Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ringing In the New Year

The more things change...

I hope everyone is in place to have a great New Year's Eve, we are down in Fredericksburg Virginia, home of lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery, we have celebrated New Year's Eve family style with the Wilbert Montgomerys every year but one since 2003, and as the wife reminded me, we were also together for New Year's Eve exactly ten years ago in 1999, when we all thought it might be the last night of our lives.

Happy New Year's yall.

Photo of Wilbert Montgomery and me by Mrs. Curly R

How To Kill the Rooney Rule - Part Two

If I interviewed this Cheeto could I count it?

No one was expecting the transition from Vinny Cerrato to Bruce Allen, it caught everyone by surprise. In the excited aftermath of the team hiring its first ever general manager under owner Dan Snyder details of how the team fulfilled the Rooney Rule were vague. Then we found out. The process is now repeating itself for the head coach, and the Rooney Rule is reduced to irrelevance. Curly R's two part series on the Rooney Rule's death at the hands of Dan Snyder continues.

Part One: The General Manager
Part Two: The Head Coach
Part Three: The Collateral Damage


How is this for a headline, New York Times style:

Rendered Moot
Pre-emptive interviews violate original intent

It seems a little over the top, but that is really what has happened here in a practical sense. Thanks to Dan Snyder we have an established precedent that pre emptive interviews for qualifying positions can be conducted prior to the position in question being open.

That these interviews can happen in secret or behind the scenes reduces the public pressure element of intent in the Rooney Rule; it was designed to force each and every team to include minorities in the staffing process so let me ask you this question:

If those minority candidates can be interviewed in secret before positions are open to ensure what some would call smooth transitions and others would call box checking and still others would call due diligence, if there is no public concurrent accounting of the candidates and interviews, does this push those candidates to the back of the bus?

I think it does. It has always been Curly R's position that the Rooney Rule has the potential to encourage a shameful brand of tokenism when teams in an otherwise free market know exactly what candidate they want to hire. I sympathize with Matt Millen, the original Rooney Rule violator in 2003 when he said he could not find a minority candidate to interview after asking five separate people. Reasonable people can disagree as to whether the Lions really tried to find someone, the fact is that they wanted Steve Mariucci whether Steve was white, black or purple.

That same offseason Cowboys owner Jerral W. Jones tried to reel in former Vikings coach Dennis Green for an interview that Dennis' friend and former Redskins offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye described as quote an act like [Jerral W. Jones] was in compliance [with the Rule] unquote.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't. If there are no mechanisms for waivers of the Rule or justification for variation, if there is just one rule and it will be applied no matter how ludicrous the interview, AND top shelf candidates like Dennis Green see right through the veil of tokenism and refuse to interview, then what is an owner to do?

Answer, lobby like hell and manage down to the barest legal compliance. Which is what Dan Snyder has done, and in so doing has destroyed the intent of the the Rule, rendering it moot. Which is a good thing, even if that destruction was executed in a terrible manner with the all the wrong motivations.

As far as the public record tells us, the team, the league and the Fritz Pollard Alliance, the body that regulates the implementation of the Rooney Rule, worked to approve the pre emptive interviews of current Redskins director of professional personnel Morocco Brown for the general manager position, and of defensive coordinator Greg Blache and secondary coach Jerry Gray for the head coach position.

The FPA approved of these interviews, believing the team's sincerity in offering these interviews. There appears to be plausible deniability all along the way. The team, whether Dan Snyder personally is irrelevant, spoke with the league, the league, in the form of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, asked FPA chairman John Wooten to look into Jerry Gray as a candidate, determine whether Jerry qualified in the eyes of the Rule, and whether the Redskins' process could be considered compliant.

Wooten validated it all.

Then the NFL, after ostensibly initiating the discussion with the FPA, beyond some hilarious double speak refused to comment further (op. cit.), the NFL's own story on Jerry Gray's interview confirmation is primarily made up of an Associated Press report, they refused to go on record with the internals of the story, even though the league itself was crucial to the process of validating a pre emptive interview.

