Thursday, December 27, 2007

The controversy to come

The Redskins may get a happy ending to a sad season if the they can get past the damned Cowboys and into the playoffs.

If the Skins do that, then make it as far as a second playoff game, starting quarterback Jason Campbell could be available. But, should he start?

Despite that old football cliche, a starter can lose their position if their replacement plays better. [See Jay Schroeder - Doug Williams, 1987] Collins has looked very good leading the Redskins to three critical wins. So, I'll say right now that while Campbell is Mr. Right, Collins is Mr. Right Now. As long as Collins produces, he should start for however far the Redskins get.

The case is made far more eloquently by Scott Van Pelt on Collins or Campbell? The Great Debate.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. First the Skins have to beat the Cowboys.

Monday, December 24, 2007

What they are writing in Minnesnowta

Here's the link to the StarTribune, the principal newspaper of Minneapolis, Minnesota with their sports columnists describing the butt-whuppin' the Vikings suffered at the hands of the Redskins.

The link points to the story of how Washington stopped the Vikings running game with an eight and nine man front.

Links to other stories laments the inability of the Vikings to defeat the Redskins strategy with their passing game.

Above all, don't miss Sid Hartman's column Madden: Jackson is still developing not so much for John Madden's comments about the Vikings QB Tavaris Jackson, but for the Minnesota links to the Redskins.

Anthony Montgomery played college ball for the University of Minnesota. Hartman traces his development from his Cleveland, Ohio high school, where was a quarterback, through college and his growth in the pros.

Hartman writes that one of the people who saw Montgomery in high school was Redskin scout Shemy Schembechler, yes the son of that Schembechler, who recommended Montgomery to Redskins defensive line coach Greg Blach before the 2006 draft.

Hartman also wrote about Vinnie Cerrato who hails from Albert Lea, Minnesota, and who began his football career as a grad assistant for University of Minnesota coach Lou Holtz in 1984. Cerrato followed Holtz to Notre Dame before taking his career to the pros.

I loved the part where Hartman described Cerrato as "one of the most respected football administrators in the NFL."

Redskin fan opinion may catch up with that sentiment depending on the progress made towards a championship this year and next.

Wishing all my readers, one and both of you, a very Merry Christmas and everything the spirit of Christmas brings.

I can thing of no better gift than to invite you to the blog roll to click on Hail To The Redskins link. You already know the words.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sean Taylor to Pro Bowl

Commissioner Roger Goodell said "The NFL is proud of Sean Taylor" when he spoke at Taylor's funeral last month.

This month, the NFL named the late Redskin safety as the Pro Bowl starter at safety.

Hog Heaven

The Legend and Legacy of Joe Jackson Gibbs

Joe Gibbs let it be known at his press conference yesterday that he was open to a contract extension that would keep him involved with the Redskins beyond his contract period. Gibbs five year contract ends after the 2008 season.

That answers one question, whether Gibbs would step down after this sad and ugly season. [I can't imagine that Daniel Snyder would fire him.]

It introduces another. What is Joe Gibbs' legacy in his second go-round?

When you are the coach, legacy is the same as wins and losses. But, Gibbs came out of retirement to be the turnaround agent. He said he wanted to restore the Redskins as a winning franchise.

That's a business goal. I'm a business guy who has been thinking about Gibbs legacy. Because of my background, I see Gibbs' larger role as a business management issue. That's how I, or rather that meek, mild-mannered reporter who occupies this space, will assess Gibbs over the off-season.

This post is to capture some ideas for the framework of the evaluation. Successful executives work towards building sustainable competitive advantage. Did the Joe Gibbs - Daniel Snyder make appropriate organizational decisions that will build an organizational advantage that will survive Gibbs departure?

Here are my first thoughts for how to assess Gibbs' legacy:

Impact on the owner -- Daniel Snyder is an earnest, eager, aggressive young owner committed to making the Redskins a winner. He knows how to make money. He knows how to promote a business. His football instincts are impaired. His approach to building winning teams is bass-ackwards. How has Joe Gibbs improved Snyder's approach?

Sourcing talent -- Early in his ownership, Snyder was aggressive sourcing "proven talent" to the roster, with "proven" being aging players on the downside of their careers cashing in on a lucrative last contract. You know how that worked.

If Snyder dimly and slowly perceived that a famous name was no substitute for a scouting report, what has Gibbs done to install a better system?

Valuing talent -- Football free agency tends to overvalue players who are changing teams. The Redskins tend to have minimal salary cap room, forcing them to an annual ritual of renegotiating player contracts. Every team does this, but the Skins have made it a high art form. They are cleverer at managing the cap than building a championship roster.

[I think the Skins have done well on talent valuation. The meek, mild-mannered guy will write something about that for Hog Heaven in the next day or so.]

Succession -- Gibbs is leaving someday. How much disruption will be triggered by his leaving? Succession planning is one of the key things organizational leaders must do well to ensure survival.

That's the approach. It's only a start. I'll refine the approach as the season winds down and write it up in a series between January and the Draft.

Full Disclosure: I am a Joe Gibbs fan. I see the team as better off for his being here. Before Gibbs returned, the Redskins were trying to foist Trung Canidate and Danny Weurffel on us. We are way beyond that. I am not a Gibbs apologist who thinks the team president is above criticism. My loyalty, however, is to the team, so I'm going for a balanced assessment.

Most of you know that I'm posting here on a weekly basis during the season. My content is posted over at Hog Heaven. So check over there for the freshest content. Look here for deeper thoughts, or crib notes of stories being developed for Hog Heaven.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Michael Vick pays the piper

Michael Vick's day of reckoning came yesterday when U.S. District Judge sentenced him to 23 months imprisonment for participating and bankrolling an interstate dog fighting ring.

Rather, Vick was convicted for the dog fighting, but sentenced for lying about it before and after his guilty plea. Wilbon writes that he was suprised by the harshness of Vick's sentence, but should not have been, given Vick's lack of candor with the feds.

The whole self-made tragedy of the Ookie saga rests on that string of deception from the first news to the final FBI lie-detector test.

Worst lie of all was Vick's initial story that relatives living at his Moonlight Drive property were responsible. You're in this thing up to your neck and you throw your family under the bus?

If I were the patriarch of Vick's family, I would want to know why my one grandson publicly maligned my other grandson. I wouldn't be so quick to overlook it because the one was the goose laying golden eggs for the family. But, that's just me.

It's none of my business whether that accounting happened within the Vick-Boddy family. If it did not, however, it informs why Vicks' instincts led him to make the wrong decision at every turn in the saga; why he never outgrew his Ookie side.

Michael Vick never learned to hold himself accountable.

ESPN's John Clayton speculates that Vick could be back in the NFL as soon as the 2010 season. Maybe, if Virginia does not convict him on separate charges and extends his sentence beyond the fed's. [I still think those Virginia charges are piling on. It may be the law, but it's not justice.]

And maybe the 30 months of closely supervised probation will restrict Vick's movement after his release just enough to inhibit joining a team right away. Whenever he joins a team -- if that happens -- it will surely take a full season for Vick to get his "game legs."

It could be 2012 before you see Michael Vick on the field.

I'm trying to fight the tendency of judging Vick too harshly, now; not to be one of those "evangelicals" who are quick to condemn human weakness in others while blind to their own.

There's a little Ookie in everyone. Whether you cheat on your taxes or cheat on your spouse, lie to your boss, or mistreat small animals, everybody is hiding something. Everybody wants a little understanding and a second chance if they get caught.

So now the Michael Vick story morphs to parable -- a tale with a moral lesson for all of us. And the moral is this,

Photo bottom: VarvelBlog found here.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sean Taylor: Requiem

Watching the Redskins lose to the Buffalo Bills on an appropriately dreary day was draining.

So was Sean Taylor's funeral. The meek, mild-mannered guy who shares this space posted his piece on the funeral over at Hog Heaven. It portrayed a side of Taylor that never got press, but should have. Sean Taylor never knew how many people loved and admired him.

Rich Tandler put up the best post I've seen [so far] on yesterday's game Insignificant But Not Unimportant. He points out that Joe Gibbs' brain boo-boo was not the cause for the loss, just the last of a string of events that resulted.

Tandler lists them for the game, but gets to the heart of the issue by writing:

"And, truth be told, the game was lost at about 3:30 on Tuesday morning when Sean Taylor’s heart stopped beating. Football is a game of emotion and the Redskins had expended a ton of it during the course of the week. When they went up 16-5 it appeared that the Redskins simply ran out of emotional gas. There is only so much in the human tank in a given period of time. Usually, even in a losing locker room, there is some energy there, some adrenaline still flowing. Yesterday there was nothing left but tear-filled eyes and deep sighs."

