Friday, July 31, 2009

Redskins Training Camp Day Zero - Reporting for Duty

If you do what you've always done you will be what you've always been

Beginning today Curly R will bring you daily roundups of camp activity, if there is something I missed, drop it in comments or shoot me a note.


Sunday 26 July 2009 | forty-nine days until kickoff

T-minus three days, Jason Reid introduces himself formally as the new head writer of Redskins Insider, the logo had been blank reflecting the Washington Post's strategy ever since Jason La Canfora left for greener pastures with the NFL (Network). Jason LaCa has been the most linked traditional media writer over the first three years of Curly R, Jason Reid will no become that guy.

Monday 27 July 2009 | forty-eight days until kickoff

There was some prep for camp, t-minus two days, Matt Terl over at the ORB (Official Redskins Blog) picked up a story from, they simulated the entire 2009 NFL season with Madden NFL 10, in this simulation the Redskins went 13-3, clinching home field through the playoffs. I guess this goes to show Madden 10 favors defense over offense. Welcome also to Rick Maease, the new junior Redskins beat writer at the WaPo.

Jason Reid sat down, or rather had a telecon with, shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato. The tone of this interview is set thusly:

Occasionally, Cerrato has expressed anger about things I've reported.

I am not sure if this is accurate or understatement, I think it is safe to say that Vinny hated Jason La Canfora's guts. More gloss-over of Jason Campbell's offseason treatment, and Vinny has higher expectation of the offense because of it for to have been now in two years consecutively. Jason also wonders aloud inasmuch as the written word is loud what this season means for Vinny himself, he has been untouchable the past ten years except for when Marty Schottenheimer fired Vinny immediately upon taking the head coach and general manager job in 2001, the verdict may not yet be in on Vinny's 2008 draft class but so far it looks pretty bad, after this season owner Dan Snyder will have two full seasons of Vinny's performance as shadow general manager to evaluate, if all the footbalrati can whisper about Jim Zorn getting the can for underperforming in two seasons, why could not Vinny be held to the same standard? Answer: because Vinny is a survivor.

Jim Zorn is ready to go.

Tuesday 28 July 2009 | forty-seven days until kickoff

T-minus one day, second year head coach Jim Zorn sat down with Matt and Gary Fitzgerald of, yes the Redskins have two separate media operations in coopetition for an interview. Key takeaways: I think we will see pressure put on second year receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly and second year tight end Fred Davis, I keep reading their names and how ready they are, coach Zorn drops all three names in the second sentence of the interview. Coach Zorn also articulated an interesting philosophy of player development:

Starting in preseason, our formula is to elevate the team from the backup positions on, and then moving forward get our starters--our mainstays--to elevate their game as well.

I agree, true depth and true player development are two things missing in many NFL franchises, it is a smart strategy, problem is you need developable players. Coach Zorn was also effusive about Jason Campbell and feels plenty comfortable calling plays as part of his head coaching duties. It is a good interview.

Jason Campbell will not be shy in asserting himself this season, or at least that is the meme, even though Jason had his best year in 2008 you still cannot spell asserting without ass and Ting (Tings).

Every one of the Redskins projected starting offensive linemen, oddly except center Casey Rabach, lost weight this offseason. In 2009 offensive line coach Joe Bugel is going for lean and strong with his new age Hogs. Except for right tackle Mile Williams that is, he may have lost 68 pounds to get down to 342, there is no definition of lean that includes Mike.

Supplemental rookie defensive end Jeremy Jarmon signed his contract, only Brian Orakpo is left unsigned among Redskins rookies.

Davis Elfin at the Washington Times reports that Sean Taylor's murder and the sadness of the aftermath made it easy to leave the team after the season. Not exactly a newsflash to anyone paying attention at the time in 2007, still interesting to hear it straight from coach Gibbs. Coach Gibbs also thinks the Redskins did nothing wrong in the way they handled Jason Campbell in the offseason, that if no vote of confidence and two attempts to replace Jason were at all concerning to Jason that he is in the wrong job. Whereas I appreciate the cowboy up and deal sentiment, coach Gibbs was not exactly a strongman in his second tour with the team and if Jason is not allowed to wonder after this offseason that sure seems to make Jay Cutler

Wednesday 29 July 2009 | forty-six days until kickoff

On zero day it was time for players to arrive, check in, for the worker bees to get the facility and the equipment ready and to get in mental shape for the 40 days to come before the 2009 regular season.

The Redskins have a big camp roster, without linebacker Brian Orakpo though it is not full. Matt Terl ran a great piece on the Redskins conditioning test, after reading it makes more sense why so many players fail it.

Coach Zorn, right tackle Mike Williams, rookie defensive end Jeremy Jarmon, second year safety Chris Horton and linebacker Rocky McIntosh all had press conferences. Highlights:

Coach Zorn: unsigned linebacker Brian Orakpo needs to get into camp; not a single major injury coming into camp (ed. note: so nice to have Shawn Springs gone. - Ben); second year receivers Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas and tight end Fred Davis, again; no pre-camp favorite for number two quarterback between Colt Brennan and Todd Collins.

Rocky McIntosh: admitted more than one of Jim Zorn's pregame speeches were not motiviational (rowr!).

The Washington Post also had a good profile piece on new defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, he hopes he has found a place to fit in and stay a while. Excuse me while I throw up a little in my mouth reading about a giant of a man, wealthy for life, coddled as an adult that now feels sheepish about driving recklessly and hurting people, can barely control his rage and considers himself an outsider despite being the most coveted player in the game this year. Mike Wise at the WaPo also had a good piece on Jon Jansen, he is still coming to grips with his release from the Redskins in May. Here's to Jon Jansen, the love he wanted from the team is so rarely actually afforded to players on their own terms, think the humiliation of Art Monk and Brian Mitchell versus the celebration of Darrell Green, the fans Jon, we will always remember. Thank you again for ten solid years with the Washington Redskins.

Tomorrow is day one of camp, the jerseys come on and the players hit the field.

Jim Zorn speaking to reporters: uncredited image from here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Curly R's Redskins Season Preview for MVN NFL Outsider

The possibilities

Most Valuable Network NFL Outsiders is running previews of all 32 NFL teams, written by bloggers covering those teams, last week MVN invited Curly R to submit a preview for the Redskins in 500 words or less, I am pleased to say after many revisions I came in just under the wire at 496 words:

New head coach Jim Zorn said 'stay medium', so the 2008 Washington Redskins did with an 8-8 record. How would an offense built by Joe Gibbs for smashmouth running and playaction passing continue adjusting in the 2009 offseason to a west coast offense premised on finesse?

The answer is, it really wouldn't, choosing undeniably to focus on improving what was already a top five defense in 2008. The result should be shorter opponents' possessions, better field position for the Washington offense and more room to develop for Jim Zorn's still-evolving offense.

