Friday, September 29, 2006

5 Questions with the Jaguars

Time again for another round of 5 Questions With... The Jaguars! Chris over at Big Cat Country was good enough to trade questions with us this week. You can find my answers to his questions on the Redskins here. Head over there, get a login and represent for the Redskins.

Over at Hogs Haven, Skin Patrol has also exchanged 5 questions with Big Cat Country. Head over there, check out his questions and drop a comment.

And without further Adu, on to this week's questions.


Curly R: The Redskins have been soft on pass defense, and won't have Shawn Springs back this week either. Leftwich is sharing the wealth in the passing game. What's your take on that matchup? Do you think the Jaguars' receiving corps is performing like last year's?

Big Cat Country: I think the Jags have a much better WR Corps than last year because the Jimmy Smith (as much as I love him) crutch is gone. Byron has to spread the ball around because we have three guys in Matt Jones, Ernest Wilford and Reggie Williams who can emerge as our number one WR. Right now Jones has the edge, but Reggie is showing that he's not a flop for an 11th overall pick. I think our WR's have a height and speed advantage over the Skin's DB's, but they are a young group that can be tricked and drawn into bad situations.

Curly R: I know you guys wish you could have Brunell back, but alas, his 7.1 yards per attempt are all ours. What will be the Jacksonville strategy to handle the Redskins' offense?

Big Cat Country: Consistent Pressure on Brunell, make him beat us with his arm and shut down the run. You can throw 22 passes in a row against the Texans, but I assure you , our defense is astronomically better than our AFC South buddies in Texas. Jags play to shut down the run and make teams one dimensional. Darius and Grant, Williams and Mathis, they can do some damage in to a Passing Game, especially after our D-Line and Linebackers keep Portis in Funny Character Mode.

Curly R: I read in the Washington Post Wednesday that Wayne Weaver has tarped over 9100 seats in the stadium from lack of demand, and that the Jaguars are struggling to break even. How far would Weaver have to cut prices to sell the place out? What's your take on the ownership and the team's financial health?

Big Cat Country: Wayne Weaver loves Northeast Florida. What you have to remember is that Alltel Stadium also hosts the "Largest Cocktail Party" in the college football world. The "Gator Bowl", for one game, has larger attendance than most NFL games do as an average game. Our stadium as its designed for the Gator Bowl is too large for a market our size for 16 weeks of NFL football, therefore Wayne Weaver decided to cover seats. What this does is make our Jags play in an arena the appropriate size for their market. Wayne's prices are at the league average and we consistently break even. The problem isn't that we're not making money, it's the general problem of small market teams keeping up with the big market ones in player and coach salaries. The Jags financial state is fine, we're a profitable team for Wayne. If he were to sell the team, there is an ownership group in the wings that is intended to keep the team in Jacksonville. Also, this is the first year we have a waiting list for season tickets, and the amount of people on the list is 2 times larger than the amount of covered seats. It's supply and demand, if we lower supply of seats, demand and price for seats increases.

Curly R: Ok, so it's a pretty bitter rivalry with the Colts. After last season's game at Indianapolis, Jaguars players were complaining about Colts' defenders going after Leftwich's knees. After last Sunday's game, the Coach Del Rio himself accused the Colts' players of vaulting illegally on field goals and of head-slapping, Deacon Jones style. Are the Colts getting the Michael Jordan treatment at home, or is the Jaguars organization just taking out frustration over being good but still stuck behind the Colts?

Big Cat Country: It's their frustration toward the Colts, absolutely. We are a better team. We are a young team with a younger staff and we make mistakes. Sometimes we air out that frustration publicly and that causes problems from time to time. The Colts like to claim that they are such a clean and well managed team that does not make mistakes, which any close viewing of tape can illustrate its clear faults. Like any playoff game for example. I think the Colts have risen to such a level of talent and fanbase for being in the middle of Indiana that there must certainly be a financial interest in their success, but I don't like to think that the league conspires to rig things. If they did, the Redskins, Cowboys, and other huge market teams would win every year. Parity, I think, is proof that there is not a larger "scam" to rig games.

Curly R: The Jaguars are looking good, winning two good games and statistically outplaying the Colts in losing. The Jaguars could be as good as last season, but so could the Colts. Can the Jaguars get over the top this season? How do you see this division shaking out?

Big Cat Country: If the Jaguars can keep their poise, I think they can beat any team in the league. The only team that can beat the Jags is themselves. Stupid penalties and mistakes cost them, but it's rare that they are outplayed. It's been rare for the last two seasons, but this year looks like we've got it together. I think that Jacksonville and Indy will play close all year long, both of us sweeping the Titans and the Texans, so it'll come down to the next game we play in December at Alltel Stadium to decide the division. I see the playoffs for Jacksonville, but I'd like to think we can win the division this year.

Curly R BONUS QUESTION: The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the Jaguars take in barely half the total revenue of the Redskins. How come all that money doesn't buy the Redskins a better team?

Big Cat Country: Because I think that the Skins are too willing to sacrifice draft picks and the future on buying high priced free agents now. Jacksonville tried that from 99-01 and we ended up in salary cap hell for a few years. If the new CBA had not passed, you might have experienced that for yourself. I think you spend the money in the wrong way. You bought three identical wide receivers in ARE, Lloyd, and David Patten. You could run some sort of super sexy spread offense, but still have questions in QB. You can't tell me that a 36 year old QB is the answer. I see too much emphasis on winning today and you lose games because it's the wrong answer. Jacksonville built its offense through the draft and buys a few free agents on Defense, but even then we don't ever buy players over 28 years old. We keep more jars on the shelf than any team in the league. You cannot buy a Super Bowl, you can only develop it over time.


I think he's right about that last part.

Thanks to Chris at Big Cat Country for taking time out to answer our questions. Head over to his site for my take on his questions, and get ready for a big game on Sunday!

NFC Beast Notes, 9/28/2006

This NFC Beast update brought to you by Elijah Craig.

The Giants are flying apart faster than a Norv Turner offense. They were smoked in Seattle in a game that was never close. 35-3 at the half, 42-3 at the end of the third quarter. Eli looked small and far away, like a teeny little mouse, and Jeremy Shockey came out and said the Giants were outplayed and outcoached. NYT (TimesSelect):

Who has [Coughlin's] back? As the beloved pop star of all Giants, Tiki Barber questioned the wisdom of the Giants’ coaching staff after a playoff loss to Carolina last season. Plaxico Burress, drawing an anatomical conclusion that Coughlin has no funny bone, toyed with his coach’s temperament last summer. And Jeremy Shockey, as emotionally untamed as his shaggy blond mane, mentioned the “outcoached” reason again after the Giants were embarrassed by Seattle last Sunday.
LaVar watch: that the Giants will never get their money's worth is at the doorstep of NYC conventional wisdom. Next visit is from 'LaVar is a bust.' Good luck with all that.

Things don't get any better with LB Carlos Emmons out at least three weeks with a torn chest muscle. This is a team that needs the week off. See you on October 8 at the Meadowlands. I'll be exchanging questions with Giants blog NFL-Giants.

Speaking of Norv Turner, the 49ers are like Ben-Gay. It still hurts, but you rub 'em on and it feels better for a while.

Curly R reader Wilbert Montgomery says the Eagles are getting healthier this week, but is reporting that Donte Stallworth, Brian Westbrook, Roderick Hood and Lito Sheppard all didn't practice yesterday. They play Green Bay on Monday Night Football, so not exactly a top team, but looking past the Packers to get healthy for Dallas on October 8 is an easy way to lose. I can't remember for sure, but I think Dono is a solid MNF performer.

I'll let Frank Zappa speak for me on this one:

You say there ain't no light a-shinin'
Through the bushes up ahead
'N we're all gonna be so sorry
When we find out you are dead
Go head on and get it over with then
Find you a bridge 'n take a jump
Just make sure you do it right the first time
'Cause nothin's worse than a Suicide Chump

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Waiver Wire, 9/28/2006

News and notes from the world of the Redskins.