I've tried to figure out why Sean Taylor's death would affect me so personally. Great player? Tragic circumstances? Yes. But, there are plenty of Redskins players who would not have generated this outpouring.

The loss of Taylor is the loss of hope. Sean Taylor and Jason Campbell are the two players you can -- could have in Taylor's case -- build a team around. I connected with them. Watched them grow as players and presumed their growth as people. I wanted to see how far they would carry the Redskins, and therefore, carry me.

Yet, it's more than the loss of a key player. After watching the Redskins of the 1990s, Taylor was personification of the Redskins we want -- hard-hitting, uncompromising, and yes, intimidating. The better part of the Redskins died a week ago tonight.
I am Catholic. The Gospel reading for yesterday's Mass comes from Matthew 24:37-44

Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking,marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark.
They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.
So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.
Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left.
Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left.
Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

That passage always had a special meaning for me. My Catholic, all-male high school required us to attend Mass every Friday. That passage from Matthew was burned in my brain one Friday afternoon.

My last class that day was sophomore geometry, with time passing in that dreadfully slow way that only occurs at school. At about 2:35 p.m., someone came to the classroom door and spoke quietly to the teacher, Fr. Austin. It was November 22, 1963, and a visibly shaken Fr. Austin informed us that President Kennedy had been shot.

Kennedy, Taylor, both victims of gun violence; both life & death lessons of that passage from Matthew. Ironic that particular reading it should roll around now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Grief and anger over Sean Taylor

Elizabeth Kubler Ross famously identified five stages of grief for patients with terminal illnesses. Versions of the "stages" are popularly applied to those who have lost loved ones.

Denial (this isn't happening to me!)
Anger (why is this happening to me?)
Bargaining (I promise I'll be a better person if...)
Depression (I don't care anymore)
Acceptance (I'm ready for whatever comes)

Regarding Washington Redskins star safety Sean Taylor, I'm at the angry stage.

I hope they nail the bastard sonofabitch murderer who took Sean away from his family and his fans.

Does Florida have a death penalty?

Yeah I said it.

I am native to Washington, DC, but lived elsewhere in 1986 when Len Bias died prematurely. Bias' death hit the Washington, DC community like a tidal wave. Bias, from Landover, Maryland, was the native son on the verge of making good. The perception of life changed with Bias' scandalous death. People still talk about it.

Though not from the Washington area, Sean Taylor's death will have a similar effect on local fans.

Taylor was not as good a football player as he was going to be. You could see his development, especially this year. His best years on the field were ahead of him.

Widely admired from the day the Redskins signed him, he was the player the team would build the defense around. That Gregg Williams-Joe Gibbs strategy of upgrading the secondary to boost the pass rush was to take maximum advantage of Mr. Taylor's skills. And it was working.

It looks more and more like Taylor was targeted for attack. To be awakened in the middle of the night and cut down by an armed intruder in your own home violates so many principles sacred to us. So, lets find this guy and . . . [mess] him up.

Monday, November 26, 2007

God bless you, Sean Taylor

Several story ideas noodling around the old noggin following the Redskins loss to Tampa Bay. None of it is important today.

Today, the important thing is Sean Taylor who was shot in his home last night. It doesn't look good. The bullet that struck Taylor severed his femoral artery. He went into surgery today for life-threatening injuries and is said to be in a coma.

I pray that he lives. I hope that he walks. All that football stuff can wait.

Ben at The Curly R is leading on the blog updates. Look there for the latest.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Redskins turn game over to Bucs

I like to think that my alter ego and I provide thoughtful analysis about the Redskins and football. That's why "we" pay attention to stats. The answers and the tendencies are revealed by the numbers.

It's also a truism that stats don't mean anything. The score is the only stat that matters.

Could today's 19-13 loss to the Buccaneers prove that any better? The Skins dominated the Bucs, statistically, in the second half while the game was in reach. Their effort was undercut by turnovers from the first quarter to the last.

Bet there's a mathmatic formula for that; something like losses result when possession is undercut by turnovers [L=P/TO].

What do you do when your stars fumble their opportunities? That meek, mild-manner guy who lives here will probably have more to say about that on Hog Heaven Tuesday or Wednesday.

While, I haven't given up on the Redskins or the season, I'm only watching for entertainment value from this point.

This team just isn't good enough to go deep in the playoffs.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Michael Vick Surrenders

Micheal Vick turned himself in to U.S. Marshals to begin serving his anticipated prison sentence for interstate conspiracy early. He is scheduled to be sentenced by the U.S. District Court on December 10.

He is being held in a regional jail pending his sentencing.

This is the second smartest move Vick made in his dog fighting saga. The best was hiring a first class legal team to represent his sorry butt when the damage was already done.

This move was smart because Vick will at least avoid the media excess and the protests and counter-protests that accompanied his earlier court appearances.

Vick still faces Virginia dog fighting charges. To put it in a football context, that's a late hit. Federal prosecutors accelerated their action when it appeared that the Commonwealth Attorney was dragging his feet at prosecuting a charge.

The State's case is based entirely on evidence developed by the feds and Vick's guilty plea to those charges. Legal fairness demands that Vick and his legal team were aware that they were putting themselves in jeopardy by his plea.

Virginia may have a case to proceed, but that's not justice. Fifteen yard penalty and loss of down.

I always say that Jesus lives in jail. So many people seem to find Him there.

This intervention may the the thing that causes Vick to get a grip and reassess the direction of his life and choices. That's not a bad thing and Vick's life and career is not at an end. It's a time out, perhaps making up for the time-outs he didn't get [when needed] in his youth.

So, while Vick finds God and gets religion, he might also take inspiration from Martha Stewart, convicted of securities fraud in 2004. Like Vick, she chose to enter prison early, to complete her five month sentence early. [Her prison nickname was "M.Ditty."] So, she resumed her life and career that much sooner, albeit with some restrictions, and is still admired and beloved by her fans. She even made peace with PETA.

Michael Vick has a life and it's in football. I believe Atlanta is the best team and best market for him, if he can overcome Arthur Blank's sense of betrayal to get another chance.

The other market is Oakland, that NFL haven of former bad boys. The Raiders not only have a cultural ambiance where Vick can find acceptance, but a supportive African-American demographic that is attuned to prosecution and second chances; sin and redemption. It's a population deeply suspicious of the case against Vick that would resist the appeals of perceived Utopian outsiders like PETA.

More to the point, in three years, the Raiders may need a quarterback. We don't know yet if JaMarcus Russell is the answer.

Some of the Bad Newz dogs may be adoptable.

Running Redskins' Michael Vick archive

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Soooooo Close

The Washington Redskins have had their share of ugly wins and nasty losses. Today's game against the Cowboys was not one of them. It was a good loss.

A good loss is the kind where you played at your best, executing a good game plan, but lost to a better team playing a better game.

While the Redskins were not perfect, they were in the game until the last 90 seconds. That's better by far than I expected. Would Terrell Owens, that emotionally needy man-child [used to call them sissies], have made four touchdown passes over the middle if Sean Taylor was lurking in the secondary?

Taylor and Fletcher-Baker are the two defensive players who cannot be replaced. The team showed they could cope with other injuries.

Al Saunders showed that his offense can work here. Joe Gibbs showed that he could trust it to win games. Jason Campbell showed his growth as a quarterback running that offense. That's something to build on for the rest of this season and in the future.

Campbell has shown that he can run the offense. Now he has to learn how to win!

I feel good about that.

Oh yeah, you only get one "good loss" per season. No more moral victories, guys.

Who's hitting the Redskins?

I can't prove anything, but I think the DB who broke Brandon Lloyd's collar bone in practice is the same guy who tried to assassinate LaRon Landry with that paint gun.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Brandon Lloyd will be glad to leave

Can anything else go wrong for this guy?

Lloyd broke his collar bone on the last play of practice Wednesday. He's likely done for the season. [I'm fighting the temptation to say he was done anyway. Oops.]

His season here is a bust. He's an athlete. This surely wasn't what he hoped when he signed his contract.

The Redskins are more patient with him that I would have been. They need him to succeed and were giving him every chance to be successful. I need to see him succeed, but had no expectation of seeing success.

With Moss gimpy and Thrash out, Sunday at Dallas was Lloyd's golden opportunity. And he broke a bone. In practice. When it was nearly over.

"We're talking about practice." ~~ Allen Iverson

LaCanfora at The Post says the Redskins will sign WR Jimmy Farris, who has been on and around the Redskins the past few seasons. The Redskins added Burl Toler to the practice squad.

Everyone expects Lloyd to be released by June. With everything that's happened to him here, he will be glad to leave.

