Out of the box: A wet day for black as the Redskins unbelievably face their six straight winless opponents in the Chiefs, 1pm ET, Redskins Stadium, it seems early for a last stand in the final redoubt.
Good morning Redskins fans, this game preview will build straight until kickoff, then join me as Curly R hosts the Comcast SportsNet game chat here.
Quick jump to
The story so far: A bunker mentality has set in on the Washington Redskins. Players refusing to talk to the press. Trusted names and team supporters turning on the team. Players requesting, anonymously, a management vote of confidence for embattled head coach Jim Zorn, and not getting it. Fan outrage continuing to boil, a whole new crop of Redskins fan sites have appeared in just the last few weeks (ibid.), you could call them fan revolt sites. Mr. media player himself, Chris Cooley, has gone dark, posting one update to his blog since 5 October and that was an interview with players from another sport.
It is getting bad around here. Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff attacking Albert Haynesworth. Redskins Super Bowl quarterback Joe Theismann saying the Redskins are not a professional football team. Hall of Fame freight train John Riggins has a YouTube channel dedicated to venting years of evident frustration, this week particularly at head coach Jim Zorn and shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato. Hall of Fame quarterback Sonny Jurgenson thinks it so undermines his coach that if Sonny were Jim Zorn he would have resigned when Dan Snyder brought in offensive consultant Sherman Lewis. Throw in Tre' Johnson, Matt Bowen, Rick Doc Walker and Ross Tucker and that is a lot of former players piling on.
Even team owned media piling on. and making obvious concessions to the concerned fans formerly known as quote haters unquote (op. cit.).
In the media the two best suggestions all week were to hire the GEICO googly eyes if the team needed yet another pair (Tracey Hamilton op. cit.) and local sports savant John Feinstein came out with it and suggested fans boycott the game.
Players are showing signs of stress as well. In the aftermath of the loss to Carolina, cornerback Carlos Rogers said things were not working, and attributed problems to the top of the organization, where all the decisions on players and coaching are made. Tailback Clinton Portis allegedly has made up with fullback Mike Sellers, but who knows, Clinton is a diva that thinks he is better than the team and Mike blames the media for the team's woe this season.
Meanwhile head coach Zorn still looks like a deer in the headlights, admitting this week he did not know about the fair catch blocking rule that led to the Washington turnover late in last week's game against the Panthers. Later in the week he channeled Don Rumsfeld, saying at a media session that you go play with the Redskins you have, not the Redskins you want or might wish to have at a later time (op. cit. and ibid.).
Face it folks, the Redskins are dysfunctional. Dan Snyder may excel at making money, he is terrible at running a football team.
In the field of play the offensive line is the stone that is sinking this team. Making the replacement right guard inactive and replacing him with a backup tackle screwed the pooch when left tackle Chris Samuels went down with a career threatening spinal condition, in practical terms last week Jason Campbell never got off his first read due to increased pressure on the quarterback. Sadly there is not much help available on the horizon, the unemployment rate of starting quality offensive linemen on the street is zero percent.
In the new new line Stephon Heyer moves back to left tackle and Mike Williams moves to right tackle, Chad Rinehart, the aforementioned replacement right guard, is out with a mysterious shoulder injury and will be replaced by Will Montgomery (op. cit.), the player he beat to become the replacement right guard. Anyone else smell disaster today?
In other player news, punter Glenn Pakulak was released and defensive end Renaldo Wynn re signed, then Glenn was signed to the practice squad (ibid.) then signed back to the roster and Renaldo released again, expect this merry go round to continue until punter Hunter the Punter Smith's groin is better. You will recall that Hunter the Punter was supposed to the can't miss guy that was going to work in tandem with the even more awsumer defense to ensure opponents of crappy field position. How's that working out?
And did you know the Redskins are the oldest team in the NFL? That ought to make you happy going into this game.
Curly R aside: The Redskin Potatoes name change suggestion again? Really? I got tired of this one in the 80s. I have said it before and I will say it again, I do not give a crap what you call this team, they are my football team. Change the name if it makes you feel better, or not, I do not care.
Oppo research: The Chiefs have a new general manager in former Patriots Bill Belichick understudy Scott Pioli and a new head coach in former Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley, they have a new quarterback in former Tom Brady understudy Matt Cassel. Kansas City is 0-5 so far this season and deep into a rebuilding.
The Chiefs are godawful. Which means the Redskins will play them close.
Trainer's table: Left tackle Chris Samuels is out with a season threatening neck injury that may be career threatening (ibid.), thus necessitating the shuffling of the offensive line deck. Replacement right guard Chad Rinehart is out with a shoulder injury (ibid.) which tells me more about what they think of Chad than any actual injury. Chad is apparently bumming on the injury and falling so quickly on the depth chart (op. cit.).
Defensive end Phillip Daniels suffered a torn biceps in game five against the Panthers, he was limited in practice during the week (op. cit.), defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin had a sore shoulder but was planning to go (ibid.).
Punter Hunter the Punter Smith tried to go late in the week with his pulled groin and could not, the team brought Glenn Pakulak back from the practice squad and released defensive end Renaldo Wynn. Again.
Gameplan: Are we there yet? Is prayer appropriate?
With that four win offense (op. cit.), well just try something because nothing is working. Football is the greatest team sport ever and as such it is difficult to separate factors contributing to poor performance... usually. A team can have any one of poor blocking, poor skill position players, poor playcalling and poor game management but not all four at the same time and that is what the Redskins have right now. So I would suggest on offense that they try and unfuck one of those problems and let's take it from there. Here's an idea: see if rookie seventh round pick receiver Marko Mitchell might could do anything on offense (op. cit.), all those guys drafted in the second round last year ain't done shit.
With that eleven win defense (ibid.), despite seeing Albert Hayneswoth gassed and DeAngelo Hall missing another tackle and London Fletcher tricked into covering a crossing route, the Redskins defense is playing very well, this is a unit that has not allowed thirty points from anyone in Jim Zorn's entire tenure.
On special teams receiver Santana Moss will be joining receiver Antwaan Randle El returning punts (op. cit.), which is a good thing because I think we are all getting a little tired of Antwaan's fair catches.
My take in 60 words or less: I am not sure this has ever happened: a team has played winless teams six games in a row to open the season (op. cit.). For better or for worse that streak ends today. Clear your minds Redskins and submit to your fate.
Washington Post interactive gameday, keys to the game, key matchups, Redskins roster. SkinsCast weather, forties with a good chance of rain, bad weather games are here at last. Broadcast coverage, the definition of local markets appears to be shrinking even further.
Join me for the Comcast SportsNet in game chat here, yours truly is the host and Redskins expert this week, yes I just wrote that.
This is a gameday open thread.
NFL helmets from here.