Tuesday, September 29, 2009

First Mover Advantage

Some exclusions apply

Via the great @FakeDanSnyder Twitter feed through Oliver Willis, I have seen the future of Redskins fandom, and it is this: selling your allegiance to another team on eBay:

After years of constantly being subjected to disappointment, bad decisions, bad draft picks,bad contracts, overpriced tickets and overall Mediocrity, I am deciding to sell my loyalty to the Washington Redskins for the rest of the 2009- 2010 NFL season. I will sell my "fan-ship" and support any of 30 teams.. Notice, I didn't say 31, because, I under no circumstances will I EVER root for the Dallas Cowboys.The Winning Bidder will get my undivided, unwavering support for their team for the rest of the season. SInce I have the Direct TV NFL Superfan Package, I will watch my new team's games and will cheer wholeheartedly for victory on sundays, even if it mean against my beloved redskins.. I will also support by purchasing the teams merchandise, including, but not limited to Jerseys, hats, flags and other team apparel. I will take pictures of myself in my new teams gear and send them to the winning big. Happy Bidding and good luck

I can forgive the poor grammar and spelling, this guy is obviously fed up, we will see more of these stories as we go along this year.

In the first place there is no Redskins fan that will argue with this decision. It is not like we are in Philadelphia where if a fan made public his desire to pick another team the other Eagles fans would rip him apart and shit in his skull. Or in Oakland where the other Raider fans would simply shrug and pass the crack pipe.

Eagles fans would take him but never really accept him, like a cold war Soviet turncoat. In their near autism Giants fans would not notice, on gameday Giants Stadium is seventy thousand individuals mostly unaware of the presence of others. Cowboys fans would take him because there is no lower bar among fan hordes.

So who should he wind up with?

Uncredited image from here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Funeral for a Friend

RIP 2009 Redskins, 31 July - 27 September

Takeaway drill: This must be rock bottom, a rookie quarterback made to look like a star, poor tackling, poor schemes, poor blocking, poor decisions, no semblance of discipline; lock it down for a long week in Washington.


Monday walkthrough: The Redskins team up and break the Lions nineteen game winless streak as they lose in Detroit 19-14 and fall to 1-2. This was as near a complete breakdown as you can get, the offense was ineffective, the defense seemed to be lost for most of the game and game management was weak, at one point it even looked like the offense was haggling over hand signals.

The Lions won the toss and elected to receive to start the first quarter, on Detroit's first possession Lions tailback Kevin Smith punched through the line on first down, only LaRon Landry saved a long run, two plays later on third and less than a yard Kevin Smith moves the chains, three plays later Fred Smoot hits Dennis Northcutt short of the first down and the Lions are punting, tack on a five yard false start and the Redskins are going to get decent field position. Washington starts its first drive with an Antwaan Randle El punt fair catch, center Casey Rabach's shotgun snap is high and Jason Campbell is sacked on the Redskins first play but the call is nullified by a facemask on defensive end Jason Hunter, the Redskins move fifteen yards before running a play, Jason Campbell hits Santana Moss on the first actual play, Santana will need to be active today, Devin Thomas, back to Santana Moss, a pass to Malcolm Kelly gets the Redskins into the dread red zone, the team kills its own momentum with a timeout, on third down Clinton Portis cannot get into the end zone on a crossing route, the Redskins however catch the Lions napping and line up to go for it, Detroit is forced to call a timeout, Washington comes back in a three timeout lineup, Clinton Portis cannot get in from the one yard line and the Redskins turn the ball over on downs. Detroit's second possession starts inside their one yard line, defensive end Kedric Golston helps the Lions with an encroachment penalty, then Albert Haynesworth with an offsides penalty, the Lions are able to run the ball against Washington at this point, on third and ten Matthew Stafford connects with Dennis Northcutt for a first down, now the Lions are at midfield, despite Detroit's ability to move the ball in short increments, the Lions stall on a third and thirteen at the Redskins 42, quarterback Matthew Stafford tucks and runs when no receivers were open, he goes 22 yards for a first down and now the Lions are one yard outside the Washington red zone, on the next play Matthew Stafford goes up top to receiver Bryant Johnson who times his jump over Carlos Rogers and the Lions strike first, 7-0 Detroit. Washington's second possession starts with Clinton Portis going nowhere then a great pass to tight end Fred Davis for a first down and that ends the first quarter with the Lions leading 7-0. [Quarterly reports: Washington Post Washington Times Official Redskins Blog]

The Redskins continued their second possession into the second quarter, Jason Campbell felt pressure on a weird blocking scheme and was hit as he threw it into triple coverage and the ball is almost intercepted, Lions cornerback Anthony Henry jumps the pass route to Mike Sellers on the next play, almost intercepting the pass, now it is third down, Chad Rinehart lets defensive end Bryan Copeland through unblocked, Santana Moss catches the hurried throw but is one yard short, this time the team does the wise thing and punts the ball. Detroit's third possession begins on their own five yard line which is not a problem for Kevin Smith as he busts through the line for twenty yards and a first down, on third and two a pitch out to Smith goes for another fifteen, throw in a penalty on Fred Smoot and the Lions are at midfield, two plays later on third and seven Matthew Stafford finds Bryant Johnson short of the first down marker, Bryant eludes Chris Horton and London Fletcher overpursues and it is a thirty yard gain into the Redskins red zone, Detroit mercifully calls a timeout doing what the Redskins have been unable to do and that is stop the Lions offense, after the timeout it is third and five and Albert Haynesworth bulls through the Detroit line for a sack, Albert cannot get up and the broadcast has to go to commercial while the trainers attend to him, when the broadcast returns Albert is standing with assistance and cannot put any weight on his right foot, he is carted off the field, Jason Hanson comes in for a 39 yard field goal and the Lions stretch their lead to 10-0 Detroit. The Redskins get the ball for the third time and starts with a playaction short incomplete into double coverage to Devin Thomas, on second down the give is to Clinton Portis who is hit for a three yard loss, Chris Cooley makes a great catch on third and thirteen but only makes it twelve yards and the Redskins are punting. The Lions get the ball for the fourth time, the third straight possession inside their own ten yard line, a false start moves them back to the three, the Redskins run defense shows up and its third down and five but Calvin Johnson comes up with a big catch over the middle and downs reset, the Redskins lose their ability to tackle and it is the two minute warning with the Lions at the Detroit 43, another good run stop by Reed Doughty, Lions receiver Bryant Johnson takes a good route inside DeAngelo Hall and the Lions are moving into field goal range, two plays later Reed Doughty makes a great play to keep the Lions runner in bounds, Fred Smoot makes a good play in the end zone to block a score, now rookie Brian Orakpo is down on one knee and limping slowly off the field, Matthew Stafford spikes the ball with 20 seconds left in the half, with two seconds left they spike the ball and in comes Jason Hanson for a 26 yard field goal that sails through as time expires and the Lions go into the half leading 13-0. [Quarterly reports: Washington Post Washington Times Official Redskins Blog]

