Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Somebody Save Me From Daniel Snyder

The Redskins beat Tampa Bay, but not by enough.

A win is a win, as Chris Samuels tweeted, but the Bucs lost the game as much as anything. They booted place kicker Mike Nugent from the team Monday after his two missed kicks cost them the win.

Samuels' attitude isn't good enough to save us...from Daniel Snyder blowing up the team again. Snyder making any kind of football decision is the biggest threat to the Washington Redskins.

Snyder's deputy, Vinny Cerrato, announced the appointment of Sherm Lewis as a special consultant, an "another set of eyes" on the offensive operations of the team (pun not intended).

Cerrato says it was his idea, but nobody believes that. Cerrato says head coach Jim Zorn approves of it. Nobody believes that either.

Pretty much everybody suspects this is the first step towards the banana peel for Jim Zorn.

In turning to Lewis, the Redskins picked a character with deep, if subtle, historic significance to the NFL.

Apart from the choice, the timing couldn't be worse. It's either 20 games too late, or 12 games too early.

Typical Snyder move.

Somebody save me!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Life Is A Circle And It Revolves Around Detroit

Washington Redskins v Detroit Lions

I hate the Detroit Lions, not from yesterday's game when the Lions beat the Redskins to make fans the laughingstock of the football world.

When you lose to the worst team in football, you take their monkey from their back to yours.

My dislike of the Lions dates back to the 'Seventies when I was a fresh new graduate of Michigan State.

My big new job was in the Detroit area. In the days before the Internet and the NFL's expansive view of revenue capture, one was forced to watch the local franchise and little else.

The Lions were tailing off of a 10-4 peak in 1970. They lost 31-10 to Bill Austins' Redskins that year. Austin was the Skins' interim coach after Vince Lombardi's death.

By 1973, Detroit was a shadow of itself. It burned me up that the local media and fans were in denial of that.

The Redskins were scheduled to play the Lions Thanksgiving Day. The night before the game, the local TV preview show pumped the 4-6-1 Lions' chance to make the playoffs.

I don't recall the MC's name. He was to Detroit as George Michael was to DC. That guy was thoroughly dismissive of the 8-3 Redskins, who was the defending NFC champion. Like George Allen's Over-The-Hill-Gang were all flukes.

That burned me up.

Washington shut Detroit out 20-0.


The turmoil created in the Lions fan base was delicious. How could the Lions lose to the Redskins?

Those Lions fans expected that the team would challenge for a title every year, but they cited team talent from the 1950s.

Fast forward four decades and I find that a large segment of Washington area residents dislike the Redskins for the same reasons.

Washington fans begin every year as though the Redskins are an under performing Gibbs era 12-4 team only one player away from another Super Bowl. Washington hasn't been that since 1991.

So there is always anguished surprise when Washington hovers around .500. Like now.

I understand the annoyance because I was on the receiving end of it in Detroit.

Snyder era Washington fans have become the Detroit fans of the 'seventies.

That memory flooded back to me as I watched the Redskins lose to the Lions.

Outsiders have as much fun knocking Skins fans down a peg as they do bashing Daniel Snyder.

The Redskins are playing to its talent level. With a break, they might reach 9-7, or 10-4 if someone in New York or Philadelphia gets hurt.

Here's MLB London Fletcher:

"We're not a great football team — never have been since I've been here — and it hasn't been in a long time, since, what, the '80s? It's been a long time since the Redskins have had a great football team. We have to come in here with a workmanlike attitude, with the mindset that we must work to win."
~~ From USA Today.

Some of this is the team beating itself up. Some of it is a realistic assessment of where they are.

I thought Washington could finish 9-7, but with this loss it's looking like 8-8, again.

The team needs a pick-up that can only come from the owner. Daniel Snyder has to stand up and say "I believe in you guys. Go out and win 10 games."

I doubt he will do that.

Master4Caster is not posting at this site regularly. His alter-ego now publishes at Hog Heaven. Follow the link to there, or check the Hog Heaven widget on this page.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Redskins Explode for Two-Point Win Over Rams

St. Louis Rams v Washington Redskins

Well, not really. But words can change attitudes, so lets call Washington's 9-7 escape over St. Louis a really good thing.

The best game summary by a blogger comes courtesy of DC Pro Sports Report who penned No Problem With Booing In Week 2.

Spense compliments Albert Haynesworth, pans the cornerbacks and receivers, and notes that Redskin legend and employee Sonny Jurgensen got testy with Jim Zorn's playcalling.

Careful Sonny. Take note that John Riggins is now a former radio personality on Redskins Radio.

Truthseeker at Riggo's Rag expresses fan frustration that led a lot of the Skins-friendly crowd at FedEx to boo the team.

Rich Tandler, as usual, bring level headed analysis to the game. Hit title, Monday Morning Apologist reveals his real feeling.

I went for mild sarcasm, much like the title of this post, on my pieces on Bleacher Report and syndicated to Hog Heaven.

