Out of the box: Amidst the snowpocalypse, a football game as the New York Giants come to Washington for a Monday night game, 8:30pm ET, hey what's 25 million pounds of snow between friends?
Follow along with me as I build this preview up through kickoff...
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The Story So Far: Well this was not exactly just another long week in a disappointing 2009 NFL season now was it? Just when we thought the plot was exhausted and we were just playing out the string, BAM it's a twist of pretty much epic proportions. What happened this week is in a very real sense unprecedented in the Dan Snyder era of Redskins history. But let us go back to the beginning of the week...
After a heartening road win against a turns out actually inferior Raiders team, one of the first things we heard was that running backs coach Stump Mitchell had at some point had a phone interview for the head coach job at Southern Methodist University (ibid.). Good luck to Stump on that and if I were anyone on Jim Zorn's staff I would not be waiting around until January to see if I still had a job before I started looking through my contacts.
Then we heard the Redskins were cleared in the tampering case of Albert Haynesworth's signing, so when the Redskins managed to negotiate a one hundred million dollar contract in just over five hours, why everything there is just fine, another way of putting this is the league found no evidence of wrongdoing in its investigation of itself.
In depth chart news, it looks as though poor Rock Cartwright has lost all his primary jobs now, after carrying only once in the Raiders game as tailback Quinton Ganther carried the load and was spelled by Marcus Mason, Rock had to suffer the indignity of Devin Thomas taking his original main job, that of kickoff returner, Rock thinks he is in the doghouse and is resigned to being cut after the season (op. cit.). Now Devin Thomas may even be in the backfield catching a few punts this week (op. cit.), Antwaan Randle El continues to embarrass himself back there and head coach Jim Zorn continues to embarrass himself not only by keeping Antwaan back there, but also by actually backing him, saying he has confidence in Antwaan and wants a guy with hands as sure as Antwaan's fielding the punts (op. cit.). Antwaan is unhappy about the demotion, but tough shit, he sucks in that role.
There are many things I can forgive about Jim Zorn and his rookie style, the myriad mistakes of mismanagement that get made when someone gets promoted ahead of their curve, however the mushmouth coachspeak in situations when you either need to be forceful on your point or let silence be your answer is really annoying.
Speaking of coaches, defensive coordinator Greg Blache broke his media silence, again, this time to lobby on behalf of linebacker London Fletcher and defensive end Andre Carter for the Pro Bowl. No one this decade has registered more tackles according to the NFL's unofficial number than London, he is once again playing at an elite level. Andre, he has eleven sacks and leads the league in tackles for loss, both these guys plus hybrid defensive endbacker Brian Orakpo should be in for the playoffs.
Then, Thursday morning the bomb dropped: shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato was out and Bruce Allen, son of Redskins legendary coach George Allen, was in. And while Redskins fans have become an exceedingly easy group, happy to grasp on to any connection to faded glory, Bruce actually has football credentials. Fans rejoiced. Players were stunned and generally agreed the organization was in need of change. In his resignation letter, Vinny Cerrato listed the great coaches he had the privilege of working with in Washington, Jim Zorn, the man Vinny recommended for the job, was left off the list. Way to keep it classy Vinny.
Now Bruce has a big job ahead of him, trying to change a dysfunctional culture, improve draft quality, select and sign free agents, hire a head coach and over see it all. Good luck with all that.
Curly R Aside: In a week as heavily dominated by the departure of shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato and the hiring of actual general manager Bruce Allen, it is somewhat hard to pin down anything other than those moves and the implications, hopes and speculation that surround them, but I am going to try.
Jason Campbell should be this team's quarterback of the future. Curly R has been a strident supporter of Jason's, and will continue to be, he is having a career year, he has improved as the season progressed, he has taken everything in stride, from the team trying to get rid of him not once but twice in the offseason, to major injuries to starting linemen to the swirl around playcalling and bingo to getting the shit knocked out of him every single game, he has taken it all and what has he done with it?
His passer rating is at a career high, and has improved every year. His receivers have the number one ranked yards after catch in the league, god how I wish that was an official statistic. He gets nailed point blank every game and gets back up.
I agree with Ron Jaworski, or rather chronologically, Ron Jaworski agrees with me, the Redskins can win with this guy. Bruce Allen if you are reading this, look at the facts, look at the available options and look at the opportunity cost. Run the numbers then sign this guy to a long term deal and start putting some real blockers in front of him.
Oppo Research: The Giants seemed to be on a trajectory for another Super Bowl early in the season, after starting 4-0 they then lost five in a row and are 2-2 since the end of their skid. Offensively they can still put up points, the story seems to be their offense, head coach Tom Coughlin had to come out and voice up confidence for new defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, he that replaced almost Redskins coach and current Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo, man the Eagles dropped 45 points on the Giants just last week.
We know this team well, they have beaten the Redskins three times in a row, the last time the Redskins beat the Giants was in a frigid game fourteen in the dramatic four game win streak to end the 2007 season, and our own pride of Walpole Todd Collins was the quarterback.
Trainer's Table: Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth has missed three games with an ankle sprain and re-sprain, he missed practice Wednesday, as did cornerback DeAngelo Hall with his MCL sprain and fullback Mike Sellers with his thigh and fumblitis (ibid.). DeAngelo has also missed three games this season.
Tailback Clinton Portis, he has been on injured reserve for almost three weeks and is coming to grips with the notion that he may be part of the change that is certain to occur in the offseason, Clinton has no plans to retire and would like to stay in Washington, he is also fine if not.
Gameplan: This is a winnable game, despite starting seven different combinations along the offensive line, the past four games have seen the team give up less than two sacks per game, the Giants are slowing down and their defense is vulnerable. Albert Haynesworth being back will help and these defensive backs have access to ample Eli Manning game tape. Get a helmet up Eli's giblet, put some pressure on his receivers and try one time not to let him make you look silly.
It is a division game so there are no secrets.
My Take in 60 Words or Less: Everyone, and with no salary cap for 2010 I do mean everyone, is playing for their jobs, go out there and beat these guys, they act too much like they own you.
Washington Post interactive gameday, keys to the game, key matchups, Redskins roster; broadcast coverage is N-A-T-I-O-N-A-L folks, it's Monday Night Football!
Other previews: Mark Newgent at Redskins Examiner has his regular exchange with the Examiner blogger covering the week's opponent; again for Washington's second Monday night game this season the guys at Covers.com asked me and a blogger covering the opponent to answer a few questions geared toward the spread and degenerate sports bloggers like myself, here is the post and be sure to check out James Trotta's NFL-Giants, one of Curly R's oldest blogfriends. Jamie Mottram of Mister Irrelevant hosts the Comcast SportsNet chat, head over there, and Rich Tandler hosts his usual game chat.
Enjoy the game folks, we are still snowed in on Swarthmore Drive and will be gathering at neighbor Bill's for this one.
This is a gameday open thread.
NFL helmet logos from here.