Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Dread Bye Week Post

When we argue about Mark Brunell's arm the terrorists win

Looks like Curly R is not the only major media outlet taking a few days off. Except for the Sunday enterprise piece on the free agents, the WaPo has been light on Redskins. I posted up the bye week 5 Questions with Pride of Detroit, then blew town for some Division III football, then onto a bizarre scene in which I attended a Halloween costume party where I didn't know anyone but it didn't matter since everyone was in costume*, and finally a fraternity party featuring a reunion gig by a band from my time that was undergrads in costume in the front, 40 year old alumni in fleece in the back. Students were drinking Milwaukee's Best Light Ice so it is with regret that I report standards in college continue to erode.

Redskinsland is torn apart. Relentless media campaigns tout and smear the Jason Campbell Now and Stay the Short Course camps. Meanwhile civil war rages between the coaches and players. High-priced free agents Adam Archuleta and Andre Carter spend long stretches of game against best offense on bench. In retaliation, players lose. Here is the free agent summary companion to La Canfora's enterprise piece. It's ugly in that she-looked-good-last-night-at-2am kind of way.

So watching that debacle in Indianapolis, Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El weren't arguing, they were keeping each other 'cool.' So cool that they had to be separated. And why do you think Derrick Frost ripped off his helmet and earned a 15-yard penalty on a kickoff that was already moved back to the 20 due to Antwaan's antics after the punt return?

The team thought it could take a free kick, but was wrong.
Imaginary exchange:

Derrick: boy I sure am ready to free kick the hell out of this ball. We can pull this one out.

Ref: hey dumbass, this is a kickoff, not a free kick. You guys really can't coach your way out of a paper bag.

Derrick: now I rip off my helmet indignantly.

After the Colts game, Howard Bryant captured the frustration the players had in losing, but not the angst the fans have in the underachieving. A number of Redskins bloggers have written about this in the off week and I'll detail it in a Waiver Wire tonight or tomorrow. Particularly telling to me in this piece was Joe Gibbs' apparent defense of Santana Moss's head-butt of the Colts' Jason David that cost 15 yards and Nick Novak to miss a field goal that would have tied the game at 10 apiece:
"You say head-butting? Let me tell you something. He got hit directly from behind," Gibbs said of Moss. "He's lucky he's not hurt. That guy cheap-shotted him right in the back of the head, okay?"
The Joe Gibbs I remember would have made this about keeping your head, not using it as a weapon.

Continuing the bye week cavalcade, Howard reminds us the Redskins were 5-6 before they were 10-6 last season. Skin Patrol beat Howard by two days with his take on this, so be sure you read both. And as if to ensure controversy continues to swirl, Mark sat while Jason took all the first team snaps Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. If there's a message about who's the starter, someone is not getting it. Jason Campbell:

"I don't know if it means anything, but it's just good to get out there and be on the field,"...

This week, Todd Collins and Jason split the snaps. I know it's eight weeks into the NFL season and everyone is hurt. I get that. But with so many starters not or limiting practicing (Brunell, Portis, Santana, Antwaan, Lemar Marshall), does it look to anyone else like a flashback to preseason? Casual, no worries, these guys are veterans they can get up on gameday stuff? Joe Gibbs has already repudiated his preseason regimen so I'm put in the uncomfortable position of hoping those players are actually hurt since if they're not they're slacking.

The Cowboys looked bad in the first half, dominated on the road in the second. They come to Washington, and the Redskins better be ready. My attitude will improve through this week.

Happy Halloween. Tonight I'll be Qui-Gon Jinn trick or treating with my four year old twin boys Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker.

* Here are the costumes from the party where we didn't know anyone: an Agent Cooper / Laura Palmer wrapped in plastic combo, Bizarro Superman and his girlfriend the naughty Girl Scout, the vampire Lestat, a Lady Merlin and foppish King Arthur in a Zach from Saved by the Bell wig, a trio of French mimes who thankfully did not actually talk, crazy hat lady and a guy who may or may not actually have been gay in the whole leather underpants, chaps, vest, collar and biker hat.

Threatdown Generator here. Mark Brunell detail from UPI photo by Mark Goldman.

Friday, October 27, 2006

5 Questions with the Lions

Well, the Redskins may be off, but our prurient interest in football and blogging never takes a day off. So this week, we are pleased to bring you a Very Special 5 Questions...Bye Week Edition! We recently exchanged questions with Sean from Pride of Detroit, who blogs the Lions, also on a bye this week. Although the Lions are not on the Redskins schedule this season, we thought it might be interesting to get a look inside the team and get the fan perspective on the Lions, former Redskin Matt Millen and new coach Rod Marinelli. My answers to Sean's five questions can be viewed here.

On to our questions.

Curly R: Coach. The Lions arestruggling, but playing some competitive football. The first part does not surprise me, what with a new coach, new system and player questions, but the second part does. Seven games into the season, are you seeing progress? Where is the fanbase on Rod Marinelli? Is he a solid coach and a good fit, or do you think he's a rest stop before the next coach?

Pride of Detroit: Although the record doesn’t quite reflect things, I do think there is improvement being made on the offensive side of things. The offense got off to a very slow start this season and is continually getting better, but that’s the opposite of what the defensive has and is doing. Shutting down the defending NFC champs in the opening game looked good, but since then it just keeps going downhill. Mind you, injuries have decimated the defense to an extent, but I still don’t like what I’m seeing there. As far as coaching, I think Rod Marinelli has the right idea on things, but is taking a while to execute. The fans aren’t displeased with him all that much just yet, but that’s mainly because everyone is concentrating on the Fords and Millens. Marinelli will probably be around for quite some time if he can start winning more.

Curly R: Players. Since 2000, the QB carousel in Detroit has gone through Charlie Batch, Mike McMahon, Joey Harrington, and now Jon Kitna. What did you think when you heard he was signing with the Lions, and do you have a different opinion now? How about Mike Williams? Play the cocky SOB, or make him bend to the team? Who's the Lions player that's overlooked in the media?

Pride of Detroit: Initially, around draft time is when I really started to hate the signing of Kitna. We passed on Leinart (which we’ll have to see about in the future if that was smart or not) and I felt made a bad move at the time. Now, Kitna is statistically one of the best QBs in the entire NFL. So, I really don’t think the Lions downfall this season involved the QB as it has in year’s past. Mike Williams I’m really not sure about. If they would actually give him a chance then he could prove himself, but he just never gets the opportunity. Part of that is a bad work ethic, but I would be pissed off too if I never saw the field during a game. Finally, without a doubt in my mind Mike Furrey is overlooked the most. He’s starting to get some recognition now, but he isn’t talked about all that much. It’s really interesting about how he became the Lions #2 receiver. He was actually a safety under Mike Martz at St. Louis and came to Detroit back as a WR. Since then he has simply worked hard to get as the 2nd starting WR and has proven to be a solid target. Plus, he keeps his mouth shut and lets his play do the talking.

Curly R: Stadium. Lions Stadium is in its fifth year. What's your take on it? What's the best thing about the stadium? Is there any shortcoming(s) the stadium that makes you say, WTF were they thinking?