Sometimes a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered. Doctor. Oops!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Redskins at Bunker Hill

Once again, the Patriots showed what they do to interlopers in red clothes who attack them at home.

52-7 is a stunning loss and it took awhile for the fan in me to recover.

Cleverest headline from the game: 'Skinned alive at

The my meek mild-mannered alter ego wrote Speechless at Hog Heaven on Monday. It was some of his best stuff, but no one saw it because Greg Trippiedi posted an even better piece about an hour later. See Did Pats run up the score?

Joseph White is often overlooked by bloggers as a Redskins writer because he is not part of the Post, Times or Examiner stable. But, as the Associated Press beat reporter, it's his recaps that shows up on, espn and outside newspapers like USA TODAY.

White did a "morning after" story for Monday's USA TODAY that asks Following 52-7 blowout loss to Patriots, Redskins wondering how it happened.

So are we.

White wrote this post mortem on the Skins:

"New England showed the rest of the league how to attack Washington's deep zone: Run the ball and dump short passes to the running backs in the flat and the slot receiver over the middle. The Patriots' 486 yards sent the Redskins plummeting from No. 1 to No. 6 in the NFC in yards allowed, and cornerback Carlos Rogers was lost for the season with a knee injury.

"That's nothing compared to the offensive problems. The Redskins are now the only team in the NFL without a touchdown pass to a wide receiver. Clinton Portis is averaging 2.7 yards per carry in his last three games. Moss has 49 yards receiving in his last three games."

I don't agree with White's assessment on attacking the defense. What the Patriots showed was how they could attack the Redskins defense. The Jets, the Eagles, the Bears, most of the teams on the schedule do not have the wide receivers who can lure Sean Taylor and LaRon Landry out of the way by running deep patterns. Some that do, like the Cowboys maybe, don't have the talent to exploit it the way the Pats did. Marvelous team.

Busted Illusions

New England showed how far the Redskins have to go to be a Super Bowl competitive team. Our biggest loss was the loss of illusion, and that's not all bad.

The Redskins are a pretty good team, even very good when everyone is healthy. They are sitting pretty for a 9-7 or 10-6 record. They might even make the playoffs. They are unlikely to win a playoff game unless a lot of things improve.

This is football. Teams are never healthy. The teams who make the playoffs and thrive are the ones who manage for that with roster resiliency through depth, the ones who survive attrition. The Redskins don't have that. With the way they assess and source their talent, it's unlikely they will get it.

Carlos Rogers strained the tendons in his knee and he is out for the season. Now the team is thin at that position again. They will have to go out and get someone. That's how we got Mike Rumph.

You can't take shortcuts to building a championship, not and compete with the likes of the Patriots and the Colts who have championship front offices that build winning teams for the long haul. Like the Redskins used to do.

Everybody knows your name

That line comes from the CHEERS theme song. Right now Boston is on everybody's lips. The Sox won the Series. The Patriots are going to the Super Bowl. Boston College is No. 2 in the BCS poll. The Celtics, with Kevin Garnett, are looking up. It's great to be a Boston sports fan.

As a Democrat, I shudder at what that could say about Mitt Romney.

Mitt is the son of George Romney who was Governor of Michigan when I was a college student at Michigan State. I admired George Romney. He was one of the few Republicans I considered voting for. The elder Romney was moderately conservative. That's not red enough for today's Republicans.

As Secretary of HUD, Romney enticed Richard Nixon to visit a Washington, DC housing project to give the president a feel for the struggles of living in a slum and what Romney, as HUD Secretary hoped to do about it.

Even in the news reel, you could see that Nixon was about as comfortable in that environment as "W" was in New Orleans. But, I digress.

In sports, it's a good time to be from Boston.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A different Brandon Lloyd

Brandon Lloyd did an eight minute interview with WRC-TV. It's a different view of Lloyd. He comes off as candid and personable. Go take a look here.

I never let myself forget that I can't do what the athlete I'm criticizing can do. [say that three times fast.] So, interviews like this one present a different facet of Lloyd. You want to see him do well.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Your defense homework

OK, fellow bloggers and readers, your next reading assignment is John Keim's article in The Washington Examiner No blitz, no problem (hat tip to

Read it as the companion piece to Matt Bowen's article Skins at home in Tampa Two, also from the Examiner.

Those two stories explain how the Redskin defense fixed its problems to become so effective. It sure looks like Gregg Williams ideas are better conceived than the offense. I think the Skins are going to beat New England 3-0! Maybe that third "g" really does stand for "genius."

Former Redskin safety Bowen has put out nice pieces for the Examiner. Go back and read is piece following the Eagles game Defense not afraid to win the game, offense should take similar approach.

Good stuff

Monday, October 22, 2007

Max McGee

I'm fortunate enough to have seen every Super Bowl. That's more championship games than I can count in Roman Numerals. That means that I saw the first NFL-AFL World Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs while sitting in my college dorm's TV room with a bunch of mostly other guys. [We thought ourselves fortunate that Michigan State provided us with a big 25" color TV.]

Green Bay trounced the Chiefs 35-10 and the onslaught was led by reserve wide receiver Max McGee who scored the first Super Bowl touchdown on a pass from Bart Starr.

McGee died Saturday after a fall from the roof of his house. Sad.

Max McGee had a life after football as a restaurateur. Think of him the next time you are in a Chi-Chis or Original Pancake House.


Cardinal rule: win ugly if you have to

This time, the Washington Redskins held on for the win after a letting a big lead evaporate. Twice before this season, the Redskins let the other guys pull away from them.

They got the win, so the glass must be half full. The score and the wins are the only stats that count.

Clever headlines about yesterday's 21-19 win over the Arizona Cardinals:

The cause of everything

I am of the opinion that the line causes 51 percent of everything that happens on offense. This is from anecdotal evidence after long observation of football. It's not scientific like the stuff you find on Football Outsiders, but I believe it to be true. The recent struggles of the Redskins offence is more evidence of that.

Joe Jacobi commented on the SportsTalk 980 Radio after the game that a team could cope with replacing one player on the offensive line, but replacing two would be very difficult. Replacing three would present near insurmountable problems. The Redskins have replaced four if you count right guard Pete Kendall who arrived in late training camp via trade.

Good trades and bad

Kendall is an example of a good use of the trade to bring in a key role player to fill a specific need. Kendall performs with no let down of talent of the man he replaced. That's unlike so many other Redskin trades that are not additive: lose a top cornerback and a draft choice for a top running back; swap a receiver [Lav Cole] for another receiver [Santana Moss]; drop an unproductive receiver [Rod Gardner] and trade for a less productive receiver [Brandon Lloyd].

The Redskins may never overcome the tendency. Consider how close the owner came to the Lance Brigg trade. If that were executed, the Chicago Bears would have our No. 1 draft pick and Rocky McIntosh, but hey, we would have Briggs. Few fans in Washington favored the deal. How does a like-for-like swap build on what you have. If a deal were to be done, we wanted a D-lineman.

Only the owner was enticed by the offer. Joe Gibbs did his best service for the Redskins by killing it, help along by Bears GM Jerry Angelo's demand for McIntosh to sweeten the deal.

But I digress.

Unnatural acts

Offensive linemen are anonymous because they must play as a unit. Everyone else is a skilled player. It seems to take two or three seasons of playing together for linemen to jell as a cohesive unit. Going into the season, we saw the O-line as a strength because of how well they played as a unit over the years.

Injuries have blown that up. Joe Bugel is resorting to unnatural acts to cope. Mike Pucillo is doing OK as a center, but is lost to the team in the flexible extra blocker role he plays in the jumbo package. TE Todd Yoder is a better blocker that Chris Cooley, so do you keep Cooley out so Yoder can block, or do you play Cooley to block so that he can at least pretend to be a receiving threat? Can you have Scarface Alexander play on both the offensive and defensive line? Do you really want Rich DeMulling to start?

Injuries are part of football. Watching how teams cope is part of the drama of the game, part of the test of a champion. Fixing the issues on the O-line will fix 51 percent of what ails the offense.

Monday, October 15, 2007

How many ways can the Redskins drop the ball?

There are fifty ways to leave your lover and just as many ways to drop the football, apparently.

As I sit here, forehead collapsed in the palms of my hands, contemplating yesterday's Green Bay game, I come to one inescapable conclusion. Our stars dropped the ball. They let us down, man.

I could see in their faces how badly they felt. I know that Clinton Portis and Santana Moss will win us more games than they lose, but yesterday they blew it. My meek, mild-mannered alter ego will write about that on Hog Heaven later today.

Oh-for four against Brett Favre. It's the moral equivalent of the Lions' 0 for 21 against the Redskins in Washington.

