Friday, October 30, 2009

Two Playcallers for the Price of Three

A Dan Snyder kind of deal

In the aftermath of the miserable game six loss to the previously winless Kansas City Chiefs, Redskins head coach Jim Zorn was stripped of playcalling authority, by the next morning that responsibility had been invested in Sherman Lewis, an offensive consultant hired by the team on Tuesday 6 October 2009, a mere thirteen days prior.

That day, Monday 19 October 2009 the new playcalling procedure was announced: Sherman Lewis would sit in the upstairs booth and relay plays down to head coach Jim Zorn who would in turn radio them in to a quarterback then to be determined, later established as Jason Campbell. captured the process perfectly here.

Coach Zorn also happened to mention at the time that no other coach on staff was considered for playcalling duties, the subtext there being obvious disappointment on the part of coach Zorn that Sherman Smith, the Redskins offensive coordinator and former NFL teammate of Jim Zorn's and who has never called plays was not selected to do so now.

It is perhaps worth noting that Sherman Smith's name first appeared in connection with the Redskins offensive coordinator position on the same day Jim Zorn was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach on Sunday 9 February 2008. Six days later on 15 February 2008 Sherman Smith accepted the offensive coordinator position, meaning on the day Sherman Lewis was named playcaller for the Washington Redskins Sherman Smith had exactly 600 more days experience with this offense than the new playcaller.

Right here on this channel you read Curly R's opinion on this structure, that the issue of too many cooks aside, forcing Jim Zorn to relay someone else's plays in to the game would have the dual function of further humiliating coach Zorn and preventing him from managing the game as head coach when the Redskins had the ball.

Two days after Sherman Lewis was named playcaller, on Wednesday 21 October 2009 the Redskins issued a clarification, the actual procession of playcalling would be Sherman Lewis in the booth to offensive coordinator Sherman Smith on the sideline, then in to the quarterback. Jim Zorn would be able to listen in on playcalls and would have veto power in some situations, in the main coach Zorn would then be free to take care of the other business of being a head coach.

Before the ink on these stories was dry our own Rich Tandler was railing against it, calling it another abuse of coach Zorn, that by forcing coach Zorn out of the loop he would be decoupled from his quarterback and would be unable to provide the in game coaching a player like Jason Campbell needs.

I think Rich would agree with me that the massive improvement in ball protection, decision making and progression reads exhibited by Jason Campbell in 2008 over 2007 was largely due to Jim Zorn's tutelage, and Rich's worry is clearly that the umbilical cord between the sideline general and the field captain would now be severed, thus leaving Jim Zorn impotent to affect the flow of the game and Jason Campbell out on his own.

I cannot disagree with this notion directly, I will say simply that relief from the burden of calling every single offensive play should give Jim Zorn more time and freedom to counsel Jason Campbell as well as all the offensive and I suppose defensive players, at the expense of being able to advise and coach Jason on the very next play or the very next evil plan coach Zorn might have in store for the next possession.

But I digress, my published opinion was forcing Jim Zorn to relay Sherman Lewis' plays was bad and Rich's published opinion was removing Jim Zorn from the playcalling loop altogether was bad, we both encourage the reader to consider the context and draw his own conclusions.

The real story is how the playcalling actually went against the Eagles, and how we can assume it will be going forward.

There were no delay of game penalties. There seemed to be no confusion getting the play in, though as I was at the game Monday I have not yet had a chance to re watch it on NFL Game Rewind which I love and which by the way has been lowered from $50 to $25 for a year, offering high definition replays of every game from 2008 and so far in 2009. But I digress again.

We can quibble about whether the quality and variety of playcalls was any different, what is not open for debate is how the plays were actually called: Sherman Lewis called pass plays and and when Sherman Lewis wanted a run play, Sherman Smith called the run plays.

The team deemed Sherman Smith not worthy of the duty and what is the first thing anointed playcaller Sherman Lewis did? Invest calls from half the playbook into that guy.

So now we have a playcaller elevated by management delegating half the playcalls to the guy the head coach wanted to call plays after he was stripped of playcalling authority but who was not considered qualified by management, both of whom nominally report to that head coach.

And as the serpent continues eating its tail, with one game in the new playcalling configuration very little difference in the dynamism or production of the offense was observed.

Anyone else still believe who calls the plays and what plays they call is really the reason the Redskins are 2-5 at the bye?

Sherman Lewis: AP photo from here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Keep Raljon Beautiful

Only you

From a lifetime Redskins fan that prefers to remain anonymous we have more artistic output from the Burgundy Revolution. Right click for full size and download.

Inspired by the classic crying Indian don't litter commercial from 1971 which is available here. Just thinking about that commercial even now evokes a strong emotional desire in me to pick up litter and stop the Indian from crying. That is also how I feel about the Redskins.

Keep Raljon Beautiful by anon.

Hogs Haven's Ken Meringolo Personally Challenging Redskins' Story on Suing of Ticket Holders

Sounds like bait and switch to me

One side effect of Dan Snyder sending out Redskins chief operating officer and general counsel David Donovan as proxy attack dog on all manner of explosive issues, such as the all new ban on signs and required team review of ticket holder clothing choices is that other, older stories get a rekindling in the news cycle. In this case we get to talk about the whole team suing the ticket holders story from early September.

Matt Terl at the ORB (Official Redskins Blog) has a lengthy transcription of a portion of David's interview with the Washington Post's Mike Wise from Tuesday (link here, search page for Donovan) and in it Ken spotted something that caught his eye, a reiteration that the WaPo was intentionally misleading about who is getting sued, that it was a handful of premium club seat holders that were defaulting, not regular general admission ticket holders because why would the team team sue those ticket holders if there is some apocryphal 160 thousand person waiting list for those tickets.

By contrast there is no waiting list for club seats, there never has been, if you have seven grand to fork over annually you can have club seats now.

And that is where Ken Meringolo comes in.

He tells the story of being persuaded as a young man with disposable income to sign a long term contract for club seats, Ken is not specific about the original term, with the promise that after two years he will be able to move down to general admission seats and a smaller bill for tickets. When the end of the second year came around he called up the ticket office and the same guy that sold him the club seats and promised the downgrade, through very likely not in writing, that guy told him there was no way he was going to be able to move gim into general admission because he was in a contract and as such he was going to have to keep paying for his club seats.

When he said he was in financial distress and that kind of money was not in his budget they offered a quote payment plan unquote at an inflated interest rate and when Ken balked at that they went straight to the threat of legal action.

The context of all this is not just the story, but rather the feeling Ken got all through this experience that he was in the grip of a business practice, to bait and switch eager fans or wait listers into club seats with the vague and uncodified promise of relief in the future, a future which never comes because they get you in a contract and never have enough club season ticket holders and too many wait listers for general admission to have motivation to downgrade the ticket holder.

So what COO Donovan is saying may be the letter of the truth, that the team only sued a handful of premium seat holders in default and not general ticket holders in the presence of such a huge waiting list, but it is not the spirit of the truth if regular fans and general ticket wait listers are lured into club seats with vague promises that are never honored and the team turns into an angry creditor.

Check down through the comments on that Hogs Haven post, there at least two other accounts of similar treatment. Once again with this team it would appear we are at the uncomfortable point of deciding if as an organization they are lying, or simply incompetent.

Ken spoke with COO Donovan directly, the team really has him out there on point taking on every situation directly, which is a bold PR move that most often backfires if the whole let me explain and you will understand strategy reveals bad stuff or simply confirms the problems that were reported in the first place.

So far we have the guy calling the Washington Post yellow journalism and telling a story about the context of legal action against fans that immediately had those with personal experience coming out in contradiction.

Charlie Brown and Lucy from here.



Does Redskins management at this point have any idea what it is doing? Because it does not seem that way at this point, what with the organization making two of the biggest blunders a company that sells something can possibly make:

Attacking their customers and picking fights with the media.