Pride of Detroit: I love Ford Field. It’s one of the nicest-looking stadiums in the entire league and is very professionally-feeling. The best part about it would probably have to be the look of it actually. From the outside to the inside it just has a great appeal to it. I wouldn’t really say there are any shortcomings, but if there’s one thing I could change about it then I would put a retractable roof on it instead of the regular dome. How awesome would it be to play that annual Thanksgiving game outdoors in the chilling Detroit weather?

Curly R: Ownership and Management. Redskins fans have great memories of Matt Millen and will always love him for helping get the Redskins a Super Bowl Championship after the 1991 season. Later, Millen looked like the heir to John Madden in the booth, a big guy that can explain the game in an entertaining fashion. But since he signed on as the Lions GM, it's been one incapable coach, one failed draft pick after another that were supposed to save the franchise. Where are you on Millen? Why does the ownership stick with him? What's your take on the ownership overall?

Pride of Detroit: I absolutely hate Matt Millen. To me, he just seems like a smug person who doesn’t care or take responsibility for his actions. I want him fired and if that ever happens soon, I think it should be a sanctioned-holiday in Detroit. He just doesn’t know how to run a football team successfully, and I truly believe that the Lions can’t be good until he is gone. As far as ownership, I want the Fords to move the hell away from this team. The Fords are to blame the most because they have stuck with Millen throughout this bad spell in Lions history and aren’t doing enough to change that.

Curly R: Nostalgia. Do you pine for the days of Erik Kramer / Andre Ware / Rodney Peete or are they memories best left in Wayne Fontes' size XXXXXXL Hawaiian shirt? Who (besides Barry Sanders) is the greatest Lions player of your time?

Pride of Detroit: In my time personally, there isn’t necessarily just one player that sticks out in my mind. And other than Barry Sanders, no one compares (ed. note: not even Herman Moore, Germane Crowell, or Matt Blundin? Wahoowa! -Ben). I’d just like to go back to the days when people took Detroit seriously and the Lions could actually put up an impressive win. I’m not even calling out for a playoff berth just yet, a .500 record sounds best right now.

Curly R BONUS QUESTION: Speaking of 1991, the Redskins destroyed the Barry Sander-less Lions 45-0 in the opening game on their way to an 11-0 start. Redskins and Lions met again in the NFC Championship, which the Redskins won 41-10, featuring 5 sacks of Erik Kramer, 44 yards rushing for Barry Sanders and a pick-6 for Darrell Green. Since that game, the Lions are 0-5 in the playoffs, have had five winning seasons in 14 years and gone through seven head coaches. 1991 was your year and the Redskins were the cockblock. Does this memory make you bitter, or truly bitter?

Pride of Detroit: Really, it doesn’t make me bitter at all. It should, but since there has been so much crap that Lions fans have had to take in the last 5 or so years, those memories are almost long gone it seems like. Bad draft picks, choked games, and taking the wind in overtime are just some of the things we’ve had to suffer through. That is what I’m bitter over. If you go back in time just in the new millennium, there are probably a hundred different things you could fix to turn everything around almost 180 degrees. But, since you can’t do that, living with the present Lions will always feel bitter until some actual winning takes place.

Thanks to Sean for swapping questions with us on his team's bye week. Head over to Pride of Detroit, get a login and drop a comment on him. Fans of crappy teams need to stick together. And good luck to the Lions, who will be playing the Falcons on Sunday.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What Does Your Soul Look Like?

Way back in August, I kicked off this blog with the full disclosure that I was not, nor had ever been, a Redskins fan. Guess what: I'm still not.

Oh, it's not for lack of trying, believe me. I've lived in D.C. for ten years. I'm a rabid Nationals fan and have always been an NFL fan. When Ben invited me to join this blog, I figured it would be a great way to immerse myself in the team and its history, providing that needed spark to my newfound fandom. Here we are in Week 8 of the season, and I'm still waiting for that spark. I've watched every minute of every game, read the other Redskins blogs every day, and kept abreast of the saturation MSM coverage of the team. After all this, I 'm just as far from becoming a Redskins fan as I ever was. I'm not alone, either. I talk to lots of D.C. area football fans whose opinion on the Skins ranges from indifference to disgust. But still, so many people are so into this team; those of us on the outside looking in must be missing something, right?

I dunno. All I know is that I'm still having a hard time caring about the Redskins. Here's why:

Dan Snyder: 7 years, 4 coaches, umpteen free agent "saviors" and one owner. One is not only the loneliest number but the common denominator throughout the entire time I've been even peripherally aware of the team. It's not just that he meddles in player affairs and discards coaches- it's the odd, distasteful aloofness that embodies his public persona. The Redskins' owner, in my view, is ultimately responsible for alienating both existing and would-be fans. I've talked to people who used to be huge fans who've dropped the team and vow not to return until Snyder is gone.

It's not uncommon for fans to dislike owners, but the contempt for Snyder is visceral and stunning. It reminds me of Bengals fans' hatred of Mike Brown during the '90s. Of course, Brown hired Marvin Lewis and faded into the background, and now you scarcely hear his name. Snyder needs to do the same thing: hire a proven football guy to play the GM role, then disappear completely. Has there ever been an owner who successfully meddled in on-field matters?

The Revolving Door: The Redskins are the ultimate here today, gone tomorrow sports franchise. The minute things look sour, the coach is fired, the quarterback is benched, Gatorade is replaced with Powerade and Reebok for Nike. The team's NFL draft picks are viewed not as opportunities to acquire future talent but as trade bait for other teams' free agents. Other teams' GMs must love it when the 202 area code shows up on the caller ID in April; they know it's time for the Redskins' annual 2nd round pick giveaway.

Snyder's Redskins teams are collections of mercenary free agents led by the Next Big Thing in NFL head coaching. Troy Aikman said it best in the waning moments of last week's broadcast- the Redskins have no role players, just a bunch of guys who all want the ball. When a team builds through the draft, a sense of team develops that simply can't be bought on the open market. These are the kinds of teams that in the Lombardi Trophy each year. The Yankee Way doesn't work in the NFL.

Joe Gibbs: Now it's time to ask ourselves the tough question: what value does Joe Gibbs add to this franchise other than to remind fans of the halcyon days of yesteryear? He neither designs nor calls the plays. Whenever I see him on the sidelines he's simply standing there, expressionless, occasionally muttering into the headset. If he's not going to be the general who leads the troops, he should at least be the fife and drum corps. But Gibbs appears to have no capacity to emotionally lead this team. There is a time for stoic resolve, but when your team is 2-6 it's time to start throwing the clipboard and getting in some guys' faces. Maybe he could have started last Sunday with Santana Moss or Derrick Frost. Gibbs just stood there, arms folded across the chest, dreaming of Talladega.

Those are the three big reasons why I can't care about the Redskins this year. Note that I wrote nothing about running the ball more, the need for downfield passing or the need for the secondary to step up. Those problems are all incidental- the obstacles to the success of the franchise are institutional. It's not that the team doesn't have talent; there is plenty of that. The Redskins will not be a compelling football team again until they develop a soul on which to hang that talent. Halloween is upon us, but that soul is nowhere in sight.