Master4Caster at Running Redskins revisits the Duckett Conspiracy once again:

A good insurance policy is something you get and never use. That describes TJ Duckett, the Clinton Portis insurance policy.
I thought Ladell Betts was the Clinton insurance policy. That wold make Duckett Ladell insurance. He's calling for Duckett to sit again this week. If that's the case, watch as the 'locker room distraction' stories start picking up in the tradmed.

Continuing the new tradition of trading stuff with bloggers covering the opposing teams, Hogs Heaven trades scouting reports with the Jaguars MVN blogger. A good read, since Redskins fans might not know a lot about the Jaguars. Tony Brown, Redskins MVN blogger, wrote the Redskins scouting report for the Jaguars site here. It's honest and even.

Andy the British Correspondent for Hail Redskins posts an in-depth scouting report in the defense. A good read, and I echo his comments about Andre Carter and Carlos Rogers.

David at Skinsaphrenia hasn't posted in a few days, but I have go with him on the training camp issue. Some blogger should start up a petition. Fat chance with The Danny, though. Also, he's tapped into some Redskins fan anger over Triple X radio's local signal(s), which are weaker than a Ralph Friedgen appetite suppressant.

Rich at Tandler's Redskins blog discusses Brunell's resurgence(?) and pegs the Jaguars strategy: don't let the other team have the ball. Bonus: his analysis of Cowboyfan is timeless.

Was anyone wondering what Mark Rypien was up to? He's going to sing the National Anthem (U.S., I assume, since he's Canadian) and drop the first puck in the AHL Norfolk Admirals home opener on October 13. Mark, we dint ferget ye. In 1991, he did not have the most TD passes of any QB (he had 28, but Jim Kelly had 33), but he did have the most TD passes over 20 yards of any QB in the league. Could use a little of that right now.

One of the reasons I like Jason La Canfora's Redskins Insider blog on Washington Post is that his writing style is looser, befitting a blog, even a Post blog, than that of the beat pieces he does on the Redskins. Case in point:
The statute of limitation on TO jokes is now over. After that press conference, bring it on.

His publicisit, Kim, is asking for it with her ditz routine and contradictory statements. She began losing credibility when she uttered this line, early on: "When I see a man of his statute." It's stature, hon, but if the slip fits, wear it.

Skin Patrol at Hogs Heaven is obviously a gambler and he does an exchange of questions with Jaguars' blogger Big Cat Country. Stay tuned for my 5 Questions With... feature with BCC tomorrow. Also, go vote in Hogs Heaven's season-end predictions poll. Always fun to look back at where we thought the Redskins would finish.

From Jon Jansen is about to play his 100th game, all with the Redskins. He's been a steady player, and needs to have a big day on Sunday.

Lee at The Redskins Report gives keys to the Redskins offense against the Jaguars, and does us all a service by putting links to buying and selling Redskins tickets in one place. Personally, I have the best luck with Craig's List, but I like StubHub as well.

Two stories straight from the Jaguars: Byron Leftwich, a former star at DC's HD Woodson High School, bought 92 tickets (so far) to the game for his local entourage. Welcome home, Byron. I hope you have a great game yet still lose. And a Jaguars player note: 6'6" 238lb starting WR Matt Jones, second on the team with 11 catches, but barely played against the Colts, looks to be back in the lineup this week after healing up his groin. Carlos will have a hard time covering him, so let's hope Jones feels Sean Taylor's gravity out in the secondary.

Counter Trey posts a loooooooong look at the Redskins as the best 0-2 team in the league (written before the Texans game). Very in-depth with reasons to be happy, and sad. Money quote:
Sean Taylor broke Terrell Owens hand last week. The official line is he broke it early in the game when he was blocking a corner and his finger “got caught in a shirt,” but there is little doubt in my mind that Owens doesn’t want to give Taylor any satisfaction. Taylor put two hits on Owens in that game that had Owens literally writhing in pain. This is probably the one that broke his hand.

Taylor has owned Owens in the five-or-so meetings since Taylor was drafted and has thoroughly intimidated Owens, even when Taylor was just a Rookie and Owens was all-world for the Eagles.
Yeah, I agree, TO probably broke his hand getting potted by Sean Taylor.

Next: NFC Beast Notes

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Odd Man Out

Someone got played

I can already see how this TJ Duckett thing is working out, and it's 'not good.' To refresh: in August, the Redskins traded a 3rd round pick in next year's draft to the Broncos, who in turn sent 5th yr egoist Ashley Lelie (Don't take it personally, Ash. You're on my fantasy team!) to the Falcons, who in turn sent 5th yr pinerider TJ Duckett to Washington. This came at a time when Clinton's arm was freshly pulled out of socket and there was great hand-wringing in Washington about whether the offense would still be great without him, or merely awesome.

When I wrote about this in August, I thought this was just a case of Denver and Atlanta trying to out-stupid each other, culminating with someone in Redskin Control Center validating stupid with stupid by acquiring a player at a position where they did not really need help. This would fit with Snyder's obsessive-compulsive inability to keep from making moves and news.

Then, I read Master4Caster's The Duckett Conspiracy piece at Running Redskins. He put forth the Die Eagles Die theory that the Redskins may have acquired Duckett to ensure that the Eagles could not get their clammy palms on him. Note that the same week the Redskins traded for Duckett, the Eagles brought former Redskin Stephen Davis in for a workout. Davis is not as big as Duckett, but certainly is a heavier load than Westbrook or Buckhalter. In fitting with the Eagles, er, thrifty ways, they opted to look at the cheaper and oft-injured guy off the street, thereby missing a chance at Duckett themselves.

Did Redskin Control Center do the math and realize the Eagles were targeting Duckett next? In any event, the Eagles did not sign Davis, but they did trade with the Saints for Donte Stallworth, which has been good for my fantasy team, even if it does force me to root for a hated Eagle. Not an RB, but a position player, which leads me to believe that Reid did not think he had the horses to run the offense.

I see a new twist coming into this story already. Right before the Texans game, which I argued became a missed opportunity for Redskin Control Center to try some new things with a tough schedule looming, Jason La Canfora wrote this in his Redskins Insider blog:

TJ Duckett is scratched for this game. Skins gave the equivalent of a third-round pick to get this guy in three-way trade with Denver and Atlanta. So through three weeks with Washington, he will have appeared in a single contest, with 5 rushes for 24 yards. Considering the import of these three games, doesn't seem like much value.
Duckett came here to play. Actually, he would have been happy to stay in Atlanta and play. He's in a contract year, as is Betts, so they both need to get as many carries as they can, else they'll both wind up with league-min deals next season. If Duckett has any role with this team that can be predictable and that will be 'his,' it will be the Gerald Riggs heavy-jumbo back in short yardage and goal-line, since neither Betts nor Cartwright is a true buller and Mike Sellers never carries the ball. Heavy-jumbo back is something of a disappeared role with the Redskins, though, since Clinton can run through a keyhole and get used on every down in every situation, so I think that since we haven't seen it yet, we won't be.

With some cajoling from the media (and shit-disturbing bloggers), look for the Duckett story to become the 'locker room distraction' that is missing (for now) with Clinton back and no quarterback controversy.

TJ Duckett: Wire Image via

TO Presser: TO not a Suicide Attempt

Everything's ok. We talked to him.

This story changes every hour. First, it was an 'allergic reaction,' then a suicide attempt, then a misunderstanding, communicated by none other than former Cowboys Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin. There was a team press conference featuring TO and Kim Etheridge, TO's publicist, who seems to be the 'friend' that was with him and made the 911 call. This story is strange:

TO admits he took 'extra' pain pills with his nutritional supplements. I wonder what 'extra' means in this case.

He also admits to taking 'some' pills out of the bottle and putting them 'in a drawer.' Doesn't seem conducive to portion control.

The publicist said he was groggy and not himself and couldn't speak.