Washington's offensive performance improved in week two in every way but scoring. Positive movement is a good thing. It shows the team, including Jim Zorn, is starting to get this offense with this group of players.

The offense is close to jelling and they are in the soft spot of their schedule to get things together.

Under-performing teams of 2008 aren't what make the schedule soft. Three of the next four opponents have rookie coaches. Zorn has a year up on them and it should show.

The Redskins should be 4-2 when they meet the Eagles October 26.

Even in their loss to the Saints yesterday, the Eagles scored more points (22) than the Redskins (9). The Eagles did that with their back-up quarterback, Kevin Kolb. The Eagles have Donovan McNabb, Jeff Garcia and Michael Vick on the bench...waiting.

But, first things first. The Detroit Lions are next up on the schedule. The Redskins have had the Lions number since forever. I need them to win big in Motown so I can sell my Tampa Bay tickets at face value.

Go Skins.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Something to Cheer For: Redskins 17, Steelers 13

The Washington Redskins 17-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers was the perfect antidote to last weeks shutout against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Redskins opening drive was especially encouraging.

Rock Cartwright returned the opening kick-off 24 yards.

Jason Campbell's first pass was a deep strike to Malcolm Kelly, broken up by Troy Polamalu.

Campbell's next two passes were incomplete, but the Redskins gained first down on a trick play when the ball was snapped to Rock Cartwright instead of to the punter. Cartwright ran 15 yards to the Steelers 45 yard line.

Clinton Portis ran two plays for five yards. Jason Campbell's completed pass to Antwaan Randle El was nullified by a penalty on LT Chris Samuels.

On third and ten, Campbell completed a 10 yard pass to Chris Cooley for the first down.

Washington ran on the next seven plays but were stopped at Pittsburgh two yard line. They took the field goal.

I liked the coach's play calling. Deep passes, fake punts show a new level of comfort and confidence by Jim Zorn. Zorn's development as a head coach is as vital to the season as that of any player.

Jason Campbell did not silence his critics with his one for seven showing for 10 yards.

Campbell said after the game that he was not going for numbers. He and Zorn were calling high risk plays.

Those early deep passes probably made it easier for the Skins to run during the drive. Zorn did not call for Campbell to throw when near the end zone. That might not be the case in a real game.

Zorn designated Ladell Betts as the third down back. I hope it works. I am skeptical, however. After Clinton Portis' eight yard run to the three yard line, Betts could not score on the following two attempts.

One of those plays might have been a Campbell pass attempt if the game really counted.

While I would liked to have seen a three-for-seven performance out of Campbell and a touchdown run by Betts, a win is something to cheer for.

If I had a vote, I'd pick Marko Mitchell over D.J. Hackett for the fifth receiver spot.


Greg Trippiedi, Hog Heaven: Hog Hits: Redskins 17, Steelers 14

Benjamin F. Folsom, III, The Curly R: Jailbreak on Every Down

Jason Reid, Redskins Insider: Zorn Evaluates Campbell's Performance

David Elfin, Redskins 360: A Star is Born

Matt Mosley, ESPN.com: Thoughts on Skins Win Over Pittsburgh

Rich Tandler, Real Redskins: No reason to get wee-weed up

The NFL Network will re-air the Redskins-Steelers preseason game Monday, August 24, 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Check local listings.

Friday, August 21, 2009

What To Do With the Washington Redskins Tickets

Times are tough. I have to let the Washington Redskins season tickets go.

Long time season ticket holders are anguished when it comes to this moment. My tickets have been a constant for me and my family from the Great Society through the Reagan Revolution up to the Age of Obama.

How do ticket brokers work?

StubHub, official ticket broker of the Washington Redskins, offers the tickets at the seller's price, which is typically high. The seller has to recover StubHub's 15 percent commission or eat that cost. As game day approaches, prices tend to fall.

StubHub's Web Site offers a search capability by seating section for the Redskins stadium, FedEx Field, with the number of tickets available in that section. That's a cool decision making feature you want to see on any online ticket broker site.

Surprisingly, StubHub prefers not to broker parking passes.

The agent cited company policy, but I gathered there were too many cases of the seller not shipping the parking pass with the tickets. I understand the need for the policy, but it's inconvenient for buyer and seller.

A local ticket broker offers face value for seven of the eight regular season games. I can select from the weaker opponents on the Washington Redskins schedule. The broker suggested the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs for the odd game out.

It's a quandry. Sell the tickets up-front at full face value for most of the games, or take a chance with StubHub and risk not closing a deal until September and the start of the regular season?

I suspect ticket prices are highest before the season begins, before anyone knows how the Redskins will perform.

A bad season by the Redskins risks a loss on brokering the tickets for late season games. A great season by the Redskins could lead to a premium over face value for last season games.

The Redskins have hovered around .500 since Joe Gibbs' return and departure. It's hard to read how to price the tickets.

Ticket demand by fans of the opponent drives prices, too. Sellers asked for premium prices ($125.00 each) for tickets for last season's Redskins vs Eagles game at FedEx Field, Sunday December 21, 2008, on the Thursday before the game.

