Friday, December 29, 2006

The world upside down

Going into the season, I projected the NFC East ranking to be:

  1. Washington
  2. New York
  3. Dallas
  4. Philadelphia

Reality is the reverse of expectations. Who knew?

At the end of this most forgettable year, The Redskins and Giants inhabit the bottom of the division. The Redskins were never a factor in the playoff race. The Giants have dropped six of their last seven and look to a tumultuous offseason. They can make the playoff whether or not they beat the Skins Saturday, but won't get far the way they are playing. has a video preview of the game. It may be found on the home page titled "Ready for better days" with Plaxico Burress pictured. (You may have to use the "next cover story" hot key to advance to the "better days" story.) Look for the NYG-WAS Preview link among the story offerings.

Redskin alumnus Fred Smoot suffered a broken jaw in five places as a result of a one car accident during the Christmas break. Smoot was a passenger in the car and the only one with a serious injury.

Fred has not done well since leaving the Redskins after 2004. He lost the starting position for the Vikings and the love boat incident damaged his reputation. What a lousy way to end the year.

Not to make light of it, but I like the way the blogger at The Sports Dirt put it: Broken jaw which the universe probably meant for Terrell Owens sidelines Fred Smoot.

Arch Speaks
An interview of Adam Archuleta, whom the Redskins made the wealthiest safety in the league, then buried deep in the roster, is shown on He was subdued and did not speculate on what may happen in the offseason. posted a link to an ESPN article that quoted Archuleta stating the Skins have not been upfront with him in reference to his benching. "I don't like getting lied to," he says. This can only end badly.

So was Archuleta wrong for taking a potload of Mr. Snyder's money, or was it Gre-double G for bringing him on board? What's certain is that circumstances forced the team to use Archuleta differently than intended.

When signed, the Skins cited Archuleta's run stopping ability. He was to be a linebacker lite and bring pressure in the pass rush. Rocky McIntosh was drafted as an every down backer who could cover. With Archuleta threatening to blitz and McIntosh fading to coverage where Arch was, momentary confusion by the offense would allow just enough of a slip to let Arch or another defender blow up a play. Classic Gregg Williams! Clever, if it worked.

That scheme was shelved when Shawn Springs and Pierson Prioleau went down. Mcintosh was slow to catch on. Suddenly, the Redskins needed safeties who could cover deep. Archuleta and Sean Taylor are big hitters. Their role is to intimidate, not smother, receivers. The shock and awe secondary delivered aw shit performance.

The coaching staff's treatment of Archuleta has a whiff of LaVar Arrington. Better people skills may have redeemed the Arrington situation and for a contract similar to LaVar's New York deal. The Redskins miss his playmaking ability. Better people skills may have preserved a positive relationship with Archuleta. He too has valuable skills and his career is not done. It's just done here.

"We have wide receivers that have not been given the opportunity to be as productive as we know that they can be." ~~ Al Saunders from Coaches Corner, December 28, 2006.

Fred Smoot photo from The Minnesota Vikings. Archuleta-Gibbs photo from The Washington Redskins.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A safe and non-controversial Christmas, er, Holiday Greeting

Best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non addictive, gender neutral, winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most joyous traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, but with respect for the religious persuasion of others who choose to practice their own religion as well as those who choose not to practice an organized religion at all; and a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions have helped make our society great, without regard to the race, creed, color, or religious or sexual preferences of the wishers or wishees.


  • This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal.
  • It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for themselves or others and no responsibility for any unintended emotional stress these greetings may bring.
  • No warranties express or implied.
  • Void where prohibited by law.

Please recycle. No animals were harmed in the drafting of this notice. Only recycled bits, bytes, and electrons were used.

I wish I were clever enough to have created this, but it came to me in a email. I am Christian and this is Christmas, so I wish all of you the joy and happiness of the season in the spirit it was intended. Where ever you go and what ever you do, may God bless!


Friday, December 15, 2006

Hopes that were high

And hopes that were high in the heat of September,
Wilt and die in the chill of November.
November can be cold.
November can be surly;
With bitter rain upon the world
And winter coming early.
~~ NFL Films

Second-guessing is all that’s left of this Deadskin season, with fingers pointed at the coach-in-chief. To his credit, Joe Gibbs has always said “it all starts with me.” AP reporter Joseph White penned a story about Gibbs’ assessment of the year, broadly laying out his approach to the off-season. The biggest story is Gibbs’ intent to return in 2007, along with the deputy coaches. That’s a good thing. Frequent change hurts the Redskins. Stability helps the team (meaning Jason Campbell) be more effective next year. In this case, familiarity breeds rewards. What’s worrisome is the coach’s contention that their process of assessing talent won’t change. Humph!

On Thanksgiving Friday, Hog Heaven published It All Starts With Joe Gibbs looking at the breakdown in achievement of two of the coach’s main goals: build a winning organization and update the offense. The story contends that Gibbs made too many changes at once. In any other circumstance, we would have recognized all those moves as rebuilding steps. Instead we all (players, coaches, fans) worked ourselves to a such frenzy over the ’05 finish, that we saw all those changes as additive. Now, 2006 and 2007 are rebuilding years. Hog Heaven concludes that, while Gibbs’ choices were the issues, Gibbs is the answer.

Two of our team’s remaining opponents are playing for their playoff life, giving them the motivational advantage.

Bad as the season is, the record is liberating. The players can play for fun as well as to save their career butts. As long as they are not so loose that they make stupid mistakes, the games should be more enjoyable for them and for us.

The coaches can take risks that otherwise wouldn’t be prudent. Next time the Skins are in the Red Zone five yard line on fourth and short, don’t take the field goal. GO FOR IT!

And, lets not do it with Randle El gadget plays.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Redskins were doomed by overconfidence

At least according to Redskins DE Phillip Daniels, overconfidence from last season's success contributed to the team's downfall this season.

Read AP reporter Joseph White's story here.

Phillip Daniels photo from


Monday, December 11, 2006

GO for it!

At points in the season, Running Redskins engaged in a low level, friendly debate with The Curly R on whether to take the points or go for it on fourth and short situations. Master4caster usually holds that you are better off taking the easy field goal rather than risk coming away pointless. The Redskins Sunday were in two situations when they should have taken their chances and gone for it.

When you have something to lose, you limit risks and play the percentages. The Redskins have nothing more to lose. There isn't much difference between a 7-9 and a 5-11 record, so they are free to take calculated risks.

In the third quarter on third and twelve, Jason Campbell scrambled for ten yards to the Eagles two. The way Ladell Betts was running, and no assurance the team would make it back to the Red Zone, a fourth down running play for a touchdown was the smart play; "smarter" meaning a better chance to win. The successful field goal still left the Skins down by two scores. A touchdown would have had them down by one score, 21-13. Assuming all subsequent scoring, the Skins would have won the game 23-21. If they missed, with all subsequent scoring, the team would have lost 21-16; no worse off than the actual outcome.

In the fourth quarter, with 5:37 to go, the Redskins held possession on the Eagles three yard line. A stupid illegal substitution penalty moved the ball back to third and eight on the Philly 8 (I believe this was too many men in the huddle. Someone got their packages mix-up) Now, I'm not as smart as million dollar coaches, but I know that's not the situation to run another Randle El gadget play. The Eagles gave up yards in chunks to Ladell Betts all day. It's the three yard line. It's four down territory. A touchdown puts you ahead. There's no assurance The Skins get that close again. You go for it! That was the smart play. The smart call was Betts.

Instead, the Skins called another trick play and 'Twaan Randle El was sacked for a nine yard loss to bring up fourth and 17 at the Philly 17. That presented more of a challenge. Situation analysis says field goal, but the team's situation still allowed them to go for broke. The Eagles' control of the last five minutes made the Skins' successful field goal irrelevant.

In fact, the coaches took the wrong risk at the wrong time. Few Randle El trick plays worked this season - that 40 yard pass to Brandon Lloyd earlier in the quarter was a beautiful thing! The high probability play on third and eight deep in the Red Zone was Betts. It was four down territory. If Betts gained six, or even four yards, it would have set up a manageable fourth and short with options involving Betts, Cooley or Sellers. Randle El trick plays are risky - more so than fourth and goal plays.