This Enigma is Bigger than Mark Brunell

Searching for vague references

Last week, Skin Patrol over at Hogs Haven wrote a piece on Jason Campbell versus Mark Brunell. It directly tackles two pieces of conventional wisdom: that the coaches do not have confidence in Jason Campbell therefore we should not either, and that Mark Brunell gives us the best chance to win now and abandoning him for Jason Campbell is tantamount to giving up on this season. It's reasoned analysis and you should read it.

To SP's examples, so Brunell went 3-6 in 2004. Whoo-hoo, Patrick Ramsey went 3-4. The only reason Patrick didn't go 3-6 is because they don't play 18 games. And as far as Mark Brunell being found out, you have a point. Mark Brunell can work under surveillance. Jason Campbell would have them big ol freaked out eyes and have to start from scratch. Upside vs. downside.

Today, Skin Patrol went gone so far in making the case to replace Brunell that he is breaking down YIA vs YAC. What? You never heard of yards in the air and yards after the catch? You must be like 40.

It's a sound argument, to be sure. I admit since I've become agnostic about the QB position after watching the Cowboys-Giants spectacle that my intuition is not at all based on the exact merits or deficiencies of Mark (we're talking about Brunell here, not Rypien, though the reverse was true about Ryp: had no touch in the short and medium game), but rather on to what extent the rest of the team can cover for his weaknesses and get through.

Case in point, the defense. It's been 6 or 7 games for everyone in the division. The four teams in the NFC Beast have 14 games in common this season, so there is some commonality in the quality of opponents.

Look at the stat that counts: defense-scoring. The four NFC Beast teams are bunched up in the bottom half of the league:
Eagles 18th
Cowboys 19th
Giants 21st
Redskins 26th

Sounds dire, right? Not so much. The range there is 21.0 points per game to 24.4 points per game. A dribble over a field goal separates the best NFC Beast defense from the worst. An improvement by a touchdown and the Redskins would move up 18 spots and give the offense some breathing room.

Offensively, I think the Redskins could improve by a touchdown per game, bringing them in line with the rest of the NFC Beast offenses, if the offensive line play improved. I know the line play and the ability of the offense to go deep are intertwined, but I still feel like these guys aren't playing to the best of their ability.

Coaching-wise, I just don't know. Williams has the bona fides, so why is the defense slipping? Are Saunders and Gibbs running the offense they think Mark can run? Or is Mark running the part of the offense he knows he can?

If Jason goes in, he only addresses one part of this equation at a time when the division is still not out of the question. I'm ready to let Coach tinker before I write the season off, because to me, promoting a guy Coach has not seen fit to activate in 23 games is lowering expectations to the point where they have already been met.

Enigma decrypted from here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Other Trainwreck

Now when they talk about O & D in Dallas, they're talking about TO

I am so happy I watched Monday Night Football last night. For me, it was like A Christmas Carol, and the Cowboys were the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, appearing to Redskins fans to show us what happens when the team literally falls apart and they start playing for the future. As with Ebenezer Scrooge, we do not want to go to that future.

When Bledsoe was benched for Romo, ESPN panned the crowd, looking for reaction and cut to many fans going nuts (although I thought I heard as many "huh?"s as I did cheers). Romo comes out and throws a pick on his first play. Gives the Giants another 7 points. Camera 1 cut to Bledsoe on sideline, ok, cue up camera 2 on Parcells with a frown, ok, ok, cut to camera 2, ok, split screen Bledsoe and Parcells. That's good TV.

I want to take a breath here on the Redskins, step back and really think on where the team is going and what should happen leading up to the next game (against the Cowboys). Bear with me a mo and let me know your thoughts on this.

Let's look at the Cowboys game as an experiment. Last night, the Cowboys had no running attack, no passing attack, no run defense and no passing defense. Sound familiar? Whether the Giants played great D on the line or the Cowboys just could not get off the run block, Julius Jones looked small next to Tiki (Wahoowa!). And again it was shown that if you can get to Bledsoe, he makes bad decisions.

So what was Parcells' great halftime adjustment? Bench the veteran, bring in the heir, who throws 3 INTs. Statistically, Bledsoe did not have a bad 1st half, 7-12 for 111 yards and an INT. You can recover from that. Putting in Romo in that situation essentially alienates Bledsoe from the team. Theismann echoed the conversation my neighbors and I were having after the first Romo INT when he said perhaps Parcells is man enough to go over to Bledsoe, call a 'my bad' and put him back in. Not doing so cost them not only the game, but Bledsoe and likely the season. The Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram is asking for an apology from the team, and Curly R trading partner Blogging the Boys is turning on Bledsoe after supporting him as the starter just two weeks ago. Echoes of the Brunell argument.

(LaVar Watch rubbernecking moment: made two excellent plays, including that incredible blitz-sack of Bledsoe for the safety. Then just when Tirico and Kornhole were announcing LaVar's Return to Relevance, his achilles pops and retracts up into his calf like an overextended window shade flapflapflap. Sorry to hear it LaVar and the Curly R wishes you well in your recovery).

Thrown in TO getting the balls he wanted and not performing (TimesSelect, DFW Star-Telegram) (WTF with the wide open drop on 4th down?) and you have all three phases (QB, RB, TO) of the Dallas offense in meltdown. Dallas' next two games are on the road, at Carolina (4-1 since Steve Smith came back) and Washington (who watched last night's game and said, wait, they're the worst team in the division -- let's go out and punch them in the mouth!), and they could be looking at 3-5 after two more games.

So what's the lesson I'm trying to get at? When you need a spark, a stick of dynamite is too much.

Parcells should not have been worried about Bledsoe, but rather about the Cowboys defense. They couldn't stop ketchup. With the Tiki revelation coming to light, the old Parcells would have told his team that no way is that guy going to walk into Texas Stadium for the last time and walk out a hero. Yanking Bledsoe and then Romo putting the defense right back on the field was as demoralizing to the defense as it was to the offense. So instead of talking about the pride the team showed in shutting down Tiki, he's talking about how ashamed he is. Parcells just killed the team.

As for the change of QB itself, I have never been a 'now or never' guy on Jason Campbell, just a 'not now' guy on Brunell. But maybe in light of the Cowboys trying to usurp the Redskins' place as the NFC Beast cannon fodder, maybe the Redskins should stay the course, make some adjustments tactically, but not strategically. Don't bench Brunell. Spend the week off working on downfield passing and run defense. If defenses can't crowd the box, the running game opens up. If offenses know the passing attack is the only way to move the ball consistently against the Redskins, they can try and trap teams into making bad throws.

The Giants may now be in first place in the division, but I'm not yet sold on them as a top shelf team. They for sure are solid though.

NYT game wrap. DFW Star-Telegram game wrap.

Once again, Curly R will be trading 5 questions with Dave at Blogging the Boys next week. For some schadenfreude, head over there and read his excellent coverage of the Cowboys fading fortunes.

TO getting potted by Brandon Short: Harry How / Getty Images

Monday, October 23, 2006

Schedule Update, 10/23/2006

Breakfast of Redskins

Back on October 2, I ran quickly through the Redskins schedule as it looked after the Jaguars game. The Redskins were 2-2 and facing the Giants that weak at the Meadowlands. We know what happened there. Yesterday was an obvious sign that expectations will have to be revised downward, to put it mildly.