That's the downside of FedEx Field. Jack Kent Cooke built a stadium large enough to accommodate all comers. There are always enough tickets to accommodate them, be they Eagles, Cowboys or Giants fans. And there are always tickets available on a per game basis for the Redskin fan not on the season ticket list.

Lower bowl seating is the clear preference, but you will pay for the privilege. My end zone seats provided unobstructed views of the field such that I did not need field glasses to see the action.

I only used the binoculars to focus on the Washington Redskins cheerleaders, the First Ladies of Football.

The upper deck works for those who want to attend the game. It's not a good experience. My upper deck seats lacked intimacy with the team. One might well watch the game from a skyscraper. It was hard to hear the Redskin Band play Hail To The Redskins fight song.

The Joe Gibbs Plaza Level, Section 300 Series, separates the upper from the lower deck. Plaza level patrons enjoy the sight lines and game experience comparable to the upper deck of old RFK Stadium.

Corporate and premium seats in the Plaza Level that drives the economic value of every franchise. FedEx Field was one of the first NFL stadiums to offer up-to-date corporate suites with indoor lounges, cigar bar and slightly upgraded food court. It's an irritant upper deck customers have to put up with.

Technology threatens to undercut live season tickets. Washington Redskins tickets for the lower bowl are $99.00 per seat per game. Stadium parking is $35.00 per game. Two or three seats plus the parking pass for the season, including tickets for the largely unwanted, hard to unload preseason game, costs about the same as a 40 inch big screen TV and new furniture for a home theater room.

That presents interesting options. Build your own football suite at home and cherry pick the games you want to see live at FedEx Field, or write check to Mr. Snyder for season tickets that are losing their luster?

Even without the bad economy, new technology and brokered ticket options make season tickets a tough sell for the team and ticket holder.

SEP 2 2009 UPDATE: See the Washington Post story Redskins Fans Waited While Brokers Got Tickets, an expose of Washington Redskins season ticket sales practices that led the team to vendor some of its tickets to brokers instead of fans on the waiting list. ASC Tickets, the broker alluded to in my story, and StubHub are mentioned.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


New York Giants Plaxico Burress Accidentally Shot Himself in the Leg

I am a Spartan, though I attended Michigan State long before Plaxico Burress played football there.

So I feel sorry for Plaxico; sorry to hear that he has been sentenced to two years in prison for possession of a weapon in New York.

Burress was the only one harmed when his gun accidentally discharged to wound him in the thigh. He was not the only one at risk.

The thing fans like least is the player who feels the rules don't apply to him. Their stories become morality plays.

It's legal to carry a concealed weapon in 41 States. New York is not one of them.

Still, to be both the victim and the perpetrator of the same crime and to be targeted by the local mayor to make a point....

Burress couldn't handle success. He got more out of control after his greatest success. He brought this upon himself.

Don't we all?

See Interview With Plaxico Burress' Lawyer

Football and Fantasy

August! Ah, yes.

Football season, pro, college, high school, and fantasy is close at hand.

ESPN980's promo picture for the fantasy football convention caught my, uh, attention. Staring at fantasy players is about all I do these days.

I'm a retired fantasy baller, preferring instead to suffer for my art as a writer.

There were two sites I followed religiously as an active fantasy GM/owner (1990-2004) in Grom's Fantasy League formed by co-workers in the Minneapolis branch of the world's largest computer technology company.

Joe Bryant's www.footballguys.com taught me 80 percent of everything I know about fantasy football, especially the concept of players tiered by position. His cheat sheets ranked the skill players within tiers.

Tiered ranking helped to avoid the second biggest error when drafting a fantasy team: over-reaching for stars. Do that and you'll build an unbalanced roster.

For example, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees might be listed in the top tier of 2009 fantasy quarterbacks. (I haven't seen Bryant's list for this season, so this is hypothetical.) These three could be expected to deliver near the same fantasy points over the season, so they have equal value on fantasy draft day.

Here's the kicker. Pass up the chance to draft a higher tiered player at another position in a reach for your favorite quarterback will come back to haunt you.

Wide receivers get six points for catching a touchdown pass. Quarterbacks get three points for throwing one. Quarterbacks score more often. Receivers will get you more points per score.

But there's only one quarterback on a starting line-up while there are two or three wide receivers. Your objective is to build a balanced team that consistently scores from every position. Think of players by position and ranked by tiers on draft day on draft day and you will likely arrive at the right assortment of players for balanced scoring without getting carried away by any one star.

Balanced fantasy teams and tiered players inform my own thinking about real football teams. Imbalanceed teams are flawed teams. It's a pointer to which NFL clubs will not be post-season contenders.

We need not mention names of any local teams here. I've pointed fingers at them enough. Instead, look at the 2008 Denver Broncos: strong passing game, injured running backs, poor defense. They finished out of the playoffs in spite of a great start.

Joe Bryant is the founder of Bryant Boats. I've never met the man, but I've enjoyed his emails since 1992.