In truth, it was a game I always figured the Redskins to lose on the way to a 9-7 record. So, I don't see the loss as losing ground, but when your stars drop the ball . . . .

The loss hurts because it puts the Skins at a tie-breaker disadvantage to the Packers for a wild-card.

There's another, more important, streak the Redskins have to be concerned about. They haven't won at the Meadowlands since the '90s [have to verify that, but think it's true]. They visit the Jets and the Giants this season. They have to beat the Giants at the Meadowlands, thanks to blowing it at home in week three. Beating the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets would make up for lost ground.

Tough assignment, but they can do it; as long as our stars hold on to the ball.

Oh yeah, remember how Mark Brunell played so poorly in '04 and it turned out he was injured? Same thing for Santana Moss. He's just not the same player. I'm convinced that his groin injuries have a role in that. Twaan Randle El will be our leading receiver this year. I hope he's durable enough.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Redskins Big Spending

If you do nothing else today, spend the time to read Redskins' big-spending philosophy contrasts with Packers posted at It's lengthy, but a good summation of the pros and cons of free agency for building a pro football roster.

The Washington Redskins franchise is the poster child for free agency in contrast to the frugal Packers.

After last season's free agency orgy, the Redskins went all republican this year. Limited draft choices and salary cap does that to you. But, the story hints that maybe, just maybe, the Skins are altering their approach to roster building. The future of the team rests with its draft choices: Sean Taylor, Jason Campbell, LaRon Landry, Fred Smoot, Chris Cooley, Chris Samuels, Rocky McIntosh.

We may look back and see that 2007 was the year the Redskins recognized that. A good GM would have helped them see it sooner.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Michael Vick Talking?

Heard on the street, or rather, on the parking lot at FedEx, Michael Vick is talking his head off.

To have some impact on his November sentencing, Michael Vick is spilling what he knows about dog fighting, including potentially damaging information about past and present NFL players.

Information heard in parking lots from people you are barely on a first name basis is far from confirmed sources. So, you have to take this as potentially alleged rumor.

It reminded me that there is more to come from this story, probably around the time of Vick's sentencing in late November.


Oh no. Not here. Not today.

That's what the Redskins were really saying to the Detroit Lions and their highly vaunted offensive.

34-3! What a display of dominance. One thing that 34 point, fourth quarter comeback last week against the Bears did was to alert the Washington Redskins to the Lions threat, which removed any risk of a trap game.

I can't find any better description of the magnitude of today's accomplishment than the Detroit News, ROADSKINNED: Lions outplayed in D.C. rout. Go take a look. [Note: may require registration.]

Friday, October 05, 2007

Join the Redskins team

Director of Consumer Marketing - Washington Redskins (Washington, DC)

The Washington Redskins is seeking a seasoned strategic thinker to join our team as the Director of Consumer Marketing. The selected candidate will report directly to our Chief Operating Officer and will be responsible for product development, market segmentation, database development, and direct marketing as well as identifying and defining other consumer marketing support elements.

Qualifications & Responsibilities:

  • A minimum of 7 years of progressive career experience within marketing, with emphasis in consumer marketing experience.
  • Experience conducting extensive consumer, industry, market, geographic, product, and segment trend analysis to maximize marketing effectiveness and identify expansion opportunities.
  • Implement, monitor and evaluate all aspects of direct marketing in order to maximize “response.”
  • Database development experience, preferable with a marketing schema.
  • Excellent strategy development, marketing, financial, analytical, critical-thinking, and interpersonal skills; attention to detail and ability to think both strategically and tactically.
  • Experience presenting programs, ideas, results, and promotional information.
  • Capable of analyzing and creating reports to ascertain behaviors and key findings from consumers.
  • Strong time management skill is required to consistently meet deadlines and ensure implementation of initiatives.
  • Demonstrated leadership qualities and ability to lead and influence diverse and cross functional groups toward meaningful results.

The Washington Redskins offer a competitive salary and an excellent benefits package.

Note: When you apply for this job online, you will be required to answer the following questions:

  1. Yes/No: I have at least 7 years of consumer marketing experience.
  2. Yes/No: I have previous marketing experience with a sports team.

Apply for this position.

Click here to see all current NFL career opportunities.

Note: According to the Washington Business Journal, Terry Bateman is the COO of the Washington Redskins.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Okoye named Rookie of the Month

Not that I'm complaining about LaRon Landry, but Amobi Okoye has been named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for September 2007.

I was pulling for the Washington Redskins to select Okoye with their first round draft pick to add some pass rushing to the defensive line. The Skins selected safety LaRon Landry and Okoye was later picked up by the Houston Texans.

Anthony Montgomery is doing fairly well on the Redskins D-line, but Okoye has 10 tackles and 4 sacks, so far. Montgomery has 4 tackles, but no sacks.

With injuries and other problems we see on the Redskins, the team should use the first three picks in the 2008 Draft on a wide receiver, an O-lineman and a D-lineman. It's too soon to say in what order.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Detroit is Coming

They ain't playin' and I ain't lion.

The Washington Redskins next opponent were down 7-3 at half time to the Bears, then put up 34 points in the second half to beat Chicago.

The Redskins couldn't put up seven points in the second half of the Giants game.

There's no reason to panic, but the team formerly known as patsies cannot be dismissed. When Gregg Williams looks at game film, he should pull out tapes of that Mike Martz St. Louis Rams offense since that's what the defense will face. The 3-1 Lions are less talented than the Greatest Show on Turf, but they will challenge our cornerbacks. Those guys better be healthy and ready.

Adding to the intrigue is the Arizona Cardinals who held off the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers 21-14 today. That's a small measure of vindication for Russ Grimm and Ken Whisenhunt, both passed over for the Steeler head coaching job.

Detroit and Arizona were the comfortable home games on the Redskins' October calendar. Away games in Green Bay and New England are sandwiched between them. Suddenly, that cushy early schedule doesn't look so soft.

Good thing the Skins got their break now.

LaVar Arrington had some interesting things to say about the Redskins in a New York Daily News interview last week. He is still bitter at his treatment by the Redskins during the Gibbs II era. Those big contracts you hear about are a mirage, because they are back-end loaded. The Redskins will get rid (his words) of Clinton Portis and Chris Samuels before the Skins pay them the big bucks. That, or the players will agree to restructure their deals.

Most of what Arrington learned about business, he learned at the feet of former friend Daniel Snyder, he says, as he works on the December opening of Sidelines, his restaurant and sports bar at the Boulevard at Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland.

Yeah, I'm going when it opens. I still like LaVar.

That meek, mild-mannered guy who lives here has the story over at Hog Heaven.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder ranks as the 40th most powerful person in American sports, according to a panel assembled by BusinessWeek. Joe Gibbs, Redskins president and coach-in-chief, and owner of Joe Gibbs Racing, is ranked No. 93.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Tiger Wood and NBA Commissioner David Stern are ranked No. 1, 2 and 3 on the list.

Master4caster, Skin Patrol, Ben Folsom and Lee Gibbons are not on the list, so how credible is this information? I mean really?

Wide receiver Keenan McCardell will be in Redskin Park Monday and, assuming he passes a physical and workout, will sign a contract to join the team.

Pay attention to what the Redskins say, or don't say, about the signing and who gets released to make room. The very fact that the Skins continue to look at wide receivers this late says something. The fact that they are looking at experienced receivers [Corey Bradford, Todd Pinkston] says something, more, although it's pure guesswork what it all means.

People will jump to the obvious conclusion that Brandon Lloyd isn't working out. Or, the real fear that Santana Moss is more hurt than they are letting on. It may be more than that.

Without checking the facts, it seems to me that the Skins are playing a lot more from the shotgun spread formation with three and four wide outs. That's the Al Saunders influence. Assuming that one of those wide outs will be TE Chris Cooley, the other three have to be wide receivers.

I think the coaches don't think they have three reliable wide receivers to run Saunders' passing game, especially in the middle distances [10 to 20 yards].

While we are focused on the return to hardnosed Gibbs ball, I think we will look back and see that Al Saunders was more influential in the passing game than now obvious.

"Buckle your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night." ~~ Bette Davis in ALL ABOUT EVE.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tampa Two Lesson

Former Redskin safety Matt Bowen has an easy to understand explanation of the Tampa-2 defense in the Washington Examiner -- Skins at home in Tampa Two.

Go take a look.

Monday, September 24, 2007

For the Redskins defense

I just can't wait to read my favorite Redskins blogs over the next two weeks. After blowing the Giants game and opportunity, the comments will be ripe and richly deserved. And the best part is that we have two weeks for it all to sink in.

Not to worry, Redskins fans. The team is favored to beat the bye by four points; same as they were favored to beat the Giants.