And the 'allergic reaction' is still in the narrative.

Doesn't make sense to me. If he's on pain killers for his hand, he should never be on a dosage that would make him incoherent. If they're 'reacting' with his supplements, maybe someone should make sure his 'supplement' is not a handful of oxycontin.

Commenters on Blogging the Boys seem to think he was on the level and at least BTB blogger Grizz thinks TO looked on the level in this presser, but that the publicist's story is fishy, and that maybe she overreacted and is unwilling to admit as much.

Keep checking over at Blogging the Boys for updates.

Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin: AP photo

Report: TO a Suicide Attempt

Take care of yourself TO.

A Dallas TV station is reporting that TO attempted suicide last night. I heard just this morning on the radio that he had been hospitalized for an 'allergic reaction' to pain medication he was on as part of treatment for his broken hand and the required surgery. By 10:30, though, the story had changed to TO trying to overdose on pain medication, and CBS SportsLine is even reporting that after taking most of the bottle, he took additional pills in the presence of a friend, whom he'd just told he was depressed.

All football talk aside, this is serious and I hope TO will be ok. If he's depressed, I hope he will do the hard thing and get treatment, even if it interrputs his career. Suicide and depression are nothing to laugh at and Curly R wishes him the best in recovery.

Update: Cowboys blogger and Curly R 5 Questions partner Grizz is the go-to for this story at Blogging the Boys.

Terrell Owens:

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Win, but Not a Quality Win

Or, Redskins win. I learn nothing.

Big day for Ladell Betts as the Redskins beat the stuffing out of the Texans 31-15. I'm happy for Ladell. He's a 5th year guy, been the steady stand-in and he'll be a free agent after this season. It seems unlikely the Redskins will keep him, choosing either to upgrade (or 'upgrade') with one of the other free agent RBs from the offseason crop, or losing him outright to another team that may move him up the depth chart (hello, Texans, Buccaneers).

So this was a win. But I was not impressed. Rodney over at Texans Rock, our 5 Questions partner for this game, was wallowing in Texan badness the whole day:

I would rather watch two homeless men having sex on a street corner than the Texans play football. They are totally getting walked all over. Talk about zero effort. ...If I had to rank things in order of least painful to most most painful on my eyes it would go: Homeless sex, Texans football and a sitcom with Charley Sheen.

His post-game wrap was even harsher, though thankfully, Charlie Sheen-free.

So the Texans are a bad team. A really bad team. A team so bad, they have revived the Saints' tradition of wearing bags over their heads. So this would have been a perfect time for the Redskins to experiment with some downfield passing. Instead, they merely won with the same game plan as has lost them the past two games.

Sure, it's great having Clinton Portis back, though he's clearly not in game shape. (That 74-yard shovel should have been a TD, but he got gassed -- and speaking of gassed, what's with all the oxygen? Isn't Houston at sea level? The last time I saw a guy need so much oxygen, it was in a David Lynch movie.) So the running game was upgraded, but I don't think it's a stretch to say the the Redskins probably could have won without Clinton.

At the outset, the Redskins defense looked like it was about to turn in another horrible performance, and to be sure, was uneven. Andre Johnson had 152 receiving yards, including the big oh-my-gosh-they-gave-up-another-one 54 yarder that set up the Texans first score. At that point, Brandon and I were looking at each other like, great, they're going to get killed by the Texans. The defense only got to David Carr once, and even as the Texans were unable to make plays on defense, I realized David is not the problem there. Gregg Williams needs to cut back on the penalties.

Watching the same short passing game, I get the sense that someone in Redskins Control Center is saying, see? See? It works! Newsflash: the Jaguars allowed 26 yards rushing in the Monday night game against the Steelers, and only 141 yards through the air, and pulled down two big picks late in the game. If Redskins the brain trust looks at this game against the Texans as a validation of the gameplan so far, this bodes ill for the season.

As a matter of perspective, Bob Papa on Sirius the NFL channel Opening Drive show yesterday was chatting with Cris Carter, and disagrees with me. He thinks this was a 'reset' for the Redskins, a confidence builder, and that the offense is going to start evolving, and that the offense we'll see in November is not the offense we see now. La Canfora agrees with that basic position, as stated in his Redskins Insider blog (linked below), and it's a valid argument. I'm just worried about how the Redskins get there. The Jags are a tough team, but playing in Redskins Stadium. Then the next week, the Redskins travel to the Giants, where Jersey dropped a 36-0 shutout on the Redskins last season. Let's hope the owner is in better health this year.

Adam Archuleta is officially terrible in pass coverage.

Over at the Washington Post, the story was all about a big win. La Canfora:

The ball rarely traveled even 10 yards through the air

A good defense is just going to walk that safety up and dare Brunell to go long. More telling to me was not La Canfora's game wrap, but his Redskins Insider blog:

Not sure how much of the offensive fireworks to attribute to the Redskins' prowess. I think this was a nice little precursor to Sunday's game against Jacksonville, which should tell us precisely where this group stands at the quarter-pole of the season. It was pretty clear that Al Saunders stripped down the offense and went with nothing but high-percentage throws.

Jason thinks this conservative, high percentage passing game might work against an aggressive defense like Jacksonville's, but I tend to disagree. The Jags have a stout run defense and will be stacking the box. Santana, Randle El and Brandon Lloyd are all burners. If Saunders, Gibbs and Brunell can't figure a way to get them open out in the secondary, it's going to be a looooong day on Sunday. This was a win, but the boobirds will be out Sunday if the Redskins falter.

No, I never mentioned Brunell's record in this post, that he set a record with 22 straight completions (op. cit.). Conflatulations to him. Now try a downfield pass.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Game 3: Redskins (0-2) at Texans (0-2)


A week after stumbling and bumbling against the Dallas Cowboys, the Redskins return to Texas still in search of their first win. The pressure to get that win is intense for Joe Gibbs and the team, even though the Skins are facing one of the worst teams in the league. Still, the Texans are looking for their first win too, and will be eager to show the home crowd that they can compete in the NFL.

Despite the dismal losses the past two weeks, there are several bright spots for the Redskins. Clinton Portis is expected to start the game, and his contribution to the ground attack takes a great deal of pressure off of Mark Brunell and the passing game. Good thing, too, because Mark Brunell has completed only 35 of his 61 passing attempts and is 25th among NFL quarterbacks with a 67.7 rating. Yuck. Even worse, the Redskins have yet to score a passing touchdown this season. These fortunes should change, though, as the Texans are dead last in team defense in the NFL. If the Skins can't turn in a respectable performance in Houston, buckle in for a long, frustrating season.

As for the Texans, there's not much to say. David Carr is having a pretty respectable year, and the Texans have lost to two tough teams in Philly and Indianapolis. The Texans are still working on that long, slow climb from expansion team suckiness to NFL-parity worthiness. I expect this team to go all-out to beat the Redskins in front of the home crowd.

The Skins better get it done here, because things don't get any easier over the next few weeks. The tough-as-nails Jacksonville Jaguars come to FedEx in Week 4 and then it's off to the Meadowlands for a showdown with the always-dangerous Giants. Lose this week in Houston and the Redskins have a very real shot at starting the season 0-5.

This is a gameday open thread/counseling session.

Friday, September 22, 2006

5 Questions With the Texans

Alright, it's Friday, and you know what that means...time for another edition of 5 Questions With...

This time we sat down with Rodney at Texans Rock to get the answers to the burning Texans questions on everyone's mind this week. Rodney also asked five questions of us, which you can read at this link.

Curly R: When Houston was awarded an expansion team, was there any effort to bring back the Oilers logo and records the way the Browns did in Cleveland? Do you wish they had done so?

Texans Rock: This is a sore subject. To answer your question there was zero effort to bring back the old Oiler logo and records when the new team was awarded to Houston. This was the case not because new ownership didn't want to bring back the past but because it wasn't an option. You see, when Bud Adams left for greener pastures he insisted the NFL prevent Houston or any other city from ever using the Oilers name. Thus, the Oilers name is gone forever and the franchise's history from 1959 - 1996 is in Tennessee. It makes me sick to this day to think Earl Campbell's number is retired in Nashville and not Houston.

