Monday, December 31, 2007

Make Way for the Redskins

That's right bitches get out my way

Takeaway drill: domination on both sides of the ball; offensive playmakers make plays; stifling defense; Cowboys embarrassed, even the starters; thanks but no thanks for the playoff help; playoff rematch in Seattle.


Monday walkthrough: the Redskins administer a thorough 27-6 beating in the muck to the Cowboys, a team with nothing to play for but playing starters into the third quarter, finish the regular season 9-7, muscle two teams out of the way to earn the sixth playoff seed, make a date with Seattle.

The Redskins took the ball to open the first quarter and moved the ball well, rookie right tackle Stephon Heyer was beat by Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears for a sack fumble of quarterback Todd Collins but Stephon atoned by falling on the ball to retain possession. The Redskins punted and the Cowboys, all starters save the inactives, three and outed. The Redskins took the ball and moved 29 yards, mainly on two Todd Collins passes to Chris Cooley before Ken Hamlin intercepted Todd's pass to Antwaan Randle El. Dallas did not get the ball back however as Cowboys rookie cornerback Alan Ball was called for pass interference as he and Antwaan ran downfield. It was a fortunate penalty call for the Redskins considering Todd Collins' pass was short and wide of the target. With the 20 yards tacked onto the drive Clinton Portis took the ball on the next play and ran 23 yards into the end zone, dodging and running through tacklers on the way and ending with a flip over the line.

Dallas got the ball back and on the next play Shawn Springs jumped the route in front of Terry Glenn, in his first action of the season, and intercepted the ball. The football gods did not approve however and four plays later Clinton Portis coughed it up on a first down run when hit by Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware. Dallas three and outed on the ensuing possession, actually going backwards and Washington had the ball at the end of the quarter leading 7-0.

Driving into the second quarter Santana Moss stretched down the right sideline and caught a 35 yard pass from Todd Collins but Dallas coach Wade Phillips challenged the call and the play was reversed, officials ruling Santana did not maintain possession all the way through the play. After Todd Collins was called for intentional grounding to avoid a sack Shaun Suisham kicked a 46 yard field goal. Dallas got the ball back and drove 70 yards, aided by defensive penalties on safety Reed Doughty and cornerback Fred Smoot before Nick Folk knuckled a 28 yard attempt wide right. On the previous 3rd and seven play Reed Doughty had atoned for the pass interference by knocking the ball away from Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, a catch there would have been a touchdown.

With the ball back and good field position DeMarcus Ware poured through the left side of the Redskins line and hit Todd Collins, he fumbled and Dallas recovered. Washington unsuccessfully challenged the call but the Dallas offense could go nowhere and Nick Folk kicked a 37 yard field goal. Washington took the next possession and four and outed followed by a Dallas three and out. The Redskins got the ball back with 49 seconds left in the half and went to a shotgun hurry up. On 2nd and ten from the Dallas 45 Todd Collins tossed a 12 yard pass to Santana Moss that was ruled complete but a booth review overturned it. Todd came right back to Santana for 15 yards then Reche Caldwell with a terrific catch and slide out of bounds for 19 yards. Ladell Betts almost scored on the next play with a draw through the middle and after a fortunately incomplete swing pass to Ladell Shaun Suisham set up and kicked a 21 yard chip shot. With 21 seconds left in the half Washington squib kicked it but the timing was off and the team was offsides on the kickoff (op. cit.). With the clock having expired the Cowboys were granted one untimed play that for some reason the Cowboys did not simply kneel on. Rookie defensive end Chris Wilson came through the right side and sacked Tony Romo for a ten yard loss to end the half with the Redskins leading 13-3.

Dallas got the ball to open the third quarter but could only manage 17 yards and punted. The Redskins then took the ball from their own 37 63 yards to score on a Clinton Portis one yard run, a 12 play beauty of a drive that tick tock tick tock consumed 6:45 of game clock. When the Cowboys got the ball back former Redskins Brad Johnson was under center and he led the team on his first three and out of the afternoon. The Redskins then took the ball and used up 4:05 of game time to end the quarter leading 20-3.

The first play of the fourth quarter was a Redskins punt which put the Cowboys back on their 14 and with a run for minus four yards and a helpful false start penalty (backups starting to filter in at this point) moved back to their five before a complete pass and a punt. Two plays later Todd Collins found Santana Moss down the right sideline for a 42 yard touchdown. The Cowboys got the ball back and Brad got them down to the Redskins three but was sacked by rookie Chris Wilson, his second sack of the afternoon. Nick Folk kicked a 30 yard field goal.

Real Redskins fans knows what happens next. All runs to close out the game. The Redskins three and outed, the Cowboys three and outed then the Redskins again then the Cowboys turned it over on downs in four plays, backups HB Blades and Demetric Evans stopping Brad Johnson on a 4th and one QB sneak. Todd Collins kneeled down twice from the victory formation to end the game, Redskins win 27-6.


Soapbox: for those that follow pro football and the Redskins closely this 2007 season has been an emotional roller coaster of epic proportions. A season that started on high notes then stumbled and fell before experiencing a loss outside the bounds of the game came back and ended on grit, determination and just goddamn good football. These Redskins are peaking and will be a dangerous team for the Seahawks next week.

The line on this game was Redskins minus nine with an over under around 40. Thinking the Redskins could would win but play it close, maybe even a cardiac ending, my first inclination was to take the Cowboys and the under, kind of a 20-17 kind of game. After talking with lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery though, he impressed upon me that once the Cowboys starting offensive linemen started coming out it was going to be a massacre and it was. No last parting thumb of the nose to Dan Snyder for Brad Johnson.

Beyond that I just have to say, damn, they did it, they made the playoffs. It would have been so easy, so forgiveable and so predictable for this team to go into a shell and sit there for the final five games, just hurry up and get away from football and let things sort themselves out in the offseason. But the Redskins did not do that. They rallied behind the close friends of Sean Taylor and a 36 year old career backup from off the shelf, and damn if'n they didn't get into the playoffs, only the fourth team that started 5-7 to make it.

At the risk of being branded as creating negative playoff energy, everything from here out is gravy, I just want to see some good football. It is now a three game countdown to the Super Bowl, just get out there and have some fun. You did good.


Chattering class: Mike Wise at the Washington Post uses Sean Taylor's death and the team's subsequent resurgence as a nearly inappropriate club to hate on Clinton Portis haters. I get it, no one likes Peter King anymore, at least not in Washington until that fat fuck gets Art Monk into the Hall of Fame, and anyone that would put rookie Marshawn Lynch ahead of Clinton on the list of best NFL tailbacks is stoopit.

Tom Boswell at the same paper muses on the resurgence of Joe Gibbs, was he always there waiting, even when we thought he was old and busted?

Les Carpenter at the same paper has the now required front page A1 story on the game, gets all misty eyed looking back on the season and gets all it must be fate on us. This story is sandwiched right between uplifting stories about Senator John McCain's ties to Washington lobbyists, those ones he said were ruining the political process, you know, McCain-Feingold and all that, and how the son of assassinated Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto will assume the mantle of party leader. Once he gets out of college. His mother, two uncles and grandfather have all been assassinated in the name of Pakistan's politics.


Omnibus: the weather and playing conditions were a factor in this game. It was raining early, trailed to mist by the end of the game but the wet ball seemed to act funny. Many passes by all quarterbacks were short or died in flight and the missed Nick Folk field goal in the second quarter looked like the ball just was not behaving properly.

