Wednesday, December 31, 2008

You Don't Deserve an NFL Team If

You can't sell out an NFL playoff game

Hat tip to Jason at Bleeding Green Nation via lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery, the Minneapolis Star Tribune is reporting that the Eagles-Vikings wildcard playoff game may be blacked out in the local market due to poor ticket sales.

As of 10:30 am CT there were still eleven thousand tickets left for Sunday's playoff game. NFL rules dictate that these tickets must all be sold by 3:30 pm CT tomorrow, New Year's Day, which seems to me to be very unlikely. The Vikings are going to ask for an extension to Friday which I expect the league will grant but come one dudes, this is a playoff game we are talking about.

I hope Eagles fans invade in their thousands. This is what happens to fans that cannot support their team:

Blackout from here. The Colts bailing on Baltimore from here.

A Public Service to Redskins Fans

Moving trucks in the middle of the night

FYI to everyone out there, Matt Terl's excellent Official Redskins Blog has moved from its original location to a new one straight off the domain. Why there is no redirect from the old to the new I do not understand but whatevs.

Please make a note of it, I have updated the blogroll at right.

Official Redskins Blog logo from here.

Curly R Guest Post on Fan Foodie

You gotta eat

The guys over at Hugging Harold Reynolds offshoot Fan Foodie asked me to write up a piece on Redskins tailgating and what to eat in Washington. Head over there and check it out and drop a comment.

This post is also reprinted on Curly R.

Fan Foodie logo from here.

The Dilemma of Redskins Tailgating

Ren McCormack over at Hugging Harold Reynolds noticed a hole in the blogosphere and filled it with his big thing, thus was born Fan Foodie, the blog about food and sports fans. A couple of weeks ago they invited me to write up a piece on the Redskins, tailgating and food in the Washington DC area. What follows is Curly R's take, first published at Fan Foodie on 31 December 2008.


City: Washington, DC and surrounding areas
Foodie: Ben Folsom, The Curly R

Venue: FedEx Field
Location: Raljon Landover, Maryland
Team: Washington Redskins

Greetings, Ben from Curly R here, the guys here at Fan Foodie asked me to come on the blog and write a bit about Redskins tailgating and food in Washington DC. At first I had a hard time figuring out what to write, not about the food, there is lots of good food in DC. The problem was the tailgating. You see, while many NFL cities have food traditions, brisket and ribs in Kansas City, bratwurst in Green Bay, wings in Buffalo, pierogies in Pittsburgh, crabcakes in Baltimore, you get get the idea, there is no real food tradition in Washington.

So then what do we do? On a gameday walk through the lot at FedEx Field you will find everything from burgers... pizza... chicken... steak and potatoes served up by a superfan... brats...

At FedEx Field there is even a full time staff of Eagles fans cook our food for us.

If you are looking for lighter fare you can find Twinkies and beer...

...or hot pretzels...

...and if you are feeling sluggish before the game you can snack on a Smack, cornerback Fred Smoot's energy bar.

Maybe if Fred had munched on a few more of these on gameday he would not have lost his starting spot but I digress.

And of course there is plenty of booze.

So why is it that we have no real food traditions in Washington? Perhaps as a center of technology Washingtonians are preoccupied with staying plugged in...

...or maybe Washington's nature as a transitory town full of latte sipping brie eating wine swilling liberals prevents any traditions from taking hold, even after 70 years...

(photo by Mark Newgent)

...but more likely it is because we are a town full of self important Blackberrying douchebags.

If you were too busy drinking to eat outside the stadium you will want to get some food in you before you fill up on eight dollar beers...

...but alas these chefs are not cooking up the Hog worthy vittles. About the best you can do on the inside is Johnny Rockets...

...just ask them to hold the rats.


Well now the game is over and you have just witnessed the Redskins go on to another tight loss, you still need food and booze, so where do you go?

If you are uptown in Washington DC, no booze fueled game day is complete without a trip to Ben's Chili Bowl.

Opened in 1958 and located in the Shaw neighborhood, Ben's Chili Bowl was frequented by the likes of Miles Davis and Duke Ellington in 1950s segregated Washington. As Shaw's neighborhood fortunes sagged through the 70s and 80s Ben's hung on and now that Shaw is a hopping place to be it is not uncommon to see a late night line out the door for the messiest, sloppiest and goodinest chili covered half smokes in town.

If you fall into the category of elitist football fans that needs a sit down meal, cloth napkins and top shelf bourbon, point yourself toward the White House and get a table at Old Ebbitt Grill.

Do not wear your football jersey here, it may offend the senator in the next booth of this high end establishment that dates back to 1856. Steaks, seafood, top shelf liquor and the most outstanding raw bar in Washington is what you will get here, Old Ebbitt has multiple varieties of oyster flown in daily. The crabcakes are insanely decadent and served over a corn macque choux and the servers do not write down your order. If you are staying overnight and hanging over the next morning Old Ebbitt has the best deep fried ham stuffed french toast and corn beef hash served in an iron skillet in all of Washington.

If a burger is what you are looking for then you cannot do better than Five Guys, the best burgers and fries in DC.

Five Guys is an all burgers all the time chain of joints first established in 1986 by the founder and his four sons, hence the five guys. For nearly two decades Five Guys was Washington local until they realized they had a formula, now there are more than 300 locations nationwide, all hewing to a strict formula of hand formed burger patties cooked well done, locally made buns and fries cut from Maine or Idaho potatoes. While you wait for your made to order burger to cook in the open kitchen you can munch on cooked salted peanuts and leave notes of praise on a public bulletin board, Five Guys is consistently ranked as the best burger in DC by Washingtonian Magazine. Five Guys also has a Redskins connection, after establishing his own chain of Frankly Fries establishments after retiring, all time Redskins scoring leader and kicker Mark Moseley is a director of Five Guys franchise development.

Five Guys remains a mandatory part of my football Sundays.

After the gameday festivities are all said and done sometimes you cannot just go home and pass out cold fish, sometimes you need a bigass plate of greasy eggs and hash to settle things. Lucky for you there is a place in Arlington on Columbia Pike that caters to degenerate late nighters like yourselves, Bob & Edith's Diner.