Curly R: David Carr has struggled at the helm of the Texans offense. Is David Carr the problem, or is his offensive line the problem?

Texans Rock:
Personally I don' think Carr is the problem. His struggles are mostly due to a horrible offensive line and a previous coaching stuff that didn't utilize his skills. We all know about the record level of sacks he has taken. I have seen either in person or on TV all of those sacks and only a few of them are his fault. Give the man some protection and I think he will be a good NFL QB. So far he is much better this season (4 TDs and 0 INTs) and is even ranked 2nd in passer rating.

Curly R: I know the Texans are a pretty new team, but who would you say is their biggest rival?

Texans Rock: I would have to say the the Texans biggest rival is the old Houston team the Tennessee Titans. As you can tell there is still some animosity towards Bud Adams so it is fun to beat his team. Plus, there is some new blood added to the rivalry this season with Houston native Vince Young playing for the Titans. (Many people wondered why the Titans went with Young over Leinart. This is why, so Bud could stick it to Houston one more time).

Curly R: What is the Texans' single biggest need in order to take a step forward?

Texans Rock: This one is easy, Defense. Yes the O-Line gets a lot of attention, but they haven't been that bad this season. The real problem for the Texans is their defense. Right now the Texans are DEAD LAST in total defense. Last season they were next to last. To break it down even further they have find a way to get pressure on the QB. Their pass rush is a joke (Mario Williams, where are you?). So, if you have any fantasy guys on Washington start them this week and thank me later.

Curly R: What's your favorite thing about Reliant Stadium?

Texans Rock: My favorite thing about Reliant Stadium is it is a no frills football only stadium. Back in the Astrodome days it felt as if you were a mile away from the game because of the huge sidelines. At Reliant that isn't a problem because the tiny sidelines allow the fans to be right on top of the action. Oh, and one more good thing, tailgating. Unlike the Dome tailgating is allowed at Reliant.

Thanks Rodney for answering our questions!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

NFC Beast Notes, 9/21/2006

The Giants are fairly brimming with confidence and excitement after their come-from-behind win over the Eagles. The box score, though, shows Eli was sacked 8 times, which makes me happy. This game was about as much as a Redskins fan could hope for. The division leading Eagles lost, but only after exposing the Giants' weak offensive line. But don't let the fact that the Giants got trounced for three quarters stop the NYT from making this about the Eagles. Prediction: a wet day for the Giants in Seattle.

And Amani Toomer, an eight-year starter, averaging 50+ receptions with five 1000-yard seasons is somehow the only one that believes he's not respected. Your moment of Curly R Giants zen: recalling Dave Brown and Kent Graham.

NYT Monday: defeat Sunday, the Eagles distanced themselves from last season’s dysfunction. They seemed to be elbowing each other out of the way to accept responsibility. Coach Andy Reid said it was his fault for turning conservative with his play-calling in the second half. Lewis bemoaned not recovering Burress’s fumble. McNabb said he was to blame for some inconsistency. Westbrook said his fumble was catastrophic.
I think they're all right.

Starting DE Jevon Kearse tore his ACL and is gone for the season. Starting CB Roderick Hood hurt his heel and is doubtful. And Brian Westbrook still has that mystery swelling in the knee. Good thing they play the 49ers this week ( Curly R stalker Wilbert Montgomery says DE is the Eagles deepest position, and Hood is the biggest injury deal. I'll chip in and say that Westbrook is a big deal too, and every week he does not get it scoped is a week he'll miss recovering, but the secondary is probably at greater risk.

Bill Parcells says TO might not miss any games because of the broken hand Sean Taylor gave him. In other news, TO broke his hand either blocking Sean Taylor or pulling off a block in a panic bracing for Sean Taylor. Sean Taylor is a recoilless hammer. TO's replacement is an undrafted rookie. They have the week off.

Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram headline:
First slab for fan seating is poured at site
They may have to sit on a concrete floor, but at least they'll be moving out of the trailer.

And finally, Bill really was sick after the game. It wasn't classic Tuna, motivating through insult, even after a big win. Because of a superstition, he apparently does not alter his attire in a game if the Cowboys are winning. Since the game Sunday started in rain, but ended in the clear, and the Cowboys never trailed, he never took his rainjacket off, "leading to dehydration." Hey Bill, it's called fucking Gatorade, and they have a whole shitload of it for free right behind you.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Party Like it's 1992! Or 93.

Among the other things that have changed since 1992, Republican states used to be the blue ones.

I'm as hysterical (adj: displaying excessive emotion) a Redskins fan as the next person, and as such, I take the Redskins' winning and losing seriously. I'm not ready to call it quits on the season yet, though after two games, I see less to be hopeful for than I would like. As David at Skinsaphrenia reminds us, the Redskins were 5-6 on November 28 of last year (that after a weak 1-3 in preseason), before reeling off five straight to get to the playoffs.

In those playoffs as we all know, the Redskins beat the Bucs in a game that happened entirely inside an anomaly in the space-time continuum. All the clocks around the stadium appeared to show the normal procession of time, but the game somehow appeared to end in approximately half the time of a game played outside the anomaly. There was no entropy. Nothing happened. Atomic decay rates slipped to near zero. It was as if someone slipped the whole Buccaneers team decaf at the team breakfast. At the end of the game, Chucky looked up at the gameclock and said, wait, that's the end of the half, right? No? Wait, what just happened? I call it 'submission hold' football. The Redskins never got anything going, so Gregg Williams just made sure the defense was like the summertime Virginia forest: dense all around. He earned his money in that game. And then they lost to the Seahawks in the exactly the same way they beat the Bucs.

(author's aside: I went to the Tampa game. We were among the Redskins fans that used the leaked password to the Tampa season ticket holders' Ticketmaster page and bought Club seats. A friend and I did the 22-hour surgical strike on Tampa, flying in from Washington to Tampa at 8am, renting a car, dropping our excess shit at a hotel room walking distance from the stadium, partying like rock stars for four hours (Bucs fans know how to party, that's for sure), watching the Redskins grab hold of the Bucs and not let go for four quarters, then we drove to Orlando, partied until 2am, drove back to Tampa, rescued our stuff from the unused hotel room, got the car returned and strolled right onto the airplane at 6am to sleep it off with about 40 other stankin, up-all-night Redskins fans coming back to Washington, all in time to catch the afternoon playoff games from home.)

So there is nothing to say the Redskins 2006 season is done. I'm seeing some things I don't like, though. For one, it bothers me that Joe is second-guessing himself on the preseason. La Canfora yesterday:

Gibbs said criticism for conducting too soft a training camp and not implementing enough of the offense in preseason games is not unfounded with his team winless in six games, including preseason, heading into Sunday's contest in Houston. "Will I approach the preseason next year the same way I did this year?" Gibbs said. "No, probably not."
Well, at least I feel better that he's publicly admitting he's planning on coaching next season.

So where's the historic parallel for this Redskins team? I'm looking at two possibles: 1992 and 1993.

In 1991, the Redskins rolled up a 14-2 record and won the Super Bowl in a walkover. Jim Kelly had more rushing yards in Super Bowl 26 than Thurman Thomas, Helmet Loser. The next season in 1992, the Redskins came out flat in the Monday Night Football opener against the Cowboys (a game I remember well because I had 20 people over to my filthy house, all of whom were heckling me by the end of the game). They went on to win 9 games in a 'disappointing' season, make the playoffs and win a game against Minnesota before losing to San Francisco (and if that !@#$% Steve Young to John Taylor TD does not go right through AJ Johnson's open arms, Redskins win that game). Joe retired after that season, fully prescient as to what impending free agency would do to his way of football life.