Washington gets the ball to start the third quarter, the Redskins fourth possession, a Malcolm Kelly penalty forces them into first and fifteen, Clinton Portis runs thirteen yards, tripling Washington's total rushing tally for the day, a first down to Santana, on the next play as if waking from a bad dream Jason Campbell tosses a touch pass down the right sideline to Santana, he takes it 37 yards for a 53 yard touchdown, Redskins pull the game to 13-7 Detroit. The Lions get the ball for the fifth time, they have much better field position and the Redskins do no tgive up yards so easily, on second down and six at midfield Matthew Stafford opens up with a 58 yard playaction pass to Calvin Johnson, sadly for Detroit Calvin pushed off LaRon Landry and the play is called back, the Lions cannot make up the yards and punt for the second time. Washington's fifth possession starts at their twelve yard line after an Antwaan Randle El fair catch, Jason Campbell is chased out of the pocket on first down and throws off balance to Santana Moss for the first down, then Chris Cooley catches another first down, two runs and it is third and five at midfield, defensive back Ko Simpson jumps a short route to Santana and intercepts the ball, Lions ball for the sixth time, at midfield. Again the Redskins run defense wakes up, it is third down and six, Andre Carter and Brian Orakpo meet at the quarterback for an eight yard sack and the Lions are punting. The Redskins sixth possession starts with Antwaan Randle El not fair catching, Clinton Portis runs hard twice in a row to move the chains, on second down and ten Jason Campbell cocks to throw and the ball comes out, he covers it but the Redskins lose eight yards, an offsides penalty makes it a third and thirteen, Jason breaks the pocket and tosses it too hot for Santana Moss and the Redskins are punting. Detroit gets the ball for the seventh time, Calvin Johnson on second and five puts a move on Carlos Rogers for a first down, on third and five the Redskins put god pressure on Matthew Stafford, he completes the pass near the first down marker but Chris Horton is there to stop him and the Lions are punting from midfield, Detroit could not capitalize on the turnover. The Redskins seventh drive starts with twelve seconds left in the third quarter, Clinton Portis runs for one yard and that is the end of the third, Lions lead 13-7. [Quarterly reports: Washington Post Washington Times Official Redskins Blog]

The Redskins continue their seventh possession into the fourth quarter, second and nine, Jason Campbell's pass is in the dirt, Jason makes the best of a busted play on third down with a 23 yard scramble for a first down, Clinton Portis goes over right guard for fourteen, a penalty negates a first down pass to Devin Thomas, first and twenty, a Lions encroachment penalty gave back five yards, Jason aired it out long for Malcolm Kelly into double coverage, it was long, then the Redskins waited too long and delayed the play, from second and fifteen back to second and twenty, incomplete to Antwaan Randle El, then a seven yard dumpoff to Ladell Betts and the Redskins are punting. The Lions get the ball for the eighth time, a fumble by Maurice Morris may have botched a flea flicker on first down, two rookie grade incompletes and the Lions are punting. Washington's eighth possession starts with good field position at midfield, short completion to Mike Sellers, run for no gain to Clinton Portis, a facemask no call on a Santana Moss catch leaves the Redskins short, the Redskins are punting. Detroit's ninth drive starts on their fifteen yard line, Kedric Golston wraps up Matthew Stafford somehow Matthew's toss is not intentional grounding, it is third and one after a reverse to Calvin Johnson, Stafford completes a short pass to Calvin for the first down, less than eight minutes to go, another first down to Calvin, three plays later Matthew Stafford rolls right and throws long to Bryant Johnson at the goal line, safety Chris Horton turns at the last second to defend the ball but is called for pass interference at the one yard line, London Fletcher stops Maurice Morris on first down, on the next play Morris goes in on a pitch play, the two point conversion fails and the Lions lead 19-7. The Redskins get the ball for the ninth time, desperation and soft defense are in play, Santana rings up a first down, then Ladell Betts fails to get out of bounds, to Betts again for another first down, Antwaan Randle El catches one for a first down but it is called incomplete, Washington challenges and the play is overturned, two plays later Antwaan rings up another first down, Jason Campbell scrambles out of pressure on the next play for a four yard pass to Rock Cartwright to move the Redskins to 19-14 Lions. The Lions get the ball for the tenth time, the Redskins do not attempt an onsides kick, the Lions run on first down, the Redskins call the first of their three timeouts, on second down Matthew Stafford finds tight end Will Heller for a first down, that hurts, Redskins call a timeout, then another after a run for no game, still seventeen seconds until the two minute warning, a quarterback roll and run is unsuccessful and the Lions are punting. The Redskins get the ball for the tenth and final time, first down the center of the field to Chris Cooley for a first down, then to Ladell Betts who manages to get out of bounds, then to Santana Moss, that is three completions in a row, too high for Cooley, incomplete and now nine seconds left in the game, Redskins fourth down at the Lions 36, after a Detroit timeout a completion with two pitches and game over, Lions win 19-14, the Redskins have broken Detroit's nineteen game losing streak. [Quarterly reports: Washington Post Washington Times Official Redskins Blog]


Soapbox: It's bad.

The Redskins were completely unprepared, the gameplans were inadequate, there is simply no question that talent alone cannot win the day in the NFL, your players have to execute in order to leverage that talent.

On offense the run blocking was worse than ever, the Redskins had zero rushing yards in the first half and only ran the ball five times, this is not how to use Clinton Portis. The pass blocking was exploited to allow the maximum pressure on the quarterback. The Redskins were two of ten on third down and did not convert their first until the fourth quarter, and that was a busted pass play converted on a quarterback scramble. The 0-19 Lions held the ball for thirteen minutes longer than the Redskins.

The defense let the team down, allowing the Lions drives of 99, 95 and 97 yards to score. Detroit rolled up 381 yards, more than every opponent but one last season (op. cit.), so much for the defensive upgrades. Poor tackling, overpursuit and a lack of focus allowed the 0-19 Lions to set the tone, 154 yards rushing for Detroit. Matthew Stafford must have been stewing these first two weeks watching Mark Sanchez lead the Jets to 2-0, today Matthew looked like a quarterback in control, the defense repeatedly allowed him do overs for his rookie overthrows, no serious pressure on the quarterback.

The fourth down attempt to go for it in on the Redskins first drive was not bold, it was silly, you take the points. Jason Campbell appeared to screw up basic hand signals when given control of the offense at the end of the game, unfortunately this will reinforce the notion that Jason cannot handle the additional responsibility, coach Zorn was seen on the sidelines dismissing Jason after that gaffe.

This team is currently projecting an inability to prepare for an NFL game.

Mark my words, Redskins fans and media will continue to beat on the players for a couple more weeks, once all the meat is flayed off that bone the long story for this season will be mismanagement at the executive level, an owner surrounded by sycophants and yes men that long ago stewarded the ship to the bottom. What idiot really thinks Mike Shanahan or Bill Cowher would come into this situation as it exists?

As they used to say on The Sopranos, someone's gotta go.


Chattering class: Hall of Fame Redskins running back John Riggins, in a postgame tweet, blames everything on the owner (op. cit.):

There are team specific issues for sure and some individual issues for sure but the owner ultimately is a loser and you can't fix that.

Rich Tandler at Real Redskins sees talent and physical toughness in the Redskins... that is overshadowed by mental softness. The team let itself down again and again in this game.

Barry Svrluga has the front page A1 duties again at the Washington Post this week, a piece sandwiched between the story of Chinese Uighur brothers that would rather remain in Guantanamo Bay than be separated, and a report on Iran's defiant and outrage sparking tests of short range missiles on the eve of international talks.

The Washington Post's Tom Boswell pens another tough to swallow column, this loss was the culmination of years of overestimating the team's talent, of measuring with the wrong stick. Tom uses coach Zorn's two serious game management gaffes, both in the first quarter, the fourth and goal fail and the accepting of the Lions penalty to give them a shot at third and thirteen, which they converted on their way to a 99 yard scoring drive, to wonder if coach Zorn's career obsession with the minutiae of the quarterback position has left him unable to see the bigger picture.

Also at the Washington Post, Mike Wise calls the game a complete debacle, the season has already totally melted down. Best verbiage award to Mike this week, he called this game a quote dumpster fire unquote, an apt metaphor, it will burn, stink and create a hassle but nothing valuable is in danger of loss. The most valuable nugget from this piece though is Mike's assessment from an anonymous player that eighty percent of the locker room with with coach Zorn while twenty percent has serious concerns about his ability to do this job.