The season is gone. The playoffs are gone. Losing another game makes no difference. This year, the offense has to help the defense. On third/fourth and short, inside five yard line, go for it!

Twice inside the five yard line and no touchdowns!

Any more Randle El trick plays and I'm going to call him Randle El Gadget!

The way Betts is playing, TJ Duckett may never touch the ball again as a Redskin!


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Flipping the bird

My apologies to readers for not posting for awhile. The cares and pressures of life and livelihood intruded in an ugly way to divert me from the truly important work of blogging the Redskins. My priorities are straight. This won't happen again; or, at least not too soon. To get caught up, this article is being cross-posted to RUNNING REDSKINS and to HOG HEAVEN. Now, on to team news!

We knew the defense didn't build on the 2005 season, but couldn't they have built on the previous week (Panthers)?

The McNabbless Iggles visit FedEx today. Amazingly, Philadelphia, at 6-6, is still in the playoff hunt. That alone tweaks Redskin pride. Stupid losses to the Buccaneers and to the Titans, teams the Redskins should have beaten, deny the Skins their shot. Playoff teams beat teams they should beat and they win at home. The Skins didn't do that, so . . . .

Washington's season is reduced to entertainment value. The Iggles are playing for postseason life. That gives them a motivational edge. Even the guys on George Michael's Redskins Report (WRC TV) cast doubt on Washington's ability to prevail, although officially, homers George and Sonny picked the Redskins.

The poor season season means lots of fans will go Christmas shopping today and their tickets will fall in the hands of those boorish people in green shirts. It's the last home game before Christmas. I think Santa will deliver a three point present to Redskins fans.

The Redskins lost the season before it began with Clinton Portis injured and the defense nowhere near what it was. Portis' shoulder issues were freakish and could have happened anytime. Pay no attention to talk that he shouldn't have been in the game (preseason game one). Of course he should have been in. All of the veterans should have been in and for longer to fine tune their play.

As for the defense, injuries and far too many roster changes caught up to them. Sure, losing Shawn Springs and Pierson Prioleau hurt big, but over time, we also said good-bye to Champ Bailey, Fred Smoot, Antonio Pierce, Ryan Clark and Walt Harris, the NFC's defensive player of the month. The last straw was LaVar Arrington. This team plays differently without Arrington prowling the field or the sideline. Injured or not, the man could hit. The squad seemed to pick up when he was on the field. Much like Ryan Clark, LaVar's influence went beyond his play and extended into the locker room. You get the sense the coaches didn't know that. Or care. If you are like me (and I know I am), you are thinking the team should have kept LaVar and dumped Dale Lindsey.

Clark and Harris were one year players for the Skins. They were allowed to leave and did well for their next teams. Think about that as the Redskins decide if Kenny Wright and Mike Rumph stay or go. I'm thinking Washington shouldn't be so quick to release them. After a year in this system, they will make a bigger contribution to the team in 2007, as Clark and Harris might have this year, than anyone Washington imports.

With TJ Duckett and Ladell Betts on the roster, the Redskins had a choice in running backs. The Skins' preference for Betts was confirmed last week when they extended his contract. Betts deserved it. He paid his dues. He is running well. He fits Al Saunders offense better than Duckett. But, as a fellow Michigan State alum, the Redskins treatment of Duckett frosts me. For all the use they made of Duckett, the Redskins could have pulled Nemo Broughton off the practice squad and wasted that third round draft choice in some other useless way.

Too bad Rod Gardner isn't available. He could help this offense. Stop laughing. In his last year here (2004), Gardner caught 51 passes for 650 yards and 5 touchdowns. This season to date, Brandon Lloyd and Twaan Randle El combined for 42 passes for 494 yards and 2 touchdowns.

A season like this should forever bury that canard "the last time Joe Gibbs went 0-4 in preseason, the Redskins went to the Super Bowl."

The Redskins deny that Fed-Ex Field is named for Kevin Federline.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Two good ones

Although I've never seen the campus, I've always had a soft spot for West Virginia football. The connection is Sam Huff who played for the Mountaineers.

Today, West Virginia entertains Rutgers, the former favorite homecoming opponent. Rutgers nearly confounded the Bowl Championship Series with their sudden and unexpected winning season. The BCS is a hoax. The marketing line is that the BCS determines the college football national champion. In fact, the system is rigged. It's supposedly objective computer algorythm is weighted in favor of the major conferences, including my favorite, Big Ten. The BCS also protects the revenue from the major Bowl Games from Cinderella teams, like Rutgers and Louisville, who have the audacity to crash the party.

The BCS is not run by the NCAA, actually. If the major conferences really wanted to determine a legitimate Division I football champion, it would mimic the NCAA Division 1-AA playoff series. But, that's for another post.

The Big East produced three national powers this season, West Virginia, Louisville and Rutgers; four if you count Connecticut. Like Phoenix rising from the fire, the conference survived abandonment by Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech, to produce good football. (Shades of George Mason.) Rutgers @ West Virginia brings the season to a dramatic conclusion. While I'll root for the Mountaineers, it won't bother me a bit if Rutgers pulls off a win. 7:45 PM EST. Check local listings.

Navy plays Army in its long and ancient rivalry. I try to make a Navy game each season, if only for the pagentry and to see F/A-18 fly-by before the home games. As with Sam Huff and West Virginia, Roger Staubach is the reason I've long rooted for Navy. The Midshipmen have been a regional power since Paul Johnson was named head coach. This season, I went to the Navy-Rutgers game expecting a cakewalk -- for Navy. The Midshipmen shook off the spanking by Rutgers to go on to a fine season. 2:30 PM EST. Check local listings.


Off Topic: Why do men . . . ?

Question: Why do men fall asleep after sex? That's the question posed in the recent issue of Bottom Line Personal (Vol. 27 No. 24, December 15, 2006, Pg. 1). The question was one of several posed in the column "Questions You'd Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third Whiskey Sour."

Answer: "Endorphins, gama-aminobutric acid and the hormones oxytocin and prolactin are released into a man's body after he has an orgasm. All of these hormones and chemicals have been found to contribute to sleepiness. Interestingly, these same chemicals are also released into women's bodies after orgasm. The difference might be that women are less likely to have orgasms when they have sex."

That puts me in mind of the question"Why does it take longer for a woman to reach orgasm?

Answer: Who cares!

Only a man would say that !!!


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Who is deep throat?

John Riggins named him "Deep Throat" after the inside tipster who pointed The Washington Post's Woodward and Bernstein in the right direction in the Watergate scandal. The mystery is who is the Redskin team member who was the source for Tom Friend's scathing ESPN article Reeling Redskins awash in troubles? It will probably take Woody and Bernie to figure out who's doing the talking.

The article points a damning finger at the Redskins coaches, especially deputy for defense Gregg Williams, as the cause of the the team's collapse on defense. Washington enjoyed a top ten defense in Williams first two years, but now inhabit the lower rungs of the NFL.

The article labels the Redskins a "fractured team" and Williams in particular as arrogant. According to Friend, "The problem, according to a notable Redskins player, is a scheme, a staff and a play-calling regimen that is flawed and predictable, and a sense that Williams is on too much of a power trip to adjust."

The unnamed Redskin is quoted as saying "They thought they figured it all out. They thought, 'We can win with scheme, we don't need players.' Don't be mistaken, this is a player-driven game, and so you need players. Any time in life when somebody thinks they've got it all figured out, it's going to come and get you. It's going to come and get you . . . . The sentiment is a lot of guys are mad because the coaches think it's all about them. They think they're f------ geniuses, thinking they can just let guys go and get away with handling people badly."

