Friday, August 31, 2007

How Can They Ditch Him Now?

Yep, he's ours

This is an evolving story so I am moving updates to post top...

Update 31 Aug #2, 3:00pm: hat tip to Lee at The Redskin Report for spotting this. CBS Channel 9 in DC (the same station that aired the game last night) is reporting that a trade to the Seahawks for Mark is in the works. I have a hard time believing the Redskins can get good value for Mark given what he means to QB depth for the Redskins...

Update 31 Aug #1, 9:00am: Ryan O'Halloran at the WashTimes reports that Joe Gibbs is saying Mark is not going anywhere. He's ours in all his Mark Brunellness.


Jason LaCanfora at the Washington Post is reporting that the Seattle Seahawks are asking about quarterback Mark Brunell and now it's tool late to get rid of him. Poor management on the Redskins part.

When Michael Vick started up the river the Falcons needed another quarterback. They inquired after Mark early in camp then signed World Bowl 15 MVP Casey Bramlet whom the Redskins cut... twice, that team deciding to go it with Todd Collins and Mark Brunell behind Jason Campbell and opting to keep raw like a burlap diaper Jordan Palmer as the project.

Three reasons the Redskins can't let go of Mark Brunell, not now:

1. After seeing Jordan in the last preseason game last night against the Jaguars there is no way this guy can get close to a start, he's wild like a feral cat and skittish like a yorkie.

2. Todd has looked good in three games but I tend to agree with a conventional wisdom that says Todd may slide a few in there on his 'knowledge' of the system but a couple weeks in when opposing defenses have tape on him it will be Blitzylvania up in there and he's 35, I would not be surprised if he got hurt.

3. Or yanked if there were a viable replacement and there happens to be, Mark Brunell. He has started a bunch of games for Joe Gibbs and took the Redskins to the playoffs.

4. Unless of course Mark is named number two quarterback in which case the Redskins can't lose him because that moves Todd to second, see number 2 above.

The Redskins botched this one. They should have kept Casey and gotten value for Mark when the Falcons came calling. That way Todd would have been number two and in the case of your number three (Casey) at least you know he won't puke on his shoes like Jordan will.

I can't imagine the Seahawks offered more than a sixth round draft pick. Don't do it, the Redskins made their bed now they have to keep Mark. Mark'll be the number two quarterback.

I have misplaced the credit for this photo but I'll find it.

Mason Nation

This run went for 25 yards. The Redskins should keep this guy.

The Redskins lose big to the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-14. It wasn't as bad as it sounds, in fact they were the obvious 'winners.'

The Redskins finish the preseason 2-2 but they really should be 3-1 because even though the Redskins lost big tonight the first team looked good even without Clinton Portis or Ladell Betts and the second string defense held the Jaguars to a field goal in the firts half but then would be 2-2 because the Titans outplayed the Redskins with the starters in the first half then the Redskins won with 3rd string and a botched snap but then it should be 3-1 because the Redskins outplayed the Steelers in the first half and the Redskins lost with third string but if you do that you have to make them 2-1-1 because the Ravens game was not only called for weather, it was a pretty middling showing by the offense.

The Jaguars started with the ball and there were no Redskins starters on the field. And the defense forced a three and out. The Redskins look good on the defensive side of the ball (correction, Ryan O'Halloran at the WashTimes tells me Kedric Golston, a bona fide starter, was in there for a drive).

Jason Campbell was outstanding, 5 for 5. He played one series and looked ready. Mark Brunell played the rest of the first half and looked pretty durn good. I think there we may seem some variation of the bullshit, one guy as an in-game reliever (Todd Collins) and one as a planned starter (Mark) if Jason goes down. Unless that is if the Redskins were to deal him to the Seattle Seahawks, I don't know what the market for Mark is, a sixth rounder?

The story of the game was my preseason adoptee Marcus Mason. 12 carries for 54 yards, a 4.5 average. He came in after Rock Cartwright and played most of the game, being spelled only by Dee Brown who looks more like a third-down back than a feature runner.

With Clinton and Ladell not playing and the running game not looking great so far I have some real concerns. Why did Clinton not play in a game, not even a snap? He can't be in game shape and Marcus Mason gives the team a spark. He makes this team, I'm calling it.

A few injuries to guys trying to make it, notably John Eubanks, Leigh Torrence and Eric Edwards. Leigh and Eric cramped up but John had to be carted off with a hamstring injury. I am not sure I can evaluate the reserve corners adequately but I know it would be a bummer if John would up getting cut because he did everything he could to make the team, playing cornerback and returning kicks and all it got him was injured on a hot night. David Macklin is looking like the top reserve CB at this point.

Hard to evaluate the safeties either. I saw Reed Doughty and Pierson Prioleau out there early and Vernon Fox and Omar Soutmire got a lot of action in the second half.


Dillweed has not published the line charts yet and this makes me very very unhappy, like a hungry baby in a poopy diaper.

Ryan O'Halloran at the WashTimes echoes concerns (op. cit.) about Clinton Portis and Chris Samuels being out. Again, Clinton has not played a preseason snap and neither has Chris Samuels. Now we are supposed to think Clinton and Chris and new guy Pete Kendall can just come in and pick up where last season's outstanding offensive line play (Redskins runners, a total of more than 2200 yards in 2006) left off? I have concerns. Beeg juans. He also says the Redskins are not interested in dealing Mark Brunell to the Seahawks or anyone else after seeing Jordan Palmer, which is exactly what I said late last night long after I should have been in bed and not writing about the Redskins.

Here's Jason Campbell's total preseason numbers, munged all together they look like one good game's worth of stats. Important stat: no interceptions.

Tom Boswell at the WaPo gets picked for the annual 'Joe Gibbs is as inscrutable as Alan Greenspan' piece. Do we believe he has a team that can win, or is he merely obliged to say that? Answer: both of the above. Joe Gibbs has always believed in his teams and has always been sunnyside up and has always tempered expectations. Yes, it's all on him. I'll come on out and say right here at the end of the preseason, if the Redskins aren't 9-7 I don't think Joe Gibbs will be back next season.

Covering the Redskins, Bram Weinstein is in depth as usual and here's the nugget:

A couple quick observations: RB Marcus Mason appears like he is a keeper showing great natural running ability using his quick cutback moves to gain 55 yards on 9 first half carries.. He likely won’t make this team but appears like a string candidate for the practice squad..
We'll see about that, I'm still hoping for the regualr roster but we'll see. I would think there is a possibility that if he is released Saturday another team may sign him before the Redskins can re-sign him to the practice squad.

Speaking of practice squad, Bram clarifies (op. cit.) the rules of the practice squad for me and I appreciate that. Teams have to get down to 53 players by Saturday and can sign up to eight players to the practice squad starting Sunday. So all those players will be on the open market for 24 hours and anyone can sign them. Also, players with nine or more regular season games of NFL experience, you are not eligible for the practice squad and players can only be on the practice squad a maximum of two seasons before becoming ineligible for return there. In this way, the league keeps turning over those positions to youngters, as it should be. I would not want to see 35 year old quarterbacks stashed there for a rainy day.

NFL box, recap, full play by play. Washington Post box, recap.

Other coverage: The Redskins Report, Hog Heaven. Florida Times-Union has good photos.

Next up, it's for real kids as the Redskins open the 2007 season at home against Trent Green and the Miami Dolphins. We love Trent Green.