Dan Steinberg has basically suspended operations as the Washington Post sports generalist to pursue a full time role chronicling the Burgundy Revolution, seriously, check Sports Bog from about the last week in September, as Dan would probably say this story writes itself, all he does is check his email and transcribe interviews.

From the growing fan discontent to the sporting luminaries offering advice to and assessment of the Redskins, silence on the coach's status then a sudden endorsement more than a week after anonymous players had asked for it in the press, that selfsame endorsement coming right before another dreadful loss, this time to the Eagles.

Fan confusion and sadness turned predictably to anger and the paying customers at Redskins Stadium began showing it, in the stadium, in earnest, on Monday night.

And as an organization, the Redskins chose not to grin and bear it, rather they chose to fight back. Against their customers, the ones that even as this great and revered team is collapsing harder and faster than the Hindenburg, still chose to spend their Monday night and their money on the Redskins.

Overnight the stadum policy on fans displaying signs changed, from a decade old policy permitting non profane signs that do not obstruct stadium signage to a one hundred percent ban. Nothing. Not signs of encouragement, not the D plus fence, not signs poking fun at the owner and the team, not even signs wishing a husband stationed in Afghanistan and possibly watching the game across the world in Forward Operating Base Thisfuckingsucks hello and I love you and we miss you.

Inside the stadium signs were literally being torn from hands and stomped on, ripped up and tossed over the rail into the concourse tunnel. I was at the Monday night game and at the end, as nearly all Redskins fans had headed for the door a lone Eagles fan stood up near my section 125 with the classic Next On SportsCenter sign, the same kind you have seen at sporting events for 20 years, even at the very end of the game stadium security would not tolerate it.

To make matters worse, a lot worse, the team was policing clothing choices as well and messages not deemed positive enough were censored, there is more than one story circulating about fans being confronted and forced to remove shirts, turn them inside out or leave, with the threat of arrest and the suspension of season tickets in the balance.

Dan references one such story here, and check the second comment on this post, it is a story submitted as a comment by a reader. Later Dan used an announcement by the team that non profane shirts regardless of message are permitted at Redskins Stadium to highlight other stories of fans being hassled for their clothing choices. The team went on to blame overzealous stadium security for any transgressions, so sorry now chin up old chap. I think someone's nose is getting long.

Circling back to the signs issue and showing what a bunch of tone deaf dumbasses the guys that run the team are, the team actually said, actually tried to pass off a story about homemade signs poking fans in the head and that being a safety issue and that signs obstruct fan views. They actually said that!

If anyone can tell me of a time you saw a fellow game goer get hurt by the sharp corners of a homemade sign or of a time when a homemade sign was such a hassle when hoisted by someone in front of you that it ruined your gameday experience, please email me or drop a comment.

So not only was that explanation bullshit on its face, plain and simple, wise emailers alerted Steinberg that not only were retracting scroll GEICO Redskins signs present at the game, THEY WERE BEING GIVEN OUT BY THE TEAM! These are marketing toys with hard plastic pointy corners that scroll open. Like something you could poke someone with.

And the towels, the fucking Redskins towels, I grabbed two, one for each of my older kids and had to do it stealthily because they would not give one to my game partner who was in an Eagles jersey which is just asinine, he paid for his ticket too and should be entitled to schwag, I have been to every Redskins game in Philadelphia for a decade and when I roll in wearing my Santana Moss jersey they give me the towel or the gamecard the same as everyone else.

You want to know a hassle that made my game experience unpleasant? The first five times the lady in front of me whipped me in the face with her Redskins towel I ignored it, then for the rest of the game every time she was on her feet I had to put my hand up over her head so she would not whip me with it. There is a reason we do not have stupid traditions like waving towels.

Attacking the fans never works, there are many more of them than you and they will harangue you until you simply realize the only way to get through this time if you are inside the bunker is to shut the fuck up and let it pass, even if that takes a year.

At the same time the team as an organization opened a second front, this one against the media, in particular the Washington Post, the flagship chronicle of the Redskins now for seventy years. In a Monday front page piece on anecdotal evidence of declining Redskins fan loyalty in the region, Redskins general counsel and chief operating officer David Donovan was quoted thusly:

I think the relentless negative coverage in the Washington Post is a real difference from previous years. But in terms of the way our actual fans are behaving, we don't see any difference.

Laughable. But wait it gets better. In a radio interview last week with Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise, the same David Donovan, obviously sent out as an attack dog proxy for Dan Snyder, said the Washington Post is just out to sell newspapers which is why negative stories appear in the paper every day and that the paper treats sports like politics, whatever that means. He even channeled Don Rumsfeld when discussing the notion that there was one or two t-shirt incidents and that by the time they are repeated it has become hundreds of incidents.

You may remember as the Iraq National Museum was being sacked at the outset of the Iraq invasion Don opined that we were not in fact seeing looters openly come out of the museum again and again with new artifacts but rather that we were seeing video of a single vase being stolen again and again to the point where we came to believe there were hundreds of artifacts being looted. Which of course there were. It should be noted that Vinny Cerrato himself channeled Don Rumsfeld just two weeks ago.

So I have no doubt in my mind that team management thinks Dan Steinberg and all of his harsh coverage is the problem, not even thinking for a moment that poor performance on the field followed by poor management execution in a town full of smart football fans is what initiated the scrutiny of coverage in the first place. If harsh coverage were not permitted, would the Redskins ever have motivation to improve?

And to add injury to insult, the team has banned media interviews with fans on stadium property, specifically on camera interviews involving trucks of some sort because they tie up traffic, so in other news the team is now all concerned about traffic.

It is the most absurd notion that the Washington Post or any media outlet, including this one wants to see the Redskins go under or be bad. When the team is good the coverage is good. Anyone else remember the Bandwagon and the breathless coverage of this team in the really good Joe Gibbs years? When the team is medium, as it was for most of Norval Turner's tenure, the coverage is medium and when the team sucks the coverage is harsh, HEY YOU GUYS THE COVERAGE FOLLOWS THE PERFORMANCE AND THE FAN REACTION TO THAT PERFORMANCE! REDSKINS FANS HAVE VERY HIGH EXPECTATIONS AND ARE FED UP WITH POOR MANAGEMENT OF THE TEAM!

If you want a quick path to intense scrutiny of coverage, just keep sucking, keep abusing fans and the media and keep not being able to keep your stories straight on the rules and let's see what happens.

A friend pointed me to a New Yorker piece on the Redskins from Monday, written by a columnist there who grew up a Redskins fan but has given up his season tickets, he wins the prize for most far out there metaphor, I leave you with it and no further comment:

The [problem the fans have] is not the team’s performance on the field, dismal as that is. It is the culture created by the owner—one of greed, expediency, and mean-spiritedness. The general atmosphere around the team suggests Zimbabwe—a failed state, an intractable dictator, and an impotent and suffering populace.

Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato: AP photo from here.

If the Redskins Were a Comedy Sketch

No not that Sherman, the other one

With apologies for missing this in time for Monday's game, I present Danny Rouhier's week six video, the perils of playcalling in which Danny gets demoted from his own video channel.

This sad sad time in Redskinsland is generating some great content. Let us enjoy it.

YouTube embed from here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Found Someone Else Who's Still High on Jason Campbell

And he's not a Redskins fan

Someone is imagining Jason Campbell as a starting quarterback next season and it is a Seahawks blogger.

John Morgan of Field Gulls, the SBN Seattle NFL entry, wrote a post yesterday that trended on my Redskins Twitter feed today, it is one of the better and more objective assessments of Jason Campbell I have seen, go read it to understand the context of the following:

1. I am a hopeless Jason Campbell homer, to the point perhaps of losing perspective, I believe he is not even close to the problem this season and I still firmly believe he has the tools to be good enough to win and I hope he sticks around. More and more I think he will not, he is likely to get swept up in the turnover this offseason and judging from how few people I can convince at this point that Jason is actually having a good season, the public perception is turning against him, and it will become another team's gain.