Among the anguished newspaper columns about the game was Mike Wise's No Offense Taken. Wise reflects what surely is felt in Redskinnation today, but he makes some statements that I take exception to. So, I'm going to stand in defense of the Redskins against Wise's charges.

CHARGE: ". . . it's hard to fathom why throwing the ball to Mike Sellers in the flat from the one yard line makes any sense with a shot at overtime on the line . . . ."

DEFENSE: NOT GUILTY -- In 2005, Sellers scored seven touchdowns, all of them through the pass. One of the criticisms of Al Saunders last season was his poor use of Sellers, especially in the red zone. Sellers, along with Chris Cooley is exactly who the Skins should look for when close to the goal line.

Execution of the play is fair game, but the play call was a good one.

CHARGE: "It's harder to understand the reasoning behind not having Clinton Portis on the field for the final three plays on offense."

DEFENSE: NO CONTEST -- Apparently, the TV commentators suggested that Portis was benched because of a fumble earlier in the game. I didn't hear the comment, but if anything, he might have been benched for throwing the ball after a play. That drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Joe Gibbs demoted Brandon Lloyd for tossing his helmet late last season. Derek Frost got a stern talking-to after similar conduct. Both of those incidents resulted in penalties. Coach don't play that.

Wise does make the point that Portis should have been in the backfield for at least one of those plays. Coach can say that both Portis and Ladell Betts are equivilent, but they are not. Betts is a bruiser, and a fast one. Portis is a scorer. He is the Mr. Touchdown of the team. Send a play through the middle of the line? OK, use Betts. Running to the perimeter? Absolutely use CP.

CHARGE: "The Redskins were out of timeouts, but Campbell inexplicably spiked the ball with 1 minute 15 seconds left -- plenty of time to get to the line of scrimmage and not waste a down."

DEFENSE: NOT GUILTY -- This is not inexplicable at all. The coaches called for the spike. First down was as good a time to do it as any.

When you are a running team with no timeouts [as Wise said] and with intent to run the ball from the one, you are going to spike the ball sometime in the series. Gibbs wanted the jumbo package in the line-up. And the offense needed to get itself together and set for the play. That's a lot going on with the clock ticking. Bearing in mind the confusion and penalties at the end of the half in the Eagles game, stopping the clock to take a deep breadth on first down was a good call.

Wise might have questioned why the Redskins used all three timeouts before the two minute warning. Or, why a running team can't run a bleeping yard with the game on the line. Those are less defensible [and I hope someone asks the question]. That wasn't his charge, so I'm not answering it here.

CHARGE: "They [the Redskins] had every opportunity to put a woozy team away with a roundhouse right. The main reason they could not is because the offense failed to bring the hammer down and finish the job the defense started."

DEFENSE: uh, Guilty, your Honor.

Frightfully Funny
Philadelphia's surprisingly easy win over Detroit comes as no surprise to me. Detroit took one look at the Eagles throwback uniforms and died of laughter.

Bad Karma
I had a fleeting feeling before the game that it would be a rough day for the Skins. For one thing, they were the unanimous favorites to win. I just don't think the team can take that kind of press[ure].

And why the 1970-71 throwbacks? They are knock-offs of Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers uniforms. You don't see the Packers, who won yesterday, wearing imitation Redskins uniforms.

The Skins went 15-12-1 in that get-up, including George Allen's first year record of 9-4-1. When Allen's 11-3 team went to the Super Bowl the next season, they were in an early version of the current uni's.

Make those fake Paker uniforms go away.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Redskins win in Philly. Hell freezes over.

Even when things didn't work right, they worked for the Washington Redskins. Consider this series at the end of the second quarter of the Redskins game against the Philadelphia Eagles:

1st & Goal, PHI 1 (:14) - QB Jason Campbell spikes the ball to stop the clock.
2nd & Goal, PHI 1 (:14) - PENALTY, delay of game, -5 yards
2nd & 6, PHI 4 (:14) - PENALTY, false start on Jason Fabini (WAS), -5 yards
2nd & 11, PHI 11, (:14) - Redskins set up for field goal, Philadelphia calls time out. The Skins then set up for an offensive play.
2nd & 11, PHI 11 (:14) - PENALTY, false start on Jason Fabini (WAS), -5 yards
2nd & 16, PHI 16 (:14) - Jason Campbell pass to Chris Cooley, TOUCHDOWN!

With that improbable series of plays, the Redskins retook the lead at the half and never relinquished it. With most pundits expecting the Redskins to pound the ball, it was quarterback Jason Campbell who turned up the heat, completing 16 of 29 for 207 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.

Campbell showed a nice touch with the deep ball, completing a 48 yarder to Santana Moss in the first quarter, that the Skins converted to a field goal four plays later.

Earlier, Campbell tossed a deep pass to TE Chris Cooley, who dropped the catch.

In the third quarter, Campbell found Ladell Betts for a screen pass that Betts converted to a 28 yard gain to the Eagles 35. Later in the drive that carried into the fourth quarter, Campbell found TE Todd Yoder for an 18 yard gain. Yoder was hit by Eagles DB Brian Dawkins, who was injured during the play. He left the game.

Clinton Portis slammed the ball into the Eagles endzone with his six yard coffin closing TD run.

The game was a characteristic NFC East defensive struggle. The defense denied the Eagles an offensive touchdown. They pressured gimpy Donovan McNabb, who never-the-less completed 28 of 46 passes for 240 yards. DC native Brian Westbrook managed 162 yards of total offense. The Eagles could only manage field goals when they needed touchdowns.

The Redskins are 2-0, tied for division first place with the Dallas Cowboys.

Chris Cooley is worth every dime of his new contract.

NFL game recap. Washington 20, Philadelphia 12

Monday, September 17, 2007

Where was OJ Simpson . . .

. . . when Michael Vick really needed him?

Not that Simpson's recent arrest would have helped Vick's legal case, but it certainly would have deflected a lot of press attention and public wrath from Ookie Vick.

Vick's defenders, and there are still many of them, cry that the public outcry is not in proportion to the crime. Maybe, maybe not. I think something else is at work. The come-uppance.

Vick's case isn't like Simpson's. In that regard, Vick's supporters are right. They are just dogs. Vick didn't plead guilty to murder [of people]. A lot of the umbrage in the case was fed by Vick's own attitude, showing that he was in need of a come-uppance.

His cavalier regard of the animals; his use and destruction of them for entertainment and gambling -- as opposed to food and clothing, his shifting blame to his uninvolved relatives; his seeming attitude that "everybody loves Michael Vick" no matter what he does, betrayed a hubris in need of a come-uppance.

Michael wasn't treated any different than any other come-uppance case. Leona Helmsley was a come-uppance case, as much for her haughty personality as anything. Martha Stewart went to jail for lying to investigators to protect her broker. Who was she to tell the feds that the whole matter was silly?

Watergate and Monicagate were come-uppance cases. Opponents of Nixon and Clinton could not beat them at the polls. Both scandals were prolonged by political enemies taking advantage of an opportunity. All Nixon had to do was come clean early by saying "a couple of my guys got carried away." The country was ready to believe him.

Clinton's fatal blow was "I did not have sex with that woman ...." That was the moral equivalent of Nixon's "I am not a crook." Most people would have been satisfied knowing the president had to face Hilary. That was punishment enough.

Bill Belichick is a come-uppance case. He's hardly beaten on the field since he got to New England. Yet, he was 36-44 at Cleveland. So, how exactly has he been getting those wins with the Patriots?

Belichick knew better, broke the rules anyway and got nailed by the commissioner. There's still a hue & cry for a suspension. It's a cry for a come-uppance. [Suspension would be deserved if it could be shown that used the purloined defensive signals against the Jets during the game. That would have been underhanded and deserving of a suspension.]

Helmsley, Stewart and Belichick are evidence that Micheal Vick can resume life and career after he has his come-to-Jesus experience. Maybe he will be better off for it.

[We need to get off Helmsley for providing for the care of her dog, Trouble. Twelve million dollars is only 00.3 percent of Helmsley's estate. If I provided the same proportion of my estate for my dog, who is a lot of trouble, it would only keep him in dog food for a few months.]
Photo: (AP)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Cowboys most valuable, FedEx doomed

So, Forbes Magazines ranks the Dallas Cowboys as the most valuable franchise in sports, thanks to their soon to be completed stadium. At an estimated $1.5 Billion, that's a mere $33 Million more than the value of the Washington Redskins [at $1.467 Billion]. Chump change. This is like saying you are wealthy because of the equity in your house.