For the team's part, Dan Snyder and his people have plausible deniability as well (ibid.), they never had direct contact and therefore influence over the FPA decision to validate the process, so Dan's hands are clean in all this.

And so that's it. Find a guy that meets the minimum requirement, give him a pre emptive interview in secret before the job is open, get it rubber stamped and you are done, fire your old guy and hire your new guy, stay on schedule with good PR and never be accountable in public for promoting minority hiring or for violating the Rule. The Fritz Pollard Alliance itself, whether intentionally or by accident, has just rendered the rule completely irrelevant.

Except that is not it, there is human toll in this: Redskins secondary coach Jerry Gray. Curly R's How To Kill the Rooney Rule concludes tomorrow with Part Three, The Collateral Damage.

Dan Snyder: Uncredited image from here via here.

Department of Bad News: Mike Williams


The Redskins placed their twelfth and hopefully final player on injured reserve yesterday, right tackle former 400 pound man Mike Williams tore foot muscles near his toe in the first half of the game fifteen loss versus the Cowboys, Mike was placed on the season ending list at the same time as teammate safety Reed Doughty, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the same game. To take Mike's and Reed's roster spots the team signed a tailback and a cornerback.

In a wide ranging and at times downright baffling April pre draft radio interview on ESPravda 980 with owner Dan Snyder, then shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato and head coach Jim Zorn, the Redskins announced they had signed a player but were unable to announce who the player actually was. We were told it was a right tackle, which would become more germane a month later when the Redskins released ten year Redskin right tackle Jon Jansen.

The right tackle teased in the radio interview turned out to be then still 400 pound Mike Williams, a former 2002 fourth overall pick selected by the Bills out of the University of Texas. Mike made thirteen or more starts his first three seasons in Buffalo, was a part time player his fourth year in Buffalo and was released after the 2005 season. He signed with Jacksonville before the 2006 season but was placed on injured reserve with a back injury in August, before the season had even started.

Mike spent the next two years away from football, he stayed close with his former college teammate and boomerang Redskin left guard Derrick Dockery, a series of personal commitments to healthy living and life events like having children conspired to put Mike on former shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato's radar, the team brought him in for a tryout and signed him to a contract on a hunch.

Mike worked his ass off in camp, literally, losing 68 pounds through the end of July and 111 total through the end of August. Mike suffered a few lingering injuries in camp, which is not surprising what he put his body through to lose the weight while playing football in the Virginia summer, and had problems in pass protection, he made final cuts, if only barely.

He got what he wanted, and that was a chance to play football. When right guard Randy Thomas went down for the season with a torn triceps in game two versus the Rams and left tackle Chris Samuels suffered what would become a season and likely career ending neck stinger in game five at the Panthers, it set off a chain reaction of offensive line shuffling, when it was all said and done Mike Williams had made five starts at right guard and three at right tackle.

Not bad considering Mike missed three games in the middle of the season with a ligament tear in his ankle and will be ineligible for the season finale at San Diego, not bad for a guy that was not penciled in at starter at either position and barely made the team.

Mike's toe injury is not expected to be serious and Mike should make a full recovery, go heal up Mike, you will be back to compete for your job in 2010, with a full season to knock the rust off perhaps you can elevate your game, we need starters and depth players.

Mike Williams: Getty Images from here.

Department of Bad News: Reed Doughty


Safety Reed Doughty yesterday became the eleventh Redskins player to be placed on injured reserve in this injury plagued 2009 season, Sunday in the second quarter of the game fifteen loss versus the Cowboys Reed leaped for a tipped Tony Romo pass, he came down with the interception and returned it twelve yards, he was hit at the sideline and rolled his leg, suffering a high ankle sprain.