The Cowboys had a number of team goals in mind when they came into this game. Here they are with results in italics. Record a 14-2 regular season record for the first time in franchise history, they did not. Gain two yards rushing, they did not and in fact one yard rushing is the franchise low. You can grouse all you want about backups and whatnot but come on, this is the NFL, you can't get one yard rushing? Really? Not even with Pro Bowl tailback Marion Barber in there for a half?

Todd Collins finished with a 104.8 passer rating (op. cit.) and still has yet to throw an interception, the man has a short memory which on gameday can be good for a quarterback, whether it's forgetting you just fumbled, just got sacked or that you dint staht a game foah ten seasons.

Santana Moss finished with eight catches for 115 yards but was robbed of two catches totaling 47 yards on play reversals. Both times Todd Collins went right back to Santana, the first time on the second play after for 21 yards and the second time on the next play for 15 yards. And although I kind of lampooned it back in September, Reche Caldwell has been a great pickup, he gives the Redskins three solid receivers going into to the playoffs.

After getting beat for a sack fumble by Marcus Spears on the opening drive rookie right tackle Stephon Heyer steadied and played a great game. Earlier in the season I had thought of Stephon as a project, a guy that would still need a season or two before we really would learn if he can play every down at the NFL level, I mean let's be honest, despite being literally the biggest guy on the field he was undrafted and it is rare that all 32 teams are wrong on a guy. After watching Stephon play in all four of these wins to close out the season I am beginning to wonder if the future is now with Stephon, both Redskins tackles Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen are getting up there and it is good to see the Redskins have a player in the pipeline.

There was a game management bugaboo. Joe Gibbs challenged the sack fumble of Todd Collins in the second quarter arguing Todd's arm was going forward when hit and the play should have resulted in an incomplete pass. To those of us watching at home it seemed a fairly obvious fumble and Washington wasted a challenge and timeout. This error was made to look even worse because Wade Phillips had already called two challenges, the Santana Moss 35 yard catch, and a 36 yard incomplete to Cowboys receiver Sam Hurd, both were reversed to Dallas' benefit.

I disagree with the Post, the incomplete swing pass right to Ladell Betts with nine seconds left in the half was not a bad call per se. He likely would not have scored and been held in bounds but the Redskins still had two timeouts left at this point and could have called one. That said I think I would have called another center run or run all square ins and looked for Chris Cooley or an open man. Wednesday update: Thanks to reader and past guest poster Rob for reminding me the Redskins DID NOT have any timeouts left before this play, therefore making it a terrible call, Rob is correct, the players would likely not have had time to set up and spike it and the half would probably ended there, with no points for the Redskins. I could not recall the specifics myself and was going off the NFL's play by play which indicates the Redskins still had one timeout as the half expired. I checked the video (love DVR) and the WaPo play by play and the NFL's is wrong, links to both play by play accounts below. This is game management bugaboo number two.

The untimed play at the end of the half was for the Cowboys a dark mirror of the untimed play to end the game last time the Cowboys came to Redskins Stadium. In that game the score was tied at 19 with six seconds left, Troy Vincent blocked Mike Vanderjagt's game winner field goal, Sean Taylor picked up the ball and ran 30 yards, still not in Nick Novak's aka Bob Novak's range, but Cowboys guard Kyle Kosier tackled Sean by the facemask and the ensuing personal foul added 15 yards. Time had expired but the Redskins were granted one untimed play and Bob Novak hit from 47 yards, game over, Redskins win 22-19. In this game Tony Romo got sacked by a rookie.

As a testament to both the persistence in calling run plays and the ability of Todd Collins to find open receivers, the Redskins first scoring drive of the second half was 12 plays, eight runs and four passes. Excepting the last run which started at the Dallas one yard line only one of the seven other runs went for more than three yards. In past days the Redskins playcaller whether Joe Gibbs in 2004 or Al Saunders in 2006 as two for examples would abandon the run with nothing happening and start all passing. This year the Redskins have stuck to the ground game even when the opponent was not giving much and Todd Collins is doing his part by finding open receivers when he needs to.

What else does that much running do? Consume the clock. In the third quarter the Cowboys got the ball to start and ran a total of seven offensive plays over three and a half minutes while the Redskins ran 20 over 11 and a half.

The Force is strong with Marcus Washington and this Redskins defense, particularly against the run. Since Todd Collins stepped up against Chicago the Redskins are allowing 72 rushing yards per game, 205 passing yards per game and 13 points per game, these four games against the defending NFC champion Bears, a Giants team that needed a win to clinch a playoff spot, a Vikings team that faced near certain playoff elimination with a loss and a Dallas team that was 'playing to win' and left their starters in through the third quarter.

The Redskins set an attendance record with 90,910 announced. Where they hell do they put them all?

And so what, what's a kiss between old friends? (op. cit.)


Area 51: LaRon Landry closed the regular season as the only surviving member of Area 51, the Win for Sean sentiment ran through this game like a rallying cry, LaRon finished the game with three tackles and a life forever changed.

Freddie Your Cruise Director: Fred Smoot was not spectacular in this game, an illegal downfield contact penalty gave the Cowboys a first down from third and five, Nick Folk conveniently missed the ensuing field goal. Later Fred gave up a 35 yard catch and run over the middle to Miles Austin.

Washington Post recap, box score, play by play, game photos. NFL recap, box score, full play by play, Gamebook (PDF), photos.

Next up, playoff rematch in Seattle. The Seahawks have turned from a run first team behind Shaun Alexander to a passing team to set up Shaun's run, they won ten games but are they really any good in a terrible division? It's playoff time in Washington.

Playoffs kids, the Redskins are in the playoffs.

Joe Gibbs: Nick Lanham / Getty Images from here. Matt Hasselbeck rocking the cheese 'stache: Uncredited image from here.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Vikings Are Losing - Chill Down the Champagne

Thank you Minnesota

Update 2: thankfully Jason Elam came in and put the Vikings out of their misery. The lol is that after Redskins coverage was over on Fox they switched us over to that game for that one play, right as the Broncos were snapping the ball. Thanks to the Vikings, the Redskins did not need the help.

Update: Minnesota has tied their game at 19, looks like I spoke too soon. Lucky for me the Redskins are holding a three score lead with eight minutes left.

The Vikings are losing to the Broncos and the Redskins are kicking the shit out of the Cowboys. Check Seattle flight availability here.

It's the rematch.

Viking from here.

Saints Lose - Redskins Are Halfway There

Thank you New Orleans

The Saints have lost to the Bears, the Redskins are now one Vikings loss from the playoffs.

The Redskins could also beat the Cowboys and get in on their own, but then you probably already knew about that.

Fleur de lis from here.

Game 16: Redskins (8-7) vs. Cowboys (13-2)


The Washington Redskins host the archrival Dallas Cowboys for a 4:15pm game at Redskins Stadium, the season has come down to one of few meaningful games this weekend, win and they're in. Lose and they can still get in but it's not anything close to likely.

The Cowboys have cemented the top playoff seed in the NFC, winning or losing this game cannot affect their playoffs so the big question all week has been, who will Cowboys coach Wade Phillips play, and for how long? Even with Terrell Owens out for sure today and maybe longer of course the team will play to win, every team always plays to win and the Cowboys have an added incentive: they have never been 14-2 in team history (op. cit.). That said, you can bet the Cowboys will not parrot the Patriots and keep starters in just to set a team record and risk a shot at a championship.