Oft-injured and expensive CB Shawn Springs was finally released and was immediately replaced by DeAngelo Hall, a 2008 midseason signing after being released by Oakland eight games into a long term contract. If DeAngelo can keep his head and not go psycho prima donna, this will be a good signing, DeAngelo makes a good complement to opposite CB Carlos Rogers.

Then, three tenths of one second after the start of free agency, Washington landed their prize: Titans DT Albert Haynesworth. Albert is simply a dominant force, a gravity well around which offenses collapse and he will be a game changer. Assuming he can stay on the field for 16 games which he has only did once before. And control his rage. And not go to jail or miss too much time on trial for driving recklessly and hurting people. Or get suspended for colluding with Washington before free agency started. Or go into the big money slump. So yeah Albert could be good I guess.

Washington also made a free agency splash on offense, signing boomerang Redskin left guard Derrick Dockery but that was not so much splashing as toweling off and recovering from the 2007 loss of ... Derrick Dockery. Pete Kendall was an excellent stop gap but at 36 the team needed to get younger at LG.

Then Jay Cutler almost came to Washington blah blah the team worked real hard to alienate QB Jason Campbell etc etc Mark Sanchez yada yada since when is QB that important anyway?

When the draft rolled around in April, Washington, despite two OT in their 30s, selected DE/LB Brian Orapko out of Texas in the first round and a bunch of other guys that may some day be of consequence, with most of 2008's draft class still learning to lace em up we will have to wait on that. Cut Jon Jansen and throw in a couple of retread tackles, a 400 pound man and a supplemental draft pick, also on the defensive side of the ball and you have capped the Redskins 2009 offseason.

The bottom line: Jim Zorn told owner Dan Snyder he did not need top shelf offensive players or young tackles to make his offense work. Dan Snyder is taking coach Zorn at his word and if the team does not turn in a winning record you can expect to see someone else coaching the Redskins next season. Curly R prediction: 8-8.

It is true, I do not expect great things from this team. I hope to be proven wrong and if so I will write about it. The Committee for Schedule Banding has not critically reviewed the 2009 schedule for our expected range of performances, something we will do on the eve of the first regular season game.

So, my feelings and impressions may change between now and then, camp performance, who is in and who is out (Brian Orakpo!) and how the scheduled opponents look in their camps. Readers are invited to drop their early camp predictions for the Redskins 2009 season in comments.

Albert Haynesworth framed by Redskins headquarters in Ashburn Virginia: uncredited image from here (probably by Matt himself).

Live and Let Blog

Was the offseason shorter this year?

Today The Curly R kicks off its coverage of the Washington Redskins 2009 campaign, it will be our fourth season covering the Redskins. Our fourth year of daily news, game previews and gamewraps, game journals, special features, Redskins history and long winded byzantine multipart series filled with increasingly abstract analogies.

What is in store for Washington in 2009? Head coach Jim Zorn's second season, Jason Campbell's contract year, a decade for Dan Snyder, aging veterans, unproven rookies and a whole lot of people ready to see the Redskins go deep into the playoffs. I hope you will join us for another season.

Find Curly R on Twitter here and on Facebook here, and thanks for reading!

Hail to the Redskins!

Live and Let Die boat jump, then a Guinness World Record, from here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

RIP Jim Johnson

Jim Johnson, 1941-2009

Jim Johnson, longtime Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator and one of the most innovative and respected coaches in football died yesterday after battling a recurrence of cancer. Jim spent more than 40 years perfecting his football craft, steadily rising, always learning and teaching.

An All-Big 8 quarterback at the University of Missouri, Jim converted to tight end in a two year NFL career with the Buffalo Bills in 1963 and 1964. Three years later in 1967 Missouri Southern University was about to convert to a four year school and was constituting a football team. Jim was the Lions first head coach. In 1969 Jim moved up to Drake University, accepting an assistant coach position. Four years later in 1973 Jim became the defensive coordinator at Indiana University. Another four years later Jim was hired by his former college coach Dan Devine to be defensive backs coach at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish won the national championship in Jim's first year with the team. Jim was later promoted to defensive coordinator at Notre Dame.

Striking out for the professional ranks, Jim joined Woody Widenhofer's staff as defensive coordinator of the USFL Oklahoma Outlaws in 1984, perhaps the Outlaws' finest moment occured that season when Oklahoma beat Jack Pardee's Houston Gamblers 31-28, Houston Gamblers quarterback Jim Kelly was the 1984 USFL MVP, throwing over 5000 yards and for 44 touchdowns. Leaving the Oklahoma franchise but staying in the USFL, Jim joined Lindy Infante's staff as defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Bulls for the 1985 season. That year Jim worked to develop the talents of a young linebacker named Vaughan Johnson, Vaughan would go on to become a four time NFL Pro Bowl linebacker with the New Orleans Saints.

Jim fled the failing USFL, joining Gene Stallings' staff as defensive line coach of the St. Louis Cardinals. When Gene was replaced by former and future Redskins offensive line coach Joe Bugel in 1990, Joe retained Jim, moving him to secondary coach. During this time Aeneas Williams entered the league and became the first rookie cornerback in a decade to lead the league in interceptions.

After four years with St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona, Jim left the Cardinals to join Ted Marchibroda's staff in Indianapolis as linebackers coach before the 1994 season, in 1995 the Colts came within one game of the Super Bowl. In the 1996 offseason Ted was not retained. New Colts head coach and Jim's former Jacksonville Bulls boss Lindy Infante retained and elevated Jim to defensive coordinator. After a wild card playoff berth in 1996, the Colts finished 3-13 in 1997 and Lindy and his staff were let go by the Colts.

Jim was not on the market long, Seahawks coach Dennis Erickson brought Jim on board as linebackers coach for the 1998 season, though the Seahawks only finished 8-8, the Seattle defense was top five in sacks and interceptions and top ten in scoring defense that season.

Dennis was not retained by Seattle in the 1999 offseason and once again Jim was not on the market long. Eleven days after coming on board as Eagles head coach, Andy Reid hired Jim to be Philadelphia's defensive coordinator, the position he held until taking his leave of absence in May.

Andy, an offensive coach by trade, turned over the entire defensive operation to Jim, and the Eagles and their fans reaped the benefits for a decade. Jim Johnson's defenses were regularly among the best in the NFL, both statistically and on game day. Pressure from every direction and confusion by the quarterback were the signatures of a Jim Johnson defense, like every great coach Jim knew exactly how to maximize the players he had and how to disguise and minimize weaknesses.

In ten seasons from 1999 to 2008, the Eagles made seven playoff appearances, won five NFC Beast division titles, appeared in five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl. Jim's defenses sent ten Eagles players to the Pro Bowl a combined 26 times. Jim spawned his own coaching tree, launching the careers of Steve Spagnuolo, John Harbaugh, Ron Rivera and Leslie Frazier. I had the privilege of seeing Jim coach in person against the Redskins nineteen of a possible twenty times.

