Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Rooney Rule Tokenism Must End

This cannot be what he meant

Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith, the first and second minority (read: black) coaches in the Super Bowl think the Rooney Rule is doing fine and should not be rescinded, but are hopeful that someday in the future it will be lifted. Some day in the future Earth will be dust too.

Enough is enough. The Rooney Rule is a sad mockery and it is time to get rid of it. A little backstory for those that are unfamiliar with this rule:

In the fall of 2002, Cyrus Mehri and Johnnie Cochran threatened (warning, National Review link) to sue the NFL for discrimination on the basis that black head coaches were more successful but underemployed in the NFL compared to their white colleagues. The league responded by hastily forming a Workplace Diversity Committee, the deliberations of which in December 2002 resulted in an agreement in principle going into the 2003 season that all teams with an open head coaching position would interview a minimum of one minority candidate for the position. Like all rules, there is an exception, when a team promotes from existing coaches.

Immediately there was a test of the rule. In January of 2003, Marty Mornhinweg was fired by the Lions after going 5-27 over two seasons. Steve Mariucci was the only candidate interviewed and got the job in February 2003. Lions president Matt Millen said that he asked five minority candidates to come in for interviews but they either refused or canceled, believing that they were mere tokens, that Steve had the job all locked up.

In July 2003, the league discarded Matt's explanation and fined him 200 thousand dollars for failing to adhere to the Rooney Rule. There has not been an official violation or a fine levied since.

Why is this rule absurd? Why is it racially insensitive and promoting the very type of discrimination it seeks to remedy? Why is it irrelevant today?

1. It is absurd because the members of the NFL Workplace Diverstity Committee are themselves owners of NFL franchises. To believe that any subgroup of owners represents some form of independence from or holds sway over the larger group is not to understand that these owners only compete on the field. In everything else, and in all business rules, they are in a state of collusion. It is after all a franchise system. The NFL is big business and what is good for one team is good for all, and vice versa. There is an intense conflict of interest in the management structure of the NFL, a system that by definition exists to serve the owners that create and manage it.

They make their own rules and choose when and how to enforce those rules on themselves. You don't need four year olds in your house to understand that this leads to two kinds of rules: those that only exist because they cannot be broken and those that only exist because real enforcement is not possible.

2. It is racially insenstive and promoting the the very type of discrimination it seeks to remedy by making Uncle Toms out of minority candidates that were never really in consideration by the team. 2007 marks the fifth offseason of this rule and I read every offseason in coaching carousel coverage of which candidate satisfies the Rooney Rule for this team or that. In 2003, Jerral W. Jones interviewed Dennis Green for the Cowboys job that ultimately went to Bill Parcells. Jimmy Raye, a longtime NFL assistant and former Redskins offensive coordinator under Marty Schottenheimer in 2001, said the Cowboys wanted Bill Parcells and Jerral W. Jones went through the motions with Dennis, who later told the committee he was satisfied with the interview (op. cit. National Review link). Whether or not he was, Dennis had the self-respect to make the issue about his quals as a coach, not his quals against a quota. Oh, and Jimmy Raye is black.

Already this season I am reading the same kind of coverage. In this case I am not picking on the Cowboys as a Redskins fan, I just happened on these stories this week. Dallas Morning News has a story (registration required) on how a Mike Singletary interview satisifies the Rooney Rule. Dave at Blogging the Boys has a cynical take (not specifically his) that goes like this: Norval Turner is the head coach Jerral W. Jones wants, and may want Mike as defensive coordinator, so brings in Mike for an interview, nominally for the head coach spot, boom, satisfies the Rooney Rule. By the way, defensive coordinator would not be a promotion for Mike who has a total of four years of NFL coaching experience. Mike even addresses the Rooney Rule personally here.

Further, where is the logical end to the enforcement of this policy? The exact rule pertains only to head coaching positions. There is no Rooney Rule for assistant coaches, for quarterbacks or for TV analysts for that matter. There is no Rooney Rule for team staff or management positions above head coach, such as general manager, president, et cetera. In 2005 and again in 2006, the Fritz Pollard Alliance for minority hiring in the NFL asked that the Rooney Rule be expanded to include management and front office positions. The league declined both times. There is happy talk from the league every year about a toothless encouragement of teams to interview minority candidates for front office positions, and a vague threat that if teams do not there may be enforcement of this rule at that level at some point in the future. The soft bigotry of low expectations the league practices when it laments the lack of qualified minority candidates for management positions seems to me to be the exact same type of discrimination the owners, who are in charge of hiring, practiced for decades in not hiring black and minority coaches.

3. It is irrelevant today because whatever force may have been against black coaches in the past is disappearing rapidly. The NFL is a money machine first and owners, slowly turning over from old to young, or at least new, love money more than whiteness. Add to this the incredible demands to win placed on coaches in an era of free agency when owners can stock a team with supposedly top-drawer players in one offseason and the laws of economics dictate the market pushes the best man to the job.

Herm Edwards: plucked from a coordinator spot, now a two-time head coach. Lovie Smith was a coordinator. As was Tony Dungy. As was Romeo Crennell. Romeo couldn't get out of New England he was so good at his job. Dennis Green was head coach at Stanford before the Vikings. Marvin Lewis, former coordinator. Ray Rhodes, two-time head coach. Same with Art Shell. There is no Rooney Rule for coordinators yet there they are, working their way up and getting the jobs.

There should be no requirement for teams to conduct pro forma interviews with candidates considered to be unqualified or not potentially a good match for the team simply to check a box. It is a dishonest practice and the economics of the NFL today dictate the best minds get the jobs. This is not to say there should be no advocacy for minorities in the NFL or any profession for that matter, and minority coaches should continue to advocate for minority coaches. Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith are in the Super Bowl because they are damn good coaches and earned it with their skills, not their skin.

End the rule.

Photo of Dan Rooney from here

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Mike Singletary? Cowboys Very Smart or Very Dumb.

Those eyes

Quiet for Redskins today, so let's talk about the Cowboys mess.

As we all know by now, Bill Parcells retired again and his career as a head coach ended on Tony Romo's botched snap. Actually there were seven plays after the botched snap, but the Cowboys were poised to go up by two with 1:19 left in a road playoff game against the Seahawks and when Tony bobbled it, I bet Bill made his decision to hang it up then and there.

How amusing for Redskins fans. Bill benches and alienates Drew Bledsoe, his former golden boy in New England, for Tony, who proceeds to look good enough to get the Cowboys into the playoffs but not as a great seed, and then new golden boy blows it. Football always finds a way to humble even the greats.

Jerral W. Jones then hires Jason Garrett, Troy Aikman's former backup quarterback, as head coach. Or maybe offensive coordinator. Or possibly something else, just sit over there while the grownups talk.

Other names swirl. Wade Phillips, Norval Turner, and now Mike Singletary.

At this point I should note that Jason Garrett has been a coach for all of two years. Now that does not disqualify him by any means, but it does go into consideration. Mike Singletary has been a coach for all of four years and is currently Mike Nolan's assistant head coach/defense (what's with all these titles? Just call him the freaking defensive coordinator and be done with it) in San Francisco. Whereas I have no doubt about Mike Singletary's ability to communicate his knowledge of the game (a hall of famer, he was an incredible linebacker in the NFL for 12 years), head coach requires the ability to operate in the third dimension of the team overall, the ownership and the media. Just ask Richie Petitbon how well being a good (and experienced for that matter) coordinator translates into being a good head coach.

So on the surface, both Singletary and Garrett look like questionable candidates in light of the fact that Tom Coughlin, Joe Gibbs and Andy Reid all will be returning to the NFC Beast next season.

There is another factor at work here, being covered well by Dave at Blogging the Boys (many stories -- check Jan 25-30, 2007): the Rooney Rule. Now I personally believe the Rooney Rule on minority opportunity in the NFL is itself discriminatory and such bullshit that I have saved my harshest criticism of this rule for an editorial here. The rule is a failure and it is time to abolish it.

