Thursday, August 31, 2006

Preseason Game 4: Redskins (0-3) at Ravens (1-2)


For Redskins fans, the Washington Post is required daily. Jason La Canfora and Howard Bryant are excellent beat writers, entertaining but not in that too-clever-by-half way of some baseball beat writers (*koffsvrlugakoff*). It's consistent, and there is depth of coverage. The writers stick around too (Mr. NFL Insider, Mark Maske, used to be the Redskins beat writer).

One of the great things about being a Redskins fan is how small and far away the Ravens look in the paper, like a teeny little mouse. They get the little column at the bottom left, under the Redskins' coverage armpit. Every Ravens story reads choppy, like Camille Powell, the dedicated Ravens beat writer, is writing longer pieces that get hacked up at edit.

Today's nutgraf is typical of the Post's contempt for the Ravens:

Ravens Backup QB Prepares as if He's Still Starting
Of course, this is what you want out of your backup, to be ready to step in at a moment's notice. But look again. What sticks in the reader's head is
Boller Too Stupid to Realize It's Over
or maybe
Former Starter Struggling with Demotion
A nicer way to highlight Boller's preparation and new role without insult would have been
Ravens Backup QB Stays Sharp
or maybe
Former Starter Coming to Terms with New Role
But just so it doesn't look like look like I'm picking on the Ravens because the Redskins aren't filling me with confidence 12 days before the season opener, let's do a game preview.

The Ravens' starting offense has been pretty weak, not scoring a TD since the opening drive of the first preseason game, when Brian Billick called his one play: McNair Improvised Scramble 'cause No One Was Open, codename MIS-b-NOWO. Like Tecmo Bowl, teams can just defend against that play all year and blitz from the outside. Sadly, Orlando Brown is gone and Jonathan Ogden is a shadow of his former self, and the Ravens did not do much to upgrade at O-line.

Jamal Lewis, goddamit you better heal up that hip. You're on my fantasy team and Mike Anderson is a four-letter word.

The Ravens had a good draft (Ozzie Newsome, who as Barry Svrluga noted today, works for the organization he played for, which has a different name and is in a different city than where he played; the records of his career are in the city where he played, but owned by an organization he never played for which has the same name as the team he did play for, which changed cities and names and abandoned the records of it players, knows talent), and they answered their major problems at QB and RB. So why arent't they gelling? Could it be because Brian Billick was fired two years ago, but kept coming to work, so no one talks about it?

Defensively, the Ravens look better. Than the offense. Ray Lewis is 31, but still will kill you if you're in the wrong place. He's coming back from a torn hamstring, Ed Reed, Chris McAlister and Samari Roll still anchor the defensive secondary, at 28, 29 and 30 respectively. This may be the swan song for these great players. Expect to read a lot about how the defense thinks of the offense as its retarded big brother.

For the Redskins: show me you give a shit. Anyone.

Baltimore Sun Washington Post

8pm CBS channel 9 in DC

This is an open game thread.

* Just kidding, Barry. We kid because we love. Now how bout granting Curly W an exclusive interview, huh? Pretty please?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


You're on a roll my man

The Hollywood boiler over Paramount and Tom Cuise isn't even cool and Dan Snyder decides to give the guy millions to get in on his action. Mr. Snyder, Mel Gibson on line 2.

This is the top. From here on out it's Herbert Haft all the way down. Since acquiring the Redskins (ask Howard Milstein how that partnership went), The Danny's botched most everything. In 2000, he bought Deion Sanders and Bruce Smith to play real life fantasy football, then fired Norv Turner. In 2001, he made Marty Schottenheimer coach and president, then let the overpaid veterans from the 2000 spree undermine the new coach in training camp. Bruce Smith was in the camera every day whining about goddam practice. Marty never responded in the media. By the fifth game of the season, the Skins were 0-5 and Pro Football Weekly has this to say:

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take Snyder very long to form an opinion and begin to turn on you. After meddling in everything Redskins last year and catching criticism for undermining former head coach Norv Turner, Snyder decided to give the football guy (Schottenheimer) total control over football operations when he signed the 12th-winningest coach in NFL history to a four-year, $10 million contract in January.

Things were looking up. A qualified and league-respected coach was in place, little Danny was keeping to the ownership side of things and the Redskins, with a decent mix of veterans and youthful talent, were hoping to return to the postseason and make Snyder’s well-publicized spending spree seem a little less ridiculous.

But none of that has happened. Schottenheimer quickly alienated a lot of his players when he went with his physical, old-school approach in training camp, slashed the roster during the offseason and then released QB Jeff George after the second game.

Little Danny has been supportive of his coach in front of the media, but reports say that he remains enamored with University of Florida coach Steve Spurrier. Little Danny has also taken it upon himself to make scouting trips to see QB David Carr of Fresno State and Joey Harrington of Oregon. Oh, and last but not least, the Redskins are the worst team in football, resting at 0-5 after having been outscored 144-32.

Mind you, the Redskins went 8-3 after going 0-5 to start. Marty, armed with a 4-yr contract at the helm had a three-year plan: year 1, dump what you can, take the dead money hit; year 2, get the guys you want; year 3, rock it. Danny dumped him for that slut Spurrier after 16 games.

Since then, he's embarked on Mission Scrooge to get your last penny. Case in point: free admission to the stadium you have to drive to, $25 to park. Concessions open, cash only.

So far, his extra-football activities have had limited success. Six Flags has decreased in attendance since he brought the former head of ESPN programming to run the parks, which is a little like bringing in a marketing executive to run a pro sports franchise. That's how you get Manute Bol and Muggsy Bogues playing on the same non-playoff team.

By moving aggressively into radio, he put himself in direct conflict with WTEM, the sports radio station in the DC area. Didn't matter that WTEM's pregame is always better than WJFK's, at gametime I always turned off the TV volume and listened to Sonny, Sam and Frank. Wait, that's right, after Larry Michael made the decision to fire Frank Herzog and replace him with...Larry Michael, I don't even bother. I'd rather hear Kenny Albert and Tim Green. Love you Sonny and Sam, but without Frank, you're wheezing.

Now with Triple X ESPN Radio (How undersexed is that to name your own radio network XXX? It's called 'projection.'), he thinks he can buy talent like Riggo because they have the games and he gets his own radio show. Riggo will get called up to the bigs and the fans will listen to whatever station broadcasts the games. But they'll always think it's an amateur show compared to WTEM, and will get pissed that they have to change stations in town. (there's a reason he owns three)

Yeah, after leaving an NFL head coach waiting in the locker room on orders for two hours like a kid in his room, it should work out real well between Dan and Tom.

I thought I was Napoleon

Tom, Danny's a value investor, and you're in the bargain basement right now. If it wasn't the couch-hopping, it was the petulant frenzy on the Toady Show. Or the creepy way he had a tail on Katie Holmes 7x24. Or just all that Scientology Xenu OT III bullshit. How much fun do you think it is to chitchat with Tom Cruise or John Travolta? Go back and check out 'Battlefield Earth.'

The movies are still doing well, but not as well. He missed his Oscar window, like 15 years ago. He's become a caricature of himself, driving the story to him where acting alone can't sell tickets. I'm bitter that he's made Nicole Kidman look credible by comparison. He's like Ben Affleck, if Ben Affleck was in the Comet Hale-Bopp cult.

(Hint: when the top movie critic at the WashPost starts writing about the zen blankness of your work in his spare time, you're already past the event horizon. Next stop, the Harrison Ford Singularity.)

Update 8/30/06 3pm: ESPN has already posted some awesome photoshop phun posters with The Danny and Tom here. I particularly like the riff on All the Right Moves.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Eagles Trade for Stallworth, Tell RBs to Suck It

Bringing back the Marino Dolphins running game

Unable to find a suitable running back, the Eagles have upgraded at receiver, trading veteran LB Mark Simoneau to the Saints for Donte Stallworth. This is signiificant for two reasons:

1. Stallworth is on my fantasy football team, meaning I now have one Eagles player on my roster. I am loathe to root for the Eagles in any football fashion.

