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, from here.
2. Com. William Bainbridge, USN,
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 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 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,

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

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.