Out of the box: The actually winless Buccaneers travel to play the spiritually winless Redskins, 1pm ET on FOX, sucking in the short term meets sucking over the long haul in what is sure not to be an entertaining game.
The story so far: Well this one is pretty easy. The Redskins lost last week to the worst team in football, the previously 0-19 Lions. In the aftermath of that game a lot of the air came out of Washington, after savaging head coach Jim Zorn for two weeks blame switched to owner Dan Snyder, no one else can be held legitimately responsible for what the team has become.
But that does not get through Sunday so meanwhile back on Earth head coach Jim Zorn said the team was getting better, a pronouncement starkly at odds with reality and the words and opinions of the players and fans. Linebacker London Fletcher threw the first Molotov, saying the Redskins were not a good and in fact have not been since the he arrived in Washington before the 2007 season (op. cit.).
Cornerbacks Carlos Rogers and DeAngelo Hall followed, saying the team has no identity and does not have the same fight in it as last year (ibid.). Ouch. Coach Zorn responded like a man on an island, he thinks everything is coming along just fine (ibid.), unfortunately he is sounding more and more like a man detached from his job. Tailback Clinton Portis said he is sure a 200 yard game is coming. Fullback Mike Sellers said he thinks the Redskins are a running team... but they run the plays that are called (op. cit.), not exactly a ringing endorsement of Jim Zorn's playcalls.
But wait it gets worse. Sunday night, after the debacle in Detroit, a Redskins jet was spotted at a Colorado airport, and apparently not Denver International, an airport close to the palatial estate of former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. The team mealy mouthed it, saying the organization leases its planes to other organizations, please email me if you really believe that. Even in the worst case conspiracy there is zero chance Mike comes to Washington before the end of this season.
As the week progressed through Wednesday, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth spoke to Tampa Bay are media but not Washington media, this is the second week in a row Albert has done this. This makes him a big fat jerk.
Thursday defensive coordinator Greg Blache did something unsurprising, taking the blame for the defensive unit's struggles, at this point in the season no one is worse at stopping teams on third down than the Redskins, nice of Greg to make such a big deal about how if anyone needs to be held responsible it is him, I have news for Greg, dude the fans are already there. If you had done this last week it would have meant a little more, now it just looks like hot air to try and change the subject. It was subsequently amusing to watch head coach Jim Zorn make a weak attempt to deflect the blame onto himself as the head coach. This guy.
Greg Blache also did something surprising, he benched safety Chris Horton in favor of safety Reed Doughty (op. cit.). Reed has had a great season so far and played like a mad man against the Lions, meanwhile Chris had two huge defensive plays against the Rams, but he committed one obvious pass interference penalty the following week against Detroit, and by obvious I mean obviously a questionable call, and was benched for it. This has the effect of making the benching look capricious (op. cit.) and of making Greg Blache look like someone trying to find a fall guy, the Redskins defense does not at all look like its usual self.
Here is one that will wake up Redskins fans: right tackle Stephon Heyer at 25 years old is now the grizzled veteran on that side of the line. Three words: NO MORE INJURIES. Along the offensive line that is. So that is more like seven words.
Curly R aside: Every time I try and defend this team they do something to make it difficult. I am a Jason Campbell guy, but he could not even get the right hand signals for a crucial play at the end of last week's game against the Lions. And I am totally in the tank for safety Chris Horton, I loved his play from the beginning last season and even had the opportunity to interview Chris last season, one of the highlights of my time covering the Redskins.
But Chris just drove it into the ditch. After being demoted in favor of Reed Doughty for some pretty sketchy reasons, a post appeared on Chris' blog yesterday, one that slammed the Redskins and defensive coordinator Greg Blache. Jamie Mottram at Mister Irrelevant caught it and copied the relevant parts before it was pulled down, looks like Chris has someone writing for him and let him post up without review.
Toss this onto the fire of ill advised tweets and calling bullshit on the fans in your blog then losing to the worst team in the league as the wisdom and practice of professional athletes trying to have their cake of significant and profile raising social media presence collides with the realities of not shitting where you eat.
Oppo research: The Buccaneers are having a tough time, they are 0-3 under their new head coach Raheem Morris and unlike Washington, Tampa Bay was not afraid to make changes, after getting shut out 24-0 by the Giants last week coach Morris benched quarterback Byron Leftwich in favor of second year fifth round quarterback Josh Johnson, a quote scrambler unquote. Against New York last week Tampa Bay rolled up all of 86 yards in total offense and did not register a first down until the third quarter (all ibid.).
Josh has not played much, he had no statistics for 2008 and there is not much tape on him.
Must have been a big bummer for Byron, he is a Washington DC native, this would have been a homecoming, Byron took over for Ben Roethlisberger last year in the Terrible Towel Monday Night game and torched the Redskins on the way to a big Steelers win.
Thinking about what the Buccaneers are and what they want to do on offense, they are a running team, they want to get messy with you, knock around in the dirt and see if you make mistakes.
On defense the team is still trying to get itself together, teams have exploited Tampa Bay's new man to man scheme, the new coach comes from the defensive side of the ball so it is only a matter of time until they improve.
Of note is the Buccaneers' schedule, have a look, they play all four NFC Beast teams in the first five games, as Tony Almeida said last night, if you had to pick one team in the division that would gag out to the Buccaneers, who would it be? Yes I agree, it would be the Redskins.
Trainer's table: Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth's hip injury turned out to be a strained butt, Albert went to Tennessee to have it looked at and get an MRI. There were a number of other small injuries in the Lions game, linebacker London Fletcher hurt his ribs and linebacker Brian Orakpo got jabbed in the eye, they are fine. Of greater concern is cornerback Carlos Rogers, he rolled his left ankle and it is still bothersome (all op. cit.).
Quarterback Jason Campbell was nursing a sore ankle and was expected to be fine, tailback Clinton Portis' calf was more disturbing (both op. cit.), through the week Clinton wound up questionable with Marcus Mason and Anthony Aldridge both set to spell him in this game if Clinton cannot go.
Gameplan: Nothing has worked so far. All expectations have been unmet. Where do you go from there? Here is one: improve the defense. Here's another: run the ball more than one every four plays (ibid.).
My take in 60 words or less: Win or lose we have already started down the road to revolution, things will get worse for Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato this year before they get better. Winning will not help that, I would still like to see it anyway.
Washington Post interactive gameday, keys to the game, key matchups, Redskins roster, . Broadcast coverage, local markets only; SkinsCast weather, it is a beautiful day for looking at empty seats.
Today is a show me game of a totally different kind: show me you're not really the worst team in the National Football League.
This is a gameday open thread.
NFL helmets from here.
Sunday, October 04, 2009