That 1992 team was basically the 1991 Super Bowl team, just a year older. Rypien, Byner, Gary Clark, Kurt Gouveia, et al. They were unable to return to the same heights as the previous season, as the O-line bocking went downhill, so the running got tougher and the yards per pass went down.

That team is remembered, by me at least, as a hard-nosed team that played great defense and underachieved on offense, and was reported in the media as a something of a disappointment. Sound familiar? Like maybe 2004? Maybe even 2005? Could be the same in 2006.

That 1992 team needed help to get into the playoffs and got some, backing in when Minnesota beat Green Bay in week 17. Minnesota needed to beat Green Bay to make it into the playoffs, else Minnesota would have lost the tiebreaker to Green Bay and missed the playoffs. By beating the Packers, the Vikings doomed the Packers' playoff hopes and promoted the Redskins, who had the same 9-7 record as the Packers, but a better Conference record, in part because the Redskins had beaten the Vikings earlier in the season. The 3rd seed division winning Vikings, tied with the 5th seed wild card Eagles at 11-5, got to play the lowest playoff seed, the Redskins, whom they had promoted by beating the Packers which they had to do to avoid losing the spot to the Packers in part becase they had already lost to the Redskins. The Redskins, of course, beat the Vikings handily, sending Denny Green to the first of his many playoff losses.

Will this 2006 Redskins team underachieve and yet outplay most of the league? Like 1992, the Redskins were coming into the season with high expectations and a solid returning core of players. While that team never looked dominant for longer than a few stretches, they did what it took to secure a playoff spot (that season, the Eagles and Redskins sucked up two of the three Wild Card spots for the NEC East).

At the time, we knew the team had underachieved, but had no idea how lucky we were as fans that they had nine wins in the tank. It would be 7 years until the Redskins got back to the playoffs.

Richie Petitbon, who had turned down the opportunity to succeed Mike Ditka in Chicago eight weeks earlier, got his promotion when Gibbs handed the reins over. Petitbon promoted quarterbacks coach Rod Dowhower to offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator Larry Peccatiello to assistant head coach for defense.

Player-wise, the 1993 team was once again basically the same team as the 1992 team, though Gary Clark was gone. Byner and Ricky Ervins were dinged and fell in the depth chart to Reggie Brooks, the #2 guy at Notre Dame behind Jerome Bettis. Jeff Bostic, Ray Brown, Joe Jacoby and Mark Schlereth were still there, but there was not much left in the tank. Mark Rypien played poorly
1991: 16 games / 28 TD / 11 INT / 97.9 passer rating
1992: 16 games / 13 TD / 17 INT / 71.7 passer rating
1993: 12 games / 4 TD / 10 INT / 56.3 passer rating
leaving for 5 games when his knee was injured in week 2 against the Cardinals. When he came back, he never looked the same.

That team stumbled to 4-12, a bad combination of age, injuries and bad coaching. Petitbon may have been in a class by himself while running the defense, but he never took hold of the team as head coach. You could see him on the sideline, looking across the field with the 1000-yard stare, wondering how to get it together while Dowhower ran amok with the new 'short passing game' offense (Rypien's average in 1993: 4.75 yards per attempt, the lowest of his career, which ran another 9 years after 1993) and the defense seemed to change strategy every week. Cooke was right to dismiss him after the season, though it was not handled properly. Petitbon has never agreed to any off the team's requests to return to Redskins Stadium to be honored, and the one time there was any interest from John Kent Cooke about bringing him back, the team was rebuffed. That 1993 experience clearly hurt Richie, and badly, which is a shame because he taught me the value of a 13-6 football game.

Is this 2006 Redskins team that 1993 team all over again? Like 1993, it's a new system, but not entirely new. Like 1993, there is a core of returning players, all a year older and questions are being raised about ability at the QB spot and along the offensive line. Like 1993, the guy in charge was there before that season, but adjusting to a new role, and not looking entirely comfortable in that new role. Unlike Petitbon in 1993, if Gibbs in 2006 sees things aren't working, will he be strong enough to take charge and make changes? Or, like Petitbon, will he let his assistants run the show and just hope for the best?

1992 Electoral College results:
Ricky Ervins: Getty Images
Richie Petitbon: Washington Post File Photo

Release the Hounds

The Danny Express. Straight Down.

Let the piling on begin. La Canfora's piece today is entitled Defense Lacking 'Chemistry:'

The defense, playing without cornerback Shawn Springs, has been off-kilter. There has little been pass rush (two sacks) -- the primary reason Carter was signed -- and the secondary has yielded big passing plays, with Archuleta languishing in coverage. Opposing teams are converting 45 percent of their third-down chances -- Washington is third-worst in the NFC -- and the Redskins have produced just one turnover, tied for last in the NFL.
You can go ahead and take the quotes off the word 'chemistry.'

Washington Post pubbed season stats so far. Not good. A sample:
One offensive TD
20+ fewer offensive plays than opponents
150+ fewer net yards than opponents
9 fewer 3rd down conversions than opponents
Defense has allowed 5 times the number of plays longer than 25 yards than opponents
Offensive line has allowed 3 times the sacks of opponents.
La Canfora yesterday:
...[the offense]has not gotten the ball downfield. It has displayed an inability to run or pass sufficiently, with quarterback Mark Brunell struggling behind a porous line and new offensive mastermind Al Saunders unable to produce anything close to his dynamic offenses of the past.

First saw this one at Running Redskins. Dave Goldberg, AP, Look Who's Struggling at 0-2:
Al Saunders and Mark Brunell. Saunders is a respected offensive coach, but you don't win by throwing money (an estimated $2 million) at assistants who come in and change an offense Gibbs used to win three Super Bowls. Yes, the 65-year-old Gibbs was doing too much, but Dan "The Fan" Snyder's superstar coaching staff also had holdovers who ran the Gibbs system — Joe Bugel, to name one.

Saunders' schemes worked in Kansas City with Trent Green, Priest Holmes, Tony Gonzalez and a great offensive line. None of them play in Washington, although Green was there nearly a decade ago before he was good. Brunell, who was bad in 2004, good for the first part of last season and then bad again in the playoffs and so far this season, is way past his prime, Jason Campbell isn't ready and Todd Collins is a journeyman backup at best.

Moonie Times:
The Washington Redskins are winless, the quarterback lifeless and the faithful restless. Coach Joe Gibbs, however, showed no doubt about what to do with his struggling team and starting QB: Stick to the game plan.
And by 'plan,' Elfin means Brunell.

I have some serious concerns about this football team. I'm not ready to abandon ship yet. My take later today.

DC Metro escalator: Kelly Nigro

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Waiver Wire, 9/19/2006

Redskins news and reaction to the Dallas Debacle, and on a day when La Canfora's Washington Post headline reads: So Far, They're Going Nowhere.

David at Skinsaphrenia remembers last season when the Redskins were 5-6 and the playoffs were an after-thought. Nice to see someone is writing something positive.

Jeff at Redskins Review:

The truth is that last night's Redskins played uninspired, ineffective, embarassing football indicative of their current position at the bottom of the NFC East. As I saw it, the Redskins were outcoached and outplayed. In that order. Offensive coach Al Saunders' gameplan, apparently, was to rely on the running backs to get the majority of the touches. Moss, Cooley, Randle-El, and wideout Brandon Lloyd each had *one catch* through the first three quarters. There were less than 100 yards of forward passing by that same point. By contrast, Peyton Manning threw for 100 yards while eating breakfast Sunday morning.
Lee at The Redskin Report is also trying to accentuate the positive.

Hogs Haven, not so much:
What went terribly, horribly wrong?

I don't have time right now to chronicle all the things that concerned me. Our offense looked ineffectual from the play calling to the execution. We didn't get enough downfield looks to keep the Cowboys secondary honest. We had less than 4 yards per pass.
Tony at Redskins MVN gives a good list of good, bad and ugly bullet points. Then Zach's appropriately-titled LOST: Redskins offense! piece calls for Jason Campbell. Sorry, Mark, but the boo birds will be out in two weeks against the defensive-minded Jaguars, unless that is, the Redskins just blow them out.