So here we are, it's the biggest Redskins game since the Seattle playoff loss in round two of the 2005 playoffs. Bigger than that though because of everything this season: the great start, the flagging, calls for Joe Gibbs to resign, the shooting death of Sean Taylor and aftermath and now a team resurgent behind it's playmakers and a backup quarterback off the back shelf. Now, Joe Gibbs is in his element.

Curly R aside: Todd Collins is not Jeff Garcia and any team that was to take a chance on him as a starter next year I think would be sorry. Todd has a good gig here, he will get some time to play next season (all first backups do these days), it will prolong his career not to play full time and he is here with Al Saunders and his system. The Redskins need to step up with a good number but Todd should not be expecting much more than two million dollars a season. I spect we we will be addressing this issue again in the offseason.

Curly R aside continues: as discussed previously there is no decision this week about Jason Campbell versus Todd Collins, Jason is not ready, end of story. If the Redskins win we will be talking about this next week. It's Todd's team until further notice regardless of Jason's status.

How to prep for this game given the uncertainty about who will play for Dallas and all the other things on Joe Gibbs' mind? Easy: do what you do. On offense the Redskins will be smashing on the ground and looking to find open receivers against zone coverage. Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, Antwaan Randle El, they are all healthy and raring to go and they are going to give Mike Sellers back his helmet (op. cit.). If the Cowboys start dropping starters on defense look for a lot less man to man from them and that should mean Todd can find guys open on the seams. As for the running game one thing the Redskins have displayed this season is an insistence on sticking with the run even when the opponent is not giving much.

Wouldn't it be awsum if Clinton broke off a c-note today?

On defense the Redskins will be more of the same, looking to get pressure on whoever is quarterbacking the Cowboys and once starting offensive linemen start to sit that is going to get easier. Doesn't matter how many Cowboys offensive linemen are going to the Pro Bowl, if they are not in the game they can't do much. And Brad Johnson may still bear a grudge against Dan Snyder over the whole Jeff George thing from 2001 and something I just learned this week, after Brad and the Vikings beat the Redskins in the Monday Night Football season opener last season he wore his old Redskins jersey out of the locker room to the team bus but none of that matters if a) there are few or no starting linemen in there to block for him and or b) the Brad Johnson that plays today looks much like the Brad Johnson that ended last season with the Vikings. He was done.

On the ground Marion Barber is freakishly hard to tackle but he won't be in the game long, the Redskins will be contending with Julius Jones, a serious football player but not the threat that is Marion.

Wouldn't it be awsum if Fred Smoot grabbed another couple of interceptions?

And speaking of that 2005 playoff run I think there is only superficial similarity to today. The Redskins then were only playing for pride and they did it on the shoulders of Clinton Portis. This team is considerably more balanced, that's all about quarterback play. Even before Jason Campbell went down there was simply no comparison between Mark Brunell's fadeout and QB performance today. How much of that is Al Saunders and how much of it is not Mark Brunell? You tell me.

Player notes: Clinton Portis was named the NFC Player of the Week after the Vikings game. I have commented on this here. Backup center Mike Pucillo was placed on injured reserve this week with a bad back (op. cit.), he started one game in place of Casey Rabach, the win over the Cardinals in October. Reserve Rick DeMulling becomes the backup center. Mike was also a tight end in heavy jumbo though he has been largely replaced by Lorenzo Alexander aka Scarface, The Man That Does It All in these sets.

Washington Post preview, Redskins Gameday (PDF). Campbell's Collins' Corner, newsflash, Todd Collins understands there is a rivalry somewhere around here. Redskins roster, Cowboys roster; Redskins projected starters, Cowboys projected starters; Redskins injury report, Cowboys injury report.

Other previews: The Redskin Report statalicious / Lee's thoughts on the game

This is a gameday open thread.

Clinton Portis Named NFC Player of the Week - For First Time as Redskin


After his multifacted performance against the Vikings, 20 rushes for 76 yards and a touchdown, five catches for 48 yards, one pass for 15 yards and a touchdown, Redskins tailback Clinton Portis was named the NFC Player of the Week. This is the first time Clinton has garnered this honor as a Redskin.

Which I thought was interesting, Clinton has been here since 2004, this is his fourth season as a Redskin and he has been one of the best players on the team. In the playoff run of 2005, the five wins to end the season, Clinton had at least 105 yards in each game and carried the ball at least 23 times in each game. It was before I started Curly R and was not paying as close attention but come on, is this really the first time he has deserved this award?

Hey Clinton, let's make it two this week.

Clinton Portis: Chris McGrath / Getty Images from here.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Blogger Deathsport: Week Seventeen Picks

This is it

Update 20 Feb 2008: final results, only seven weeks later. Curly R went 10-5-1, good for second place, and we won the whole thing. Final weekly results here.

Blogger Deathsport: NFL Pick'em comes to a conclusion with week seventeen picks. Your host holds a six game lead going into the final week, check Post Game Heroes, TexSkins, Skin Patrol and CommonPrejudice for other picks. (The shame of pity: Dagger and Skin Patrol could not get it up a seventeenth time)

NE (-13.5) @ NYJ
Pick: Giants. This line shrunk a whole point, this week I am just following the money.
Result: Giants. This was a great game and fuck the NFL (Network) for trying to put cable over a barrel.

STL @ ARZ (-6)
Pick: Rams. This line shrunk a point.
Result: Cardinals. This was a bloo out for the Cards.

Pick: Seahawks. This line shrunk two points but you don't need to be Jimmy the Greek to figure this one.
Result: Falcons. This was a bad call, the Seahawks sat a bunch of guys, I hate picking in the last week.

CAR (-3) @ TB
Pick: Panthers. This line got a half point bigger but this one bothers me.
Result: Panthers. Mall Moore and Luke McCown, wow bring on the playoffs.

CIN (-2.5) @ MIA
Pick: Dolphins. This line shrunk a half point and also bothers me.
Result: Bengals. Nobody had anything on the line and there was not much defense.

SF @ CLE (-12)
Pick: 49ers. Chucking the money line on this one. The Browns ain't 12 points better than nobody.
Result: Browns. Funny, they actually were 13 points better.

DET @ GB (-5)
Pick: Packers. Because the line got a point bigger and I think the Packer backups are better than the Lion starters.
Result: Packers. Rolling into the playoffs, at this point they had no idea they would lose to the Giants.

JAX @ HOU (-6.5)
Pick: Texans. This line got 2 and a half points larger. The Jaguars are going to be deadly in the playoffs.
Result: Texans. The Jags sat a bunch of people, wow look at me I called one right.

MIN (-3) @ DEN
Pick: Broncos. This one opened with no line but I think the Vikings tank.
Result: Broncos. Both teams are sympathetic.

NO (-1.5) @ CHI
Pick: Bears. This one also opened with no line, I think the Saints season ended last week.
Result: Bears. Kyle Orton is teh mang.

KC @ NYJ (-6)
Pick: Chiefs. The line shrunk a half point, two bad teams.
Result: Chiefs. Oh Tannenbaum.

BUF @ PHI (-8)
Pick: Bills. The line is unchanged and the Bills are playing well.
Result: PUSH. No winner no winner.

PIT (-3) @ BAL
Pick: Steelers. Baltimore is just done.
Result: Ravens. Brian Billick still got fired.

SD (-8.5) @ OAK
Pick: Chargers. The Raiders are loljocks.
Result: Chargers. I was wrong about Norv...this year.

TEN (-5) @ IND
Pick: Titans. They need to fight hard to get in.
Result: Titans. Correction, they needed to fight hard and cover to get in.

