Friday, December 30, 2005

The Week That Was: December 18 - 24, 2005

What a gift the Redsking gave their fans! On Sunday, they crushed the Cowboys 35-7 and Saturday they embarrassed the Giants 35-20.

One game away from the playoffs. They just have to get past those pesky Iggles. Although wounded, the Iggles must not be overlooked. This game is their last chance to beat a NFC East rival this season. Pride is a motivating factor. As Iggles ND Kalu said, "Misery loves company. We aren't going to the playoffs. Why should they?"

Santana Moss, Clinton Portis and Chris Cooley can set Redskin single season performance records with a good game Sunday.

What a turnaround!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Redskins - Cowboys, Second Thoughts

The Cowboys and Redskins are near identical in their 2005 performance. Going into week 15, Dallas and Washington ranked sixth and seventh for offense in the NFC, with Dallas averaging 332 yards per game and Washington averaging 330 yards. On defense, they ranked sixth and fifth, with Dallas allowing 331 yards per game and Washington 299 yards. A single game separated their won-loss record with Dallas at 8-5 and Washington 7-5.

The experts picked the Cowboys to win a close game. So, how was it that the Redskins blew them out? Dallas did not take the Redskins seriously! That's human nature when you've won fifteen of the previous sixteen games and perceive the one loss to be a fluke. Before they appreciated how dangerous the Skins were, they were in too deep to recover.

The Giants will not be so complacent. Neither will the Cowboys anytime soon.

Cowboys fans are distraught at the loss judging by the rants and whines on Dallas game blogs. Their comments are almost identical to fan complaints leveled at the Redskins on The Warpath and other blogs.

The season is already a success with a sweep of the Cowboys and eight wins in the bank. Yet, if the Skins do not win ten games and make the playoffs, no one will remember it that way.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The buzz from Dallas

Dallas Morning News Columnist comments

"LANDOVER, Md. – I normally have a pretty good idea what to say to a player after a tough loss or a particularly poor individual performance. Well, nothing appropriate came to mind as I approached left tackle Torrin Tucker's locker moments after the Cowboys' 35-7 loss to the Redskins on Sunday.
"What happened?" is not really my style. "Tough day, Torrin," seemed trite. So I just showed up at his locker and sort of stared at him. This is a good approach to use when you want to make someone feel really awkward.
Tucker appeared to be fighting back tears, although I can't say that for sure. The third-year player had just given up at least four sacks to the Redskins. I use that number because I started to lose count.
'I let everyone down,' Tucker whispered after a long silence. "

"Cowboys wide receiver Terry Glenn has never been a quote machine. He normally leaves that to Keyshawn Johnson.
But after the crowd of reporters around Johnson had dispersed, I stopped by Glenn's locker for a few minutes. The funny thing is that I've always found him more willing to talk after a loss than a win. Other guys won't even look at you, but for some reason, the introverted Glenn sort of comes alive at those times.
A week after making six catches for 138 yards and a touchdown, Glenn only had two catches for 25 yards against the Redskins.
'We didn't really take it to heart,' he said. 'They wanted it more than we did.'"

"A day after his team suffered a devastating loss in Washington, Cowboys coach Bill Parcells wasn't able to provide many answers. "It wasn't good," Parcells said of Sunday's 35-7 loss to the Redskins. "That game just got further and further away." He blamed some of it on the "immaturity" of his young players, noting their performances in recent NFC East road losses to the Giants and Redskins. Asked what personnel changes he might make in response to Sunday's lopsided loss, Parcells said he didn't have many options."



It was the largest margin of victory for the Redskins against their bitter NFC East rivals and marked the first time they completed a sweep of the season series since 1995. The Cowboys had dominated the rivalry, winning 14 of 15 meetings before the Redskins rallied for a stunning 14-13 victory at Dallas on September 19 as Brunell hit Santana Moss with scoring passes of 39 and 70 yards in the final four minutes.

This time, the Redskins clearly proved they were the superior team, dominating both sides of the line of scrimmage. Led by Daniels, the Redskins sacked Drew Bledsoe seven times and forced the veteran quarterback to commit four turnovers.

Meanwhile, the Redskins' offensive line kept the Cowboys' pass rushers away from Brunell, who was not sacked once, and created holes for Clinton Portis, who rushed for 112 yards on 23 carries."