While most of the focus is on the personalities involved, Friend also takes a swipe at the Skins' approach to building a roster. "They are money-driven, but not always money-wise, and the decisions to throw cash at every problem, or free agent, or coach, has created ego and narcissism. It's not necessarily Gibbs' fault, because he didn't draw it up this way or imagine it happening, but the almighty dollar has created too many power trips at Redskin Park, or as one Redskins player said, 'Too many chiefs and not enough indians."' (no pun intended)

According to the story, the front office is already targeting Nate Clemens (CB, Bills) and Dwight Freeney (DE, Colts) on the first day of 2007 free agency.

Friend's article got a lot of buzz, but these accusations about Williams have been around for awhile. There are even jokes about him.

Q: Why are there three "Gs" in Gregg?

A: The second G is for "genius." The third G is for "god."

We've also observed here that the defense regards players as interchangeable parts. When everyone is a starter, no player is a star. There are no stars but the coaches.

The really new news is the laser light focused on safeties coach Steve Jackson, whom I've suspected of exerting a negative effect on the secondary. That may be unfair, but Jackson's arrival coincides with deteriorated performance by the secondary. I was hoping someone would look into that.

So, who is the mysterious blabber mouth? Wrong question. Are these revelations valid? That's what inquiring minds want to know as we ponder why a team that should be 7-4 now is only 4-7 largely due to defensive failings.

How does that happen?


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Pointing fingers

Bits and pieces of news reports provide clues to what's gone wrong with the Redskins' season. The answers come down to poor play by the offensive line and by the defense.

On Wednesday, The Washington Post's Howard Bryant quoted Skins defensive lineman Philip Daniels after he watched film of the Tampa Bay game. "Missed tackles, assignments, just being where you're supposed to be. Not attacking blocks, the lead blocks, that kind of stuff," Daniels said. "That's the stuff I see. That's the stuff we're not doing well. Everyone has to be accountable."

The article Redskins Proving Easy to Run On pointed out that opponents are running consistently to the weak side to exploit the Redskins defensive right. "On film, the Redskins saw that defensive end Andre Carter was being pushed outside enough to create a large space, and weak-side linebacker Warrick Holdman could not fortify the line. The result was a gaping hole on the left side of the defense for the running backs to run through."

ESPN analyst and former Pro-Bowl quarterback Ron Jaworski watched tape of Jason Campbell's performance in the Buccaneer game. Jaworski and NFL Films producer Greg Cosell focused on Campbell's play in five key plays. While the pair found Campbell to be an NFL-level quarterback, they pointed out instances where offensive line play deprived the team of scoring opportunities. Both tackles Jon Jansen and Chris Samuels were pushed back in the pocket to disrupt the pass. Howard Bryant wrote about their finding in the article To Analyze Campbell, 'Jaws' Goes Straight to Video.

Rick Snider's article in last Monday's Washington Examiner, is the first to acknowledge that the Redskins collapse is not due entirely to Mark Brunell. He wrote in Campbell good, teammates not so much "The defense allowed 181 yards rushing and the team lost for the second time this season to a rookie quarterback. The offensive line couldn't block a baby from his bottle. The Redskins didn't crack 10 points until the final minute. No, changing quarterbackwasn't the answer in the Redskins 20-17 loss at Tampa Bay on Sunday."

In A coach at a loss, Washington Times Ryan O'Halloran gives his reason why the Redskins are 3-7.

"The Redskins reached this point for several reasons. They approached the offseason falsely thinking they were closer to the top of the NFL than they were. Wrong move. Second, Gibbs stayed with Mark Brunell too long. Campbell wasn't ready to start Week 1, but he should have played in Week 3. Third, the offseason approach -- overpaying free agents, trading for a young player -- worked better in 2004 and 2005 than it did this year. Player evaluation and acquisition is a hit-and-miss game, and the Redskins have far more misses than hits. As a result, the Redskins still need some of the same things they did last year: a pass-rushing defensive end, a safety, a complementary receiver."

O'Halloran then posits his list of offseason moves the Skins should take; the first of many such posts, I'm sure.
After pointedly saying that the team was not living up to its abiding principles, Coach Gibbs held a team meeting Wednesday. Jason LaCanfora's Post article Thursday reported that the coach said the team had to improve on its fundamentals. On Friday, Michael Wilbon reported that the coach actually ripped the team a new one, an appropriate move that comes a month too late.

A post on Hog Heaven says the Redskins issues start with Joe Gibbs. It concludes that Gibbs is also the answer.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving and the wisdom of Erma Bombeck

Thanksgiving is the time to reflect with gratitude on our blessings, be they sparse or plentiful. In many homes, Thanksgiving merges the holiday with the cultural phenomena that is American football. It's phenomenal that sports fans, mostly guys, gather around the cozy warmth of the the TV, while everyone else, mostly gals, gather in the next room. That did not escape the observation of humorist Erma Bombeck!

Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence. ~Erma Bombeck

If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead. ~Erma Bombeck

Thanksgiving is like preseason training camp for football junkies. It's the first of three seasonal football orgies, New Years and the Super Bowl in February being the next two.

Here are the turkeys, er, games served up this weekend for us, the legally dead.

Joey Harrington gets to poke his finger in the Detroit Lions eye when his Miami Dolphins visit Ford Field.

Two Cinderella fellas, Tony Romo and Bruce Gradkowski, clash when the Buccaneers play the Cowboys.

The Chiefs host the Broncos to kick-off the NFL's foray into broadcasting its own product for the first time. The game will be carried on cable on the NFL Network. There are reports that this is Snake Plummer's last start as the Denver quarterback.

Tired of pro ball, or don't get the NFL Network? Boston College visit Miami of Florida in its quest to make the ACC championship game.

Friday afternoon kicks-off rivalry weekend, although most of these games will be anti-climatic after last weekend's Ohio State-Michigan thriller. Still, Texas A&M at Texas, LSU at Arkansas and Colorado at resurgent Nebraska all look promising. If you can only see one game, catch LSU and Arkansas.

The weekend wraps up with a number of games of regional interest. But, Notre Dame (10-1) at Southern Cal (9-1) has national import. USC has to win out for any chance to be ranked ahead of Michigan in the rigged BCS poll. The Wolverines are done until January. This will be the only occasion in their lives when they root for the Irish.

Happy Thanksgiving!
(Happy Thanksgiving!)

Friday, November 17, 2006


The measure of men and teams is the stature of their rivals and the conflict in which they engage. Bo Schembechler was a coaching titan whom few could equal man-to-man, or team-to-team. Without him, Michigan - Ohio State would be just another game. With him, and Woody Hayes, it was a periennial clash of titans.

Glen "Bo" Schembechler died today. It is a loss to Michigan. It is also a loss to the Big Ten. Schembechler brought stature to the league even as he was dominating it.

Sitting in Spartan Stadium in 1969, I witnessed Schembechler's first season as the Michigan Wolverines football coach. Those were the waining days of Duffy Daugherty's career. Michigan lost that day, to MSU fan derision of "welcome to the Big Ten, Bo." In our ignorance, we were unaware of Schembechler's association with the league as an assistant at Northwestern -- and Ohio State. We were also unaware of how damned few times the Spartans would win since. MSU slipped in a long slow twilight while Schembechler restored Michigan to the glory of the Fielding Yost era.

Michigan faces Ohio State this weekend, a match-up of number one and number two teams that is this year's game of the century. It's the greatest #1 vs. #2 contest since, oh, last year's USC-Texas game. But this game features ancient, intra-league rivals. Great programs; great rivalries; great fight songs, and now, remembered legends. Somewhere up there, Bo and Woody will be watching. Hail to the victors valiant!

p.s.: The Big Ten has the best collection of team fight songs than any other league.

My condolences to the Schembechler family, the Michigan Wolverine community and Big Ten fans everywhere.

Michigan State University
Class of 19noneyabusiness

See Bo Schembechler's Wikipedia bio here.
See Michigan - Ohio State game recap here.
Order CDs of great college fight songs here. (Not compensated for this plug)


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Carry me back to old RFK, Virginia

In a continuing pathetic effort to find laughter to keep from crying, Running Redskins came across a post on The Warpath forum pointing to a story about DC's hope to lure The Redskins back to its ancestral home at RFK, or rather the New RFK. Got to laugh out loud at that one.