DAL @ WAS (-9)
Pick: Redskins. IT IS ALIVE.
Result: Redskins. A glorious ass whipping of star proportions, fitting for Joe Gibbs' last regular season game and last win as Redskins head coach. Thank you Joe.

Final results Monday in February.

End of the road from here.

Blogger Deathsport: Week Sixteen Results

There will be a Deathsport champion

Blogger Deathsport: NFL Pick'em wraps for week sixteen, next to last week, your host wins outright for the first time in nine weeks.

1. Curly R with 11 wins and 5 losses. Opening up a bit of a lead.

2. Post Game Heroes at 8-8. Going to need a big week 17 to pull it off.

3. Skin Patrol at 6-9. Missed the Cowboys game. Curve flattens here.

4. CommonPrejudice at 6-10. Average goes down again.

5. TexSkins at 5-11. Eighteen points off his average.

Brag post summary: Curly R, Post Game Heroes and TexSkins now all have two brag posts in reserve. Brag post credits never expire.

Season records through sixteen weeks:

1. (1) Curly R: 129-100-11 or 56.3% with three weekly wins.
2. (2) Post Game Heroes: 123-106-11 or 53.7% with four weekly wins.
3. (3) TexSkins: 110-112-11 or 49.5% with two weekly wins.
4. (4) Skin Patrol: 91-110-9 or 45.3% with no weekly wins.
5. (5) CommonPrejudice: 103-126-11 or 45.0% with one weekly win.

Pushes are excluded from percentage as they can neither be won nor lost, picks for Saturday's and Sunday's games are due any minute.

Bragging rights from here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Let It Be Todd Collins - For Now

Love those kneesocks, the old school is in session

I am beginning to hear the chatter about who should play quarterback for the Redskins. It has been three weeks since Jason Campbell had his left kneecap dislocated and ascendant backup Todd Collins has won all three games.

Joe Gibbs has the right attitude, there can be no controversy right now because Jason is not ready to come back, he just started throwing again this week. That means there is nothing to talk about for the Dallas game, Todd is playing and there is no point in talking about game 17 because there is no game 17 unless the Redskins win game 16.

Joe Gibbs won't delve into hyptheticals but I will. Todd Collins should stay in charge of this team for now. He has a hot hand and the offense is looking good. No reason to change now when the season is down to five games for the championship.

Many things can happen between now and then. Todd could get hurt, he could get figured out by an opponent and blowed up. He could play well and the Redskins could still lose. In one or more of these scenarios Jason could come back whether the team wanted him to or not.

Jason will be at the helm of this team for years to come. Right now the Redskins have a steady hand on the wheel and they need to win games, not stroke egos. Jason, this is a message from a Jason Campbell fan: watch what Todd Collins does with this offense. Pay attention. We do not want nor expect you to be Todd Collins. Yet there is no denying Todd is rocking the muthafucking house right now.

Jason Campbell is the Redskins quarterback of the future, Todd Collins is the Redskins quarterback for the next game.

More detail on this issue later today or tonight, I have a whole spiel on it, I just wanted to get this out there.

Quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor, Todd Collins and Jason Campbell: Washington Post from here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Redskins Week 17 Playoff Scenario

It's really a lot simpler than this

It is week 17, let us review the Redskins playoff scenario. As reported Sunday the Redskins needed five things to happen last weekend, they went 4-1 in those five things. Here they are in order and the results:

1. The Redskins needed to win this last game. Check. With a win over the Vikings Minnesota then falls to 8-7, the same record as the Redskins. If the Redskins and Vikings finish with the same record Washington will hold the head to head tiebreak over Minnesota.

2. The Saints needed to lose Sunday. Check. Donovan McNabb and the Eagles went into New Orleans and beat the Saints 38-23. Washington is now a game up on New Orleans.

3. The Cowboys needed to win Saturday night. Check. Dallas moves one step closer to clinching the top NFC playoff spot, and therefore having no need to play all starters by beating the Panthers 20-13.

4. The Packers needed to lose Sunday. Check. This was the longshot and the Bears paid off by beating the crap out of the Packers 35-7. This Green Bay loss clinched the top NFC playoff spot for the Cowboys and now hopefully many Dallas players will rest this weekend.

5. The Giants needed to lose yesterday. Nope. The Bills lost a two touchdown lead before falling to the Giants 38-21. Luckily this was the lowest priority requirement and was premised on the idea that if the Redskins won out and the Giants lost out the Redskins could still get the higher wildcard seed over the Giants. The Giants faced a must win this past weekend with the Patriots game coming, a game to be played for history and a game they are likely to lose.

Moving to this weekend the scenario is simple: win. The Redskins now control their own playoff destiny. Beat the Cowboys and the Redskins are in the playoffs. The Cowboys have nothing to play for but 'momentum' or 'reps' this Sunday before getting a week off to watch the other teams. Receiver Terrell Owens is out this week with a sprained ankle and cornerback Terence Newman is almost certainly out.

My guess is the team will play quarterback Tony Romo, tailback Marion Barber and the rest of the starters sparingly, expecially against a Redskins front seven that knows the stakes and will be out there Sunday doing its best to dirty up some jerseys.

There is also a scenario where the Redskins can lose this game and still get into the playoffs with Vikings and Saints losses. This is not necessarily out of the question since both those teams play on the road for the finale, the Vikings at an angry Broncos team that never got it together this season and the Saints at a Bears team trying to finish strong after dismantling the Packers Sunday.

That said I would not count on this reality, the Redskins need to win it on their own. I do not call this game Sunday, this latest installment in Dallas-Washington season finales, a gimme by any means. The Redskins will have to fight their hearts out, keep mistakes to a minimum and stay on balance.

I can't wait until Sunday.

If then scenario from here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Season's Greetings from The Curly R

From everyone on staff at The Curly R, Will in research, Josh in copy and Anderson at the editor's desk, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all that. Hope you get some time off.

-Ben Folsom

Other Curly R season's greetings: 2006 :: 2008 :: 2009 :: 2010

Vacationing Santa Claus from here.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Running Them Through

Holding that door open

Takeaway drill: the Redskins win a must win; attacking on offense and defense; Fred Smoot unbound; Tarvaris Jackson meet Gregg Williams; a smart challenge; Adrian who?


Monday walkthrough: the Redskins go into the Metrodome, scene of Super Bowl 26 glory and win the game they had to win, move to 8-7 and now drum roll please control their own playoff destiny. The Redskins now have won three in a row since losing the first game after Sean Taylor's death, next week is the season finale, at Redskins Stadium, against a Cowboys team that has nothing to play for.

Curly R's coverage of the Redskins week 17 playoff scenarios is here.

The Redskins took the opening kickoff, Rock Cartwright continued to solidify himself as a premier return man with a 22 yarder and then went three and out on three straight Todd Collins incompletes. After the Derrick Frost punt and Mewelde Moore fair catch Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson ran for two yards and then on Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson's first pass of the night Redskins linebacker Randall Godfrey, playing in place of lost for the season Rocky McIntosh, broke through the line and hurried Tarvaris' pass. It sailed high and into the arms of Fred Smoot who took it back 47 yards to the Vikings eight yard line. In typical fashion the Redskins could not take a compliment and Chris Samuels committed a false start penalty and four plays later it was 4th and goal on the one yard line. Instead of taking the three to draw first blood the Redskins went for it on a fullback Mike Sellers carry. The play was initially ruled a touchdown but the Viking challenged it and the call was overturned, Vikings ball at the one inch line.