I called 10-6 enough to win the division. With the Eagles dropping two in a row, I still think 10 wins is enough, and may likely require some division tie-breaking. It's a long season to ride on Dono's arm, TO's ODs and Tiki's legs. Periodically, I'll be looking at my own predictions to see how the Redskins are progressing regressing.

At that point, the Redskins had 6 road games and 6 home games left. This is what I said about the road games:

Remaining road games:
Giants - possibly imploding (Redskins lost)
Colts - tough in the way we don't know (Redskins lost big)
Eagles - tough in the way we know (played well enough to win, lost two in a row)
Bucs - falling apart, sobbing mess (didn't deserve to beat Eagles)
Saints - my vote: overrated (but beat Eagles)
Rams - a weak 3-1 at this point (turning out to be a decent team)

The Redskins needed to go 4-2 in these road games to keep pace. They are already 0-2. Mind you, they are also 0-2 in the division, so that puts the Philadephia game into focus. So, they need to run the table. If there is any good news, it's that the NFC Beast is shaping up like a slaughterhouse with no obvious class to the division emerging, and there's only one more division road game.

Here's what I said about the home games:

Remaining home games:
Titans - turkeys (Redskins lost; are the real turkeys)
Cowboys - a must-win (nuff said)
Panthers - dangerous (doesn't bode well for Washington)
Falcons - never win at RFK, er, Redskins Stadium (means nothing this year)
Eagles - a must-win (duh)
Giants - a must-win (double duh)

Going 4-2 at home, coupled with a 2-2 record at the time and a 4-2 road record yields 10 wins. The Redskins have already lost one of these home games, and it was without question the easiest chance at a win in the bunch. To stay on course, they may need to run the table at home in order to lend a win to the road record, since I doubt the Redskins can go 4-0 on the road.


Weakies horked from here.

Radical Expectectomy

The Redskins had emergency surgery today

Redskins lose to the Colts, 36-22. Sadly, today marked the first time in the 7 years I have been in the same football pool that I...picked against the Redskins.

At the end of tonight's game, Dick Stockton and Troy Aikman vamped for the final minute about how, well, we didn't really learn anything in this game. The Redskins were still unable to put together a complete game, and the Colts were still undefeated. The whole final segment of the broadcast was devoted to how the Redskins need to confront some deficiencies in the bye week, that it starts at QB and then Aikman went on a whole bit about how the Redskins have so many big signings every year, and they never seem to play out. As he was talking about how dollar value does not translate directly to chemistry, camera 1 showed Antwaan Randle El jawing (with a smile on his face I might add) with the receivers, and camera 2 showed Lloyd, appearing to stand alone. Minutes earlier, cameras had captured them arguing on the Redskin sideline, then having to be separated.

What? Oh. Yeah actually we did learn a lot today. La Canfora:

The Skins still can't play decent zone, defend the deep ball or handle runners who make decisive cutbacks. The penalties are ridiculous and a common theme throughout all three seasons. The offense, well, let's just say it's a work in process.

Unless Coach does not step up and make some sort of change proactively, as in by tomorrow morning, expect to see the usual torrent of 'resetting of expectations' pieces written about the team, as well as the first round of Locker Room Drama pieces. Tension between and among players and coaches over personality or performance kind of stuff. This makes three years in a row the Redskins have had a three-game losing streak. Boswell:

If the Redskins think that they are currently an intense football team, it's conceivable that they are incorrect.

Mark Brunell is what he is, and he's going to play hurt all the time and shock you with a great performance now and again. I no longer consider him the right man for the job, if I was unsure before. That Todd Collins or Jason Campbell may not be the answer is beside the point. Where is Jason? How is it possible they could go to Ladell Betts seven times in a row at the end of the game, garbage time, and not give Jason a couple snaps. The CW around here is that if this guy was really worth a first round pick, and is really considered the future of the position, there's no good reason he has not seen some action.

(If it has to do with being the emergency QB and not eligible in unless of injury, then the team rendering him unable to play except in emergency situations expresses seemingly less confidence than having available and not playing him.)

Ok, devil's take: what if it's coaching? Aikman, who always annoys me because he's annoyingly acute, noted as may of us have that with three burner wide receivers, why does the offense never result in more than a 20 yard attempt? If Brunell is Gibbs' guy, then Al Saunders will design the offense that he can execute, short passing and a ton of screens. If so, then it's a case of not matching your strategy to your personnel. If you want to run a control passing game, you need big guy receivers that can use their body in traffic and lay devastating blocks near the line of scrimmage. Santana et al need to be further downfield to be most effective.

'Things started well' is a tempting way to begin a summary, but they really didn't, did they? The Redskins were winning for a while and yet seemed unable to stop the Colts offense consistently. Dono may be hundreds of yards in the lead, but Peyton Manning is praeternatural. If Philip Daniels and Andre Carter had not bout ripped Peyton's head off in the first quarter, (Clean hits, but if there was ever a case for a compulsory penalty for the outcome, that's it. Peyton's back, neck and shoulder were all moved violently to different places.), the Colts surely would have scored. Once the third quarter started, the game was over.

More stupid penalties: Santana headbutting his way to a personal foul in the first, which convieeeeeently moved Novak back to miss the kick, then an excessive celebration after the Randle El punt return. Instead of inviting Big Mo over to their bench, that caused some confusion or pain on the kickoff, causing Derrick Frost to remove his helmet, draw another unsportsmanlike, move the kickoff back to the 5. Roughing Peyton added another 15, then only an incredible goal line stand stopped the Colts from scoring another TD (they managed a FG).

Big plays against the defense. The Colts didn't even pretend to try and test the Redskins run defense. Peyton went with his bread and butter, 25 completions for an average of 13 yards per catch. When Peyton did hand off the ball, Addai was gone. Only 11 carries, but for 85 yards, or a 7.7 yard average.

Was there anything good? Sean Taylor is an irresistable force. His ability to laser-direct his body into exact opposition to the carrier's movement is uncanny. Aside from that, there was little else, as Aikman said, for the Redskins to hang their hat on. I don't know. What do you think?

Duckett Watch: got in the game on the final offensive play, the TD to James Thrash. Did not touch the ball. Season now projecting to 11 carries for 55 yards.

B-Lloyd Blues: caught four balls, three in the first quarter, then was absent until the fourth. Now projecting to 25 catches for 374 yards.

Hogs Haven recap. Stampede Blue recap. Box. Drive charts. Play by play. The Redskin Report rant. Skinsaphrenia recap.

You know, it's funny, I had (have) a post in drafts titled 'Running Through the Keyhole' that I was going to run on the bye week that talked about how the Redskins managed to go 3-0 (I would have promoted it after 2-1 as well) after the Jaguars game and into the bye. It was about the Redskins' good fortune that the Giants, Titans and Colts all were missing a key defender in the week they played the Redskins. The Giants were without Carlos Emmons and the Titans were without Albert Haynesworth. After the Redskins lost both of those games, it was a moot post, like many that never get promoted to the front page, one that will be harvested for material and then deleted forever. Which is why even though I am not for car accidents, I was a little weirded out by pre-game accident Colts DT Montae Reagor got in, causing him to miss the game. Hey Montae, buckle up for safety.