Bob & Edith's is a 24 hour diner specializing in the nastiest tastiest diner food you ever had, hotcakes, sausage, corned beef hash and eggs any way you want them. Meatloaf, fried chicken and burgers are on the menu as well but if you can stand the wait to get in on a busy latenight then that is not what you are there for. The hash browns do not need salt but you will dose them up anyway.


When you come to a Redskins game, bring your tailgating tradition because we need it. Drop a comment here and let us know where you like to go after the game. Thanks to Fan Foodie for inviting me over and see you around teh webs!

All uncredited photos by me or of me.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Byron Westbrook

A big upside

Please join The Curly R in wishing Redskins cornerback Byron Westbrook a happy birthday, Byron turned 24 last Friday the 26th.

Byron was signed as a free agent before the 2007 season out of Salisbury State and is an alumnus of Washington DC's DeMatha High School. Byron, brother of Philadelphia Eagles tailback Brian Westbrook, has been on the practice squad the past two seasons, with the Redskins cornerback depth in question Byron could earn a spot on this team next season.

Happy birthday Byron!

Byron Westbrook from here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ending the Hard Way

Rams game redux

Takeaway drill: a loss is a loss, it is tough to swallow when the unit that made you good lets you down in the end, at the end. And thus an up and down game ends an up and down season.


Monday walkthrough: on a balmy 50 degree night in San Francisco the Redskins get behind early and trade blows before falling to the 49ers 27-24, ending the season at 8-8. In an eery replay of the Rams game from week six another inferior NFC West team played Washington close to the end and scored a winning field goal as time expired.

The 49ers won the toss and elected to take the ball to start the first quarter, Frank Gore starts San Francisco's first drive strong with a seven yard run to the right then a Wildcat direct snap to Frank for a first down. San Francisco changed up to DeShaun Foster after that, there was not a pass until the fifth play, a 29 yard pass to tight end Billy Bajema. The 49ers move methodically on mostly runs before quarterback Shaun Hill runs it in from two yards out to cap a 10 play five plus minute drive to put San Francisco up 7-0. Washington got the ball for the first time on their 28 yard line and it is a weak weak three and out, the Redskins are punting. San Francisco's second possession starts on their 35 after a meh Ryan Plackemeier punt, the 49ers make their way down to the Redskins 30 yard line but a bobbled snap dooms a Joe Nedney field goal try and the Redskins get the ball for second time in good field position. James Thrash gets his obligatory catch and Santana Moss figures on a first down catch before Jason Campbell scrambles for nine and another first down. Clinton Portis bangs it twice to end the quarter with the 49ers leading 7-0.

The Redskins continue their second drive deep in 49ers territory to start the second quarter, two more Clinton Portis runs totaling nine yards and the Redskins score to tie the game at 7-7. The 49ers get the ball for the third time and go two plays before Carlos Rogers lag 49ers leading receiver Josh Morgan and intercepts Shaun Hill's pass, it was too far outside the receiver, and returns the ball 31 yards to give the Redskins the ball on the San Francisco 23 yard line. Washington's third possession starts with a near interception of Jason Campbell by linebacker Manny Lawson intended for Santana, no room to run and Shaun Suisham sets up and kicks a 41 yard field goal to put the Redskins up 10-7. The 49ers fourth possession starts with a Shaun Hill fumble-bobble for a nine yard loss, San Francisco cannot recover and punts three plays later. Washington's fourth possession is looooong 78 yards, 16 plays and nine plus minutes, nine running plays and seven passing plays including four straight handoffs to Clinton Portis at midfield, one of which was on fourth and less than one, the drive ended with a first and goal pass from the six to Antwaan Randle El for a touchdown to put the Redskins up 17-7. San Francisco got the ball for the fifth time with 26 seconds left in the half and tried to make something happen there was nothing doing and the half ended with the Redskins leading 17-7.

Washington got the ball for the fifth time to start the third quarter, after a run and two passes Clinton Portis fumbled on second and ten to give the ball back to the 49ers for the sixth time on the Washington 38 yard line. San Francisco takes advantage old school and runs the ball five times in a row, twice to Frank Gore and three times to DeShaun Foster to score from one yard out to bring the game to 17-14 Redskins. Washington's sixth possession starts with a 38 yard Rock Cartwright return but is another deadful three and out that started with a sack of Jason Campbell for thirteen yards through Pete Kendall. San Francisco's seventh drive starts after a 50 yard Ryan Plackemeier punt with a false start and it is three and out from there on three consecutive Shaun Hill incompletions. The Redskins begin their seventh possession on their own 26 and three and out, the game is becoming a hassle at this point, a bad Ryan Plackemeier punt with a good roll puts the 49ers at their eighteen yard line for their eighth drive. Frank Gore fumbles the ball on first down but Delanie Walker recovered the ball for the first down. Then Andre Carter collapses the pocket on first down for the sack of Shaun Hill, it is three and out from there. Washington's eighth possession starts after a fair catch at the Washington eleven yard line, the Redskins can manage 23 yards on eight plays, the feature play was a nine yard pass to Santana Moss on first down, the quarter ended on three straight passes by Jason Campbell, the final one to Chris Cooley for fourteen yards on third and ten with the Redskins leading 17-10.

The fourth quarter started with the Redskins driving on first down at midfield, it was three and out from there and the Redskins were punting, Santana had the ball in his hands on second and six but was hit by former Redskins cornerback Walt Harris, then Santana dropped another easy one on the next play. San Francisco's ninth drive starts with four straight completions, four plays later Shaun Hill hits receiver Jason Hill for the touchdown from nine yards out on first and goal to put the 49ers ahead 21-17. Washington responded on their ninth drive with a brilliant three and out that featured a nine yard catch by Chris Cooley on second and nine, Ryan Plackemeier booted a 51 yard punt to turn the ball back over to the 49ers for the tenth time, Allen Rossum returned the ball 35 yards to midfield. Shaun Hill scraps San Francisco down to the Redskins 16 yard line where Joe Nedney kicks a 33 yard field goal to put the 49ers up 24-17. Washington gets the ball for the tenth time, that drive started with a 43 yard Rock Cartwright kickoff return. After a batted pass on first down Chris Cooley catches a twelve yard pass for a first. Santana caught a twelve yarder, Stephon Heyer did not help things with a false start. Jason Campbell took matters into his own hands and ran for 23 yards on the next play, it was a busted play and showed good field awareness. Then on fourth and goal from the two, Jason cannot find the receiver he wants and runs it in for the score to tie the game at 24-24. The play was reviewed and upheld. San Francisco got the ball back for the eleventh and final time at their own 27 yard line, two plays made the difference, Shaun Hill on third and one to tailback Michael Robinson for 19 yards and one spike later Shaun to reciver Bryant Johnson for 24 yards. A spike and a kneel down later and Joe Nedney is lining up for a 39 yard field goal, it is wobbly and good, time expires and the 49ers win the game 27-24. And with that the Redskins 2008 season ends.