2. The Eagles have no new commitment to the running game. They'll likely be carrying 5 RBs on the roster, with Westbrook and Buckhalter getting most of the screen passes.

The Eagles have ithsues with the running game. I did some homework, and the Philadephia Inquirer wisely removed this article from their web page, but I found a Google cache of it here. After 5 games last year, going into the bye, the Eagles were still 3-2 and hopeful, but had just suffered a 33-10 thrashing at the hands of the Cowboys. In that game, the Eagles rushed 9 times for 19 yards, and through that game, the play-calling had been 204 pass - 88 run.

Buckhalter is back and looks ok, and all that, but he's not proven to be durable, and he's certainly no bruiser. That the Eagles were considering Stephen Davis but settled on a receiver is evidence that they don't think they have the skill positions they need to execute the offense. This feeds nicely into Master4Caster's Die Eagles Die theory that the Redskins scooped up Duckett to cockblock the Eagles from obtaining him.

The Eagles now go back and assume their 'no stars but Dono' posture from the 2003-and-before seasons, although I could make a good argument that Reggie Brown, Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth make a better trio of number x+1 receivers than Todd Pinkston, James Thrash and Freddie Mitchell. Look for Westbrook again to be the second or third leading receiver.

Personally, Stallworth has some baggage. Philly Inquirer Early Word blog has a good roundup of Stallworth's issues and risks assumed by the Eagles. His March arrest in Miami sounds an awful lot like Chris Webber's here in DC back in 1998, when he was stopped by police for speeding on the way to Wizards practice. He had no ID or vehicle registration on him, would not shut off his Navigator, or roll down the window, or get off his cell phone (he was frantically talking to his agent, saying, 'you gotta get me outta this!'). When they finally got him out, they had to pepper-spray him, and found a smoking joint in his ashtray.

He's been called inconsistent and had minor discipline problems in NO, to the point where the Saints apparently tried to deal him during the draft this year. But having said that, dealing with TO for two seasons likely will make Stallworth look like a model player.

Welcome to the NFC Beast, Donte. Have you met Sean Taylor?

Little to Say

Maybe Duckett would've gotten two yards

Washington Post headline: Gibbs Unhappy With All Phases

Boston Herald headline: Patriots Get Rave Reviews

ESPN headline: Brady sharp, efficient as Patriots rout struggling 'Skins

From my chat yesterday with Fredersicksburg reader Wilbert Montgomery:

Let's put it this way, the firt team O was outplayed, the second team O was outplayed, the third team O was outplayed, the first team D was outplayed, the second team D was outplayed, the third team D was outplayed and the special teams looked bad.
Noted without further comment.

Ladell Betts for one yard: John McDonnell / Washington Post

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Preseason Game 3: Redskins (0-2) at Patriots (1-1)


Tonight at 8pm (CBS channel 9 in the DC area), the Redskins play the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA. Both teams are anxious, looking for a spark as we march toward the regular season. But it looks like only one team is starting to panic.

In two games this preseason, the Patriots have not been terrible, with Belichick keeping a lid on the team. I'd go plain vanilla too if I was looking to field a team that looks so different from last season. Of note was last week's game against the Cardinals, which featured Matt Leinart playing against his former USC backup, Matt Cassel. Tom Brady can relate to Cassel, his current backup. He was on the bench in 1998 when Brian Griese led Michigan to the National Championship. In 2004, sat on the bench while Leinart and USC won it all.

The Patriots won the AFC Least last season with 10 wins in a weak division. They destroyed Jacsonville in the playoff Wild Card round, but lost to the Broncos 27-13 in the Divisional round. In that game, Tom Brady threw for 341 yards as the Pats played from behind most of the game.

For the Patriots, the 2006 season approaches with more questions than answers. Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennell, Coach Bill Belichick's top lieutenants, are long gone, and now the team they built is coming apart. Gone are many of the major contributors to New England's Super Bowl seasons: WRs David Givens, Tim Dwight, Bethel Johnson, and Andre Davis, TE Christian Fauria (to the Redskins thank you very much), LB Willie McGinest, CBs Tyrone Poole and Duane Starks, and K Adam Vinatieri. Retained is most of the offensive line, no doubt a relief to Brady and Corey Dillon.

To replace these veterans, they'll be relying on at least four rookies to crack the starting lineup, and even signed creaking Junior Seau. This morning, I took a shower longer than his 'retirement.'

(Moment of schadenfeude: Adam Vinatieri signed with Indianpolis in the offseason, and the Patriots brought in Martin Gramatica to try out against rookie Stephen Gotmilksi. Poor Martin was so bad he couldn't beat a rookie. Pretty sad state of kicking affairs for a team that until last season had kicker so good and so clutch he had a whole TV advertising campaign.)

Injuries are a problem for New England as well. Defensively, LB Tedy Bruschi is going to miss the entire preseason, and maybe more, recovering from wrist surgery. DL Richard Seymour and S Rodney Harrison are gimpy and just on the mend. Two offensive linemen had shoulder surgery in the offseason, but look ok. See? It's not just the Redskins.

Deion Branch. Last season, he led the Pats with 79 catches and 998 yards, 200 more than David Givens. He's holding out, and the Pats are calling his bluff, giving him permission to seek a trade. Branch, Givens and Dwight accounted for more than 150 catches last season. That hurts. Tom Brady has to get comfy quickly with all-new receivers. As any armchair coach will tell you, rhythms and trust between QBs and WRs take time to develop. Throw in a rookie RB expected to get a lot of carries and expect to see some of the luster come off the Patriots shine this season. Having said this, they are still the class of the division.

As for the Redskins, the Washington Post reports that the Redskins and Al Saunders have revealed maybe 2% of their 700-page offensive playbook. I'd be in favor of another percent or two.

Friday, August 25, 2006

NFC Beast Notes, 8/24/2006

LaVar left Giants practice Monday with a swollen knee. I liked LaVar, and felt bad about the way things worked out between him and the Redskins. I place the principal blame for all that on LaVar's (former) agent Carl Poston, now serving a two-year suspension for the highjinks related to the non-bonus in LaVar's last contract. He's the Giants' problem now. Background here , imposition of suspension here.

With Sinorice Moss coming off injury and getting back into practice, the Giants are almost ready to assume their role as the Team With The Little Brothers Giants Fans Wish Were As Good As The Big Brothers But Everyone Knows Are Not. With Santana and Sinorice playing twice this year, get ready for some good New York media coverage.

The Eagles are considering a tryout for former Redskin Stephen Davis, released by Carolina in the offseason. The guy has had a bunch of injuries, but I bet he's got some jack left in him. What is it about Redskins players going to the Eagles? Jamie Asher, Brian Mitchell, James Thrash, Darnerian McCants, ND Kalu, Jeremiah Trotter. Jeremiah and James Thrash are the rubber band players.

Correll Buckhalter will start for the Eagles tomorrow against the Steelers. Aww, it's so sweet how they're being nice to him.

For Dallas, Terrell Owens is still talking about his fake hamstring injury. He doesn't want to play or practice in preseason. Through last week, he missed 14 straight practices, then attended 5 in a row before 'hurting' himself again. What a bitch. Bill Parcells I mean, for tolerating that shit. Bonus TO coverage: he's dropped to average third round this year in fantasy football. I took Dallas as my fantasy football defense, in the tenth round. It's the only roster spot I have from an NFC Beast team.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Scientists Prove Existence of Redskins Defense

See how the dark matter goes right over left guard

So this is finally my wrap-up of the Jets game. It took me two days to get out of bed on this one. I hope the Redskins were just keeping it close in this one, limiting themselves to vanilla sets, basically letting the Jets walk all over them. Because this game was not pretty. Coach Joe was pissed:

I sure haven't done my job so far. I think we're all together, all the way across the board. . . . I'm sure some guys did some good things, but I'm concerned about the team. You've got to play good as a team, and we're not...All three -- special teams, defense, offense -- all of us have a long ways to go. We were all disappointed.
For those familiar with Coach Joe, and his praise-in-public-punish-in-private ways, you know this means he's really not happy.