The guys at Fantasy Football Champs also have very good fantasy draft kits with spreadsheets that you can customize to your league's scoring system. They shine during the season, though.

Their projections on which players to start each week helped me get the most from my roster with success as measured by playoff appearances. No, I did not make the Fantasy Bowl every year, but I was a contender.

I wrote a sports column under the pen name Master4caster for my league in which I predicted the winner of upcoming games using a math formula derived from FFC's weekly projections. I correctly pick the winner of fantasy contests 67 percent of the time.

That happy experience led to the start of this blog in 2005 and later to work on Hog Heaven and Bleacher Report where I now deliver football content.

Site Meter says I still get hits on this site. Thank you for that. Check out my archive for old stories about the Washington Redskins football team. Hop over to http://redskinshogheaven.com for my latest on the team.

Follow me on Twitter @SkinsHogHeaven.

Become a fan of Hog Heaven on Facebook. Click here.

Not compensated by www.Footballguys.com or by www.fantasyfootballchamps.com for this review.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Michael Vick Still Draws Traffic

A quick check of my traffic count shows that Michael Vick is still a draw.

Fifteen of the last 20 referrals to this site were clicks to the story Why Michael Vick is Worried posted August 14, 2007.

So now Running Redskins is a Michael Vick referral site?

I'll make it easy for you. Here's the link to to Micheal Vick archive on Running Redskins. All of it written in 2007.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Football World is All A-Twitter

These new technologies start out on the fringe as solutions looking for problems. Then they sneak up on you.

Twitter crossed that bar from the province of teen-agers and the empty headed, not necessarily the same people, who post vain and vapid microblogs of their action at a given moment.

Then Michael Lombardi put me straight. The former Oakland Raider front-office executive who now writes for The National Football Post tweets.

Tweeting is the act of posting 140 character entry on Twitter.

When Twitter was new and experimental, folks, like me, posted under a screen name...that whole "names were changed to protect the innocent" thing. But Lombardi tweets under his own name and as a front for The National Football Post.

That's different.

Eyes opened, I began to see that others are on Twitter and posting as their real identities.

Players agent Drew Rosenhaus tweets, as do his Redskin clients Devin Thomas and Rocky McIntosh and others.

Sports Illustrated Peter King tweets.

Local newspapers covering the Washington Redskins, New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys tweet.

NFL players Larry Fitzgerald, Champ Bailey, TJ Houshmandzadeh, Terrell Owens (25,499 followers), Chris Cooley, Mark Sanchez, Eli Manning (sorta) tweet.

Even the NFL tweets.

The media tweets to shill story that links back to the web site where value is created -- and revenue captured.

The players are mostly in the "what are you doing now" mode. Champ Bailey, 11:33 am, May 28: "itsucks when potato chip bags are half full!"

The fact that Twitter has attracted real people who tweet under their real names says there's a sea change for the platform.

Once, you didn't take Twitter seriously. Now, if you don't tweet, you aren't taken seriously.

Jon Jansen's Loss Could Be Fred Davis' Gain

The Washington Redskins said good-bye to veteran tackle Jon Jansen today. Though not surprising, the news still hits with a shock.

Stephon Heyer looks to be the man with Jansen gone. But just last January it was a given that Heyer was not starter material. While we count on Heyer's development as a right tackle, Jim Zorn and Joe Bugel may have something else in mind to boost the line, Fred Davis and the two tight end set.

...more on Bleacher Report

Jason Campbell and the Beastly Quarterbacks

The only certainty about the Washington Redskins' upcoming season is that Daniel Snyder is disenchanted with his quarterback, Jason Campbell.

Campbell finished the 2008 season ranked 19th in passing yards, sandwiched between Carolina’s Jake Delhomme and Jacksonville’s David Garrard.

That was enough to drive Redskin owner Daniel Snyder mad…for Jay Cutler and Mark Sanchez, both of whom would have single-handedly overcome late season breakdowns on the offensive line and the slow development of rookie wide receivers. Apparently.

Washington’s maneuvers raise a question. How does Jason Campbell compare to other NFC East quarterbacks at the same point in their development?

...more on Bleacher Report

Shaun Alexander or Marcus Mason

Free-agent RB Shaun Alexander (Redskins) said during a radio interview with KNBR in San Francisco that he would like to return to play for the Washington Redskins this season

...more on Redskins Hog Heaven

I don't know what to call this, wishful thinking or abject denial.

Get Off Daniel Snyder's Back

When you see one of those rankings of NFL organizations, you learn to look from the bottom up for Washington's ranking.

These things always turn into a bash-Daniel Snyder thing.

I understand that Snyder got that reputation the hard way; he earned it. I get that. But it's tiresome to see high name recognition player and big contracts always tied back to Snyder and the Washington Redskins, followed by how it all goes wrong, often before Snyder makes the decision.

...more on Redkins Hog Heaven

The Redskins Have a Ticketing Deal Just for Me

A suspicion is abroad that Washington Redskin season ticket sales face challenges in this most challenging of economic seasons.