So cynical minds might believe that Jerral W. Jones is interviewing Mike Singletary, nominally as a head coach to satisfy the Rooney Rule, but in reality as a possible defensive coordinator. Norval says he already has someone in mind for defensive coordinator, but Norval and Mike Singletary work together on Mike Nolan's staff. Is that person Mike Singletary?

If not then Jerral W. Jones continues to make large and public blunders. He disrespects Norval's plans for his own defensive coordinator while making a hall of fame linebacker nothing more than a quota-filler, while preparing likely head coach Norval to deal with an 'offensive coordinator' (Jason Garrett) that is likely not in Norval's plan for coaching staff.

It's called schadenfruede.

This piece originally ran on Hogs Haven on January 30, 2007.

Photo of Mike Singletary from here

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Kornheiser Follies Continue

What a baby

For someone who has spent his whole career playing at how insecure and inadequate he is, Tony Kornheiser is acting pretty insecure and inadequate. First, the backstory...

Back on August 15 of 2006, I wrote my take on Tony's first time in the booth, a poorly-played preseason game between the Raiders and Vikings in which I predicted that Tony's time on Monday Night Football would be a flop, with specific reasons why I felt that way. Someone was reading, because Joel Achenbach at the Washington Post linked up to us and it was our first big traffic day. Thanks again Joel.

At the same time I was drunkenly pounding out my take on Tony's first time in the booth, Paul Farhi, the excellent Washington Post media reporter was pounding out his review. Paul's review was pretty tough, but I would not call it mean-spirited. And anyway what the hell should it matter to Tony? As a recovering professional in the music business, I know the benchmark for professionalism in show business is moving on with your work after a tough night. You can never linger too long on a great night or a bad night.

Tony apparently does not share this conviction. The next day, on August 16, what remains of Tony's column in Sports ran an attack on Paul in which he calls Paul a 'putz' and makes a mean-spirited reference to a drunken Joe Namath making a pass at Suzy Kolber. Joe went into rehab after that and now calls that episode a low point in his life so no sensitivity points for Mr. Sensitive Tony. That day, within the friendly confines of the Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio, Tony said about Paul and the Washington Post:

I apparently got ripped in my own newspaper, The Washington Post, you know, by a two-bit weasel slug named Paul Farhi, who I would gladly run over with a Mack Truck given the opportunity. I understand I'm a public figure and I'm subject to review...I thought my own newspaper would be kinder and I wouldn't be back-stabbed by this guy.

Four days later, right-wing apologist and Post Ombudswoman Deborah Howell ran her Sunday piece on Tony in which she castigates Tony for being such a poor sport and presuming he was above critique, and praising Paul and the Post for reporting objectively on one of its own.

This still did not serve to shake Tony out of his narcissism. Three days later on August 23, Tony, still pissed, took a shot at Deborah in his shrunken Sports column:

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

Really pathetic, as I wrote the next day.

I never wrote again last season about Tony on MNF, not because I did or did not like him, but because (and I watched some or all of every MNF game), I just thought he was...there. Not offensive, not really adding a whole lot, just hacking it.

Now, he is back in the news, and not in a good way. Tony was 'lured' to WTWP, Mormon-owned Bonneville Washington Post Radio, to host a mid-morning talk show starting February 20. I liked Tony's original WTEM show, didn't like it as much when he went national in ESPN Radio and liked it again when he went local again last year. WaPo media reporter Paul Farhi's article on Tony's new gig ends with this statement:

Kornheiser did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment.

Reading last Friday through, the excellent DC Radio and TV media blog, I happened to see this news item:

Feud Continues: Korny Won't Talk To Farhi - 1/24 - In his Washington Post Wednesday piece on Washington Post superstar sports commentator Tony Kornheiser joining Washington Post Radio, Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi tells us that "Kornheiser did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment." Guess the feud between Farhi and Kornheiser, over Farhi's stinging criticism last summer regarding Kornheiser's debut as a commentator on ESPN's "Monday Night Football," continues. A Post source confirms to DCRTV that when Farhi called yesterday, Kornheiser hung up - refusing to talk to a reporter from his own newspaper about his new radio gig.

Link here. This piece is not yet archived at DCRTV, and I'll have to update this link at some point. So Tony is not only still holding a grudge, he actually hung up on a Washington Post colleague working on a media story that happened to involve him. If I were Ben Bradlee, Washington Post Company VP, I'd spend less time begging Tony not to go to WaPo radio competitor WTEM (same DCRTV link above) and spend more time reminding Tony he is still a journalist and not a whiny-ass titty-baby.

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

Cowboys Take Another Step Toward Coaching Trainwreck

Who is this Jason Garrett guy and why is he standing next to me

The Washington Post reports that Norval Turner is now the front-runner for the head coaching job in Dallas. This ought to be fun. Norval is an offensive guy and was never really given to defensive strategy or tactics. I mean c'mon, Ron Lynn was his defensive coordinator in Washington. Ron may have done wonders in San Diego and was ok in Cincinnati, but as one of Norval's first hires, Ron wound up being a complete disappointment in three season with the Redskins. In 1994, the first year of the Norval regime, the Redskins were last in points allowed and next to last in yards allowed. In 1995, the team improved but were still in the bottom half in both of those stats. In 1996, the Redskins defense, gambling, blitzing, taking chances in the Ron Lynn scheme, improved again to mediocre in points allowed but was still near the very bottom in yards allowed (meaning teams went on long drives and even if they did not score gave the Redskins less time on offense to get in the game).

Of passing over longtime Redskins Joe Gibbs and Richie Petitbon assistant Larry Peccatiello in favor Ron Lynn, Richie is reported to have said this:

Comparing Larry to Ron Lynn is like comparing a Rolls Royce to a Volkswagen

Why does it matter about Ron Lynn's defenses 13 years ago? Because Norval made a bad choice on his own because he's not a defensive guy. It would be in Jerral W. Jones' best interest to line up a good defensive guy to take those decisions out of Norval's hands. Kind of like how Dan Snyder gave Steve Spurrier the gift of Marvin Lewis. Instead, the Cowboys are looking at a scenario in which the offensive guru comes in and has to deal with the owner's hand-picked offensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting while not properly addressing the defensive game. This should damage everybody's confidence and send a great message to the players. A bad offseason for the Cowboys is heating up.

This piece originally ran on Hogs Haven on January 29, 2007.

Norv Turner: AP Photo from here

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Lane Kiffin Volunteers for Human Sacrifice

Al Davis (r) prepares his next victim. After eating his victim's soul, Al will appear 40 years younger for approximately two seasons.

This story is in such great context because of Bill Parcells' departure from the Cowboys. The Cowboys hired Jason Garrett to be either the head coach, or the offensive coordinator, or head coach if another candidate doesn't take the job, or something else, maybe an associate. With that hire, Jerral W. Jones takes one more step toward becoming the living Al Davis.

The New York Time article above is a great read. It really shows Al starting to break down. If I were Lane Kiffin, I'd probly take the job too. Like Jason, Lane will be fired after two seasons and Al and Jerral W. Jones will get to make the next move. Meanwhile, Lane and Jason will have eaten shit and fielded terrible teams the next two seasons, and a legitimate team will give each of them a shot.

Al Davis: I was 33 when I coached the Raiders, I hired John Madden at 32 and Jon Gruden at 35. Al was also an assistant coach with the USC Trojans, where Lane is coming from, mm-hm, 48 years ago! So there's totally a connection.

Al is a meddler and has a penchant for collecting players rather than fielding a team. Jerry Rice, Randy Moss. Any coach working for him will be mis-rah-bull.