Unless it's all part of the Dance of the Preseason: Vanilla, take heat off players by pretending to be pissed.

To the game:

Redskins starting defense played the whole first half and allowed 10 points, 9 first downs and 177 total yards, including 145 yards rushing. That's unacceptable.

For the game, the Redskins gave up over 200 rushing yards to the Jets, who held the ball more than 15 minutes longer than the Redskins. Both unacceptable.

Derrick Blaylock, going up against the starting D, ran for 46 yards on 10 carries, including 4 carries for 27 yards on the opening drive.

The Redskins defense got burned on another trick play. Last week it was a flea flicker. This week, a double reverse that rookie Brad Smith took 61 yards for a score. Who got burned on this one? Mike Rumph, late of the 49ers, acquired in trade for Taylor Spurrier. The guy that's played 5 games in two seasons with foot injuries.

To make matters worse, they allowed a rookie to take a kickoff return 87 yards for a TD.

NASA captured the Blaylock Phenomenon in detail:

As far as quarterbacks, Brunell only threw six passes. Campbell was an unimpressive 6-for-13 with a pick. Todd Collins though, redeemed himself from the horrid Bengals game, going 12-for-18 with a TD and a pick. Against the scrubs though.
"We did not make the plays that we wanted to make," Brunell said
A bold statement.

Patrick Ramsey was unimpressive, looking around, a weak 6-for-9 for 33 yards (three and change yards per completion).

Redskins have given up 46 points in two games, scoring only 17. Brunell, Campbell and Collins have combined for a 50.2 passer rating. The defense has not forced a turnover, and the team is -6 in turnovers in two games. It may only be preseason, but there is ultimate deliverable due in September: a quality football team.

Problem areas to look at for this week's New England game: offense, defense, special teams. Other than that, we're good.

Top image of dark matter in the Bullet Nebula: NASA/AFP/Getty Images
Source diagram of dark matter interaction: Washington Post

Over Before it Began

What do you do with a jack-o-lantern after Halloween?

Cycles of success and failure come faster and faster these days. NBC's crappy version of 'Coupling' gets a whopping four eps to 'make it' two years ago, but Seinfeld got three seasons to get it going in 1992. Mr. Tony is reaping the fruit of a media monster he helped build, and he's doing it Whitney Houston-style.

Back on the 15th, Paul Farhi in WashPost style reviewed Mr. Tony at the game. Joel Achenbach linked his Washington Post blog to Curly R for my take on Mr. Tony's first Monday night (thanks for the traffic, Joel). The next day, Mr. Tony, in his shriveled old-man-on-the-porch column, called Farhi a putz. It was classic Kornheiser: self-deprecating

In critiquing my performance, I think what makes me happiest was that I didn't throw up. (Though if I had, I would have aimed at that putz in Style.) And much to my surprise, I did not sweat through my clothes.

and yet condescending

I was paid to stay up and admittedly that makes a difference

but this time mean-spirited too

at least I got out of Game 1 without...telling Suzy Kolber on the air, "I want to kiss you."

a reference to Joe Namath before he went into rehab. Classy, T.

So I thought that was it. Mr. Tony was cutting his teeth in that 'I'm a huge success but everyone still hates me' way he rocketed to fame and fortune (the email address of his hugely successful ESPN radio show was, all part of the dance.

Then last Sunday, right-wing apologist and Washington Post Ombudswoman Deborah Howell ran her column on Mr. Tony. I missed the column in the print Post because, as Mr. Tony would say, I was in a boat bigger than yours on a part of the Potomac you couldn't find with Jacques Cousteau. But today, Mr. Tony's vestigial column made a joke at right-wing apologist Deborah Howell's expense:

...I had the strangest dream. I imagined passing a giant billboard and for some reason, it said, "How many ombudswomen does it take to change a light bulb?" And the answer was: "It doesn't matter. An ombudswoman will still happily scold you in the dark."

'The dark' means obviously to me that there is some nuance of the story that right-wing apologist Deborah Howell can't comprehend in her little ombudsbrain. Ms. Howell:

Style reporter Paul Farhi gave a pretty tough review of Post sports columnist Tony Kornheiser's first appearance on "Monday Night Football." Not surprising. Going from newspapers, radio and a studio TV show to the broadcast booth for a live game is a big leap.

But Kornheiser wasn't sporting about it; he took a shot at Farhi in his column and blasted him on a sports talk show.

Not once, but twice. For Mr. Tony, the atmosphere on Dan Patrick's ESPN show is a little like when Dick Cheney's on Rush Limbaugh: friendly. Here's what he had to say about Farhi:

I apparently got ripped in my own newspaper, The Washington Post, you know, by a two-bit weasel slug named Paul Farhi, who I would gladly run over with a Mack Truck given the opportunity. I understand I'm a public figure and I'm subject to review.

Apparently. As though he hasn't actually read the liberal media. How giving of you Mr. Tony, now to ponder critique of media personalities. Guess what, you just leaped from the niche to the mainstream. Mr. Tony, in the same interview:

I thought my own newspaper would be kinder and I wouldn't be back-stabbed by this guy.

The Mr. Tony I know would have made it all about him, how the bad coverage missed the point; that he's an unqualified shmo with delusions of grandeur, and to expect him to meet some established media standard was insane in the first place. That gets laughs.

The Peter Principle.

Tony Kornheiser pumpkin: Guess on the internet there's a niche for everything.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Goodbye Ladell

This guy lost a vote of confidence as well

First, there was Carried Away, Mike Wise's Ladell Betts - Rock Cartwright buddy pic from Sunday. Two guys share an apartment, dress the same, play the same position, not assholes about playing in preseason (unlike the rich starter with the bit part). Two guys gonna make it. Cue antics.

Then one day, they met the man that would change their relationship forever.

The Redskins trading their 2007 (next draft) 3rd round pick for TJ Duckett happened in this context: the Falcons realllly wanted Ashley Lelie, who wanted no part of Denver. Denver, it so happens, was looking for help at running back in exchange for Lelie, and obviously did not want Duckett. A clue you say?

Here's how bad decisions multiply:

Denver signed Javon Walker from Green Bay in the offseason. Javon didn't get the memo that if Brett stays, so do you, so Brett will have a worse season than the one he should have retired after. Javon was out all last season, but said he'd hold out for big money. Packers must not have bought the line and moved his knee over to Denver.

Javon, Rod Smith, who's been putting up numbers since Elway, and Lelie don't make three. Javon (5th season) had a stellar 2004 (89 catches, 1382 yards) as the primary reciever, but is coming off ACL surgery. Lelie has been reliable (54/1084 in 2004, 42/770 in 2005), at the number two (Rod Smith has had roughly twice the number of Lelie's catches in both seasons). Hard to see who has the better upside. But you think the 19 will sit as number three to the 20? Lelie had to go.

And check this out. How fucked up is this? Lelie is holding out, has forfeited over $300,000 of his $800,000 total contracted compensation for this season. When I first went to look at to see his player card, and he's not there!

12:15am, 8/23/2006. No entry for Lelie, Ashley.

Pop over to ESPN, and it's there.

So Denver took on Javon, gave him $40 million to make him the presumed number one. Lelie is a free agent next year, and that will be Rod Smith's 13th season, so I could see an argument that you re-sign Lelie (Shanahan is a svengali and is not going anywhere), ride out Smith's contract and then deal him. He'll be in his 13th season next year. Unless there was some other non-football beef with Lelie, bringing in Javon was a bad idea.