It's a bummer to be a Redskins fan right now. The bleakness is upon us.

Marvin Harrison's second TD: John McDonnell / Washington Post

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Game 7: Redskins (2-4) at Colts (5-0)


The season is rapidly going into moral victory territory, so whoo-hoo, let's go Redskins! Why the hell not, right? The Redskins are only going to play at Indianapolis 4:15 ET on Sunday. Those Colts are at home, healed up from a week off and running the number 4 overall offense, the number 5 overall passing offense. The Redskins are that kid in the cafeteria you could get to trade his jello for your carrots. They're running the 22nd overall defense, the 24th overall passing defense. So run defense is the specialty. Right.

La Canfora in the WaPo:

fans are expressing anxiety about everything from the structure of the Redskins' front office to the team's annual free agent splurges to the division of labor among its highly-compensated coaching staff.

Yeah, that's about right. See, this is what happens when a football team does not play well: questions about everything but football. The Redskins field 11 guys each way every week, and they're just beat. Beat off the ball, beat off the pass, beat through the middle.

Instead of keys to the game, I'm just going to give you the whole game. Colts are the worst run defense in the league, though as I recall, so were the Titans...then they played the Redskins. Let's leave diversity for the liberals and just freakin run the ball. That keeps Peyton off the field and he can't score from the bench, except when Shawn Springs can't get the Sprint ad out of his head, laughs, falls in coverage, touchdown Marvin Harrison (he's on my fantasy team). Because when Peyton gets on the field, he's going to light it up. Marvin, Reggie and Brandon are looking at the Redskins secondary like a drunk at a 3am pizza delivery.

That and Joe Gibbs has a 16-3 record when playing indoors. (PDF) And with the whole 'underdog' thing now in the Washington CW, I won't be shocked if this is a competitive game. The old Joe Gibbs looooooved to be underestimated.

Hogs Haven preview here. Stampede Blue here. Here's how blase' they are about this game in Indianapolis. Headline:

Media blasé on Colts' success

This is a gameday open thread.

Lions and Christians here.
Underdog purloined from here.

Friday, October 20, 2006

5 Questions with the Colts

Despair not, Redskins fans, for even if the Redskins themselves refuse to show up, we at The Curly R carry on. This week, we bring you 5 Questions with Colts blogger Brad at Stampede Blue. You can find our answers to his questions here (I'll freshen this up when Brad posts). Head over there, get a login and drop a comment. Remember, we're still Redskins fans, even if they suck and we boo.

And now, on to the questions.

Curly R: The Colts have arguably the best QB in the league, two of the best receivers, and two explosive running backs...does the team have a weakness?

Stampede Blue: On offense they have very few weaknesses. A significant weakness in the past was converting short yardage, but this season they have done a better job with this. They finally figured out that if they need 3rd and inches, sneaking their 6'5'' QB (with his laser rocket arm) will probably get the first down. And, it's working. Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes have also done a better job running on short yardage.

Curly R: Do you miss Edgerrin James or does Joseph Addai make him a thing of the past?

Stampede Blue: I personally miss him because he is one of my favorite players, but his production is not missed. Addai is a Rookie of the Year candidate, and he's playing very well. Rhodes has also played well. the two of them have helped fans forget about Edge.

Curly R: The Colts rule the roost in the AFC's weakest division. Do you think that the ease of crushing Houston and Tennessee twice a year makes it harder for the Colts come playoff time?

Stampede Blue: The AFC's weakest? Please! The AFC LEast has that "honor." Miami and Buffalo stink just as bad as Tennessee and Houston. The Jets are certainly not better than Jackonville, and New England is a shell of its former self. The AFC East is clearly the worst division in football. If the Colts were still there, they'd have an even easier time! Jacksonville is a very good team, and their presence makes all AFC South games must win games. The Colts do not have an easy schedule, and haven't had an easy schedule for some time. Last year they traveled to NE, Cincy, and Jacksonville, played Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and San Diego a home during the season. They were 5-1 in those games.

Curly R: Do you ever get tired of seeing Peyton Manning on 2 out of every 3 commercials that air during gameday?

Stampede Blue: No, because he's actually funny. I got tired of seeing Tom Brady's "Fraud Protection" MasterCard commercials last year. Brady's a great player, but he has all the charisma of a turnip on TV.

Curly R: Were you surprised that the Colts surreptitiously dropped Mike Vanderjagt for Adam Vinatieri, a kicker of similar talent? I know he missed that field goal against the Steelers...was there more to it than that?

Stampede Blue: Even before the Colts signed him, I thought Adam Vinatieri was the greatest kicker in NFL history. Vinatieri and Vanderjagt are certainly not on the same talent level. Vinatieri is leaps and bounds better than Vandy. Any Colts fan will tell you that. Vandy cost the Colts two playoff games by missing two gimme FGs. Also, his inability to kick the ball off was killing the Colts special teams. You can see the difference in coverage now with Vinatieri in there. I was not surprised they let Vandy go, but I was shocked they sihned Vinatieri. Utterly shocked.

Curly R BONUS QUESTION: The Colts are favored on Sunday by 9.5. Do you take the over?

Stampede Blue: The Colts never cover. I never bet on them. I've learned my lesson. The Redskins need this game or their season is over. The Colts are coming off a bye week. This will indeed be a close game.

Thanks to Brad and Stampede Blue for trading questions with us. Let's hope for a good football game and Hail Redskins!

Waiver Wire, 10/20/2006

News and notes from the world of the Redskins.

Skin Patrol at Hogs Haven has a good preview of the Colts game, and proving that mo meta is mo betta, I'm linking to his Redskins roundup.

Master4Caster at Running Redskins says Redskins have to go at least 9-1 from here on out to win the division, and maps out the rest of the schedule.

David Gaines at Skinsaphrenia echoes conventional wisdom about how the Redskins beat the Colts: keep Peyton off the field. Run Clinton Run!

Counter Trey writes about something that's been on my mind for some time. Twice now, Art Monk has been passed over by the Hall of Fame. Look at his numbers. He at one time, he held the record for most receptions and most consecutive games with a reception. Why do asshole sportswriters pass him over every year? Because he never made a spectacle of himself. They were left to cover only his play and his numbers. For some reason, they resent Art for that and now pretend that in the lens of today's game and record holders that Art was somehow not the best receiver in the game. Art Monk for Hall of Fame!

Dan Oshinsky at Extra Points writes about how the Newseum is pushing a long ago story from a far away Redskins team: 2001.

Rich at Tandler's Redskins Blog has a good long take on the Titans game, including some key plays and turning points. Good discussion in comments as well.

CNYSkinFan at War Cry:

We all know what is wrong with the team. Hr has plenty of articles and threads addressing what is wrong. The offense is out of synch and too complicated. The defense can not tackle or cover. The special teams are inconsistent. And the Front Office has made several infuriating trades and big signs that have just not worked out.

He also has a list of 5 Redskins whose jobs are on the line.

Post of the week goes to Lee at The Redskin Report:

Joe Gibbs screwed up.

It gets better from there. Go read it.

Finally, DC SportsChick offers some words of motivation for the Redskins.