Marcus Mason plowing for 25 yards on first and 10, 11:34 left 2nd quarter: Peter Lockley or Michael Connor / Washington Times from here. Trent Green at his introductory press conference in Miami: Uncredited image from here.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Preseason Game 4: Redskins (2-1) at Jaguars (2-1)


The Redskins travel to Jacksonville to play the Jaguars tonight, 7:30 pm ET, CBS WUSA channel and Comcast SportsNet (in high def natch). Need to trim the rosters down 22 by Saturday so this is the last time we'll see a bunch of these players in a Redskins uniform. Ok, five will stay on the practice squad.

Jason Campbell and Pete Kendall will start but I don't think starters will see much action. Clinton Portis might but I doubt it, he's really getting the diva treatment.

There are some interesting questions for the Redskins made moreso by the fury of god shortened Ravens game. Cue sample questions.

Who is the number two quarterback? Todd Collins has looked good but we've seen enough and will probably see a lot of Mark Brunell. There's a battle there.

What's the running back depth chart? Somehow I missed that Derrick Blaylock hurt his heel and now he's on injured reserve. Rock Cartwright is not an every down option so that leaves Marcus Mason and Dee Brown who was released before the Ravens game and then re-signed when Derrick went on IR. This scenario is ripe for my preseason adoptee Marcus Mason.

What's the linebacker depth chart? Randall Godfrey appears to be grandfathered (get it? grandfathered? Because he's so old?) into the starting lineup until Marcus Washington comes back and HB Blades, Dallas Sartz and Anthony Trucks are competing for, what, two spots? I don't know how to evaluate that one.

What's the cornerback depth chart? Jerametrius Butler was cut, leaving David Macklin, John Eubanks, Byron Westbrook, Ade Jimoh and Leigh Torrence to fight for what, three spots? Ade is a regular special teamer so maybe he have an inside track.

What about the safeties my god the safeties? Reed Doughty, Pierson Prioleau, Vernon Fox and Omar Stoutmire are fighting for what, three spots?

The offensive line is basically set, the defensive line is a work in progress. A bunch of undistinguished guys are competing for two spots at receiver. I favor Carl Berman and Burl Toler if for no other reason than they are the most non-football names ever. At tight end there's room for one more and Eric Edwards and Jake Nordin are competing for it.

WaPo preview is predictable traditional media. So obvious: Jason, Clinton, #2 quarterback, Pete Kendall, with a little nugget on defensive tackle.

Hogs Haven, Post Game Heroes preview. I'm already ready for the game to be over already so I can read Dillweed's blocking charts.

This is a gameday open thread.

Third Down, Breakfast of Champions

No Shawn, he's asking for his money back

Third down was a hard place for the Redskins last season, something I and other Redskins fans noted in the very first game of last season against the Vikings. Things never got better for the defense last season and we can rehash and beat to death all the contributing factors:

Weak defensive line play. Cornelius Griffin and Joe Salave'a were playing hurt, Joe Salave'a's replacement Kedric Golston was a rookie sixth round pick, not exactly Mario Williams which is an insult to Mario BTW. The pass rush was more like the pass pretty-please and Andre Carter only started living up to the money after the season was gone.

Mediocre linebacker play. Marcus Washington, Lemar Marshall and Warrick Holdman all took a step back from 2005. The Redskins linebackers seemed to be playing a lot of contain and not a lot of I know where this play is going.

Awful corner play. Shawn Springs waited until training camp to have major surgery. Carlos Rogers was not ready for an Applebee's menu much less the responsibility of being the number one coverage player. Mike Rumph and Kenny Wright looked like they belonged further down the depth chart and were regularly beat like a rented mule.

Exploding safety play. No, not explosive. Adam Archuleta was a failure for whatever reason and Troy Vincent and Vernon Fox combined to make one player. As a result Sean Taylor played distracted and appeared to be totally off the page by the end of the season.

Every time the defense would attempt to stop opponents at the line would result in a long pass play which caused the defense to play off the ball which resulted in a good run which would cause the defense to walk up and check run which would result in a long pass play which caused the defense to play off the ball, you get where this is going.

Even if the Redskins could mount two good defensive plays there was that third down, waiting like a tease, the hot chick in the bar that just wants to bum smokes. You finally go to make your move and she breezes right past you.

Well the team wants to do something about it this season and I, what the hell let's do it. Jason LaCanfora's piece is pretty wonky, with lots of names and stats but overall read it and you will agree with me on two things:

1. The names are better. Though not perfect it's kind of nice to see a bunch of good players on the same team in the same article healthy at the same time for the same season. Shawn Springs, London Fletcher, Rocky McIntosh, Carlos Rogers, Sean Taylor, LaRon Landry.

2. The Redskins defense was painfully bad last season. Franchise low sacks. Modern NFL low takeaways. Worst overall. Near the bottom in opponents' third down passer rating. When you are at the bottom, the only place to go is up, right?

Next: Jaguars preview with extra special blast from last season's past.

Shawn Springs and Gregg Williams: Preston Keres / Washington Post from here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Way of Things

Those were heady days my friend

The Redskins have made their move down to 75 players for yesterday's deadline and one of the casualties is Joe Salave'a, the Redskins let him go. Although I am surprised the Redskins would release a veteran lke Joe Salave'a given questions about the overall quality of the defensive line, I am not that surprised. The calculus simply came down to this:

The Redskins have questions on the defensive line. The Redskins have questions on the defensive line with Joe Salave'a. The Redskins have questions on the defensive line without Joe Salave'a. Ergo, the Redskins do not need Joe Salave'a. I guess it's similar to the calculation they made to release Lemar Marshall: well he was a starter and we need some depth so let's release him.

Extending this logic, the Redskins don't need to keep anyone on the defensive line. Joe Salave'a however is 32 and the team is ready to move onto young players that will get pasted by opposing offensive lines, rather than continue letting Joe Salave'a get pasted by opposing offensive lines. It's the natural order in the NFL.

The WaPo piece mentions Joe Salave'a's injuries but I really think he just lost his job. By the eighth week of the 2006 season he had lost his starting spot to rookie Kedric Golston, though he did suffer a calf injury in the first Dallas game last season. I'm not a trainer or a surgeon or anything but I do know that with athletes if there are lingering injuries when the body compensates long enough it can lead to other injuries. Joe Salave'a was fighting two foot injuries (plantar fascitis and a broken toe) after the 2005 season which may have given rise to the calf injury. Of course, performing surgery on himself (op. cit.) may not have been the best thing to do in that situation, but he's Samoan so maybe self-surgery is a cultural thing.

Whatever the case, he never came back to the starting lineup in 2006 until the final game of the season, a meaningless game playoff-wise.

Joe Salave'a signed a one-year deal for league minimum with the Redskins in March 2004, right as the Joe Gibbs era was restarting. He had been with the Tennessee Titans from 1998 through 2001, the Gregg Williams years, and had been cut before the 2002 season. He spent 2002 out of football before signing with the San Diego Chargers, who used him in 9 games in 2003 then cut him. After signing with the Redskins in 2004 there was some concern that he might not even make the roster that season.*

Joe Salave'a was a major part of the first awesome Redskins defense in 2004, plugging the run lanes alongside Brandon Noble.

The Redskins sought to re-sign Joe Salave'a after the 2004 season and did so, citations here and here.

In the run-up to the 2005 season, after final cuts, Joe Salave'a was somewhat wistful, pondering what recently cut players might do and what skills they had to fall back on. It's a business and everyone faces this moment.