Jason La Canfora at Redskins Insider is trying to keep it in perspective:
I have to say that after the resurrection of 2005 I think you have to give it more than two games. Let this guy play with Portis for a few games - if possible - before you run him out of town. I think Gibbs would be very reticent to switch gears and look at this as a rebuilding/growth year, and don't kid yourself, if you go with Campbell that's what it'll be. He would take some serious lumps. Jason knows that as well as anyone, but I also agree that at some point he needs to play, and the coaching staff might have to take its lumps when that time comes.
But that's really the point with Campbell, right? He was undefeated his last year at Auburn, so he knows about running a team. Good QBs can be starting in the second season. If he's Rick Mirer, I'd kind of like to know now.

Joey Flyntz at Burgandy and Gold has a hilarious Brunell Suck-o-Meter, and casts a critical eye on the supposed talent signed this past offseason. He's already calling the Redskins 'done.'

This week's must-read #1: although written before the Dallas game, Rich at Tandler's Redskins Blog writes a masterful dissertation on Cowboyfan. Humorless Cowboys fans are the devil!

This week's must-read #2: Master4Caster's excellent three part history of the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry. Part I, Part II, Part III.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The View from Here

From where I'm sitting, it looks like you have problems. Beeg juans.

When I was a younger man, we watched Sunday football like it was our job. We had Madden '92 queued up on the Super Nintendo and would play the game in question during halftime of the broadcast. There were usually at least three of us, so someone had to sit out. That third person got to sit back and play From Where I'm Sitting..., the game of running commentary. I have decided the best way I can convey my thoughts on last night's terrible game in Dallas is in this format.

From where I'm sitting... looks like the defense is playing with 7 or 8 guys. I see no pass rush, but I see a soft middle that Witten and Fasano exploited for 7 catches and 80 yards, and the secondary is getting burnt. So where is everybody? Is Williams running a deep cover defense to compensate for secondary weakness, the idea being that he'll give up the underneath stuff in order to keep the secondary behind the streakers?

...Mark needs to go D-O-W-N-F-I-E-L-D. Al and John went on and on about Mark's preference for playing receivers outside the numbers, but they have numbers all the way down the field, right? It doesn't all have to be timing routes 50 yards downfield, but come on, has anyone seen an attempt longer than 20 yards? Opposing defenses will now be jamming the box, daring Mark to go downfield, because in two games, nothin. I've already invoked the spectre of Steve Walsh once with Mark. This is twice. Once more and Steve himself magically appears to pass the torch to Mark as the NFL's official Spaghetti-armed Weaktit of a Quarterback.

...this offensive line everyone keeps talking about as 'veteran,' and 'cohesive,' looks like it couldn't run-block its way out of a paper bag. Betts is stuck under 4.0 yards per carry. Clinton will make a difference, but not one so huge as to turn around the fortunes so far of the Redskins pitiful running game.

...Shawn Springs better get his ass better. Technically, it's opposite his ass that's recovering, but you get the idea. I kind of poo-pooed his absence at the beginning, thinking the scheme and backups would compensate. I was kind of pissed that Shawn waited so long to get the surgery, kind of like when Shaq waited all summer to get his big toe operated on so he could get paid to sit. He could have had the surgery at any point in the summer of 2002 and been ready for camp, but apparently felt entitled to wait until he was contractually obligated to use that toe in pursuit of his profession (the blogger I linked to thinks this was the high point of the Shaq-Kobe-Lakers saga, which ended with them washing out of the playoffs that season) before addressing it. Not that I ever would accuse Shawn of being that irresponsible, but if the guy knew he was going to need surgery at some point, WTF was he doing waiting until August to have it?

...Chris Cooley should take a break from banging cheerleaders and work on his routes. He had the surest hands last season, and so far, nothin.

...Al Saunders better find the rest of that playbook. Maybe he left it on the copier, but if what we've seen so far is represented by a 700-page playbook, it must have been written by George Eliot. Another way to make this point is, if it's 700 pages maybe it really needs to be 7000 pages.

...Rock Cartwright and Mike Sellers are awesome. Derrick Frost and John Hall I feel better about too.

...Santana and Antwaan are going to be deadly if the Redskins can get it out of the ditch. I see flashes from Brandon, but I need to see more of him.

...Mike Rumph is in and out of the doghouse more times than our neighbor's beagle. He's called for holding, giving the Cowboys a fresh set of downs, then comes right back, and gets his hand clean into TOs space to prevent him from scoring a TD.

...Kenny Wright took a beating. After not getting picked on in the Minnesota game, last night he was called for illegal contact, pass interference (for 40 yards), a facemask (15 yard variety), and gave up at least two passes with the receiver right with him.

...Sean Taylor has his own gravity. You can see how plays change when he's in your orbit. That hit on TO just made him crumple. Speaking of TO, buh-bye. See you sometime in October. I hear he's going to have a plate screwed into his finger. Maybe he can get a knife and fork screwed into his wrist.

At least the Eagles lost. And big, with Kearse done for the season.

Hogs Haven goes negative in his recap, and Blogging the Boys, our 5 Questions partner, looks at the storylines that emerged from this game.

Box Score

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Game 2: Redskins (0-1) at Cowboys (0-1)

It's only the second game of the season, but the Redskins' Sunday Night matchup with the Cowboys already has a do-or-die feel to it. The winner of the game leaves the field on even footing; the loser walks away 0-2 and facing an uphill climb. As if this weren't enough, each team is facing its biggest rival before they have a chance to shake off the early-season rust. Simply put: the stakes are as high as they could possibly be for a Week 2 game.

Team expectations aren't the only ticking time bomb set to explode on Sunday night; individuals on each team must prove their mettle or go home. For sure, all eyes will be on Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe. After opening his 14th season in the league with a three-interception outing, Bledsoe must past muster on the field or risk the immediate end of his career at the hands of Bill Parcels' impatience and the allure of Tony Romo. The Cowboys have spent the past several seasons amassing a formidable receiving corps, and Parcells needs a quarterback who can cash in on the investment.

The Redskins are feeling the pressure too. Mark Brunell has to keep the Redskins afloat at quarterback this season as it's clear that neither Jason Campbell nor Todd Collins is ready for prime time yet. Joe Gibbs has had the time he needs to purge the mistakes of the Turner/Spurrier/Schottenheimer era; this is unquestionably his team now. The Skins are somewhat of an enigma: in theory, they have all the pieces of a juggernaut, but in practice they just don't seem to click. This was certainly the case last season, as the team stumbled early before righting the ship. The injuries to Clinton Portis and Shawn Springs are a hindrance, but the team should have the talent to carry on in their stead. The pressure is on Joe Gibbs to show that he's still got what it takes to create a winner.

As dire as these circumstances may seem, it's still only Week 2. The loser of this weekend's contest will live to see another day...well, Monday, anyway.

This is a gameday open thread.

Friday, September 15, 2006

5 Questions with the Cowboys

It's Dallas Week! The Redskins and Cowboys both come into Sunday night's game 0-1, both facing questions and pressure from local media. To show that we can be as hysterical and unreasonable as the traditional media, we've asked Dave from Blogging the Boys to exchange 5 questions about this week's game. You can find my answers to his questions here. Drop by, register for an account and leave a comment or two to show your Redskin pride. As usual, SBNation community site Hogs Haven has linked up as well. Spread the love.

Added bonus: Blogging the Boys and Hogs Haven have exchanged game previews, with a bet that the loser has to write a glowing piece about the other team on the other's blog. Let's hope Dave is squirming.

And now for this week's edition of 5 Questions With... the Cowboys!