John Feinstein, columnifying for the Washington Post as well, echoes the coming conventional wisdom: we can blame the performance on coach Zorn and the players but the real problem is upstairs; owner Dan Snyder and shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato have mismanaged this organization and ignored critical needs to the point where the team is structurally incapable of being competitive. Bonus points for the Marty Schottenheimer reference.

Rick Snider at the Washington Examiner goes straight to the point: time to get rid of Jim Zorn, Greg Blache and Vinny Cerrato, and hire Russ Grimm as the new head coach, something we all know is not going to happen.

Dan Daly at the Washington Times writes that the Redskins are down with the dregs of the leagues, and maybe the team needs to listen to the fans, we have some pretty smart football fans in this town.

Ryan O'Halloran also at the Washington Times boils it down: Jim Zorn will not be fired, and gives three good reasons why, and none of them have anything to do with turning the thing around.

And this gamewrap marks the first time I have ever linked to official Redskins media in the Chattering Class section, I cannot resist this nugget from team writer Larry Weisman:

Pick a flaw, any flaw. There it was. A four-man rush that couldn’t rush Matthew Stafford. A running game that couldn’t run at all (no yards net in the first half). No intensity, no fire, no purpose. Too much time spent on the mellow brick road.


Omnibus: This game was not a sellout in Detroit, the game was blacked out in the local market.

Broadcasters: Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick, not a huge fan of this team, mainly because I think Brian is a bit of a blowhard but he was not all that bad.

Uniform watch: the Redskins are on the road but wearing the satisfying preferred home uniform of white jersey and burgundy pants.

Antwaan Randle El punt fair catch count: four of five.

Penalty honor roll: Stephon Heyer, false start; Kedric Golston, encroachment that moved the ball from the Lions one to the six giving Detroit breathing room; Albert Haynesworth, offsides giving the Lions a first down early on their second drive, those previous two penalties helped Detroit get down the field and score; Fred Smoot, illegal downfield contact on the Lions third drive; in the second half Malcolm Kelly with an illegal motion, setting the Redskins back to first and fifteen to start the second half; Rock Cartwright, illegal block in the back after the punt on the Lions sixth possession, that cost the Redskins nine yards and put their sixth possession starting on Washington's nine yard line; Casey Rabach, holding in the seventh drive, that negated a first down catch by Devin Thomas; the entire offense for a delay of game penalty in the seventh drive.

Red zone-o-meter: two total trips; first trip, pass, run, timeout, pass, line up to go for it on fourth down, force Lions to call timeout, come back in three tight end lineup and run left from one yard, do not get, turn over on downs. Second trip, pass, pass, pass, score, that was at the end of the game.

I do not want to read too much into this game at the beginning, the initial camera pan across the sideline showed head coach Jim Zorn with a serious and possibly nervous look on his face, quarterback Jason Campbell sitting on a bench drinking Gatorade with a please no one come over and talk to me look on his face and tailback Ladell Betts staring off into the distance, I hope this is gameface stuff and not lack of confidence stuff.

Reed Doughty hustled down the field for the opening kickoff tackle, continuing a great comeback season, Reed also had a great run coverage tackle behind the line on the Lions fourth possession, second quarter, and another great run stop three plays later, three plays later Reed keeps the runner in bounds as second tick off the first half, Reed looks great today.

We learned early in the broadcast that Jason Campbell's career completion percentage is sixty percent, this season though Jason is completing 69 percent of his passes.

Welcome Devin Thomas to your second season, on the Redskins first drive Devin caught his first pass of the season.

The game management bug was out early, Jason Campbell was forced to call a timeout in the Redskins first drive.

Jim Zorn was clearly trying to set a tone by going for it on fourth down from the one yard line on the Redskins first drive, unfortunately not getting has the effect of making coach Zorn look less competent, not more. He gave up three points and we shall see where that plays in the final differential.

Quick take on the Redskins run defense midway through the first quarter, Detroit seems to have no problem getting at least four yards per run, that will keep the chains moving and force rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford to do less, which is good for the Lions.

With few exceptions in the first quarter, notably the pass play broken up by Chris Horton, the Redskins managed zero pressure on the Lions at the line, Detroit was able to run and pass short while taking enough shots downfield to keep the defense honest.

During the Lions second drive, first quarter, on the third and thirteen play in Redskins territory the Washington defense managed to get good pressure on the quarterback, he had no good options and just stepped up and ran past Andre Carter and Brian Orakpo through a broken pocket. The defensive problem with that play was Brian, coming from the offense's left got chip blocked into the middle of the line, that opened the hole for the quarterback to run through, there were no defensive backs or linebackers covering shallow zones and so Matthew was able to run 22 yards for a first down and more. Brian has to learn to stay home and not let himself get bounced out of position, if he cannot penetrate the line he needs to hold it and look to make a play.

Remember that look of possible uncertainty, possible nervousness, possible deep thought I saw on Jim Zorn's face at the top of the broadcast? They keep showing him on the sideline, he still has it and it is looking more and more like an I am not sure I know what I am doing look. I hope I am wrong.

Yeah that was a 99 yard drive to touchdown on the Lions second possession, soft defense, a rookie out of position and two penalties by the Redskins get the assists.

On the Redskins second possession, final play of the first quarter, a good looking pass to second year tight end Fred Davis, Fred took contact at the first down marker and was not brought down easily, that kind of catch and contact makes you hope for his development, that is not the kind of contact Chris Cooley can withstand, Chris is more of a runner and less of a hitter.

Blocking scheme fail or defensive stunt win? Continuing that possession, on the first play of the second quarter there was a strange blocking scheme, it looked like left tackle Chris Samuels blocked straight ahead and replacement right guard Chad Rinehart pulled and ran left, picking up Detroit defensive end Dewayne White, who would normally have to come through Chris Samuels. Chad was not able to engage well, Jason Campbell had to step up to avoid pressure on the right from defensive end Jason Hunter who was engaged by tight end Chris Cooley and fullback Mike Sellers, meanwhile right tackle Stephon Heyer had no one to block on this play. As a result Dewayne hit Jason's arm as he threw, Jason tossed a dead duck that should have been intercepted.

Whiff! To end that same drive, the Redskins second, Chad Rinehart was turned around by Detroit defensive end Bryan Copeland lined up in the interior, not a good play for Chad and that is two on this drive.

Ten minutes thirty seconds left in the first half and the Redskins have three rushing yards. Through a quarter and a half the Washington defense looks lost and perpetually behind the play, they are making Detroit look good and since that does not compute the Redskins defense must be having a bad day.

Albert Haynesworth took down Matthew Stafford on third and five with the Lions in the Washington red zone on Detroit's third possession, second quarter and did not get up, he was carted off the field with a right hip injury, as the cart left the field he had a towel over his head and was covering his face as if to say, shit it's bad and I know it, as Mark Newgent tweeted on the matter today, "I just saw $41 million carted off the field." Talk about a shitty time for another serious Redskins injury. No idea how this will affect him or the team going forward.

To go with that 99 yard second Detroit possession, add a 95 yard drive for a field goal. Some defense.

As broadcaster Thom Brennaman pointed out, and note he is the play by play guy not the color guy, two possessions in a row, the Redskins second and third, ended on third and long with receiving routes coming up short of the first down marker, I know there need to be routes in all places and guys can always catch it short and quote try and make something happen unquote, I think you can call Jason Campbell's decision to throw to those receivers in question subject to coverage, I think you blame running routes short of the chains on Jim Zorn. The dogpile is beginning.

Whiff! Rookie Brian Orakpo badly missed a tackle on the Lions fourth possession, second quarter, after a great tackle by Reed Doughty on the next play, London Fletcher exhibits poor tackling on a short pass, allowing another Detroit first down.