Soapbox: the 49ers set the tone early, announcing they were going to play this game where the Redskins are most vulnerable on defense, at the line, and for a while it worked. Ultimately though it was the arm of journeyman quarterback Shaun Hill and the openness of his receivers that won this game.


As it often and unfairly does, it came down to one play, on second and ten from the Redskins 45 yard line with 31 seconds left in the game and the score tied at 24 all, the Redskins defense appeared somewhat confused by the 49ers quick huddle after the quick huddle following the first down spike of the ball by Shaun Hill. On the resulting play Shaun found receiver Bryant Johnson for 24 yards to put them into field goal range, Shawn Springs got turned around and the middle of the field was wide open. Two plays later it was game over.

As with the Rams game, it was the defense that kept the Redskins in the game but let the team down at the end. And as with that week six game, it is unfair to blame the loss on the defense, the offense could have put up more points to be sure, but sometimes you need to do more than the more you usually do. It is not fair but that is football, a stop on either of those two long passes at the end of the game would have forced overtime, a condition that would not have guaranteed victory but would have allowed either a Redskins drive or a Redskins defensive reset. It is true in football as in business and in life that we expect our best performers to step up even when they deserve a break.

More to come in this soapbox.


Chattering class:


Omnibus: uniform watch: Washington takes the field in my preferred combination, white jerseys and burgundy pants.

In the pregame coverage we learned tailback Clinton Portis has more 100 yard rushing games than any Redskin in team history. Pretty cool.

The guys in the booth called Ryan plackemeier's 35 yard first punt quote kind of shanked unquote.

On the 49ers end around to receiver Jason Hill on the next possession, rookie safety Chris Horton came all the way from the left side of the line through traffic to the make the tackle way out on the right sideline, that guy has terrific pursuit and he is the gem of the 2008 draft. And on the next play he made first contact with fellow UCLA alumni DeShaun Foster, a great hit, I love this guy.

Great falling down catch on that second 49ers drive by NFL old man Isaac Bruce, he tipped the ball back to himself and tucked it up under his body as he neared the sideline, the altheticism of these guys, I love this game.

After scoring the Redskins first touchdown Clinton Portis ran to the first row of the stands and gave the ball to a lady Redskins fan wearing a Clinton jersey, the camera cut away to her after the handoff, that made her day.

How about that? A Carlos Rogers interception in the second quarter with a good return, I wanted Carlos to take that in for six soooo badly.

The Redskins second touchdown drive of the second quarter was a masterful example of Redskins football, ball control and controlled passing, nine minutes and sixteen plays, that is Redskins football.

In the second quarter Santana Moss went over the thousand yard receiving mark for the third time, in 2003 with the Jets, in 2005 when he set a Redskins receiving record and this season. Thank you Santana, that is why I wear your jersey on game day.

Jason Campbell does not hesitate to run when he has to, he is very hard to tackle, five eleven 205 pound San Francisco cornerback Mark Roman came in on a blitz in the second quarter, Mark bounced off six five 230 pound Jason Campbell on Jason's way to a first and goal to set up Antwaan Randle El's touchdown catch.

Pre halftime broadcast coverage bumper answered neighbor Bill's question, who was the last Redskins head coach to win nine games in his first season? Answer: George Allen in 1971 at 9-4-1.

The Jason Campbell sack to start the third quarter was all on Pete Kendall.

Quote Andre Carter collapses the pocket unquote is something I have not said all season until the third quarter of this game when he pushed through for the sack of Shaun Hill.

On second and ten with 31 seconds left in the game the Redskins were caught off guard by the 49ers on the quick huddle after a spike to stop the clock, Bryant Johnson got open easily in the middle of the field after juking Shawn Springs. That was the game killer right there.






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

Other recaps:

Next up, nada, niente, into the nothingness, that is the end my friends for the 2008 season. Stay tuned for continuing offseason coverage of the Washington Redskins right here at The Curly R.

Redskins cornerback Shawn Springs denying 49ers receiver Bryant Johnson catching a fourth quarter touchdown reception: Paul Sakuma / AP photo from here. Into nothingness from here.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Game 16: Redskins (8-7) vs. 49ers (6-9)


Out of the box: end of the line with nothing at stake but pride, jobs and final standings so in other words a lot as the Redskins travel west to play the San Francisco 49ers in a 4pm ET game, a rookie coach faceoff with mediocrity at stake.


The story so far: just another week for head coach Jim Zorn (op. cit.) and now we know we can dispense with all the talk about a change at the coaching position, shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato has weighed in and rookie head coach Jim Zorn will stay, I think this move would have been more useful after the Bengals game but what do I know I am just a shitass with a keyboard. That said the team has not quit on coach Zorn and there are plenty of positions where the Redskins could use some competition, notably kicker (op. cit.) and punt returner with an honorable mention at receiver and defensive line though those are tougher spots to fill without going into the free agent market.

And of the team does not do something to upgrade the offensive line this offseason, 2009 is going to be a long season that will not do any favors for Jason Campbell or Jim Zorn, the unit is old and although it has done well in the running game it has not done as well in the passing game, and did I mention they are old?

Continuing the early retrospectives on and analysis of the team, how have the Redskins managed to put together the fourth ranked defense? Hint, this is a rhetorical question. Despite an abject lack of pass rush and relatively few takeaways they have performed nearly every week. I credit this to solid play by London Fletcher and all the defensive backs. Credit due to defensive coordinator Greg Blache, Greg's buddy Rudy and secondary coach Steve Jackson.

