Out of the box: The eight hundred pound guy with the big stick and the full drink comes calling, says he just wants to talk come on open the door I won't hurt you as the undefeated Saints visit the Redskins, 1pm ET on FOX, you mama can't help you now boy.
Quick jump to
The Story So Far: The Season from Hell marches on, before you sigh heavily and wonder if the Redskins are ever going to be a good football team ever again, think about this: Ten different men have started along the five positions of the offensive line, nine Redskins players are on the season ending injured reserve list, tailback Clinton Portis has accumulated in eleven games, well seven and change actually, having missed three-plus since his concussion, fewer rushing yards than he did in five games last season and perhaps most bizarrely, the offensive genius head coach was barred from calling plays and replaced by a retired guy whose most recent experience is calling bingo games.
And yet five of Washington's eight losses have been by less than a touchdown. Maddeningly, in both the last two games, the nougaty NFC Beast road trip center of schedule band three, the Redskins led most of the game only to give it up at the end.
In football news the offensive line will shuffle again, undrafted rookie Edwin Williams did not impress at right guard and after two games out with an ankle sprain it looks like former 400 pound man Mike Williams will be back at right guard (op. cit.), that means the right guard position is back to the guy it went to after the guy that it went to after the guy that was the first starter went down then that guy sucked.
Quarterback Jason Campbell continues to have a career year, a fact I am having a hard time imparting on anyone not living in my house, Jason's passer rating has improved every year, despite back to back games at Dallas and at Philadelphia with nearly identical 73 ratings, is having his best season as a pro. This, even as his offensive line crumbles around him, Jason has been sacked thirty times this season, only Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and Kansas City's Matt Cassel have been sacked more often, Jason is on pace for 43.5 sacks for the season, far and away the most he would have endured in a full season as a starter. Asterisk, he started only seven games in 2006, twelve in 2007 and all sixteen in 2008, when he was sacked 38 times.
The hedgeriffic story of tailback Clinton Portis continues, he was cleared to play be his local doctor, the team decided to hold Clinton out of this game until he sees brain trauma specialists in Pittsburgh early next week, the team even now is hedging that Clinton may miss the next game against Oakland. I find the idea of brain trauma specialists in Pittsburgh about as logical as gunshot trauma specialists in Baltimore which is to say there is probably a steady stream of locals on which to practice their craft. After announcing that Clinton was cleared to play then announcing Clinton would not actually be playing, coach Zorn was forced to clarify (op. cit.), Clinton was cleared to increase his football related activity, not to go full on and get hit in haid. Not really a big deal, I think most savvy Redskins fans know Clinton is done for the season, it is simply another example of poor messaging and communications by the team, this is what happens when you have a household where everyone hates and or distrusts one another. Clinton has now missed three full games, raise your hand if you really think he will be back this season.
And the three amigos from the 2008 draft? Receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly and tight end Fred Davis? They feel like they are starting to click, the specter of massive turnover in coaching, the roster and basic team philosophy has then a little nervos but then again who would not be nervous if you had been given millions of dollars over two years to learn how to do job your resume said you were good at, I would be nervous if that zero expectations gravy train ground to a halt as well.
I am still not sure what to think about the Redskins complicated playcalling procedure, it involves involves six coaches devising the basic gameplan and portfolio of plays for the game and four coaches have hands in the actual calling of the plays on gameday, my instinct was to think the moment it became public that Jim Zorn was being stripped of playcalling duties, and everyone take moment to remember he was brought here to be the offensive coordinator, that it was over for Jim Zorn in Washington sooner in October or later in January. Whatever I think it is working and no one can tell me for sure if it is the playcalling, improved execution that comes as the season progresses, a smaller playbook, Sherman Lewis' playcalls or Jim Zorn's coaching. That is what makes football so maddening, it is the ultimate team sport and as such it is not always easy to separate influential factors. Whatever it is, it is working, it is fucked up but it is working.
Now go ahead and loose that big sigh.
Curly R Aside: Why the hell not, let's give her a shot, she can't be any worse than Vinny Cerrato.