Jerral W. Jones: I played college football and considered coaching the team himself before hiring gun-loving (NYT Select) Barry Switzer. Jerral W. Jones oversaw the Cowboys' decline in the Barry years, then Chan Gailey and Dave Campo were Jerral W. Jones hoping against hope that if he put an empty vessel in the coach's chair, he could just channel the winning spirit from the owner's box to the sideline.

At least the Cowboys are pretty well put together right now. Tony Romo is a bona fide starter, the Cowboys have two good running backs, and if you can swallow your pride, Terrell Owens can be a great receiver. Jason Garrett or other can work with this. The Raiders on the other hand are in baaaaaaad shape. Randy Moss is a headcase, there seems to be a vacuum at quarterback and first round pick Robert Gallery is officially a bust. A bad situation for a guy younger than many players and making less money.

Oh well, as a Redskins fan it's always fun to see some other team making horrid decisions and hurting their chances for the next couple of seasons.

Lane Kiffin and Dark Lord Davis: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images via New York Times

Friday, January 26, 2007

Jack Kent Cooke's 19-year Old Daughter Suing Dead Father

When 5 million dollars isn't enough

Still-dead Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke is at it again, tormenting his family from beyond the grave. First, he cut his third wife Suzanne Cooke, to whom he was married for only a few months in 1987 when he was 74 and she 31 totally out of his will, enacted when JKC died in April 1997. Suzanne got zilch, nada, squadoosh out of the more than one billion dollars in assets JKC controlled. Her daughter Jacqueline Cooke (right, with mother Suzanne in 2002), who did not meet her father JKC until she was three years old, is the baby that Suzanne refused to abort, leading in part to the bitter split between JKC and Suzanne weeks after marrying.

Then, as chronicled here, JKC structured the disposition of the Redskins and Redskins Stadium such that his son John Kent Cooke was unable to purchase the team, opening the door for Dan Snyder to sink (NYT Select) 800 million into the team in May 1999. John Kent Cooke is now pondering life on the beach in Bermuda.

Now, Jacqueline cannot get by on the 50 thousand dollars per year she is entitled to by her trust. It is a graduated trust, giving her 25 thousand per year until she turned 16, then 50 thousand until she turns 21, then 100 thousand until she turns 35, then she is entitled to 8 percent of the trust per year. If the trust is currently worth 6 million, 8 percent is somewhere near 480 thousand dollars per year. Not bad for being born.

But it is not enough. She owes 23 thousand dollars to Southern Methodist University and cannot resume classes there, so she is suing her dead father's estate for more money, claiming that the money to which she is entitled was not to be sucked up by educational costs, but rather was to be her 'walking around money.'

I'm not a probate attorney, but I do know revocable trusts usually include specific direction, such as educational costs, as to how the money is to be spent. The article indicates the distributions are to be used for "education, health, maintenance and support," and Jacqueline's main beef is that JKC's executors deleted the words 'as necessary' from the trust documents. Jacqueline interpreted those words as meaning her father meant to provide for her no matter the cost, and the executors believe she is entitled only to what the papers say.

As with all matters involving bitter family divides and large sums of money, it's hard to know exactly what's going on here. Does her mother Suzanne have the ability to provide anything for Jacqueline? Should she be constrained to live within the limits of her trust distributions? And if not, is the trust in any way available for her? If the trust is hers and an asset she counts against her net worth, why did she wait until she was shut out of school and filing a lawsuit to explore getting a loan against the amount? What role does the mother play in all this? She was close to fabulous wealth for a brief period in the 80s, and may believe her dead husband still owes her, and this may be a way to pry some out of him without really hurting the daughter.

Poor Jacqueline even called the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the educational nonprofit with the courage to help white people, presumably to apply for a grant, not to ask if she could have some of her dad's money. Whatever the purpose, she was turned away. Imaginary telephone conversation:

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation: Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, this is Bernard.

Jacqueline Cooke (sobbing): hi I'm Jackie Cooke Jack Kent Cooke's daughter and I'm out of money and I'm only 19 and I can't go back to school and no one else can help me can you please help me I'd like to apply for a grant from my father's foundation (hopeful)

JKCF: I'm sorry Ms. Cooke but with your net worth you do not qualify for our educational programs.

JC: @#$% my @#$%ing father and @#$% you too, Ber-nard!!!

I think she should have no problem getting a loan against the priniciple if getting through school is all she needs. If not, then no amount will satisfy her. If it's SMU she's attending, maybe she can work the debt off at the George W. Bush Presidential Library in the No Millionaire Left Behind wing.

That old Jack Kent Cooke, he was a rascal and some days, it's like he's still with us.


Update 26 February 2007: Jackie Cooke is back in the news.

Jack Kent Cooke: AP via Washington Post

Jacqueline and Suzanne Cooke at the 2002 Saks Fifth Avenue and Washington Life Honor Men of Substance and Style event: detail from photo here (wouldn't it be funny if they were honoring JCK?)

Making the Earliest Possible Mistakes

A real confidence-builder

Jerral W. Jones has hired Jason Garrett as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys...or as an offensive coordinator for a coach to be hired later...or maybe as head coach if the the guys he's interviewing turn him down, or maybe as Jerral W. Jones coffee-getter or something.

As predicted, Jerral W. Jones is not really looking for a serious and independent head coach. He's looking for a broken-down yes-man (Wade Phillips, Norval Turner) or a newcomer that is willing to bend over for a couple of seasons and get fired in order to break into the head coaching ranks (see also: Lane Kiffin)

So now, Jerral W. Jones has undermined his head coach, no matter who it winds up to be. If it's Jason, the players will know Jerral W. Jones wanted someone else, that they get to play for the guy Jerral W. Jones settled for because no one else would take the job. If it's someone else, they'll know that someone else was brought in just to mind the shop until Jason is ready. Lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery thinks it will be Wade Phillips, brought in essentially to run the defense while Jason runs the offense until Wade is out of favor or Jason is ready.

There's a real great message to send you your players: there's no real head coach, just two coordinators with Jerral W. Jones running the show.

And what if it's Norval? Norval does not use an offensive coordinator in his system, he is the offensive coordinator. Jason would be no more than a glorified quarterbacks coach, which is already what he is. Yepper, Norval and Jason in meetings, with Norval going over the gameplan and Jason just sitting there, waiting, planning, scheming, then going into private meetings with Jerral W. Jones...

Whatever, as a Redskins fan it's nice for a change to watch some other team make terrible personnel choices.

This story originally ran on Friday January 26, 2007 on Hogs Haven.

Jason Garrett: Andy Scott / Dallas Morning News from here

The Free Agents: 2000

Yeah this worked out well

In partnership for a better Washington football team, The Curly R and Hogs Haven are proud to present a new offseason feature: The Free Agents.

The 2006 season seems to have validated the notion that while the Redskins do not draft well, at least they can't pick free agents. Periodically this offseason, we'll be taking a closer look at the Redskin free agent and draft classes since Dan Snyder took over in 1999.

Today we begin with the free agent acquisitions and losses leading into the 2000 season. Although Dan took over the team formally in May 1999, his first year of real control over the makeup of the team was 2000, the first NFL team ever to break 100 million dollars in salaries. That team finished 8-8 and four games out of first place in the NFC Beast.

The major free agent pickups that season were S Mark Carrier, QB Jeff George, RB Adrian Murrell, AH Deion Sanders and DE Bruce Smith. All told, Dan Snyder spent 47 million dollars on signing bonuses in 2000, including 8 million to Deion.

The major player losses were LB Kurt Gouveia, QB Rodney Peete, LS Dan Turk and P Matt Turk. Kurt retired, Rodney left for his next backup gig on Oakland and Dan and Matt were cut after the botched snap and hold that cost the Redskins their last playoff game before the 2005 season.

In his 2000 team and NFC Beast previews, Sports Illustrated's Don Banks called the division for the Redskins by a wide margin and saw a possible Super Bowl. So how did those new players work out for the Redskins?