I sense a theme in the week's news and coverage of the Redskins, defensive tackle Kedric Golston is a restricted free agent (op. cit.) and the team opened contract talks with midseason signing cornerback DeAngelo Hall, they would like to keep DeAngelo and I do not blame them, for my part I tend to believe the changes in the depth chart at this point, sitting Carlos Rogers and Fred Smoot in favor of Shawn Springs and DeAngelo is more about checking potential for next season and not about either Carlos or Fred suffering. That said the team has handled this situation poorly and let the media define it. Shawn is likely gone and DeAngelo easily could sign with another team, leaving Fred and Carlos as the starters next season.


Curly R aside: despite the vote of confidence in rookie head coach Jim Zorn, shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato did not ring in with a stellar endorsement of Jason Campbell saying the jury is still out on Jason (op. cit.). I tend to disagree, look at Jason's improvement this season, I think Jason can do everything this team needs, you do not need an all world quarterback to win the Super Bowl, you simply need to maximize the quarterback in the system. Hopefully coach Zorn can recognize this and work with Jason and not throw him away in a year or two because he cannot do things exactly the way coach Zorn wants. It is a mark of good coaching to maximize players outside your coaching philosophy. See also Joe Gibbs and Don Shula. And I hope the lack of enthusiasm is not a foreshadowing of the team jerling Jason around in contract talks, the team needs to lock Jason down for the long term and be done with it.

Curly R aside continues: George Solomon, Washington Post Sports editor emeritus, ends his five year run as a Sunday columnist with a not so vague reference to company belt tightening, traditional media sees the future and it is not bright, I will miss his column, George turned me down personally, or at least it was a facsimile of his signature on the rejection letter, for a job at the WaPo Sports in 1995. His final column is a walk through his little black red book, to include a number of Redskins luminaries. George, if you get the hankering to write you can post on Curly R about anything and everything you want whenever you want.


Oppo research: head coach Mike Nolan, former Redskins defensive coordinator for three seasons under Norval Turner from 1997 to 1999, was fired by the 49ers in October after a 2-5 start, kind of a bummer, I like Mike, he did a good job with the defense in Washington and he tried his hardest to bring back the suit as sideline coach's attire. The 49ers handed the job on an interim basis to defensive coordinator and Hall of Fame former Chicago Bears linebacker Mike Singletary who has been in coaching all of six years and was passed over two seasons ago for the Dallas job that ultimately went to Wade Phillips.

Since taking over, Mike's 49ers are 4-4 with two wins over the Rams, one over Buffalo and one over the Jets and losses to the Seahawks, Cardinals, Cowboys and Dolphins. In other words the 49ers are still a below average team which makes them very dangerous to the Redskins. Coach Singletary will very likely be named the permanent head coach of the 49ers immediately following this game unless the Redskins drop a blowout on San Francisco like they did in 2005, an achievement not likely to happen given the Redskins have not scored 30 points in a game all season.

And signaling change is really at hand, coach Singletary benched former starter JT O'Sullivan in his first game as head coach and inserted journeyman and former University of Maryland Terrapins quarterback Shaun Hill. Shaun is a fifth year quarterback whose only regular season action is two garbage time kneeldowns...with another team.


Trainer's table: the Redskins continued to get healthier, or rather less injured which would have been great if the team was barreling into the playoffs and not facing a meaningless game here at the end of the season. Defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander is an exception, he injured his hamstring Sunday chasing down Brian Westbrook, and was put on injured reserve on Wednesday (op. cit.). Linebacker London Fletcher who sat out the final practice, defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin, defensive end Jason Taylor and tailback Clinton Portis are all dinged but should be in the game (all op. cit.), this is the last game of the season and for some players the final game in a Redskins uniform so you know every one of the walking wounded that can play will play.


Gameplan: despite the temptation with the team being eliminated from the playoffs and a number of younger players with little experience or success, now paging Malcolm Kelly, Chad Rinehart, Justin Tryon, Devin Clark and Colt Brennan, head coach Jim Zorn says he will not be tinkering with the offense, the playbook or the lineups, he will in fact be trying to win the game the same way the team has been all season, let us hope that is not to the team's detriment.

After fifteen games the Redskins are what they are.


My take in 60 words or less: another winnable game on it face. I am out of motivational words. Go hit someone in the mouth, the 49ers are beatable.


Washington Post / AP preview, Gameday (PDF), the Zorn Zone, keys to the game, Redskins projected starters. Broadcast coverage, minority footprint, most of the country will be seeing Cowboys at Eagles, a game lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery will be attending and invited me to join him, I am sorry I an unable to, that will be a terrific game.

Enjoy the game Redskins fans, this is it for the 2008 season, there will be lots to talk about all offseason but we will not see another Redskins game until August of 2009. I will be taking in the game the way I have taken the majority of Redskins games the past six seasons, with neighbors on Swarthmore Drive.

This is a gameday open thread.

NFL helmet logos from here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Blog Shoutout: All Hail Washington Redskins

Freshness dating

They say content is king and if that is true then All Hail Washington Redskins is a top Redskins blog. In October of this year SkinslovalindS, the only lady Redskins blogger that I know of, and her three compatriots broke out from the Die Hard Sports Fans network and started up AHWR as an independent entity, a move I applaud by the way.

These guys crank the content, often posting several pieces a day, they all contribute and they all know their Redskins, they have entered Curly R's blogroll, put them in your Redskins blog rotation and give them some love.

Computer monitor flying out the window from here.

Happy Birthday Jerry Gray

Good defenses are where he is

Please join me in wishing a happy birthday to Redskins secondary and cornerbacks coach Jerry Gray. Jerry turned 46 on 16 December.

2008 is Jerry's third season with the Redskins, after a trying 2006 Jerry has been a part of two consecutive top ten defenses and in this season particularly the secondary has been the key to Washington's defensive success.

Before becoming a coach Jerry played cornerback for nine seasons in the NFL, seven years for the Los Angeles Rams from 1985 to 1991, one year with the Houston Oilers in 1992 where he was secondary teammates with Redskins safeties coach Steve Jackson, and one season with the Buccaneers in 1993. Jerry made the Pro Bowl four consecutive times between 1986 and 1989 and was MVP in his final Pro Bowl appearance capping his game with a 51 yard interception return for a touchdown.