Capital Punishment: Cowboys Whipped In Every Fashion By Revved Up Skins, by Nick Eatman

"'Nobody played good today . . . nobody,' said linebacker Bradie James. 'We were just terrible. There's nothing more you can say. When nobody steps up and makes any plays, you're not going to win any games. And you're probably going to get beat pretty bad.'

"The defense, which had shut down the likes of LaDainian Tomlinson, Shaun Alexander and even Redskins tailback Clinton Portis the first time around, didn't put up much of a fight Sunday.

Not only did the Cowboys surrender 171 rushing yards, including 112 to Portis, but their tackling was slopping and they often looked confused on pass defense. Now the defense wasn't exactly playing at full strength, as cornerbacks Anthony Henry (groin) and Aaron Glenn (ankle in the game) rotated frequently at right corner in the first half. Left cornerback Terence Newman missed several plays after getting dinged, and even linebacker Mike Barrow, who played two straight series on defense, left the game shortly after with a sprained knee. This didn't even account for defensive end Chris Canty, who tried to play through a sprained ankle."

"Healthy or not, the Cowboys were no match for the Redskins, who have now won three straight games and have an outside shot to win the division as they play host to the Giants next week."

Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys.

Cowboys ain't easy to love and they're harder to hold.
They'd rather give you a song than diamonds or gold.
Lonestar belt buckles and old faded levis,
And each night begins a new day.
If you don't understand him, an' he don't die young,
He'll prob'ly just ride away.

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys.
Don't let 'em pick guitars or drive them old trucks.
Let 'em be doctors and lawyers and such.
Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys.
'Cos they'll never stay home and they're always alone.
Even with someone they love.

by Waylon Jennings
album: Waylon & Willie (w. Willie Nelson) [RCA Victor] (1978), Greatest Hits [RCA Victor] (1979), Ultimate Waylon Jennings [RCA] (2004), Super Hits, Vol. 2 [RCA] (1998),

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Take a Giant step

The Giants virtually sealed its grip on the NFC East with a convincing win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City tackling, or the lack of it, had as much to do with the Giants' success as Tiki Barber's rushing. The Giants won this game the way playoff teams should, with stout defense and strong running.

The Redskins are in their fix because they have not matched the Giants and Cowboys in finishing winnable games. The Skins are the only NFC East team to lose the the Chiefs. The season is redeemable. The Cowboys, Eagles and even the Giants can be had. So, have at 'em.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Redskins - Cowboys Game Handicap

It's Cowboys week and this time it means something. The Skins have utterly failed to keep up their end of this historic rivalry. Ironic that the Redskins declined when they were coached by Norv Turner, the Cowboys' former offensive coordinator. The Redskins playoff countdown is now "3 and 0 or we don't go."

If the Redskins sweep their last three games, they end the season 10-6 and will hold conference tiebreaker advantages. They will still need the Viking,Buccaneers or Giants to lose one more game for the playoffs to be a certainty. At 8-5, the Cowboys could lose this one and still be in the hunt for the wild card. If the Redskins lose another game, they will drop too far behind the other contenders. A 9-7 or 8-8 record will be a vast improvement over last year's 6-10; significant but insufficient.

There are plenty of game previews at football web sites. The numbers show the Cowboys and Redskins to be near equal in stats, with the Boys passing a bit better and the Skins having a slight advantage running.

Injuries on each team create weaknesses the other will test. Shawn Springs, Carlos Rogers and Walt Harris are nicked. All will play but could be vulnerable. Dallas will pass early to find out if they are, and we know Dallas can move the ball. If Ade Jimoh starts at cornerback, Terry Glenn and Keyshawn Johnson will spank him early and often.

Washington will have a two pronged counterpunch. First, disrupt the pass. Dallas' questionable offensive line is manned by rookies. They will be challenged. A heavy pass rush and blitzes could force Drew Bledsoe to throw early or erratically. Second, run the ball. Then, run it some more. The Redskins win when Clinton Portis rushes for 100 yards or more. After the Raiders game, the Skins offensive linemen implored the coaches to emphasis the ground game so that they could dominate the defense. The coaches listened.