2. Jason's passer rating for the Eagles game was 91, above both his season and career average. Jason's passer rating has gone up every year.

3. It became public knowledge that Jason is not allowed to call audibles in certain situations after game two against the Rams. The Washington Post story on that is here.

4. Either in response to that story becoming public or as a matter of game planning or situation, Jason had the freedom to call plays at the end of the following game three against the Lions. He appeared to botch hand signals on one play and it was caught on TV. I chronicled it with screenshots here:

Washington's loss in the offseason could be Seattle's gain

Jason Campbell: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP photo from here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This One Was For The Streak

Heading in the wrong direction at a high rate of speed

Takeaway Drill: A flop in all three phases of the game; no time for the quarterback to throw, no room to run; asleep at the wheel on defense; time for a new punt returner and I mean like now. The Redskins fell off a cliff last night.

Quick jump to

Monday Walkthrough :: Soapbox :: Chattering Class :: Omnibus Spotlights :: Recaps and Stats


Monday Tuesday Walkthrough: Through thick and thin The Streak continues as lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery and I sit through a miserable game, our 20th of the past 21 Redskins-Eagles games played anywhere and my 18th straight as the Eagles exploit the laughably bad Redskins 27-17 to drop the Redskins to 2-5 heading into the bye week; the only people in the stadium shouting Bingo! were DeSean Jackson and Will Witherspoon.

The Redskins won the toss and elected to defer, the Eagles took the opening kickoff to start the first quarter, Philadelphia's first possession starts with a Wildcat play, four plays later DeSean Jackson takes the end around left side for 78 yards for a touchdown and the Eagles take a very early 7-0 lead. Washington's first possession starts with two catches by Chris Cooley, two plays later Jason Campbell fumbles for the ninth time this season but recovers and the Redskins are punting. The Eagles second possession is moving right along, on the sixth play of this drive London Fletcher's knee comes in contact with Brian Westbrook's head and the game is suspended for nearly ten minutes as they look at him, Brian eventually gets up and walks off on his own power, that drive ends three plays later as the Eagles punt. The Redskins get the ball for the second time, the Eagles give Washington a penalty first down and the Redskins return the favor with three incomplete passes and the Redskins are punting. Philadelphia gets the ball for the third time, it is a four and out and the Eagles punt. Redskins get the ball for the third time, on second and eight deep in their own territory, Eagles safety Quentin Mikell blitzes and gets a hand on the ball, it bops up in the air, linebacker Will Witherspoon comes down with it and waltzes ten yards for the defensive score, Eagles take a 14-0 lead. Washington gets the ball right back, their fourth possession, two Clinton Portis runs and the quarter is over with the Eagles leading 14-0. [Quarterly reports: Washington Post :: Washington Times :: Official Redskins Blog]

The Redskins continue their fourth possession to start the second quarter, on the first play, a Redskins first down, linebacker Will Witherspoon sacks Jason Campbell who loses the ball, Will's big play teammate from the pick six safety Quentin Mikell recovers it, Eagles ball. Philadelphia takes the ball for the fourth time in Washington territory, the Eagles move eight yards in three plays before kicking a 47 yard field goal and now the Eagles are leading 17-0. Washington's fifth possession starts with an officiating mixup, and the Redskins mysteriously are able to move the ball, on three runs, a quarterback scramble and three passes and the Redskins are in second and goal, from the shotgun Jason Campbell finds Devin Thomas to the right for a touchdown and the Redskins cut the Eagles lead to 17-7. The Eagles get the ball for the fifth time, a three and out and, and, and Antwaan Randle El muffs the punt catch and the Eagles recover. Philadelphia moves straight from their fifth to their sixth drive deep in Redskins territory, the Washington defense holds Philadelphia to three plays and the Eagles are kicking a 44 yard field goal to push their lead to 20-7. Washington gets the ball for the sixth time, a miserable three and out capped by a six yard sack on third down and the Redskins are punting. The Eagles get the ball for the seventh time with under three minutes left in the half and are getting manhandled by the Washington defense, a false start, a negative passing yards catch and a four yard sack and the Eagles are in third and 22, just then Donovan McNabb cues up a 57 yard pass deep left to DeSean Jackson, totally abusing a Redskins coverage breakdown for a touchdown, and the Eagles are leading 27-7. The Redskins get the ball for the seventh time and manage to run eight plays a minute ten including a third and sixteen to Fred Davis before Shaun Suisham is kicking a 47 yard field goal to bring the Redskins to within 27-10 Eagles. The Redskins kick the ball off but time runs out before the offense can take the field and the half ends with the Eagles leading 27-10. [Quarterly reports: Washington Post :: Washington Times :: Official Redskins Blog]

The Redskins get the ball to start the third quarter, Washington's eight possession, there is a Santana Moss sighting but this drive ends with a five yard route to Mike Sellers on third and sixteen and the Redskins are punting. The Eagles get the ball for the eighth time, Andre Carter sacks Donovan McNabb on second down, Leshon McCoy almost gets it all back and the Eagles are punting. Washington's ninth possession starts with Santana Moss taking the punt but it does not matter as a thirteen yard sack puts the Redskins behind the curve and the Redskins are punting. The Eagles get the ball for the ninth time, they move 42 yards on seven hard fought plays but punt. Washington gets the ball for the tenth time, a smorgasbord of teeny tiny plus one big helping of Fred Davis and p-p-p-punt. Philadelphia gets the ball for the tenth time, one run for no gain and the third quarter ends with the score unchanged at 27-10 Eagles. [Quarterly reports: Washington Post :: Washington Times :: No Official Redskins Blog entry]

The Eagles continue their tenth drive into the fourth quarter, a continuation of what would become a three and out. Washington gets the ball for the eleventh time in great field position... then Jason Campbell gets sacked for the sixth and final time, out of field goal range and punter Hunter the Punter Smith pooch punts for a whole ten yards net. Philadelphia gets the ball for the eleventh time, the Washington defense holds solid, featuring a ten yard sack by Albert Haynesworth on third and nine at midfield and the Eagles are punting, they still have scored no points in the second half. The Redskins get the ball for the twelfth time, with a new left tackle the Redskins drive all the way down to the Philadelphia four yard line before center Casey Rabach snaps the ball to no one which is also known as a fumble and the Eagles recover. Philadelphia's twelfth possession is mainly two holding calls on Eagles guard Todd Herremans who is terrified of Albert Haynesworth, combined with timeouts and only 33 seconds come off the clock. The Redskins get the ball for the thirteenth and final time with 3:56 left to score 17 points with one timeout left, Jason Campbell can barely keep his head on, the Eagles give a lot on defense and Fred Davis catches a one yard touchdown pass to bring the Redskins to within ten points, 27-17 Eagles. The Redskins line up for an onsides kick, the Eagles recover and it is victory formation, Eagles win 27-17. [Quarterly reports: Washington Post :: Washington Times :: Official Redskins Blog]


Soapbox: Well. What to say about this. Four turnovers. The Eagles defense scored no points in the second half. Neither did the Eagles offense. The Redskins offensive line was abused all game, there was no measurable ground component to the Redskins attack and only with the essence of desperation did Jason Campbell get anything done. And with a new playcaller the Redskins still scored about the same number of points they always do, so now we have seen a limited sample of different quarterback play when Jason Campbell was benched in the Chiefs game and not a whole game with Jim Zorn not calling plays and it all kind of looks the same.

To add injury to insult, tight end Chris Cooley, Jason Campbell's favoritest target, broke his ankle and is likely gone for the season.

For every great play there was a dud, Devin Thomas catching a touchdown and then letting an easy pass doink off his hands that could easily have been intercepted.

Tight end Fred Davis, taking on a heavy load replacing Chris Cooley on short notice and acquitting himself with eight catches for 78 yards and garbage touchdown, but getting blowed up at the line every time he was asked to block.

The offensive line, sadly overmatched and doing their best and still making things worse when center Casey Rabach snaps the ball to no one, resulting in a turnover.