NFC Beast Notes, 10/20/2006

win a big one at Atlanta (NFL-Giants blogger wrap), give up tons of yards. Tiki geeked up 185 yards, but don't get all HOF on him, since Warrick Dunn poked for 145. Anyone? Anyone? Al Saunders? Tiki (Wahoowa!) is out of his mind, pretty sure he'll quit (he's bored). BTW, check out that list. Leading NFL rushers: Tiki, Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, Warrick Dunn, Willis McGahee, Julius Jones. WTF?

Giants play at Dallas Sunday, simplifying total net investment in this post. See below. And BTW, I thought it was division record that was first tiebreak in the NFL. If that's the case, why does NFL.com list the Cowboys ahead of the Giants?

did best they could for the Redskins and lost to the Saints. Dono had another great day, but Saints' defense got to him three times. (Note to Gregg Williams: review tape.) Eagles play Tampa Bay this week, Daily News scouts the game, Inquirer trashes Andy Reid's ability to manage timeouts (but to be fair, the columnist's best advice is, get this, to take more penalties). Eagles run attack ranked 13th, Buccaneers run defense ranked 26th. Prediction: lots of passing.

Redskins turncoat Jeremiah Trotter wants

Eagles' defense to be at its best in goal-line situations

Admirable and all, but I think most defensive players would prefer a defense be at its best when the opposing team is not already in scoring range. Maybe he still has a little Redskin in him after all.

Eagles blogger BleedGreen absolutely trashes Buccaneers Stadium for the stupid pirate ship. Actually, having been to that stadium for the Redskins playoff game in January, I thought it was pretty cool. The real shitter about that stadium is that the two upper decks don't connect. WTF? Finally, fans can go back to the stadium, since two different inspections of the swaying ramp at Eagles Stadium find no structural damage. With the threat of death from collapsing steel and concrete passing, Philadelphia residents can go back to dying slowly from heart disease and obesity.

Even the iconoclastic elitist godless liberal New York Times says Parcells punked out to TO in beating hapless Houston. Statline says everyone on the Dallas side had a good game. In the hahaha department, 3 TDs is not enough for TO, who noted I assume with indignance that all three came in the second half, whining about not getting enough first half production. He's bored of waiting around. Funny, but that same piece notes his 22 catches are split evenly between 1st and 2nd half action. Predictably, Parcells punks out, will give TO what he wants.

Cowboys play Giants this week, a great matchup. Cowboys run defense ranked #1, Giants run attack #3, led by NFL-leading rusher Tiki Barber (Wahoowa!). I wonder if the Jim Reeves calling Parcells Coach M (for Mediocre) is related to Dan Reeves, former Cowboys back.

Finally, good piece comparing Jason Witten and Jeremy Shockey (who may or may not love cocky). They have similar career and season stats. I'd take Witten over Shockey in a heartbeat, but only if he is willing to improve in the cheerleader-banging area of his game.

Injuns, Buddhists, what's the diff

Stuck in the Muladhara Chakra

John Kelly in the Washington Post. Money quote:

I asked if he had ever been to a Redskins game.

"No," he said. "We are Buddhist monks. We don't go after the worldly pleasures."

I think a Skins game this season would be all right, then.

Because, totally, this guy's principles and system of belief are just like the Redskins.

There is an Idea of a Clinton Portis...

...he is simply not there.

After all, the Titans were the worst run defense in the league. So running the ball only 19 times between Clinton, Ladell and Mike Sellers, that has to be a strategy, right? The old fakerooski? They know we know they're the worst run defense in the league, so if they know we know that then they must know we know they know that we know they know so we can't run because they think we'll run so we won't run all that much we'll be diverse. Op. cit. playbook pp. 656-659.

Whacked. Just terrible. Let Tennessee totally control the game. Boswell and Carpenter are both Glum the Lilliputian. I don't actually think this was one of Joe Gibbs' worst five losses (or worst ten for that matter) anymore than I think the Jaguars was one of the best games ever at Redskins Stadium. Worse losses always come later, with higher expectations. It's better wins that come late, with lower expectations.

In the beginning, it looked good. The Redskins scored on their first two drives, both of 70 yards or more. But even then the playcalling was more pass than run. Still trying to figure that one out. Does Clinton have to go all TO on Coach to get what he wants? I guess maybe he does. Parcells put TO first last Sunday, so maybe if Clinton accidentally overdoses on Cristal and bitches this week, Coach will give him the ball against the new worst run defense in the league.

Speaking of that, anyone see a pattern forming here? Imaginary bulletin board in Indianapolis:

Play the Redskins, get better against the run

And then once again, a weak passing defense sealed the deal. No, I don't blame the defensive line and the rooks forced in there, I blame the pass coverage. I don't blame the linebackers because all the softness on defense starts with a slutty secondary (forget the foreplay, just go for it early, they seem to enjoy it).

Doesn't get any easier either. Thus the whole 'expectations' thing. As in time to lower them. The WaPo ran a story toady about the Colts' defense, but look again. Run 32nd, pass 5th. With that strange dichotomy, WTF do you think the Colts will plan on defense? Hrmm, perhaps drop back they will and force Mark Brunell to beat them with his arm they will? (thanks, Yoda)

The Redskins are becoming so Meat that Brunell is speaking in strange aphorisms, talking about how Sunday is a 'must-win,' but that it's not a challenge, that he's not upping the stakes, just stating fact.

Hey dummy. They're all must-wins, so thanks for the blinding flash of the obvious.

And the news gets worse. Carlos Rogers, already beaten like a VC Andrews stepchild all season, now will miss this game with his broken thumb. Dang, now he won't get as many interceptions (career total: 2 in 18 games). But yay, we've got Troy Vincent. Him, Kenny Wright and $30 buys me a handle of Jim Beam Green (that is not an endorsement).

Fantasy football good news: Clinton should feast on a weak run defense against the Colts. I say again, should.

Fantasy football bad news: Peyton is rested, coming off a bye week and ready to tear it up.

Duckett Watch: active, but never got in the game. This, while Clinton carried the ball a total of 14 times against the (then) worst run defense in the game. Wilbon gets it right this week, proving even a blind Bear fan catches a trout every now and again:

They continue to make terrible personnel decisions, like trading a third-round pick, which should become a starter in the NFL, for T.J. Duckett, a perfectly healthy and capable back they don't play a lick... They've got four studly running backs (Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts, 275-pound Mike Sellers and Duckett) and don't know how to use them.

Right on, man.

B-Lloyd Blues: one circus catch, very timely on a TD drive. Season now projecting to 18.6 catches and 338 yards. That's in the Alvin Harper universe.

Brandon is conducting our 5 Questions feature this week with Colts blogger Brad at Stampede Blue. This should be amusing. For Colts fans.

Clinton Portis and friends: John McDonnell / Washington Post

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Brung Oot Yuir Dead

The Great Burgundy Fever of 2006

This is the rant post. More substance to follow.

Kedric Goldston and Anthony Monthgomery. Yes, I know you're rookies. You have to get it done. Travis Henry ran all over you.

Khary Campbell or Mike Sellers, whoever the hell missed Casey Cramer on the punt block-safety, that's basic football there. The Titans did not even call a block on that play.

