We’re coming off a playoff year. First day, first drill, we lose our starting defensive end, and there’s a pro bowl defensive end out there. To give up a two and a six the following year, which was really a seventh this past year….”

“And the other reason I pushed to do it is when Phillip [Daniels] went down, the air went out of the team. And I remember telling Jim and Dan, we need to give the guys some confidence. Give them something to feel like, all right, we have a chance again.”
On re-signing Derrick Dockery after his performance flagged last year:

Cerrato: “You know, what we did was, we went back and looked at film.

“I went back to 2007 and watched him play. I watched him play the NFC East. I watched him play Dallas, Philly, the Giants and us and I thought against Dallas, I would have selected him to go to the Pro Bowl. I mean, he wore out Chris Canty that day.

“I mean Doc- the thing about it, the way he looked in his uniform, he wasn’t soft looking. He lost his baby fat. He wasn’t on the ground. He found his balance. He had a real good punch with the right arm, because I was sitting there watching it with Buges and Scott Campbell.

“Then I watched ’08, where they said he didn’t play as good. Maybe he didn’t play quite as good, but he still played pretty good. Then we went back and watched him play in ’06, when he got the big contract from playing with us and he improved so much. They paid him watching ’06.

“Watching him play in ’07 and ’08, yeah I like that Dock. His body is in better shape. He lost the baby fat. His balance was better. He ran better. Everything he did was better. So we were excited about getting him back.

“The thing about it was, when we heard he was getting cut I called Buffalo and I said, are you guys trading him, because there was a rumor they were trading him to Detroit and they were trying to do this paperwork by 4 o’clock because he had a roster bonus and they didn’t want to get stuck paying the money if he went somewhere and failed the physical. So I was on the phone with him until 4 o’clock and they said, oh we didn’t get the paperwork in so he’ll be on the wire.

“So then we went to working and Doc called me after he got cut. He said, look I want to be in there. My agent is going to play it tough, but just hang in there with me. I’ll be back. And Chris Samuels is his boy and Chris is calling me. They’re texting each other. And Chris is ecstatic he is back. I think that was a win-win for everybody.

On paying the money to DeAngelo Hall:

Cerrato: “I will say this, we got him with I think seven games to go. We had to pay him a prorated portion of his salary, which was like $490,000…. So we told him when we signed him, listen, if we like you at the end and you like us at the end and everything works, we will give you a market deal and he said okay.

“And you know what? He played his butt off.

“After the season I talked to London Fletcher and I talked to a bunch of the guys on defense and I said, do you want him back. How was he? He [London] said, ‘he was great in the locker room. He was a great teammate. He took notes in meetings. He practices hard. Good competitor. Yeah, we want him back.’

“Everyone I talked to, unanimous, coaches wanted him back. So does he fit in? Yeah.

“And I think the thing about the guy here is, he’s home. And I saw him yesterday and I said, ‘I heard you’re going to buy a big house.’ He said, ‘I’m trying to sell my house down in Atlanta because I want to move home.’ You know, so he has his family here. He can go home for Thanksgiving to have Thanksgiving with his mom. So I think it is a different environment. Plus, he’s older and we have the London Fletchers around, we have Griff, we have these veteran guys around he can talk to.

“London told me many times he had conversations with him, just sat him down, you know what happened in Oakland, and those kind of things and how we practice and I think he has a great relationship with Jerry Gray. And we let him play defense, Greg Blache’s philosophy is let our guys do what they do best. DeAngelo, what he does best: play off. How do you perform best? And I think that is what we saw when DeAngelo played. He got his hands on the ball a lot. He had what, three picks when he was here and a fumble.

“So I think with us getting Albert [Haynesworth] also, DeAngelo has the chance to have a huge year. I mean, Doc, you saw him in college. The guy has phenomenal ball skills. He can go get the ball. He can make turnovers. He can make plays. So I mean, we are happy. The first day of the off season he is here working out. He is here everyday, so I mean, everything that we have been exposed to, he has been outstanding.”

On how Albert Haynesworth differs from previous free agent signee Dana Stubblefield:

Cerrato: “What was interesting, when I was with San Fran, we came and played a Monday night here Stubby’s first year and all he did was, he was taking all the players around before the game and saying ‘See my suite up there? I got that.’

“He was just fat and happy. He got paid and that was it.

“The thing is, Albert, he says, I want to be the best. When people talk about defensive tackles in this league, I want to be mentioned. I want to go to the Hall of Fame. That is what he wants to do. You notice the number he wears. He’s from Tennessee, and it’s Reggie White’s number and, Doc, I was in San Fran when Reggie was a free agent, when he went to Green Bay. And we were trying to get him and he went to Green Bay. I think he was older than Albert is at this time and what he did to that defense and what he did to that team…

Walker: “Super Bowl.”

Cerrato: “Right.”

More to come. Thanks to Intern Bridgette for transcription help.

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