Atlanta, meantime, really wanted Lelie, and they wanted to move Duckett, but for a player, not picks. According to the Atlanta Journal-Consitution, the Falcons' need was at #3 receiver...which is where Lelie would have been in Denver. Lelie will be #3 behind Michael Jenkins (3rd season, 36 catches last year) and Roddy White (2nd year, 29 catches last season). What a bunch of greenies, and so I can't buy the 'I can't be #3 thing' for Lelie in Denver, unless it's wink-wink, nudge-nudge for him in Atlanta. Which whould make for some pissed off young recievers that got passed over after getting promised they wouldn't (never promise in football).

To make matters more mediocre, in moving Duckett, the Falcons traded away their established #2 RB, leaving a rookie to back up Warrick Dunn. That won't seem smart in a few weeks.

In 2002, Duckett was drafted 18th, Lelie 19th and Walker 20th. Work that ego thing out.

That's a long digression, but there's a point. Denver did a stupid thing and traded away the guy that should be the heir apparent at #1 receiver. The doled out $40 million to a guy that played under 1 game last season and lost the guy that knows the offense.

Atlanta set themselves up nicely to undermine the confidence of their two young starting receivers, while simultaneously dismissing their legitimate backup RB.

That's the context. Snyder just had to make a deal, and please, Joe, don't tell me as President of Football operations that this was your idea.

Acquiring Duckett means one of two things: either someone is offering a higher 3rd rounder or 2nd rounder for Betts (he's worth a 2nd rounder only to a desperate team), and the Redskins will pull the trigger on that deal and make Duckett the number two, despite not knowing the playbook, or, they don't believe Brunell can get it done in the passing game with Betts as the lead guy. There's no question about the Redskins receiving corps. No injuries, and ret to go. The problem there will be too many mouths to feed, not too few opportunities to go downfield.

If there's not a trade in the offing, that means they don't have confidence in Brunell and Betts together for more than a game or two.

And dealing away a 3rd rounder in the draft, the Redskins need that pick. Good players at every position can be had in the 3rd round, including offense defense.

But instead, they telegraphed that Betts, all 4 seasons with the Redskins and in the last season of his contract, will be gone next season, either traded or allowed to sign elsewhere.

All these 5th season guys, shuffling around.

Antonio Pierce sacking former teammate Mark Brunell, 10/30/2005: Jeff Zelevansky

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Preseason Game 2: Redskins (0-1) vs Jets (0-1)


Tonight at 8pm (Fox channel 5 in the DC area), the Redskins play the New York Jets, both winless teams looking for a spark. Plots and subplots abound.

Last week, the Jets lost to Tampa, 16-3, and allowed 167 rushing yards. Unless Pittman played the whole game for Tampa, that's unsat if you're a Jets fan.

The Jets finished finished the 2004 season a field goal short of the AFC Championship Game, then rebounded in 2005 with a 4-12 record. In New York, you would tend to notice this decline. Gone: Coach Herm Edwards, GM Terry Bradway, Ty Law, Kevin Mawae, John Abraham and Wayne Chrebet. In 2004, dreamy QB Chad Pennington went down with a town rotator cuff with three games to go. He came back too soon in 2005 and tore it again in game 3. Two tears is a tough injury to come back from, and I don't expect he'll ever recover his 22 TD / 6 INT 2002 form.

Among the additions to the Jets, 5th year Tulane QB Patrick Ramsey. I was a Ramsey guy for a long time, with that arm you have to give him a chance. But he's not a good game manager, gets happy feet and has a tendency to take the sack over the throw-away. I blame as much of his stunted growth on a shitty Redskins O-line from the Spurrier days, and the serial confidence-bashing he took from Coach Joe once he came back to town. Brunell was always Gibbs' guy, and so for Ramsey to lose confidence and then play like it is how people work. I wish him well in New York.

Eric Mangini, my age at 36 is the new coach, and he's apparently pretty secretive about his QB race. Pennington, Ramsey, had-a-chance-to-start Brooks Bollinger and some guy named Kellen Clemens are vying for the starting spot. Unless Pennington's arm is like a wet rag, he'll get the spot, the easier to sack and go to the devil they don't know (but we do), Patrick Ramsey when Mangini realizes all the good players are gone and he can't coach. Throwing Ramsey out as chum will get him through another 4-12 season with a job. Curtis Martin's not even on the roster, contemplating life after football with no cartilage in his knees. Derrick Blaylock and BJ Askew will be shouldering the load at RB. It's not catchy and you can't dance to it.

The Washington Post gives us five things to look at tonight for the Redskins: Ladell Betts, 2nd string O-line, Mike Rumph, backup QB race and Antwaan Randle El.

To that, I'd add Brunell, corner play overall, starting D-line (with Daniels down) and backup D-line play.

I'll be online liveblogging as I can. This is an open game thread.

Giants Boffo Bo. Eagles Floppo PU.

It's not Eli's fault

Not the running I'm used to

Let's look at the Giants and Eagles in their games last night. Why not the Cowboys too? Because the stink of Dallas - Ft. Worth's Team shall not spoil this honorable space. That and they don't play until Monday.

The Giants beat the Chiefs 17-0 in New Jersey. Eli 'new I shahn't play there' Manning looked gooo... Wait. He looked gh-gh-gh...sorry, it won't come out. He looked guh-guh.....good (11-14). There. I said it. The 1st team offense scored TDs on 2 of 3 drives before getting parked.

Last season, the Giants won the NFC Beast with 11 wins. You will recall, however, that Katrina, a tragedy though it was, gave the Giants a 9th home game. They finished 8-1 at home, pretty good in a league where the other teams get 8 games. They got shut out in the 1st round of the playoffs by the Panthers, the team that wound up not in the Super Bowl. Insert standard boilerplate about NYC media and expectations for this season. I for one am hoping that Eli kicks the doors of disappointment wide open this season.

For the Chiefs, Trent Green asked himself a rhetorical question:

"Is it time to panic?" Green asked.
Noted without further comment.

Game coverage: New York Times Kansas City Star ESPN

The Eagles lost to the Ravens 20-10 in Charm City. Correll Buckhalter, the former Nebraska back-turned-Knee Repair Club for Men spokesman, was for some reason the lede in both the ESPN and Philadelphia Enquirer stories. He has not played in the regular season since 2003, and the mere fact that he could be playing at this level after a left ACL tear (2002), a right patella rupture (2004) and a right patella redux (2005) is a testament to how badly he needs the money. ESPN:
Standing in a corner of the Philadelphia Eagles locker room, Correll Buckhalter flashed a wide smile as he spoke excitedly about playing in the NFL again.
Philadelphia Inquirer headline:
Buckhalter has an impact in return
What was that impact you wonder? 5 carries for 8 yards and 1 reception for 48 yards (a shovel that was all YAC). Brian Westbrook appears nowhere in the box score (DNP with a gimpy left foot). I so believe Andy Reid will "focus more on the run" this season.

The Eagles were hardluck last season, going 6-10, losing every game against NFC Beast opponents. TO was OOC (out of control) and got tapped, and Dono played in what must have been incredible pain with a hernia all season. They signed Jabar Gaffney, and Reggie Brown is expected to shine, but the story at WR this preseason for the Eagles this season is Hank Baskett, an undrafted free agent from New Mexico that was traded from the Vikings for Billy McMullen (Wahoowa!), a 2003 3rd round draft choice that never clicked with Andy Reid.

For the Ravens, Jamal Lewis didn't set up any coke deals and Ray Lewis wasn't present at a murder.

Coverage: Philadelphia Inquirer Baltimore Sun ESPN

Jeremy Shockey, Amani Toomer, Tiki Barber: Robert Caplin / New York Times
Donovan McNabb: Matt Houston / AP

Friday, August 18, 2006

Of Pubic Bones and Stiff Limbs

Don't panic baby. Trust me.