Oppo Research: The healing power of sports, if you believe that, the city of New Orleans is just atwitter over their Saints, to be fair though every city would be football nuts if their team was 11-0.
Who is that guy over there on the New Orleans sideline? Oh shit that's right, Gregg Williams is the Saints defensive coordinator, yeah that Gregg Williams, the one that was the Redskins defensive coordinator for four years and then did not get the head coach job in favor of... no one, for over a month until the team promoted the new offensive coordinator into the vacant head coach position. BUT GREGG'S NOT BITTER ABOUT IT OR ANYTHING!!
So let's see here... my notes here tell me Gregg has tooken basically the same defense the Saints had last year and turned them into a machine that even intimidates the Patriots, and since Redskins owner Dan Snyder worked really hard to humiliate Gregg Williams on the way out the door after Joe Gibbs retired in January 2008 do you think maybe Gregg has had this game circled on his calendar for a while?
Forget that juggernaut of a New Orleans offense for a moment, Gregg has the Saints playing great defensive football and if Gregg has his way and his gameplan, he will not just want to win this game, he will want to sack and pillage Ashburn before burning the place to the ground then stomping the ashes into the snow, eradicating all trace that the team ever existed. If I were Jason Campbell I would have my head on a swivel.
On offense, the football media knob slobbing for Drew Brees this season has been tough to watch, an entire industry of football porn workers, each willing to do more to degrade themselves for a shot on camera talking about Drew.
Trainer's Table: Throw two more names onto the pile, rookie defensive end Jeremy Jarmon and Pro Bowl tight end Chris Cooley went onto injured reserve Monday (op. cit.), Jeremy suffered a fibula fracture on a kickoff in last week's game against the Eagles, and Chris' ankle did not heal according to the more optimistic assessment of its break in the 26 October game seven against the Eagles.
It is perhaps worth noting that the immediate reporting following Chris' injury was that he would be done for the season, then two days the he could be back in a month happy talk started, then he did not play again, whatever that means. So I guess all those two tight ends sets with Fred Davis that were not going to happen anyway are now definitely not going to happen.
Tailback Clinton Portis is out, again, still recovering from his concussion, see Story So Far above for more detail.
Cornerback DeAngelo Hall has a grade two sprain of the medial collateral ligament, suffered in game ten against Dallas two weeks ago, he is in more pain than he has even been in his professional career and is out (op. cit., ibid., op. cit.), this will be his second consecutive game out.
Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was back in practice (ibid.) after sitting out the past two games with a sprained ankle suffered in game nine versus Denver, he will be back this week (op. cit.) and man we could really use him up front, those Cowboys ran all over the Redskins last week in the first half, they were literally running the ball at will, at one point they ran it seven times in a row then Marion Barber fumbled (heh heh). Former 400 pound man Mike Williams seems to be fully recovered his deep ankle sprain (ibid.) suffered in game eight against the Falcons, he has been unavailable the past three games.
Gameplan: One half of this section writes itself these days, that of the defense. Washington has a good defense whose two mortal flaws are giving up big plays early and allowing late scoring drives. With cornerback DeAngelo Hall out but defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth back after two games out, it is a toss up whether the Redskins can slow the Saints, because I believe the Washington defense has the ability to slow the Saints red hot offense down. Where and how they will give up the big plays and late drives is simply the question.
On offense, the role players and lame ducks are going out there to get their asses kicked trying to be heroes.
My Take in 60 Words or Less: The Redskins this season have a knack for getting teams to play down to them, they do not get blown out and they do not blow out. I would not make any bets on the Redskins without more than the ten points on the consensus betting line, that said I am bracing for a loss, not a laugher.
Washington Post interactive gameday, keys to the game, key matchups, Redskins roster; the Washington Post SkinsCast team FAILED to publish pregame weather; broadcast coverage, most of the country will see this sacrificing of a bad team to the gods of football.
Other previews: Mark Newgent at Redskins Examiner has his regular exchange with the Examiner blogger covering the week's opponent.
Enjoy the game, I will be back on the street, Swarthmore that is, we're gettin the band back together!
This is a gameday open thread.
NFL helmet logos from here.