This story's been floating around since last June. Running Redskins commented back then in a post DC to Daniel Snyder: We Want You Back.

The gall of it all.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Laughter is the best medicine

Until our guys turn things around, it's just no fun to write about the Redskins. So, Running Redskins is going for parody.

Read this spoof of the Redskins announcement to fix the roster.

Then, check out The Joy Of the 2006 Redskins over at Deadspin.

Joke Book
Two boys were playing football (in Wash DC area) in a park ,when one boy is savagely attacked by a rottweiler.Thinking quickly, the other boy rips off a plank from a nearby fence, wedges it down the dog's collar and twists, breaking the dogs neck.

A reporter,who was strolling by , sees the incident and rushes over to interview the boy.
"Washington Redskin fan saves friend from vicious animal", he starts writing in his notebook.
"But I'm not a Redskins fan", the boy says.
"Baltimore Ravens fan rescues friend from attack," the reporter starts again.
"I'm not a Ravens fan either." the boy replied.
"Then what are you?" the reporter asks.
"I'm a Cowboy fan!"

The reporter starts a new sheet in his notebook and writes "Redneck bastard kills family pet."

Four football fans were climbing a mountain one day. Each was a fan of a different team in the NFC East and each proclaimed to be the most loyal of all fans of their football team. As they climbed higher, they argued as to which one of them was the most loyal of all. They continued to argue all the way up the mountain, and finally as they reached the top, the New York fan hurled himself off the mountain, shouting "This is for the Giants!" as he fell to his doom.

Not wanting to be out done, the Eagles fan threw himself off the mountain, proclaiming "This is for Da Eagles!"

Seeing this, the Redskin fan walked over and shouted "This is for everyone!" and pushed the Cowboy fan off the side of the mountain.

Dallas Cowboy IQ Test
Barry Switzer, clearly upset about the Dallas Cowboy's losing record, decides to find out from Steve Mariucci what his secret is. So, Switzer travels up to a 49'ers practice and asks Mariucci, "Coach, how is it that your team is so good? What's your secret?"

Mariucci responds by calling Steve Young over. "Steve, who's your father's brother's nephew?" Young answers, "Why coach, that's easy. It's me."

Mariucci turns to Switzer and says, "That's the secret, Barry. A smart quarterback. You've got to have a smart quarterback."

Thinking he's finally got all the tools he needs, Switzer returns to Texas and the Cowboys work-out. He promptly calls over Troy Aikman. "Aikman! Who's your father's brother's nephew?" Troy looks perplexed, thinks a minute and says, "Coach, can I get back to you after practice on that one?" Switzer (disgusted) says, "OK."

During practice, Aikman calls over Deion Sanders. "Deion, coach just asked me the weirdest question. Who's your father's brother's nephew?" Sanders: "Duh! That's easy. It's me!"

After practice, Aikman catches up with Switzer: "Coach, I think I've got it. My father's brother's nephew is Deion Sanders."

Switzer (angry): "no, No, NO! You idiot!! It's Steve Young!!!"

There's a guy from Washington, DC (Redskins fan) driving from DC to Dallas, and a guy from Dallas (Cowboys fan) driving from Dallas to DC. In the middle of the night with no other cars on the road they hit each other head on and both cars go flying off in different directions.

The Redskins fan manages to climb out of his car and survey the damage. He looks at his twisted car and says, "Man, I am really lucky to be alive!"

Likewise the Cowboys fan scrambles out of his car and looks at the wreckage. He too says to himself, "I can't believe I survived this wreck!" The Cowboy fan walks over to the Redskin and says, "Hey man, I think this is a sign from God that we should put away our differences and live as friends instead of arch rivals. The Redskin fan thinks for a moment and says, " You know, you're absolutely right! We should be friends. Now I'm going to see what else survived this wreck."

So the Redskins fan pops open his trunk and finds a full unopened bottle of Jack Daniels. He says to the Cowboys fan, "I think this is another sign from God that we should toast to our newfound understanding and friendship."

The Cowboys fan says, "You're damn right!" and grabs the bottle and starts sucking down Jack Daniels. After putting away nearly half of the bottle the Cowboys fan hands it back to the Redskins fan and says, "Your turn!"

The Redskins fan twists the cap back on the bottle and says, "Nahh, I think I'll wait for the cops to show up."
More like this at


Jim Mora comments on Redskins playoff chances. Campbell to start

Jason Campbell to Start
Coach-in-chief Joe Gibbs announced this evening that Jason Campbell would start at quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game this Sunday. For the story, go to Hog Heaven, or CBSSportline, or WTOP, or The Washington Post.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Not again, Fred

There goes Fred Smoot, exposing another wide receiver.

Mammas, don't let your babies go out without underpants.

Photo found on here.

The Skins just got 'pants' by the Eagles. Did you think that was funny?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Beer commercials just go with football

Don't know about you, but I enjoy the return of the clever, male-oriented Miller Lite beer commercials, now reincarnated as a series of "man law" debates by famous and not so famous faces.

In the seventies and eighties, Miller ran the very popular "Tastes Great Less Filling" series featuring super macho-men to convey the thought that lo-cal (lite) beer was manly. Mickey Spillane, Dick Butkus, Bubba Smith, Rodney Dangerfield (very funny) added their talents. The ads did go a little over the top, with one notable ad the featuring female mud wrestlers.

Great taste, less filling

But what really killed the series was a general backlash against drinking, and concern about the Joe Camel effect, the thought that sports personalities influence young minds. Perhaps with the Democrats coming back, the man law series can stay for awhile.

I'm a social drinker. I don't indulge much, but I enjoy the commercials for their "art." Rather like reading Playboy for the articles and not the pictures, wouldn't you agree?

Remember, if you drink, don't drive.

Want to know more about the unwritten laws of manhood? Go to Men Of The Square Table. Must be over 18 to enter.

Post "borrowing" my stuff?

Last month, Running Redskins ran a story that Pierson Prioleau was the key missing element in the Redskins defense. His injury started a domino effect that still impacts the defense. Howard Bryant wrote a story appearing in today's Washington Post making the very point.

So, Do WP reporters read Running Redskins? Are sports and news blogs now considered authoritative news sources?

Howard, are you there?

Photo: Prioleau celebrates from (Don Wright)


Different Circumstances Make for Different Choices

A Cowboys fan wrote an interesting piece on why Bill Parcells is starting Tony Romo while Joe Gibbs is sitting on Jason Campbell. Despite the source, I recommend reading Romo vs. Campbell – Different Circumstances Make for Different Choices.

Thanks to Hooskins at The Warpath Forum for pointing this out.

Whether the Skins make the Super Bowl or remain in the cellar, this is Mark Brunell's swan song. He has underperformed expectations, so far, but so has the entire team (coaches included). I hope Brunell goes out a winner.

For a really choice quarterback controversy, check out the situation in Jacksonville, where homeboy Byron Leftwich is benched in favor David Garrard. I've been reading that a sizeable portion of the Jaguars fan base reject Leftwich. Seems it was his misfortune to replace Mark Brunell! Check out the story on Hog Heaven.



Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Duckett Conspiracy - Exposed!

Back in August, Running Redskins posted a tongue-in-cheek story on the Redskins' trade for TJ Duckett. The move was so unexpected, and this being Washington, it was easy to write this up as a vast conspiracy. With the puzzling non-use of Duckett by a struggling team, the question arises "why is TJ here?" Running Redskins takes a second look at each of the conspiracy theories.

  1. The Portis is more hurt than they are letting on conspiracy - No doubt, losing CP in the first series of the first preseason game was a shock. But Portis proved a fast healer, appearing and scoring in the Minnesota game and returning full time in week three for Houston. He was less hurt than the coaches feared. Ladell Betts was nursing a leg injury at the time.

    Pierson Prioleau went down in the opening kick-off of the first preseason game. The loss of Prioleau had a more immediate and longer lasting impact than Portis. Because of it, Mike Rumph and Kenny Watson are on the roster, each with a big neon sign saying "throw here." Investing a third round draft choice on a starting nickel-back or safety would have been a wiser choice, if panic hadn't blindly driven a move to back-up Portis.