In 2001 Jim surgery and treatment for a cancerous melanoma at the base of his spine, he had been cancer free since then. Late in the 2008 football season Jim began to experience back pain, eventually so severe that he was relegated to the booth for the final two games, something he had never down before, and used first a cane then a golf cart to get around practice. He took a leave of absence from the team in May and just five days ago was replaced on an intermim basis by another protege, Sean McDermott, the team always hoped Jim would be back.

Jim could have had a head coaching job in the NFL anytime he wanted. He never wanted the trouble, Jim was happiest keeping quarterbacks and offensive coaches up at night, wondering where the pressure was going to come from this week. Jim will be sorely missed by fans of the Eagles and the NFL.

Jim Johnson was 68.

Wikipedia page | Philadelphia Eagles | New York Times.

Jim Johnson: Miles Kennedy / AP Photo from here via here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Curtains Fall: Redskins 2007 Season in Review - Part Five

When football ceased to matter

After a hot start, the Redskins went three up and three down in a six game stretch that featured blowouts and close games both won and lost. What was this team made of? Sadly things were about to get worse and the worst part had nothing to do with football. Curly R's Redskins 2007 Season in Review continues.

Part One: 2006 Season, 2007 Offseason
Part Two: 2007 Training Camp, Preseason
Part Three: 2-0 Hot Start
Part Four: 3-3 Sawtooth
Part Five: 0-4 Slump, Tragedy
Part Six: Tonight
Part Seven: Tomorrow Morning
Part Eight: Tomorrow Afternoon
Part Nine: Tomorrow Night
Part Ten: Thursday Morning

Other Curly R Redskins Seasons in Review: 2006


The 2007 season was at midpoint. Washington was sitting at 5-3, third place in the NFC Beast, two games behind the Cowboys, one game behind the Giants and two games ahead of the Eagles. The two game win streak to start the season was a memory. The depth chart was updated. Eight games into the season and no Redskins receiver had caught a touchdown pass. Then it was Eagles Week all over again.

Game nine: The Eagles traveled down to Washington for game nine, the Eagles were a desperate team with a history of success against the Redskins, familiarity between these teams ensured continued contempt as Washington surrendered another second half lead on the way to losing to the Eagles 33-25, penalties, injuries and bad coaching decisions overshadowed solid performances from Jason Campbell, Clinton Portis and the (gasp) receivers. Lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery and I attended this game, the 17th of the past 18 Eagles-Redskins games for us and the 15th straight for me in a tradition that dates back to the last century.

After building a 12-7 first half lead and playing close through three quarters, the Redskins extended their lead to 22-13 on a Keenan McCardell touchdown catch early in the fourth. Then the floodgates opened. Linebacker Randall Godfrey dropped a sure interception, Eagles receiver Reggie Brown burned replacement safety Pierson Prioleau 45 yards for a touchdown, 22-20 Redskins, then tailback Ladell Betts fumbled the ball again, coach Joe Gibbs wasted a timeout with a failed challenge. The football gods turned the ball back over to the Redskins when Andre Carter mashed Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, that possession only resulted in a field goal, 25-20 Redskins. Three plays later Philadelphia scored on a 57 yard screen pass to tailback Brian Westbrook, a failed two point conversion made it 26-25 Eagles. Jason Campbell fumbled on the next possession and Brian Westbrook went in for the backbreaker to cap the day at 33-25 Eagles. Poor decisions and poor execution, Washington was 5-4 and the postseason was looking further away.

Safety Sean Taylor left the game early in the third quarter with a knee sprain, walking off on his own power. It was the last time he would leave the field.
(Curly R preview / gamewrap / game journal | Washington Post recap | NFL box score / photos)

Throughout the week after there was some soul searching, with players being honest and taking the blame for losing another winnable game. Curly R compared Washington's famous fumbler Ladell Betts to Cleveland's famous fumbler, Earnest Byner.

Sadly the rumors of the Redskins piping crowd noise over the stadium PA while the opponent has the ball turned out to be true. Another recent high profile stadium noise incident keeps this story in the news.

It started to become obvious Jason Campbell was our quarterback. David Wagner at Riggo's Rag scored an interview with receiver Antwaan Randle El. Fred Smoot debuted his energy bar, Snack on a Smack. Flop receiver Brandon Lloyd broke his collarbone in practice and, all but finishing him for the season and in Washington.

Sean Taylor traveled to Dallas with the team but did not play.

Game ten: Washington travels to Dallas for game ten, the Redskins entered the game injured and reeling with little confidence and seemingly little chance of beating the 8-1 Cowboys, only tailback Clinton Portis and quarterback Jason Campbell, newly running a no huddle look, inspired hope. While note the beating it could have been, Washington gave its fourth halftime lead as the Cowboys hang on to win 28-23.

With Sean Taylor out of the game Dallas quarterback Tony Romo and Terrell Owens hooked up for four touchdown passes, two of them in the fourth quarter. London Fletcher pulled in an interception, Jason Campbell threw for 348 yards, Reed Doughty gave up a 51 yard pass interference penalty, Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware easily handled left tackle Chris Samuels, receiver Santana Moss played through his persistent heel injury to catch nine passes for 121 yards. It really all came down to six plays as the Redskins re-learn the value of Sean Taylor, falling to 5-5.
(Curly R preview / gamewrap | Washington Post recap | NFL box score / photos)

In the week between games the Redskins fan base started to tear itself apart, again. Dan Snyder's retinue in Dallas included five bodyguards. Thanksgiving came and much football was watched.

Sean Taylor receives medical clearance to stay in Washington for treatment of his knee. Sean does not stay in Washington.

Game eleven: The Redskins travel to Tampa Bay, the scene of their last playoff victory, for game eleven against the Buccaneers, Tampa Bay is only one game better than Washington and leading the NFC South, replacement right tackle Todd Wade could not go with his sprained knee, giving undrafted rookie Stephon Heyer his first NFL start. Turnovers, game mismanagement, poor offensive execution and a single bad decision to go for it on fourth down negated a solid performance down the stretch as the Redskins lose in Tampa Bay 19-13.

Too much sun or something as the Redskins first five possessions went fumble>fumble>punt>fumble>fumble, throw in two Jason Campbell interceptions and one might wonder how the Buccaneers only scored 19 points. Most of that has to do with an epic half of defensive football as the Washington defense held the Tampa Bay offense to fifteen total yards offense and zero first downs, allowing the recovering offense to hold the ball for twenty-five of the half's thirty minutes. Too bad the offense only could produce ten points in that time. Sadly the play of the game was another bad coaching decision, the Redskins opted to go for it on fourth down trailing by nine in the third quarter, too early to start gambling, the team should have taken the field goal and let the defense keep doing its job, a show of defensive domination is squandered as the Redskins lose their third straight game to fall to 5-6.
(Curly R preview / gamewrap | Washington Post recap | NFL box score / photos)

In the wee hours of Sunday night four intruders break into Sean Taylor's Miami home. Startled that he is there with his fiancee and eighteen month old daughter and appearing in the doorway with a machete in his hand, one of them shoots Sean, the bullet passing through the femoral artery in his leg. The intruders fled, Sean was taken to the hospital where he underwent seven hours of surgery, flatlined at least twice and displayed some signs of consciousness before lapsing into a coma.

