Out of the box: Mercifully the end is near, all I see is black curtains as the Dallas Cowboys come to Washington the rivalry's hundredth game and what easily could be another national humiliation at 8pm ET on NBC, come, sit down with us and watch as the team feasts on it own corpse.
Quick jump to
The Story So Far: In the aftermath of hiring a new actual general manager in Bruce Allen, many Redskins fans, and a fair number of Giants fans thought last week's game fourteen could be competitive. We were all wrong, not only did the Redskins clinch last place in the NFC Beast with that loss (ibid.), that spanking on national TV served to refocus the spotlight on what the football county had forgotten since game five or six, and that is not only do the Redskins suck as a football team, their very organization is rotten from the inside, has no unity and seemingly only exists for the short term pursuit of money.
A number of bad stories moved to the front pages. Secondary coach Jerry Gray interviewed for the Redskins head coaching position (op. cit.), a job not technically open yet, which must have made the supervisor-employee discussions between Jim Zorn and Jerry especially awkward this week.
Since we now know it will not be Jon Gruden for next season (ibid.), Mike Shanahan may already be a done deal for this team, everything may already be in place for him to take over in the evening on 3 January 2010. Or not. Either way, he has the approval of tailback Clinton Portis, which has the potential to create more awkward hallway conversation since Jim Zorn is still the head coach.
Fines were handed down to defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and Giants tailback Brandon Jacobs for their scuffle on Monday night, Albert was assessed a ten thousand dollar fine while Brandon was assessed 7500 dollar fine (op. cit.), Brandon started the whole thing, punching and flinging cornerback DeAngelo Hall around by his facemask. Albert stepped in to defend DeAngelo, a move that was appreciated (ibid.), those two guys are like peas in a pod, never able just to play football, there always has to be sumpin.
Speaking of Albert Haynesworth, following that Monday night spanking in which Albert Haynesworth had one of the Redskins two sacks, Albert slammed the team for lacking leadership and for not using him in the way most beneficial to the team, which apparently is just to let Albert do whatever the fuck he wants on the football field. Four days later Albert was late for practice on Friday Christmas morning, somewhere between twenty minutes and one hour late and after heated discussions with head coach Jim Zorn defensive coordinator Greg Blache, was sent home as punishment.
Albert ran to the media, said he is a target for his postgame comments and that other players are not punished for regular violations of schedule policy. Saturday afternoon the National Football Post ran a story that Albert was unhappy with the early Christmas Day start to practice and had attempted to get his teammates to organize, Norma Rae style, and all show up late together. Apparently no one else did. Albert has denied the story.
Naturally as you might expect with this team, after attacking the makeup, age and philosophy of the coaching staff, flaunting his big contract and star status while ignoring team rules and allegedly fomenting open mutiny among his teammates... Albert was back at practice yesterday and will start tonight because the owner wants him to (op. cit.).
Yeah that all sounds about right.
Curly R Aside: I think the notion that, as quarterback Jason Campbell said on Wednesday, some players may have quit on the team is entirely academic, as in it is interesting though not entirely useful as a real world assessment. This team has been flying apart since the second game of the season, as Sally Jenkins wrote back in October, they are going their separate ways.
All season the Redskins have been a team in name only. It is likely not a lot different from the office you work in, there are some serious hard workers that are trying to maximize their effort within the management framework, like Jason Campbell and London Fletcher. Then there are the overmatched, guys promoted to positions for which they were not qualified, they are giving it their best, but that is simply not good enough, like Stephon Heyer and Carlos Rogers, these types might eventually grow into the serious hard workers, or might not have the tools ever to do so. Next are the guys that are coasting, trying their hardest to blend in during meetings, not draw new assignments and pawning off as much work as they can on the hard workers, like Levi Jones and Fred Smoot, these guys always overvalue themselves over beers. Finally are the untouchables, the guys everyone knows have the big paychecks, based on special skills or having been a recruiting target, these guys never have to really perform because they believe their presence alone is performance enough, and all that resentment from the little people comes not from not performing, but rather from jealousy. I put DeAngelo Hall and Albert Haynesworth in this class.
Curly R Aside continues: The continuity game: the same week we learn that Urban Meyer is stepping down as head coach at the University of Florida, we learn that Redskins starting tailback Quinton Ganther was recruited from Citrus Junior College to the University of Utah by none other than Urban Meyer. Quinton has a hell of a story.
Oppo Research: Dallas wins and they are in. They playoffs that is. Win and beat the Eagles next week and they win the division and host a playoff game. Let's play spoiler.
The hilar story of the week was that Dallas cut kicker Nick Folk after missing a bunch of crucial field goal, and then the Cowboys signed... former Redskins kicker Shaun Suisham (op. cit.)! Shaun has already told the Cowboys and head coach Wade Phillips everything he knows about Washington's special teams sets, including the quote swinging gate unquote fake field goal FAIL from the Giants game, coach Phillips knew about that even before the Redskins used it.
Trainer's Table: Defensive end Andre Carter tore his biceps against the Giants, like his defensive linemate Phillip Daniels, he will wrap it up and play through the pain (op. cit.), Andre has missed only two games in four seasons with the Redskins.
Receiver and kick returner Devin Thomas was slowed by a sprained ankle, he did not practice Wednesday or Thursday (ibid.), and is doubtful for tonight's game (op. cit.), fellow second year man receiver Malcolm Kelly will start in Devin's place, and Rock Cartwright will go back to returning kicks in Devin's absence (ibid.).
Cornerback DeAngelo Hall is still bothered by the MCL sprain in his knee, he had limited participation in practice through the week (ibid.) and is questionable for tonight's game (ibid.).
Right tackle Stephon Heyer inured his knee against New York and was replaced in the second quarter by Will Robinson, Stephon is questionable for tonight (ibid.) though he did practice Friday (ibid.).
As of yesterday punter Hunter the Punter Smith was also questionable (ibid.), but I did not see anything about signing a new punter or anyone taking snaps at backup punter, so I guess Hunter will go.
A host of other players had and have lingering injuries, some like quarterback Jason Campbell are just sore as hell, they will all go because they are football players.
Gameplan: ... I got nothin.
My Take in 60 Words or Less: You have none left off the field so try and play with some dignity on the field.
Washington Post interactive gameday, bonus breakdowns of responsibilities of Washington's weakside linebacker, strongside linebacker and defensive line; keys to the game, key matchups, Redskins roster; SkinsCast weather, it will be in the thirties and still, a great winter weather night for football; broadcast coverage is nationwide, it's Sunday Night Football on NBC.
Other previews: Mark Newgent at Redskins Examiner, Mark will also be hosting the Comcast SportsNet official game chat, stop by over there and tell him Ben sentcha.
Enjoy the game folks, we are down to two, and this is the last home game of the season, I will be ensconced in the warmth with friends at neighbor Bill's.
This is a gameday open thread.
NFL helmet logos from here.