Mark Carrier, in his 11th year, was already pretty much a marked man in NFL's new age of penalizing the helmet-to-helmet hit. In his first game as a Redskin on September 3 2000, a home win over the Panthers, he laid a hit on Carolina TE Wesley Walls that netted him a one-game suspension, the fifth of his career. For the rest of the 2000 season, Mark could not get near a player going over the middle without being called for a penalty. He was let go in the offseason and retired.

Jeff George got a four-year, 18.25 million dollar contract to join the Redskins despite incumbent Brad Johnson, 31 years old at the time, taking the team to the playoffs the previous year. Jeff played in six games in 2000, throwing 7 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. In his first start for the injured Brad, on November 5 2000, Jeff threw 2 INTs and got badly juked by Aeneas Williams who was on his way to returning a Stephen Davis fumble 103 yards for a TD. Jeff was 1-5 as the starter in 2000. New coach Marty Schottenheimer benched Jeff in game 1 of the 2001 season, a 30-3 loss to the Chargers, and stuck with him at starter for one more game before cutting him two days after the Redskins were shellacked 37-0 at Green Bay on Monday Night Football in game 2. And thus began the Tony Banks era. Jeff George has not played with another NFL team since the Redskins.

Adrian Murrell, a three-time 1000-yard rusher for the Jets and Cardinals, appeared in 15 games in 2000, rushing for a TJ Duckett-like 20 times for 50 yards. Stephen Davis and Skip Hicks were incumbents coming out of 1999, and I did not understand this signing. Adrian was gone after the 2000 season and was out of the NFL by 2002.

Deion Sanders, Dan Snyder's most coveted free agent of this season, arrived with a 56 million dollar contract and was clearly not the Deion that had tormented the Redskins in Atlanta and Dallas. His only truly great moment with the team game in game 5 at Redskins Stadium against the Buccaneers when he returned a punt 57 yards in overtime to set up the winning field goal. ESPN Classic's 31-paragraph profile piece on Deion devotes exactly two sentences to Deion's time in Washington. Wikipedia devotes one, saying he had "little on-field impact." Those Redskins fans that did not already despise Deion for being an all around asshole (AH), ex-Cowboy and nothing approaching a true Redskin were infuriated when he retired after the 2000 season, keeping all that signing money, rather than train hard for new coach Marty Schottenheimer.

Finally, Bruce Smith, who signed a five-year 23 million dollar contract with the Redskins after being cut by the Bills in February 2000, was not a terrible player that first season. At 37 he registered 10 sacks in 2000, though as time went on, it became clear that he was a defensive liability and was only hanging on for the sack record, which Dan Snyder was happy to oblige. He was largely responsible for the locker room revolt against new coach Marty Schottenheimer in 2001, feeling that a veteran with his stature should not be subjected to the Oklahoma Drill in training camp. Marty has begun every training camp of his career with the Oklahoma Drill, all players particpate and there are no exceptions. That team started the season 0-5. In April 2003 he was arrested for drunk driving in Virginia Beach, and in December of that year, he set the all-time sacks record with 199. He hung on for one more, finishing with 200 for his career, was cut at age 40 after the 2003 season and then retired.

Overpaid and all at the end of their careers, the 2000 class of Redskins free agent acquisitions was weak and the first evidence of bad decision making by the Redskins brain trust. Three were gone after one season and Jeff was cut two games into 2001. The team did not need a new quarterback or a new running back, Mark Carrier was bad mojo and Deion and Bruce Smith were supposed to represent cagey veterans making one last push for a trophy but instead were just sideshow freaks.

Our offseason coverage free agents and draft picks will continue.

This story originally ran on January 26, 2007 on Hogs Haven.

Picture of Jeff George from here

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


It was just a matter of time

Skin Patrol at Hogs Haven is taking a few days of to go to Vegas with his girlfriend and he has invited me to guest-blog there. From Thursday to Sunday, I'll be posting in both places.

Post your worst-case scenario for him in comments. I'll get it started: chugs bottle of robo, immediately gets separated from girlfriend, staggers into casino, wins $200 shooting craps having never shot craps before, meets nice crackhead, gives crackhead ride out to desert to score, freaks out when he realizes he is out in desert alone on robo with crackhead, gives crackhead last $50 and leaves him on side of road, returns to hotel, girlfriend no where to be found, stays up all night roboing and partying so hard he misses his 2pm flight home next day.

Like Rats Leaving a Sinking Ship

And then the ship sinks

Bill Parcells is out as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, retired for the third and hopefully last time. Anyone that watched the Cowboys at least twice a year could tell he was not into it for the past two seasons. The outfit he wore to the final game of the 2005 season, when the Cowboys learned moments before the game that the outcome was meaningless, just screamed FIRE ME PLEASE, a sweatshirt, too-short sweatpants, socks that showed too much dessicated ankle and dirty sneakers. This picture I dug up from that game does not do justice to how ratty he looked, like a man that was not committed to football but too honorable just to say, fuck it I'm out. He and Jerral W. Jones should have just sat down after 2005 and parted ways.

Now he leaves the Cowboys in the lurch, and it's obvious to me that the Terrell Owens factor played into this. Bill may have wanted to go another season, but not with TO there smiling at every meeting, whining after every game and trying to kill himself accidentally taking too much pain medication in the middle of every season. Bill is old school and TO is no school.

The top-drawer candidates are already committed and the Cowboys are behind the curve. This raises an interesting question I've asked over the years since Jimmy Johnson left the Cowboys. Why the hell would anybody take this job? Since Jimmy, Bill is the only serious head coach in the bunch.

Barry Switzer, who ran the team from 1994 to 1997, was a tool, an old buddy of Jerral W. Jones, and even as he won a Super Bowl for the Cowboys, he presided over a team in decline. It was during the Switzer years that Michael Irvin, Nate Newton and others bought and kept 'the White House' outside Dallas, a party house they could use because their wives were not, you know, into the whole coke and hookers thing. Michael was arrested for cocaine in a Dallas hotel in 1996, which is funny to me because he must have been doing so much coke that he couldn't even use the White House for it. That was also the year that a woman said Michael and Erik Williams raped her at gunpoint and videotaped it. It was later proven to be false, but he opened himself to credibility of these kinds of charges because it was understood by this point that the players were in charge and running amok.

Chan Gailey was the ultimate definition of, fuck it I get to be coach, and Chan made less money in his his two seasons than any other coach at the time. Dave Campo was the Colin Powell of the outfit: the loyal soldier in over his head that took one for the team. He was never qualified.

Jerral W. Jones runs the Cowboys the way Dan Snyder runs the Redskins. Or rather, Dan is running the Redskins as a tribute to Jerral W. Jones. There are no more Old Guard coaches out there that will give cover to Jerral W. Jones' imperious ways in the same manner that Bill did and Joe Gibbs does for the Redskins. Over at Blogging the Boys, owning this story, I have read about Norv Turner, Dan Reeves, Wade Phillips, Mike Martz, Mike Sherman. None of these guys at this stage in their careers would bring the veneer of independence with them. Jerral W. Jones is in charge and if you don't like it fuck it you're fired because I can find a goatherd to do the job for half your pay.

The Raiders couldn't find a credible candidate over 31 years old and the Cowboys will also look to a young and/or unproven assistant or coordinator to take the helm, with Jerral W. Jones leering over his shoulder daily, at every meeting, at every practice and making all the player decisions. That team can't do well on a long-term basis any more than the Redskins can until Jerral W. Jones and Dan Snyder get out of the way.

Redskins fans, rejoice for two to three more seasons of mediocre Cowboys football.

Bill Parcells: detail from a photo by Eric Gay / AP

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Vick Brothers Take Another Step Toward Trailer Park

Like school in the summertime: no class

Money does't make you smarter and neither does privilege. At least Michael Vick waited until he was rich to act stupid. Marcus Vick on the other hand is one indecent exposure charge, one knocked-up teen, one more weapons charge from getting a looooooot more time for PlayStation.