Within hours the public would learn the team did not know Sean was at his home in Florida, he had been cleared not to travel to Tampa but had not filed a plan to go to Miami. It also would come to light that there had been a break in at Sean's house the week earlier, on 18 November, the house was empty at the time.

Approximately twenty-six and a half hours after being shot, Sean Taylor died. The loss devastated Sean's large circle of friends, family and admirers, from his pee wee football teammates to the University of Miami community to Redskinsland and NFL fans. The tributes began to appear immediately. As the week marched on no one was ready for football.

With so much national scrutiny, the police were under pressure to come up with a case and suspects. Despite other possibilities a botched burglary seemed like the most plausible story. The media tripped over itself trying to keep up with the story, becoming a story that was reported, and corrected in real time.

Arrests were made four days after the murder, four men with the possibility of a fifth getaway driver. According to the police the perpetrators did not expect anyone to be home, perhaps knowing Sean played for the Redskins and surmising that Sean would be in Tampa or on his way back to Washington. A connection emerges between the perpetrators and Sean: one of them dates Sean's stepsister, and may have been at a party at Sean's house over Thanksgiving weekend, a party which Sean did not attend. The alleged perpetrator in question could have cased the place and hatched the plan to break in the following weekend.

Although no one was ready for it and rescheduling or canceling of the game were discussed, ultimately the day of the next football game arrived.

Game twelve: the Buffalo Bills came to Washington for a somber game twelve, there was very little in the way of football happening that week, the coaches said they knew they had to move on, there was a notion bordering on consensus that Sean's commitment to football meant to the team that they needed to play this game, in reality the only way the Redskins prepared for this game was emotionally, and it showed as Washington blew another halftime lead and the Bills beat the Redskins 17-16.

The game opened with a Redskins drive that was poised to score a touchdown when the home crowd caused left tackle Chris Samuels to false start, the drive ended with a field goal. On the ensuing and first Bills drive, the Redskins lined up in the rumored missing man formation, sending ten men to the field to honor Sean. The Bills did not honor the gesture, sending tailback Fred Jackson around the end for 22 yards, only LaRon Landry playing Sean's center field position saved the touchdown.

The teams traded turnovers as Jason Campbell fumbled again and threw an interception, his season tally for turnovers through twelve games was now thirteen interceptions plus fumbles. As the game neared completion in a low scoring conservative affair in a chill rain, the Bills drove down to the Redskins 33 yard line with eight seconds left and the Redskins leading 16-14, coach Joe Gibbs called a Shanahan timeout on Bills kicker Rian Lindell, waiting until the instant before the snap to call the timeout, the not-kick was up and good but did not count. As the timeout wound down and the Bills lined up for another kick, Joe inexplicably called another timeout, in this situation that is an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the 15 yard walkoff dropped the kick in the rain from 51 yards to 36. Joe Gibbs had committed a fundamental procedural violation in a vain attempt to pull together a win for Sean Taylor. Instead the Redskins 5-7 and all but eliminated from the playoffs.
(Curly R preview #1 / preview #2 / gamewrap | Washington Post recap | NFL box score / photos)

Four weeks left in the regular season, and still Sean Taylor to bury.

Curtains Fall: Redskins 2007 Season in Review continues tonight with part six, 4-0 Sprint.

Sean Taylor's empty parking space: uncredited AP photo from here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Curtains Fall: Redskins 2007 Season in Review - Part Four

Experiencing the flip side, six times in a row

With 2006 a dim memory and the Redskins riding high at 2-0, tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the NFC Beast lead, and two games ahead of both the Eagles and Giants. Curly R's Redskins 2007 Season in Review continues.

Part One: 2006 Season, 2007 Offseason
Part Two: 2007 Training Camp, Preseason
Part Three: 2-0 Hot Start
Part Four: 3-3 Sawtooth
Part Five: 0-4 Slump, Tragedy
Part Six: Tonight
Part Seven: Wednesday Morning
Part Eight: Wednesday Afternoon
Part Nine: Thursday Morning
Part Ten: Thursday Afternoon

Other Curly R Redskins Seasons in Review: 2006


There was news in the week between games two and three. In the aftermath of his team's loss to the Redskins on Monday night, Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb made some ill advised comments about black quarterbacks being held to a higher level of scrutiny than white quarterbacks, Michael Wilbon wrote anequally ill advised column accusing Eagles fans of racism and today's black quarterbacks of not appreciating the struggles of those that went before them. And Redskins fans learned that receiver Brandon Lloyd, already with zero catches in two games, spends his free time playing Halo and not worrying about football.

Game three: The New York Giants came winless to Washington to play game three, the Giants seemed like a struggling team, there were injuries, players out of shape and a defense not in sync. Washington, clad in throwback uniforms designed by Vince Lombardi but that Vince never actually got to see on the field, gave New York a get well card as the Giants won the game 24-17, continuing the Redskins' propensity to surrender leads, Washington gave up a two touchdown halftime lead. Santana Moss and Jason Campbell hooked up on another bomb but in the second half poor decision making on the field, poor ball security (three fumbles by Jason Campbell), poor playcalling from the sideline, a defense stunned by Plaxico Burress who was supposed to be hurt and another bizarre end of half sequence doomed them.

This time it was the end of the game, trailing by seven points with 58 seconds in regulation, Jason Campbell had hooked up with Antwaan Randle El for twenty yards to get to the Giants one, Washington had four chances to get one yard for the tie. With Clinton Portis on the sideline, benched after dropping a third quarter pass and helping botch a handoff in the fourth, Washington was forced to spike the ball, too quickly, on first down, having used up all their timeouts, on second down Jason Campbell threw behind fullback Mike Sellers on a swing pass and then bizarrely Joe Gibbs called the same play twice in a row to Ladell Betts who was stopped for no gain on third down then hit for a loss on fourth down, game over and the Redskins sapped all that confidence as they fell to 2-1 facing a bye week.
(Curly R preview / gamewrap | Washington Post recap | NFL box score / photos)

Bye week: heading into the bye week the Giants game lingered and like an old diaper began to smell. Head coach Joe Gibbs protested too much about how in control the coaching staff was at the end when the Redskins had one minute and four downs to go one yard to the end zone, spiking the ball at the wrong time, calling a pass out of a run package, not keeping Jason calm on the field then calling the same running play twice to the team's second best ball carrier. Questions emerged about the number of coaches, layers of communication and whether Joe Gibbs himself was actually calling the plays at the end and not offensive coordinator Al Saunders. It only got worse later in the week as the team continued to try and clarify and amplify a fishy story about injuries and communication. It is a problem with a simple prescription.