Reed said he had never had this type of injury before and said to start the week he was going to try and play through it, by Tuesday there was no chance and yesterday the team went ahead and put Reed on injured reserve, Reed will miss the final game of the season.

Reed was a sixth round draft pick in 2006, despite the flameout of Adam Archuleta that season Reed saw little playing time. The 2007 offseason saw the Redskins draft safety LaRon Landry with their first round pick, Reed was again relegated to the bench, until Sean Taylor was shot and killed, as the team regrouped LaRon moved into Sean Taylor's free safety position and Reed moved into the strong safety position, in six starts Reed was credited with 53 tackles, 32 solo.

Heading into 2008 the Redskins drafted safeties Kareem Moore in the sixth round and Chris Horton in the seventh round, Reed still easily earned the starting strong safety spot, before game two of the 2008 season versus New Orleans, Reed became ill with a stomach bug, Chris Horton got the last second start and made the best of it with a fumble recovery two interceptions in the Redskins win, Chris was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance.

Reed regained his starting job the next week and was gracious in praise of Chris, saying that he would do anything he could to help Chris or any other player, even those that might beat him out for playing time because it was about the team, not him. Reed did not start the next game at the Cowboys and although he does not appear in the injury report for that game, and he came back for one more start that season at the Eagles, my recollection is by this point Reed seemed to be slow and constantly behind the play, after Chris' early performance my cohort of Redskins fans was ready to see Chris Horton back in the game.

Reed's back was bothering him and he did not play in the next game versus the Rams, best known as the PETE KENDALL SHOULD NEVER PICK UP A FUMBLE AND TRY TO RUN WITH IT GAME, the day after that game the team announced Reed had nerve problems in his back causing numbness in his legs and feet, a week later Reed was placed on injured reserve, Reed seemed to complain about the decision, perhaps hinting the team was too ready to move on to Chris Horton and to make a roster spot for tailback Shaun Alexander, a former player for head coach Jim Zorn's in Seattle.

Reed had back surgery and was hopeful to return to the team. In the 2009 offseason the team made Reed less than the tender offer, making him an unrestricted free agent, by March Reed was back with the team.

Heading into the 2009 season Chris Horton won the starting strong safety spot, three games in after a number of defensive miscues by Chris, defensive coordinator Greg Blache benched Chris and reinserted Reed into the starting lineup, through those three games and after recovering the starting spot there is simply no question Reed was back in football form and better than ever, his hitting and ability to move side to side near the line were much improved from 2007 and 2008 and it looked like the Redskins were going to have two good strong safeties all season.

Which they did as Chris and Reed flip flopped all season in the starting jobs, both are outstanding and both are now on injured reserve.

With only one game left in the season this was by no means a necessary move, the team could have simply placed Reed on the inactive list. New actual general manager Bruce Allen and the team though wanted to take the time to see some other players strictly for evaluation purposes, with former 400 pound man Mike Williams also heading to injured reserve the team signed tailback PJ Hill and cornerback Marcus McCauley.

This is not by any means a serious injury and Reed will be back and ready to go for the 2010 season.

Reed Doughty: Getty Images from here.

How To Kill the Rooney Rule - Part One

"Hey Morocco can I talk to you for a minute?"

Although the 2009 season may not yet technically be over, change is already here for the Washington Redskins. In the past three weeks the team hired its first actual general manager in eleven years under owner Dan Snyder, head coach Jim Zorn is on the way out and every player is already under offseason scrutiny. But before any of this could be set into motion, the team had to satisfy the Rooney Rule, not once but twice. Today Curly R begins a three part series on the practical death of the Rooney Rule at the hands of Dan Snyder.