Skin Patrol at Hogs Haven points to a story posted at that ranks NFL teams in real money. As the story puts it:

Washington absolutely demolishes the rest of the league in total revenues ($312mm) and has a fantastic 21% operating margin. In other words, for all that money Daniel Snyder wastes, er, I mean spends on big ticket free agents, he’s got more profits to spare than anyone else in the league.

Daniel Snyder is a prideful guy. I don't think he will sit still at being No. 2 to the Cowboys. If a new stadium is all it takes to make the Cowboys the most valuable team, then Danny will want a newer, bigger one. FedEx Field is still a teenager, but it's doomed. Or, domed, whichever comes first.

Such pecuniary topics obscure the really important things about football. Tuesday Morning Quarterback on ESPN Page 2 has this to say:

"Back-to-back summer-weather nationally televised games hosted by Washington and Dallas confirmed beyond doubt what NFL observers have been thinking for several years -- the Redskins cheerleaders are now the league's hottest dance team, leaving the Cowboys cheerleaders in their aesthetic dust. Twenty years ago, the Cowboys' pep squad may have been the best-looking and best-dancing in the NFL. Now, it's not even close -- the Redskins cheerleaders are No. 1 in looks and in choreography. Here they are, and here's their warm-to-the-touch swimsuit calendar. At this point, the Broncos cheerleaders tie the Redskins cheerleaders in beauty and the Eagles cheerleaders tie them in choreography, but Washington finishes first overall, including for game-day professionalism."

Roger that.

Photo: Washington Redskins
You have to scroll waaaay down in the column to get to the cheerleader quote. Gregg Easterbrook, the Tuesday Morning Quarterback, opens with a lengthy story about the growing use of the shotgun spread offense in NCAA football. It's a fad that becoming a trend. Easterbrook's description is a particularly good read.

When reading the story, I understood the Redskins drafting QB Jordan Palmer, who played exclusively from the shotgun formation at UTEP. Until now, I never understood why the Redskins would take a guy who never took a pro style snap from under center.

Drafting Palmer was a flyer, but not so much because of the shotgun offense.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Marcus Mason Story

Marcus Mason was a story you like to write about. He was living every boy's dream of growing up and playing for the home team.

Alas, Jon Jansen's injury triggered a series of moves that ended in Mason's release -- for now -- from the team.

The Return of a King is Aaron Stern's story in The Connection Newspapers about Mason, growing up in Potomac, Maryland, his college experience and triumph in making the Washington Redskins roster.

Stern lightly touches the issues of Mason's college transfer from Illinois to Youngstown State and covers that tense afternoon on cut down day, September 1, as Mason waited for the call that never came, the call informing him "thank you, but . . . ."

"No call is a good call," Rock Cartwright informed the rookie. The realization that Mason made the team set off a joyous family celebration. Mason's Mom is a former Cowboys fan, recently converted to Burgundy & Gold.

I think and hope that we see Mason on the field at FedEx again. Omar Stoutmier was called back. Mason is too good not to be.

Return of a King is a good read, so go read it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mason Released

Elfin at The Times reports that the Washington Redskins cut Marcus Mason, their sensational rookie UDFA running back.

The move makes room on the active roster. The Skins expect Mason to clear waivers and will add him to the practice squad.


Elfin also says Redskins signed WR Reche Caldwell to the roster, perhaps explaining the Mason move.

Like Elfin, I say if you are signing borderline talent like Caldwell, you must be really unhappy with the receiving corps, or with someone on it.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The difference between Betts and Portis . . .

. . . is 39 yards and a touchdown. In the off-season, it was fashionable in some circles to doubt the value of Clinton Portis. Some comments on fan forums proposed trading Portis for draft choices, now that Ladell Betts emerged as a NFL starter caliber running back.

Fickle fans prove that Daniel Snyder isn't the only one capable of making dumb personnel moves [I can honestly say that none of the bloggers I follow ever suggested any such thing. If they did, I wouldn't take them seriously as the authoritative Redskinologists they are.]

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Today's story in The Washington Examiner reports that the doubters and haters served to incite Portis to prove them wrong. He made a good start Sunday in the Dolphins game. Portis and Betts both carried the ball 17 times. Betts ran for 59 yards. Portis for 98 and a score. As Rick Snider said in the Examiner story

"Betts is a playmaker that every team loves to have, but Portis is a game-breaker."

Losing CP last year cost the Redskins eight touchdowns, I figure, and at least two games. You can blame the defense for the rest of the '06 disaster.

Portis is reading the devaluation stories as disrespect and he is out to prove the haters wrong. But, in that way that athletes use to motivate themselves, he's seeing everybody as haters, so he's out to prove the world wrong. Great. That can only help the Redskins.

Watch the game in the stadium and you get a different impression than watching on TV with the announcers giving background details. From the stands, it seemed that Betts gained much more than 59 yards and 3.4 yards per carry. Live and in person, he looked better than that.

Nothing about the Portis comments above is meant as a put down of Betts. He's a nice change of pace back who may well extend Portis' career. We are lucky to have him.

One of the conflicts between the Old Ball Coach and the owner was the choice of keeping young running back Kenny Watson or Betts. The OBC wanted Watson [with the Bengals last I heard]. The owner opted for Betts. [I remember reading that account, but won't trouble to look it up.]

I have little respect for the owner's ability to build a winning organization and often point out the error of his ways. Fairness compels me to give him his props when he makes a right call. Betts was a right one.
Also from the stadium, it seemed that Trent Green was completing deeper passes that his stats showed. Cam Cameron made good use of him in the game. Green showed that 35+ year olds can be sharp.

One game does not make a season. I thought the same of Brad Johnson last year after the Vikings game. Johnson looked good on his way to horrible season. But Green causes us to wonder what might have been if the Redskins managed to keep him.

Green was a cap casualty in 1998, with ownership inattention as a contributing factor. The Redskins were in the process of being sold. John Kent Cooke, son of old Jack, but not his heir
for the team, was fighting off the bid by Daniel Snyder's consortium. Team roster was not at top of mind. Cooke lost. Snyder won. Green was lost [signed with St. Louis].

Snyder looked to make a big splash with high profile signings. If Green were here at the time, it would have been him, instead of Brad Johnson, who would have been left unsigned at the end of his contract because the owner preferred the big gun of Jeff George. Everybody in football, save Snyder, knew better than to take George.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Season scratchpad

This is a scratch pad of my thinking of how the season will go for the Redskins. The write-up will be on Hog Heaven [more about that below].

Dolphins: The Dolphins have the same profile as the Vikings last year - new coach, aging QB, respectable defense. I picked the Redskins to win that game and got fooled. I'm picking them again because this year, the Skins are a better team. Win, 1-0

@ Eagles: I don't know how the Eagles do it. I mean Hank Basket? C'mon. Whether Hank Basket or Easter Basket, Skins won't win here. Loss, 1-1

Giants: I have respected the Giants, but their fans are beginning to annoy me. Not like those Iggles fans, but annoying. I figure the Skins to split. They won't beat the Giants in the Meadowlands; so, it has to be here. Win, 2-1

BYE Week: Too early in the season.

Lions: Kitna says the Lions will win 10 games this year. I believe him. I'd be worried if they were playing in Michigan. Speaking of Michigan . . . . Win, 3-1

@ Packers: There is no reason to believe that the Skins will lose this game, except for Farve and the Tundra. I'm calling it a loss, but the Skins could steal this one. That will go a long way towards the playoffs. Loss, 3-2

Cardinals: Jason Campbell and Matt Leinart on the same field. Oh, the hype! The Cardinals have a legit #2 wide receiver. When can we get one of those? Russ Grimm returns to Old DC with the Cards. Pay attention, he could be the next head coach. Naw, the owner will go for a bigger "name." Dammit. Win, 4-2

@ Patriots: Will the improved secondary cause the quarterback to hold the ball too long? Fuhgetaboudit. Or, do they only say that in New York? Loss, 4-3

@ Jets: The Skins are jinxed at the Meadowlands. Loss, 4-4

Eagles: Stupid Iggles fans. I hate them all. At 4-4 (or better), there shouldn't be too many extra tickets floating around for Iggles people to buy. Good. At FedEx they are all illegal immigrants, anyway. Stop them at the border. Unfortunately, they will admit Donovan McNabb if he's healthy. Loss, 4-5

@ Cowboys: Purely a homer pick. Win, 5-5

@ Buccaneers: Forget that pseudo Ravens "rivalry." The Buccaneers are where it's at. If they realign the NFC East, I'm voting these guys in. The Skins - Buc's series always has controversy, and the games always mean something. Gruden is fighting for his job. I'm expecting war. The loser will have a tough time the rest of the season. Win -- a close one. 6-5

Bills: If the Skins lose to these guys, they should just bolt the door on the way home. Win, 7-5

Bears: The revenge of Adam Archuleta. Lovie Smith will use Arch the way he is supposed to be used and Arch will have a good year. Redskins fans will hate him for that, too, because, as you know, the entire defensive collapse was solely his fault. Loss, 7-6

@ Giants: The Meadowlands will still be jinxed. Loss, 7-7

@ Vikings: The Vikes have a very respectable defense. That's what you worry about. They have no one to catch the ball and I never heard of the one throwing the ball. Adrian Peterson can't help you when you are playing from behind. Win, 8-7

Cowboys: Post season may be on the line for both teams, so this game will be a dandy. This game is always a dandy. Win, 9-7

The Redskins will contend for a wild card.