Timing does not appear to be the Vick brothers' strong suit, does it? First Michael flips the bird to the home fans after an awful performance in week 12 of last season. Eight days earlier, the Falcons coach's father, Jim Mora Senior called Michael a 'coach killer.' Poor timing to lose your cool on the hometown fans right when the folks are wondering if you are worth the hassle and money. Jim Mora Junior wanted out of that job so bad he couldn't have gotten canned faster if he stuck a PLEASE FIRE ME sign on his forehead, walked into Arthur Blank's office, vomited cheap wine and Combos into his toupee before yanking down his britches and giving him waffle ass with a squash racket and steel brush.

To make matters worse, Michael's backup, Matt Schaub (Wahoowa!) is on the market and despite Michael ginormous contract, the chattering class is wondering if new Falcons coach Bobby Petrino will want to keep Michael and his downside, or want to go with Matt and his upside. It would be really funny to me if the new coach's first act was to bend over and take it in the shorts from owner waffle ass who won't part with Michael unless he gets caught trying to smuggle drugs or something.


Michael Vick was caught Wednesday trying to board a plane in Miami bound for Atlanta with a water bottle that had a false bottom. What was in that false bottom? A dark green leafy vegetable matter with a pungent aroma associated with marijuana. He was not arrested, though Miami police said they may file charges.

Are you ready for the really funny part? As if it's not already funny enough that anyone, much less a world famous athlete visiting a football town, would try and bring any amount of pot on a plane in today's security environment, do you know which airline he was boarding? AirTran. Who is the Atlanta spokesperson for AirTran Airlines? Michael Vick, at least for now. AirTran press release and embarrassingly obsequious AirTran corporate pseudo-blog entry. Don't you guys feel like assholes right now writing all that shite about Michael has overcome.

More poor timing for the Vick brothers? The 6.3 million dollar lawsuit filed against Marcus by the then-15 year old he was banging in college, got busted for buying beer for and ordered by the court not to go near except still did, had a bunch of sex with then kicked to the curb before he was drafted into the NFL except he wasn't because he lost his cool and stomped a dude in a bowl game and then was arrested the next week for pointing a gun at some teenagers in a McDonald's (all chronicled in greater detail in Police Blotter Part 1) is back in the news, on the very same day big bro tries to pass a bag of skunk through Miami International beacause you know, they totally don't expect drugs in Miami.

Marcus is asking a judge to dismiss the case because his lawyer says that, well, even if it's true that Marcus committed sexual battery on this minor girl, that's no reason for her to sue him and even better, that the minor girl's claims that Marcus repeatedly told her he loved her, repeatedly told her he wanted her to have his baby and asked her to have sex with other men then dumped her like a bag of trash on I-64 don't constitute actionable injury because all that is just her opinion.

My guess: Michael was in Miami meeting with Marcus to discuss a loan for a settlement and needed a big buzz to deal. No judge is going to throw this case out and Marcus does not enjoy the assumption of innocence ascribed in our society to the super-famous like big brother, nor the quick path to forgiveness laid out for those that entertain us.

If it goes to trial Marcus will lose and Marcus ain't got no coin.


Update 25 March 2007: Michael's false-bottomed water bottle tested negative for weed; was jewelry container.

Vick brothers: here

Michael Vick flipping the bird on November 26, 2006: here

Marcus Vick mugshot, January 9, 2006: Wikipedia

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Firing the Gardener Because the Beds Aren't Made

Dale Lindsey, Western Kentucky University linebacker, 1963-64

So I am not surprised the Redskins let linebackers coach Dale Lindsey go, because the linebackers did not play great this year. What I am surprised at is that Dale is the first to go of the defensive coaches. Even as we roll into the offseason, this team is somehow gripped in the throes of an identity crisis, flailing around for some way to stabilize the ship.

Tom Friend writes an article* about how the secondary coaches were convening meeting separately, the safeties coach is a whiny-ass sulker and Gregg Williams is showing obvious favoritism towards the whiny-ass sulker. Meanwhile back on Earth, the Redskins finished the year with the 31st ranked defense, last in yards per play, 23rd in passing defense, 22nd in passing yards, dead freaking last in passing touchdowns and dead freaking last in INTs.

In other words, the real weakness last season was the secondary, and neither secondary coach, neither cornerbacks coach Jerry Gray nor safeties coach Steven Jackson has had to pay with his job. Sure, maybe it's still to come, but I would think the herald of the mandate to make the defense better would be by vacating a clear position of weakness first, to send a message.

More evidence things are upside down at Redskins Park: back in October, Shawn Springs and LaVar Arrington's former position coach Dale Lindsey took some shots at LaVar about how he didn't know the defense, and it was fodder for quite a number of news cycles. If you'll remember back at the end of the 2005 season, the Redskins beat the Giants to cap off the 5th win in a row, but Mike Wise chronicled a shouting match between Dale and LaVar that started on the field and ended in the locker room after the game.

Today's Jason La Canfora article indicates that Joe Gibbs was upset about that October incident and told Dale as much privately. Shawn was as critical, and yet I have read nothing about Joe calling Shawn in for a one-on-one. Add to this that Coach Joe was already out of character for defending Santana Moss' headbutt in the Indianapolis game and the head coach does not appear to be exhibiting classic or even consistent behavior.

Curly R aside: so LaVar did an extended interview for the Giants' website published the same day as Dale's and Shawn's comments about LaVar were published, and in the article I find two things interesting. 1) he kept the Redskins' playbook. I am certain this happens all the time, and even if he turned it in he could have copied it, but the playbook should be treated by the league as privileged information and when players are stoopit enough to admit they stole another team's playbook, they and their current team should be fined.

And 2) in this interview, LaVar all but admits he did not work hard his last two years with the Redskins. If you get into the wayback machine, you will recall that he had a contract dispute (link 1 / link 2 / link 3) with the Redskins, then an 'injury' that kept him out for 12 games that season, then a full season on the bench in the doghouse. Given that it turns out fault for the vanishing 6.5 million dollars and the subsequent 17 months of wrangling and threatened arbitration before settling lies with his now-disgraced agent, LaVar should give those salaries back to the Redskins. It's a little like getting into an argument at work and then going home to kick the dog; it's not the dog's fault you're pissed.

It's too bad becuase I liked LaVar. It never made sense to me why Dan Snyder would be so free with player money and with LaVar's first contract and then do this. I don't believe the team promised him anything but I do believe there were misunderstandings that both sides thought favored them and allowed to continue to exist without resolution, chiefly because if the agent had brought up that fat bonus the team talked about in that meeting, he would have been forced to confront that the team never promised anything. The rest is all on the agent. When the bonus was not in there, he would not allow that maybe it never existed or that its absence might be the agent's fault. The agent convinced the player that it was 100% the team's fault and told the player he would stake his reputation on it. He did and it cost LaVar his elite status and the agent two years' suspension from representation in the league. Michael Wilbon's take on the whole sad saga.

Continuing down the rabbit hole: so Dale Lindsey has the gruff nature? Isn't Gregg Williams the imperious one that is always alienating players and humiliates them with headgames? If gruff is unacceptable at Redskins Park, Joe better fire his old self and Gregg. In March, when LaVar was released as now in today's piece, Dale's poor relationship with LaVar was cited as a specific factor. Maybe they should have fired Dale in March and kept LaVar.

* The sports fans at have
convieeeeeeenently moved the Tom Friend piece behind the Insider firewall. Fuck those guys, their content sucks and I won't pay for it.

Dale Lindsey was inducted into the WKU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Another Tale of Two Blogs

Note: to scale

The baseball season ended too quickly for me and Brandon and I joked about starting a Redskins blog back in July. I even tossed around the idea of an NFL blog dedicated to the Redskins-Eagles rivalry with lifetime Eagles fan and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery, but his wife wouldn't let him (typical Eagles fan -- only hard on the outside). After a few bourbons one night in August Brandon enabled the idea, gave it a name and 170 posts later here we are.