I have to admit the Cowboys performed better over the season. They won the close games that the Redskins lost; last weeks thriller against the Chiefs is a good example. Normally, I would assert game plan supremacy by Joe Gibbs and Gregg Williams. Bill Parcells negates that.

Joe Gibbs teams feature slobber-knocking defense and ball control resulting in low scoring games. The Skins let close, low scoring games get away from them too many times this season. But that only happened once at FedEx, the mystifying loss to the Raiders. The gods were giving Norv Turner his due in that one. The Redskins must be ten points ahead by the middle for the fourth quarter as a safeguard. Anything less and Dan Snyder could sell antacid at triple the price at the concession stands. (and we know Snyder knows how to make a buck!).

The Skins showed an urgency in the Cardinal game. On third and short when Portis had the ball. The O-linemen swarmed around him and the group surged ahead for a critical first down. Urgency and focus born of desperation.

The Cowboys look like a 2-1/2 point favorite. The wild cards in this game are the return of James Thrash, the break out of Antonio Brown as receiver and punt returner, and the defense's recent ability to force turnovers. Excellence in any of those areas, along with avoidance of penalties, and the Skins could steal this one.

Fight for Ol' DC!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Smoot, What A Hoot Part II

As a follow up to my earlier story, The Minneapolis StarTribune reported that four Vikings players, including Fred Smoot, were charged with misdemeanors for indecent conduct. Daunte Culpepper was charges with receiving a lap dance from a stripper and touching her butt. My boy Fred was charged with using a sex toy on two other strippers. Apparently, the women involved are not the ones pressing charges.

Not to make light of this (wait, of course I'm making light of this), but I have this "friend" who says he's seen worse behavior in the local gentlemen's club. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but what happens at Al & Almas makes the news.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Not so fast there, cowboy.

No, not those cowboys! The 1-11 Houston Texans are a terrible team; so bad that the press now refers to their remaining games as the "Reggie Bush Bowl", implying that they will get the first pick in the 2006 draft and will take the standout back from Southern Cal. Not so fast there. If you are Houston, taking a quarterback may be the better choice. In Southern Cal's Matt Leinart you get a classic pocket quarterback in the Joe Montana mold. In Texas' Vince Young, you get a clone of Michael Vick, athletic, mobile, double threat.

Charlie Casserly, fired by Danny Snyder in '99, is Houston's general manager. It will be interesting to see which way he goes -- if he isn't fired by Houston first. What a disappointing season.

Redskinettes v. Cowgirls

As part of my research on the Redskins - Cowboys game, I've completed a thorough analysis of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. The Redskins cheerleaders win.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Happy Birthday Dad!

To commemorate the birthday of my late father who bought season tickets in 1962 and launched me on my career as a Redskin and football fan. Without either of us knowing it at the time, those games were the bonding experience of my lifetime. Some dads took their sons fishing or hunting. We went to Redskins games.

I resided elsewhere in the intervening decades; but whenever I saw a Redskins game on TV, it was never just a game. It was home.

Another Snyder Chicken Home to Roost

The headline reads Brad Johnson Still Haunts The Redskins. The story that first appears in the Newport News Daily Press describes how well Johnson has done since the Redskins declined to to keep him under contract after the 1999 season. The Skins, that is, Danny Snyder, preferred strong armed gunslingers like Jeff George or Patrick Ramsey to savvy, accurate, winning pocket passers like Johnson.

Devaluing Johnson was among Snyder's many sins in his Little Danny days. Those were the days when the the little Snyde thought building a team meant assembling famous players rather than matching talent to your style of play. Those were the days when game planning meant "go long," and that it would work as effortlessly as in Madden NFL. They were the days when he thought, because he was rich, he had the experience and moxie to evaluate talent, develop a game plan, run a team; or at least berate Norv Turner after every loss. A triumph of style over substance.

His sins were many.