Curly R: since the Jaguars game, it seems to be all about Bledsoe. He had a 45.8 passer rating in the game, and Parcells himself said he thought Bledsoe could have played better. I'm already reading about how strong and mobile Tony Romo is, and how Parcells is grooming him for the longterm. Is there a quarterback controversy brewing in Dallas? If the Cowboys go 0-2, is that it for Bledsoe? What about Parcells? After he showed up to the season-ending loss last season in ratty sweats that seemed to me to be screaming FIRE ME PLEASE, do you feel he is honestly stewarding the franchise toward the future, or just playing out the string?

Blogging the Boys: There is a QB conteroversy brewing in the press and among some of the fans about Bledsoe and Romo, but I get the feeling that in Parcells' mind there isn't a controversy. Parcells has a strong belief in Bledsoe as a QB and it would take a lot for him to pull Bledsoe. Both Parcells and Jerry Jones think that Bledsoe is the best candidate at QB for Dallas to get into the playoffs and beyond, so he would have to turn in a few consecutive performances like the one last Sunday for Parcells to bench him in favor of Romo. Even if we lose Sunday, I don't think Parcells would change QB's, unless Bledsoe has a really, really bad game. Then he might give it some thought.

As for the "ratty sweats" and "FIRE ME PLEASE" part of the question, I have no idea what you're talking about. Seriously, I don't. Of course Parcells isn't just playing out the string, nobody believes that and it's ridiculous to even comtemplate that scenario. It should be obvious that Parcells desperately wants to win another Super Bowl before he retires and is doing everything in his power to accomplish it.

(Ed note: Parcells at the Rams loss
last season -- his sweatpants were
too short and he looked to me
like a man unable to walk away
on his own, begging to be excused)

Curly R: Texas Stadium. Forbes published their list of most valuable NFL franchises for 2006 and the Cowboys are number 3. Of the top ten teams, only the Cowboys have not opened a new stadium within the past ten years, and Texas Stadium opened in 1971. Clearly, the Cowboys would be the most valuable franchise if Jerral W. Jones were to build and own a new stadium outright, and I'm reading now that drawings of the new, publicly-funded stadium cannot be released for fear of exposing it to terrorist attacks. What's up with this project? Is this a municipally-owned stadium or will the team have some part ownership? I also read the city used eminent domain to force property owners to sell to make way. That can't be a crowd pleaser. Where is the stadium planned and what's your take on all this?

Blogging the Boys: I haven't followed the building of the new stadium in Arlington that closely. What I do know is that the city of Arlington voted to fund half of the stadium's cost, about $325 million and the other half of the costs will be taken on by the Cowboys, meaning Jerry Jones. Yes, the Cowboys forced some land-owners to sell their property and there were some lawsuits to try and stop it. But I believe all of that was settled. At this time, the Cowboys have already broken ground on bulding the stadium, which is located in Arlington, TX and the plan is to start playing there in 2009.

Curly R: September 19, 2005, week 2, Monday Night Football. Brunell to Santana, twice in under 4 minutes. After so many years of tragic beatdown by the Cowboys, Redskins fans feel like that was the reintroduction of the Rivalry. The Cowboys finished 9-7 last season, out of the playoffs, but if they had held on to that lead and won that game, the Cowboys almost certainly would have gotten the Redskins' playoff spot at 10-6, sending the hated rivals home. The home loss to the Rams set off a wave of speculation about Parcells and led to the signing of TO, the guy that might be the Cowboys' savior (this season), or might be a cancer.

In this context, does that defensive breakdown and loss make you bitter, or truly bitter?

Would it change your opinion if you knew all of Washington had gone to bed glum in the third quarter, assured of another Cowboys ass-whipping? And that when we woke anew Tuesday morning to discover the win, that our oatmeal was a little tastier, the traffic a little better and our spouse looking a little younger?

Blogging the Boys: I'm really not sure what the home loss to the Rams has to do with anything and why that supposedly set off a huge wave of speculation. It didn't with anybody I know of or with the Dallas media. It was basically a forgotten footnote in the Cowboys season because we were already out of the playoffs. But for the record, Parcells treated it like any other game by playing all the starters for the whole game, including Drew Bledsoe, even though it was a perfect opportunity to see what Tony Romo had in a real game. The specualtion about Parcells was mainly about his decision on whether he wanted to continue coaching and Jerry Jones' desire not to have him on a one-year lame duck contract. Parcells decided he wanted to continue and Jones signed him to a 2-year extension. I expect some of the same things will occur after this year, Parcells is basically on a year-to-year thing with the Cowboys, and it's entirely based on his decision to keep coaching or retire.

Of course I was bitter after the loss, we spent hours upon hours blaming Aaron Glenn for some shaky coverage, Roy Williams for not providing adquate safety help and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer for putting Aaron Glenn on Moss instead of Terence Newman. But I can tell you that I was equally bitter about some of the games we gave away later in the year because we couldn't find a kicker who could hit a simple FG. Unfortunately, we're already in that same positon this year, even with the signing of Mike Vanderjagt.

Curly R: TO. He insulted his 49er teammates and insinuated his old QB is a closted homosexual. He flouted trade rules in the NFL to go the team he wanted, not the one the 49ers wanted him to go to, then when he got there, he pissed off his quarterback, the his coach, then the ownership, and the Eagles decided it was better to pay him to sit than to play. Once in Dallas, he went diva again, humiliating The Tuna and his disciplined ways with a fake injury to get out of practice and preseason, and apparently doesn't own an alarm clock. But no one can say he isn't a playa. What's your take? Are you a backer, is he a necessary evil or are you waiting for the other shoe to drop?

Blogging the Boys: Well, that's one way of looking at it. But the truth is he didn't go all "diva" again in training camp and no one associated with the Cowboys organization thinks he was faking the hamstring injury. In case you haven't noticed, several high profile WR's had hamstring injuries in the preseason like Steve Smith (who missed the first game) and Hines Ward. Parcells was humiliated? That's just silly. Parcells told the press all along that he would've liked for Terrell to practice, but you have to leave it to the player to determine when he's healthy and that Owens has been no problem in training camp in any way. So much for tabloid journalism.

I wasn't a backer of the signing of Owens. Given his history, I felt that at some point in his time here, something would happen that would be detrimental to the team. So my decision would've been not to sign him. But now that he's here, I guess we'll have to live with the issue of his behavior, but I can tell you he adds a whole new dimension to the offense. Last week in Jacksonville he was our best player on the field, and will probably only get better as he gets used to Bledsoe and the Cowboys offense. But certainly there is always the looming danger of him becoming a disruption, and that fear will never go away.

Curly R: how do you see the NFC East shaking out? What's your take on Eli? Who's going to be the surprise player in the East, and who's going to be the big disappointment?

Blogging the Boys: Going into week one, I honestly thought that the Cowboys would win the NFC East, and that wasn't just a homer pick. But after the Jaguars game, I'm not as confident because our defense, which I thought would be dominant, turned out to be rather ordinary. Bledsoe had one of his bad games, which he throws into the mix a few times every season, but I'm hoping that's not a sign of things to come. If the defense plays up to it's potential and Bledsoe stops turning the ball over (I know, that's always been a problem with Bledsoe) then I think we can still take it. Eli looks much improved this year, he played a good game agaisnt the Colts except for throwing that desperation INT towards the end of the game. Donte Stallworth looks like he might be the surprise player in the East, given his performance in week one.

Are you with Jerral W. Jones in believing plastic surgery will enable you to cheat death?

Blogging the Boys: Cheat death? He looks like death. I'm thinking they used Skeletor as the model for his plastic surgery.


Thanks to Dave for playing. Get over and check out my take on the Redskins. It's Dallas Week!

Bill Parcells: AP via
Jerral W. Jones rictus grin: USAToday

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dallas Week: Washington Post PsyOps

How TO says hi

Les Carpenter writes an excellent article in today's Washington Post about how for the first time in a while, team controversy is not swirling around TO, it's all about Drew Bledsoe and his wet noodle arm:

There were moments when Owens still managed to shake the double-team coverage the Jaguars put on him and was left in the middle of the field -- wide open. And it was clear that if Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe had only managed to complete a pass to him in those moments, his return would have been a sensational success.
Joe Gibbs would be proud of this piece of misdirection.