    Both Portis and Betts recovered a lot faster when Duckett arrived. There's value in that.
  2. The "Ladell is really good" talk was just hype conspiracy - This theory was that the Redskins hyped up Betts to draw trade offers and maybe recover the draft choice they gave up to get Duckett. It presumed Duckett would be the real number two back and Betts was a goner. Subsequent events suck all the air out of this thought.
  3. The They planned this all along conspiracy - This theory recalled that Duckett ran roughshod over the defense when the Skins played the Atlanta Falcons in September 2003. Duckett's two TD runs helped the Falcons build a 17-0 lead (the Skins won 33-31). The game made an impression on the Redskins and they coveted the big back ever since. The conspiracy was that they would use Duckett in the John Riggins role and Clinton Portis in the Joe Washington role. Like the "Ladell is really good" conspiracy, events prove this wrong.
  4. The Confound the Opponents conspiracy - In a nutshell, this theory said that Duckett gave the Redskins options on the ground in the same way that Brandon Lloyd and Twaan Randel El gave options through the air. Shock and awe on the ground and in the air would overwhelm defenses. Them were heady, delusional days back in August. My Kool-Ade was grape. What flavor was yours?
  5. The Die Eagles Die conspiracy - This idea was that the Redskins grabbed Duckett to keep him off Philadelphia's roster. True confession, I was just trying to deride "Fly Eagles Fly." A day or so later, I heard Doc Walker express the same thought (great minds) on SportsTalk 980. The fact pattern supports this conspiracy.

    The Eagles are in contention without Duckett. Andy Reid continues to show a stunning disregard for power running, so their interest may not have been genuine. In any event, better to invest draft choices to build your own roster rather than to degrade someone else's.
  6. The Aren't We Being Clever conspiracy - Ladell Betts is in his contract year. Duckett, also in his contract year, is here as negotiation leverage against Betts. By playing both, their stats would be depressed, thus lowering their market value to the point where one or the other would be affordable.

    For this to be true, they would both have to be playing. Betts is running up numbers. Duckett's market value is eroding, potentially, because he has no stats to polish off his resume. Instead, GMs will approach him as the man behind Rock Cartwright on the depth chart. They won't actually believe that, but hey, it's business.

    This conspiracy could be too clever by half. The New York Giants have a huge void to fill at running back. Ever notice the resemblence between Betts and Joe Morris? Meanwhile, Duckett could be the big back the Giants thought Ron Dayne would be. He'll be fresh and cheap, thanks to the Redskins.
  7. Last, there is the Denver is Really Stupid and So Is Atlanta conspiracy - This one appeared in the post "Good-bye Ladell" at The Curly R on August 23, 2006. It castigated the Redskins' trading partners, Denver and Atlanta, for exchanging players of questionable value to each other. The curly boys surmised that the Skins would immediately trade Betts to recover the draft choice that went to Atlanta that went to Denver.

    This theory is busted. Washington did not trade Betts. Javon Walker is Denver's number one receiver (39, 669, 5 TDs) and Denver knows how to use Washington draft choices. They used the Portis for Bailey draft pick to select Tatum Bell, their leading rusher. Ashley Lelie has only 17 catches for 298 yards for Atlanta. Duckett? Five touches for 24 yards.

Bottom line - Duckett was brought here in a panic, without any real intent to make use of his talent. Even if the "Die Eagles Die" conspiracy has merit, and the facts do fit the theory, there were far better ways to use the draft pick, as Mike Shanahan will show us.

Over at Redskins Park, the coach-in-chief defends the front office structure and use of trades. I believe what he says, because he's, you know, the coach-in-chief.

Photo: TJ Duckett and coach Ernest Byner from


Tuesday, November 07, 2006


If God didn't write the script to that game, George Lucas surely did. Endings like that only happen in movies, and Redskins - Cowboys games.

Redskins observers, including all of the burgandy bloggers I follow, are not deluded. There are a lot of concerns in the Redskins' performance. But, that's for another post. Tonight is just for basking in the glow of a miracle.

You done good, Nick Novak!


Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Cowboys are Coming

Those madcap kids at The Curly R continue their interview series with bloggers from the other side. This week they solicit answers from Dave at Blogging the Boys. Clever as they are, they avoid asking any question about Sunday's game. Go take a look.

No questions about the game? Perhaps the curly boys feel what Lee at The Redskin Report put so bluntly, "Admit it. You are expecting the worse." That captures the area's sentiment. Dallas Week II is noticeably subdued from the first go around. Lee takes the contrarian view and calls the game Redskins 24-21.

The working theory going into the season was that the Skins' high pressure defense would hold most teams to 17 points most games. If the offense could put up 18 points or more, Washington could take 11 or 12 games. It hasn't turned out that way for reasons well documented here and elsewhere. It's the O that has to help the D. That requires 24 points per game on average. The issue tomorrow is can the offense cope with the Cowboys active linebackers? The Cowboys already handled that short passing stuff. Something new has to happen. Surprise us.

There is positive news. The defense is largely healthy and will play all the starters for the first time this season. "Largely" healthy because Pierson Prioleau is lost for the season. The Redskins did unnatural acts when he went down in the preseason. Prioleau is the critical defensive loss.

Rich Tandler suggests that the Redskins problems are all in their heads. He call the game Redskins 24-21. Hog Haven posts a Cowboys scouting report written by a Dallas fan. Zack at Hog Heaven posits that it could be a good thing that Moss is out Sunday, since that will force Mark Brunell to look elsewhere for receivers. Never-the-less, even he calls for a Cowboy win 24-13.

Me? I'm sticking with the Redskins by 4, but admit that's a hope, not an expectation. The tone of the season will change with the outcome of this game. We will either be in the playoff hunt, or be in a rebuilding year.

How did it come to this?


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Switch & Bye

Winning the division means competing on and off the field. The Redskins must equal or best two developments by east rivals to take the division.

Bill Parcells made the move Joe Gibbs declined to do -- bench the starter in favor of the mobile young gun on the bench. Tony Romo's mobility offsets Dallas porous offensive line, supposedly. Initial returns are good. Dallas' surprising win over the Carolina Panthers is evidence fans hope Joe Gibbs notices. Parcells, it was whispered, always wanted Romo as the starter and only waited for the right moment. Joe Gibbs is sticking with veteran Mark Brunell to the consternation of Brunell-bashers who remain convinced that he [Brunell] is the source of all offensive weaknesses. Gibbs decision must work, or there will be heck to pay. Romo was his team's number two QB. Jason Campbell is number 2.5 of the Skins depth chart.

The Giants went into their bye 1-2. They were angry and pointing fingers. Defensive coordinator Tim Lewis acknowledged he could be doing a better job. Jeremy Shockey and head coach Tom Coughlin had a private meeting, followed by a team meeting to clear the air. Something worked. The Giants have since won four straight, scoring 99 points while holding the opposition to 42.

The Redskins went into the bye worse off at 2-5. The coaching staff picked apart every play and every decision and reviewed something with the team Monday. I hope it was a two-way discussion. Whatever Joe Gibbs' approach, the results have to match the Giants. The Skins have no margin for error left.

Is it me, or is Dallas week unusually subdued this time around?

With the exception of Santana Moss, all of the Redskins are listed as probable. Moss is day-to-day.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Is there a draft in here?

"Joe Gibbs, Redskins president, is hurting Joe Gibbs, Redskins coach." That's how Redskins critic John Keim of The Washington Examiner assessed the team's roster moves under the coach-in-chief's regime. Keim examines Gibbs' trading hits and misses. More useful is Keim's look at how other teams used those draft picks.

The Redskins' theory is to trade the uncertainty of draft picks for the known quantity of veteran players. That approach worked for George Allen when he imported the Over-The-Hill gang in the seventies. Allen's "known quantities" were people he already worked with at the Rams for the most part. His quarterback move was to bring in a starter-ready Billy Kilmer to back up Jurgensen.