Adding injury to insult: with 36 seconds left in the half Brian Orakpo is hurt and limps off the field, because the Redskins stopped play due to injury inside two minutes of the half Washington is charged a timeout, their last of the half.

Add to the 99 and 95 yard drives a 97 yard drive for a field goal and the Redskins defense is making previously struggling rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford look realllly good.

Redskins: no points at halftime against a team that had not won a game since December 2007, a streak of nineteen games.

Michael Strahan on the FOX halftime team really trashed the Redskins for letting the Lions dominate, he said and I quote, the Redskins have quit.

The Redskins offense seemed to wake up to start the second half, I wonder what was said in the locker room at halftime.

To start the half the broadcast team said Albert Haynesworth went out with a hip injury and was doubtful to return, then showed him limping back to the Redskins sideline, then as the Lions were punting their fifth possession Albert came off the field, he was back in the game, Brian Billick questioned whether it was a good idea to put him back in.

Are the Redskins playing a lot of three safety sets? I see Reed Doughty, LaRon Landry and Chris Horton all on the field at the same time.

Effort wasted: Jason Campbell's interception in the Redskins fifth drive, third quarter was the result of pressure from the outside linebacker on Jason's right, neither Santana Moss nor Antwaan Randle El stayed home to block for Jason, both went out on routes, Ladell Betts stayed home to block but he was on Jason's left and was immediately engaged by a blitzing linebacker that ran in the hole between Derrick Dockery and Casey Rabach, even if not engaging a player Ladell had no chance to make a play, Ko Simpson read the hot route and jumped it, also a bit of lackadaisical route awareness by Santana, he did not appear to try and stretch for the catch.

Something is up with the Redskins defense, the Lions mostly had their way with the Redskins, the Washington players just seemed to be flying around, always behind the play.

London Fletcher went out of the game during the Lions seventh possession, third quarter, he was replaced by HB Blades, no word yet on what it is.

Jason Campbell's busted play scramble in the Redskins seventh possession, fourth quarter was Washington's first third down conversion of the game. On the next play Clinton Portis ran for fourteen through Chad Rinehart so there is that for film study.

Inside baseball: also on the Redskins seventh possession, one play after Casey Rabach's hold negated a first down, he tricked the Lions defense into encroachment with a head fake, they stampeded and he was standing there after the penalty call with the ball, never snapped, with this look like, hey I never started the play! One play after that Jason Campbell went long for Malcolm Kelly, it was incomplete, Brian Billick referred to Malcolm as Kelly Malcolm. Got news for Malcolm, you need to make some more plays before announcers reflexively get your name right.

The play after that was not a play, the Redskins took long to get the play going and incurred a delay of game, the camera cut to Jim Zorn immediately in time to see him looking, no doubt right at Jason Campbell, mouthing the words, what the hell are you doing. At this point it is falling apart.

The non call on the facemask penalty by cornerback William James on Santana Moss was total bullshit, he grabbed and pulled.

The Chris Horton pass interference in the Lions ninth drive, fourth quarter, was pretty questionable, Chris waited until the last minute to turn for the ball, but when he did he was all ball, he fell into the receiver making a play on the ball. In all I would say it was close enough to have gone either way and it was not a surprising hometown call. Unfortunately though it was followed immediately by...

Jim Zorn's not pretty moment: the cameras caught coach Zorn freaking out over the call, the camera caught him mouthing the words, he played the ball all the way, then started jumping up and down, waving his arms and shrieking, we could not decipher the latter outburst, it was like the real housewife of Malibu shrieking when the valet dinged her convertible. It was not dignified.

Antwaan Randle El's catch in the Redskins ninth drive, fourth quarter, was correctly overturned as an incomplete, Antwaan toe tapped both feet inbounds and kept the Redskins futility going.

Brian Billick, I get it, enough with the I got fined 75 thousand dollars as a coach, we get it.

Did Jason Campbell screw up a hurry up play at the end of the game? As the Redskins were driving for the ninth time announcer Brian Billick said the plays on this drive were being called by Jason Campbell as part of a two minute drill, on the touchdown pass to Rock Cartwright Jason flashed an index and pinkie hand signal down the line, basically a sideways Texas longhorn, the play seemed to develop the wrong way but Jason found Rock for the touchdown. After that play the camera caught Jason talking on the sideline with who I would guess is offensive coordinator Sherman Smith, discussing hand signals, Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El came over and flashed not the longhorns but rather a V, the index and middle finger, appearing to insist that whatever Jason called they ran a different play with a different signal. As Jason departs that scene and walks in front of coach Zorn, Zorn is dismissive, clearly unhappy with Jason, there are words exchanged. Antwaan follows Jason as he passes the coach, still giving Jason the two fingers sign, not the longhorns. There was clearly some miscommunication on that play and from the body language it would appear to have been Jason's fault.

Adding insult to injury as Mad Mike pointed out on ExtremeSkins, in that tenth and final Redskins possession, Jason Campbell had Malcolm Kelly wide open down the right side on third and ten from the Detroit 36, Jason could not find him and wound up nearly throwing an interception. This will be fodder for those that think Jason does not have good field vision.

Tony Almeida pointed out the Redskins game was the longest of FOX's early games today, therefore everyone else got to tune in at the end as the network switched coverage over when the shorter games ended.


Shooter: Statistically quarterback Jason Campbell had a good game, 27 of 41 for 340 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, in reality Jason had maybe 250 yards of quality passing, the rest came at the end of the game when the Lions were trying to preserve a lead, 178 of those yards went to Santana Moss who finally had a good day (op. cit.). Jason's interception was the result of quarterback pressure and the cornerback reading a hot route. And as indicated at the end of the Omnibus section directly above, it looks as though Jason may have screwed up a hand signal right before the touchdown pass to Rock Cartwright, if this is the case expect to hear plenty of chatter this week about how this proves Jason cannot run the offense and that is why Jim Zorn cannot trust him with it. I am not quite there yet but I am getting closer, I still believe in Jason, a great game from him one of these days would really help my argument in this regard.

Fat Contract Albert: Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth sacked Lions rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford in the second quarter and did not get up, he hurt his hip and was eventually carted off the field covering his face with a towel. To start the third quarter the broadcast team announced Albert had a hip injury and was doubtful to return, just a couple minutes later he was back in the game. As far as I could tell he played the rest of the game and his name did not come up again, later we heard he stayed in but was not one hundred percent (ibid.).

OH CRAPPO: Rookie hybrid defensive endbacker Brian Orakpo was visible for a mistake, in the first quarter Brian was chipped outside on a block, by not staying home he created a hole for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford to scramble through. Brian was also hurt at one point, the timing of his injury forced the Redskins to call their final timeout of the half. He also had a great sack to kill the Detroit drive that resulted from the Jason Campbell interception, thus negating that turnover.


Washington Post recap, photos. NFL recap, box score, full play by play, Gamebook (PDF), photos, video highlights.

Other recaps: Mark Newgent at Redskins Examiner, post game and day after reaction and links.

Next up, the Tampa Bay comes to play at Redskins stadium, the Buccaneers are 0-3 but I do not think the sky is falling in Florida, 33 year old rookie head coach Raheem Morris has his own problems right now.

Jim Zorn: Carlos Osorio / AP photo from here. Raheem Morris: AP photo from here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Game 3: Redskins (1-1) at Lions (0-2)


Out of the box: From fans to players this town is hopping mad as the Redskins travel to Detroit to play the Lions, 1pm ET on FOX, one team has not won since 2007 and the other is getting a taste of what that feels like.


The story so far: The week began with the team dealing with the injury loss of right guard Randy Thomas, Randy tore his right triceps in the Rams game and was placed on injured reserve, this is the second time in three seasons Randy has ended the season on IR and will mark Randy's fourth surgery in three seasons.