Some of you may know that Master4caster is the alter ego of meek, mild-mannered blogger Anthony Brown, the principle writer for Hog Heaven on [not to be confused with Hogs Haven on SBN. Hog Heaven and Hogs Haven enjoy a productive and friendly relationship in Redskinology, but MVN and SBN are competing blog networks.].

Last year, Master4caster reserved the insightful, the profane and the off-color for Running Redskins, and the newsy stories for Hog Heaven. This year, I'm making a strategic change of direction.

Blogs are here to stay. The next evolutionary development of the medium is blogs networks. In two or three years, I think blog enterprises like MVN and SBN will give ESPN a run for the money and stand-alone blogs like Running Redskins will remain niched.

This prediction may be no better than my football forecasts, but I'm placing my bets on networks, so will post more insight more often on Hog Heaven, saving the profane humor and background thinking [and off topics like Ookie Vick] to Running Redskins. Bram Weinstein's Covering the Redskins [which I will add to the blogroll soon, I promise] is my model for this.

I expect to post here about twice a week during the season. I have many blogging friends -- I think of you as friends -- who stop by, and didn't want anyone to think I abandoned you, or this blog.

If you want the newest stuff from the thinking machine that is me, see the meek, mild mannered guy at Hog Heaven. If you want rants, stick around.

Saturday, September 01, 2007



The Redskins extended Chris Cooley's [a.k.a. Capt Chaos] contract by six years.

See the story at Hog Heaven.

The case for Casey Bramlet

I have to admit, it's not a strong one. In his last two games with the Falcons, Bramlet completed 5 of 9 passes for 80 yards; no TDs, no interceptions.

Bramlet played in the second half of Atlanta's game against the Ravens last night. While his numbers weren't bad, I thought he was slow of foot for an NFL player. On one occasion, it looked like he held the ball too long when he was sacked.

Sometimes that's exactly the right thing to do. You have to be a coach who knows the play and can see where the scheme broke down to assess responsibility.

This discussion take on an air of urgency after watching Jordan Palmer's play in the second half of the Redskins game against the Jaguars. Palmer looked like what he was: a small school rookie who had no reps in practice playing with a bunch of guys. He went 2 of 10 for 12 yards for a QB rating of 0.0. Bramlet looks good in comparison. So, why did the Redskins cut him?

I'm guessing the Redskins knew more about Bramlet from the '06 training camp and the NFLe film and this season's training camp. I'm guessing further that the team believes that Casey is already the best he will ever be.

Palmer is unknown. He reportedly has a bigger arm than Bramlet and maybe a bigger upside. It was hard to see that in Thursday's game. In any event, the Skins needed more tape on Palmer. So he stayed and he played. You would expect Bramlet to be more polished, but Palmer is very raw. He is nowhere near the talent of his big brother Carson.

For a team that makes every other personnel decision based on who can help now, you would think Bramlet would be the choice.

Jamaal Anderson was a fan favorite as the top draft pick for the Redskins. The Skins took LaRon Landry and Anderson was drafted by the Falcons. So, as long as I am stoking those woulda-shoulda fires, I'll point out that in preseason game three, Anderson was Atlanta's leading tackler with five tackles and two sacks. I'm not sure the Redskins made two sacks all preseason.

I'm not knocking the Landry selection. He fits Gre-double G's defensive schemes better. Williams and the Skins are putting great faith in the youth movement on the D-line. Time will tell if that was a good move.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Skins show their stuff

The Redskins lost their final preseason game to the Jaguars big time. Personally, I'm fine with it.

I saw enough from the starters -- who weren't the real starters -- to be confident that Washington will contend for a playoff spot.

I'm not saying Super Bowl. I'm not even saying they take the division. But, they will contend.

Jason Campbell looked sharp. Rocky McIntosh looked sharp. H.P. Blades looked sharp. Marcus Mason looked real sharp. 'Twaan Randle El was the leading receiver; one catch, but it was a dusey.

Photo: Casey Bramlet and Jason Campbell (AP)

Then, a lot of guys who won't be with the team Sunday played in the second half and flubbed the game away, allowing two Jacksonville touchdowns. The Jaguars defense converted an interception to another touchdown and voila, Jax 31, Was 14.

WTOP-TV reported a story that the Redskins were close to trading Mark Brunell to the Seattle Seahawks for a draft pick. After watching rookie QB Jordan Palmer's play in the second half, I bet the coach-in-chief is rethinking that move.

Palmer was awful, completing 2 of 10 passes for 10 yards. OK, lets say that he had no reps in training camp and that he was playing with the bottom of the talent barrel, a high schooler should not have thrown into that coverage.

Oh well, you learn more from your mistakes.

The Redskins could compound Palmer's mistake by trading Brunell. With #8 gone, the QB line-up would be Campbell, Collins, Palmer. Campbell, Collins, Bramlet makes me feel better.

The knock on Bramlet is that he is immobile and does not throw the deep pass well. Palmer looks immobile and throws wildly. I don't see the distinction.

The Redskins always favored the guy who could win now. In my mind, that's Bramlet. With more time in the league and NFLe experience, he's further along than Palmer, who will need a lot of tutoring.

Bramlet's real problem was the "not invented here" effect. No one sponsored him. Palmer was drafted, and he's Carson's brother. Good genes. Yeah, right; that sure worked for Tim Hasselbeck. And Marcus Vick.

Bramlet plays tonight when the Falcons face the Ravens. His play could make me feel good or ill about Palmer.

Joe Theismann (I think it was Theismann) said that Palmer played exclusively from the shotgun formation at Texas El Paso. His Redskins experience is the first time he's taken a snap under center. Yup, l-o-ts of tutoring!

Mark Brunell looked sharp, completing 4 of 5 with a TD pass. It's the best he's looked all preseason. Heck, it's the best he's looked since 2005. Seemed like an audition to me. But, I would tell the coach-in-chief to hold on until Sunday before making that trade. Lets see first what quarterbacks are cut Saturday evening.

Who knows, maybe we get Bramlet back.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Michael Vick comes clean

Michael Vick wants you to forgive him. You and Commissioner Goodell and Arthur Blank and all the little kids. And Jesus.

Photo: Don Juan Moore/

You can read his apology here or watch on YouTube.

I watched his statement live. He came across as sincerely contrite. I do believe that he is sorry. Except that part about "Dog fighting is a terrible thing, and I did reject it."

I think he does not know why people see dog fighting as cruel. He knows that he screwed up. Big time.

He implied that immaturity was the source of his poor decisions. I believe that, too. The perpetual kid in a candy store with an unlimited check book. Like Peter Pan and Michael Jackson, Vick is the kid who never grew up. Like Jackson, his wealth gave him a certain immunity from accountability, that curse of grown-ups. He never had to pay a price -- before now -- for bizarre behavior. Wealth can do that. If you don't learn how to control wealth, it will control you.

He's grown up a lot in that breath-taking period between April and August. Looking at a world crumbled by stupidity, He's found Jesus.

People are having a problem with that. I don't know why. Troubled times are exactly when people turn to Jesus. That's what He's there for. Redemption is for sinners. Jesus lives in jail. So many people find Him there, apparently for the first time.

He sure couldn't count on friends like "T" and "Q," who he may also meet in jail.

Michael Vick exposed, again, the racial gulf that exists between black and white in America. Vick's most loyal followers are black, of course. Many of them cite societal issues for unfair treatment of Vick. I'm black and old school. I disagree with them. What happened to Rodney King, or Lindsey Lohan, has nothing to do with running a gambling ring based on dog fighting. Dog fighting is not a victimless crime.

To be discriminatory, you have to show that Vick is being treated differently than, say, Peyton Manning or Brett Favre if they conspired to run an interstate criminal enterprise that involved killing. I think the media would make just as much of an issue as with Vick. More so, because Manning and Favre both won Super Bowls. The Vick believers will never buy that.

[A Reuters story by Matthew Bigg says the black-white distinction is not so clear cut.

"Those who demonstrated for Vick supported him as an athlete and man while those protesting against him were against animal cruelty . . . ."]