More evidence arrived in my email box this morning. Here's the note under the heading Extra Lower Level Season Tickets:

Due to a Redskins Sponsor seat relocation, a unique opportunity exists to purchase in your section, additional Lower Level seats. In addition, inside-the-beltway parking is available with the extra tickets. There are a limited number of seats remaining and will be sold on a first come, first serve basis. Payment plans are available.

Please call the Redskins Ticket Office at 301-276-6050.

Hmmm. Maybe this means nothing. It makes sense that current season ticket holders would be offered adjacent seats.

Would that offer come before or after the offer to someone on the waiting list?

Put that together with another Redskin ticket offer received May 27 and you wonder.

You are eligible for an upgrade of your lower level end zone seats to the corner of the end zone through the 10 yard line. This upgrade is at no additional cost to you.

I've never received offers like this before, much less two of them within two weeks.

I'm guessing there's an erosion in the season ticket fan base. Whether from the economy or dissatisfaction with the way the team is managed is the $64 question.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

No Kentucky Derby Post Time for Me

Well, that was a dud.

No, not the 135th running of th Kentucky Derby won by 50-1 long-shot Mine That Bird. The horse ran the race you'd expect to see in the movies; National Velvet without Liz Taylor.

No, I'm referring to my post If the NFL Ran the Kentucky Derby that ran on Bleacher Report and on Hog Heaven.

It seemed like a neat tie-in for the week between the NFL Draft and the Derby. But the story only gathered nine views on Bleacher Report between Wednesday and Derby day (Saturday) and a mere 17 on Hog Heaven.

Lesson learned. You can't push water uphill. You can't talk a niche topic on a football site and expect an audience.

I spend a lot of time thinking about boring organizational issues in managing a NFL team. It strikes me that pro football is exponentially better at building an audience than the horse racing industry.

The NFL promotes its stars -- the players on the field. Horse racing appears to promote handicapping. (Capital "T" that rhymes with "B" that stands for betting.)

Horses are the dynamic personalities in the sport. Racing sees horses as the basis for gambling.

Dependence on gambling is killing the sport, in contrast to the NFL which keeps a strict, arms-length relationship to gambling. You don't see parimutuel windows at NFL stadiums.

The disengagement forces the NFL to build other streams of revenue: TV contracts, endorsements, expensive ticket sales, logoed-items. The NFL has revenue the Jockey Club must drool over.

Gambling invites restriction by States and disapproval by tsk-tsk moralists.

The Maryland Jockey Club laments the decline of the sport in Maryland. What do they ask for? Slot machines to match Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

What do they get? A long, drawn out fight that results in slots package that gives the horsemen a smaller cut than they say they need to survive and bidders disinterested in horse track locations.

Instead of slots, the horsemen might have asked for tax breaks, or subsidized prize money, or livestock incentives. Maryland would likely have turned those ideas down too, because of the gambling.

I'll wager that Maryland wouldn't have turned them down if the case were made to save a horse personality, like Spectacular Bid.

Maryland has a rich thoroughbred tradition. From the Maryland Horse Breeder's Association web site:

Marylanders have been breeding and racing Thoroughbred horses for more than 250 years. From the famed 18th century race mare and producer Selima (by the Thoroughbred foundation sire the Godolphin Barb) to such 20th century champions as Gallant Fox, Omaha, Native Dancer, Nashua, Kelso, Ruffian, Spectacular Bid and Broad Brush, Maryland-owned Thoroughbreds have been providing both excitement and profits for Free Staters.

The battle for support was led by Magna Entertainment, a track operator now in bankruptcy.

The NFL would have based the fight with saving Joe Flacco. The Jockey Club would have done better by hiring the NFL to lead its fight.

Hmm. Another great post that nobody will read. Thought I learned that lesson! :-P

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Redskins Schedule Set

This year's bill has a high soap opera factor. Here's some of the drama.

Redskins @ New York Giants, Sun., Sept. 13, 4:15 p.m. ET, FOX
Oooohhh nooooo, Mr. Bill. Not another home opener against the Jersey Gints. Those guys put the "beat" in Beast.

St. Louis Rams @ Redskins, Sun., Sept. 20, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX
OG Pete Kendall showed the best hands on the Redskins in the Ram's last visit (week 6, 2008). He grabbed a tipped ball just as it was about to hit the ground near the end of the first half. Then he lost the ball as he was tackled, turning a likely incomplete pass to a definite fumble recovery by St. Louis' Oshiomogho Atogwe who ran it 75 yards for a touchdown, giving the Rams the lead and the win nobody expected. Washington has no one to blame for that loss but themselves. This year, the Skins won't take these guys lightly.

Redskins @ Detroit Lions, Sun., Sept. 27, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX
Can anyone tell me who will be on the Lions this year? Anyone? Lions GM, and former Redskin DB, Martin Mayhew are the only familiar names.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Redskins, Sun., Oct. 4, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX
The Bucs are a mystery with a brand new coach, new quarterback and no Derrick Brooks. Don't you just hate playing one of these teams before you get a lot of tape on them? The vaunted Redskin pass rush should have a field day against presumed starter Byron Leftwich who is noted for his strong arm and slow feet. The vaunted Redskin pass rush better have a field day.