Randy's loss left a temporary void at right guard, one that may only ever be partially filled, third year guard slash center and local product Will Montgomery and second year guard Chad Rinehart were pitted against one another for the spot (ibid.), ultimately head coach Jim Zorn opted for Chad as Will is also Casey Rabach's backup at center and if Will were to get injured at guard it also takes down the center position. Chad did not play a snap last season and the team was pretty down on him, all signs indicate he has improved, we are about to find out, as they say in show business, take your time, think it through, relax, DON'T FUCK IT UP!

The team also faced something of an existentialist dilemma this week as well, there are now eighteen games under Jim Zorn's belt and a body of data is beginning to emerge, and that data tells us the Redskins are not very good offensively. Defensively they continue to be great, they were great before coach Zorn got here and besides, coach Zorn is an offensive coach. The Redskins are the fourth worst scoring team over that eighteen game stretch, surpassed, or rather undercut only by St. Louis, Cincinnati and Cleveland.

And despite some really good looking statistics in last week's game against the Rams, Washington managed no touchdowns in four red zone possessions. Jim Zorn's ability to playcall an effective game is now officially in question (op. cit.). Sonny Jurgenson may be bordering on doddering at this point, when he is calling out the Redskins coach on live TV for poor playcalls you know they are chopping down the tree, if not already building the scaffold. The Washington Post's Jason Reid:

The perception of Zorn struggling with clock management is bad for Zorn, but not nearly as bad as mixing it up verbally with Jurgensen. I mean, shoot, this is such a big mistake for him on so many levels, where do I even start?

Jurgensen is a Hall of Fame quarterback who is known to share good cigars and refreshments with the guy who signs Zorn's paycheck, owner Daniel Snyder. A five-time Pro Bowl selection, Jurgensen was considered one of the best passers in his era. I know Zorn was a successful quarterbacks coach with the Seattle Seahawks, but the other guy in the conversation is Sonny Jurgensen.

The town has become a pressure cooker for Jim Zorn, so far he seems to be handling it personally, though professionally the team is showing signs of unraveling. Everyone is on the hot seat (op. cit.).

In comings and goings the team re signed tailback Anthony Aldridge (ibid.), a smaller quicker back in the mold of Darren Sproles, Anthony was with the team for training camp and was released in final cuts, he showed great speed and maneuverability, had a tendency to fumble, including one really bad on the Redskins first kickoff return of the final preseason game against the Jaguars.


Curly R aside: I am not sure there has ever been a distraction in my time as a Redskins fin like the one this week, not when Jack Kent Cooke died, not when the team went up for sale, not when Dan Snyder fired Norval Turner at 7-6 and in the playoff hunt in 2000. Fan reaction to the Redskins weak win against the Rams was awful, a rookie linebacker lashed out at the community over an internet platform that is new to the NFL, he got lambasted for it and apologized which did not stop it from becoming front page news in one of the world's largest newspapers. Players are everywhere pleading for fans to chill or outright rebelling as if simply because they deign to address us directly we somehow will come around to their viewpoint that our expectations are too high, and one even went so far as to blame it on the media (here via here), the very media that exists to exalt the team and its accomplishments.

But wait it gets worse. Reports were that players got pelted with stuff coming off the field after the Rams game and the same linebacker that Tweeted about Redskins fans being dimwits claimed he was spit on leaving the field which is something I have never heard of Redskins doing in all my life as a fan, Dan Steinberg is similarly skeptical. This sounds really really desperate and immature and made up to garner some sympathy.

Here is is a quick prescription for every player and team official huddling on how to deal, how to make the fans understand and give them some breathing room, how to avoid the pitchforks and mass hysteria: just win and it all goes away. You don't even have to win, except for this game today, you just have to put a respectable product on the field. JUST WIN.

Curly R aside continues: Could Jason Campbell's mind already be made up about leaving after this season? Two months ago I did not think so, now I am not so sure.


Oppo research: The Lions are 0-2 and 0-19 for the past two seasons. Prior to last season no team had ever lost all sixteen regular season NFL games. On of those losses last season was to the Redskins (op. cit.). The team fired Rod Marinelli and is once again in the process of moving on.

You know you are a bad team when your badness attracts the eye of the Wall Street Journal, no one you know will ever accuse the WSJ of having the broadest coverage of the NFL or sports in general. In a Wednesday piece the WSJ's Reed Albergotti notes the Lions have given up more points, 1033, than any team in any 34 game stretch since Lyndon Johnson was president, which incidentally was from 1963 to 1969. It is a pretty wonky piece overall looking back at the last time the Lions were good, in 2000, and dissecting how the team's personnel was never up to the scheme and how new coach Jim Schwartz is turning the roster over to favor his preferred basic 4-3 defense.

In the that's why they play the games department, receiver Calvin Johnson is still Detroit's only serious offensive threat, rookie Matthew Stafford looks weak compared to fellow rookie Mark Sanchez of the Jets.

It is worth noting that Jim Schwartz was Tennessee's defensive coordinator for defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth's entire NFL career up until this season (op. cit.). He may know a thing or two about gameplanning for Albert.


Trainer's table: Quarterback Jason Campbell sprained his left ankle in the second quarter of the Rams game, the midweek report was that it was mild and he is good to go. And the two players that missed that game, cornerback Fred Smoot with ribs and defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery with a knee, both practiced and looked ready to play (op. cit.). Reserve right tackle and former 400 pound man Mike Williams missed Thursday's practice (op. cit.), no other information about him was available.


Gameplan: I know it sounds contradictory to the pressure I and much of Washington have put the Redskins under this early in the season, but the players need to relax and move through their jobs, these guys are all professionals and have been playing football for years. Yes Jim Zorn is inexperienced as a head coach, this is where a veteran roster like Washington's comes into play, while the players need to execute coach Zorn's plan, they are eminently capable of doing it in a manner commensurate with their profressionalism. Time to get back to Jim Zorn basics and stay medium.

It might even be the right day to turn Santana Moss loose, it was in the road game versus Detroit last season that Santana had more than one hundred yards receiving, including a touchdown, and scored on his first punt return of the season. I am secretly harboring concerns that Santana is losing it, a solid game will assuage that fear.

No matter what is going on in the outside world, Jason Campbell and Jim Zorn need to stick together. Their fates are intertwined and once one deserts the other they are both sunk. Jim Zorn will just be another Redskins statistic.


My take in 60 words or less: Not everyone is calling this a must win game, I am. The next four games are against currently winless teams and the one after that is against an Eagles team with problems at quarterback. If there is any hope of making a go if it this season the Redskins need to make hay early.


Washington Post interactive Gameday, Redskins roster, keys to the game, key matchups; broadcast coverage, this game is blacked out in Detroit, be thankful the Washington market is not there... yet.

Other previews: Mark Newgent at Redskins Examiner does a great question and answer session with the Examiners' Lions blogger, at the end Mark predicts Redskins win 27-7 and Jason Campbell has a great game.

If the Redskins come home losers from this one they should expect to find an eviction notice on the front door in Ashburn.

This is a gameday open thread.

NFL helmets from here.

Stepping on a Land Mine

Above coach's paygrade

After the Redskins barely won their game last week against the Rams, a game in which the Redskins were booed all the way into the tunnel... as winners, head coach Jim Zorn and Hall of Fame quarterback Sonny Jurgenson got into a little tiff over coach Zorn's decision to run a halfback option to Clinton Portis on third and goal.

Coach Zorn said the play was the play, Sonny said he would have been pissed as Redskins quarterback if the coach was putting the game in someone else's hands, and indicated he would have changed the play at the line or called a time out.

To which coach Zorn replied, then I would take you out of the game.