Gibbs, out of the game for a decade, had scouting reports and Vinnie Cerrato to work with. The hits have been spectacular: Moss for Coles and Portis for Bailey. Both Coles and Bailey were disgruntled players who wanted out. Keim questions whether any of those trades needed to be accompanied by draft picks. Portis for Bailey may have stood on its own without the second round pick that went to Denver.

In the nineties, GM Charley Casserly pulled of a draft coup when he scarfed up Heath Shuler, Michael Westbrook and Desmond Howard. With their college reps, the buzz was that Norv Turner would have a passing attack to rival the then dominant Cowboys. The drama and trauma that followed may explain the Redskins' disdain of draft picks today.

The Redskins are the oldest team in the NFL, Keim points out, but may not have enough draftees to fill in for the future. Trading my be their only viable option.

The moves may yet be successful, but the slow start when everyone expected dominance confuses players, perplexes coaches and leaves fans beside themselves.

Catch Keim's article, "Suspect architect," here.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Gibbs hangs it up

Coach-in-chief Joe Gibbs shocked team owner Daniel Snyder and Redskins fans everywhere by abruptly announcing his resignation. "I was struck by Tiki Barber's statement that 'football would not define me,'" said the coach. "It inspired me to take a step I had been contemplating since the Titans game. Like all the other core Redskins, it's time for me to play elsewhere."

Snyder moved quickly to replace the legendary Hall of Fame coach by offering the position to former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher. In spite of Fisher's 1-15 record in his last season in Tennessee, Snyder had to win a bidding war against Jerry Jones for Fisher's services. The announcement immediately triggered payment of a $2 million bonus to Gregg Williams, who was not named as Gibbs' successor.

This story is fiction, of course, but could be a story line if a rumor reported on comes to pass. On October 25, 2006, PFT reported that Snyder had his eye on Fisher as a potential successor to Gibbs. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones reportedly has the same interest. There is open speculation that Bill Parcells may step down as the Cowboys coach at the end of the season.

ProFootballTalk describes itself as a reporter of rumors. The Redskins promptly labeled the story "nonsense."

Gibbs leaving at the end of the season would send to organization into a tailspin. As team president, with the stated goal of restoring the organization to a championship caliber, the coach-in-chief has set up a structure with two potential HC candidates already on board. A transition plan where Gibbs steps away from active coaching while remaining in active management is the best of all scenarios.

Snyder would be true to form if he reached outside the organization for a splashy, big-name signing hoping for immediate impact while ignoring the disruptive chain of events such a move would trigger. But, this is all hypothetical.

Isn't it?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Hang in there Redskins

The general gloom in the atmosphere is understandable. It must be purged; flushed, sent packing. Yes, it's a realistic view of where the Redskins stand, but hardly means the season is lost.

Here's the definition of "it's over:" when the team is farther back of the division leader than there are games left, it's over. The Skins are three back with nine games to go. The Eagles and Giants have yet to play the Titans. Anything can happen.

Sports psychologists say winners must only see themselves achieving their goal, whatever the obstacle. You aren't what you were. You are what you want to be. Blow that last game? That wasn't the real you. Next time you will get it right because you are the best performer on the field. That's what the Redskins have to tell themselves now.

In sports, maybe in life, as soon as you focus on what you are not, that's what you become.

Ninety percent of this game is half-mental. ~Yogi Berra

Yeah, it's baseball, but it fits.

As for disappointments at the bye, head over to the Redskins page at RealFootball 365. For another take, see John Keim's "What's the problem?" at the Washington Examiner.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Redskins could learn from business

Amy Joyce over at the Post wrote a column on the on how difficult it is for new executives to be successful in a new company. The Redskins, she says, might be facing the same issues with Al Saunders. Business holds lessons on the pitfalls and solutions.

Joyce writes ". . . if the new superstar does not take the company's history or culture into account before he turns the organization's identity upside-down, it could be disastrous . . . ."

Execs get a honeymoon period, but success for the new guy depends both on support by the top leaders and on buy-in from the troops. Most important for the executive is to motivate and encourage the positive, not the negative.

You can see the full article here.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Football Algebra: 1Cool dude>Lloyd+ARE

A post by Atlanta Skins Fan on EXTREMESKINS argues that the Redskins downgraded the passing game by bringing on Brandon Lloyd and Twaan Randle El and targeting them for receptions in preference to Chris Cooley, the Redskins' number two receiver last year.

Atlanta Skins Fans backs up his argument with an assessment of the reliability of each receiver. He compared the number of receptions to passes thrown to each player. By this analysis, Chris Cooley was more reliable by far than either ARE or Lloyd. Expressed algebraically, you would say that one Cooley is greater than Lloyd and Randle El combined, or C>(BL+ARE).

Atlanta Skins suggests that the passing game would be better if the Redskins lined up its most reliable receivers in a two wide receiver set - Moss and Randle El - with Cooley at tight end, and targeting Moss, Cooley and Randle El in that priority.

It's a unique look and the numbers are intriguing. I believe that, of the three parts of the passing game: blocking, throwing and catching, blocking is 51% of the result. Atlanta Skins' post looks at the receiving. You can see the full post on ExtremeSkins here.

There are two implications of this analysis. The first, pointed out by Atlanta Skins, is that Mark Brunell's problem may not be that he can't find receivers, but that his alternatives to Moss are not reliable targets. Thus, they get high percentage, short passes. The second is that Deputy Head Coach Saunders just needs time, maybe a season, to really adapt to his personnel.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

This 'n' That

Green Unhinged

That's in contrast to coach-in-chief's Gibbs typical reaction to adversity. Gibbs speaks of the "we." Green didn't point fingers, but is clearly frustrated. I know Gibbs has a temper. It's a behind-closed-doors kind of thing.

Green's rant compares to John L. Smith's reaction to a coaching screw-up in the 2005 Michigan State Ohio State game.

Rogers All Thumbs
The Redskins announced that second year cornerback Carlos Rogers will miss the Colts game as a result of his thumb surgery. I'm trying to decide if that's bad news or good. Yes, I know that's mean.

Who's the Terrorist?
As if the Redskins recent play hasn't terrorized me enough, the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning of a possible attack at seven NFL stadiums this Sunday. The report mentioned New York, Miami, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Oakland and Cleveland. The department hastened to say that they were skeptical abou the report.

Skins Seek Player for the Ground Game
The Washington Redskins have a job opening on their facilities/ground crew. The individual hired will maintain the grounds at Redskins Park. The Redskins denied a rumor that TJ Duckett was a member of any ground crew on the team.

Redskins Offensive Genius
The extrapoints blog takes note that the Newseum museum in Washington distributed to journalism students a Washington Post front page story about the Redskins' last offensive genius. The story described a dazzling offense that put up 300+ yards and 31 points in an opening day win. When do we develop healthy skepticism around here? Busted! I drank the Kool-ade, too.

Football is Life
Dan Reeves' article in USA Today describes lessons in life learned from football.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

That sinking feeling

Know that feeling we would have felt if the Redskins lost to the Texans? We didn't escape it. It was delayed it until the team played the Titans. I checked the schedule and there are no more teams with names starting with "T" on the schedule. The curse is lifted. However, we'll remember the Titans all winter.

So how will the Skins do the rest of the year?

  • Upset the Colts. Just go with me on this, OK.
  • Beat the Cowboys at home.
  • @ the Eagles; mmmm no.
  • @ the Buccaneers, a win; but, after the Titans, don't bet the house.
  • Lose to the Panthers. That'll ruin the Thanksgiving weekend.
  • Beat the Falcons - if they patch the craters in the run defense! Could also be they beat the Panthers and lose to the Falcons. I don't see a sweep of these two.
  • Beat the Eagles at home.
  • @ the Saints. Remember how we chalked this up as a win. Uh-uh.
  • @ the Rams. I want to believe, but the Rams are playing better.
  • Beat the Giants.

The Redskins have to go 9-1 the rest of the way to take the division, overcome tie-breakers and win home field for at least one playoff game. That's not impossible for talented, hard working players still trying to make a go of it. This is still the team that convincingly beat a good Jaguars squad. After the preseason, four regular season disappointments and with the remaining schedule, this shapes up to be an 8-8 year.