Redskins @ Carolina Panthers, Sun., Oct. 11, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX
The Redskins showed a striking inability in an exhibition game last season to stop the Panthers on the ground. Albert Haynesworth is supposed to fix all that.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Redskins, Sun., Oct. 18, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS
Can Matt Cassel without Josh McDaniels elevate a lesser team? "Oh Toto, I don't think we're in Boston anymore."

Philadelphia Eagles @ Redskins, Mon., Oct. 26, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Shouldn't we be playing Dallas in a night game? Oh wait; That comes later this season.

BYE, Sun., Nov 1
Mid-season Byes are the best, especially after Monday night action.

Redskins @ Atlanta Falcons, Sun., Nov. 8, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX
Atlanta will not sneak up on teams this season. The Dirty Birds swapped a player and two second day draft picks for...two second day draft picks. What is Tom Dimitroff up to?

Denver Broncos @ Redskins, Sun., Nov 15, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS
Jason Campbell to Josh McDaniels: "I'll show you."

Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys, Sun., Nov 22, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX
Four of the next seven games, starting with this one, are against the Beast. That will be the tale of the season. T.O. is gone, so all the Cowboys problems are solved, right?

Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles, Sun., Nov. 29, 1:00 pm. ET, FOX
Back to back road wins over the 'Boys and Iggles last season gave the Skins a false sense of security. Hope they learned their lesson. First things first. They have to get past them Iggles. This is why DeAngelo Hall got the big bucks.

New Orleans Saints @ Redskins, Sun., Dec. 6, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX
Ever hear of the Snyder Jinx? Former Redskins coaches dumped by Daniel Snyder have a habit of beating the Skins on their return meeting. This time it's Gregg Williams, defensive coordinator of the Saints. Pierson Prioleau is over there, too.

Redskins @ Oakland Raiders, Sun., Dec 13, 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX
I have no earthly idea what to expect from the Raiders.

New York Giants @ RedskinsMon., Dec 21, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
The first of two late season consecutive night games. The schedule-makers must think the Skins will still be in this thing.

Dallas Cowboys @ Redskins, Sun., Dec 27, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC
If everything works out, the games with the Giants and Cowboys will determine the division title. Go Skins!

Redskins @ San Diego Chargers, Sun., Jan 3, 4:15 p.m. ET, FOX
Ever hear of the Snyder Jinx? Norv Turner cried when he beat the Redskins in 2005. Now he's with a better team. On the other hand, he's still Norv Turner and in his third year of working his magic on the Chargers.

NFL games are subject to flex scheduling after November 22.

Monday, April 13, 2009

US Navy To The Rescue

When you are a history buff like me, you see parallels to the past to the past in current events. Everything that's happened has happened before.

So I marvel at, but am not surprised by, the rescue of American merchant captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates by the United States Navy.

Fighting pirates was one of the original tasks of the U.S. Navy when it was established in 1798.

What struck the buff in me is that the USS Bainbridge (DDG-96) was the nexus of the Navy's effort to confront the pirates. The Bainbridge is the fifth naval vessel named for Commodore William Bainbridge, USN, whose legacy as one of the fathers of the U.S. Navy rests on his confrontation with pirates and other accomplishments.

Bainbridge's 1800-'01 experience against the Barbary Coast pirates included the payment of bribes, under orders, to the Dey of Algiers. His stay would lead to serving as de facto ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at Constantinople, now Istanbul.

Bainbridge's success with the Sultan led to his return to Algiers with orders from the Sultan for the release of 400 prisoners captured by the pirates.

In 1803, while commanding the 44 gun frigate Philadelphia, Bainbridge ran the vessel aground and was captured by the Tripoli pirates. The Navy, in an action led by Lieut. Stephen Decatur and a contingent of US Marines, was obliged to burn the vessel rather than see it fall in the hands of Tripoli.

Bainbridge and his men were held captive for 19 months. He was acquitted by a Court of Inquiry for the action that led to the loss of the Philadelphia. As with most captains who run their ships aground, Bainbridge was assigned to shore duty at the New York navy yard.

Professor of history Thomas Jewett would call Bainbridge America's Unlucky Sea Captain.

History wasn't done with Bainbridge. With the declaration of war against Britain in 1812, Bainbridge was given command of a naval flotilla consisting of the frigates USS Constitution, under his personal command, USS Essex, under Capt. David Porter and the sloop Hornet, under Capt. James Lawrence.

Bainbridge would face and defeat the 49 gun British frigate Java in December 1812. His squadron achieved such extraordinary accomplishment so that Constitution, Essex, Hornet, and Bainbridge, remain valorous names in American naval lore. All but Constitution, have been the names of several U.S. naval vessels.

In 1815, Bainbridge commanded a powerful squadron in a show of force off Tripoli where the rulers again resorted to piratical acts against American merchantmen in the Mediterranean.
His namesake vessel seems to have come full circle with its role in the Somali adventure.