When I saw this piece, partnering Kedric with Cornelius Griffin, I knew the end was near for Joe Salave'a. Even as he knew his starting position was gone for good, he was still supportive.

This leaves the defensive tackle positions in the hands of Cornelius Griffin who was pretty bad last year, second year men Kedric Golston (started seven games last season) and Anthony Montgomery (started one) and the cast of extras, including Lorenzo Alexander aka Scarface (second year, no starts) and Ryan Boschetti (fourth year, one start). Those linebackers and that secondary better be good because the Redskins are looking soft up front.

Good luck Joe and thanks for all the hitting.

* It is worth noting that prior to this year, the next-to-last roster cut was down to 65, as referenced in this piece, while this year it is down to 75. This means that teams get to keep an additional ten roster spots through the final preseason game, though this also means they have cut an additional ten more by Sunday.

Joe Salave'a after the sack-fumble of San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Alex Smith with 5:18 to go in the fourth quarter on 23 October 2005: Preston Keres / Washington Post from here. After this play the 49ers' Joe Nedney kicked a 47 yeard field goal to make it Redskins 52, 49ers 10. The 49ers scored another touchdown to make the final 52-17 Redskins. I was at this game in club seats and this is as close to Christians-lions as I think you can get so far in this era.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Power Outage

Alls I know is LaRon Landry was all over the first quarter

The Redskins win a shortened game on a weathery night at home 13-7 against the Ravens. I turned on the game a few minutes before 8pm Saturday night and was mildly pissed surprised to see CBS channel 9 sports director Brett Haber in a director's chair inside the tunnel (never seen that before so that was pretty cool) yap yap yapping away about a weather delay. For most of the previous two hours, Curly R worldwide headquarters in Alexandria Virginia had been buffeted by one of the worst storm cells I had seen in some time and our power had been flickering on and off.

The team had been pulled off the field and the fans been sent back to their cars as lightning was striking everywhere (I mean this was a really bad summer storm complete with wind, lightning, big lightning and when I did the thing from Poltergeist where you count the seconds after the flash before the clap the intervals kept getting shorter and shorter and I moved away from all window where a tree might get me, c'mon it was a scary movie), there were even some car alarms going off on my street our building's street. Brett Haber was complaining that he had been shocked by his earpiece and his bottleblonde co-talking head (Sara? Kelli? Brandi?) still looked fabulous.

I saw Brett do a quickie (lol, pun intended) interview with Chris Cooley, an interview that was interrupted by Mike Sellers who was wearing some mean-looking eyeblack. Chris Cooley is a goof and then Brett landed Chris Samuels who did not seem put off by the fact that the only thing Brett wanted to know about was Jon Jansen's RV. Apparently only offensive linemen and quarterbacks have an all-access pass. E'eyone else got to check in.

Conditions cleared and the team filed out onto the field. Then filed back with more lightning. Brett got hold of Jason Campbell and asked him about his knee, which he said was sore but if it were regular season he'd go (love that spirit...). Brett then hilariously said that Dan Snyder, Redskins team and stadium owner himself, had walked right past Brett's broadcast position to 'personally inspect' the field, to be sure 'his investment' (the team, I guess?) would not be damaged by these conditions. LOL, like Dan Snyder knows turf conditions. Shit the guy probably hasn't pushed a lawnmower since suing his dad in middle school.

At about ten past nine pm the game got started and boy did the Redskins look good...basically. LaRon Landry is a freaking play magnet. On the first drive alone he laid a crushing special teams hit on the opening kickoff return, defensed a pass on the first play and stopped Willis McGahee over left side on the second play. In the Ravens second drive he laid out tight end Quinn Sypniewski and put a pop on Steve McNair in the backfield forcing an incomplete.

Curly R aside to to Brian Billick: if you blitz 70% of the time in preseason because as I heard you say on Sirius NFL Radio, that's the defense we run and we need to see if these guys can run it, and you are aiming to harass opposing quarterbacks and knock them around, don't be too surprised when Andre Carter breaks through the line that he does not let up when ramming his shoulder into Steve McNair's 34 year old sternum.

Somewhere in there Todd Collins made an incredible 40-yard pass down the left sideline to Santana Moss who caught it in coverage like it was a marble rye from the heavens, there were a bunch of penalties, some weak running and then a Shaun Suisham 45 yard field goal, Redskins were up 3-0.

Just as the Ravens were getting the ball back, the second line of storms were heading over me, shorter but more violent and my power, just went out. That was 9:39 pm. It did not come back until 1 pm Sunday. All the evac and game details, I read that and heard that on the radio the next day but did not see it until later that night. The next morning we left for a day trip to Charlottesville.

In one of the most serendipitous occasions in some time, I walked back into my house at about 7:15 pm Sunday from our trip, the power was on and I switched on the TV to Comcast SportsNet (I had seen my wife folding laundry to a replay of the Titans game two weeks earlier, the day after the game, on CSN, yes who is the lucky guy with the wife that loves football? Mm-hmm, me) and guess just what was on? The game, and right at the point of Shaun Suisham's 45 yard field goal. So I hit record on my DVR and went back about my bidness. I'll watch the rest of the game before the Jaguars game and comment here and in the preview thread.


So as far as the rest of the game, it was an incomplete opportunity for evaluation and the rest of this gamewrap reflects that.

The running game did not have much power (13 runs for 35 yards, 2.5 yards per carry with no runner over 13 yards though my boy Marcus Mason averaged five yards a carry), the passing game was pretty anemic if you take out the 40 yard completion (7 of 14 for 44 yards without that play).

The starting defense was again pretty fierce but did not force a turnover though in fairness I'll take a defense that harasses opponents into conservative play less likely to generate a turnover over a gambling defense that basically lets opponents do as they please hoping for the big play to generate a turnover.

Many of the bubble players did not get the chance to play in this game which is unfortunate since the next to last preseason game is the last place to get a fair shake in action. By the last game the biggest cuts have happened a a lot fewer guys are competing fopr a bunch fewer spots.

Many questions going into the last week of preseason:

What's up with Jason Campbell's knee? So he did not suffer a catastrophic injury. Is his knee weakened ripe for a blowout in a game or two? Who's the backup quarterback? It seems odd to me that Todd Collins is suddenly the go-to guy in Jason's absence when Joe Gibbs done stood by his man Mark Brunell for three seasons when most of us who watched the games knew Mark's arm doesn't have the strength left to pull a greased string through a rat's ass. Such manic flip-flopping can be emblematic of lack of confidence and/or mild desperation.

To be fair, during the weather delay we did see tape of Jason on the field throwing passes, pretty much at full strength, just not running around. I was happy to see Jason looks up to Steve McNair who has tended to Jason as he grew up. Before Steve was an NFL ironman known for getting the shit beat out of him and hanging in he was a record-setting and precedent-setting quarterback at Alcorn State overcoming many prejudgements about his abilities and the quality of competition he faced in college.

Who will be a left tackle? Will Chris Samuels be back for the opener? He has not played a preseason game and if he is not in there for the opener will the Redskins offer up Stephon Heyer even with Todd Wade now no longer hacking it at left guard?

Who will be a left tackle? Pete Kendall is brand new, will he get up to speed or are we looking at Todd Wade or Mike Pucillo to start the season and hoping that Pete gets in there after a game or two?

What's up with Clinton Portis? He hasn't seen any full-speed action and is the team already prepping for the 'getting up to speed' apologies if he flails in the first couple of games? There seems to be a cloud over the running game in general and I think it is unrealistic to pin all hopes of its return on a guy coming back from injury that has not worked with the team in games.