Part One: The General Manager
Part Two: The Head Coach
Part Three: The Collateral Damage


In the fourth quarter of Sunday nights game fifteen futility versus the Cowboys, NBC's Andrea Kremer reported that the Redskins had hired new actual general manager Bruce Allen in compliance with the expanded Rooney Rule by first interviewing in house candidate director of professional personnel Morocco Brown for the position.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance, the organization charged with policing the application of the Rooney Rule in the NFL, approved of the Redskins' interview with Morocco. Thus, when Dan Snyder went ahead and hired the white guy he could do it with a clear conscience and with no fear of reprisal from the league in the form of fines, loss of draft picks or negative public relations.

But here is the thing, shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato's resignation was announced in the early morning of Thursday 17 December 2009, and Bruce Allen's hiring was announced barely two hours later.

That means unless Dan Snyder has a box flooded with argon stashed in a storage unit that he would not have been able to accept Vinny's resignation, interview both Morocco Brown and Bruce Allen, deliberate on the matter, decide to hire Bruce, negotiate a contract between the two parties then arrange a press conference to announce Bruce's hiring given the existing timeline.

Which means the interview with Morocco happened before the general manager position was open.

We also know the Fritz Pollard Alliance and the NFL consider the Bruce Allen hire compliant with the Rooney Rule.

Ipso facto a pre emptive interview for the general manager position can be considered compliant with the Rooney Rule.

Why does this matter? Because a secret pre emptive sham interview to satisfy the Rule would permit a marketing man like Dan Snyder to move smoothly through the fire and hire process without missing a beat and without having to withstand any public scrutiny or media pressure surrounding who the compliant minority candidate would be, whether he was qualified and whether the public pre judged the whole process a sham. Think days or weeks of headlines, even into the A section of the Washington Post.

Now here we are post judging it a virtual sham but what is done is done, the pressure Dan will face now that the deal is done pales in comparison to anything he would have faced as he slowly plodded his way over days or weeks from a Vinny Cerrato resignation to a public accounting of candidates to interviews to media speculation and rumors of backroom deals to final announcements and aftermath. This way there was barely a headline and it was over in one day.

In any event, this was a pretty big reveal. And it was not the only one Andrea Kremer brought to us Sunday night. The other was about the head coach position.

How To Kill the Rooney Rule continues tomorrow with Part Two, The Head Coach.

Dan Snyder: Uncredited image from here via here.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Washington Times to Kill Off Only Really Good Section of the Paper


A story broke today, still unconfirmed, that if true would signal the plague killing off traditional media outlet by outlet has finally arrived in Washington, no another corner box rag has not disappared, no other longtime niche papers with a better web model than paper model have not stopped printing, it is much worse than all that.

The Washington Times, Washington's other enterprise daily, is ceasing regular sports coverage at the end of this week.

This was foretold to those watching the long slow death of traditional media, back on 4 December, Editor and Publisher, a 125 year old outlet that itself is shutting down in print and online raising questions about whether these links will be active in a year, reported that the paper's new publisher was preparing to announce some radical changes, one of which was revealed the day before Christmas, that the paper would no longer publish a Saturday or Sunday edition.

That same piece presaged cutbacks in news coverage and a shrinking newsroom, I just never imagined they would cut out the best part of the paper. And although this selfishly means less Redskins coverage for me and my ilk, check Dan Dan the Sports Bog Man for what this really means, to the business and to area sports coverage (op. cit.).

David Elfin, Ryan O'Halloran, Dan Daly and the other guys that covered the Redskins first hand for me, I have no idea what will happen to them, I hope they get something lined up, the Times has a great sports section and those guys deserve to keep doing what they do best.

Now I am no economist but I do know a thing or two about how the news business works and what stories sell. The Washington Post regularly publishes its most popular online stories and the Redskins always dominate, even in the offseason.

Sports stories have something that many so called straight news or hard news stories do not have and that is the burning urgency of now combined with binary emotional reactions and an essential harmlessness. Fans want to know what is happening with their favorite team or sports figure TODAY; yesterday's news is too late.