The Redskins piping crowd noise over the PA is first reported, it starts as a single comment on a bulletin board, then hits the echo chamber and pretty soon is on Sirius NFL Radio and ESPN. Sadly the rumor is verified later in the season. Dan Snyder finally gave an interview, to former WRC NBC-4 sports anchor George Michael, the interview only served to showe how out of touch both men are. Other general thoughts and goings on at the bye, including more conspiracy and speculation on the Redskins moving back to DC and thoughts on LaVar Arrington's separation from the Redskins.

As the bye week rolled on the Redskins signed yet another receiver, sixteen year veteran and boomerang Redskin Keenan McCardell. Keenan would finish 2007, his last in the NFL, with 22 catches, that is twenty more than Brandon Lloyd caught. In more bad news for Brandon, Antwaan Randle El completed his ascendance to the X receiver, the position that was supposed to be Brandon's. To add injury to insult, Brandon Lloyd is quote kicked in the shin unquote during a bye week practice.

Game four: The Detroit Lions came to town to play game four 0-20 lifetime in Washington and left 0-21 as the Redskins administered 34-3 beatdown, the first half was lowlighted by Clinton Portis getting dinged and muffing another handoff and highlighted by fullback Mike Sellers carrying the entire Detroit defense into the end zone to put Washington up by two scores.

Things were looking down in the second half when Jason Campbell fumbled and Joe Gibbs blew a challenge on it, Clinton Portis fumbled in the fourth quarter, despite Washington's offense haltings, the defense was spectacular, Gregg Williams never called a single blitz, the Lions spent the day on their side of the field, the team racked up six sacks of Lions quarterback Jon Kitna, cornerback Carlos Rogers grabbed an interception and ran it back 61 yards for a touchdown, Sean Taylor pulled in a fourth quarter interception and laid a signature hit for the ages on Lions safety Eric Frampton on a 62 yard James Thrash punt, it was like Eric was a bag of dirt. The Redskins had bounced back to form and were 3-1.
(Curly R preview / gamewrap | Washington Post recap | NFL box score / photos)

Collectively the Redskins fanbase was blinking hard to be sure they were awake, Carlos Rogers had pulled in an interception and Brandon Lloyd had caught a ball? Injuries began to accumulate, as is often the case with veteran teams. Santana Moss had missed the Lions game with a groin injury, and Antwaan Randle El, up through three games the NFL's leading receiver in yards per catch, had pulled a hamstring in the Lions game from overuse, linebacker Marcus Washington also had a hammy, defensive end Phillip Daniels separated his shoulder gruesomely on camera and Fred Smoot was still trying to get the number of that truck from running into teammate Sean Taylor. Jason Campbell was named NFC Player of the Week for his performance in the Lions game, at the same time Redskins fans learned that Jason stalked Brett Favre in the offseason (op. cit.).

Game five: The Redskins traveled to Lambeau Field for a mid-October game five in light and steady rain against the Packers, Green Bay was 4-1 and the Redskins were getting notice as a possible league contender. Injuries were a factor for Washington but drops on both sides of the ball were bigger as Washington blew a halftime lead for the second time, the Redskins lost a winnable game 17-14, Brett Favre played sandlot football and Sean Taylor literally could not handle all the interception opportunities.

Back and forth this game was, Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El each had big pass drops and playing deep center field Sean Taylor had two interception drops in the first half, butterfingers came back in the second half as Santana dropped a big pass and then was stripped on a reverse, Packers cornerback Charles Woodson scooped up the ball and ran it 57 yards for a touchdown. Washington entered the fourth quarter trailing by three, Clinton Portis fumbled the ball away, Brandon Lloyd dropped a pass (surprise right) and another mystifying call to Ladell Betts on fourth and one was stopped easily. In the last gasp portion of the game Sean Taylor pulled in his second interception, helping Brett Favre set the record for most interceptions thrown... evar. Jason Campbell bolluxed up the next drive, Washington got the ball back one last time, two penalty clock runoffs at the very end punctuated an incredibly frustrating, mistake and miscue laden game as the Redskins fell to 3-2.
(Curly R preview / gamewrap | Washington Post recap | NFL box score / photos)

Injuries were the main story in the week between, replacement right tackle Todd Wade, center Casey Rabach and backup replacement right tackle Stephon Heyer all suffered either hamstring or groin injuries in the Packers game, the offensive line was not living up to its 2006 performance.

Game six: The high flying Arizona Cardinals came to Washington for game six, 36 year old Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner played with a torn ligament in his non throwing arm, wore a brace on his left forearm and had to make handoffs across his body. In a reverse of the previous week's game the Redskins should have won and lost, the Redskins should have lost this game but won 21-19, this one was all on the defense as the offense could not get out of its own way and the team blew 21-6 lead.

In the first half both Sean Taylor and middle linebacker London Fletcher grabbed interceptions, it was Sean's fifth to lead the NFC and London's featured the bravehearted Kurt Warner, gimp arm and all, vainly attempting to stop London, along with his escorts Shawn Springs and Demetric Evans, as they bowl over the goal line. Both teams suffered from poor playcalling, repeatedly the Redskins defense generated opportunities the offense squandered, Washington was outgained by more than 200 yards but still managed the win to move to 4-2.
(Curly R preview / gamewrap | Washington Post recap | NFL box score / photos)

During the week after the Cardinals game concern that the offense had become too conservative with leads and was relying too heavily on the defense moved into the discourse, head coach Joe Gibbs stepped in and took responsibility and promised to try and do better. The fact that Al Saunders ostensibly calls the plays and not Joe Gibbs was not lost on anyone following the story.

Game seven: Washington traveled to New England for game seven, the Patriots were undefeated and on their way to an undefeated regular season and Washington was a 16.5 point underdog. If there was ever any real hope the Redskins could win this game it disappeared into the ether as Washington suffered a humiliating 52-7 defeat, cornerback Carlos Rogers was hurt in the first quarter and lost for the season and Patriots lineback Mike Vrabel was more productive on offense than the entire Redskins team.

Check that again, a linebacker scored more points on offense than the Redskins. I struggle for words to describe what an epic ass whipping this game was. The Redskins for the fifth consecutive game answered with the opposite outcome from the week before, Washington was 4-3 and completely demoralized.
(Curly R preview / gamewrap | Washington Post recap | NFL box score / photos)

The storyline for the week after this game was whether Bill Belichick and the Patriots were unsportsmanlike in running up the score, it did not escape Redskins fans' or players' notice that with eleven minutes left in the game and up by more than five touchdowns the Patriots ran a Tom Brady quarterback sneak, who then tossed another touchdown two plays later. Much handwringing ensued.