Who's the strongside linebacker? The Redskins waited until the starter dislocated his elbow (ouch!) before cutting the backup with six years experience with the team. The replacement, Randall Godfrey is 34 years old and we don't even know if he'll be ready for the Thursday game against the Jaguars.


Dillweed at Post Game Heroes continues their new tradition (instant classic?) and breaks down the offensive play which validates they were not awful but could improve and defensive play which validates they were everywhere. MUST READ.

Tom Boswell captures my sense of uncertaintly. Y'know last season everything seemed fit for a Super Bowl run and the team miserably disappointed so why this season is it ok to feel the team has disappointed in preseason but will turn it around when the games go live?

Elder sports statesman George Solomon (who once turned me down for a job) blends the O-line and linebacker situations down into a great-tasting shake.

Camille Powell, bravely reporting on the Ravens in a Redskins town, says the Ravens were unhappy with the number of penalties and lack of quarterback protection afforded by the first teams. I think Brian Billick's idyllic training camp may be ever so gently returning to reality.

Next up, Jaguars 7:30 pm Thursday at Jaguars Stadium.

NFL box score, recap, full play by play. Washington Post box score, recap.

Storm at Redskins Stadium: Greg Fiume / Getty Images from here. Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich: CNN from here.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Preseason Game 3: Redskins (1-1) vs Ravens (1-1)


It's a clash of football traditions as the Washington Redskins (b. 1932) host the Baltimore Ravens (b. 1996) tonight 8pm Redskins Stadium but with all the hubbub about sporting events on TV tonight I can't figure this out. Alls I know is the game better be on and it better be in high def. The weight of history is on both teams, the Redskins playing for the tradition of Hall of Famers Sammy Baugh, Vince Lombardi and Sonny Jurgensen while the Ravens strive to live up to murder charges, obstruction of justice, drug trafficking and drunk driving (op. cit.). Not to mention awful. purple. camouflage. Raven lunatics indeed.

We interrupt this broadcast for an alert from the Curly R emergency network:

The Ravens blitz 70% of the time and made turkeyburger out of the Eagles!! Take care with Redskins starters!!

We now return to your regularly scheduled preview.

Jason Campbell seems not to have a blown out knee and thank you NFL for dropping a 12k5 fine on Steelers defensive tackle Brett Keisel van Oelhoffen for his late and illegal hot on Jason last week and now there is a small quarterback controversy at backup with Todd Collins getting the start and Mark Brunell working later in the game. If you followed Mark's profile from Free Republic, don't send the goons out on me, he'll get the start in the final preseason game next week.

And when I say small quarterback controversy, I mean small, like a tiny mouse squeaking in the corner. If Jason is gone for any reason this season and the Redskins have to go with a backup there will be a lot less football watching in DC and a lot more time spent with family, outdoors or looking at porn or whatever because the Redskins will be as we say in the business demotivated.

on Brett Keisel van Oelhoffen for hitting Jason low and illegally last week, but Jason will not go tonight. The Redskins look to have themselves a

Curly R aside: interesting that the WaPo picked today to look at both Redskins kicker Shaun Suisham and Ravens kicker Matt Stover. Shaun is from Canada which means he can fix anything but probably has less in his pocket than he thinks and Matt keeps notes on every kick he has ever made, in practice, in games and in workouts which as a hardcore note taker I can appreciate this but his collection of notebooks on his work sounds like something out of Se7en.

Right about now is when starters start to to cement cement their place in the lineup and that apparently includes LaRon Landry (op. cit.). But with strongside linebacker Lemar Marshall cut (and signed immediately by former Redskins defensive coordinator and Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis) and 34 year old Randall Godfrey signed, who plays there? Randall is admittedly not in game shape so I guess we'll get a longer look at HB Blades and Dallas Sartz (op. cit).

To make matters not any better, despite trading a draft pick for left guard Pete Kendall, he won't play (op. cit.) so the Stephon Heyer Experiment continues one more week with Stephon at left tackle and Mike Pucillo at left guard. Todd Wade, who knows where the hell he is.

On offense the passing game looks pretty good but the running game has been weak (op. cit.). The solution? Marcus Mason but say it like a cheer: Mar-cus Ma-son!! (bump bump bump-bump bump).

On defense I just want to see the intensity continue. The Redskins defense is looking good and at least one paid pundit in the area is already looking ahead to the playoffs on the strength of the D.

The Ravens after shredding the Eagles (op. cit.) the Ravens looked pretty weak against the weak-ass Giants so look for them to have some intensity.

And I've heard (on Sirius NFL Radio) and read (here and here) some concerns about Steve McNair's arm strength so maybe we are seeing the reincarnation of Mark Brunell up the road.

Enjoy the game, the starters will play the first half. I'll be commenting here and at Hogs Haven (Skin Patrol can we talk? Do I need to put up an open thread for you?).

This is a gameday open thread.

The Return of Brandon

We never really lost him he was just er, occupied

Brandon Kriner was the one that first invited me to join The Curly W, his Washington Nationals media outlet last year and the next month we started up Curly R and while Brandon has not posted here regularly recently he is still a positive influence on my work and I thank him for getting me into this fucking bullshit of having to write something every goddamn day.

Brandon has returned with a new blog or rather a version 2.0 of his first blog, Fluorescent Sunshine. Brandon will always be on the masthead of Curly R and will always be welcome on our pages and we will be following his new adventures in the aesthetic of nothingness.

Brandon: lay off the porn.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Been Hitting the Sauce or Is This Ok?

A ritual, they can't help themselves

Aftger two solid preseason games for the defense, the Washington Examiner's Rick Snider is the first out of the gate to drop the 'p' word: playoffs. Is this for real, is it ok to start thinkng of this defense as definitively better, or is this annual local media navel-gazing, trying really hard to see something positive no matter what the facts?

The narrative goes like this: it doesn't matter how/what the Redskins offense does as long as the defense checks in like it did in 2004 and 2005. Al Saunders can tinker, open it up, get untracked, shuffle the line and move receivers but if the defense is attacking the ball and no one can get in the end zone the Redskins will play a lot of 17-13 games, which is exactly what Redskins fans love to see, games where nothing happens. Boring = exciting in Washington.

Through two preseason games, the Redskins defense is 9th fewest in rushing yards allowed and second only to the Ravens for fewest points allowed.

But they are also at 16 in the middle of the pack on passing yards allowed and I think have one takeaway, cornerback Byron Westbrook falling on a Tim Rattay fumble in the 4th quarter of the Titans preseason game.

Yes LaRon Landry is a hoss and London Fletcher seems to be everything advertised, Rocky McIntosh appears improved, Sean Taylor is growing, Carlos Rogers has a pep in his step and Shawn Springs can take a step.

But there will be an all-new 34 year old strongside linebacker and the defensive line will only get better if it plays better because the team did not upgrade it. That's an invitation for opposing teams to run the ball, a lot and force the linebackers and safeties up to help out which in turn puts them in a tough position for pass coverage and forces the corners to play man to man where they got torched or hosed last year depending on your preferred metaphor.

Time to start drinking the kool-aid, or irrational exuberance?

Howling at the moon from here.

What the League Should Do with Michael Vick


Michael is scheduled to plead guilty Monday. He's going to jail and he will want to get it on and over with as quick as possible then get back to making millions playing quarterback. That's really all he knows how to do.