And the five plays, the five plays we wish we could have back, see Omnibus below for the list, Carlos Rogers was directly implicated in two of them, so far his contract year is not going so hot.

The defensive box played a good game, the Eagles got no running game going and the wildcat and Michael Vick drawn up quarterback runs went nowhere. But the edges, the cornerbacks seemed once again to be playing soft and letting the Philadelphia receivers have their way.

The playcalling seemed to be more or less the same, in fairness it is hard to judge the freshness of the playcalling when a team not know for scoring in bunches gets down 27-7 in the second quarter. Does not take an offensive consultant to figure out passing will be the call of the day.

Despite the fumble, the botched snap and the tipped interception, Jason Campbell was not the problem today, a lesser quarterback would have withered under the relentless pass rush and the inferior offensive line. JASON CAMPBELL IS NOT THE PROBLEM ON THIS TEAM, PLEASE PEOPLE I AM GETTING TIRED OF SAYING IT.

And here is a little tidbit, after looking at the swiss cheese that the first five games of the season was supposed to be, shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato still looked at the Redskins team and thought they would be 3-3 and not 2-5. At this point everyone is trying to cover their ass.

And we hit the bye, will this mean a week off to rejuvenate and see the forest for the trees? Or will it mean bye, as in bye bye 2009 season?


Chattering Class: Mike Wise at the Washington Post thinks the Redskins have sunkl to the level of a bad reality TV show where the particiapants are all so pathetic they make us feel good about our own lives.

Michael Wilbon, also at the Washington Post, writes that this team just needs a break, to get the hell out of dodge. That will be good for everyone that gets paid to do this. Sadly though the problems will all still be here when they get back, and there are no easy answers.

David Elfin at the Washington Times grades the game gives the team two Cs, three Ds and a D+.

Bob Ford at the Philadelphia Inquirer:

In the burgundy and gold henhouse, the coach quacks, the fans boo and go home, and even struggling teams can leave feeling a little better about themselves.


Omnibus: Before the game we were treated to the Ring of Fame induction of former Redskins and Eagles kick returner and punt returner Brian Mitchell, who has cultivated a high media profile in Washington and is a vocal critic of the Redskins, how they have been managed and at times how today's players carry themselves. Brian played for the Redskins from 1990 to 1999 and for the Eagles from 2000 to 2002, Brian has more kick return yards than anyone in NFL history, has more punt return yards than anyone in NFL history and has more return touchdowns with thirteen than anyone in NFL history. His total NFL yardage is second only to Jerry Rice. Brian should be a lock for the NFL Hall of Fame. It was a bit disappointing that this ceremony was crammed into the pregame and not saved for halftime. I also attended the rain soaked game twelve last season against the Giants when Sean Taylor was inducted in to the Ring and they also did that one in the pregame so I guess that is how they do these things.

Broadcasters: This being Monday Night Football we get Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and putative next Redskins head coach Jon Gruden.

Uniform watch: The Redskins took the field in the preferred home uniform of white jersey and burgundy pants.

Five plays that we wish we could have back: The DeSean Jackson end around in the Eagles first drive, the Will Witherspoon pick six on the Redskins third drive, the Will Witherspoon sack fumble of Jason Campbell in the Redskins fourth drive, the Antwaan Randle El muffed punt fumble deep in Washington territory after the Eagles fifth possession and the DeSean Jackson 57 yard touchdown in the Eagles seventh drive, second quarter.

Eagles started in the wildcat and went to it four times for six yards. Folks I am telling you this is a gimmick, at least in the NFC Beast. This river don't go nowhere. There were two more direct snappish plays, one in the third quarter and one in the fourth, to Michael Vick who took the ball and ran around the end for a total of zero yards, those were not technically wildcat plays as there was not a quarterback lined up at another position.

On the DeSean Jackson end around touchdown on the Eagles first possession, safety LaRon Landry was playing too close to the line and was behind the play from the start, then downfield cornerback Carlos Rogers waled right into the block by receiver Jeremy Maclin. Poor.

Statflash: Andy Reid is the most throwinest head coach in NFL history, of all head coaches with 100 or more games coached, Andy's teams pass 58.8% of the time and run 41.2% of the time. That's just… wow.

The collision between London Fletcher's knee and Brian Westbrook's head in the Eagles' second possession did not look serious at the time, I was at the game and a hush came over the stadium, Brian was down for some time and at one point his brother, Redskins cornerback Byron Westbrook was on the field with a concerned disposition. Brian eventually got off the field on his own power but did not return per NFL concussion rules.

The NFL Game Rewind feed skipped over the Jason Campbell sack fumble in the Redskins fourth drive, second quarter, can anyone tell me if it was missed in the ESPN broadcast? Shame on them for missing a play. Also, at some point in the Redskins fourth possession, Chris Cooley injured his ankle running a route and banging on a defender, the NFL Game Rewind broadcast did not show them stopping the game to get Chris off the field and did not show footage of him being carted off the field until the next Redskins possession. There is also no mention of the Cooley injury in the NFL play by play. Sloppy.

To start the Redskins fifth possession, second quarter, Eagles rookie cornerback and former Virginia Tech Hokie Macho Harris committed a block in the back, the call initially went against the Redskins number 35, who is new tailback Quentin Ganther and was inactive, the teams lined up after the penalty call, then the officials blew the play dead and announced the penalty was actually on the Eagles and the game paused as they reset the down and distance, the result of the change was 45 yards of field position in favor of the Redskins. Washington wound up scoring a touchdown on this drive.

Antwaan Randle El was just awful on punt returns, as I measured it in this game he made no less than five errors: three fair catches inside the fifteen yard line, the muffed catch that was recovered by Philadelphia and fielding a punt cleanly inside the five yard line that led to his being tackled inside the twenty. The guy needs to be replaced on punt coverage.

Just as the Donovan McNabb was poised to toss a 57 yard pass to DeSean Jackson on third and 22 in the Eagles seventh drive, second quarter, Mike Tirico in the booth reminded us for the second time at the Eagles had not converted a third and ten or longer all season through six plus games. Needles to say, the very next play that stat was retired as the Eagles scored their decisive and final points of the game. They did not score at all in the second half.

That aforementioned 57 yard touchdown pass in the Eagles seventh drive to end the half by the way, was mostly on Carlos Rogers for letting DeSean Jackson get behind him in the zone, Chris Horton contributed to the play by not providing Carlos help over the top.

The Redskins somehow managed to put together a good hurry up drive at the end of the first half, Jason Campbell, Fred Davis, Antwaan Randle El and Ladell Betts made good plays, Stephon Heyer made a tough to get mad at hold on Trent Cole and Devin Thomas, well after catching a touchdown earlier in the half, lazily let a pass bounce off his hands and up into the air where it could have been intercepted. That drive ended with the Redskins closing to

In the third quarter, Eagles ninth possession, the camera cut to Albert Haynesworth on the sideline, taking his union mandated 20 minutes smoke break. Dude has a great agent.

In the Redskins eleventh drive, fourth quarter, replacement tight end Fred Davis was simply abused by Trent Cole for the sack, with Chris Cooley out the Eagles exposed Fred's blocking weakness. Two drives later the same thing happened with Chris Clemons, just abused Fred Davis as he was lined up next to right tackle Mike Williams. No chance of Fred surviving as a replacement to Chris Cooley without being able to block.

As the Redskins offense took the field for the twelfth time, fourth quarter, Stephon Heyer was out at left tackle and newly signed Levi Jones was in, the Redskins moved all the way to the Philadelphia four yard line before center Casey Rabach snapped the ball prematurely to no one, it is recovered by the Eagles.


Shooter: Quarterback Jason Campbell was battered and sacked six times behind a makeshift offensive line, albeit one that started with the same lineup for a second week in a row, Jason was a very respectable 29 of 43 for 284 yards, two touchdowns and an interception that was batted and returned for a touchdown really because of poor blocking. As the Redskins tried to dig themselves out of a 17-0, then 27-7 hole the Redskins went to the air, there were only fifteen rushing attempts all game, and Jason once again proved he was not the problem with a 91.6 passer rating for the game, above his 2009 and career averages. I am beginning to get melancholy about Jason because I am increasingly certain Jason will be gone after this season, either scapegoated directly or swept up in offseason upheaval.