  • He released GM Charlie Casserly and kept Norv Turner, for which he later apologized to Casserly for "firing the wrong man." Now that's showing support for your coaching staff during the season!
  • He fired Turner with three games to go in the 2000 season, when the Skins were 7-6 and still contending for a playoff spot, albeit with slim chance to make it. No one was sorry to see Turner go, but dismissing him at that point was surrendering the rest of the season.
  • With no experience, he directed talent evaluation and the draft, accumulating an odd mix of aging stars happy to make withdrawals from the Snyder ATM machine, but whose play was nowhere near their former glory.
  • He released NFL-experienced Marty Schottenheimer after one season and replaced him with NFL-inexperienced Steve Spurrier at twice the money. Schottenheimer was consistent in building near-great teams. He likely would have led the Skins to a 10-6 record in his second season with the same talent. Spurrier led them down the toilet with talent no one else wanted. He walked away from his lucrative contract with Snyder.
  • His flawed concepts of football systems lead him to release players like Johnson and Stephen Davis for the likes of George or Trung Canidate. He partially atoned for that when he refused to sign quarterback Danny Weurffel at Steve Spurrier's urging.
  • He offended many when he signed ex-Cowboy Deion Sanders to be a nickel back and benched the Redskins own Darrell Green from that role. Sanders never did anything that Green couldn't have done had he played. (I think that misstep could hurt Green's chance to be voted on the Hall of Fame.)

Snyder fancied that, because he owned the NFL franchise, he owned the right to do as he pleased. Professional football teams are a public trust, not a private sand box. Fans are invested in the team. Ownership is a privilege and sound management a responsibility. I've been a fan and keen observer of football for longer than Snyder is old. I've played fantasy football since 1990. I had more qualifications to run the Redskins than Little Danny. Neither of us had nearly enough for the job. I knew that, he didn't. But, Little Dan atoned for everything the day he hired Joe Gibbs. On that day Little Danny became "Mr. Snyder."

The Redskins are still doing penance for ill considered moves by Snyder and, lets be fair, by John Kent Cooke. The Skins haven't been a good team since the first Joe Gibbs era ended in 1993. It may take another two years to put things aright. And the team will get there, as long as real football people, not Mr. Snyder, call the shots.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Cowboys - Giants Game Handicap

The 7-4 Dallas Cowboys visit the 7-4 New York Giants in the Meadowlands. Both of these team are playing playoff caliber - not to say perfect - ball. The winner get a big leg up on the NFC East title.

The teams are even at quarterback and tight end, although Jerry Shockey is a bigger feature in the Giants's offense. New York has the edge at running back, but the Cowboys are well ahead at wide receivers. I've heard coach John Thompson say "pick the jockey, not the horse" when it comes to picking these things. That gives a clear edge to Dallas coach Bill Parcells.

If this were a fantasy game, I would call it Cowboys by three.

Redskins - Rams: Game Handicap

The 5-6 Redskins visit the 5-6 Rams in St. Louis. Two struggling teams trying to keep their wild card hopes alive. Redskins fans were thrilled when the Skins took Denver to the limit in week five. Washington lost a close one, 21 - 19, on the very last play. The Redskin faithful were not embarrassed. It was a moral victory.

Well, five "moral victories" later, players, coaches and fans have had enough. Enough of dominating statistically, but not on the scoreboard. Enough of holding the lead for three and a-half quarters only to lose it in the last four minutes. Enough of suffering drive-killing, point stealing, mind-numbing turnovers. Go ahead, lose the numbers game. Play from behind. Forget all that. Just focus on getting the win. "Refuse to lose" as George Allen put it. Get back to east coast football. Smash them in the mouth. Pound them in the dirt. Run it down their throats.

The Rams face some turmoil of their own that I don't understand. Front office conflict seems to affect play on the field. Mike Martz is out. But Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Stephen Jackson are in and they are dangerous. The Rams defense can be had. That doesn't mean the Redskins can have them.

The Skins haven't won a single game on the road this year. They've lost six of their last nine. They are contending with the Rams for a playoff spot and the Rams want that spot as much as the Redskins. The Rams are at home. To win, the Skins best shot is to disrupt the quarterback before he can deliver the ball to those excellent receivers. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not going to run from scrimmage, but Stephen Jackson will! The Rams returned to the running game when Martz took his medical leave and Jackson has been a weapon ever since. The Skins have been burned by running backs. They stifle them most of the game, then BOOM, off to the races. Spy Stephen Jackson.

If this were a fantasy game, I would give a plus to the Redskins at quarterback, a slight edge at running back and tight end. The Skins are undermanned at wide receiver. The Rams have a clear edge at receiver and are the near equal to Washington's running game.

Redskins: go back to your roots. Be a defense first, run-oriented team. Dominate possession and field position. Execute!

Redskins by 5.