So you are Roger Goodell. What do you do with Michael?

It's in his power to do anything from nothing to a lifetime ban.

If you listen to PETA and the animal rights activists, they want him banned for life. Anecdotally most people I talked to think he should be in jail for a long long time. One friend of mine said he should have his balls cut off and be forced to work at McDonald's. I searched but could not find a legal precedent for this type of punishment.

It almost goes without saying that 'most people' think, of course he should not get to play in the NFL again, like it's some sort of privilege that can be taken away like a teenager's car. That by degrees we can say, well shit if you had been involved in a murder or shipped tons of weed or smacked your bitch up, shit man thas cool, you get another chance but not Michael. Not after what he done.

Wednesday the president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP came out and said Michael should not face a lifetime ban from the league, that society should allow for his rehabilitation and that he should be allowed to resume his football career.

Yesterday I heard all about that on the radio. Why does the NAACP back him? Do they feel the need to support him because he's black? The players union is mostly black and they have shunned him.

Here is the larger question: how should the punishment law imposes on him relate to his work?

If I was convicted of this crime, I would lose my job, if for no other reason than I can't work from jail. Even if I was indicted the company would likely sever ties with me.

But here's the thing. There is more than one company that employs people with my skills and if I have been banished from one does not mean I have been banished from them all. I chose to get into a field with portability and I could likely land a job after getting out of prison.

Should the fact that there are limited opportunities for professional quarterbacks factor into Roger's decision?

In other words should it be Roger's problem or Michael's problem that if he is banned for life he will have a hard time 'making a living?'

Ok let's name them. CFL, Arena League, Arena League 2, National Indoor Football League.

Roger's solution is simple and elegantly so.

Do not ban him for life. Suspend him for the 2007 season without pay. Period.

Let him be a problem for the owners.

Is there an owner that would take a chance on Michael's abilities? Probably.

Is there an owner that is willing to risk fan outrage for hiring a convicted dog executioner? Ehh, possibly.

A stern speech with implied advice not to hire Michael when he is out, that's at the next owners meeting. In either case, it becomes an ownership problem, not a league problem.

Because the NFL is an employer just like any other. Its rules are only binding to the extent of the law.

Michael has the money to mount a legal challenge were the commissioner to ban him forever. That legal challenge would last a year, two years or more and ultimately would pit the forces of a forgiving society against those of concentrated wealth. If it is up to Michael's lawyers in this scenario they will be sure that we all think about what happened if we made a mistake, paid our debt and the world still didn't want us?

The league simply wants this problem to go away so Roger should suspend Michael for a year and let the market take care of the league's Michael Vick problem.

Michael Vick from here.

Like an Avalanche

Society begins to reconcile

It is a familiar pattern. Bad thing happens, populace holds breath, hopes for best, tries to see good in man's efforts. When the final resolution confirms all the worst fears the process of closure inevitably draws to the source, or any readily available proxy thereof. And unleashes hell.

It's happening in Utah with the mine collapse. It happened with hurricane Katrina and with September 11. And it's happening with Michael Vick. He's pleading out on Monday, we know the general terms and we know he is going to jail so it's ok to start talking about what this all means.

Wednesday the Washington Post ran an enterprise piece on dogfighting, where it came from, how it's done, who does it and what happens to the dogs that survive. After reading this piece you will have the inevitable, why are we just reading about this now? reaction. Bad things happen in the shadows all the time and when light is shed on them we realize why they shrouded in the first place.

It is bad enough for Michael that he has to go through it now. It's worse for him that his name is forever being seared into the public's conscience in association with dogfighting.

It's even worse that state charges may be coming, in both Virginia and South Carolina. He's not out of the water with this plea.

Michael's legal setting is news too. US District judge Henry Hudson has been described by a lawyer that went up against him as 'tough but fair.' That seems to me to be a repeating redundancy since the judge is by definition supposed to be fair, so is there a racial overtone in there? That the judge is fair so Michael can't claim discrimination but tough so Michael can expect no special treatment?

And society is already finding sick humor in the case. One of the most popular items on eBay recently: dog-chewed Michael Vick trading cards.

But not everyone gets that this is a bad thing. Clinton Portis made some regrettable remarks, as did Deion Sanders and Courtland Milloy. Now NBA guard Stephon Marbury has chimed in:

I think, you know, we don't say anything about people who shoot deer or shoot other animals. You know, from what I hear, dogfighting is a sport. It's just behind closed doors.
Uh wrong, hunting is a protested activity that as little as 5 percent of the population still engages in and even those that choose to do it must prove they are competent to do so through the legal registration process.

And if that's your bar for a sport then prostitution and drug use are sports too because they are usually done behind closed doors.

All together now: Stephon Marbury is an idiot. A big one.

Michael is being branded, a scarlet letter, before our eyes.

Complete Vick brothers coverage on Curly R here.

Michael Vick: Ric Feld / AP from here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Good Move

Getting the left side in order

The Redskins made a trade today...AND I DON'T HATE IT!!!!!!!! The Redskin Report first broke it and Jason LaCanfora confirms it, the Redskins have traded a conditional pick, a 5th in 2008 (next year's draft) or a 4th in 2009 to the New York Jets for veteran offensive guard Pete Kendall, then signed Pete to a two-year deal. The Redskins are already without their 4th next year after the TJ Duckett deal last season.

This is a great move but first the background.

Mike Pucillo was signed by the Redskins in March 2006 as a backup guard and center. In 2006 Mike appeared in 12 games and started none. In the 2006 depth chart Mike was listed as backup center but got most of his action as an extra tight end in the modern versio of Heavy Jumbo. The Redskins re-signed him for 2007 to retain depth and with Todd Wade out with a shoulder injury Mike played with the starters last week. It was Mike and undrafted rookie free agent Stephon Heyer that botched their assignments, allowing Brett Keisel van Oelhoffen to get his cheap and free shot at Jason Campbell's knees (which by the way no matter how many times you say football is brutal was an illegal hit and it's not satisfactory to say well it happens so stfu kthx).

Todd Wade was signed by the Redskins five days before the 2006 season opener and appeared in two games, starting one in place of right tackle Jon Jansen. The Redskins re-signed him and hoped to move him to left guard to replace the departed Derrick Dockery. Todd is a natural tackle and has had a tough time adjusting to the guard position.

When Derrick left the Redskins for a seven year 49 million dollar contract (16 million dollar signing bonus) with the Buffalo Bills, the Redskins did not try and find a top shelf guard to replace him, and that's good because the market for guards was thin this year.

Then we get into the politics of the line. Stephon Heyer, not Todd Wade, was pressed into service at left tackle when Chris Samuels went down for a month. As indicated above, Todd is a natural tackle, as is Stephon, but Todd is an eight-year veteran and Stephon is an undrafted rookie. The team really wanted to see Todd play that guard position but he was not progressing fast enough and then hurt his shoulder which forced Mike Pucillo to start at LG.

That's a problem because Mike is the backup center and the team can't have him too close to the top of the depth chart at LG in case center Casey Rabach gets hurt because Mike would have to move to center forcing Todd or Taylor Whitley to start at left guard.

So this is a good move. Pete Kendall has been a starter every one of his 12 seasons and had a great 2006 with the Jets. He had a falling out with the team, no doubt one that we will be hearing a lot about now that Pete is a Redskin.