Then as if it were not awkward enough of an exchange, coach Zorn repeated after a silence, sorry Sonny, I would take you out.

Coach Zorn had better think hard about calling out Sonny Jurgenson. Now Sonny may be verging on a doddering old man at age 75, he is still the spiritual compass of the Redskins. He is a Hall of Famer who had a great deal of influence on his own playcalls, a fact that is internalized by Redskins fans and is thus part of the concern about coach Zorn restricting quarterback Jason Campbell's options.

Coach, some free advice from a guy that wants to see you succeed, tread very lightly around Sonny Jurgenson. Tangling with him will get you nowhere.

Sonny Jurgenson and Redskins coach Vince Lombardi on the cover of Sports Illustrated, 28 July 11969 from here.

The End and the Beginning

This has all happened before

As I prepare Curly R's preview for today's game it seems appropriate to remind Redskins fans of a bit of history as pointed out in a column by the Washington Post's Mike Wise on Thursday, this is not the first time an untested Redskins head coach has been on the hot seat early in a season:

...[T]his is nothing new, the notion that a local media guy asked the embattled coach to address his job security. And the coach headed off the question quickly. It happened in this town, with this team -- 28 years ago.

Then, Frank Herzog, the iconic former play-by-play announcer for the Washington Redskins, asked then-rookie coach Joe Gibbs, "Two, three more games like this, Joe, and does Mr. Cooke say that's it, goodbye?"

As Post columnist Dave Kindred chronicled, Gibbs replied with a smile, "That's up to Mr. Cooke. You'd have to ask Mr. Cooke that."

Joe Gibbs was 0-4 and on his way to a 0-5 start in his rookie season as a head coach.

See, they took their football serious then too.

Obviously there are key differences, this was Joe Gibbs' first season, this is Jim Zorn's second. Owner Jack Kent Cooke had an independent and decisive general manager in Bobby Beathard advising him, now owner Dan Snyder has a lackey in Vinny Cerrato, the very definition of a yes man.

And perhaps most importantly, the Redskins then were just on the cusp of establishing their place as one of the NFL's better franchises, now that legacy seems so far in the rearview that crotchety old farts like me date themselves when discussing it.

This stretch of games up through the Redskins bye in week eight will mark an end to the Jim Zorn era, or its true beginning.

Joe Gibbs: Getty Images from here.

Just Win

You do all realize how sad this is, right?

The Redskins played a piss poor game on offense against the Rams and still won, thanks to the defense and no thanks to head coach and playcaller Jim Zorn. At the end of the first half and all through the second half the fans in Redskins Stadium, all 87 thousand of them, at least four thousand short of a full house, booed regularly, culminating in the final insult, booing the Redskins as they closed the game out in victory formation thanks to a fourth down pass defense by safety Chris Horton.

Note that on that final Redskins drive the team opted to go for it on fourth down, twice in the Rams red zone, up by two points with more than two minutes left in the game. The final real Redskins offensive play was a fourth and one from the Rams two yard line, Clinton Portis took a handoff and ran wide left, straight into a herd of Rams for a two yard loss, the Rams take over at the two minute warning from their four yard line needing only a field goal to win. Coach Zorn could have opted for the gimme field goal to push the lead to five, forcing the Rams to score a touchdown to win. That is a difference of thirty or forty yards and four or five plays.

As indicated above, the Rams four and turned the ball over on downs in desperation with Chris Horton making the big play at the end.

After the game we learned that quarterback Jason Campbell is forbidden to audible or alter the play at the line inside the opponent's red zone for fear of miscommunication leading to a turnover. We also learned the players on the field saw an obvious defensive loading on the left side of the play, and with no timeouts left and no option to change the play, ran the play, which was a bad call to begin with, that far down a team's throat you run through the middle and not wide.

After the game tight end Chris Cooley said the booing was a shame, as if he were my shut in grandmother who thinks long drives and leaves falling are a shame, and that the booing was unnecessary, presumably implying he knew the offense was putrid and the booing was redundant.

Receiver Antwaan Randle El got in the act as well (op. cit.), telling the fans the team plays better when there is no booing, as if it is gauche, like talking at the opera.

That night rookie linebacker Robert Henson unleashed his now famous tirade against fans on his now defunct Twitter feed, calling Redskins fans dim wits, inviting us to stay home and projecting envy on us because he makes more than we do, which for many Washingtonians is not true. That story wound up on the front page of the Washington Post and you can almost feel Robert's testicles making a beeline up into his body when he heard that was happening.

At this point you could almost expect it would end, the team's public relations people would be brought into a team meeting and would tell the players the fans are disappointed but fickle, let's show them a better effort and this will be forgotten, do not fan the flames any higher etc etc yada yada.

But no, the players and team kept coming at the fans and the media, it seems they are as passionate about being unwilling to accept responsibility for those big salaries and that big dud of an offense as the fans are in insisting the fault lies with the team and not the fans or the media.

One side of this argument does not want to look deeper to see what the problems really may be, the other side of this argument is the paying customers. And who is always right?

Monday linebacker Rocky McIntosh wrote the team needs some slack from the fans and their support. How much slack should fans grant for a season opener against a team that has lost twelve straight? The Rams game should have been a gimme if not a slaughter, support me is not going to cut it from a starting NFL player.

Monday also the team itself tried to get ahead of the story of Robert Henson's vile tweets with a piece on Redskins.com about Robert's apology to the media, the team specifically says the front page Washington Post story, which was set to come out the next day, focused on Robert's transgressions and not on his recanting and apology.

I will put on my best Jerry Seinfeld deadpan and repeat that: the team was unhappy with a Washington Post story about an unknown and untested player insulting paying customers and fans and reminding them they do not make as much as an NFL player.

If I were blocking out this story I would devote exactly one line to the apology, considerably less than the Post actually devoted, which was three solid references, one in the third graf, with full notation of contrition. The team either had not read the piece as it was eventually published or simply decided to go with the old time media strategy of not complaining about what someone actually said, instead complaining about the pretend thing they said, the pretend thing that will garner the most sympathy for the aggrieved speedbump of the bad old media.

Wednesday Chris Cooley was back at it, using his outsize presence and media empire to call the whole fans being unhappy thing a bunch of bullshit, Chris even used a favorite standard excuse of underperformers everywhere, the tried and true construction known as Can't You See How Hard We're Trying.

Also on Wednesday defensive end Phillip Daniels wrote a piece for theHogs.net, Phillip was much more diplomatic than some of the other players, still he thinks we should STFU with the win over a team that beat Washington last season, which is true and in the NFL unlike college there is not a board that determines who is ranked and where, in the NFL all that counts is winning. Which is the point of the fan anger this week, that shitty offensive performance may have eked out a win against the Rams, all the NFC South nemeses, the entire AFC West and the NFC Beast all await, the fans are angry because they can look at that win and see football of a quality that will not win many of those games.

Also, by way of defending Robert Henson Phillip also trots out Robert's father in law, the reverend TD Jakes, as someone that would know character and compassion in a man to whom he was going to give his daughter's hand in marriage. Since Phillip brought it up and not me I will go ahead and remind the readers that TD Jakes is a homophobic bigot who uses the pulpit of his thirty thousand strong congregation in Texas to rail about the sin of homosexualty and how gay people ore broken before God. In February of this year TD's son Jermaine was caught in a sex sting and it became public knowledge that Jermaine is gay. After this incident the right reverend issued a press release distancing himself from his 29 year old son so the point that Robert's father in law knows character and compassion is firmly in question. Don't trip too hard on those talking points Phillip.