Tarvaris handed off to fullback Tony Richardson who was stopped inside the endzone for a safety. The Redskins took the free kick and went 34 yards on six plays, four runs and two passes to the Vikings 33 yard line before Todd Collins found Chris Cooley wide open across theleft middle, touchdown Redskins. The Vikings then three and outed, the Redskins three and outed and right at the end of the quarter the Vikings got the ball at midfield and went thirteen yards before kicker Ryan Longwell missed a 53 yard field goal wide left. The Redskins got the ball back as the first quarter ended with the Redskins leading 9-0.

Starting the second quarter with the ball the Redskins could only manage 11 yards on seven plays before setting up for a 51 yard field goal. Holder Derrick Frost bobbled the snap and could not get it in position for kicker Shaun Suisham. Derrick picked it up in an attempt to run but was tackled immediately, Vikings ball. Proving the football gods were unhappy with this turn of events, three plays later Vikings receiver Visanthe Shiancoe (vi-SONT-ee SHAN-co) was hit by Randall Godfrey and fumbled, it was recovered by Redskins defensive tackle Kedric Golston. Alas the Redskins could not go forth and multiply with this gift as they three and outed.

Atoning for this failure, Shawn Springs leapt in front of Vikings receiver Bobby Wade two plays later and intercepted the ball, his third of the year, all in the past three games. Two plays later Todd Collins found Santana Moss looking like he is injury free streaking down the left sideline for a 32 yard touchdown catch. The Redskins then forced the Vikings to use nearly three and half minutes of clock before punting and then the Redskins mounted a classic Redskins drive: 10 plays, 3:30 of clock time when Clinton Portis took the handoff and swept right. When the linebackers and corner began to collapse on the alleged running play Clinton cocked and tossed the ball 15 yards Antwann Randle El for a touchdown. The Redskins went for the two point conversion but failed. With only 44 seconds left in the half the Vikings ran the ball and the half ended with the Redskins leading 22-0.

The Vikings got the ball to open the third quarter and there was a scary moment on the kickoff when Mike Sellers took a hit to the head and lay motionless, apparently out cold. After bringing out the cart and a backboard he suddenly sprung to his feet and walked off on his own. He did not return to the game (see Omnibus below).

The Vikings took the opening possession and struggled to make it ot midfield. On 4th and one at the Redskins 44 Minnesota opted to go for it, too long for a field goal, not an ideal place for a punt. London Fletcher and LaRon Landry filled the hole at left guard and stuffed Adrian Peterson for no gain, Redskins ball. As predicted by past performance the Redskins then tried to play slow ball, milking the clock, taking max time between plays. Washington went 48 yards on ten plays, consuming almost five minutes of clock time before Shaun Suisham came in and kicked a 26 yard field goal. The Vikings then all but abandoned the run and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson led Minnesota on a 10 play scoring drive that ended on a two yard touchdown pass to tight end Jim Kleinsasser. It started to look like the Redskins were giving it away when the Vikings recovered an onsides kicks but then three and outed. The Redskins got the ball back and the quarter ended on a 3rd and one play for no gain with the Redskins leading 25-7.

The fourth quarter opened with a Redskins punt and on the punt play James Thrash committed an unnecessary roughness penalty (can't recall the play, help me out in comments) to add 15 yards onto Minnesota's field position. The Vikings then went nine plays from midfield, scoring a touchdown on a Tarvaris Jackson six yard scramble. The Redskins got the ball back, suddenly their 22 point lead had been cut in half. Washington took this possession and went 75 yards on 14 plays, consuming 5:14 off the clock, scoring on a Clinton Portis 16 yard run. On the fourth play of this drive, 1st and 10 at the Washington 47, Todd Collins and center Casey Rabach got crossed up and Todd fumbled the snap. He went down for it but was batted away by Vikings man mountain defensive tackle Kevin Williams who recovered it, Vikings ball. Joe Gibbs challenged the play alleging Minnesota had 12 men on the field at the time of the snap. The play was reviewed and the call was overturned, Redskins ball.

The Vikings got the ball back and went into a hurry up offense, covering 73 yards in just over three minutes of clock time before Tarvaris Jackson scored his second touchdown run. Down by 11 points with 1:58 left in regulation the Vikings called all their timeouts on the ensuing Redskins drive, all runs, forcing the Redskins to punt. Four desperation passing plays later the game was over, Redskins win 32-21.


Soapbox: what a terrific game. I was in Charlottesville visiting inlaws for the holidays and watched this game at Rapture on the downtown mall. It was the first time in recent memory that I had gone to a bar with the explicit purpose of watching a whole game at a bar. I thought it was going to be lame-oh, Charlottesvillians have never impressed me with their love of the Redskins, and thought we would have to leave at halftime to find a better place, maybe the South Street Brewery where I could actually hear the sound. But as Loveboat Freddie intercepted that first Tarvaris Jackson pass I heard cheers erupt behind me, there were about a half dozen serious Redskins fans in this small bar and before I knew it we were all old friends. The shots started coming out and by the end of the night I was fully in the bag. Thanks to random Cville denizen Andy for the Jaegermeister and the Jaegerbombs.

I thought Mike Sellers' touchdown on 4th and goal in the first quarter was a touchdown and should not have been overturned. In the first place I thought Joe Gibbs should have taken the three and not gone for it, why oh why has he become so tempted by the 4th and goal? It is in Joe Gibbs blood to take the safe points and make the other team play from behind from the very beginning rather than gamble and then be tempted to chase missed points all game. That said I did not believe from looking at the replay that there was conclusive evidence that the ball did not cross the goal line and it should not have been reversed. However like the LaRon Landry disruptive penalties in recent games, calls that went against the team but did not affect the outcome of the game, this sequence and the ensuing safety (awsum because it was Tony Richardson, the man that beat out Mike Sellers for the Pro Bowl) and then touchdown turned out ok.

Staying on this theme I thought it was a bad idea for the Redskins to go for two at the end of the half. I guess maybe Al Saunders' Magic Index Card showed the two would put the Redskins up three TD-PATs plus a FG, or three TD-2PTs, whereas the PAT alone would only put the Redskins up 23. What the fuh....? YOU'RE UP THREE SCORES DUMBASSES, BE HAPPY AND TAKE THE PAT!

A few people, including the original Redskins fan named Ben Folsom as well as the neighbor we call Tony Almeida have commented on how the Redskins were setting up for a collapse in the second half by playing weak defense and allowing Tarvaris Jackson to get the Vikings back into the game through the air. Although I and all of Redskinsland would have preferred to see the Vikings shut out there was a strategy there. As usual the Redskins tried to take away the deep ball at the expense of letting the short stuff through. This contains the opponent and forces them to use clock. In three second half scoring drives the Vikings consumed a total of 11:37 of clock time, more than one third of the second half. The Redskins did what they had to do by answering those three Vikings touchdowns with ten points of their own to keep the game out of reach. Force the opponent to take as long as possible to do anything.


Chattering class: Tom Boswell at the Washington Post is All About Todd. Mike Wise at the same paper is All About Joe. For the trifecta the Post's Les Carpenter has the front page A1 story on the game, sandwiched between stories on the US government's many ignored warnings on Blackwater and how the falling dollar is hurting international markets.