Another interesting story from that week was the comparison of food and tailgating between Baltimore, home of the Ravens, and Washington. To no one's surprise Baltimore turns out to have the better food-sports oriented practices, the better to distract one from the headlong rush to bitterness and death that is living there.

Game eight: October turned to November as the Redskins traveled to New Jersey to play game eight against the 1-7 New York Jets, the Jets head coach Eric Mangini had benched starter Chad Pennington early in the week in favor of second year quarterback Kellen Clemens, though more out of desperation than strategy. The Jets played hard and Washington was mostly uninspired as the Redskins won 23-20 in overtime.

Sloppy special teams, sloppy penalties and a surprise midgame onsides kick by the Redskins, Clinton Portis with a solid 196 yard day and better second half playcalling, there was almost no passing game as Jason Campbell finished with 142 yards passing and only connected with receivers five times total. Once again Brandon Lloyd did not catch a pass, this time it was because he did not make the trip. Washington had run through a sawtooth six games, loss>win>loss>win>loss>win, to hit the midpoint of the schedule at 5-3.
(Curly R preview / gamewrap | Washington Post recap | NFL box score / photos)

Eight straight weeks of football to go.

Curtains Fall: Redskins 2007 Season in Review continues tomorrow with part five, 0-4 and a Tragedy.

Sean Taylor's empty parking space: uncredited AP photo from here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Curtains Fall: Redskins 2007 Season in Review - Part Three

Starting with a bang, a break and a tear

A quiet offseason, an up and down preseason, old faces and new faces, it was time to get it on, the 2007 regular season was here. Expectations were high. They always are. Curly R's Redskins 2007 Season in Review continues.

Part One: 2006 Season, 2007 Offseason
Part Two: 2007 Training Camp, Preseason
Part Three: 2-0 Hot Start
Part Four: 3-3 Sawtooth
Part Five: 0-4 Slump, Tragedy
Part Six: Monday Afternoon
Part Seven: Tuesday Morning
Part Eight: Tuesday Afternoon
Part Nine: Wednesday Morning
Part Ten: Wednesday Afternoon

Other Curly R Redskins Seasons in Review: 2006


Game one: The Redskins rolled into game one of the 2007 regular season with a 2-2 preseason record and high hopes but low expectations following 2006's 5-11 campaign, even the Washington Post's section for kids said of Washington headed into the season:

So kids know that the Skins are not close to going to the Super Bowl. They are a bad team in need of major improvements and some breaks in order to have a winning season.

The Miami Dolphins came to Redskins Stadium with subplots: Miami's new head coach Cam Cameron, was Washington's former quarterbacks coach during head coach Norval Turner's first three seasons. Miami's new quarterback Trent Green was a former pupil of Cam's, Trent was a Redskin for four years from 1995 to 1998, and a starter for that final year.

Were it not for the ownership turmoil that enveloped the Redskins after Jack Kent Cooke died, Trent might still be the Redskins quarterback now. Well probably not but you get the point, he wanted to stay, the situation here in Washington was just too unstable for him.

The game itself, on a hot early fall day, was close, ended with the Redskins winning 16-13. It was sloppy football with 15 penalties between the two teams, quarterback Jason Campbell threw an interception early and Washington served liberal doses of tailbacks Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts. In the second quarter right tackle Jon Jansen tripped backward over Miami linebacker Zach Thomas and dislocated his ankle and cracked his fibula. Jon would not be back for the Redskins in 2007. Dolphins quarterback Trent Green hit Jesse Chatman for an improbable touchdown as the half expired, Miami turned botched clock management into a halftime lead.

The third quarter seemed to disappear, Jason Campbell threw another interception and the teams traded field goals in the fourth quarter, a Jason Campbell hail mary at the end of regulation was batted out of the air by future Redskins defensive end Jason Taylor and right into the hands of Antwaan Randle El. Antwaan broke the wrong way and could not score, sending the game into overtime. Capping excellent days by Clinton Portis, Antwaan Randle El and the Redskins defense, Washington won the toss, went downfield and won the game on a Shaun Suisham 39 yard field goal. Washington was 1-0 for the sixth time in Dan Snyder's eight years as owner.
(Curly R preview / gamewrap | Washington Post recap | NFL box score / photos)

In that Dolphins game, when Jon Jansen went down with a broken leg, it was Stephon Heyer that came in to play right tackle, and he did a decent job for an undrafted rookie playing a new position. Chris Cooley's game suffered at tight end as the team kept him in to block, but Stephon acquitted himself. During the week after the Miami game there was a fair amount of chatter about who should play the right tackle position. Todd Wade had been an abject failure at left guard, though the problem was really the team's decision not to address Derrick Dockery's departure in a meaningful way, Todd was just too tall and long for man his size to play guard. Should Todd get the start at right tackle or Stephon? Todd, who it turns out bears a striking resemblance to David Puddy was dealing with a torn labrum and Stephon was just raw. Ultimately the team made the right call and installed Todd as the new starter at right tackle. He would start the next nine games until hurting his knee in game ten against the Cowboys.

So then the Redskins had a roster spot open when they placed Jon Jansen on injured reserve. And what did they use it on? An offensive lineman like they hinted they might? No, they signed a receiver, Reche Caldwell, who had not been re signed when the Patriots signed Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth and Wes Welker to completely revamp their pass catchers. This only further served to dim the lights on Brandon Lloyd, the thirty million dollar bust. Reche, signed off the street to veteran minimum, would finish the 2007 season with fifteen catches, Brandon Lloyd with two.

In other news that week, Curly R favorite tailback Marcus Mason was released, not picked up and signed to the Redskins practice squad, Tony Brown at Hog Heaven scored an interview with former Redskins and Florida Gators quarterback Shane Matthews, and there was much handwringing and scrutiny over why Fred Smoot got the opening day start at cornerback over Shawn Springs.

Then it was time for Eagles Week, that time that only comes twice a year, the week started with a salute to our friends up I-95, a preview of the Redskins by none other than lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery, then it was game on.

Game two: Washington traveled to Philadelphia for a prime time game two against the Eagles on Monday Night Football and as we had for every game but one since 1999, Wilbert Montgomery and I were there, it was our 16th of the previous 17 games and my 15th straight. The Redskins won this game 20-12 with solid running, rhythm in the passing game and big plays on defense. Receiver Santana Moss and quarterback Jason Campbell hooked up on a crowd-quieting bomb in the first quarter, safety Sean Taylor leveled the boom on Eagles receiver Reggie Brown and quarterback Donovan McNabb (featured as the headline image on the Curly R gamewrap). Left guard Randy Thomas tore a triceps muscle and left, he would miss the next ten games. There is another strange end of half sequence, this one with the Redskins getting the weird touchdown, turning three consecutive penalties from first and goal into a Jason Campbell to Chris Cooley sixteen yard score.