Now that the Redskins' season is over, I wanted to cap my season coverage with some thoughts to go along with Brandon's season transition piece at blogtwin Curly W, which we're prepping over the next month to ramp back up to daily coverage. Curly R will continue to cover the Redskins' offseason, along with more general NFL coverage, and we may even have a few offseason features in store to keep you coming back. The Redskins' season never really ends and neither will ours.

Brandon's piece is a good read and covers the differences in his expectations when we started this blog and his experiences as the season wore on, and makes a good point that the NFL's limited output of 16 games and sharp focus on repetition lends itself to a regularity of features, and also to the mad speculation and trash-talking that comes with six days between games. Fuel for passion and fuel for stability if you are putting your thoughts into words.

Baseball coverage is totally different; it's continually coming at you, with teams playing two and half series per week. There are too many games to cover individually by just two or three people and baseball coverage trends more toward 'what's happening now' summary, who has the hot hand, and major news, though like in football a great individual performance may well trigger a profile piece. Brandon and I are not nearly as into the statistical analysis as say, Basil at SBN site Federal Baseball, so if it takes more than a paper bag and a crayon to calculate, we'll just be linking out when others dig up statistical gems.

Baseball is a political game with lineups changing nightly and you can never dwell on a story or a game because there is another coming the next day or the day after. After covering the Nationals and Redskins daily, not even for a year now, I now see why Barry Svrluga and Jason La Canfora are the way they are. With all the activity of baseball and all time between games in football, it's a wonder these guys aren't Doc Brown from Back to Future.

I think last year or possibly the year before was the year of the baseball blog, with the medium exploding in number of blogs and readership, and as Brandon points out, the NFL blog world is much smaller. For whatever the FairCatch and StrikeTwo services are worth, there are three times the number of baseball blogs as there are football blogs, and as Brandon indicates, a busy day in-season at Curly R is fewer visitors than a slow day off-season at Curly W. I hope with the emerging medium of football blogging and the strength of the Redskins blogosphere that this changes, or at least reaches parity with baseball. If any NFL bloggers are reading this and your blog is not registered with FairCatch, get over there, send Jason a note and get registered.

For the Redskins, the elephant in the room is ExtremeSkins, the official message board of the team, where you can find easily hundreds of users logged into at any one time browsing and posting. Aside from the fact that it is an 'official' property and therefore not independent, it's too much noise for me and there are typically a few Alpha members that post over you to get you off the top, Tireless Rebutters or sadistic Admins Nannying all the fun out of it. If your comment is along the lines of TONY ROMGPO YOUR GAY AND BILL PARVCELLS HAS SAGGYU TITTIWES!!!1!1!! then ExtremeSkins is for you. If you have something thoughtful to say and you don't want it knocked off the top line by that guy, find a Redskins blog and leave a comment or post a diary at Hogs Haven. Maybe Om, an admin over at ExtremeSkins and a member of the Redskins bloggers group can refute my impression.*

A number of the features we'll be running on Curly W will look familiar to Curly R readers and Brandon and I will continue to bring baseball readers the same mix of reporting, opinion, history and fake news that has made Curly R so much fun to write this season. Thank you for reading.

* Obviuosly something of an exaggeration, as I troll regularly at ExtremeSkins to see if there are news items I've missed, and there is lots and lots of informed commentary and lots and lots of polite and thoughtful members. It tends to break down when conversation wanders to opponents or other teams and one thing Curly R prods itself on is our relationship with fans of other teams. Sure we want the Redskins to kick the shit out of your little sad inbred team but that doesn't mean we'll be impolite when answering your 5 Questions.

Binary star system pilfered from here


Blogger rocks

With a wave of my magic playbook, Curly R has been restored to its former beauty. Please be sure to read Brandon's season ending take below. He had a distinctly different season than did I.

Photo of some guy fixing a radiator borrowed from here.


Blogger sucks

Don't know if it's tied to the Blogger outages the past couple of days or if somehow sumpin in my template got corrupted, but Curly R wet the bed this morning. I took the opportunity to migrate over to the new Blogger and blew away the old template, but I have it backed up. I'll be trying this evening to get back to the Curly R look we all know and love.

Image of shattered windshield borrowed from Nicki here.

Hail to What, Exactly?

Don't look for me to do this to my hair anytime soon...

Way back in August I kicked off this blog with the admission that I was not a Redskins fan. However, I expressed my sincere hope that a season of following the team closely would awaken at least some kind of interest in the team in my football loving soul. Now that the season is over I can say that I am only a little bit closer to becoming a true Redskins fan, but not by much.

I watched nearly every down of Redskins football this year. I made a point of sitting down on Sundays to watch the team's games and I found myself literally spacing out on the couch. The team's play on the field was so boring an uninspiring that I literally suffered Redskins ' ADD. Don't get me wrong, I'd perk up if Brunell or Campbell threw one downfield, but most of the time the funereal procession of three-and-outs kept my interest at bay.

The team simply failed to inspire or excite me. I'm one of those fans that loves sports teams for the inspiring, entertaining or dastardly characters they produce. The Redskins really have none of these. Sure, Portis does his costumes and Cooley has his hair, but aspiring to be Chad Johnson and/or still in a frat house doesn't do much for me. The Redskins didn't seem to have any particularly passionate guys or any real villains, either, unless you count Dan Snyder. To me, Joe Gibbs epitomizes this team's attitude, standing there emotionless on the sidelines, watching the team collapse as if viewing fish in an aquarium. The Redskins didn't seem to like each other very much, or like playing football together very much, and thus failed to draw me in.

I've been harping on this all year but I really think it goes back to the free agent carousel that has symbolized the Daniel Snyder-era Redskins. DC has become, at best, just a pit stop on a player's way to another contract, or a complete career dead end in the case of Patrick Ramsey and LaVar Arrington. When you add this dynamic to an overly top-heavy coaching and management staff, you get a complete lack of accountability. No one player or coach has to bust his ass to shoulder the load because he can be assured of deflecting the blame into the absorbent sponge of mediocrity festering in Landover, MD. It all adds up to an inaccessible and uninviting team for would-be fans like myself.

That being said, there were a number of things I did enjoy about the season. Bored as I was, I enjoyed the opportunity to follow a team other than my hometown Bengals. If nothing else, it's comforting to know that the Bengals aren't the only suffering franchise out there. I also really enjoyed watching Ladell Betts play. I know he's been with the team for awhile and has always been solid, but this year I sat up and took notice when Ladell got the ball. I'm looking forward to seeing more of him now that he has been signed to an extension.

I also enjoyed watching the quasi-emergence of Jason Campbell. I'm not sure if he's "the guy" just yet, but there were times when he showed flashes of amazing ability. It reminded me of watching Carson Palmer's first season in Cincinnati after taking over from the mediocre Jon Kitna. Palmer, a second-year pro at the time, didn't have a breakout year, but it was sheer joy watching him air it out to the receiving corps. Watching a young quarterback have a successful and expectation-free debut is certainly something to give Redskins fans hope for the future. The core of a talented team is definitely there; it's up to the coaches and team leaders to unlock the right combination of personnel to get to that next level.

I also enjoyed being a part of this blog, and my knowledge of the team and ability to write intelligently about it matured along with the season. As an added bonus, I'm very proud to be a part of what is quickly becoming a tremendous community of Redskins bloggers. I'll be turning most of my attention to the Nats now that baseball season is about to wind up, but I'm looking forward to coming back with even more content next football season. I may not be a Redskins fan yet, but there's always next year.

Image of dork ass Redskins hair shorn from

Friday, January 05, 2007

Too Many Cooks: Redskins 2006 Season in Review Part Three

Anyone seen my playbook?