Omnibus: coming into this game the Vikings were number one in running the ball and in stopping the run. In this game the Redskins outperformed on the ground both ways. Rookie phenom tailback Adrian Peterson had five carries in the first half, nine overall for 27 yards to go along with two receptions for 21 yards and a dropped pass. The Redskins shut him down and forced the Vikings to go away from him by building a three score lead before halftime.

Clinton Portis and Santana Moss, the main men from the 2005 playoff team, they're back.

After concussing himself on the second half kickoff play Mike Sellers was forced to sit out the rest of the game. A new rule this year, to me as well, I had never heard of it, dictates that a player who has been diagnosed at the game to have suffered a concussion cannot return to the game. Apparently Mike did not know this or else took the news poorly as the team had to hid his helmet in order to prevent him from trying to get back in the game.

London Fletcher did not lead the team in tackles for the first time in three games, against the Bills. Loveboat Freddie led the team in tackles that game too.

On Washington's first drive of the second half Vikings linebacker Ben Leber was credited with a sack when he hit Clinton Portis behind the line. It looked to me like Clinton was queuing up the halfback option play that scored a TD in the first half, but he never threw it. I am uncertain as to how tackling a tailback behind the line of scrimmage can be considered a sack unless the score keeper considers him changing to a quarterback once he begins to motion as though he may throw the ball. Seems a little subjective to me. As a hypothetical if the QB takes a snap and makes no motion as though to throw but instead tucks and runs on a keeper and is hit behind the line, is it a run for loss or a sack?

That fourth quarter challenge (op. cit.), the Todd Collins fumbled snap recovered by Minnesota, that was an interesting sequence. It was my understanding that a no-call cannot be challenged. The officials did not catch Minnesota with 12 men on the field at the snap and thus missed the call. Therefore under the guidance that you cannot go back and create a penalty where there was none called on the field the play should not have been overturned. The commentators and fans could be up in arms and we would see the violation over and over but like every play has a hold or an illegal block there should have been no way to reverse the fumble based on the Vikings having 12 men on the field. I guess my understanding is incorrect. Brad Childress got all hot after the challenge because he thought the Redskins had substituted, if they had the Vikings would have been entitled to time enough to match but it turned out the Redskins had not. The Viking Age reports that Brad was preoccupied with seeing the bigboard replay of the play before, a Santana Moss sideline catch for 27 yards and whether to challenge it.

The Vikings final score was set up in part by what I thought was a questionable 16 yard pass interference call on Redskins third cornerback Leigh Torrence. The pass looked uncatchable to me and therefore there should have been no penalty. Perhaps the call was on the contact because the 'uncatchable pass' call has all but disappeared from the NFL as the rules of receiver contact have tightened. It was an unfortunate moment for Leigh, a reserve guy trying to make an impression but it was offset by Leigh's sack of Tarvaris Jackson on a corner blitz in the third quarter.

In other what the fuh...? news, Joe Gibbs denied after the game that owner Dan Snyder had offered him a two year contract extension. Of course this means there was an offer and it will likely be accepted once the season has been put away. Joe Gibbs signed a five year deal to come back to the team but built the team to peak no later than four years. Coming into next season many player salaries from that free agent class will climb to untenable numbers and some will be gone, others will restructure. In either event there is at least a decent chance the team will look quite a but different next season and it would be sad to watch a lame duck coach try and muddle through a one year team. It seems with the late season success the team has had and the tragedy the team has had to suffer through in losing Sean Taylor that Joe Gibbs will come back, he cannot back out now, he'd rather vapor lock on the sidelines than go out this way.


Area 51: although there were no signature hits, LaRon Landry and Reed Doughty were part of the defense that flummoxed Tarvaris Jackson and his receivers. How pleasant just to say the safeties were undistinguished in a great defensive effort.

Freddie Your Cruise Director: Fred Smoot was awsum (op. cit.), he had in INT and led the team in tackles (see box score) has become a major factor in coverage. This is his fourth great game in a row.

Washington Post recap, box score, play by play, game photos. NFL recap, box score, full play by play, Gamebook (PDF), photos.

Other recaps:

Next up, the Dallas Cowboys at Redskins Stadium, the rematch season finale, the second consecutive Redskins game to change timeslots (from 1pm to 4:15pm, op. cit.). After beating the Panthers the Cowboys have nothing to play for playoff wise and the question is, how many starters will Dallas risk in a game the Redskins must win to get into the playoffs. Washington's defensive players will be going full steam and if anyone can get a hit on the quarterback or an open field signature hit on a ball carrier they will not hesitate to do so. I wonder if Wade Phillips saw this.

Clinton Portis and Todd Collins: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images from here. Jessica Simpson and Tony Romo from here.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Game 15: Redskins (7-7) at Vikings (8-6)


The Redskins travel to Minnesota for a must win game, it's Playoff Deathsport in the NFC. Win and the Redskins live to fight another day. Lose and they are out of playoff contention. So great is the demand for this game that it was rescheduled from 1pm to the national slot at 8pm on NBC.

As one that has been somewhat annoyed by the conventional wisdom that the NFL is a passing league I am pleased to see a game between two teams that favor the run. The Redskins have returned at least somewhat to their Joe Gibbs roots as a run first team, Clinton Portis has a thousand yards rushing despite only three 100 yard games and a 3.9 yards per carry average. In other words they have been sticking to the run even when other teams are not giving much.

As for the Vikings well they have Adrian Peterson but that's not nuff said. Minnesota added Adrian to a team that already had a thousand runner in Chester Taylor.

And now this Vikings team has won five in a row, and without giving up 100 yards in that stretch and are controlling their own destiny for the playoffs. When the Redskins players look across the field to the other bench they will see the team they have to go through.

Defensively for the Redskins the gameplan is going to be to jam the running lanes, all arms out and linebackers running downhill and contain Adrian Peterson. With Rocky McIntosh lost for this season and most of next it will be HB Blades and Randall Godfrey over on the weak side. There is some risk in this rotation as far as I am concerned, there are only so many losses a team can mask.

This is all somewhat mitigated by the fact the the Redskins have somehow by blind luck been able to find and develop two young defensive tackles in Anthony Montgomery and Kedric Golston, Anthony starts and Kedic is a high rotation backup, as well as Lorenzo Alexander aka Scarface, the Man that Does It All. Scarface plays offensive line, tackle eligible, defensive line and special teams. I hope the team finds a way to keep him.

With receiver Syndey Rice likely out it will be harder for Tarvaris to beat the Redskins through the air. I'll take the Redskins secondary on this one, Tarvaris threw three interceptions and fumbled last week against the Bears, a team that plays very much like the Redskins.

And one guy that will be out there defending against Tarvaris? Why it's Tarvaris' old teammate Fred Smoot. Loveboat Freddie left Minnesota with his tail between his legs his jaw wired shut and has become a key player for the Redskins since Carlos Rogers went down for a year or more. As Loveboat Freddie has become more comfortable as a starter, his play has improved. He is covering tighter and challenging receivers. I would love to be there to see his on field reception by the fans.

Curly R aside: wait, I do now someone that will be there to hear it, why it's Thomas at Vikings blog The Ragnarok, for whom Curly R unearthed 5 Questions for a very special exchange. Get over there and leave a comment.

But why the hell are we really talking about anyone but Todd Collins? Todd Collins, the man of the hour, enjoying that special celebrity, that of the ascended backup who wins, the man who at 36 has won two straight and is a free agent after this season. Looks like it was all true what Al Saunders said about him in the summer of 2006.

Joe Gibbs and I have had our differences this season but the man is a legend and I'm putting it in his hands. He knows what to do I just hope he can do it.