Al Saunders. Seven carries for Clinton in the first half? Seven in the second? Against the (then) bottom-ranked run defense in the NFL? When he's chunking more than 4 yard per carry, WTF are you thinking? Feed the stud! There's your diverse attack my friend.

Carlos Rogers. Not a factor defensively, now broke thumb. Great.

Mark Brunell. 15 of your 30 passing attempts Sunday were intended for Santana. That's 50% to one guy. Over the season,

Even though the team has added Randle El and Brandon Lloyd, Moss and Cooley remain Brunell's top targets. Seventy six of Brunell's 169 throws (not including throwaways) have been intended for Moss (41) and Cooley (35).

Lloyd and Randle El, meanwhile, have been the targets only 39 times.

Is Brunell so intent on getting Moss involved that he locks in on him early in the play, ignoring open receivers elsewhere on the field?

So it's like equal thirds Santana, Cooley and Everyone Else, which is acceptable if it wins. Great thing Coach is sticking with him.

And speaking of Coach, Marko's toenail gets ripped off, and you leave him in? If I walk it back: interception to end the game, can't plant right, misses no snaps, returns to field, limps off field, leg rolled over. Coach, Brunell will never bench himself that's your job.

Santana Moss:

If you're going to be with us, be with us. Don't cheer one minute for the person, then boo him as soon as he has a couple of miscues or you feel like something's not going his way.

Sorry Santana. This team is on the field to win. Miscues and plays going the other way are unacceptable 100% of the time. Redskins fans boo bad performances, always boo bad performances, always will boo bad performances. Why do you think Dan Snyder never comes on the field anymore?

Collins idn't the answer, and neither is Campbell. Troy Vincent isn't the answer in the same way the Page Board isn't the problem.

This Redskins team is what it is at this point. They'll win or lose as they are.

Brunell's pathetic 4th qtr INT: AP

Monday, October 16, 2006

That Funky Smell

What's that funky smell? Is it a skunk, or a dead animal?

I was entertaining for the game yesterday (at one point, I had two TVs set up, one for the Redskins-Titans game and one for the Eagles-Saints game), and it wound up becoming an all-day, 11am-until-midnight football party on Swarthmore Drive, so I never got the chance to weigh in during the game or do a serious gamewrap. Today, I'm a bit under the weather, with the headcold that's going up and down my street, and I do not have the energy to break down this awful breakdown.

I'll write a more in-depth gamewrap after the meds wear off, but for right now, let's just say I'm not a happy camper. Here's a preview of my longer take: offense was meh, should have gotten it done, and the boobirds were out at the game. But the blame here goes to the defense. Once again too many long passes given up, once again porous run defense. Yes, there were two rooks in at DT. Softness there should have been made up by passing coverage. Rogers again was a letdown. Springs is nowhere near gameshape. Taylor had a couple good hits, but was trailing the play most of the time.

Even a dog knows you never shit where you eat.

Brunell getting batted around: John McDonnell / Washington Post

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Game 6: Redskins (2-3) vs. Titans (0-5)


Sunday's matchup at FedEx field features two teams in search of respect. As we approach the halfway point of the season, the Redskins have yet to show fans what they are really made of. Are they the dominant team that shut down the Jaguars two weeks ago, or are they the punchless sad sacks that we saw against the Cowboys and the Giants? I think the truth lies somewhere in between: this year's Redskins squad looks no better than an 8-8 team.

It is time for the Redskins to win or go home- there are no more excuses left. Clinton Portis has been back for a couple of weeks, and Shawn Springs figures to make his season debut on Sunday. It's going to be a long season for the team and the fans if the offense can't get Santana Moss and Brandon Lloyd going and if the defense can't stop the big play.

The visiting Titans would seem to be the perfect tonic for the 'Skins. The Music City Mishaps come to town with a rookie quarterback and heaps of injuries on both sides of the ball. Despite these limitations, they gave the Colts a serious run for their money last week until Indy finally prevailed in the fourth quarter. Make no mistake: if both teams play like they did last week, the Titans will walk off the field victorious, and we in D.C. can start talking college hoops. If the Redskins can pull it together and win, well, we'll have ourselves a football season, won't we?

Oh, and speaking of the Colts, the Redskins travel to Indy next Sunday for a good-old-fashioned Manning man-handling. They better win tomorrow, because next week could be tough to watch.

This is a gameday open thread. But you knew that. Go 'Skins!

Friday, October 13, 2006

5 Questions With the Titans

The Tennessee Titans come to FedEx Field this Sunday for what promises to be an epic showdown with the Redskins. With that in mind, we asked five hard-hitting questions of Jimmy Morris from Music City Miracles. Jimmy asked questions of us too, and you can read our answers at this link.

And now to the questions:

Curly R: I really hate the Colts...don't you?

MCM: I promise I hate them more than you do. I am an Alabama fan as well as a Titans fan so my hatred for Peyton Manning has been brewing for years and years. Every time they roll through the regular season and bow out in the playoffs I am happier than a fat kid at Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

(Editor's note: Ironically, the fat kid at Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, Augustus Gloop [file photo], did much the same, rolling through the Golden Ticket sweepstakes and then getting sucked into a chocolate pipe once he made it into the factory.)

Curly R: Baltimore is 4-1 under Steve McNair, while the Titans are still looking for that elusive first win. Did the Titans give up on him too soon?

MCM: This question is a staple in my 5 questions. The Titans didn’t give up on McNair. They just could not afford to bring him back at the salary he wanted. The franchise is rebuilding and McNair only has a couple of years left. It was time for both sides to part. He had a great career here and will always be one of my favorite players.

Another point to be made here is if McNair was on this team it is still not a playoff team. There is a much better supporting cast in Baltimore. If you look at his numbers they really aren’t that good. In 5 games he has 911 yards passing (182 yards per game) with 5 TDs and 6 INTs. He is still one of the best come from behind guys in the league though.

Curly R: Is a five-game suspension enough for Albert Haynesworth? The guy is a maniac.

MCM: I wrote the day after it happened that I thought they should suspend him for the rest of the year. There is absolutely no excuse for what he did. That being said, he isn’t a maniac. He just has a terrible temper (again not trying to excuse his actions). He needs to get anger management help because besides the incidents that have been highly publicized he is a good guy. He has handled the suspension well and even went against the NFLPA’s request to appeal.

5 games might not be all he gets though. There has been a lot of talk about whether or not the Titans will add anything on. Fisher has said in a couple of interviews” if” Haynesworth returns “not” when he returns.

Curly R: Is Vince Young the guy to carry this Titans franchise into the future?

MCM: Vince Young is the guy. I know the national media still isn’t sold on him but the guy is a winner. He has that leadership quality that cannot be taught. All accounts from Titans camp say he works as hard as anyone and he hate losing. He is not satisfied with playing well in a loss. I am excited to see how much better he gets as the season goes along. He will be a star in this league.

Curly R: The Titans appear to be headed toward their third losing season in as many years...has Jeff Fisher overstayed his welcome in Tennessee?