The Jets had asked Pete to take a paycut and restructure his contract downward by one million dollars back in January, and he did (TimesSelect), and according to the scuttlebutt, the team had promised to give it back in his next contract and then reneged. Then the Jets started fucking with him. When the Jets reported to camp, Pete was the only veteran assigned (TimesSelect) to the satellite dorm for rookies.

They tried to devalue him, therefore giving him and his agent less leverage in negotiations, by removing him from the top of the depth chart and making him a reserve and even made him play center (TimesSelect) in practice on 12 August, a position the team already understood Pete could not play well.

So let's look at the value exchanged.

The Redskins gave up a late round pick and only one at that, unlike the TJ Duckett deal. As we know the Redskins don't really value picks lower than second round so they will not miss this pick. They get a starter that will stopgap them for at least two seasons by which point this offensive line will be older than dirt so I hope there is a plan in there to rejuvenate it.

The Jets gave up a starter and who knows what happened there but by giving Pete way this season they may have helped their locker room but they hurt their offensive line. Thomas Jones and oft-injured Chad Pennington are probably unhappy. The general consensus I've heard so far on The Red Zone and The Afternoon Blitz on Sirius NFL Radio (and I consider Bruce Murray, Carl Banks, Adam Schein and Jim Miller to be pretty good football minds) is that potential replacements Adrian Jones and Jacob Bender are not ready for prime time, and the guard position will suffer in 2007.

But the Jets are laughing all the way to the draft. The Redskins gave up a fourth rounder for a player they didn't want when they probably could have gotten Pete for a 5th or 6th rounder (the Dolphins got their likely starter Trent Green for a 6th rounder!), or even for nothing if they had waited until Pete was cut (which was likely but not a certainty).

Overall this was a good transaction for both teams. It hurts the Jets now and helps them in the longer term. For the Redskins it gives them the patch they needed at left guard, though it also highlights the Redskins' problem of an aging offensive line. Pete is 34, bringing the average age of the Redskins offensive line to 30 years and 10 months.

Pete Kendall: Ed Betz / AP from here.

Curly R Salutes Wilbert Montgomery

Number 31

The Eagles are only one season younger than the Redskins and unlike the Redskins have never moved. To mark the Eagles' upcoming 75th anniversary the Philadelphia Inquirer has compiled a list of the 75 Greatest Eagles, just as the Redskins compiled the list of the 70 Greatest Redskins to commemorate the Redskins 70th anniversary in 2002.

In tribute both to the Redskins greatest rival and lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery I salute the other Wilbert Montgomery.

Wilbert played eight seasons for the Eagles, from 1977 to 1984. He was a hard-nosed runner and was the first Eagles running back I really hated. He gained over 1000 yards three times, went to two Pro Bowls (1979 when he led the league in overall yardage and in 1980) and gained 194 yards in the NFC Championship on 11 January 1981, propelling the Eagles to the Super Bowl. By the time Wilbert left the Eagles before the 1985 season, he set seven Eagles team records, all of which still stand: career rushing attempts, rushing yards, attempts in a season, rushing yards in a season, career 100-yard games, 100-yard rushing games in a season and touchdowns in a game.

After a career as an NFL player Wilbert returned to the league in 1997 as a coach with the St. Louis Rams. When the Rams won the Super Bowl in 2000 over the Tennesse Titans, Wilbert was the tight ends coach and future Redskins offensive coordinator Al Saunders was the receivers coach. When the Rams went again in 2002 and lost to the New England Patriots Wilbert was again the tight ends coach, this time working with Ken Zampese. Wilbert is currently the running backs coach for the Detroit Lions which means he has his work cut out for him. No Marshall Faulk there.

Wilbert Montgomery is the Philadelphia Inquirer's 6th greatest Eagle of all times.

Wikipedia entry. Other: NFL 2000 & 2002 Record & Fact Books.

Wilbert Montgomery: Philadelphia Inquirer uncredited photo from here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Eli, you crack me up

Of coarse you forgive him. It's you that owes Tiki the apology.

Oh man that was a good laugh, just when I needed it, on the DC Metro with a headache facing a full day of work. I first saw this in the Washington Examiner here and here and then I realized it's everywhere.

It would seem that on assignment covering the Giants-Ravens preseason game on Sunday night, Tiki Barber (Wahoowa!), the greatest Giants running back of all time had some choice words about a pep talk Eli Manning (lol) gave to his Giants teammates in week 12 of last season. Knowing he would be retiring, Tiki attempted to pass the pregame team speech off to quarterback Eli, who was so worried that he would not sound authoritative or leadery that his voice was not inspiring and the speech was almost 'comical at times.'

Eli then fought back with this nugget:

"It's just one of those deals. I'm not going to lose any sleep about what Tiki has to say," Manning said. "I guess I could have questioned his leadership skills last year with calling out the coach and having articles about him retiring in the middle of the season, and he's lost the heart (to play).

"As a quarterback you're reading that your running back has lost the heart to play the game and it's about the 10th week," Manning said. "I can see that a little bit at times. But I'm not going to get concerned. I'm going to go out there and play ball."

I'll try not to lift right off Adam Schein, host of Afternoon Blitz on Sirius NFL Radio but c'mon Eli, give me a break.

Calling out the coach? Tom Coughlin has been unpopular with Giants players since before he took the job. Last season Tiki questioned the coach after a bad loss to the Jaguars in which it was Eli that blew the game, and that goes more than a year after Jeremy Shockey (who may or may not love cocky) did the same thing.

Articles about retiring? It wasn't Tiki that announced his retirement, it was the big bad media that leaked it and forced Tiki's hand with the announcement. Someday Eli, you will retire as well and have to make a decision about when and how. Unless you get cut and can't get a job. (j/k, luvya!) The decision to play is about the team, the decision to stop is about the player and Tiki did what was right for him.

And OMG lost his heart? Tiki put you on his back and carried you 1600 yards my friend. The Giants started 2006 6-2 and finished 2-6 but Tiki was a constant throughout. Eight 100+ yard games including a 234 yard game against my beloved Redskins.

Could be what ignites Eli? As if.

That game, week 12 of last year when Eli's voice probably cracked like Peter Brady's? The Giants lost, 24-21 to the Titans. With Tiki and Michael Strahan gone it is going to be my pleasure watching the long hard slide of Eli Manning (lol) from average quarterback with a big price tag to historical bust on his way to backup.

Tiki Barber and Eli Manning in better times: Ted Warren / AP from here.

Courtland Milloy Is an Idiot. A Big One.

Thought I already wrote this piece

March of the idiots continues. Or rather march of the deliberately misleading pundits propounding a false moral relativism continues. First it was Deion Sanders who wondered aloud why we were wasting time with the Michael Vick federal dogfighting case when Darrant (sic) Williams' killer is still on the loose.*

Now it's Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy with a piece called 'Animal Cruelty Isn't Judged on a Level Playing Field.' Can you smell the bait? See Courtland

primarily deals with issues that affect the lives of African Americans.

Judged = justice, playing field = athletics, dominated at the highest levels by blacks despite resentment from small minds. Put it all together in a bowl and you're soaking in a broth of racially-motivated persecution prosecution driven by establishment resentment of a wealthy back athlete. It's poo-poo Courtland and you know it. Allow me:

Courtland talking about steak

Too bad for Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick that people like me love dogs more than cows. Or, to put it another way, I prefer the taste of Angus and Hereford to Rottweiler and pit bull. Otherwise, the federal agents who recently charged Vick with dogfighting would have to arrest nearly all of us for participating in far worse acts of animal cruelty.