Fat Contract Albert: Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth played a solid game and was a factor at the end with a sack of Donovan McNabb and forcing Eagles left guard Todd Herremans into two fourth quarter holding penalties.

OH CRAPPO: A quiet game for rookie hybrid defensive endbacker Brian Orakpo, two tackles.


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

Next up, the Redskins get a much needed week off to go to their rooms and think about what they have done through seven games, then they come back to visit the Atlanta Falcons, cornerback DeAngelo Hall's former team and a franchise that is improving with quarterback Matt Ryan and their own second year coach in Mike Smith. The Redskins will need to overachieve in a major way to win this game.

Jason Campbell being sacked by Trent Cole: AP photo from here. DeAngelo Hall with the Falcons in 2007 when he was fined for displaying a message of support for his former teammate Michal Vick: Agence France-Presse from here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Game 7: Redskins (2-4) vs. Eagles (3-2)


Out of the box: The big day is here, time to bang old rust and dust off the Redskins new offense and don't forget the Geritol as the Eagles come to Washington for Monday Night Football, 8:30 pm on ESPN, no dress rehearsals on this stage.

Quick jump to

The Story So Far :: Curly R Aside :: Oppo Research :: Trainer's Table Gameplan :: My Take in 60 Words or Less :: Preview Generalia

The story so far: Mercy.

Has there ever been a week as eventful as this one for the Redskins in October? Jim Zorn stripped of playcalling duties and Vinny Cerrato handing them to Sherman Lewis. The decision to route playcalls from Sherman Lewis to coach Zorn to the quarterback, then the decision not to put the head coach in the loop and instead route the calls through offensive coordinator Sherman Smith (ibid.).

Could we stop here a moment to remember that Jim Zorn was first hired to be offensive coordinator, the guy that calls plays? And just as his ascent to the head coaching position came in stages, so too does his descent to ex-Redskins coach.

Although coach Zorn will no longer get to call plays, likely the facet of the game where he thinks he can have the largest impact, for better or for worse, he still gets to pick the starting quarterback, and decided on Jason Campbell who by the way is having a career year, his passer rating has gone up every year he has been a pro.

Meanwhle tailback Clinton Portis joined the chorus of Redskins players that think, that actually believe the media is the problem with their performance this season. Or is it perhaps a problem with the perception of Washington's performance this season? Does the team really want or realistically expect rosy coverage of a big fat smelly turd?

In other player news we also said what is likely the last goodbye to tailback Marcus Mason (op. cit.), a casualty of the need for someone to go in the aftermath of the Chiefs debacle. The team replaced Marcus with 25 year old Quentin Ganther, late of Tennessee and a guy I have never heard of. Thank you for the training camp excitement Marcus, I still think you would have been good for this team.

And outside the rainy windowsills of Ashburn, Washington still seethes, wondering in impotent rage how people with nothing to do IN LIFE but manage a football team could screw it up so bad. At this point there are high school teams better managed than the Redskins. The answer remains so obvious and yet so far away, that owner Dan Snyder needs to hire a detached general manager and let that person run the football team.

What does it all add up to? A fan base that is fleeing for more engaging fall activities.


Curly R aside: I agree with Ron Jaworski, the playcalling is not the problem, Jim Zorn may have had a hard time adjusting to changing conditions since the 6-2 start to last season and needs to look at his habits, and coach Zorn has game management problems but so does Andy Reid and that team works around it. Switching from Jim Zorn calling the plays to a complete stranger can lead to complete FAIL, your mileage may vary.

Curly R aside continues: And speaking of that Chiefs game, when exactly did coach Zorn make the decision to bench Jason Campbell? At the postgame press conference coach Zorn said he made the decision late in the second quarter, giving Jason one more drive to make something happen. Unnamed players though contradict that position, saying that coach Zorn first mentioned it in the first quarter (op. cit.). I guess it does not really matter and the notion may have surfaced before it became an idea. With so much significance attached to the benching of a starting NFL quarterback inquiring minds want to know.


Oppo research: It is the Eagles, what do you need to know? Donovan McNabb's performance continues to be a concern, keeping the succession plan from Dono to ??? in the headlines. On the ground Brian Westbrook seems not to be himself any longer, he is still a workhorse, he has been the thing that kills the Redskins, if he is losing it that is good for Washington. For this week the Eagles are down two linebackers, that should open underneath routes, Wilbert Montgomery just gave Sherman Lewis some free advice: if Jeremiah Trotter is the field then Jason Campbell should be audibling into a tight end drag route.


Trainer's table: Two weeks after his injury in game five against the Panthers and left tackle Chris Samuels still had not seen the specialists he needs to assess the severity of his neck injury and whether the stenosis condition he has will affect his career, by Wednesday he had finally gone out to California to see someone. More and more it is looking like Chris will be done for the year and likely for a career. The search for a starting quality left tackle begins, the candidates on roster now are Stephon Heyer and 30 year old Levi Jones (ibid., op. cit.), who missed six games last year in Cincinnati with injuries, I like those options less and less.

Tailback Clinton Portis missed Wednesday practice with a variety of ailments in his right leg (ibid.), he is expected to go tonight.

Punter Hunter the Punter Smith is ready to come back and become the one good player we have, as such rent a punter Glenn Pakulak was released (ibid.).


Gameplan: The Eagles will be pissed after losing to the Raiders last week and this will be Phildelphia's second road game in a row, these two teams know each other very well. The Redskins are going to try and do something, I just do not know what yet. Sherman Lewis, meet the Philadelphia Eagles.


My take in 60 words or less: I am not sure if I have ever been less motivated to attend a Redskins game. This one is for the streak.


Washington Post interactive gameday, keys to the game, key matchups, Redskins roster. SkinsCast weather, fifties and little chance of rain, it will be a good night to sit in the stands and wear black. Broadcast coverage is national, this is Monday Night Football bitches.

Other previews: Rich Tandler at Real Redskins, Mark Newgent at Redskins Examiner, both of whom I will share a beverage with before the game. The guys over at asked me and Derek Sarley from IgglesBlog to weigh in on this game with the point spread in mind, in case you were wondering the consensus is Washington plus seven, yes the Redskins are a home dog tonight.

Enjoy the game, such as it is, I will be at the stadium tonight with lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery, tonight will be our 20th of the past 21 Redskins-Eagles games regardless of venue, a streak covering eleven years, three stadiums and five Redskins head coaches. This will be my 18th straight Redskins-Eagles game.

This is a gameday open thread.

NFL helmet logos from here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Can Someone Please Get Me a Fullback That Can Block

If I were tailback Clinton Portis I would be pissed too. Fullback Mike Sellers has fucked up some pretty important plays so far this season, and then for Mike to be a dick about it and blame the media? Mike, you have either fallen off the cliff skills wise or are feeling fat after getting paid or are not paying attention to what you are doing.

Whatever the problem it is costing the team in situations where the game turns.

Example one: Game three at Detroit

Scenario: First quarter, fourth and goal from the one yard line, Washington needs one yard for a touchdown, stretch play left, Mike Sellers is Clinton Portis' lead blocker. Instead of leading Clinton through the hole and clearing a path Mike, at right in image above, casually runs down the line touching each Detroit defender on the helmet going duck, duck, duck,... meanwhile Clinton cuts it upfield for the end zone and with no helper block his goose is cooked. See the play here.

Outcome: Turnover on downs, Redskins go on to lose the game by five points, 19-14 to the previously winless since 2007 Lions.