Washington Post preview, Redskins gameday (PDF). Redskins roster, Vikings roster; Redskins projected starters, Vikings projected starters; Redskins injury report, Vikings injury report.

Other previews: The Redskin Report (statalicious), Hogs Haven,

This is a gameday open thread.

Redskins Week 16 Playoff Scenario

Going to be like this the rest of the way

Little has changed this week for the Redskins playoff chances. With the Cowboys victory last night all pretenders are eliminated, no Lions no Cardinals no Panthers. For the wild card spots it is the Giants the Vikings the Saints and the Redskins in a fight to the end, it's Playoff Deathsport.

Here is it, as simple as I can make it: if you want the Redskins to go to the playoffs then you are cheering for the following teams this weekend: the Eagles, the Cowboys, the Bills and the Bears.

The Redskins must win their last two games, tonight at the Vikings then the finale at home versus the Cowboys. That does not change. The Washington Post ran a piece yesterday on all the NFC permutations but there is no serious scenario where the Redskins lose a game and still make the playoffs.

The Saints must also lose a game. Currently New Orleans has the advantage over the Redskins by virtue of a better conference record. The Saints only have conference games left and if they lose one the Redskins will have the tiebreak. The Saints' best chance to lose is today, they face the Eagles in New Orleans.

The Cowboys needed to win last night and they did. That moves Dallas one step closer to locking up the top playoff seed in which case the Cowboys will not need to play all their starters, and they certainly will not if they do not have to.

The Packers need to lose, if they lose today against the Bears then Dallas locks up the top seed. If Green Bay wins it sets up a season finale showdown for top seed. Both of these teams are desperate to for the top seed, Brett Favre has NEVER won in Dallas and Dallas has NEVER won in Green Bay.

Finally, there is a scenario where the Redskins can make the playoffs WITHOUT the Saints losing a game and that is if the Giants lose out. The Redskins beat the Giants last week and now New York must go to play in Buffalo today. Next week the Giants host the Patriots so this week is huge for the Giants. If the Bills hold serve it is excellent for the Redskins. Plus I love to see Eli Manning (lol) take a beating.

Come on ya Redskins I know you can do this.

Close call from here.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

5 Questions with the Vikings

Tonight, one night only it's a 5 Questions reunion special. Thomas at The Ragnarok was the first blogger we reached out to last season, Monday Night Football on 9/11, in what became a season long feature and an internet sensation . We are pleased to welcome him back for a special 5 Questions Playoff Showdown. My answers to his questions are here, get your Redskins ass over there and leave him a comment. Thomas will be at this game. You better be into this game.

And now a very special 5 Questions, only on Curly R. And The Ragnarok.


Curly R: With Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor the Vikings are the top rushing attack in the league and may helm the Vikings for years to come. Tell me your reaction to the conventional wisdom that teams must pass to win in today's NFL. Oh and PS Mike Sellers is the top Pro Bowl reserve at fullback so Tony Richardson better look out Sunday night. He could have an accident if LaRon Landry catches him in the open field.

The Ragnarok: I think there's a lot of truth to that conventional wisdom, something the Vikings proved first hand earlier this season. The fact that other teams didn't even have to worry about any kind of pass being completed, let alone a deep one, allowed them to pretty much stop the Vikings at will. i don't, however, think its the be all and end all that everyone is making it out to be. Then again, conventional wisdom is all about overreacting, so that's to be expected. I also think the ability to run the ball is very important, but it's a lot easier to score a lot with a potent passing game. The best offenses are balanced, unless you are so ridiculously stacked that you don't have to run at all (I think the Patriots are the only one that can get away with that this year)

Curly R: Todd Collins is a career backup. He has been effective in two games but the league will catch up to him eventually. What do you think the Vikings will do create problems for Todd?

The Ragnarok: He was effective in that first game, but I really don't think 8 for 25 and yards was all that effective. He didn't throw any picks though, which is key. I think they'll send a lot of blitzes at him on Sunday, hit him a lot and generally try and make him move or make plays with a guy in his face, a strategy that's been very effective against all the mediocrity the Vikings have seen so far at quarterback. I think the Vikings focus will mainly be on stopping the run, and that should be a very scary thought if you are a Redskins fan.

Curly R: Tarvaris Jackson, last year you called him the Vikings quarterback of the future. You've had a solid season to look at him, what do you think? Is he a keeper or a stopgap?

The Ragnarok: You know, I'm still not sure. He's yet to break 250 yards passing in a game, but he looked like he'd turned the corner after his injury, at least up until Monday night. I don't know if that was a learning experience, or the real Tarvaris coming out, but it worried me. There were some positive signs in the fourth quarter, and his accuracy, even with those three picks, is still way better than it used to be. I think the best thing to do is to sign a real backup and let him go another year, with the understanding that he needs to go from being a game manager to being a good quarterback. They also need to get him a real #1 receiver as well, because it's not fair to lay all the blame on his lack of passing yards on him, seeing as how his leading receiver is Bobby Wade.

Curly R: Two major contributors, receiver Sydney Rice and cornerback Antoine Winfield are looking doubtful for the game. Do you think they will gut it out and play? What does it mean for the Vikings if they sit out?

The Ragnarok: Neither Rice nor Winfield has practiced this week, so I'd be very surprised to see them play. And that's a big loss to the Purple, as it means their best corner and their best wide receiver will be on the bench. The drop off from Rice to Robert Ferguson or Troy Williamson is a big one, but the Vikings focus on running first will likely take some of the pain out of it, though it could also effect Bobby Wade's ability to get open, as he'll be the main focus of the 'Skins pass defense, something he wouldn't be if Rice were playing.

Winfield's injury is also going to hurt the Purple, as he is unquestionably their best cover corner, and has been a big part of the run defense. Somehow, Winfield plays the run like he's a strong safety, not a corner and he's probably the only corner in the league that can have 8-10 tackles in the game without giving up a lot of receptions. He is a beast against the run and a sure tackler--something Devin Hester learned on Monday when Winfield tackled him in the open field multiple times on reverses.

Curly R: I just read this game is a sellout, is that an exception? Are the Vikings having problems with attendance and blackouts? Are there still talks about a new stadium?

The Ragnarok: It's not an exception, but the Vikings are having problems selling out this year. The mediocrity of the Tice/Red McCombs era had caught up to them, along with the lack of a playmaker (until the Purple Jesus' emergence). They've sold out home games since 1997, I believe, but this year needed corporate help a few times to avoid a blackout. I don't see it being a problem anymore, with Peterson, a few free agent signings to add to their offense and a playoff berth this year. A new stadium? Well, the governor said that the legislature wasn't going to address it in 2008, which means that a new stadium cannot be built before the lease is up in 2011. I was relatively confident that something would get done by the time the lease would be up, but I'm not as confident anymore. Honestly, I prefer not to think about it, because it's a massive buzzkill.

CURLY R BONUS QUESTION: if the Vikings lose, what will be the reason?

The Ragnarok: Stupid turnovers. The Vikings' showed the Redskins how to beat them on Monday night, but the only thing the 'Skins can add to the formula is to convert the turnovers into touchdowns. If the 'Skins do end up winning, it will be because Tarvaris threw stupid passes, Peterson/Taylor/the wide receivers fumbled when they shouldn't have, and Washington capitalized. Don't be surprised if this happens, because I know I won't be.


My two cents, no 8 for 25 is not Tom Brady like. That said the Redskins forced the Giants to throw 52 times. I'll take 8 of 25 efficiency in that weather.