After another sleepy third quarter the Redskins scored the put away touchdown and the Eagles could not come back, mainly thanks to a brilliant LaRon Landry hit on Eagles receiver Kevin Curtis at the Redskins nine yard to kill Philadelphia's last scoring hope. The home crowd boos lustily and the Redskins escape with only their Philadelphia third road in the past nine tries. The Eagles clearly missed cornerback Lito Shepard and with safety Brian Dawkins out most of the fourth quarter Philadelphia could not stop the Redskins when they needed. It was a balanced attack by the Redskins and despite the loss of another starting offensive lineman was an inspiring game as the Redskins moved to 2-0.
(Curly R preview / gamewrap / game journal | Washington Post recap | NFL box score / photos)

Signs were out in the week after the Eagles game that the fan base thought the 2007 Redskins could be special. Rick Snider at the Washington Examiner, who had begun the playoff whispers a month earlier, and Tom Boswell at the Washington Post both invoked Super Bowl 26 MVP Mark Rypien in discussions of Jason Campbell.

Trying hard not to think too much on what it meant to lose the starting right side of the offensive line, probably for the season, Washington Redskin fans were riding high. Next was the New York Giants.

Curtains Fall: Redskins 2007 Season in Review continues tomorrow with part four, 3-3 Sawtooth.

Sean Taylor's empty parking space: uncredited AP photo from here.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Curtains Fall: Redskins 2007 Season in Review - Part Two

Forming the bonds of team as family

With the disappointment of 2006's 5-11 campaign still fresh in their minds, the 2007 Redskins assembled for training camp. Curly R's Redskins 2007 Season in Review continues.

Part One: 2006 Season, 2007 Offseason
Part Two: 2007 Training Camp, Preseason
Part Three: 2-0 Hot Start
Part Four: 3-3 Sawtooth
Part Five: 0-4 Slump, Tragedy
Part Six: Monday Afternoon
Part Seven: Tuesday Morning
Part Eight: Tuesday Afternoon
Part Nine: Wednesday Morning
Part Ten: Wednesday Afternoon

Other Curly R Redskins Seasons in Review: 2006


2007 Training Camp and Preseason
After blaming himself getting cocky and for not getting players in shape in 2006 training camp but still letting players condition away from Ashburn in the offseason, coach Joe Gibbs had promised that 2007 training camp was going to be much more intense, with twice as many two a days than the comparatively cushy 2006 camp in which the coaches deferred to a veteran team

As camp opened, offensive coordinator Al Saunders admitted the 2006 team was not ready for his 700 page playbook and hoped for more in 2007. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams promised the defense would do better than 2006's 31st overall rating. Receiver Brandon Lloyd claimed no idea how his 2006 could have been such a colossal fail and blamed Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El and James Thrash for being better and or more senior. Tailback Clinton Portis blamed his 2006 separated shoulder on the Redskins football culture and said if it were up to him preseason would be a quote resort unquote for players.

Camp got off to a quiet start, that ended when left tackle Chris Samuels injured his knee in the first week, he would not play a down in the 2007 preseason. Position battles and strange dreams continued. Confusion at left tackle continued. Not realizing how far in the shitter newspapers really were, a sports reporter at the Washington Post told football bloggers to step off. More irrelevant position battles.

Veteran tackle Todd Wade was moved to left guard when no one else emerged to replace the departed Derrick Dockery. Washington played Baltimore in a scrimmage where we met tailback Marcus Mason and Jordan Palmer threw his best pass as an NFL quarterback, Jordan would be cut after a wild thing performance at the end of preseason. More camp battles, a training camp practice was attended with the next generation of Redskins fans, Al Saunders had a stroke of genius, that passing the ball in 2007 could be a good thing. If only the team had a strategy for the backup QB spots. The Curly R turned one years old.

The Jason Campbell era officially begin with preseason game one as the Redskins beat the Titans in Tennessee, the starting offense was terrible, the defense was terrific; left tackle Stephon Heyer and right tackle Jon Jansen each yielded a sack of Jason Campbell, both times Jason coughed up the ball. Washington's starting offense scored zero points in a full half of play, the tandem of quarterback Todd Collins and tailback Marcus Mason was the most exciting combination of the night. Defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander made a tackle with no helmet and earned his nickname, Scarface.
(Curly R preview / gamewrap | Washington Post recap | NFL box score / photos)

Camp wore on. Defensive tackle Jo Salave'a lost his position to rising second year tackle Kedric Golston. Jason Campbell's incremental gain in the Tennessee preseason game was better than nothing. Three weeks into training camp and receiver Brandon Lloyd still could run because of shin splints. The NFL totally revamped the website, blowing away every box score and play by play link prior to the relaunch. Bastards. The backup quarterback spot is still unsettled.

The preseason continued with game two as the Redskins lost at home to the Steelers. Hopeful receiver Mike Espy blew out his knee in grisly fashion and Pittsburgh defensive tackle Brett Keisel blew by overmatched replacement left tackle Stephon Heyer and nearly tore Jason Campbell's leg off. To add injury to insult strong side linebacker Marcus Washington dislocated his elbow. The starting offense is incrementally better and the starting defense is all over everyone.
(Curly R preview / gamewrap | Washington Post recap | NFL box score / photos)

The situation on the left side of the line continued to get worse. Left tackle Chris Samuels was scheduled to come back in the regular season, if only replacement Stephon Heyer could keep quarterback Jason Campbell on his feet. Natural tackle Todd Wade finally have flamed out at left guard, giving way to Mike Pucillo, only marginally better.

In the fourth week of camp the Redskins released linebacker Lemar Marshall and signed 34 year old Randall Godfrey to fill in at strongside linebacker. Two days later the team finally recognized the complete failure to find a serviceable left guard by trading a 2009 fourth round pick to the New York Jets for disgruntled left guard Pete Kendall, thus ending the Todd Wade Experiment. Based mainly on the preseason performance of the defense, the first playoff whispers emerged.

Washington hosted Baltimore for preseason game three, a game they quote won unquote when the game was called early in the third quarter by a series of increasingly violent summer storms, safety LaRon Landry flew everywhere hitting everyone, tailback Marcus Mason impressed again and not much else was learned.
(Curly R preview / gamewrap | Washington Post recap | NFL box score / photos)

Three days later was the deadline to get the roster down to 75 players. Veteran defensive tackle Joe Salave'a was the most surprising victim, having been displaced by second year tackle Kedric Golston. Looking at the defensive secondary, there was almost no way it could not be improved in 2007.

Two days before final cuts the Redskins closed out the preseason with game four at the Jaguars and got blown out, finishing the preseason 2-2. Jason Campbell made his first start since being cheapshotted in the Steelers game and looked solid, almost no starting defenders played, Marcus Mason shined once again and there were no serious injures. Despite losing big the Redskins built some confidence heading into the regular season.
(Curly R preview / gamewrap | Washington Post recap | NFL box score / photos)

In the period between the final preseason game and final cuts, the team made an effort to trade former starting quarterback Mark Brunell, it failed.