History teaches several lessons.

Payment of bribes to pirates is ultimately self-defeating. Modern day shipping companies and their insurers have resorted to paying ransom to Somali pirates for captured merchant ships and crew.

Even when the payments are are a mere percentage of cargo value, rewarding lawlessness only begets more lawlessness. It's simple human nature.

Somalia is a backward, largely ungoverned, land whose citizens have an unclear understanding of the value of the cargo contained on the ships they capture. But they are learning fast that shippers will pay much more than they've been asking to get cargo and crew back.

Both the number of incidents and the extortion demands are rising.

The feel good story of Capt. Phillip's rescue gives the immediate satisfaction of "don't mess with the U.S." It's as likely to drive the Somalians to shoot first next time, or worse, to tie themselves to bin Laden.

As was William Bainbridge's experience, military and naval power is insufficient without an equal diplomatic component.

There is no pan-Muslim Sultanate to negotiate with as Bainbridge did. That's fortunate. An anti-Western Caliphate is exactly what Osama bin Laden would like to re-establish. We don't want to negotiate with him.

The world won't solve the problem of Somali pirates until it solves the problem of Somalia. An Iraq style regime change is not the best course of action. The solution lays in a better way than piracy for the Somali to make a better living.

There are sure to be setbacks in this campaign. Occasional failure no predictor of an ultimate defeat.

William Bainbridge could tell you that.
Photo Credits.
1. USS Bainbridge by MCPL Kevin Paul, The Maple Leaf, www.forces.gc.ca from here.
2. Com. William Bainbridge, USN, www.history.navy.mil
3. “Burning of the Frigate Philadelphia in the Harbor of Tripoli, February 16, 1804.” Oil on canvas by Edward Moran (1829-1901).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

In sports blogging, the name is the game

Tre Wells has an interesting premise in his Bleacher Report story How The NFL Is Destroying rivalries.

"Over the years the NFL has promoted its players over its teams. A marketing strategy of selling the stars of the game, over the cities of the teams, makes a lot of money in jersey sales, but diminishes the value of a rivalry. It no longer was the Green Bay Packers vs. the Chicago Bears. It was Brett Favre vs. Brian Urlacher."

True. True.

But is the NFL mistaken to do that?

I long ago noticed higher traffic for posts here and on Hog Heaven that headlined a player rather than the team.

"Redskins going to the dogs" would bring a few hits. "Clinton Portis comments about dogs" might boost traffic by a factor of two or three.

It's a stronger headline that mentions both player and team name. Try to mention the full team name--both city and mascot--at least once somewhere in the post to make it easier for search engine spiders to categorize the story.

It seems that fans love their team, but follow their players. That's too much for some owners to resist. They build the roster by bringing in a few big name stars as opposed to growing talent that fit the scheme of the team.

I'm not singling out any owners because the owner I'm thinking of is not the only one follow the practice.

We, however, are concerned about building blogs, not football teams. Building posts around a well known player will generally get more hits than a story about the team.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

We live to write. We write to be read.

OK, so my whole initiative to become an Internet marketing magnate is off to a slow start. Daniel Snyder I am not.

The payoffs for most bloggers are hits and linkbacks. Like writers of every media, bloggers write to be read.

Writing For The Web

After writing for blogs, starting with this one in 2004, I've learned a few things about writing for the web, all of it can be reduced to two sentences.

Use short sentences. Use little words.

They Aren't Reading You, Anyway

A writer named Jakob Neilsen reported way back in 1997 that web (blog) visitors don't read a web page. They scan it.

It may surprise you to know that the more literate the reader, the more likely they are to scan the page. Says Neilsen: "On the average Web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely."

That's indirect confirmation of something I observed at Hog Heaven and here on Running Redskins. Most Web visitors make a stay-or-go decision within 10 seconds of hitting the page.

Hungry For More?

This was an exercise in web writing where every paragraph contained two sentences. If you liked it, link back to it.

Please. I write to be scanned.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

How would you feel if you were Jason Campbell?

Frank over at dc.metblogs.com tries some analogies for how Jason Campbell must feel after being told that he was "the guy" at quarterback for the Washington Redskins.

Is he a guy who got fired only to have the company call him back and say whoops-we wanted to fire you, but we can’t?

Is he the guy who’s girlfriend tried to date a better guy only to come back and say “actually, you’re as good as I can do.” ?

I can't relate because none of these things ever happened to me!

Any sentient being or starting quarterback with a pulse must fight feelings of rejection after going through what Campbell did last week.

Our Jason was marginalized by three teams, the Redskins, the Denver Broncos and the Chicago Bears. Peter King wrote on SI.com that Daniel Snyder was not close to making this deal once Denver's new coach preferred Chicago's Kyle Orton for his system instead of Jason Campbell.

Kyle Orton? The Broncos turned down the Snyderskins offer because of a preference for Kyle Orton?

So how does it feel to be rejected in favor of Kyle Orton?