It's time once again to herald the "Gahh! Redskins Injured, Signing Anyone" stories. So Clinton can't sleep on his dislocated arm. I don't think there's a lot of sleeping going on at the Clinton Crib anyway, so it's not a big deal. When he wakes up and says, "it's all stiff," it might not be the arm.

Shawn Springs is only out until mid-September/October with surgery on his pubic bone (ouch). Ade and Phillip Daniels are hurting and Ladell didn't even make the trip to Cincinnati. The cornerbacks are the walking wounded and guys are coming in off the street. Hell, I'll sign up for a couple game checks at the minimum.

This is all overblown. Injuries are a part of the game, and a concern to be sure, but no need to panic. If the Redskins are to go into January, they need a guy that can carry the ball there, and they need a shutdown corner. I really prefer if Clinton's Emmitt Moment, dragging the dead arm along like a sausage, bulling through defenders, didn't happen in September. Springs and Daniels will be productive, but going injured into the season, maybe not Pro Bowling. Trust Gregg Williams.

Of greater concern to me as a Redskins watcher is depth at the lines. Joe Gibbs has always lived on the notion that line play wins. Joe Bugel built the O-line and Ritchie Petitbon got everything he needed on the D-line. So when I open the paper and read this

...the [defensive] coaches were unimpressed by their second-line players in the first preseason game.
And this
Offensively, the Redskins coaches were disappointed with their second-unit line, long considered a potential trouble spot.
Depth is management. We'll be looking closely at the line play this weekend against the Jets.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Curly R Wednesday Mailbag

We get mail

The Curly R loves reader mail. From time to time, we'll be answering your mail.

Our first letter comes from reader 'p-diddy' of Seattle, WA. p writes

Love it! Keep up the great work, and if you ever need a guest blogger, let me know :-)

Thanks! We maintain a minor league team of bloggers that are called up from time to time to help the team. If you would like to try out, you just need to answer a few questions to establish your bona fides:

1. What's the William & Mary connection and who were the Redskins players that came from it?

2. Why are seat cushions a great stadium giveaway?

3. Joe Gibbs: great coach, or the greatest coach?

Good luck!

Our second letter comes from Wilbert Montgomery of Fredericksburg, VA. Wilbert writes

Hey - are either of you homers going to even mention how terrible the skins QBs looked on Sunday or how it was clearly apparent that nobody beyond the first team O and D lines could make the local high school team? These are serious football issues that the whole city is going to be wrapped-up in for the next four months as the skins season dissolves with Brunell going down after either Jansen or Samuels has to sit out aweek or two. You guys could be the first to break this important story!

Well, Wilbert, as a matter fact, we have been highly critical of QB play, line play, backfield play, coaching and injured players, especially in meaningless preseason games. However, Curly R is a polite blog, and we have chosen to keep our criticism to ourselves. Unlike some people.

Keep those letters coming!

Surgically Removing Backfield Tissue

This is me wondering why I waited so long

I remember from last season that Shawn Springs was pretty dinged up at the end. He didn't play in the Tampa playoff game and barely played in the Seattle debacle. Now he's had surgery on his abdominals that will put him out for a month. Let's see here...a month puts him back just in time for the Sunday night road game against the Cowboys. Great news, considering Ben Emanuel got cut after getting burned in Sunday's game, Kenny Wright got played in the same game, and Ade Jimoh has a chest injury. Mike Rumph, acquired in the Taylor Spurrier trade, has played 5 games the last two seasons, and missed 5 tackles in the Niners' first preseason game. Anyone want to bet a dollar Carlos Rogers is in an undisclosed location this week?

The knock on Springs when he came over from Seattle was that he was injury-prone, but I don't think he's had recurring issues. They're just piling up, and when the body starts to compensate, other places get hurt: an ankle here, broken thumb there, a shin, a cracked shoulder blade (ouch), the odd hammy, and now a hernia-like muscle tear.

The Post piece is inconclusive as to when the injury happened, but it sure is written like this is the final outcome of the back and groin injury he suffered in December against the Cardinals. If so, why is Springs just now confronting surgery? He was absent or basically absent from the playoffs last season, so maybe that would have been a hint he needed some work. Barring that, his offseason training regimen should have revealed the problem was not going away. If he aggravated an injury that was healing on its own, maybe he should have told his doctor he's a football player.

I've had abdominal surgery, right down there in the tight areas, and it's no cupcake. The doctors put me back together like steel, and even though it felt like I was ripping my guts out with every step, they assured me the stitches would hold and the pain would go down. I could barely make it from the bed to the couch on day two, so I expect he'll be a little tender through September.

And what's up with Clinton breaking bad on Gibbs for running him more than one play in Sunday's game? Yes, I agree with you Clinton, that preseason politics are again in vogue, but blaming Coach for your injury? Go out and win me some games and get me some home field advantage throughout and you'll get some time off. Gibbs could have gone 15-1 against the hapless Eagles in the 1991 closer but chose to rest his starters for the playoffs, which the Skins had a week to prepare for. They wound up losing that game to the Eagles and Jeff Kemp, their fifth starting quarterback for the season...but that's a story for another post...

Shawn Springs: photo by Eric Espada

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

And with that, Spurrier's a Memory

Get on the truck son. We're headed for the belt factory.

Taylor Jacobs has been traded to the 49ers for Mike Rumph. Jacobs is the last vestige of Steve Spurrier's Gator Way. In his two year trainwreck with the Redskins, he cycled Danny Wuerffel, Reidel Anthony, Jacquez Green and Taylor Jacobs, through the roster, all his former players. Steve believed His Way could win at any level, just needed the ball players. None of them stuck as everyday NFL players. Wuerffel can't even hold the football without a glove on.

Now Jacobs is gone, a disappointment over three seasons. Spurrier drafted him in April 2003, and was gone from the Skins by December, phoning in his resignation from the golf course. Jacobs had a chance to make it with the team, appearing in 15 games each of the last two seasons under Gibbs. But he never clicked, and was just...there.

He was traded for Mike Rumph, a 5th year man with a history of injury. Basically a ham sandwich. I'll eat that ham sandwich if Rumph surprises me.

Gator on a Truck: Ruth McIntyre-Williams

The Preseason Argument Redux

Maybe it's not this bad, but it ain't good

Clinton Portis will not be playing for the rest of the preseason. Even if his injury were not serious, I'd support this decision, but with the reporting indicating he might not be a go for the season opener, no duh. I am with Wilbon and Brandon on the whole 'get rid of the preseason' thing, but until the owners are willing to stand up to the, er, owners...ok hold on. Until the players are willing to stand up to the...union, no owners, no wait. Someone defintely needs to stand up for something for this to change. It's free money for the owners at the expense of the players and fans (it's standard practice for teams to force season ticket holders to purchase tickets to all home preseason games, games many veteran ticket holders skip but still pay another $200-$300 for). This argument comes up every season, just like the 'ooh is the NFL more violent now than ever?' chum paid sportswriters churn out every December when teams are running thin.

And one more thing. ESPN is running this shit:

There have been frequent calls in recent years to shorten the number of exhibition games from four to two. Critics cite the risk of injuries and that players no longer need the games to get in shape because most take part in year-round conditioning programs. Two years ago, the Redskins lost tackle Jon Jansen for the season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon in the first preseason game.

Ironically, Portis would be in greater danger of missing the opener if there were only two exhibition games. As it is, he has a nearly a month to heal for the regular season instead of a couple weeks.

This is bullpuckey. If there were two preseason games, they would be scheduled later in training camp, not earlier, to allow teams to evaluate talent in practice and in scrimmages, and so the Skins would not have played that game on that night. If you believe the determinist view, that this injury would have happened to Clinton no matter what, then you probly aren't a football fan.

Further, why the hell not tighten the rules in preseason games? The blatherati will say that teams need to be able to evaluate new talent with guys at full speed, yada yada.