A two time All-American at safety and two time Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the year at the University of Texas, Jerry was a first round draft by the Rams in 1985. After retiring following the 1993 season, Jerry was an assistant coach at Southern Methodist University for two seasons beginning in 1995. In 1997 at the age of 34 Jerry became the quality control assistant for the Tennessee Oilers under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Jerry became the Titans defensive backs coach in 1999, a position he held in 2000 when the Titans defense was ranked number one overall and against the pass.

Jerry followed Gregg from Tennessee to Buffalo in 2001 when Gregg became the Bills' head coach, Jerry was promoted to defensive coordinator. In 2003 Jerry's defense was ranked in the top ten overall as well as against the pass and the run. Jerry stayed in Buffalo until 2005 when Gregg, then the Redskins defensive coordinator, brought him to Washington.

Undeniably the play of the defensive backs has been the strength of this season's Redskins defense and Jerry is the coach of that unit. Redskins fans should be happy to have this great coach.

Happy birthday Jerry!

Jerry Gray, Pro Bowl cornerback with the Rams in 1988: Tim DeFrisco from here via here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Season's Greetings from The Curly R

From all of us at The Curly R, best wishes for a happy and peaceful non denominational winter holiday season, I hope you can take some time to be with the people you love.

-Ben Folsom

Other Curly R season's greetings: 2006 :: 2007 :: 2009 :: 2010

Santa popping a front wheelie from here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


An official grocery store?

I am in Charlottesville Virginia visiting the wife's family, all three kids are with their grandparents and the wife and I are at a hotel getting ready to do what married adults with children do when their children are not present -- go out to dinner. What, should we be doing something else?

So I am at Barracks Road walking back with some last minute gifts for my wife and as I stroll past the Harris Teeter I see the sign above in the window. It would seem Harris Teeter is the Official Grocery Store of the Washington Redskins.

Do they sell sour grapes there?

[punchline reset]

Durant Brooks, cleanup on aisle eight!

[punchline reset]

Bitter beer face!

[punchline reset]

They only sell onions that make you cry.

[punchline reset]

Pound of butter for Mike Sellers fingers.

Leave your other punchlines in comments.

Photo by me.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Redskins Blogger Summit

We normally work in our pajamas

I was at the Eagles game yesterday, before the game I met up with my good friend Mark Newgent (center) of Redskins Examiner and he took me over to meet the one the only Rich Tandler (right) of Real Redskins. If you read or write on Redskins blogs then you know who Rich is, he is the dean of Redskins bloggers, has been a season ticket holder since 1968, has written three books on football and blogs home games from the press box for The Warpath.

Great to hang out again Mark, and an honor to meet you Rich.

Photo by Mark's friend Anne.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ten Points Almost Never Wins

Consolation prize

Takeaway drill: all for naught but that is not to say we did not enjoy it. The playoffs are out of the question but sweeping the Eagles never goes out of style. It is nonetheless curious that two playoff contenders could manage a total of thirteen points.

Curly R factoid: four times teams this season teams have won with ten points, twice with sixteen points total and twice with thirteen points total. Statistically based on this season's results, a team will win with ten points less than two percent of the time.


Monday walkthrough: on a bitter frigging cold day into night the Redskins play small on offense, large on defense, beat the Philadelphia Eagles 10-3 for the season sweep to move to 8-7. The Redskins had been eliminated from the playoffs before kickoff but that did not stop Washington from being the better team.

The Redskins won the toss and elected to receive the ball to start the first quarter. Washington's first possession started with a six yard pass to tight end Chris Cooley, Ladell Betts caught and first down pass and did not fumble on third and four. But on third and eight Eagles defensive end Victor Abriamiri hit Jason's arm as he was winding up, Jason fumbled but it was recovered by center Casey Rabach and the Redskins punted. The Eagles' first drive began at their 35 yard line, rookie reciever DeSean Jackson scores a first down on third and two, a false start by tight end Greg Lewis helped the Redskins and it was three and out from there, after a third and sixteen Eagles punt. Washington's second possession started on their 20 and featured a seventeen yard catch by rookie receiver Devin Thomas and a nine yard run by Clinton Portis but only netted 26 yards, Redskins punt, a fifty yard beauty by Ryan Plackemeier. Philadelphia's second possession starts deep in their territory at their four, Brian Westbrook starts with a twelve yard run but ends five plays later, Eagles punt. Washington starts their third possession at their 37, Santana Moss, Clinton Portis and rookie tight end Fred Davis all figure when the quarter ends with the score tied at 0-0.

The second quarter starts with the Redskins still driving but on third and four, a negative yards catch by Santana does not help and the Redskins are facing fourth down at the Eagles 36. Shaun Suisham comes out to try a 54 yard field but the Redskins think twice and call a timeout. After the TO Washington still comes back and tries it and Shaun misses it badly, Eagles cornerback Will Demps returns it past midfield and the Redskins botch a coaching call. The Eagles third possession starts near midfield and Correll Buckhalter catches a first down pass. After that it is three and out the Eagles are punting. Washington's fourth possession starts on their fourteen and it is a looooong drive, sixteen plays covering 72 yards before Shaun Suisham acquits himself with a 33 yard field goal to put the Redskins up 3-0. This drive featured Santana Moss making a diving catch on third and four after Jason Campbell took a hit and a nine yard pass to Ladell Betts on third and four. The Eagles got the ball back for the fourth time at their 20 and three and ha-ha-houted. This drive featured a rare successful challenge by Jim Zorn to reverse a Philadelphia first down and the Eagles punted. Washington's fifth possession starts at their own 39 with good field position, Clinton Portis is back in the game and runs fourteen yards on second and ten but gives some back two plays later with a false start, Eagles defensive end Darren Howard gets through replacement right tackle Jason Fabini to sack Jason Campbell out of field goal range, there was nothing doing on third down and the Redskins punted. Philadelphia's fifth possession started with thirteen seconds left in the half, the Eagles ran two plays for eleven yards when the half ended with the Redskins leading 3-0.