Following a playoff season in 2005, the Washington Redskins had high expectations for 2006. Super Bowl high. Those expectations were unmet as the team finished a miserable 5-11, good for last place in a division that placed its three other teams in the playoffs. This is the story of how it happened...

The Curly R
concludes the first annual Redskins Season in Review, a three-part series looking at the chronology of the Redskins 2006 season and into 2007.

Part 1: 2005 Postseason, 2006 Offseason & 2006 Training Camp
Part 2: 2006 Regular Season Games 1-13
Part 3: 2006 Regular Season Games 14-16 & 2007 Offseason Outlook

Other Curly R Redskins Seasons in Review: 2007


The Redskins limped to 4-9 through 13 games in the 2006 NFL season and were out of the playoffs, even in the weak NFC...

2006 Regular Season (continued)
Game 14: Redskins at Saints, December 17, 2006. Washington travels to the Superdome and shocks New Orleans 16-10. The Redskins defense holds the number one offense to 270 yards as Andre Carter registers 8 tackles and a sack, Carlos Rogers pulls in his first interception of the season, then seals the deal, knocking down a pass in the end zone to end the game. Ladell Betts goes over 100 yards for the fourth straight time, Jason Campbell is solid and the defense allows no big plays. Redskins 5-9 and playing for pride.
(preview / 5 Questions / recap / box / gamewrap)

Game 15: Redskins at Rams, December 24, 2006. Washington scores four touchdowns and still loses 37-31 in St. Louis. Ladell Betts has his fifth straight 100-yard game, but also has another critical fumble, and Chris Cooley is Jason Campbell's main target. But none of that can overcome a Washington defense that yields 579 yards, over a hundred more yards than any other opponent, and can't make a stop at the end. Steven Jackson abuses the Redskins for 155 yards on 4.5 yards per carry. Redskins 5-10 and disrespecting a competent offense.
(preview / 5 Questions / recap / box / gamewrap)

Game 16: Giants at Redskins, December 30, 2006. In the Saturday night national game, Redskins lose their home finale, 34-28. The Washington offense again plays well, netting 120 yards rushing and three touchdown passes, but the defense again was totally absent, surrendering 234 yards rushing and three touchdowns to Tiki Barber in his final regular season NFL game. Ladell Betts almost gets 100 yards and has yet another critical fumble. Redskins end their 74th season 5-11, last place in the NFC East.
(preview / 5 Questions / recap / box / gamewrap)

2007 Offseason Outlook
The Redskins leave the 2006 season in a sad state. No free agency move made by the Redskins in the 2006 offseason panned out as expected, and with the possible exceptions of the versatile Antwaan Randle El and Andre Carter, a solid pass-rusher but terrible run stopper, were all abject failures. The futures of Brandon Lloyd, Adam Archuleta, Christian Fauria are all in question, and keeping them may be as harmful and expensive as letting them go.

Offensively, great progress was made throughout the season. The Redskins got an apparently unexpected surprise in Ladell Betts, despite his being with the team for four seasons prior to 2006. He will tandem with Clinton Portis in 2007, though unless he stops the fumbling, may not see action at critical junctures. Jason Campbell showed development and appears to have the skills to come into camp next season as the starter. The Redskin futures of Mark Brunell and Todd Collins are less clear.

Christian Fauria made no significant impact at blocking tight end and Chris Cooley more than held his own at receiving tight end, and the Redskins would be wise to stick with this strength. At receiver, there are questions with Brandon Lloyd, but with Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El returning, it is not out of the question that Brandon could be an asset to the team. He was, however, removed from the starting lineup after the 12th game and was not active for the finale.

The offensive line played well, particularly in the run game, and no starter missed a game until the 15th week. Only Derrick Dockery is unsigned on this line going into 2007. There is a question of age with this group and the team needs to start looking toward a future after Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen.

Defensively, the reader is free to take her pick for area of improvement. Rookie Kedric Golston impressed at DT, earning a starting job, but was this due to the 6th round pick's stellar play, or the soft play of veteran Joe Salave'a? Cornelius Griffin and Philip Daniels played well, and 2007 will be Daniels' 11th year. Andre Carter improved as a pass rusher over the course of the season, but never played up to his 30 million dollar contract and appears extremely vulnerable to the run.

The linebackers were a mixed bag all season, with Marcus Washington playing well, Lemar Marshall taking a step back from 2005, and Rocky McIntosh stepping in and playing relatively well. This linebacking corps will benefit from improved defensive backfield play in 2007.

That defensive backfield varied from bad to horrendous this season, with a couple of flashes of good play. Carlos Rogers was not ready to assume the role of the primary cornerback, and Shawn Springs was uneven in eight games. He finished the season on injured reserve, and Joe Gibbs is already talking about Shawn coming back to play at safety, which may be more projection than real plan. The other cornerbacks were barely heard from, or were right off the street. At safety, only Sean Taylor played well, and even he seemed to get bored playing in a bad secondary at the end of the season. The Redskins will clearly have to upgrade somehow at strong safety, Adam Archuleta's position, and Pierson Prioleau's return from season-ending injury in the season opener should improve that unit's play.

From a coaching perspective, the November 26 Tom Friend piece on ESPN describes infantile behavior and weak management by Gregg Williams of the defensive backfield coaches. Clearly, there is no place for egos at the position coach level in the NFL and the Redskins must move swiftly to fix things, whether it's by hugging it out or turning someone out to the curb. There are comparatively fewer coaching slots open right now in the NFL, with only Atlanta, Arizona, Miami, Pittsburgh and Oakland currently without coaches, though New York Giants may also open up. Neither Al Saunders nor Gregg Williams is expected to draw interest as a head coaching candidate for another team.

Draft-wise, the Redskins go into April's 2007 NFL draft with four picks, the number 6 overall in the first round, along with fifth, sixth and seventh round picks. The second round pick went to the New York Jets when the Redskins moved up to pick Rocky McIntosh. The third round pick when to Denver in the TJ Duckett deal and the fourth round pick went to San Francisco in the Brandon Lloyd deal. One of those deals may turn out well, one might not end well at all and the other was a pitiful waste. Draw your own conclusions.

With regard to 109 million dollar the salary cap, the Redskins are somewhere between 1 million under and a quarter million over as of this moment. Naturally there will be the standard round of cuts and restructurings, but the team is going to be pressed for cap room to sign talent against a long list of needs and a short list of draft picks.

Jason La Canfora, Howard Bryant and Les Carpenter at the Washington Post were gracious enough to preface The Curly R Season in Review with a companion series entitled 'The Lost Season.' This is must-accompany reading for Redskins fans wondering what happened inside 2006 and what it might mean for 2007 and beyond. That series can be found here:

Part 1. Jason La Canfora: Problems at the Core
Part 2. Howard Bryant: Of Two Minds on Offense
Part 3. Les Carpenter: Coordinator Assumes Old Defensive Crouch

The Curly R will continue offseason coverage of the Washington Redskins.

One or Two Too Many Cooks: hand-colored etching by David Bigelow

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Too Many Cooks: Redskins 2006 Season in Review Part Two

Redskins bloggers fighting over a story

Following a playoff season in 2005, the Washington Redskins had high expectations for 2006. Super Bowl high. Those expectations were unmet as the team finished a miserable 5-11, good for last place in a division that placed its three other teams in the playoffs. This is the story of how it happened...

The Curly R
continues the first annual Redskins Season in Review, a three-part series looking at the chronology of the Redskins 2006 season and into 2007.

Part 1: 2005 Postseason, 2006 Offseason & 2006 Training Camp
Part 2: 2006 Regular Season Games 1-13
Part 3: 2006 Regular Season Games 14-16 & 2007 Offseason Outlook

Other Curly R Redskins Seasons in Review: 2007


After playoffs in 2005, an exciting offseason and desperate/odd personnel moves in camp, the Redskins brought their Super Bowl expectations into the spotlight on the Monday Night Football season opener...