And more important, how does it make Daniel Snyder feel knowing that his second big deal of the off-season was torpedoed because Denver more or less confirmed his own low regard for his quarterback?

Don't think for a minute that The Danny is chastened by this episode.

Snyder's not thinking that he should have followed the plan and allowed Campbell to have his second season with Jim Zorn because that's the fastest way of getting a productive, winning quarterback.

No, he's thinking what could he have done to pull off the deal?

Like, oh maybe, offering Campbell to Chicago for Orton instead of a second round draft choice. Then he would have had the quarterback commodity Denver really wanted before the Bears had a clue of where they really stood with Denver.

Surely, Chicago wasn't the only team to turn down Snyder's offer to trade Campbell for a second round pick.

So, Campbell may be P-O'd, as he should be, and motivated, as he must be. But he's also forewarned that the real progress he showed last season was not enough. He hasn't closed the sale with his next employer, whoever that may be.

He must double his 2008 performance of 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. If Jay Cutler (and Eli Manning and Tony Romo) proved anything, it's that 18 INTs is acceptable when you throw 25 TD passes and have 7+ yards per attempt.

Clinton Portis will be 30 this season, the age after which running backs begin to decline. The offensive line will face a major rebuild after 2009. There's no "next year" for these guys.

The Redskins must make a deep playoff run right now. Campbell must be the playmaker who wins by force of will. Thirteen touchdowns in 16 games won't cut it, no matter the quality of your receivers and blockers.

Either Campbell makes himself a franchised player for 2010, or he's looking at Patrick Ramsey's post-Redskins career path.

I believe Jason Campbell has it in him to do it.

But he has to do it.

Just do it.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Jay Cutler To The Redskins; Nevermind

"The Chicago Bears pulled the big upset Thursday afternoon by acquiring Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler." ~~ John Clayton, espn.com.

So the Broncos and Da Bears made April Fools of Snyder and Cerrato.

Of Jay Cutler and Jason Campbell

If you only read one analysis of the Jay Cutler to the Redskins storyline, go take a look at Jay Brinson's story Jay Cutler Is in Redskins' Wheelhouse on nfl.fanhouse.com.

Brinson doesn't stop with a head-to-head comparison of Jay Cutler's and Jason Campbell's stats. He turn's to Football Outsiders' stat analysis to show that Cutler is two and a-half times more effective than Campbell per play and yields more yardage.

This is hard for me to write since I am a Campbell fan who still believes in the kid. I also believe in Football Outsiders. Their numbers are hard to ignore.

Also hard to ignore is Cutler's three years in the same system under the same coach that allowed Cutler to run high up the learning curve.

Whether Cutler would have been as successful in Washington's turmoil of the past three years doesn't give pause to anyone at Redskin Park.

Brinson is one of the first to wonder out loud, if Jay Cutler comes to Washington, can Mike Shanahan be far behind?

Meanwhile, over on Hog Heaven, I ask why Denver coach Josh McDaniels hasn't been fired by now?

Jason Campbell should be glad to go to Denver if he gets the chance.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Change Has Come to GM

"In a startling departure, the Obama administration has decided that the price of failure in America should be failure."

~~ Roger Simon, politico.com

Regardless of the writings of Adam Smith, the markets are emotional, not rational.

President Obama decided Friday that General Motors' restructuring plan did not restructure enough to make the company viable. Nor would it be with GM Chairman & CEO Rick Wagoner behind the wheel.

Obama demanded that Wagoner step down as the price for consideration of any more government bailout. Wagoner did so, to his credit, on Sunday.

Wagoner continued a pattern of thinking that left America's automobile champion in a near death condition. Wagoner had to go.

The initial outcry about government intrusion in a matter best handled by the private sector was heart rending, as much as it can be for oppressed CEOs of failing businesses.

But, what's a president to do when the private sector, in the form of GM's board of directors, doesn't, you know, handle the matter?

What Obama did.

That was something of a shock to investors, on Monday.

"The big developments of Washington's edicts to General Motors and Chrysler hit Wall Street very hard on Monday, as investors like the idea of bailouts with no strings attached far better than they like the idea of bailouts with strings attached."

~~ Paul Hoosen, WizBangBlue.com

Lets sum this up. The guy who led GM to lose 90 percent of its market value and $80 Billion in losses since 2005, not to mention the loss of worldwide market leadership to Toyota, is finally forced from his job and the stock market tanks for a day.

See? Emotional.

Master4Caster Is Back

The author of this blog (me) delivers content to Hog Heaven on the Most Valuable Network of sports blogs as the primary outlet.

Yet Running Redskins continues to get hits, about 40 per day, from interested readers. Thank you. That humbles me. It also inspires me.

So, Running Redskins will be revived with thoughts and comments about our favorite team, the Washington Redskins, football, sports, blogging and thoughts worth exploring.

Often, you'll find summaries of Hog Heaven posts here and scratch pads of ideas for future posts here or other sites.

First off the bat (baseball reference, sorry) will be whether Joe Gibbs' influence on the Redskins. I think it's waning.