The Eagles got the ball to start the third quarter, on the second play of their sixth possession LaRon Landry almost separated DeSean Jackson from his body. Philadelphia struggled for yards for another three plays when on third and three defensive end Jason Taylor poured through Jon Runyan and sacked Donovan McNabb, he fumbled and linebacker London Fletcher scooped it up and returned it twelve yards, Washington ball for the sixth time. Portis > Cooley > Portis > Portis > Portis > touchdown, Redskins go up 10-0. After a great kickoff be Shaun Suisham, the Eagles start their seventh possession on their 20, it was slow going for Philadelphia until Donovan McNabb went left for 47 yards to Brian Westbrook, DeAngelo Hall made the saving tackle. The Eagles could manage eight more yards before David Akers kicked a 22 yard field goal to make the game 10-3 Redskins. Washington got the ball back for the seventh time and Antwaan Randle El caught a first down pass on the first play. Jason Campbell ran nine yards on the next play, two plays later Clinton Portis ran eleven yards for a first, then Jason was sacked by Trent Cole. Three plays later the Redskins are punting and the quarter is over with the Redskins leading 10-3.

Philadelphia started the fourth quarter with their eighth possession with a delicious three and out, back over to the Redskins for the eight time, Santana Moss had a great punt return that was called back for a block in the back on Kareem Moore. On third and twelve Jason Campbell puts the game on his back and scrambles on a broken play for nineteen yards, the rookies Fred Davis and Devin Thomas cannot make plays and the Redskins are punting, Ryan Plackemeier pins the Eagles on their own three yard line with the Australian Rules dead ball kick to give the ball to the Eagles for the ninth time, three and out Philadelphia. Washington's ninth possession is also a three and out even though it starts at midfield. Philadelphia's tenth possession starts after another good Ryan Plackemeier punt, three incomplete passes and the Redskins have the ball for the tenth time, at midfield. Nothing doing and Clinton Portis gets dinged again and the Redskins are punting. The Eagles' eleventh possession starts with a loooong pass from Donovan McNabb to DeSean Jackson, DeSean is open but cannot haul it in. Nothing else and the Eagles are punting. Washington's eleventh possession is another three and out while trying to milk the clock. They punt and the ball is over to the Eagles for the twelfth and final time. Philadelphia puts together a brilliant late game drive albeit with no yards after catch on any completion, then the last play. On second and ten from the Redskins eighteen yard line, Donovan McNabb drops back to pass and throws to Reggie Brown, Reggie catches the ball inside the one yard line, Fred Smoot grabs hold and retards Reggie's forward progress, but be could still fight or lean in for the score. Then LaRon Landry rockets up from the end zone and places a perfect hit on Reggie and turns him around, ball short, no score, replay upholds the play, time has expired, game over and the Redskins win the game 10-3.




Chattering class:


Omnibus: uniform watch, again the Redskins are wearing the traditional road uniforms at home, burgundy jerseys and white pants meaning the Eagles get to wear their preferred home white on green uniforms, why do the Redskins do this?

The flags at Redskins Stadium were at half mast in recognition of the death of Sammy Baugh.

From the outset of this game it appeared as though the Redskins were working to limit Brian Westbrook. It worked, Brian finished with XXXXXX

Great play by LaRon Landry on the first play of the Eagles' second possession, Brian Westbrook was beaking left, LaRon came from the backside of the play to stop him.

Nice flip pass on first down in the first quarter Donovan, what the hell was that?

Nice sack by Jason Taylor two plays later, good to see Jason back in play.

Nice bumper from the Cincinnati game last week to end the first quarter, I was at that game and after I sobered up I agreed with Jim Zorn the he looked like the worst coach in America.

Are you fucking crazy? Zero-zero ties, fourteen minutes left in the half in a windy stadium. The 54 yard Shaun Suisham field goal attempt in the second quarter was a raging game management error, first the team wasted a timeout thinking about it, then went for it, even the Eagles knew it was a long shot, putting cornerback Will Demps in the end zone to field a possible return, Will caught it in the end zone and returned it to the Eagles 47. The turnover spot for a missed kick would have been the Eagles 44 yard line, so Will returned it three yards in Philadelphia's favor, it was basically wasted play and had the effect of giving the Eagles some needed momentum and better field position. That kick was a terrible coaching call.

While at the game we did not notice that Rock Cartwright got a carry in the second quarter while Clinton Portis was out with a banged up left hand, it was Rock's first carry in eight games and his fifth of the season.

After the Redskins field goal in the second quarter as Washington was setting up to kick off, the ball fell off the tee twice, it was that windy.

Irrational exuberance: with less than a minute left in the half, Jim Zorn rushed out to the field after the Eagles holding call on linebacker Stewart Bradley, coach Zorn was trying to was ensure that outcome of the penalty call was a Redskins first down, the line judge did not appreciate coach Zorn coming that far out onto the field and escorted him back to the sideline while listening to his argument.

On the second play of the second half Donovan McNabb dropped back to pass and threw left to DeSean Jackson, safety LaRon Landry his DeSean in midair and left DeSean crumpled, linebacker Marcus Washington almost caught the interception, it was an excellent defensive play. Two plays later, LaRon caught DeSean on a reverse and stopped the first down. LaRon is awsum.

Lorenzo Alexander tore his hamstring trying to cover Brian Westbrook on the 47 yard reception in the third quarter, he is lost for the season, I hope he can come back for 2009, Lorenzo aka Scarface charges the players around him.

Fourth quarter statistic, plays in opponents' territory: Redskins 36, Eagles 8.

Guys that had a great game for the Redskins: Jason Taylor, Shawn Springs, LaRon Landry, London Fletcher.

Less than 20 yards on 12 plays for the Eagles in the fourth quarter through 5:02 of the fourth quarter. Not good, and Donovan still thinks Philadelphia is the better team.

There were seven three and outs in this game, all in the fourth quarter.

The Eagles final drive was one run, two spikes and eleven passes. The closest they came was a 40 yard pass to DeSean Jackson in the end zone, it his DeSean on the hands and he could not haul it in.

Watching the final play at the stadium, the Donovan McNabb to Reggie Brown pass play stopped at the goal line by Fred Smoot and LaRon Landry, there was no way to tell from the 400s that it was not a touchdown, the initial play call was no score game over, the replay put us on edge and when it was called for the Redskins the stadium, or what was left of us, went nuts. Eliminated or not I love to see the Eagles take a beating, Hail to the Redskins!






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

Other recaps:

Next up, the final game of the season, on the road against the San Francisco 49ers,

Clinton Portis: Reuters Pictures from here.