2006 Regular Season
Game 1: Vikings at Redskins, September 11, 2006. On a clear Monday night, the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the Redskins are beaten at home, 19-16 by former Redskin Brad Johnson and the Vikings. Minnesota is 9-for-17 on third down, Mike Rumph is beaten like a drum and John Hall misses a 48-yard field goal to send the game into overtime. Sean Taylor continues his 2005 ways with a 15-yard facemask penalty. Redskins 0-1.
(preview / 5 Questions / recap / box / gamewrap).

Game 2: Redskins at Cowboys, September 17, 2006. Sunday night, prime time national audience, Redskins lose 27-10 in Dallas. The tradition of a weak Redskins' secondary begins in earnest. Mark Brunell's passes are all short and the run blocking is weak for Ladell Betts. Rock Cartwright returns a kick 100 yards and it is Kenny Wright's turn to take a lashing in coverage. Sean Taylor collides with Terrell Owens, breaks Owens' finger. Redskins 0-2, and the media begins circling.
(preview / 5 Questions / recap / box / gamewrap)

Game 3: Redskins at Texans, September 24, 2006. A trip to Houston and the Redskins win 31-15. Although the win may look convincing, the Texans' Andre Johnson catches 11 passes for 152 yards, including a 56-yarder, the third time in three games Gregg Williams' defense allows a catch of 40 yards or more. Ladell Betts runs for 116 yards, Mark Brunell sets an NFL record with 22 straight completions and the Redskins commit 12 penalties for 126 yards. Redskins 1-2.
(preview / 5 Questions / recap / box / gamewrap)

Game 4: Jaguars at Redskins, October 1, 2006. A high-scoring affair with four lead changes ends with the Redskins winning 36-30 in overtime at Redskins Stadium on a 68-yard sideline route by Santana Moss. The defense sacked Byron Leftwich four times, Clinton Portis went over 100 yards for his first and only time in the season and the teams combined for nearly 800 yards of offense. Redskins 2-2 and it looked like maybe the control passing game would work out.
(preview / 5 Questions / recap / box / gamewrap)

Game 5: Redskins at Giants, October 8, 2006. New York rolls up 411 yards but scores only one touchdown and beats Washington 19-3 in New York. Tiki Barber had a great day with 123 yards and Eli Manning spread the wealth for the Giants. Mark Brunell never looked like he had a handle on the game, was sacked three times and John Hall missed a third quarter field goal. New York moves to 4-14 after their bye week, with three of those wins against Washington. Redskins 2-3 and happy it wasn't 36-0.
(preview / 5 Questions / recap / box / gamewrap)

Game 6: Titans at Redskins, October 15, 2006. Facing an 0-5 team, the Redskins lose 25-22 to boos from the home crowd. The 700-page offense continues to devolve as Washington calls 19 run plays against the bottom-ranked run defense in league. Vince Young throws for only 161 yards, but makes big plays when needed and the Titans control the final 3/4 of the game. IR'ed John Hall's replacement, Nick Novak gets no field goal opportunities. Redskins 2-4 with an identity disappearing into the ether.
(preview / 5 Questions / recap / box / gamerant / gamewrap )

Game 7: Redskins at Colts, October 22, 2006. The Redskins dip into Indianapolis and lose 36-22 to the rested Colts. The first half is a mirage as Philip Daniels and Andre Carter twist Peyton Manning into a pretzel and the Redskins lead 14-13 at the break. The Colts score 23 points in the second half as Peyton throws for 342 yards and four touchdowns, Colts' backs run for over 100 yards and new/old kicker Nick Novak misses two field goals. Redskins 2-5 heading into the bye week.
(preview / 5 Questions / recap / box / gamewrap)

Bye week: October 23 - November 4, 2006. At 2-5 and looking bad, Redskins bloggers devolve into the pro-Jason Campbell and anti-Mark Brunell camps. Redskins fans learn Adam Archuleta and Andre Carter, representing 60 million dollars' investment, have spent much of the previous two games on the bench. Joe Gibbs repudiates his own training camp regimen and Jason La Canfora runs an enterprise piece on Redskins free agent failures in the Washington Post. Curly R trades questions with the Lions, also on the bye.
(dread bye week post / 5 Questions)

Game 8: Cowboys at Redskins, November 5, 2006. Washington wins one of this NFL season's bizarre games 22-19. After failing to score with seven chances inside the five yard line, Redskins turn it over on downs but nail Julius Jones for a safety. On the next possession trailing 5-0, Bill Parcells gets caught chasing points with a failed two point conversion. Fast forward to a blocked Mike Vanderjagt field goal, a 30 yard return by Sean Taylor and an untimed play and the Redskins win to move to 3-5.
(preview / 5 Questions / recap / box / gamewrap)

Game 9: Redskins at Eagles, November 12, 2006. On a cold and wet day, the Redskins lose in Philadelphia 27-3. The Redskins show nothing while the Eagles find a running game. Nick Novak misses another field goal, Sheldon Brown returns a Mark Brunell INT for six points and Clinton Portis breaks his hand. Brian Westbrook gains over 100 yards and a Reggie Brown bobble bounces into Correll Buckhalter's hands; he takes it in for a score. Redskins 3-6 and looking like the strategy doesn't match the personnel.
(preview / 5 Questions / recap / box / gamewrap / game journal)

Game 10: Redskins at Buccaneers, November 19, 2006. Traveling to Tampa Bay, the Redskins lose 20-17 on poor defense and offensive miscues. Joe Gibbs finally makes the switch to Jason Campbell but the defense doesn't provide support, giving up 350 yards to the 30th-ranked offense in the league. Carnell Williams gets off for only his second 100-yard game of the season and Al Saunders calls a total of 14 runs against the 24th ranked defense. Ladell Betts gives away a critical fumble and Brandon Lloyd lets a sure touchdown pass through his fingers. Redskins 3-7 and falling.
(preview / 5 Questions / recap / box / gamewrap)

Game 11: Panthers at Redskins, November 26, 2006. On the day a damaging Tom Friend piece appears on ESPN, and the week after Joe Gibbs got hopping mad about the Tampa Bay game, the Redskins roll out a solid win, 17-13 in Washington. Jake Delhomme looks frustrated, Carlos Rogers and Shawn Springs make Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson look average, Ladell Betts runs 104 yards, Jason Campbell overcomes a faulty helmet radio and Chris Cooley makes a long catch for a score. An inspirational win and the Redskins move to 4-7.
(preview / 5 Questions / recap / box / gamewrap)

Game 12: Falcons at Redskins, December 3, 2006. Washington starts strong, loses 24-14 at home. After being down 14-0 in the first quarter, Atlanta, unable to move the pile one inch on fourth down, scores 24 unanswered points. Atlanta rushes for 253 yards and Alge Crumpler gets behind the defense for a 46-yard catch. The latest defensive collapse overshadows 155 yards by Ladell Betts and 7 catches for 123 yards by Santana Moss. New kicker Shaun Suisham is limted to two PATs. Redskins 4-8 with magic disappearing defense.
(preview / 5 Questions / recap / box / gamewrap)

Game 13: Eagles at Redskins, December 10, 2006. On a hot December day the Redskins lose at home to the Eagles 21-19. The Redskins hold the ball 15 more minutes, run 25 more plays and roll up 150 more yards than the Eagles, but also give up another interception for a touchdown and don't make daring plays when the game is on the line. Jeff Garcia shares the wealth, Ladell Betts runs for 171 yards, his third consecutive game over 100 and new kicker Shaun Suisham is 4-for-4. Redskins 4-9 and eliminated from the playoffs.
(preview / 5 Questions / recap / box / gamewrap / game journal)

The Curly R 2006 Season in Review concludes tomorrow with part 3.

One or Two Too Many Cooks: hand-colored etching by David Bigelow