Example two: Game five at Carolina

Scenario: Second quarter, second and eight from the Washington three yard line, Carolina had just gone for it on fourth and goal from the Washington one and not made it, on first down Jason Campbell had dived for two yards, second down was off tackle right to Clinton Portis, instead of taking on the lead defender coming through the hole, Mike Sellers, at bottom left above, is looking to take on the second defender as Julius Peppers who pushed Stephon Heyer aside like a little kid wrecks Clinton Portis in the end zone. See the play here.

Outcome: Safety, two points awarded to Carolina, Washington went on to lose the game by three points, 20-17 to the previously winless Panthers.

Example three: Game six versus Kansas City

Scenario: Third quarter, first and ten at the Redskins twelve yard line, Clinton Portis busts a long one through left guard for 78 yards, Mike Sellers leads through the hole and makes a great block on Chiefs linebacker Corey Mays at the second level they run together downfield, Mike pushes back safety Mike Brown but does not knock him down, then as Clinton runs out of room near the sideline near the goal line Mike Sellers makes a weak dive to knock Mike Brown out of the way and falls down, Mike Brown easily evades Mike Sellers and tackles Clinton at the ten yard line. If Mike Sellers had forced himself on Mike Brown instead of falling and hoping Mike Brown would wind up under him Clinton is in the end zone for a touchdown. See the play here.

Outcome: Three incomplete Todd Collins passes with goal to go and Shaun Suisham kicks a field goal, the Redskins would eventually lose to the previously winless Chiefs by eight points, 14-6.

Judging from what I am seeing Clinton was totally justified in requesting Mike be removed as Clinton's blocker in game four against Tampa Bay after the Detroit FAIL the week before and it was a prescient request as Mike would go on to make the other two blunders later. Clinton and Mike made up after the Tampa Bay game but that was before Mike let Clinton down on the safety against Carolina.

Then Mike decided it was the media's fault (op. cit.). Grow up dude, check the game tape.

Screencaps by me from NFL Game Rewind.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What A Jim Zorn Looks Like After You Cut Off Its Balls

The face of a man going through the motions

As I mentioned in the previous piece, I am sitting at home on a Saturday night drinking coffee and watching the Jim Zorn Show in between rewatching the Kansas City game for the as yet nonexistent gamewrap, I wanted to draw Redskins fan attention to the first thing I saw when I turned it on.

Here is the exchange:

Dan Hellie: Coach this may be an ignorant question but I just have to ask it because everybody's thinking, how can a guy, Sherman Lewis, who's only been here two and a half weeks or so possibly be able to call plays with an offense that he is not familiar with in terms of the personnel, it seems like it's going to be so difficult, you're going to have to be a huge part of that process.

Jim Zorn: [makes face you see above] Uh, we-we've been working all week, uh, just trying to gear up for that. It's going to very difficult. [pause] That's all I can tell you, it's going to be hard. [pause] And maybe he'll make it look easy.

The supposed vote of confidence means nothing. Coach Zorn's body language, the sagging face, a normally verbose and engaging Jim Zorn has fallen even past the talking points, when your offensive minded head coach's opinion on how the offense is going to run in the very next game is it's going to be difficult, it's going to be hard then he is lost.

Expect the players to follow.

Screencap of the Jimn Zorn Show by me.

Sending the Wrong Message Even in Licensing Agreements

Getting many opportunities this season

As I sit at home blogging on a Saturday night, oh life in the big time and I even have a cup of coffee, not whiskey (yet), the missus called from a friend's house to tell me the Jim Zorn Show was on so I moved into the back room to watch while I work.

The first thing I saw was the Redskins scratcher Virginia Lottery ad, you may have seen it, it features scenes from everyday life, waiting for a bus, the office breakroom, knitting on a park bench (?), actors portraying Redskins players suddenly appear in the shot and disrupt the action, the scene where the guy gets a sandwich out of the office fridge and Redskins number 38 runs in and steals it is pretty funny.

The ad closes with two young ladies sitting on a park bench, one is knitting which seems kind of nonsequitur and drops her ball of yarn, in flies a Redskins player to pounce on fumble, a referee appears in the park and whistles it Redskins yarnball.

I noted though, as you can see in the image above, that the player pouncing on the fumble is wearing number 88, a receiver number. By volume of opportunities a player wearing that number would be most likely to recover a fumble on offense, meaning the play started with Redskins possession and Jason Campbell, eight fumbles so far this season, coughed it up.

If the team had been thinking in script review they would have insisted a man mountain wearing a defensive lineman's number fall on the yarnball.

But it is good to see the fake Redskins have been practicing the fumble recovery drill, at least he did not get up and try to advance the yarnball and possibly fumble it again.

Enjoy your Saturday.

Screencap of Redskins Virginia Lottery ad by me.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Return of Joe Gibbs: DO NOT WANT

We really need you to be... there, for us.

Boy Redskinsland is really becoming more like Hollywood by the day if the measured lifecycle of a rumor is any indication.

Bit less than a week ago Rich Tandler opined that wearing black at games and boycotting merchandise were perhaps not as effective measures of protest than appealing to higher football power, possibly to include Joe Gibbs, the thought being that owner Dan Snyder has such deep respect for coach Gibbs that if Joe were to come to Dan for a sit down and tell him what he needed to do that Dan would become the obedient son and do it.

I disagreed with this notion on the grounds that Joe Gibbs was a million miles awat from the Redskins in his mind at this point in his life and besides, forcing Dan Snyder to hear boos every time he goes out for the figurative morning paper is a more populist solution than hoping for a proxy to bail us out.

But I have a deeper disagreement with the notion of Joe Gibbs returning, more on that in a moment, first the lifecycle of a Joe Gibbs rumor:

Yesterday morning published rumors started circulating that Joe Gibbs could come back to the Redskins as some sort of team president, either in an uber general managerish role or as a sort of head of search committee for a new general manager and or head coach. It was an intense day of rumor mongering with the Washington Post even getting hold of former Redskins glory days general manager Bobby Beathard who thinks coach Gibbs has the management skills to take on a senior operations role in Washington similar to that of Bill Parcells in Miami, Bill is over both Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland and coach Tony Soprano Sparano.

Barely two hours later Jason Reid at the Washington Post found a source close to coach Gibbs who doubted he would return to the team and I think that characterization is generous at best.

Within just another couple of hours everyone was repeating the WaPo story of doubt, Pro Football Talk, USA Today, the Washington Times and Washington Examiner, Mark Newgent's piece for the Examiner even quotes official Redskins media writer Larry Weisman as saying it is a no go.

Ok so that rumor was in and out in about two hours and has now enjoyed another 24 hours of stretch as dirty bloggers like myself and respectable journalists like John Keim find ways to keep it alive. The short life and intensity of this rumor is a sure sign of how bad things are in Washington and how hope is still barely alive, like Ted Williams in cryostorage.

Then why is Joe Gibbs running the team a bad idea? Three reasons:

1. The Bill Parcells model is too many cooks. Things are destined to go south in Miami, having a coach report to a general manager who in turn reports to Bill Parcells? The minute these guys stray from the Bill Parcells Way it will start to get uncomfortable in the halls, a guy like Bill is too rigid to let Tony Soprano Sparano and Jeff Ireland find their voices and paths to success, it will be Bill's way or the highway. It may never get to that point though as Bill usually walks away from a challenge these days.

Joe Gibbs may have the opposite tendency these days but it would create the same problem, coach Gibbs put together a coaching staff in his second tenure that was too large with too many voices and he assumed they would come together as professionals and respect the chain of command. That never really happened, even adults need marching orders and rules of engagement and Joe is not authoritarian enough any more to make that happen. He would be unable to moderate internal struggles and would ultimately come off weak, leading the owner right back into his usual decision making role.

2. We already did the team president thing with Joe Gibbs. Coach Gibbs was also team president in his second run with the team and was supposably in charge of all football operations. The fact that he was not was laughably obvious and I still persist that Joe Gibbs was paid five million dollars a year to take the fall for Dan Snyder's poor management, something Joe Gibbs did well, assuming responsibility time after time for poor quality of play, poor game management and lack of talent.