Game 15: Redskins (7-7) vs. Eagles (8-5-1)


Out of the box: two teams mathematically still in the hunt as the Eagles travel to Washington to play a 4pm ET game, desperation can make a team weak or strong.


The story so far: the Redskins were all but eliminated from the playoff hunt after last week's very disappointing loss to the then 1-11-1 Bengals. Go back to when you were a kid and remember that last time your parents looked at you with that stern sadness and told you how... disappointed we are with you. Was it when you got caught skipping school? Or maybe you had a party when your folks were away and they found out. Remember how sad you were that you got caught? Yeah that is how I feel about the Redskins right now, we caught them sucking and after everything we thought they had learned we thought they could do so much better.

And that is the funny part, even after that miserable loss, which I had the misfortune to witness in person, the Redskins are still in the playoff picture, see the aside below for more detail.

So anyway the season is coming to a rapid end and the team is starting to go through all those gyrations teams go through at the end of a season. Murmurs of quote executive decisions unquote and non coaching team personnel stewarding players and coaches through press conferences and availabilities, strange choices about starters, speculation about the coach, it is all in the life of the Redskins at the end of the season.

For his part, head coach Jim Zorn is doing his best not to be defined by the apocalyptic media coverage, I think he has recognized that he hit the wall at midseason, has recognized his own limits and also knows he can get better, just probably not now, he will attack his first full offseason and come back next season as a better manager. No coach, despite what the haters and dickheads think, you are not the worst coach in the world, it is a sign of intelligence that coach Zorn can be down on himself and still enjoy what his is doing. I think speculation about coach Zorn being fired is silly and this week Vinny Cerrato appeared to concur.

On the player side, Fred Smoot and Carlos Rogers sat out most of the Bengals game, Fred had no explanation and Carlos had some mysterious stomach illness that I did not really read about last week. Shawn Springs and DeAngelo Hall started and went the distance and will today (op. cit.), I think this is the most obvious example of the team trying players out for next year. Shawn is under contract for next season, but with a cap number of 8.5 million dollars. DeAngelo will be a free agent, having signed before week ten against the Cowboys, he would like to stay in Washington but could command a large contract based on his performance with the Redskins. I think the team is putting them out as the starting pair to evaluate which they would rather keep, Shawn becomes affordable to cut this offseason but only if there is an upgrade elsewhere at cornerback. Carlos is a player and has improved steadily in four years, Fred is what he is, a solid number three corner but weak number two.

The other player of interest that is suddenly sitting is weakside linebacker Rocky McIntosh, all of a sudden after the Bengals game the talk was about knee problems and his body wearing down (op. cit.), I would probably agree that Rocky has been less productive in recent weeks than at the beginning of the season, but I am not sure I agree that he has disappeared. With HB Blades and training camp signee Alfred Fincher on the roster, I think the team is trying to see what they have for the future, if Rocky is injury prone the team could make a move, Marcus Washington is sadly on his way out and the team needs to know what it has.

Yes this means I am wondering if the Redskins put the best players possible on the field last week.

Tis the season for wondering about the future, 34 year old two season Redskin right guard Pete Kendall is a free agent after the season (op. cit.) and Jason Taylor wonders if he may not be worth his eight million dollars due next season. Little help from the peanut gallery, he is not.

And all the crap about Jason Campbell needing to be benched is just wrong. He is our guy and let us get him a big contract.

Hey, whatever happened with those rookie pass catchers?


Curly R aside: RIP Sammy Baugh, the greatest Redskin ever.

Curly R aside continues: here is your week sixteen Redskins playoff scenario: first of all the Cowboys losing last night was good. They and the other teams, the Buccaneers, Falcons and Eagles need to lose out and the Redskins need to win their last two games. This would make a four way tie at 9-7 and somehow the Redskins win a tiebreaker and get in. I promise readers that if the Redskins win today, I will break down the week seventeen playoff scenario. Not to be defeatist or anything but let us look at the bright side, the Redskins have fallen apart in the second half of this season and are still in the postseason hunt in the next to last week.


Oppo research: after being benched in the second half of a loss to the Ravens a month ago Donovan McNabb has come back strong and the Eagles have put together a three game win streak. In 2006 Philadelphia put together a five game run to at the end with the fabulous Jeff Garcia, to make the playofs. In 2007 the Eagles won their final three but missed the playoffs. It happens every season just when Eagles fans are done with their team, they reel off a stretch of wins to make everyone forget what chumps Donovan and Andy Reid are.

Brian Westbrook, he has a way of torturing the Redskins. Could happen again today.


Trainer's table: the Redskins are banged up but getting a lot of players back this week. Today is the last Redskins home game and there are players out there today that will not be here next season. Anyone that can walk will try and be in this game (ibid.) and I hope that includes Clinton Portis who this week added back to his list of body parts that hurt (op. cit.).


Gameplan: with the propensity of the Redskins to give up points early then let teams close out games from ahead with long drives, Washington's defense is struggling tactically despite being a statistical leader. If the Eagles can continue that streak, the Redskins offense will be under what is likely too much pressure to win the game. Washington's offense is the 29th ranked scoring offense in the league, only Oakland, St. Louis and Cincinnati score less per game than Washington. A little more Chris Cooley in the red zone is what the doctor ordered.


My take in 60 words or less: win teh gaem!!!1!


Washington Post / AP preview, Gameday (PDF), the Zorn Zone, keys to the game, what it means for each team. Redskins roster, injury report, projected starters. Eagles roster, injury report. Broadcast coverage, how embarrasing that Atlanta-Minnesota rates a larger audience than this game. SkinsCast weather, it is going to be cold and shitty but the forecast has steadily improved through the week.

Enjoy yourselves kids, I will be at the game today, my fifth and final Redskins game of the season, with neighbors and lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery, this will be our 19th of the past 20 Redskins-Eagles games in both cities, a streak going back to 1999. This will be my 17th straight contest between these two teams.

This is a gameday open thread.

NFL helmet logos from here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Blogger Deathsport: Week Sixteen Picks

It's tough out there this time of year

Blogger Deathsport rolls on with week sixteen, things are getting ragged here at the end of the year. I will be tallying all these weeks in the offseason and regrouping for Blogger Deathsport 2009. And now the picks:

IND (-6) @ JAX
Pick: Colts. Jacksonville has been such a disappointment this season.
Result: Colts. Barely.