Maybe it's that Titans name, but just now, I feel like I'm on the

I'll be sober in the morning.

Oh, what the hell; TEN AND O, OR WE DON'T GO!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

AFC Respite

The Redskins can't seem to beat NFC East teams, so it's back to the AFC for a little relief. They weren't so good against the "Giants" last Sunday, but should find a way to beat the "Titans" today (giants, titans, get it?). Both the team and a lot of Redskins bloggers, including me, were mysteriously quiet after the Meadowlands spanking. There was little one could say. The Titans are a team they can beat and a game that they need. The Redskins should not overlook Tennessee.

The Redskins Report has a quick & dirty preview of the game.
The Curly R does its clever five question exchange with a Titans blogger.
Hog Heaven has an extensive scouting report on the Titans prepared by a local fan.

The Post's Jason LaCanforia wrote last Tuesday that TJ Duckett is being a team player despite his lack of playing time. AS an MSU alum, I looked forward to seeing TJ in a Redskins uniform and am getting bitterly disappointed at not seeing him. At mid-year, I'm going to take a second look at The Duckett Conspiracy that I posted last August.

When things looked dim last season, the players came together and vowed "five in a row, or we don't go." Their determination energized their efforts and inspired their fans well into this year. The team is dangerously close to "ten in a row" country. I would like to see the team get back to basics and get off this silly fixation with Al Saunders' exotic schemes. I don't mean to abandon it; but let's get back to what this team is really good at - running the ball!

Running plays are the most aggressive in football, because the offensive line fires out and dictates to the defense. Our healthy offensive line does that quite well. On passing plays, the O-line is passive (why do you think it's called "passing plays?"). The O-line is on it's heals. They're backing up and reactive to the defense. Fifty-one percent of the breakdown in passing plays is on the O-line.

It's apparent that the new scheme is not the drop-in tweak that was described. It's a major adjustment. It's going to take time to perfect, eight or nine games, maybe. So let's not get overly dependent on it, or disappointed in it. But, lets definitely get back to real football. Run the ball, win the game.

The Skins can still win 11 games if the offense can average 18+ points per game. After five games, the average is 19.2, but there is a wide range between the high and low score. They have to get a consistent average.

What's with the defense's inability to make stops?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Redskins: What's in a name?

Attorney Jeremy Elman wrote a legal analysis of the recent case filed by a group of Native American twenty-somethings to cancel trademark protection for the Redskins term and logo. Elman's article outlines the history of original case, brought in 1992, and the ensuing court rulings. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately found that the original petitioners waited too long to make their claim.

In 1999, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board found the use of the term to be disparaging to Native Americans and cancelled trademark protections for "Redskins." Pro Football, Inc., the legal entity that owns the team (Snyder & company owns Pro Football, Inc.), appealed to the US District Court for the District of Columbia which ruled that the evidence cited by the Trademark Appeals Board did not actually support their ruling. For example, there was no evidence that Pro Football, Inc. used the term in a disparaging manner. In fact, the district court found some evidence that the team took steps to avoid derogatory connotations.

The original petitioners appealed to the US Circuit Court, but their case was denied on the basis that it was too late to make their claim. The legal challenge was launched 25 years after the first use of the Redskins trademark. Since minors cannot bring an action until they reach adulthood, the new case was brought by plaintiffs aged 19 to 24 to get around the circuit court's ruling.

Elman then launches into an analysis of the legal basis of the claims with suggestions for overcoming the district court's ruling. The petitioners could argue the use of "redskins" is disparagement regardless of the intent of the Redskins team. Elman, who clearly hopes the petitioners win, implies the court erred in considering the team's intent at all. He speculates on formulating an "unbiased" survey of Native Americans as evidence to show disparagement.

That point escapes me. People and teams ought to be held liable for what they do, not simply for how other people feel about it. Action is in their control. Reaction is not. Elman's argument works if Native American's are the only group surveyed. Create a "unbiased" survey of Washington Redskins fans, who also have a stake in the outcome, and you will find that "Redskin" is hardly disparaging when referring to the NFL team. Diehard fans identify themselves as Redskins. That's a fact that ought to be considered by any court. Elman's point, and the petitioner's case, counts on the Trademark board and the courts ignoring that.

I am not insensitive to the slurs directed towards Native Americans in American history. But this is not a suit against America, it a suit against the Washington Redskins (and boy, am I glad that George P. Marshall isn't the one to defend this case!). The term "Washington Redskins" is not disparaging in its current use. (How the Redskins play in the Meadowlands is different. Somebody sue for that.) As for the logo, how can that be seen as disparagement when the United States government uses the same image on U.S. gold bullion coins.

To see both sides of this debate, see All of my heroes have been Redskins, and follow the links to a favorable view by The DC Universe and the opposing opinion by The Curly R.

Elman's full article on can be found here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

On secondary thought!

Conventional thinking is that the Redskins secondary is vulnerable because Shawn Springs is out, and that they will get better as soon as he returns. Springs will shore up the secondary, but not as much as, or as fast as fans hope.

Springs missed the entire preseason and will miss half the regular season. When he is activated, he will not be, cannot be, in game condition. It seems likely that Gregg Williams will ease him into games, perhaps at nickel for a game or two, rather than have him man-up on Marvin Harrison or Terry Glenn.

It's Pierson Prioleau's absence that's the major hit. Springs is returning afterall. Prioleau is not. The Redskins could deal with either Springs' or Prioleau's absence, but not both.

Prioleau had the advantage of knowing Gregg Williams' playbook. While not as gifted as Springs, he offers more talent than those replacing him. In Springs absence, Prioleau would fill in at cornerback, giving Gregg Williams confidence to blitz more. If Springs were available, with Prioleau out, the Skins would cover with Springs and Carlos Rogers at cornerback. Sean Taylor and Adam Archuleta would be safeties and either Mike Rumph or Kenny Wright could be a Duckett-like insurance policy.

Because neither Springs nor Prioleau are available, the Redskins secondary starts two short-timers; three in the nickel package. That goes along with Carlos Rogers who plays like a second year rookie. All of them, including Adam Archuleta, are on a learning curve for the defensive schemes. Sean Taylor is the veteran in the group. This secondary is green!

Comcast Sports Net interviewed defensive backfield coach Jerry Gray after the Giants game and he made that very point. I do not have a quote, but his forceful position was that the new players had to improve their knowledge of the playbook. Spring's return will fix 50% of the problem; but Houston, we still have a problem.

Carlos Rogers is slowly improving. He should be more effective in the second half of the season. However, no one compares him to Darrell Green or Champ Bailey.

Fred Smoot looks pretty good now. He was pronounced one of Gibbs "core players." He wanted to be paid market value and wasn't finding it here. He hopped the boat to Minnesota. He may be worth more to the Redskins now. Would a better use of the payroll been to have offered more to Fred and less to Brandon Lloyd? Maybe, maybe not; but he joins a growing list Snyder-era players we should have kept:

  1. Antonio Pierce
  2. Brad Johnson
  3. Trent Green
  4. Fred Smoot

I forget. Someone tell me again why Ryan Clark isn't here.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Coach said what?

The verbal howitzers lobbed by Dale Lindsey and LaVar Arrington this week were real doosies.

Said Lindsey when asked if the Giants had an advantage with what Arrington knew of the Redskins' defense, "He didn't know the playbook when he was here!"

LaVar's comeback was that he had the playbook and gave it to the Giants coaches. That drew a Lindsey comment that "if he (LaVar) has a playbook, I guarantee he's never opened it."

Don't know about you, but I'm not used to seeing coaches put down former players. Usually, it's a player who create bulletin board material. When coaches do it, it's like a boss who puts down a former employee and Lindsey looks small for doing so. Maybe the needling even after LaVar is gone explains why #56's grudge is so personal. The player he is is not the player he was, but an aroused Arrington isn't anyone I'd like to face.