Wednesday's best though was fullback Mike Sellers, he went on Dan Snyder's ESPravda 980 and let loose a screed on the Washington media, it would seem the papers, TV and I guess now that would include the alt media like yours truly, are all biased against the team and have a vested interest in tearing the team and players down and not building them up. Mike even mentions that an unnamed coach on the team talked about how the reporters in a city on a previous coaching stop were quote better cheerleaders unquote for the team than those in Washington.

In the first place if Mike actually used the term cheerleader for local reporters then he is lacking self awareness to a greater degree than I had thought. Journalists are not cheerleaders, and besides I have a job, I work too and it is a much more common occurrence to draw comments on areas for improvement than to draw comments on a job well done; we get paid to perform well so our bosses are not going to kiss our ass all the way down to nonperformance which is what I think Mike is going for here vis a vis the Washington media.

And in the second place Dan Dan the Sports Bog man rightly points out that you cannot swing a dead cat and not hit a media outlet in this town with an actual vested interest in the team, monetary agreements for time, content and access. These outlets may report on poor performance and will run questions and stories that reflect the sentiments of the moment, but hardly will you see a hit piece coming out of a business agreement.

Thursday tailback Clinton Portis wrote stick with us, we need your support, cheer us through the tough times. We kind of already have been, like through 8-8 last season, through Sean Taylor and a 52-7 thrashing by the Patriots in 2007 and through a 5-11 2006. The team is built to win and Sunday's effort is not going to earn a playoff spot there tiger.


At last we see the other edge of the sword of increased and direct contact with the fans, the NFL fans that through ticket sales, merch, TV watching, video games and all myriad other ways transfer money into the pockets of the league and its players.

The players want to reach out and establish a rapport, raise their profile and keep the conversation going and at times disintermediate the big bad media. And that's great, I love reading tweet and blog posts, even though I know most of them are ghost written by someone that we will never know or care about.

It is at times like this, when fans that make up the lifeblood of an NFL team have doubts about their team's abilities against expectations, the fans really do not care what you have to say off the field because our relationship with you is really only meaningful when you are on the field.

Hearing wealthy professional athletes try and tell me to chill out and how I do not understand and how I must be stupid is really insulting. You may think you get paid to play football games, actually you get paid to win football games. And the kind of effort we saw Sunday against the Rams is not going to win very many.

Tom Boswell in the Washington Post summarized it pretty well in an online chat this week, the Redskins players are coming at this problem from a delusional starting point, believing as they have for years that they are better than they actually are. Tom also makes reference to a social concept called the tipping point, it is the moment in which a series of loosely connected ideas come together suddenly but not unexpectedly to alter the conventional wisdom. If things do not change this season, if the Redskins do not return the performance the team has been promising for years then there may well be a wholesale rearrangement of the relationship between ownership and fans.

It is not the players' fault the team is in this position, that is the result of poor management. However the players have exacerbated the problem and accelerated condensation of the new conventional wisdom by pissing gas on a hot fire.

There is but one solution: just win and it all goes away. We will have a good laugh in a couple of seasons when we look back and see how funny it was that we took this so seriously, it's a long season, the players want to win, blah blah.

Unless we aren't laughing, so just go win and let's take it from there, ok?


Whiny ass titty baby from teh interwebs.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Department of Bad News: Randy Thomas


Redskins Right guard Randy Thomas tore his right triceps in the second quarter of the home game against the Rams on Sunday, he has had surgery and was placed on injured reserve, he is lost for the season.

The Redskins went into the 2009 season paper thin along the offensive line, now the team will play the next fourteen games without a stalwart starter, albeit one with accumulating surgeries.


Randy Thomas came to the Redskins as a free agent from the New York Jets in the 2003 offseason, playing alongside Jon Jansen at right tackle he solidified the right side of the offensive line, in 2002 the Redskins had thrown a patchwork of right guards at the problem, starting Tre Johnson three times, Wilbert Brown eight times and Brendan Stai five times.

Randy was durable, playing all sixteen games in 2003, fifteen in 2004, fourteen in 2005 and all sixteen in 2006 as Ladell Betts ran for more than eleven hundred yards in place of an injured Clinton Portis.

For his solid performance and durability Randy was granted a contract extension in the 2007 offseason with ten million dollars guaranteed and keeping him under contract until 2011. In January of 2008 the team, as they regularly do with high priced veterans, renegotiated Randy's contract to add two years the deal (op. cit.), Randy is currently under contract to the Redskins until 2013.

In the second game of 2007 Randy tore his left triceps and missed ten games, he returned for game thirteen of 2007 only to injure his elbow and be placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.

In 2008 Randy played all sixteen games, though had a subpar season, later we learned Randy had a bulging disc in his neck, a condition that was not only career threatening, if it had not been treated correctly it may have left Randy paralyzed. Randy had that surgery on his neck in February of this year, then had arthroscopic surgery to remove floating objects from his knee in June, the soreness in his knees from this second offseason surgery affected Randy's 2009 training camp, offensive line coach Joe Bugel expressed concerns that Randy might not be able to go sixteen games this season, though in retrospect Joe's concern was ultimately unrelated to Randy's current injury.

Randy now heads out for his third surgery of the year and ends the season on injured reserve for the second time in three seasons. Randy will be 34 when 2010 training camp starts and have a salary cap number, assuming there is a salary cap, of 5.6 million dollars.

Good luck Randy, get in there, get it done and get back, I believe you can come back and continue to play football for this team.


Randy was replaced by third year tackle Will Montgomery against the Rams, second year tackle Chad Rinehart was the depth chart backup to Randy however Chad was inactive for the game, as he was the week before.

Chad and Will competed this week for the job, Chad is a 2008 draftee and was poorly evaluated by the coaches last season, his play has been rated as improved by the team.

It was a close race, the starting right guard position ultimately went to Chad, principally according to head coach Jim Zorn because Will is needed as both backup center and tackle, therefore if something were to happen to Will at right guard the team would also lose its backup center.

Interestingly a name that came up in team internal discussions this week was Pete Kendall, the Redskins left guard the past two seasons and currently a free agent at age 36. In commemorating Pete's birthday in July I wondered right here at Curly R whether Pete may could come back as a backup, he received no offers to compete for a starting job and may yet be able to extend his career by a few seasons if he were willing to take a backup role. A month later Jason Reid at the Washington Post wondered the same thing. Pete's knees are apparently bad and he would have a hard time practicing and so far there has been no contact between Pete and the team. It should be noted Pete did not miss a game, maybe not even a snap over his two seasons with the Redskins.

Away we go into game three with a new right guard.

Randy Thomas in the Rams game: AP photo from here.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Actually Robert I would not be all that psyched to trade with you right now

Robert Henson really stepped in it, insulting anyone that actually works for a living while bragging how far above reproach his 310 thousand dollar NFL rookie salary puts him, the rest of us are just untouchables living down here in the shithole, handing up our money to him once a week and thanking him for being inactive again.

After the Redskins disappointing win against the Rams Sunday, Robert took to his Twitter account, since abandoned, and attacked Redskins fans, calling us dim witted and inviting us not to come back to Redskins Stadium which as it happens a bunch of people already had. In a later tweet he seemed certain any of us would switch places with him, presumably because playing professional football makes him more worthy in society than I.

The tweets bounced around the four corners of Redskinsland and immediately found their way into the media, they were shown in the postgame show Sunday night on TV on Comcast SportsNet, Washington Post. Then the next morning it was just in the Post's DC Sports Bog (op. cit.), that was where I picked it up and I will bet by now Robert is sweating because he made a formal apology later that day.

When he heard the Post was not done with the story he went onto Redskins TV Monday night to try and clear the air, Larry Michael like Robert is a team employee so Larry did not exactly interrogate or try and get into Robert's base motivation, just let him whine about being disappointed the story was going to continue after his apology.