BAL @ DAL (-4)
Pick: Ravens. Because teh Cowboys are teh suck in December.
Result: Ravens. I love to watch the Cowboys take a beating.

NO (-7) @ DET
Pick: Saints. Drew Brees is throwing up Dan Marino numbers, closing in on five thousand passing yards this season.

PIT (-2) @ TEN

Pick: Titans. Game of the week one.

SF (-5.5) @ STL
Pick: 49ers. Mike Singletary is 4-3 as head coach with a starting quarterback that had two kneeldown snaps prior to this season. Full steam ahead.

CIN @ CLE (-3)
Pick: Browns. Flailathon. Cleveland, get ready to welcome back Marty Schottenheimer.

MIA (-4) @ KC
Pick: Dolphins. The way Miami has turned it around makes me wonder if I should hire Bill Parcells to clean out my garage.

ARZ @ NE (-7.5)
Pick: Patriots. If I heard this stat right west coast teams have won all of one game on the east coast this season.

SD @ TB (-3.5)
Pick: Buccaneers. Neither team is serious though the Chargers are much less so.

HOU (-7) @ OAK
Pick: Texans. Maybe Houston will actually be good next year, they have impressed me this season.

NYJ (-4.5) @ SEA
Pick: Jets. Down the stretch it's Brett!

BUF @ DEN (-6.5)
Pick: Broncos. More or less because I do not trust the Bills at this point.

ATL @ MIN (-3)
Pick: Falcons. Rookie head coach plus rookie quarterback? Really?

PHI (-5) @ WAS (I'll be at this game FYI)
Pick: Redskins. I root on the outside because I am rooting on the inside.

CAR @ NYG (-3)
Pick: Panthers. Game of the week two.

GB @ CHI (-4)
Pick: Bears
Score: 23-13

Football is coming to an end, enjoy it while it is here.

Stuffed animal massacre from here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

5 Questions with the Eagles

Some traditions never die and one of them is the Redskins playing the Eagles. As we prepare for Philadelphia's trip to Washington Sunday, Jason at Bleeding Green Nation and I traded questions on this week's game. The Eagles goddamnit are surging again at the end of the season so let us angle for some insight into how this team works. Read on for Jason's answers to my questions, and find my answers to Jason's questions here.


Curly R: The Eagles are doing the Lazarus thing again, left for dead but refusing to die. Is this a replay of 2006? What is the playoff scenario and can they make it?

Bleeding Green Nation: If the Eagles win the next two they only need Atlanta or Tampa to lose a game. I think if any team can make this kind of run it's the Eagles, for the very reason you said. They've done it before. In fact, they go on these late runs almost every year. Last year they didn't make the playoffs, but they did run off three straight wins. In 2006 they won 5 straight and got in the playoffs. Andy Reid's record in December is off the charts, if I remember correct during Monday Nights game they said it was something 24-10... For whatever reason the team just starts to play better and focus more when December comes.

Curly R: Kind of a related question, Philadelphia and Andy Reid/DonovanMcNabb seem to be in a toxic relationship, every season fighting and talking about each behind the other's back all year before deciding breaking up is not worth the hassle. Is Philadelphia just going through the motions at this point?

Bleeding Green Nation: The more I think about this, the fan's relationship with those guys is a lot like the Eagles performance in recent years. Every year starts off hopeful and generally positive about them, at some point things start go south and people lose patience... but then at the end they start to come on and fans start to think twice about running them out of town. There's a certain level of comfort with these guys and sometimes I think people don't realize what they have until it's gone. Clearly, the goal is to win the Super Bowl and this pair has yet to accomplish that... but if you look around the league at some of the awful QB play and poor coaching, it could be a lot worse.

Curly R: Donovan aside, Eagles fans are fortunate to be in the presence of two of the greatest Eagles ever in safety Brian Dawkins and tailback Brian Westbrook. Talk about what these two guys have meant to this franchise.

Bleeding Green Nation: Brian Dawkins is the longest tenured athlete in Philadelphia, he set the Eagles franchise record for games played last week, and was just selected for his seventh pro bowl. So there's no doubt that this guy is a landmark player for the city and the franchise. Maybe it's because he's been here so long, but he really seems to understand the fan base better than anyone.

As for Westbrook, he's got the added bonus of having gone to a local school. He's from the DC area but played his college ball at Villanova. So from the moment he came to the Eagles he had people rooting for him just that bit more... Plus, let's face it. He's a guy from a small (footballwise at least) school who everyone said was too small and would never make it in the NFL. Dare I say... it's a Rocky story? We kinda like those stories here...

Curly R: Was The Benching a desperation move by Andy Reid or a calculated move to spark a veteran team? Is the future of the quarterback position safe with Kevin Kolb?

Bleeding Green Nation: I really don't know. I'd lean more toward it being a desperation move, but it's always hard to tell with Andy with because he reveals almost nothing. It has seemed to spark things, so who knows? Maybe he's sly like a fox.

As for Kevin Kolb... It's too early to say at this point. His first half of an NFL game didn't go terribly well... but whose first half game ever does? The only time we've ever really seem him get time is in preseason, which you can only take so much from. So I'm reserving judgement until he gets a chance to prove himself.

Curly R: The Redskins keep falling behind early, cannot get any rush on the passer and let opponents close out games from ahead. Seems like a tailor made win opportunity for Philadelphia. What worries you about this game?

Bleeding Green Nation: The Redskins run game always worries me. I know injuries and other things have slowed down your run game in recent weeks... but I've seen the Skins run on us too many times to take anything for granted. Our front 7 is going to have to match their effort from the Giants game.

Curly R Bonus Question: So Donovan figured that when games end in a tie we are not talking about menswear. Does he know that sudden death does not actually involve anyone dying? Or that no one actually goes to jail for illegal motion?

Bleeding Green Nation: You certainly don't go to jail for illegal motion... but Donovan's knowledge of the penal system is understandably limited, it's not like he's a Cowboy or something.


Thanks to Jason for helping me renew an old rivalry, lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery and I will be at Redskins Stadium for the game this Sunday, this will be our 19th of the past 20 Redskins-Eagles games and my 17th in a row. I better watch out or this could become a habit.