Unless they are trying to goad him into foolish mistakes!

Just can't wait to read that the Skins have deactivated TJ Duckett again!

For in depth game previews, look here, and here, and here.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Fourth and short

Go For It It's fourth and one with two minutes to go in fourth quarter. You have the ball on the Jacksonville 20. The game is tied. A field goal is a sure thing and you could leave it to your defense to close out the game. Your defense has played pretty well, but Byron Leftwich threw for over 250 yards and two TD passes. Your secondary is suspect. Orthodox thinking is to take the points; or, you could take the riskier option and go for first down. If you make it, you can kill the clock and go for a last second field goal to win. If you miss, Jacksonville is still deep in their own territory and would have to drive 60 yards in two minutes to set up a winning field goal.

You are Joe Gibbs. What do you do?

We know what happened. The Redskins kicked a field goal and the Jaguars drove down field and kicked the tying, could have been the winning, field goal with six seconds left. The New York Jets faced a similar dilemma in their game with the Colts. They were fourth and goal at the Indie two yard line in the third quarter. They went for it. The attempt failed, Pennington was intercepted, and the Jets later lost. Did they make the wrong call? Their decision is analyzed on TheFootballGuys discussion board. Events proved that Gibbs' decision to kick was a good one, but the discussion concluded that coach Mangini made the correct decision under the circumstance. The analysis can be found here. Warning! This discussion is not for the math-challenged.

Eagles Behaving Badly As if there weren't enough examples of the boors in silly Phily, The Eagles Fan Of The Game was cuffed and ejected from Lincoln Financial Field in the fourth quarter of the Monday night game. Unbelievable? Check out the story here. Thanks again to TheFootballGuys for pointing me to this one.

Just can't wait for Terrible Owens to return to Philadelphia with his little cowboy friends. The drama won't be on the field. It will be in the stands!


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Jackson Who?

The Jacksonville Jaguars went 12-4 last season. They have a rugged defense and a prominent coach. Apart from Byron Leftwich and Fred Taylor, few around here could name any Jaguar player. I've been noodling over why. It can't just be market size. Minneapolis-St. Paul is about the same size, I think, but we more familiar with the Vikings. Geography doesn't quite explain it. San Diego is much farther away, yet we are very familiar with the Chargers.

There are two reasons for Jacksonville's anonymity. First, with Baltimore's proximity to Washington, Ravens games are broadcast in the DC TV market. So, we naturally hear more about the AFC North than the South; which brings up the second reason. The Indianapolis Colts, with nine post-season appearances in the last seven years, sucks the oxygen out of media coverage in the AFC South.

The game was the best possible compromise with regard to Byron Leftwich. The local boy done good (21 of 35 for 289 yards, 3 TDs, 1 Interception) and the local team won. ESPN The Magazine quotes Leftwich addressing stereotypes that he and receiver Matt Jones faces, "What is the world coming to when you have a slow black quarterback throwing to a fast white receiver." (October 9, 2006, NFL Insider, page 104)

For a quick read on how the Redskins-Jacksonville game played in Florida, look here.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Whoa! Redskins 36 - Jaguars 30

Whoa! 481 total yards offense on the Jacksonville defense

Whoa! Mark Brunell 18-30-1 for 329 yards and 3 touchdown passes

Whoa! Clinton Portis rushing 112 yards on 27 carries and one touchdown

Whoa! Santana Moss 138 yards on 4 receptions, three of them scoring catches

Whoa! Jaguars held to 33 yards rushing; Maurice Jones-Drew, 100+ yards last week, 3 yards on 3 attempts against the Redskins

Whoa! Redskins defense - 4 sacks of Byron Leftwich; welcome home Byron!

Whoa! Redskins control the clock 35:28.

Whoa! Redskins are 2-2 with the Giants coming up next.


Saturday, September 30, 2006

Jaguars @ Redskins: It's a generation thing!

OK, so I published most of this before. It's still a compelling backdrop to the Redskins-Jaguars game and worth repeating.

Mark Brunell was a hero in Jacksonville. Then he got hurt. The new coach and new management handed the starting job to Byron Leftwich, who never gave it back. Brunell was relegated to the bench where he rusted. Then a rusty coach gave Brunell a shot at resurrecting his career and stuck by him when no one else did. The result was Brunell's 2005 campaign (3,050 yards, 23 TDs, 10 Interceptions, 85.9 QB rating).

I don't think Brunell has a vindictive bone in his body, but pride will drive him to show well against his old team when the Jaguars visit FedEx. The knock on Brunell is his age and sturdiness. But young Leftwich suffered injury late last season and missed critical games. He lacked sharpness in Jacksonville's playoff game and it cost them. His youth would have cost them anyway. Yet, nobody questions that Leftwich is the guy for the Jaguars. Virtually everybody fears that Brunell is too old to start for the Skins. Enough, already! At age 36, Brunell is one year younger than John Elway was when Elway won his first Super Bowl. He's adapting to Al Saunders' version of the Coryell system, although it's been more of a transition than expected.

The GenX (Brunell) vs. Hip Hop (Leftwich) thing flavors an excellent match-up of playoff teams.

Running Redskins! The most aggressive way to attack the Jaguars front seven is to run the ball. Running gives the offensive line the initiative. They can attack Jacksonville's burly linemen, while minimizing penalties. If the Skins are forced to pass block, to play catch-up for example, the advantage goes to the Jags.

Run the ball, win the game. I like the Redskins by five.

For a full game preview, check Hog Heaven.

Alumni rant!

My compliments to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights who cracked the college Top 25 ranking for the first time since 1976. To see a picture of head coach Greg Schiano, a sure Coach of the Year candidate, look here.

And here's a picture of the future ex-head coach of the MSU Spartans. After blowing a 16 point lead to the Irish last week and losing homecoming to the Frightful Illini today, this was bound to happen!

How long before basketball season?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Al Saunders Explains

Here's a few nuggets from Deputy Head Coach Al Saunders statement on

  • "Right now, defenses are doing a real good job of neutralizing the tight ends role and we've had to keep them in on pass protection to help our tackles on occasion.
  • "We anticipate more five-man protections, but we haven't been able to do that yet. I think as we do some other things and we progress, the offense will be able to open up more.
  • "Also, the depth of the [quarterback] drops and the timing of the [receiver] routes are not quite at the level where we want them to be, so we have cut back on some of the four and five receiver routes."

Translation: not a lot of deep routes against Jacksonville.

It looks more and more like the Redskins will not cash in their policy from Duckett insurance. TJ did not suit up for the Houston game and I'm hearing suggestions of the same for Jacksonville. Maybe he serves his purpose by sitting. Ladell Betts ran pretty well in Houston.

Mark Brunell is listed as probable for the Jaguars game. He considers himself as "day-to-day" as a result of the stitches in his throwing elbow. He did not practice Wednesday and there are radio reports that he missed Thursday's practice too. If that's the case, then he shouldn't play. That was the standard Coach-in-chief Gibbs used in deactivating Clinton Portis for the Dallas game. Portis missed Thursday practice before the Cowboys game. Fairness aside, timing patterns are an issue with the passing game, so there's a real question mark (question Mark! Get it?) about the Brunell's ability to step in without reps, especially against a D like Jacksonville. Note -- I'm not a Brunell basher.

What's really interesting, in a Twilight Zone sorta way, is that it's Todd Collins practicing with the first team, not Jason Campbell. What gives? While Brunell isn't out, this seems like the scenario where Campbell would be prepped to play. Gibbs is saying they are preparing as though Brunell will start, but Collins might have to finish the game.

So what is it we are not hearing about Campbell? Normally it's preferable to keep real player evaluations private between coach and player. This, however, is becoming an issue. Somebody owes us a frank answer, or this is just going to become a big distraction.

Personal gripe - I have Terrell Owens on both my fantasy teams. Now, I'm trying to get receivers like Bernard Berrian on my rosters as insurance policies. I dropped a running back to make room, so for a week or two my roster is overweighted with receivers. I once wrote that intangibles have no weight on fantasy teams. Well, I guess they do!