Well running over someone in your car does not go away when you get out and apologize to the guy in your grille, and in one fell swoop Robert, a nobody in the annals of the Redskins, ran over the fans with a fuck you and your expectations of winning cause I got my money dump truck but I'm sorry now can we move on is not going to cut it.

So the next day, Tuesday, the story was on the front page, THE FRONT PAGE of the Washington Post with the headline

A Redskin Feels the Heat from a Tweet
Fans Boo, a Rookie Vents and a Media Storm Ensues

The Washington Post has about 650 thousand daily subscribers and most recent estimates for washingtonpost.com is in the neighborhood of 750 thousand visits per day. That is a lot of eyeballs reading about a rookie that made no contribution to the win yet felt the need to insult the working people of his team's city. Why did the Washington Post do that to Robert?

Because it was a news story. Insulting the fans is all but forbidden in pro football, they pay money to sit in the seats and buy jerseys and hats and fleece blankets and disposable players that cause headaches for the owner in the form of unhappy customers can find themselves on the waiver wire quickly.

It was also a news story because less than a month ago the NFL, uncertain what to do about the explosion of social media in the form of Facebook and Twitter among NFL players, banned players and team officials from twittering during games. Even though Robert's lapse in judgment was after the game, the principal remains, players may not know the limits of what can be posted and may post up something they or the team will regret.

Which is what happened here.

Wednesday Mike Greenberg on ESPN radio ranted hard about Robert, calling him a disgrace and pointing out that anyone working at McDonald's was long priced out of buying tickets to see a Redskins game and that that McDonald's worker had as much to do with the Redskins winning as Robert did, given that Robert was inactive for the game.

Insult me. The paying fan. Well played genius, so I guess this was not the town you wanted to retire in because you just lost your key. You can stay here a while and mull on this, you are done here and probably will not make the cut next August.

Robert Henson caricatured in an ESPN cartoon from here, hat tip to Oliver Willis for the find.


At my er, fingertips

Curly R is now a Mac operation, the fifteen inch Macbook Pro is the first new computer I have had in nine years, all previous computers have been chop shopped PCs, I had a string of failures and just decided to make the jump. So far so good, I am a little intimidated by this new system, there are elements that are fundamentally different than Windows, a system I have been using professionally since at least 1995.

Now that I have a high horsepower system I can finally surrender the 16 hours of football on our DVR back to the wife, I had five games from 2008 still recorded, they are games I attended or was otherwise unable to watch fully on TV, the gamewraps for those games are at best devoid of detail and at worst simply a takeaway drill and nothing else.

All offseason I planned to go back and watch these games objectively to fill out the season gamewrap collection, Curly R is nothing if not a completist endeavor, and I shall yet get to these games.

Only now I will be watching them on NFL Game Rewind, the NFL's streaming service for archived games from 2008 and 2009. All 2008 games are available and 2009 games are available within 24 hours of the conclusion of the game.

This works for people like me, since I will goddamn sure be in front of a TV for a game to watch live, or else I will not and if I am not there it is better than fifty percent chance by the time I get in front of my DVR I will be in no shape to watch and comment for the gamewrap.

Now I can watch the games in great looking high definition on my computer screen any time. And I intend to do so, starting with the second half of the Rams game, which I did watch but not critically as I chased my two year old around the house, trying to get him to sit still so I could explain zone blocking.

If you are a Mac user, or an NFL Game Rewind subscriber, I would like to hear from you, also if you are an overseas reader and subscribe to NFL Game Pass to watch games live over the internets I would like to hear about that experience as well.

Hopefully the NFL will gradually add previous seasons as well.

NFL Game Rewind screencap off my brand spanking new Mac.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Another Shit Bummer for Dan Snyder

Family fun Grab a Bucket and Start Bailing Day specials!

Disclaimer: The floods in north Georgia are devastating, 22 inches of rain in just a a few days, the 100 year flood plain submerged, nine people, including a two year old swept away by the waters, killed, at least three horses dead, 20 bridges damaged, 250 million dollars in property damage, and to top it all, most damaged structures are not or cannot be covered by flood insurance. It is a tragedy all the more ironic following epic and years long drought conditions in the south. Affected homeowners facing the stink and sludge of receding floodwaters are only now beginning to face the serious challenges of putting their lives back together.


And what a bummer for Dan Snyder as Six Flags Georgia is underwater. The high summer season is over but the park is to remain open weekends through at least October, park management is determined to open this weekend if at all possible, a decision I would question on safety and labor availability just by looking at the photo above or the ones in the previous link, which also managed to get in a reference to Six Flags' June bankruptcy filing. Cue the lawyers.

The bad news just keeps on coming for everyone's favorite NFL owner.

Six Flags Georgia underwater: Reuters picture from here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Maybe Playcaller-Off-the-Bench Is A Better Idea

Would he hand the card over? Could he?

The New York Times' great Fifth Down NFL blog has a silly post up right now, positing that perhaps the Redskins' fortunes might turn around if the coach was willing to put in a relief quarterback when Jason Campbell started struggling.

In the first place this is the MacGuffin of the post, the thing that sets up the plot but really has nothing to do with the story. The rest is throwaway. Bretherton even gets in a topical but totally nonsensical reference to Robert Henson's Twitter fail, the graf literally appears to have been accidentally cut and pasted in from another post.

Setting aside the fact that quarterbacks are not subbed in and out in the modern NFL, at least not healthy starting quarterbacks on teams planning to make the playoffs, the problem with the Redskins is more with head coach Jim Zorn's playcalling than with Jason Campbell's play.

The receiver option on the second play from scrimmage against the Giants, the halfback option to Clinton Portis on what was already a passing down, running wide on fourth and one at the Rams goal line.

Even adjusting for poor receiver play and poor run blocking, the playcalling seems uninspired and at times bizarre. So I need to ask this question:

Just how tightly is Jim Zorn bound to the playcalling duties? Could he ever consider giving them up for the good of the team?

So far it seems as though coach Zorn does not believe his playcalling, strategy or gameplans are the problem. Maybe they are not, we do know for sure he does not think so, coach Zorn believes the problem is execution.

Which is true but playcalling and execution are not mutually exclusive.

There are many examples of coaches giving up or taking playcalling duties for the good of the team, it may yet come to that for Jim Zorn to show the team is more important than he and his playcalling prerogative.

Andy Reid periodically turns playcalling over to Marty Mornhinweg, probably the best example of this was the 2006 Redskins at Eagles game, Brian Westbrook ran for 115 yards and the Eagles won 27-3. That was also incidentally Mark Brunell's last start for Washington. Marty continues on the Eagles staff now and he and Andy Reid have a great relationship, so who calls the plays is not always about where you stand with the organization.

Going the other way, Giants head coach Jim Fassel took away playcalling from Sean Payton after seven games in 2002, after which New York went from 13 points a game to 26 points a game. At the time it seemed like a career killer for Sean, since then Jim Fassel has sort of disappeared and Sean Payton has become a pretty good coach, so giving up playcalling is not the kiss of career death.

Of course for Redskins fans, Joe Gibbs gave up playcalling duties after the 2005 season, hiring and handing them over to Al Saunders, for two seasons there was much handwringing and teeth gnashing about whether Al was any good, or if Joe even gave him the freedom to call the offense he wanted, so it is never really about the person or personality calling the plays but rather the execution and results.

But who would call the plays for Washington? The obvious choice would be Sherman Smith, a veteran of both Jim Zorn's beloved west coast offensive schemes as well as the run oriented offenses in Tennessee with Eddie George and LenDale White.

Has Sherm ever called plays at the NFL level? I have no idea, let us assume not in any significant count.

But so what, Jim Zorn never did either.

Think about it coach Zorn, because even if you are not, others are for you.

Jim Zorn: Getty Images from here.