This will be all about TO before long. Win or lose on Sunday, if TO doesn't get fed to his liking, he'll start bellyaching. For you see, TO doesn't care about winning or losing. He's Rod Strickland on a football field. Rod would go out for the NBA Wiz and get he 17 points and 8 assists per game, and didn't care if you were there or not. Thanks to guys like Kenny Anderson and Strick, we don't look to the pointguard position for 'leadership' anymore.

TO cares about TO's touches. Winning a game with no catches for him is worse than losing a game with 10 catches. Carpenter:
Owens has shown he can be as good as he was before, and the way questions are framed around the team, it seems most are expecting it's only a matter of time before he wonders why the ball isn't landing in his hands more.
The Tuna conceded his ability to play mindgames is gone when he let TO bitchslap him with a fake inury and sleep through meetings. Go back and look at Tuna and Terry Glenn back in New England, when Tuna called Terry 'she.' Terry Glenn was nowhere near the problem for that team that TO will be for this Cowboys team.

No, he's not going to bench Bledsoe anytime soon. He stuck with Testaverde in 2004 over all 16 games, even when Vinny was on his way to throwing more INTs than TDs and leading his team to 6-10, so one game, even two or three games they almost win won't push him over. He likes the veteran guys, so don't believe it's Bledsoe's performance that will determine his playing time. It's TO's care and feeding and Tuna's new pathological need to let TO be the man. Hopefully, TO will have the courtesy to give Tuna a reacharound.

Terrell Owens digging in: Elizabeth Ward

Carlos' Corner

Flight is only one of his powers

I wrote a little about Carlos Rogers in yesterday's recap, what with him getting burned by Marcus Robinson for a TD that got Brad Johnson all kind of fired up. Truth is, that wasn't the only goof Carlos made. As the game was turning against the Redskins late in the fourth quarter, Carlos wrapped up Troy Williamson, who had caught another one of Brad Johnson's clutch third-down passes, but couldn't bring him down. They had a chance to hold the Vikings and get the ball back, and instead, the Vikings kicked a field goal. On another play in the second quarter, the same receiver beat Carlos badly, but dropped what surely would have been a touchdown pass.

Cornerback is a tough and thankless position, and even the true stars, the Darrell Greens, the Rod Woodsons, Aeneas Williams, all get called for holding and pass interference on occasion. It must be frustrating to play a position that is structurally behind the receiver position in the physical evolution of the game; when the league started its love affair with the big & tall receivers in the late 80s, it took a solid ten years for the big & tall cornerbacks to appear. Even now, a random sampling of the NFL cornerbacks finds them topping out at around 6'1" or 6'2", with the bulk of them somewhere in the 5'9" / 5"10" range. Watching poor 5'8" Jason David get abused by 6'5" Plaxico Burress was just painful. Didn't take a whole lot of skill to exploit that one now did it Eli.

(A quick perusal of all 32 teams on this awesome tool revealed but one cornerback listed over 6'2", Kansas City's Lenny Walls at 6'4".)

Carlos is only a second year player, and still finding his moves. Good cornerbacks like Ronde Barber, as with any other position, can take some time to get with it in the NFL, to prepare for, play against and figure out the moves of the tireless marquee receivers going against them every play. I'm not picking on Ronde, I'm just a UVA alum who watched him struggle for a couple of seasons before gaining a Pro Bowl stride. He'll always get the Wahoowa! exception from me.

When Carlos was drafted by the Redskins out of Auburn with the 9th pick overall in the 2005 draft, they were looking for a guy in the mold of Sean Taylor, only to play cornerback. He had a great pedigree, having come off an undefeated season at Auburn (with Jason Campbell as his quarterback), and had won the Jim Thorpe award as the nation's top defensive back. He's 6'0", 200 lb, and if Sean Taylor is a safety in a linebacker's body (6'2", 230 lb), why can't Carlos Rogers be a cornerback in a safety's body?

He did not start immediately, but wound up having a great season (5 starts, 2 INTs, 2 forced fumbles), and was dinged up a bit, something that does not look to be a problem at all this season (did anyone ever see Carlos on an injury report in the preseason?). He had an agonizing drop of an INT in the Seattle playoff game last January, but if you believe Gregg Williams and Jerry Gray, the Redskins see a huge upside to him. Personally, I see more Fred Smoot than Champ Bailey in him, but I also see more Fred Smoot in him than Tom Carter. How's that one for you?

Carlos, the time is now. The plan might have been to have Shawn Springs cover the number 1 receiver on every team, but he's injured, and it may be months before he's playing at the level where he can get hurt again. The cornerback position is in flux, opposing teams know it and your number just got called. If Wright, Rumph and Jimoh are going to get it done on that side of the field, you have to be a shutdown guy. You have to make opposing quarterbacks throw away from you so the linebackers and safeties can cheat to that weak side and shore it up until Shawn can get back with it.

Carlos Rogers: KC Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Third Down Naptime

Done in by a Big Johnson

The Redskins lost tonight, 19-16. It was the sixth time in six tries Joe Gibbs has lost a Monday Night season opener. Special thanks to Joe Theismann for taking the 0-5 stat and reminding us that he was the QB for one of them, in 1985, when he threw 5 interceptions.

Game Stats. Team stats. Play by play.

Chester Tayor was more impressive than I expected. The Vikings offensive played really well. Brad Johnson was huge on third down. His scoring cry after throwing that pass to over Carlos Rogers to Marcus Robinson was more emotion than we ever saw when Brad was in Washington. Did I mention that he was run out of town for Jeff George? And that we got stuck with Tony Banks after that? I love Marty Schottenheimer, but fuck you very much on that series of events.

The Redskins never got any pressure on the passer. I think there were one or two times they got through to Brad, but never sacked him. (Cagey veteran) + (good O-line play) = ideal circumstance.

Key stat: Vikings were 9-17 on third down. I'm betting the Vikings needed 5 yards or more on 6 of them.

Offensively, the Redskins ran the same 5 plays like 10 times each. Al, we need to get past page 11 of the 700-page playbook. Enough with the receiver screen to Moss. How about we save that one for November?

Redskins ran for 4.1 yards a carry, but Ladell wheezed 2.75 yards per carry, and Clinton only hit 3.9. The rest comes from trickery. Mark Brunell was 17-for-28, a solid 60%, but only for 163 yards, or under 10 yards per completion. Take out one attempt and 37 yards on the back-from-out-of-bounds-but-legal-because-of-illegal-contact catch by Santana, and you're left with less than 8 yards per completion. That's Rypien-like, circa 1993.

Penalties. Adam Archuleta hits Chester Taylor 6 yards behind the line of scrimmage but grabs Taylor's facemask. And Sean Taylor. After rewarding the 260-lb Jermaine Wiggins' hurdle with a cinder block to the face in the 2nd quarter, and his and Little Sean's special teams blocks for Randle El, all he did for the Redskins was move a step closer to becoming a marked man. Hey Sean, Mark Carrier is just up the road coaching in Baltimore. You should give him a call and ask why he really retired. It wasn't because he lost a step. It was because he could not get near a hard hit without drawing a penalty and/or fine or suspension for helmet-to-helmet. The out of bounds late hit on Marcus Robinson was a bogus call, but then you come back and jerk Troy Williamson to the ground neckfirst. If Coach wants to talk about this one tomorrow, please take his call.

A great win for the Vikings. They deserved it. Redskins move on to Dallas next week, where someone is coming out of Texas Stadium 0-2. Daily Norseman called 20-17 and Ragnarok called 17-10, both close to the final score. Maybe these guys know their team. I'll link up to their postgames, as well as Hog Haven's tomorrow. I'm just pissed the Eagles are already in front.

A geeked-up Brad Johnson: Jeff Wheeler / Star-Tribune