Again, this argument is a turd. The most dangerous player on the field in preseason is a third-stringer on the bubble, and he will sacrifice your body or his to get into this league. If you write rules to protect players on the field, like with the Pro Bowl, where there's no blitzing, both teams must play 4-3 defense and there's no downfield contact and the receivers have to line up in certain formations (no three-man trips on a side), then you can evaluate talent in the main without risking injury. These coaches and scouts get paid big bucks to find the right guys, so if they can adjust to the chuck rule and the headslap, they can adjust to this.

It's not just the veterans either. As Brandon mentioned below, Kerry Carter, rookie (from Canada by way of Stanford no less) has just lost his season and likely his shot at the NFL tearing the ACL and MCL in his right knee. I don't assume anybody is coming to camp out of shape, and if they do, the coach will find out in practice.

The easiest way out is to take away two preseason games and convert them into fanfest scrimmages, like the Skins did against the Ravens on August 7th. That event drew 47,000 people and only Mike Anderson got hurt (Sean Taylor has only one gear). Don't gouge the fans and let them have some interaction with the team and ownership.

The harder and better solution is to tighten the preseason rules, convert two preseason games into regular season games, increase the salary cap and rosters accordingly. There used to be natural boundaries in the NFL season, from Labor Day to the last Sunday in January. Both of those are out the door now, so why not give us a longer season?

Shark injury photo: Dr. German Valenzuela

This Will Fail Miserably

Life imitates TV imitating life

Monday Night Football is about to get knocked around. The new MNF team is just a bad idea. Mike Tirico is all business, a workman, a great broadcaster and deserves to have this gig. Joe Theismann has all the the humor of a shoelift and is so vain he'd consider changing his name to win a trophy. Tony Kornheiser has turned self-deprecating egotism into an artform, but has all the popular appeal of a Sizzler buffet. There are five reasons this is a bad idea for ESPN:

We interrupt this rant to announce the inaugural Curly R Reader Contest. Mr. Tony has been a sportswriter for 25 years in Washington. Can you help us dig up the not-so-flattering things Mr. Tony has written about Joe Theismann? From his time as a preening shmo in the league to his over-important delivery from the booth, Joe has served himself up as a ripe target. Winning quotes will be posted to the front page. Post the quotes, with links, in comments, or email them to us by the start of the regular season. We'll post your quotes, with an intro from the Grand Prize Winner.

1. It's not original
Dennis Miller was a football-but-not-that-footbally color guy. How did that work out? Paul Farhi's great piece in today's WashPost Style section mentions that Don Ohlmeyer, the guy responsible for Dennis Miller, gave Mr. Tony a tryout in 2000, so this is not even a new bad idea. If you will recall, Encyclopedia Britannica ran an Annotated Dennis Miller column every week, clarifying his haute semantique. So badly does the world want to forget Dennis Miller on MNF that Britannica has removed all traces of their Miller column. I could only find an Internet Archive of one column here.

2. It's insular
Before Mr. Tony was the third guy in the booth, he was the original King of All Media. He had his twice-weekly sports colums for years (remember the Bandwagon?), a weekly Sunday Style column, DC-area syndicated radio and TV shows, and finally, a syndicated ESPN radio show and PTI, still airing on ESPN. He's pretty much in the meaty part of the curve for ESPN fans with high disposable income, so hooray for the great idea ESPN had 5 years ago. You just managed to lure the viewers you already had.

3. It's the material
I don't think the bits will work as well on live TV as they do on the radio or in a controlled environment like PTI, where Mr. Tony gets to call all the shots, and where Wilbon overcommits on every segment. Theismann may be stiff, but he's serious as a compound fracture and won't let himself look stoopid to make a bit come off. They were running a 'Fortune Teller' bit tonight where fans get to email in questions, and he gave 'how should I know' answers to most of them, except for the trivia question on QBs posed directly to Mr. Tony by Warren Sapp, who pwn3d him. Memo to producers: Mr. Tony's cluelessness is contrived. Don't let the straight man have the last word.

4. ESPN is choking the pipe
By taking MNF to ESPN, Disney is automatically limiting the audience. ESPN may be the dominant cable property, but it's still accessible only by cable. At least two neighbors on my street will no longer have access to the games, and as far as the free-pay calculcation, it's better to have the free game on Monday instead of Sunday, after a whole day of free football over the air. Football fans get that short jones on Monday for one more game.

5. Dan Dierdorf forgives you already
Dan is a real football guy and waited 10 seasons for the desiccated Frank Gifford to wander off into the Viagra sunset to get that color job, only to get screwed by Boomer Esiason, who got tossed the next season. He says he'll never go back, but MNF's picture is still by his bed, and I bet he cries every time he has to hear the same goddamn old man Dick Enberg stories over and over. Make it right.

In fairness, Mr. Tony is just getting started, and I confess, I thought it was at first a bad idea when they brought Jonathan Winters on to Mork & Mindy. History has vindicated that decision, obviously, and I hold hope for the new Mearth.

Update, 10:35 am: The Big Lead has a good take on Mr. Tony, including a media/blogger roundup of reaction. Funny, but the NYT and LAT were effusive, while the WashPost, not so much.

George Constanza and Tony Kornheiser image: Binghamton Alumni Journal, Vol. 12, No. 4, Summer 2004 Online Edition

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Preseason Queasies

The results are in. Clinton Portis suffered a partially dislocated shoulder while putting a huge hit on Keiwan Ratliff and will be out for the remainder of the preseason. More importantly, his status for the regular season opener is in question.

*Sigh.* Now we're left to spend the week chasing our tails with that old saw, the Preseason Games are Dangerous debate. Michael Wilbon, weighs in against the exhibition games in today's WaPo, and I agree with him. Wilbon argues that the preseason games are nothing more than a way for the owners and the networks to line their pockets at the expense of the players (who aren't paid for the games). Sure, the young players need the chance to get evaluated by coaches in real situations, but the veterans' participation is largely pointless and risky.

The preseason games are also designed to maximize the feeding of the ever-growing fantasy football beast. Last season I noticed that roughly half of all NFL-related ads specifically involved fantasy football. Last night it seemed that every commercial featured high-profile NFL players encouraging the fantasy-addled masses to check stats on their mobile phones, host leagues at various sites, or purchase fantasy-oriented products.

And that's the heart of the problem, isn't it? It's not about the players or the game anymore, at least not beyond the stats or their value in the office elimination league. I'll deal with this topic in a future post, but the carnivorous obsession with Fantasy has supplanted the actual meaning of the contests on the field and the players who participate in them. You can't talk football in America anymore without some asshole piping up: "oh, I've got him on my Fantasy team!" Ugh. The modern NFL has transcended sport to arrive at pure, pro-wrestling style spectacle.

I may be accused of defending the millionaire players from exploitaition by the billionaire owners. And let's face it, many players are all too eager to embrace their new role as entertainer. Look no further than Chad Johnson, who has become a caricature of an athlete over his five NFL seasons. But when it comes to preseason, the players, not the owners and network execs, who put their *CLs and their livelihoods on the line. Rookie running back Kerry Carter was taken off the field with a torn ACL and MCL in the first half last night. His career is probably over before it even got started. And for what?

I'd like to see the number of exhibition games limited to two and veterans, or those players assured of making the team, exempted from participation. Under these circumstances the preseason games wouldn't sell out or be broadcast in prime-time, but the coaches would still get to evaluate the marginal guys. Less money would be made in August, but in the cult of personality that is the NFL the league would probably win out in the end by having the season start with all of its stars intact. But the owners and their masters at the networks will never part with the preseason games, and this giant waste of time, money and ligaments will roll on.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Preseason Game 1: Redskins (0-0) at Bengals (0-0)


The Redskins play their first preseason game of the season tonight at the defending AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals. The 8:00 PM game will be NBC's inagural broadcast of Sunday Night Football with Al Michaels and John Madden. Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati is sold out for the contest.