Then it was cut day, the day the team went down to a final 53 man roster. The day football careers are made and ended. Standard post cut day maneuvering ensued, and then there was a 2007 depth chart.

Not all was quiet in the preseason outro. Superstar tailback Clinton Portis, a man accustomed to being treated differently his entire life, wondered aloud why he was being treated differently in the aftermath of a preseason vacation courtesy of knee tendinitis then three days later pronounced himself magically healed from that tendinitis. The team signed tight end Chris Cooley to a long term deal. Safety Sean Taylor granted interviews and talked about growing up. Curly R made the argument for Marcus Mason to get regular season carries. Final depth chart decisions were made.

Then, just like that the regular season was here. On the eve of the season opener at home against the Dolphins, the Washington Post published a giant season preview pull out. It was go time, 0-0 and the games would count.

Curtains Fall: Redskins 2007 Season in Review continues tomorrow with part three, 2-0 Hot Start.

Sean Taylor's empty parking space: uncredited AP photo from here.

Curtains Fall: Redskins 2007 Season in Review - Part One

A season of ups, downs and serious downers

The 2009 season looms so why look back at 2007? Because it happened, tragedy and change, it happened quickly and it already seems like a long time ago. One of the best parts about being a Redskins fan is the sense of football history, too much happened to let it pass. Today The Curly R begins its ten part series on the Redskins 2007 season.

Part One: 2006 Season, 2007 Offseason
Part Two: 2007 Training Camp, Preseason
Part Three: 2-0 Hot Start
Part Four: 3-3 Sawtooth
Part Five: 0-4 Slump, Tragedy
Part Six: Monday Afternoon
Part Seven: Tuesday Morning
Part Eight: Tuesday Afternoon
Part Nine: Wednesday Morning
Part Ten: Wednesday Afternoon

Other Curly R Redskins Seasons in Review: 2006


2006 Season
Joe Gibbs called it his worst season ever. In fifteen years as an NFL head coach, all with the Washington Redskins, he had been never been 5-11 and had just presided over a team that finished 31st in overall defense and was last in yards allowed per play; was last in passes of 20 or more yards allowed; was 31st in passes of 40 yards or more allowed. Washington set an NFL record for fewest takeaways in a sixteen game season with twelve. By Thanksgiving ESPN was running a story, sourced to an anonymous player, of total disarray, of poor player evaluations and of rank hubris and petulance among the defensive coaches. The Washington Post called 2006 The Lost Season.

There was a bright point, the ground game. The Redskins were fourth overall in rushing, this despite Clinton Portis separating his shoulder in the first preseason game, breaking bad on coach Gibbs and never regaining form; behind an offensive line that started the same five players for thirteen straight games, Ladell Betts managed better than 1100 yards rushing on only nine starts.

2006 also saw the elevation of Jason Campbell to the starting quarterback position, after a cold and wet game nine in Philadelphia, Jason ultimately went 2-5 in his seven starts.

And this season, this awful outcome with a coaching staff in its third season together and coming off a playoff season in 2005. It would be hard for the Redskins to be much worse in 2007 than in 2006.

2007 Offseason
Heading into the 2007 offseason the Redskins were at the wire, about one million dollars under the projected 109 million dollar salary cap. The defense was a wreck, with upgrades needed at safety, middle linebacker, cornerback and defensive line. On offense receiver Brandon Lloyd had not worked out, left guard Derrick Dockery was headed into free agency and quarterback Mark Brunell, now the backup, had a 2007 salary cap number in excess of five million dollars.

As for the draft, the team had the sixth overall pick in the first round, along with picks in the fifth, sixth and seventh round, the rest had been dealt to other teams in trade. Washington's 2007 second round pick had been sent to the Jets in the 2006 draft day trade that landed linebacker Rocky McIntosh in Washington. Washington's third round pick had gone to Denver in the trade for tailback TJ Duckett, and the fourth round pick had been sent to the 49ers in the trade to acquire Brandon Lloyd.

But even before free agency and the draft, the team had business to attend internally. Right tackle Jon Jansen was awarded a five year 52 million dollar contact extension, featuring a ten million dollar signing bonus, an extension that would keep Jon signed through the 2011, virtually assuring he would play his entire career in Washington which of course did not happen.

Quarterback Mark Brunell, no longer the starter, still wanted a chance to start though Washington was to be the only place where Mark would accept a backup role, renegotiated his contract to reduce his salary cap number.

A number of players from 2006 were released, including tight end Christian Fauria, kicker John Hall, safety Troy Vincent and receiver David Patten. Safety Adam Archuleta, signed as a free agent before the 2006 season to a six year thirty million dollar contract, was traded to the Chicago Bears for a sixth round pick, even with the Bears agreeing to pick up Adam's five million dollar roster bonus for the 2007 season, Washington still took a four million dollar dead cap hit to unload Adam.

The 2007 free agent pool opened up at one minute past midnight on Saturday 3 March 2007 and by the time the dust had settled the Redskins had fulfilled a promise to focus on defense as they landed middle linebacker London Fletcher and cornerback Fred Smoot, a boomerang Redskin that had left Washington for Minnesota after the 2004 season. Later, veteran offensive tackle Jason Fabini was signed from Dallas. Free agency was not all good news as 26 year old left guard Derrick Dockery left Washington to sign a seven year 49 million dollar contract with the Buffalo Bills.

To go with this haul the Redskins re signed fullback Mike Sellers (op. cit.), re signed reserve tackle Todd Wade (op. cit.) and extended the contract of right guard Randy Thomas in a similar fashion to that of right tackle Jon Jansen, giving Randy a ten million dollar bonus and locking him up through the 2011 season. Tailback Clinton Portis and receiver Santana Moss also had their deals reworked to create more cap room (op. cit.). The team tried to move injury prone cornerback Shawn Springs for Lions then Broncos cornerback Dre Bly and when that failed the team made overtures to Shawn about renegotiating his deal to make it more affordable what with Shawn's 2007 cap number jumping to 7.3 million dollars. Shawn flatly refused.

April's draft came and saw the Redskins pick safety LaRon Landry, seemingly a player at a position the team already had filled with Sean Taylor. Linebacker HB Blades, linebacker Dallas Sartz, quarterback Jordan Palmer and tight end Tyler Ecker rounded out the 2007 draft class. Two of those players made the final cut in September.

Joe Gibbs had put another team together, time to get ready for the 2007 season and put 2006 behind them for good.

Curtains Fall: Redskins 2007 Season in Review continues tomorrow with part two, 2007 Training Camp and Preseason.

Sean Taylor's empty parking space: uncredited AP photo from here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Coming Tomorrow on Curly R

In focus

Don't change that channel, tomorrow debuts our final multi part series of the 2009 offseason, a last chance to ponder Redskins history before training camp is upon us and thoughts turn to the future.

That's next, only on Curly R.

Next image from here.