The dynamic between Joe Gibbs and Dan Snyder is already established and we would get nothing new; Dan is the owner who signs the checks and makes the decisions behind the scenes and Joe Gibbs is the guy that provides air cover for that owner. It was no doubt always unspoken in personnel meetings that no matter what Joe Gibbs had to say, at the end of the meeting everyone was coming to the owner's consensus because he was in charge no matter what the job description on the nameplate read. I will even bet Dan Snyder had some good despicable Napoleonic laughs to himself with his inner circle about how awesome it was that Joe Gibbs was working for the Redskins so Dan could finally fire Joe Gibbs if he really wanted.

3. As Ryan O'Halloran at the Washington Times wrote yesterday, personnel was never Joe Gibbs' strong suit (op. cit.). I hate to keep harping on it but Desmond Howard? Bobby Beathard had left Washington and the roster was starting to reflect Charley Casserly's infuence and Charley was more or less a pushover to Joe Gibbs who really wanted Desmond. The Redskins receivers were getting up there though age and injury was a much larger problem in other areas of the team and coach Gibbs influenced Charley to select Desmond over say, offensive tackles Bob Whitfield and Leon Searcy to rejuvenate what was an aging pair of tackles in Jim Lachey and Joe Jacoby at that point having eighteen years in the league between them. We all know how Desmond worked out, you can forgive the failure of Desmond, what is harder to forgive is that the team wasted a pick on a position it did not really need upgraded. Sound familiar?

Moving to Joe Gibbs' second tenure, he was nominally in charge of player selection though if you read the Washington Post's Lost Season series on the 5-11 2006 season then you see that hypothesis shot full of holes, Adam Archuleta, Brandon Lloyd, Christian Fauria, gack! And while the players the team drafted were generally good enough to keep, the offensive line was ignored in the upper rounds and the big coup was using a top ten pick to select a hard hitting rangey safety... when the team already had a hard hitting rangey safety selected with a top ten pick from just three years earlier.

And for the huddled masses waiting for Bobby Beathard to come back and save the day, forget about it, dude is 72 years old, even if the plan was just to bring him back for executive search I do not believe Bobby would want his name associated with what the Redskins have become.

Dan Snyder is on his own, there is no calvary coming.

Joe Gibbs: Getty Images from here.

An Old Pair of Levi's

Injuries and dissatisfaction

So the Redskins big move to address the deteriorating offensive line was to sign former Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Levi Jones, Levi was cut in May of this year and the team took the cap hit. Levi is a former first round pick and a seven year veteran, he was selected number ten overall in the 2002 draft and took the starting left tackle spot immediately for Cincinnati, starting 89 of a possible 112 games.

He signed a very Redskins like six year thirty million dollar contract extension in the 2006 offseason, knee and back injuries began to pile up and in the 2008 offseason Levi requested a trade from Cincinnati, as the team is wont to do it declined and Levi wound up starting ten games at left tackle.

In the 2009 draft Cincinnati selected University of Alabama tackle Andre Smith at number six overall, the team had planned to play Andre at right tackle but with Levi's injuries and dissatisfaction the team now projects Andre to play at left tackle once he gets back into game shape.

In August, nine weeks after releasing ten year Redskins right tackle Jon Jansen and right as former right tackle now current left tackle Stephon Heyer was undergoing an MRI on his knee, the Redskins expressed no interest in Levi Jones, head coach Jim Zorn even going so far as to say he was comfortable and the team was going with the guys they had.

So let us review: Cincinnati uses their top pick to select a tackle to anchor the offensive line. Faced with a happy dilemma, a surfeit of top drawer offensive linemen, the team releases Levi Jones figuring the new guy can replace him. The Redskins then pick up the guy Cincinnati released in the hopes that before the season ends he can do something to help the offensive line that is now in full decay from neglect.

I say again: the Redskins are now in the business of taking on the Bengals castoffs. The Bengals are managing succession along their offensive line better than the Redskins.

It should be noted that prior to the draft I was high on Andre Smith for the Redskins and while he may still have a long and great career at this point Washington did better in terms of production with Brian Orakpo.

Andre Smith was drafted number six overall in April, after looking like a stud at the University of Alabama all season he had a disappointing combine, there were questions about his conditioning and motivation. He was drafted primarily as a run blocking right tackle, he held out through camp and preseason then right after he signed he fractured his right foot in a non contact drill.

The team placed Andre on the physically unable to perform list and he missed the season opener. He was brought back to the regular roster by game two and has been inactive for every game so far this season.

So even without Andre the Bengals decided to move on without Levi.

Levi Jones in Bengals training camp: AP photo from here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kiddie Contract

So then I lay under the bus like this...

A little light has been shed on why things are happening they way they are this week and it has to do with verbiage in Redskins head coach Jim Zorn's contract, verbiage that no top drawer NFL coach would tolerate.

Brief review of timeline: Redskins lose to Chiefs, in the aftermath of the game Sunday night coach Zorn meets with shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato who suggests coach Zorn relinquish playcalling to lighten the heavy load of running the whole team. Coach Zorn does not disagree he is overburdened and agrees to turn playcalling duties over to a person to be determined later who turns out to be offensive consultant Sherman Lewis who has been out of football for five seasons and been with the team for less than three weeks.

Today's reporting reveals that in that meeting after the Chiefs game coach Zorn initially refused to concede then, and get this, the lawyers were right there with copies of coach Zorn's contract. It was pointed out to coach Zorn that his contract mandated compliance with the owner's requests, apparently any and all requests, even those pertaining to principle coaching duties.

Today's Washington Post story lightly references this interaction with the lawyers, some additional detail can be found in today's Washington Express, the tabloid daily I pick up on Metro, it is owned by the WaPo and runs mostly condensed WaPo content. There is no link to the Expressified version of the story and I wonder why it was not present in the WaPo full version. The link to today's Express issue in PDF is here, the story is on page 15. Here is the portion of the Express piece relevant to coach Zorn's contract:

Three sources said Zorn has told associates that before he left FedEx Field for home Sunday evening, he had discussions with Redskins laywers in addition to Vinny Cerrato, the team's executive vice president of football operations. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Zorn was told by the Redskins officials that he would be fired if he did not give up his play-calling responsibilities.

The lawyers, who the sources did not identify, produced Zorn's contract and reiterated to him that he had to do as Redskins owner Daniel Snyder wished. Through a team spokesman, Zorn and team officials declined to comment.

"They went to the point of pulling out his contract and said, 'You have to do whatever the owner tells you to do,'" [Hall of Fame receiver and coach Zorn's friend Steve] Largent told a Seattle radio station.

I presume one of the lawyers present for this interaction was David Donovan, the team's general counsel. There are a few takeaways from this story:

1. Redskins coaches should always be accompanied by their lawyers. If the team is going to pull horseshit like sic the lawyers after football games then coach Zorn should be represented as well.

2. The well is so polluted that one side of the arrangement is now talking through its attorneys.

3. Coach Zorn signed a really weak rookie coach contract if the owner has the ability to list the head coach's coaching responsibilities, dictate who has them and how the team is coached.

As I read on another blog today and cannot find the link to, Jim Zorn is a popular guy in the NFL, a lot of the guys he played with are still around in official capacities, a lot are in the NFL advocacy business and he has touched many current and former players. Dan Snyder is not popular. Although coach Zorn may not score another two million dollar per year deal in the near future, he will not hurt for work. So I hope this is coach Zorn sticking to his principles as his nuts get cut off again and again and not him desperately hanging for a legitimate firing so he can get paid.

Does anyone really think Mike Shanahan or Bill Cowher would accept this type of clause in his contract? Does anyone think these guys or any name brand NFL coach would want to come here, even if such a clause were not in his contract, after watching how this team has treated this coach on the way down to the gutter? Rich Tandler:

Players, coaches, scouts, and all other prospective employees will be considerably more difficult and more expensive to come by now that people know that the guy in charge left Jim Zorn twisting in the wind when Zorn was guilty of nothing more than being unable to coax any production out of an offense that had been left without a competent line due to the incompetence of Dan Snyder and his sidekick Vinny Cerrato.