Thanks to Thomas, head over to The Ragnarok and see the other side of the coin. This is a must win for the Redskins.

Blogger Deathsport: Week Sixteen Picks

Bad things happen near season finales

Friday update: Curly R scored 11-5, good for first place. Penultimate weekly results here.

Blogger Deathsport rolls on with week sixteen, there are two weeks left in this competition and it's a tight game, bad things are happening. Check Post Game Heroes, TexSkins, CommonPrejudice and Skin Patrol.

PIT (-7.5) @ STL
Pick: Steelers. It's a tight enough line that I can get behind it.
Result: Steelers. But losing Willie Parker is bad news for Pittsburgh.

DAL (-10.5) @ CAR
Pick: Panthers. The Redskins really need the Cowboys to win but I think it's going to be inside this line.
Result: Panthers. Thank you Panthers I owe you one.

ATL @ ARZ (-10)
Pick: Falcons. Cardinals ain't ten points better than nobody.
Result: Falcons. That was an easy one.

CLE (-2.5) @ CIN
Pick: Browns. They are a team of destiny.
Result: Bengals. *>POP<* go the Browns.

KC @ DET (-4.5)
Pick: Lions. These teams are so bad but the funny thing is that the Chiefs will do something about it in the offseason.
Result: Lions. Five points like magic.

GB (-8.5) @ CHI
Pick: Packers. The Redskins need the Packers to lose. They won't.
Result: Bears. Thank you Packers.

HOU @ IND (-7)
Pick: Colts. A small line, Peyton shames it.
Result: Colts. The AFC is stocked.

OAK @ JAX (-13)
Pick: Jaguars. How can you deny Jacksonville now?
Result: Jaguars. The AFC is stocked.

WAS @ MIN (-6.5)
Pick: Redskins. Win. Stay alive.
Result: Redskins. Thank you Vikings.

MIA @ NE (-22)
Pick: Dolphins. Something about that spread is not right.
Result: Dolphins. Haha the line was 22 and they won by 21.

PHI @ NO (-3)
Pick: Eagles. The Saints need to lose a game, I am betting it's this week.
Result: Eagles. Thank you Eagles.

NYG (-2.5) @ BUF
Pick: Bills. The Giants are going to collapse.
Result: Giants. This was an emotion pick, sorry.

BAL @ SEA (off the board = EVEN)
Pick: Seahawks. Why is this one off the board? Is it because the Ravens did not make a QB choice until late in the week?
Result: Seahawks. Wow, nine in a row for the Ravens. OMG SO FUNNY GOTA PEE NOW KTHXBYE

TB (-5.5) @ SF
Pick: Buccaneers. Shaun Hill? Sorry, I saw him play here for Maryland. Tampa Bay's defense will eat him like a falafel on Haight Street.
Result: 49ers. The Bucs are their own enemy.

NYJ @ TEN (-8.5)
Pick: Titans. I prayed long and hard on this one and god said WTF are you doing in my Gtalk?
Result: Jets. Titans are NFC like in their eptitude.

DEN @ SD (-8.5)
Pick: Chargers. After last week I gotta go Chargers large.
Result: Chargers. The Broncos, timber!!!!! crasch!

Results tallied Tuesday.

Gruesome fake murder victim from here.

500 Posts

Everyone's got an opinion

Yesterday The Curly R posted its 500th piece, happened to be weekly picks in our deathsport pool which I by the way am winning. A little over a year ago I marked our 100th piece with a pithy diatribe. At the current annualized rate Curly R will publish it's 1000th piece on Saturday 2 May 2009. Odds would be fulminations on the draft. Thanks for reading.

Fuck the 500: Kendall G. Clark from here via here.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Suicide Mission = Football Jihad

Football language changed after this

Redskins fans are a mess right now. The team underachieved and there were calls for Joe Gibbs to step aside, all before Sean Taylor was shot and killed. So from a sociological perspective it is not surprising that the fans are looking not only for signs of strength and hope in the past two wins but also for a sort of spiritual successor to Sean Taylor, someone reminding us of and linking the team to Sean as we go forward.

That person is safety LaRon Landry, hard hitting, highly touted rookie from LSU.

The irony that we learned this week that LaRon writes SUICIDE MISSION in ink on his body before every game and has since high school is delicious. In one swell foop we have the spirit of Sean Taylor reborn in a young player, the puppy to replace the old hound, even if that old hound was still a hunter. He is a hitter, that much we knew. Ask Muhsin Muhammad, Plaxico Burress and Kerry Collins. But the parallel goes deeper:

"That's how I play, man," he said. "That's the attitude I have each and every game. Play each game like it's my last."

Play each game like it's your last. Taken out of context that is a trite aphorism. Careers are short, games are few, championships are scarce, yada yada.

But in the context of this season, it was true for one Redskin, wasn't it?

You can't write this stuff, it's better than a movie. LaRon has been doing this for years but only now does he reveal it, when he found the true meaning of it for himself.


I am somewhat surprised I have not seen the PC police commenting on SUICIDE MISSION yet. For those readers that have been around long enough to remember Super Bowl 25, football language changed after that game.

The US and coalition forces began airstrikes on Iraqi forces at midnight on 15 January 1991 and this Super Bowl was played 12 days later. I was a senior in college and my recollection of that time is somewhat hazy for many reasons not the least of which being that no one in my age bracket had ever seen the US military machine in this kind of action before, TV coverage was 24 hour, bumper stickers like THESE COLORS DON'T RUN were everywhere and after years of long hair and tie dyes with no problem in a college town I suddenly found myself being stared down by mulleted rednecks in line at the beer store. Everything seemed surreal.

Prior to the Gulf War Super Bowl it was acceptable, even fashionable to liken football to war, football players to warriors. Remember in 1987 when the Miami Hurricanes arrived for the Fiesta Bowl and attended all the media functions dressed in camouflage?

In the aftermath of the Gulf War Super Bowl there were complaints either in the interests of good taste or from the PC police depending on your viewpoint that rich guys who work a half year schedule should not compare themselves to Roman gladiators, trench warfare grunts or vanquishing armies given that our men and women were legitimately in harm's way for the first time in a generation.

And despite the complaints about lighten up it's a game that ensued, you don't hear too much of that anymore do you? Football is still couched in the gender language of the rougher sex but not in terms of war.

And so at that level SUICIDE MISSION is simply an update to terminology that can be argued is inappropriate. Suicide bombers (or homicide bombers as they are referred to on the Fox News Channel) are the critical tools keeping Iraq and Afghanistan from any kind of order and even as I went to Google News to search on the term to see what I got a dark serendipity put this story at the top without even having to perform a search: AT LEAST 50 KILLED IN PAKISTAN ATTACK, about a suicide bomber that blew himself up inside a crowded mosque in northwest Pakistan yesterday.

Going back and performing the news search, there are nearly 15000 news items matching that criteria.


So this is a longwinded way of saying I appreciate LaRon's mindset and I get why it matters, not simply in the context of how he plays, how he has always played and how he got where he is but also for what it means now, to him and to all the young players facing careers that are short enough as it is and now must withstand the tragedy of a death in their midst.

"Yup," he said. "I'm crazy. That's just the approach you have to have each and every game. Why not give it your all and leave it on the field? If you don't live up to that, why are you doing it?"

Screengrabs of opening montage from Super Bowl 25 on 27 January 1991 from here. This is an incredible cultural analysis of this game in the context of media representations of the first Gulf War.