I grew up a Bengals fan, so if this were a real game I might be conflicted as to my hope for the outcome. It's just a preseason game, though, and the first one, at that. The starters will only play the first few series and then the coaches will use the rest of the game to evaluate the bench players for upcoming cuts.

Mark Brunell will start behind center for the Skins, followed by Todd Collins and then Jason Campbell, who will play all of the third and fourth quarters. Campbell, who has not seen an NFL game in over a year, is competing with Collins for the backup job, and his performance tonight will certainly be heavily scrutinized by the Redskins coaching staff and the fans.

Backup quarterback Anthony Wright will get the start for the Bengals, as Carson Palmer continues to rehab the knee he injured in last year's playoff game against the Steelers. Other prominent Bengals who will sit out the contest include tailback Chris Perry, defensive tackle Sam Adams and wide receiver Antonio Chatman.

Check back here during the game, as I'll be liveblogging at least the first quarter, or until Deadwood comes on HBO at 9.

This is an open thread.


Final Score: Bengals 19, Redskins 3. Clinton Portis will be out for an uncertain amount of time with a dislocated shoulder. We'll keep you updated with the latest news as the week progresses. Next preseason game this Saturday at FedEx vs. the Jets.

4th Quarter, 4:20: so it's Al Michaels and John Madden, and Cris Collinsworth and Bob Costas? Preseason cramming?

3rd Quarter, 5:10: Ben here. Kelley Washington, a starter, does a great end zone dance against against the defensive backups.

3rd Quarter, 5:10: Brandon back in. Doug Johnson fires a bomb to Kelley Washington, 19-3 Bengals...What I want to know is, are Foot Locker employees going to wear the new unis too?...Chad Johnson gets crazier and wackier-looking every year. He's currently sporting a gold mohawk. At least it matches his gold teeth...Clinton Portis is in street clothes on the sidelines and is currently being outfitted with a shoulder harness.

3rd Quarter, 8:50: ok I hate the new refs uniforms.

3rd Quarter, 10:40: I'm sorry Andrea. You look terrible. Please go back.

Halftime: so Brunell & the receivers look good. Cartwright didn't look terrible against a bad defense. Prep for classic Gibbs 2nd half preseason: counter left, counter right, dump pass, punt. Bengals don't look great.

Portis has a separated shoulder.


2nd Quarter, 8:50: so the Bengals have quite the blotter of offseason arrests. Got to love (BUI) boating under the influence. Even Collinsworth is riffing. Portis and Brunell better stay healthy. Collins sucks. -BF

2nd Quarter, 14:50: ok, Ben in. Palmer's injury in the playoffs last year was devastating. They were talking 18 mos for him to recover. Palmer may start the season, but he won't go the distance. Collins sucks. -BF

1st Quarter, 0:52: Wright throws a fade to Chris Henry in the end zone. Touchdown Bengals. FG is good, 9-0 Cincinnati.

1st Quarter, 1:36: The Bengals run a flea flicker and Anthony Wright completes a bomb to T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Bengals in the red zone.

1st Quarter, 2:14: Collins gets called for intentional grounding in the Redskins end zone, which results in a safety. 2-0, Bengals. Let's see how long Gibbs goes before he gets out the hook.

1st Quarter, 5:36: Todd Collins takes over on offense and immediately throws a pick. Not good. The referee shirts appear to have been updated for the first time in the history of the league. The traditional zebra stripe has been updated with snazzy all-black shoulders. I guess the league is hoping that people will want replica jerseys now.

1st Quarter, 10:23: The Redskins D has held the Bengals to four and out. Clinton Portis is walking to the locker room under his own power.

1st Quarter, 12:04:
The Redskins blew a great opening series by tossing a pick to the Bengals secondary. Clinton Portis put a huge hit on Keiwan Ratliff to stop the runback, but seems to have injured his shoulder in the process. We'll know more later. Bengals O takes the field. -BK

Saturday, August 12, 2006

What's in a Name?

The Washington Redskins name and trademark are once again under attack. A group of Native American activists filed a petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office yesterday challenging the legitimacy of the franchise's name under a "1964 federal law prohibiting the government from registering a trademark that disparages any race, religion or other group." Despite losing such battles in the past, I sincerely hope that these individuals are successful in their quest to rid the team of what I consider to be one of the most offensive possible names for a football team.

Advocates of keeping the name typically make several laughable claims whenever the subject comes up. The first of these is that "Redskins" isn't really that offensive of a term. That line of thinking is nothing more than desperate denial, and the "level" of offensiveness really isn't even the point. The term Redskin may not be on the level of the N-word, as some claim, but there is no question that it was, at its origin, a pejorative for Native Americans. At the time the term was coined, the Native Americans were being systematically driven off their lands, cheated by the United States government, and subjected to wide-scale genocide. These are historical facts. Regardless of "how offensive" one finds the term to be, it is wholly inappropriate for us to parade around in uniforms and gear featuring the likeness of a people who were nearly exterminated by our ancestors.

This leads to the second foolish claim of Redskins proponents, that the term somehow "honors" Native Americans. If I killed your family, then put a picture of them on a t-shirt, would you feel honored? In 1999, when the term was last challenged in the courts, the team argued that "the beloved hometown team has changed the connotation so the team's name is now 'powerfully positive.'" This line of thinking illustrates how the denial has led to the pervasive adoption of false logic. The "beloved hometown team" is popular because it has had a long and storied history in D.C.. The name of that team has very little to do with the team's popularity. Let's face it, if Dan Snyder changed the name tomorrow, would you stop showing up at FedEx field? Didn't think so.

When these two head-in-the-sand claims are exhausted, proponents of the term fall back on sheer desperation. Many claim that since the team has been called "Redskins" for so long, that it somehow can't or shouldn't be changed today. The fallacy of this claim is obvious. The historical existence of a thing does not provide validation for its continued existence. Slavery had been in effect for hundreds of years before 1863, but we still struggled for its abolition. Women could not vote since the founding of the United States until we came to our senses in 1920. It's always a good time to right a wrong.

What does Dan Snyder have to lose by changing the name? He'd put an end to the parade of legal challenges thrown his way each year and possibly score some additional goodwill among non-fans. I know that I've been slow to adopt the team myself because I'm not entirely comfortable with the name and logo. And there is no question that the NFL's richest team would grow even richer with the immediate surge in merchandise sales in the wake of a name change. We'd all have to run out and buy new hats and jerseys and the like. Heck, the team should keep the burgundy and gold but just lose the term and the logo. Change is a good thing, especially when it's the right thing to do.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Raining in Bawltimore

Here in the Washington/Baltimore region, fans of a local sports team are often unable to watch the games on TV due to asinine network restrictions. Sound familiar? No, I'm not talking about the Washington Nationals. I'm talking about the Baltimore Ravens, who are petitioning the NFL for more television market share in the region.

The Ravens want the league to treat Washington and Baltimore as a single market, which would allow "all Redskins and Ravens games to be seen on television in areas where the teams' fan bases overlap." Whoa. Wait a minute. FedEx Field and M&T Bank Stadium are less than 30 miles apart. This means that what the league thinks of as fan bases almost completely overlap. The Ravens want the league to bend over backwards to avoid scheduling Ravens and Redskins games in the same timeslot so everyone in the "fan base" can see both games.

The Ravens' line of thinking reflects two preposterous assumptions: that there is indeed a significant overlapping fan base and that everyone wants to watch Ravens and Redskins games. I have yet to meet anyone who is somehow both a Ravens and Redskins fan. The Redskins have been in DC since 1937; the Ravens have been in Baltimore since 1995. Anyone who is a Redskins fan has likely been one for a long time and doesn't give a hoot about the Ravens. If Baltimore has its way, all of us would see only Redskins and Ravens games every Sunday at 1 and 4 PM. Even if the Cowboys and Eagles were playing, you'd be stuck watching the Ravens and the Browns. Barf.