You judge character by seeing how people treat those with no power over them. In this instance, Snyder is coming up way short.

Dan Snyder and Jim Zorn: Nick Wass / AP photo from here.

Repost: Bet John Disagrees

In honor of yesterday's long Washington Post profile on John Kent Cooke, the man who lost the Redskins to Dan Snyder a decade ago, Curly R went into the archives for our first ever repost, the story of the sale of the Redskins, originally published here on 21 December 2006, it is below in its entirety.

Curly R's comment on the WaPo profile will be published this afternoon. Enjoy this recap of the ugliness and shady dealings surrounding the sale of the Redskins.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Those were the days

Jack Kent Cooke, the Squire, the owner Redskins fans wish was still alive, is back in the news in a Marc Fisher column titled 'Fulfilling Lives Will Be Cooke's Enduring Legacy.' If you will recall, JKC died in 1997. He gave 50 million dollars in a trust to his son John Kent Cooke, some other nicks and nacks to people, but the bulk of his billion dollar fortune was bequeathed to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, an organization dedicated to bettering high academic achievers from lower income brackets in poverty-stricken areas such as Fairfax and Montgomery Counties. According to the foundation's website, up to 650 students a year are selected, with up to 50,000 dollars in scholarships and assistance granted per student, though the Marc Fisher piece pegs the number at about 15,000 dollars each.

Recall if you will the final days and aftermath of JKC's life. John Kent Cooke, JKC's only surviving son, toiled in relative anonymity as the president of the team, the operations guy. Bobby Beathard, then later Charley Casserly handled GM duties, and Joe Gibbs had a direct line with JKC, so John spent most of his time tending to the business of the franchise, making sure stuff got done. When JKC died, John announced his intent to keep the Redskins in the family.

But there was a problem. JKC was the owner of the team and spanking new stadium, and as such, they were his assets and they went into his estate, which was willed to the new foundation. The trustees of the estate had orders to sell the team to the highest bidder. With the new stadium doubling team revenue and boosting the team's profitability by a factor of ten, the Redskins were hot hot hot, and there was speculation the team could sell for twice the 450 million dollars that bought the new Cleveland Browns. JKC had only (only!) given son John 50 million dollars, not enough to buy the team.

The bidding started at 450 million, and eventually John put together a 680 million dollar offer. That was rejected by JKC's trustees, with whom John's relationship went south fast. The trustees, of which John was technically one, demanded final say on all decisions related to the team, everything from groundskeeping to office supplies to contract negotiations. John and Charley complained to the league that these non-football people did not have the health of the product in mind and could lead the team down a road that would take decades to recover from, so NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue stepped in and decreed John remain president of the team, retaining Charley and Norv Turner. It is in this tumultuous period that the Redskins lost Trent Green, to St. Louis.

It must have been hard for John not to think the father was punishing him from the grave, but JKC earned his money from scratch and I always thought this was meant by JKC to be John's test.

John upped his offer to 700 million dollars, but that was still not enough for the trustees. They were in love with developer Howard Milstein who, with his brother Edward and 'Bethesda businessman' Dan Snyder, put together an 800 million dollar offer which the trustees accepted.

Here is where this story gets hard to follow.

The league either actively wanted John Kent Cooke to have the team, or actively did not want Howard Milstein to have it. The JKC trustees approved Howard's offer, but the NFL Finance Committee, the body in charge of granting approval to team sales, waffled, then rejected it, nominally over concerns about how solid was the financing. The league then even took the public-pressure step of asking to 're-examine' John's bid, even as the JKC trustees were shaking hands and signing papers with Howard.

Howard eventually withdrew his offer in rage and disgust, and to add injury to insult, the league did not return his 30 million dollar application fee-deposit on the team, and this refusal was upheld in court (adding to the intrigue, Dan Snyder's portion of the deposit, 10 million, was refunded to Dan after the league accepted his bid).

Despite denials and no findings by the league (surprise the league found nothing in its investigation of itself), it was obvious to me at the time that Charley Casserly and John Kent Cooke ran interference with the league and persuaded the Finance Committee to reject the offer, with the idea being that John would be the last man standing, and the league would pocket 30 million from Howard. Was Howard blackballed by the fraternity of NFL owners, or was his bid really too debt-heavy, as was the official reaction from the NFL? Great NYT article on the aftermath of Howard's failed bid.

Then in swept Dan Snyder with his own 800 million dollar offer, essentially identical to Howard's only without Howard. It was strange because Dan had been quiet, like a little mouse as Howard's bid went down in flames. The trustees approved Dan's offer, and the NFL Finance Committee approved it. What did the fans get? After Giants owner Wellington Mara died last year, the NYT quoted Michael MacCambridge, author of NFL history tome America's Game:

It was clear to me that Mr. Mara viewed Daniel Snyder in roughly the same way that Frank Sinatra might have viewed Eminem

(You may remember Dan had TVs installed over the urinals in the owner's box at Redskins Stadium so he would not have to miss a play while recycling his juice box.)

John subsequently withdrew his offer and lived out a few years in Middleburg before slinking off to Bermuda with his 50 million, but not before buying a newpaper chain. He and Richie Petitbon now hang out at the Bitter Bitter Man's Club.

Always the pioneer, JKC will now forever be remembered for brigning Super Bowls to Washington, and now as the rich guy that wanted to give back to the community, and in the end, had the courage to help middle class white people.*


Everything you wanted to know about Jack Kent Cooke: Special Washington Post section (why doesn't this stuff appear in the Washington Post or Google searches? I came across this in an image search and followed it back). Another Washington Post special section on JKC. Wikipedia. JKC's will. Feel like reliving the tragicomedy of the NFL and John Kent Cooke sabotaging Howard Milstein's attempt to buy the team while minority partner Dan Snyder was oddly silent? Washington Post section of key stories on the sale of the team. Unfortunately, many of these links are long broken. Another special online section, looking like it has not been updated since about 1997.

* This link s the google image search for Jack Kent Cooke. Follow it and tell me what you see. Since he's been dead for almost ten years, there are fewer pictures of the man and more related to the JKC Foundation. The recipient students pictured in the first 5 pages of this search are overwhelminly white.

Interestingly, in the course of researching this piece, I came across an NYT piece on former NYC top cop and failed DHS Secretary nominee Bernie Kerik that ties into this story. After September 11, 2001, Anthony Bergamo, a vice chairman in Howard Milstein's real estate empire, at Bernie's request, donated an apartment overlooking the rubble as a place for weary police and firefighters to rest. Many involved in the recovery and cleanup simply refused to go home between shifts, and it was a gesture meant to show solidarity in the city. After the initial 24-hour cycle of effort slowed to a predictable pace, Bernie asked if he could rent it for himself, which brings into question in my mind his real motivation for securing the residence in the first place. I am sure when Howard's company agreed to rent it to Bernie, they were not thinking Bernie might use it as a loveshack where he could take his recently fired OJ=dollar signs anti-semite floozy Judith Regan and bang her out of sight of his wife and children, which is in fact what he did with it. What is the tie-in to this story? After the whole Redskins thing collapsed and Howard realized he not only was not getting the team but was not getting his 20 million dollars back, he sued John Kent Cooke, then already in Bermuda, for 100 million dollars. In an effort to get some incriminating evidence on John or Charley Casserly, Howard spent 6500 dollars sending Anthony Bergamo to Bermuda under an assumed name where he wore a wire and arranged to bump into John and Charley and try and get them to talk. Ultimately, Anthony got nothing and the lawsuit was tossed.

Jack Kent Cooke and Marlene Ramallo Cooke, April 9, 1992: AP photo
Joe Theismann, Jack Kent Cooke, John Riggins and Joe Gibbs after winning Super Bowl 17 and John Kent Cooke: Washington Post