Mary Sanchez at the Kansas City Star gets it right, when she says "as long as we keep looking at Vick and shake, shake our collective heads, dismissing it all to race and class, we will miss ever understanding more about the deeper demons that people wrestle with." This is all about Michael Vick.

Funny thing, and this may be good for Vick, His problems brought him in close contact with black men of real accomplishment. Men like Billy Martin, his lawyer. I bet this is the first time he's worked closely with a non-athletic black superstar.

The clue is in Vick's suit that closely mimics Martin's normal attire, as does Vick's personal grooming. It's anti-hip-hop and more formal that the urban chic Vick wore at his arrainment. Yes, I realize his legal team dressed him for the occasion. Michael Vick is young enough that maybe a few other positives will rub off, too.

Photo: Steve Helber/AP

Here's an idea for redemption. Michael Vick pledges to pay for the care of the Bad Newz dogs for the rest of their natural lives. As fighting dogs, many of them will be unfit as pets. Their life expectancy will be short through no fault of their own. Vick's plea agreement already requires him to pay for their care while they are in government custody. Vick asks the court to let the dogs be kenneled and cared for on him. That's restitution for the dogs. That wins him some points.

Vick can set up a foundation to fund their care and call it Good Newz Kennels Foundation.

Don't worry Michael Vick fans. The NFL forgives quick. MV7 will play again, if he can put his legal troubles behind him before he's 30. The only question is where? There are two markets where Vick can fit.

Oakland has an owner with the requisite "fuck you" attitude to defy the animal extremists who will dog (oops) Vick's every step forever. And Oakland have a fan base that historically accepted social misfits. Oakland's large black community will give born-again Vick a shot at redemption.

The other market, ironically, is Atlanta where the black fan base adopted Vick as the face of the franchise and defiantly support him still. Whether the owner will ever trust him again is another matter. Arthur Blank's flexibility depends on how well Joey Harrington does as Vick's replacement

Photo: Michael Vick and Arthur Blank/AP

I wonder how Joe Gibbs would have worked with Michael Vick? We came ever so close to finding out. In January 2004, Arthur Blank invited Gibbs to lunch to feel him out about coaching the Falcons. Gibbs owned a small percentage of the franchise. Gibbs heard during that lunch that Steve Spurrier just quit as the Redskins' coach and Blank said he knew that he'd lost Gibbs for the Falcons.

Steve Spurrier saved Joe Gibbs from Michael Vick.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ookie's day in court

Michael Vick's immediate future is in the hands of U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson. Vick appears before the bench today to formally enter his guilty plea. Vick filed his statement with federal prosecutors Friday acknowledging that the government "would prove its case beyond reasonable doubt." The statement of Vick's Ookie side may be read on The Smoking Gun.

Michael Vick is compiling quite an archive at The Smoking Gun.

Give Vick his due process

The prosecution's statement accompanies Vick's guilty plea. In it, they say Vick acknowledges that, by entering his plea, he is waiving his legal "due process" rights, which are:

  • the right to plead not guilty and to persist in that plea;
  • the right to trial by jury
  • the right to be represented by [legal] council
  • the right to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses, to be protected from compelled self-incrimination, to testify and present evidence, and to compel the attendance of witnesses.

Due process is a legal term. When Vick's Atlanta supporters cry out for his due process rights, they are referring to his shattered reputation based on news releases. They buy into Vick's initial denials of involvement even as mounting evidence exposed Vick's series of lies. [That ends today, of course.] And they want him to play football, before, during and after the fallout of the ugly episode. After all, "they're just dogs."

These are p.r. issues, not legal ones. Mr. Vick is well represented by council. Both his signed statement and the prosecutor's written statement acknowledge Vick's due process.

They were just dogs

Because they were just dogs, Vick is looking at 12 to 18 months rather than life imprisonment (see Carruth, Rae).

The real deal

Vick agreed with the prosecutors to waive his right to appeal, if the sentence imposed by Judge Hudson varies from the prosecution's recommendation. And he agreed to pay any monetary penalties immediately.

Vick will also pay for the disposition of Bad Newz Kennels stable of dogs now in government custody. The dogs are the subject of a civil action known as United States v. Approximately 53 Pit Bull Dogs, Case No. 3:07CV397. That involves "all costs associated with the care of the dogs . . . , including, if necessary, long-term care and/or the humane euthanasia of some or all of the animals as may be directed by the judge in that case."

He agrees to give up any ownership interest in the Bad Newz dogs.

Vick agrees to cooperate truthfully with the prosecution in future grand jury testimony and pre-trial conferences (presumably against others); to submit to polygraph examinations; to fully debrief the government on the details of his operation and of other dog fighters that he may know of. His signed statement of fact was sufficient to support his plea deal. He knows more and he agrees to tell all.

Any violation of any law by Vick will affect his reduction of sentence.

Vick agrees that, if he does not cooperate truthfully, his statements may be used against him in future prosecution. He effectively waives his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

Hard swallow

These provisions must be hard for Vick. He was reared in a socio-economic strata that views the Man with deep suspicion, born of ham-handed treatment by the law. Cooperation with the police is seen as almost traitorous. I have no idea of Vick feels that way. ESPN's Howard Bryant touched on this his lengthy piece Vick's next role is an unsavory one: Government informant.

"He may be called a snitch, but aiding federal authorities is the most honorable thing for this disgraced man to do at this late date. It could even be the beginning of his redemption."

Bryant's story speculates that Ookie could provide so much new evidence about the underground dog fighting culture that he could escape jail time altogether. I'm not sure about that one, but Bryant points out that the deal means that Vick would have to rat out other NFL players involved in dog fighting.

Commissioner Goodell's problems in this area may only be beginning.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Vick Pleads Guilty

UPDATE: NFL Suspends Vick Indefinitely for "cruel and reprehensible" conduct.

Vick files plea admitting to dogfighting.

This does not end the story, only the chapter. Billy Martin, Vick's lead attorney, says his client will speak to the public about his role that Martin says is different than that of the other defendants. That, my friend, is what you call "theater."

Michael Vick plead guilty to conspiracy charges and acknowledged that he bankrolled the Bad Newz Kennels operation, including paying the gambling losses of the group. However, Vick denies a hand in the actual killing of dogs and in placing any bets.

Ten questions for Michael Vick:

  1. What the &%#$ were you thinking?
  2. What lessons have you learned from this experience?
  3. Who initiated the Bad Newz enterprise, you or your co-defendants?
  4. What was your reaction when your co-defendants changed their plea and agreed to cooperate with the prosecution?
  5. What are your true views about dog fighting today? Do you think people make too much of it? Is it a sport?
  6. You've lost your good name. What's your plan to get your reputation back? Do you understand why people reacted as they did when the story broke?
  7. How will you factor ethical choices as you make personal decisions in the future?
  8. Dog fighting has emerged as an activity of an urban criminal element. Are you a thug, or just a thug wannabe?
  9. Your lawyer says your role was different that that of the co-defendants. How does that justify your participation in this enterprise?
  10. Should personal conduct have any role in determining if an athlete should play professional sports? Why, or why not?

Photo: from here.

Jason Campbell on Brandon Lloyd

Question, from chat session with Washington Redskins QB Jason Campbell:
"What improvements have you seen in Brandon Lloyd's game since the end of last season?"

"Overall I think Brandon Lloyd’s attitude has been a big improvement this season. He’s been dedicated to coming out and trying to participate in practice and go full speed. It’s carrying over to the field for him right now. His development in the offense has also improved. He’s running great routes right now. He’s a speedster, so his main thing is that he can get down field for us to help stretch the field, help stretch our passing game. He can be a tremendous asset. He’s just got to continue dedicating himself."
The Redskins have reverted to type and started bringing in experienced players to audition for a spot with the team. Maybe they are not seeing enough from the rookies. Or, maybe they just see guys like Randall Godfrey as depth role players. I doubt that one could cast Todd Pinkston in that mold. Running backs who are past 30, like Fred Beasley, are pretty much on the downward arc of their career [see Davis, Stephen].

What I find interesting, without being critical, is that Godfrey, Pinkston and Beasley were free agents who did not play last year. News reports say that the Skins courted Godfrey all thought the offseason, but Pinkston and Beasley would have jumped at the chance to be here sooner if only for more time to learn the playbook.

So why weren't they here before now? You allocate your OTA and training camp slots to players you think will develop over time. That's seeding the future. As they are released, you look at vets, "known quantities", who can fill spots. Of the four 30+ players recently added to the roster, only Godfrey and Pete Kendall are likely to stick. The Redskins will vote Pinkston and Beasley off the island if an more interesting vet gets cut from the active roster of some other team.

Yeah; that's it.