The very definition of the 'scale/scope' slight of hand. Why worry about dogs WHEN THE POOR COWS ARE DYING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There's also something in there about slaughterhouses.

In the first place Courtland, we can be at least reasonably certain the animals raised for food in this country, or for import into this country as food have been treated to a minimum standard for care and killing. There is even a whole field of veterinary medicine for food animals, professionals trained to know whether an animal is in good care or in unsatisfactory conditions.

The last thing a cow may feel is the captive bolt upside the head before he is quartered but never was he starved, beaten, fed gunpowder or forced into a ring to fight a fellow cow. If your aim is to make meat eaters accomplices to Michael Vick's disgusting acts of barbarism we ain't buying.

Continuing, next graf:

...most of us are carnivores. We'll kill a duck, deer, turkey -- name any meat -- for the sheer entertainment of our palates or for the fun of the hunt.

And yet, Vick, 27, must take the fall.

Whoa that was so much bullshit I'm having a hard time prioritizing. Duck, deer, turkey, nutria, let us separate the entertainment of our palate from the nonegotiable human need for protein. Meat, tissue, is a source of protein. While media elites such as you and I no doubt enjoy a good meal from time to time in which we sample the braised this or the pan-fried that, the vast majority of meals consumed in this country are not for entertainment value.

Much of America, including your inner city DC constituency, shops for and buys what is in their budget and it is more difficult to maintain a healthy diet cost effectively without meat. It can be done to be sure as I did for five years, but the market for food in this country dictates that the lowest cost way to get a balanced diet is inclusive of meat.

As for entertainment killing, what am I, Ted Nugent? Last year the Washington Monthly reported that only 18 percent of Americans hunt or fish. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was even grimmer this year, reporting in July that only 5 percent of Americans consider themselves hunters. Somewhere between one in five Americans and one in 20 Americans enjoys the fun of the hunt, which like the food-animal business is tightly regulated, you don't just get to go out with an 8-gauge and start shooting. I question whether this is a large enough minority to merit mention.

And that Michael must 'take the fall' for our culinary indulgences and for the minority that pursues hunting legally, this is the very definition of specious.

We now move to the next step down the ladder of false moral relativism, the 'where do we draw the line:'

It's just that all the hullabaloo about dogfighting seems a bit hypocritical.

For the most part, we revel in a culture of blood sports in which people and animals are pitted against each another. The knockout in boxing, the knockdown in football, the crashes at Daytona and Indianapolis -- those are the draw. Without the video images of tigers ripping the hides from zebras, cobras fighting mongooses and other bloody contests played out in the wild kingdom, the Discovery and National Geographic channels might as well go off the air.

Ok first blood sport go look at the Wikipedia entry for 'blood sport.' All competition is not blood sport and football soccer and NASCAR do not fit this definition despite some blood being shed occasionally. By your estimation watching my five year old boys tangle is a blood sport, which come to think of it actually is.

Niiiiice. Nice transition from car crashes to wild animals. To be sure my cruelty alarm goes off when I see an obviously staged scene of animals attacking and dying, or obviously drugged prey shambling listlessly before the predator and those programs with such low production values should be ashamed of themselves if not prosecuted.

That said an enounter between a lion and a wildebeest is nature in action and in nature neither the lion nor the wildebeest need by tortured or beaten into playing his part as are dogs that get into the ring and sniff each other's butts instead of fight. I'll bet you'd have Marlin Perkins arrested if he were not already dead.

And how the hell do you think they get those kittens to eat that food so intently in the commercial. Answer: by starving them. You forgot to mention this one.

It starts to unravel at the end. There is talk about race horses and then:

Barbaro's leg could not be fixed, so he was eventually euthanized. For many broken-down racehorses, that can mean anything from lethal injection to having their throats slit -- killed just as surely as a wounded dog that can no longer fight.

When a horse's leg is broken in such a way that it cannot easily be set or fixed, the horse either will continue to injure itself by trying to get up (horses live on their feet), causing infection and eventually gangrene and death after great suffering or will starve on its side if it is literally unable to move. Either the lethal injection or the throat slit is more humane than simply letting nature take its course on a horse in this condition.


Vick's farm was raided by agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the same USDA that permits the wholesale slaughter of cows, chickens, pigs and lambs.

See above, it's that same USDA that regulates the wholesale slaughter of animals. You cannot simply buy an axe and a block of wood and go into the food packing business. These are mutually exclusive aspects of the USDA's mission and you are venturing into speciousland again.


Vick's case ought to be handled by a state's attorney, but it isn't. He is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. You'd think the guy had been caught smuggling a ton of heroin in the carcasses of dead poodles. U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson is presiding. His previous experience includes hearing cases that involve people suspected of being al-Qaeda sympathizers or "enemy combatants."

The state's attorney was not up to the case, he let the original search warrant expire, and we now know that there were things on that property that were used for illegal means. Michael still may be charged in Virginia. Michael's business apparently crossed state lines and the feds have jurisdiction over that. As for the al Qaeda reference in the article about the rich black athlete going to prison, whoa, that's as close as you can get to saying judge is a racist.


Perpetrators of gun violence ought to be taken so seriously.

According to data recently released by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, nearly half of more than 10,000 guns recovered by law enforcement authorities in the Washington area came from Virginia. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people -- human beings, not dogs -- have been killed by these guns. But you won't find any gun manufacturers -- or even many killers, for that matter -- being hauled into court on conspiracy charges.

Apparently you have to be a dogfight promoter for that.

Another scale/scope diversion, the one that goes THERE ARE SOM ANY GUSN COMING OUT OF VIRGINIA WHY DO WE CARE ABOUTY ANYTHINEG ELSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

And as a matter of fact Courtland the Republican-controlled Congress passed a law in 2005 that indemnified gun makers from lawsuits that were busy trying to haul gun maker ass into court to take responsibility for flooding the market with guns. President Bush signed it and as recently as 2006 that law was cited by a DC Superior Court judge in throwing out a case that sought to hold gun makers responsible for the unending flow of guns into the District. Know your history and your law, your problem here is not with overzealous prosecutors looking to put down a black man, it was Republicans in thrall to the gun lobby making a politically expedient decision at the expense of the very citizens about which you write.

You should be ashamed. What Michael Vick has now admitted to doing is barbaric in its own right and no amount of lame distraction will make anyone believe he is the oppressed.

* For the record, his name was Darrent not Darrant, it is disrespectful of the dead to misspell their name in the course of a specious argument.

Courtland Milloy from here.

Let Me Get This Straight: Linebacker Edition

I'm confused

Let me get this straight. The Redskins cut Lemar Marshall. After starting strongside linebacker Marcus Washington dislocated his elbow, the Redskins cut the guy with the most experience. No we are not talking about LaVar, we are talking about Lemar. The same Lemar that has been with the team for five full seasons and worked his way into the starting lineup and played for the number three overall Redskins defense in 2004 and the number nine overall Redskins defense in 2005.

This is perplexing to me for a number of reasons and I am left wondering, what the hell. Hogs Haven spotted this last night, WaPo, WaEx. The Redskins also signed a guy off the street, a 34 year old dude that was about to retire, a dude not in game shape and coming into the team more than three weeks after the start of camp. I am curious:

1. Lemar has been with the Redskins for five seasons and was elevated to starter Joe Gibbs' (and Gregg Williams') first year in 2004. He was part of the number three overall 2004 defense and the number nine overall 2005 defense. He knows the system.