What makes the Ravens' suggestion even more ridiculous is the fact that Washington and Baltimore each have their own local network affiliates, unlike the other two-team markets in the NFL. The two New York teams and both Bay Area teams must share one station, so it makes sense that both teams would be broadcast. But Baltimore viewers can watch their own team on their own channel; so what if the two Ravens fans in Prince George's County can't see their team's games?

This is just the latest example of Baltimore's sports Napoleon complex. Baltimore is a tiny city with a tiny market that just happens to brush up against the large national capital of Washington, D.C.. Yet somehow, Baltimore repeatedly tries to shove its own sports markets down our throats. We in the D.C. area get every single Orioles game but over two million of us can't watch Nationals games because of a dispute between Comcast and Orioles owner Peter Angelos. Now these crabcake-eaters want to make us all watch their football games, too.

If the Ravens want a larger television market share they should pay the Redskins, just like the Orioles make the Nationals pay to air their games. There's no reason for the league to bend over backwards just to line the Ravens' pockets with more advertising dollars. Redskins fans shouldn't have to sit through games of no interest to them, either. If the league is truly concerned about advertising revenue they'll keep the markets divided just the way they are. After all, what could be more of a money loser than millions of Washington fans shutting off the TV at once as soon as the Redskins game is over?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Check Engine Light

This happened for a reason

So Sean Taylor got retroactively docked 4 weeks' pay from last season for the whole 'drew a gun on some dudes' episode in Miami. I tend to think a suspension is in order for this kind of thing, but he pled down to a misdemeanor, and no doubt the NFL was a party to that negotiation. Taylor may be a thug, but he's a moneymakin thug.

It's not even unusual to talk about promising football players that let their own lives get in the way of playing football, and I think Sean Taylor may be heading in that direction. Bam Morris, Lawrence Phillips, Maurice Clarett, these guys blew up.

Ricky Williams have smoke so much that he's in Canada. Dude, you have your whole life to smoke herb and listen to K&D. Cost himself millions. Hakim Hill, Robert Baker, Andre Rison,
R. Jay Soward, Bernard Williams, all NFL talent that just couldn't get out of their own way. Rae Carruth couldn't not kill someone.

Nate Newton got into trouble right after retirement, when the money stopped coming in. Barret Robbins refused to stay on his meds, which is as much about respecting yourself as those around you.

None of these players is exactly like Taylor. If Taylor continues his ways, though, he'll be in this list. So far in two seasons in the NFL, he bailed early on the manadatory rookie symposium (fined $25,000), racked up $30,000 in late hit or unnecessary roughness plays (Sean, ever hear of Mark Carrier? He had so many late hits his nickname was Marked Man.), fined $5,000 for a stupid uniform violation, $17,000 for spitting on Michael Pittman and now $71,764 for pulling a gun on some guys in Miami. That's a two-season total of nearly $150,000. Only thing missing here is a gold Merc, weed and guns (sorry, wrong playa). Wasting that much when you make that much disrespects the people that pay your salary.

He's barely in control. He didn't return Joe Gibbs' phone calls after his rookie season. He lied to the coach about the loogie and played Joe for an idiot when ESPN dug up the reverse angle that clearly showed him hocking one on Pittman. And pulling a gun on someone is the last thing you do before shooting someone.

On the field, he frightens opposing players, a safety in a linebacker's body, and I bet he looks 8 feet tall when he's coming at you. He needs to start taking Redskin football and his career seriously.

Photo by Toni L. Sandys for Washington Post

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Didn't work with Wuerffel

Al Saunders' guy

Yesterday's Jason La Canfora piece reads like the profile of a confident starter, a bigname free agent signed to deliver the Redskins back to the days of big quarterbacks with big arms. La Canfora:

Every Washington Redskins receiver has felt the sting of a football slapping his face at some point over the past few months. Inevitably, the receiver was just a step slow, a moment late coming out of his cut in a drill, and Todd Collins's spot-on spiral was there to greet him with no time for his hands to be of any use.

Each occurrence was a reminder of the precision necessary to execute associate head coach Al Saunders's offense, and the gap between Collins's mastery of this complex offensive system and the receivers' collective inexperience.
So great news, right? The guy throws a tight spiral, right on the money, the receivers trust his timing and the other two QBs are learning from him.

Wait, the guy hasn't started a game in nine seasons?

Every coach has 'his guys,' and Collins is Saunders'. It just seems like I've seen this movie before. I don't think Saunders has any intention of undermining or replacing Brunell, Gibbs' guy. It's just that the paint wasn't even dry on Gibbs' parking spot when he traded for Brunell, then signed him to a seven year, $43 million dollar contract that made Patrick Ramsey go, uh coach, anything I need to know? If Gibbs and Snyder had bothered to wait another day or two, they would have had Brunell off the street, and not had to give up a third round draft pick from the 2004 draft.

(That pick btw wound up going to Green Bay from Jax and became Donnell Washington, a big fat bust with a string of DNPs in 2005. If you can't score some playing time with a 4-12 team, you really deserve Al Davis, so it looks like the Skins got the better of that trade, but a pick wasted by another team is still a wasted pick.)

Now Collins comes in and gets the player-coach treatment like he was Jim Kelly (who he replaced in Buffalo). Jason Campbell is a big question mark and by the Tampa playoff game this year, Brunell's passes didn't have enough zip to pull a greased string through a rat's ass.

For future reference:

The Wuerffel Effect: whereupon the 'his guy' somehow manages to make it to the starting spot despite inferior abilities

The Shuler Treatment: wherein the designated starter gets all of about 5 seconds in the opener before getting pulled for 'his guy' (yes, watching Patrick get pulled in last season's opener was deja vu)

Photo of Todd Collins sack-fumble by Julian H. Gonzalez for Buffalo Free Press

Brandon's Welcome

Welcome, everyone!

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Brandon Kriner and I'm from Arlington, VA. I started a Nationals blog called the Curly W about a year ago. I was having so much fun with the baseball blog that I added Ben Folsom to the site. Ben is a huge Redskins fan and an avid blogger, so it was inevitable that he'd start a Redskins blog. You're reading his creation and I'm happy to be along for the ride.

I've been an NFL fan all my life, but I'm new to the Redskins even though I've lived in the D.C. area since 1996. In fact, I'm not even sure that I am a Redskins fan right now. That's part of the reason I'm here! Let me explain: I grew up in Cincinnati during the Bengals Who-Dey heyday of the 1980's. I can still remember exactly how to do the Ickey Shuffle and still get a thrill from watching the Browns and Steelers lose. Alas, then came the Lost Decade of 1991-2003. The Bengals became the toilet of the NFL and rattled off fourteen straight non-winning seasons. To put this in perspective, before 2005, the last time the Bengals had a winning season, I was in sixth grade, the first Gulf War was going on, and Vanilla Ice was in his prime. That's a long time.

But yet I've remained a fan, even while living in D.C.. I'd stuck with the Bengals through all those winning years because something inside me needed to see them break The Streak. In 2005 the streak was broken, so I feel like maybe I can finally be at peace with the Bengals. After all, the D.C. area is my home now, and I'm tired of cheering for a team from afar. I can't watch many Bengals games on TV, and no one wants to talk Cincy football over the water cooler around here. Why? Because this is Skins country, of course!

I've already given up the Reds of my childhood in favor of the Nats, so I might as well see if I can do the same for the Skins. My mission for this season is to immerse myself in all things Redskins to see if I can actually become a fan. To be honest, I have my doubts. The whole Norv Turner/Steve Spurrier era was pretty boring football, unless you count the hilarity of watching Jeff George get his bell rung over and over. I'm not really a fan of the name and logo either, but that's a subject for a future post. But hey, I love NFL football and I love D.C., so I'll give it a go. Anyone have any advice for me on becoming a Redskins fan?

Again, welcome, and thanks for reading. I'm looking forward to a great 2006 Redskins season!