MCM: Contrary to a lot of the reports out there, the majority of the fans in Tennessee are still behind Fisher. The biggest knock his detractors have is that he is conservative. This just in, he has always been conservative and at one point it worked pretty well for the franchise. What the Titans are going through right now is more of an indictment on GM Floyd Reese than Fisher. There has not been a lot of talent to work with in the past 2 years. I hope he is given the chance to see the rebuilding through. Who would the Titans bring in to replace Fisher that would be a better coach? If they find someone by all means let him go. I just don’t see that person out there.

Thanks, Jimmy for answering our questions!

B-Lloyd Blues

The Niners sucked; I looked great

Time for the quarter-season evaluations of the free agents to start rolling in. Howard Bryant writes about Brandon Lloyd in today's Washington Post:

With an upgraded receiver corps, Lloyd has not yet gotten into the act. In five games, he has six catches for 75 yards...Meanwhile, wide receiver Santana Moss has 20 catches for 365 yards and Randle El has 14 receptions.

When Brandon Lloyd came over to the Redskins in free agency, I was excited. He was the best thing San Francisco had over the past two seasons. The TD pass he caught in the picture above was thrown by Ken Dorsey. So we know he can catch 'em if they're in the area. Plus, as a Redskin fan, I have an inbred distaste for the 49ers, the other team to appear in four Super Bowls in the ten years between 1982 and 1991. So anything to rob them of talent works for me.

The 3rd round draft pick the Redskins gave up for Brandon was used on another Brandon, this one Williams, from Wisconsin. So far, he has not been an impact player for the 49ers (muwahahah!). The Redskins also gave up a 4th round pick next season for him. So the 3rd round pick is gone to Denver for Duckett and the 4th rounder is gone to San Francisco for Brandon. Just brilliant guys.

I didn't even think his contract was a problem either. He's a guy I was happy to have locked up for a couple of seasons. Brandon was a reliable, young receiver for the 49ers, catching an average of 45 passes per season for about 14 yards per catch. Brandon's thing with the 49ers was the same as Santana's here: look the other way for a second, and he'll pull down that impossible catch and spin away and you're chasing divots. He and Santana are similar players: stretchers.

His numbers those two starting years in San Francisco worked out to under 3 catches per game, but you can imagine them going up with experience. Like Santana, as the featured receiver on a team, I could see Brandon get in the 80+ catch range easily. But the out-of-the-gate bummer for Brandon is that he is not the featured receiver on this team.

For now, he doesn't impress. His routes don't seem crisp and Brunell does not appear to check down on Brandon, favoring Santana, Cooley and Randle El. So what's the prob? Brandon faces three obstacles to his productivity.

1. Fewer opportunities to catch a pass: when it works, this offense will generate fewer passing attempts than another given NFL offense. Al Saunders' system is predicated on the run. When that's working, the clock keeps ticking and there are fewer offensive plays total. In this sense, Saunders' offense is a little like golf: the better you are, the less you play.

2. Inconsistency of the offense: when the team is playing like it is, which is to say not with the same quality from game to game, the signal caller (Brunell) will go with what he knows. He and Santana have had a full season to get to know each other. By the end of last season, Brunell was fighting injury to get the ball up and Santana was fighting through doubleteams on every play to bring it down. The produces a rapport and a sense of what to expect from the other. As long as the Redskins cannot put together a consistent effort on the part of the offense, Brunell would rather throw it incomplete to Santana or Cooley on third down than take a chance that Brandon has his route down.

3. Skills profile: Brandon is a stretcher, the guy that's supposed to get free and get under it 40 yards downfield. Santana has that ability, and also has a running back's sensibility in traffic with the screen and the short route. Brunell's not looking for Brandon short, he's looking for Santana and Cooley. When he looks long, he's looking for Santana first, Brandon second, and it's a water-cooler joke in DC what a weak arm Brunell seems to have, so those air-it-out passes are just not there. He heaved a couple a whole 25 yards in the air against the Jaguars, and looked like he was trying to go downfield a little more against the Giants, but we know how that turned out. Because Brandon appears to have the same primary skill as Santana, but has not developed or displayed a discerning secondary skill, he's looking at low percentage plays.

How can Brandon get out of this hole? If the offensive line goes back to the type of smashmouth play that characterized the Jaguars game, Brunell can open the offense up a bit and start checking down that second receiver. Until then, the Redskins offense will stay in its shell and go with the five pages of the playbook that are working.

Sean Taylor and Brandon Lloyd: Getty Images

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Waiver Wire, 10/12/2006

News and notes from the world of the Redskins.

This might be a short post:
Hog Heaven's (Redskins MVN) last post: Sun 10/8
Running Redskins last post: Sun 10/8
Skinsaphrenia last post: Wed 10/4 (he gets the moving / new job exemption, but only until the weekend)
Tandler's Redskins Blog last post: Fri 10/6
Counter Trey last post: Monday 10/9

Get on the stick guys!

Nick Novak is back! Coach Gibbs stuck by 4-yr Redskin John Hall through two tough, injury-riddled seasons in 2004 and 2005. I think Coach has had enough. John Hall goes on IR and in comes Charlottesville native and UMD grad Nick Novak. Hopefully, John will get the chance to compete next year, but my sense is he's gone. Welcome back Nick. What have you done for me lately?

TexSkins at Hogs Haven posts NFC power ranking after 5 weeks of league play. Redskins: #11 of 16. Not pretty. To all the liberal elite talkers in the AFC blogs about how they are the better conference, the AFC is home to Tennessee, Miami, Oakland and Houston. I'll take Detroit and give the points in a game against any of those outfits.

Lee at The Redskin Report thanks the schedule makers. A lesser opponent after every big game.

Jason La Canfora at Redskins Insider lays an oldtime beatdown on what I presume is Andy Pollin and Steve Czaban at SportsTalk 980 WTEM:

Must be easy to sit, all cozy and clueless in a studio, like two morning microphone jockeys I can think of. You can spout off about everything, call yourself a "Sports Reporter," and go off halfcocked all day long without ever doing anything remotely constructive to actually report anything. So much for common sense. So much for accountability.

It's worth the read. I for one am surprised and pleased a 'straight' journalist like La Canfora would deviate from tradmed formula and render an opinion on others' journalistic sensibilities.

Skin Patrol at Hogs Haven looks at the Titans:

...kind of soft on defense. And by kind of I mean completely and by soft I mean horrible.

He's pushing for a big day on the ground.

Howard Bryant in the WaPo Redskins section runs a beat piece today on Big Mo and how the defense doesn't have much. Memo to WaPo: momentum is spelled with an 'm.' Check the front page of the Redskins section here before it's gone. Screencap of complete graphic.

CNYSkinFan at War Cry! lays the inconsistencies so far this season on Saunders and Williams, and gives us five things we don't know. Sample:

Can Springs save this defense? Again, maybe. But the defense is a lot more the just one guy. Sure he is the best corner we have and one of the premier corners in the league, but he can’t make others tackle well. He can’t solve the humungous holes on the right side of the line. He will help on 3rd and long where we have been down right horrible. But he is not the savior some think and the Redskins better learn to adapt because even when healthy he could get re-injured at any time.

DC SportsChick found an 'off-the-shoulder' Donovan McNabb jersey that only a Philly girl could love. And by 'Philly girl,' I also obviously mean any Eagles fan.

Any Redskins blogs out there I missed! Speak up!

Next: 5 Questions with the Titans