2. Lemar's replacement, Randall Godfrey is no slouch to be sure having started 13 games last season for Wade Phillips' defense in San Diego and played well but he's 34. After being a starter his last team made no effort to sign him.

3. Randall knows less about the system and costs more. Lemar was set to make one million dollars, Randall was signed for 1.3 million dollars. Less is truly more.

4. Randall's been on the market since March and no one made a move and his chief selling points appear to be he lives in Atlanta, he's friends with Phillip Daniels and he played one season for Tennessee when Gregg Williams was defensive coordinator. Gregg has not been in Tennessee since the 2000 season.

5. The Redskins defense sunk to number 31 overall in 2006 in part on the weakness of the linebackers. Change that to read 'in part on the weakness of everybody' and you have it right. If that's the bar for staying or getting cut then goodbye Carlos Rogers, Shawn Springs, Marcus Washington, Andre Carter and Joe Salave'a.

So the rub is that Randall is an experienced strongside linebacker and can hold the fort until Marcus Washington is back. Lemar is a natural middle linebacker, where he played in 2005 and 2006 but has been replaced in the starting lineup by London Fletcher. In 2004 Lemar filled in for the 'injured' LaVar Arrington on the weakside and the team is concerned the strongside will suffer with Lemar at the position.

Granted Lemar has something of a learning curve for strongside, but is it that steep? At this point he's been playing defensive football for half his life or more and probably has picked up a thing or two about linebacking and besides, he's been in this system all four years it's been in place! Apparently he is not big enough to hold down that position.

The subtext is that Dallas Sartz and HB Blades are promising and there is youth at the linebacking position. In two preseason games and in the press I have yet to see either player near the top of the depth chart. HB was a strongside linebacker in college but moved to middle his junior year at Pitt and improved dramatically. Conclusion?

Dallas was a three year starter at strongside linebacker at USC but missed parts of his junior and senior season with a shoulder injury. So he is in the pipeline for that position and sizewise Dallas is hardly bigger than Lemar, listed at 6-4 226 to Lemar's 6-2 225. Conclusion?

Good luck Lemar, thanks for the hitting, we wish you well. At least we get one cool thing out of Randall Godfrey, a nickname. Since he owns a funeral home we can call him Six Feet Under.

Lemar Marshall: John McDonnell / Washington Post from here.

Dillweed's Microscope

Beware, when you stare into the universe the universe stares back

Some of you may know Jason Campbell was hit low and illegally by Steelers defensive tackle Brett Keisel. Some of you may know Jason somehow managed to escape major injury.

Are you like me, do you want to get past this play? Then go read Dillweed's frame-by-frame breakdown of this play. You will see how it happens and then you will realize that Brett smacking Jason was but a part a small part of this play.

By my estimates there are 70 offensive plays in an average game times 16 games so Dillweed is looking at about only 1100 or so individual play breakdowns. Ron Jaworski is a pussy.

Screencap from Post Game Heroes here.

The Quick Plummet and Hard Landing of Michael Vick

Never saw it coming

The rest is just the denouement, the final resolution of the story. The climax came yesterday. Michael Vick did a deal and will say 'guilty' when the judge asks him for his plea on Monday. The whole world it seemed has been on edge since Friday when Michael was due by 9am ET to announce whether he would accept a plea deal offered by federal prosecutors in his dogfighting case.

Michael came from Newport News where there were a lot of bad influences and not much of a father to guide him. Michael was born 26 June 1980. He picked up football and by 1996 was a star under the tutelage of former World Football League Tommy Reamon, the same who had mentored cousin Aaron Brooks (Wahoowa!) into the University of Virginia (Wahoowa!) and then the NFL. He left high school for Virginia Tech. That was 1998.

His first season as the starter he played mad ball and was on the cover of ESPN the Magazine. That was 1999. He brought the Hokies back 21 points to take the lead before losing to Florida State in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship. That was 2000.

The next season his Hokie team finished 11-1 and stomped Clemson in the Gator Bowl, he was MVP. He left school, was the number one overall pick in the NFL draft and by the end of that season was starting in Atlanta. That was 2001.

The next season, his first as the starter, he led his team to a 9-6-1 record and into the playoffs where they won a game at Lambeau Field before losing to the Eagles. Michael went to the Pro Bowl. That was 2002.

The next year he was on the cover of Madden 2004. He broke the fibula in his right leg in a preseason game and missed 11 games. That was 2003.

The next season he led the Falcons to an 11-5 record and the NFC Championship game. They lost to the Eagles on the coldest day of my life. In December Michael signed a 10-year 130 million dollar contract with 37 million dollars in signing bonus and then went to the Pro Bowl. That was 2004.

The next season Michael again went to the Pro Bowl and had the highest per-rush average of any player with 100 or more carries. A woman sued him, claiming Michael failed to tell her he had genital herpes and consequently gave them to her and that he took treatment under the name Ron Mexico to remain anonymous. Subsequently the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB all prohibited the sale of any number seven jersey customized with the name Mexico or Ron Mexico. That was 2005.

The next season the Falcons were 7-9 and Michael showed his middle finger to the home crowd after a loss to the Saints. That was 2006.

The next year was this year, 2007 the year of the pig.

Michael's coach was fired. His former coach's father had called Michael a coach killer and his former coach had then opined on national radio that maybe a college gig was better than all this NFL hubbub (all op. cit.). Michael was then stopped in an airport because the false bottom in the water bottle he was carrying smelled like marijuana probably the kind of marijuana that is known as 'the kind.' That was January.

Michael's backup, a promising and rising third year quarterback named Matt Schaub (Wahoowa!) is traded to the Houston Texans. Evidence pointed to Matt working well within the west coasty offense the former coach that had just been fired deployed but Michael's contract was so large that they kept the guy that couldn't run the coach's offense (Michael) then traded the guy that could (Matt) and then fired the coach that ran the offense that the guy they kept (Michael) couldn't run but who wanted to keep the guy that could (Matt) before they traded him to keep the guy that couldn't (Michael). That was March.

A drug investigation led to the discovery of dogfighting evidence including 60 dogs and tools to pry apart dogs' jaws on property owned by Michael near Newport News. That was April.

Michael told his new coach, the Falcons owner and the league commissioner that he had nothing to do with all that, that it was some cousins on they own (op. cit.). That was May.

Michael was indicted racketeering, illegal gambling and animal cruelty charges, all federal charges. The NFL commissioner forbade Michael from attending Falcons training camp. One of his best friends and a co-defendant in the case changed his plea from not guilty to guilty and pledged to testify against Michael. That was July.

Michael's other two friends and co-defendants agreed to plea bargains admitted guilt and pledged to testify against Michael, the alleged financier of the Bad Newz Kennels operation. That was less than two weeks ago.

Michael was given a deadline to accept or deny a plea deal, with the threat of new indictments looming if he did not accept it. That was last week.

Michael negotiated over the weekend and finally accepted a plea arrangement. That agreement will send him to jail for a year or more. That was Monday.

The NFL hasn't decided what to do but they will be soon. That was yesterday.

Michael will stand before the judge and deliver his guilty plea and receive a sentencing date. That is next Monday (op. cit.).

The Falcons open the regular season on the road against the Vikings. That is 9 September. Michael will not be there.

Michael Vick is 27.

Falcons season records from here. Most of the history of Michael Vick from Mark Maske's excellent piece here and Michael Vick's Wikipedia entry here.

Michael Vick: Getty Images file photo from here.