Sports stories have a tendency to draw a smile or set off the grinding of teeth with readers; stories covering sports do not inspire the meh shrugging of shoulders the way HEALTHCARE IN PERIL EXCEPT UNLESS IF ITS NOT or THINGS STILL REALLY BAD IN BAD PART OF WORLD stories do.

Finally, only in a very small number of cases do sports stories deal with death or essential loss, meaning they are low risk for intrusion of the real world into our escapist diversions. When bad things do happen, like Sean Taylor getting shot and killed, these cases tug back at that emotional response that reminds us that although sports is an escape, it is one that takes place in the sadness of reality.

Back in September, after the Redskins first two games, Washington Post Ombudsman Andrew Alexander ran a Sunday column asking rhetorically whether the Post ran with too much Redskins coverage. Of course as you might expect I did a coffee spit take at the breakfast table because I never think there is ENOUGH Redskins coverage but I digress.

Andrew wisely cited hard fact: reader demand. The Redskins dominate WaPo Sports coverage in the online paper and Redskins Insider is the site's most popular blog. Their case for so much Redskins coverage is not homerism, it is a solid economic case based on advertising revenue. The money goes where the eyes are.

So the Washington Post and Washington Times are not the same paper, I know that, and here is how different they are: The Washington Post has a daily circulation around 623 thousand (op. cit.) and the Washington Times has about a tenth of that (op. cit.).

However it is logical to posit that Sports and the Redskins command a similar percentage of total eyeballs and I am comfortable predicting that reader surveys and visitor logs to the website reveal that Sports and Redskins coverage pay for themselves and more at the Times, an important matter at a news concern that is rumored to receive as much as forty million dollars a year in operating subsidies from the Unification Church (ibid.).

E&P's 24 December story indicated that some or all over the areas of coverage that were going to be terminated in the print edition would persist online (op. cit.), so maybe the sports team will stay more or less together and simply move to a more virtual existence. Unfortunately though it looks as though they are about to drop the axe, none of the beat writers are with their teams traveling today (ibid.) and beat writing is the source for all sports coverage.

Near as I can tell, in yet another example of how clumsy management is in dealing with the established reality of 7x24 news cycles, the Washington Times sports staffers know only as much as I do about the plan and at least one has already taken to the Times itself to say thank you and goodbye.

Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

An oldie but a goodie Washington Times front page from here via here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Versus Cowboys, After Further Review

Wants a head job so bad he believed what they said

Day and a half later and a few things stand out from Sunday night's latest debacle, the game fifteen shutout versus the Cowboys:

Nothing new to say about the team's play. Same shitty blocking which of course leads to terrible offense overall. The running game was a big fat zero and unlike the Giants blowout the game was never out of reach until the fourth quarter. No running, no run blocking.

In the passing game quarterback Jason Campbell was only sacked three times, was beat up about as bad as any game this season, including a poster quality back arching blindside hit from Dallas cornerback Orlando Scandrick who came around the left edge unblocked. The abuse and crappiness of this season finally caught up with Jason, in an interview after the game with Comcast SportsNet's Kelli Johnson, Jason said about his treatment, he has been hit so much that is not even fair.

His coach, Jim Zorn, offered Jason no comfort, saying basically, tough shit. Now it looks like Jason is somewhere between resigned to moving on and ready to get the hell out of dodge.

There was a ginormous, precedent setting reveal Sunday night. In the fourth quarter NBC's sideline reporter Andrea Kremer told us how the Redskins laid the groundwork for actual general manager Bruce Allen to arrive so quickly and so publicly after the departure of shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato.

Beginning with this past offseason the NFL began requiring teams to interview minority candidates for top management positions in compliance with the Rooney Rule, in place already since 2003 for head coaching positions. At some point prior to Vinny's announcement of departure and Bruce's announcement of hiring, which were just two hours apart on Thursday 17 December 2009, the team interviewed then director of professional personnel Morocco Brown, who is black, for the general manager position. As far as we know Morocco is still in place even though his old boss Vinny Cerrato is gone.

That interview was approved by the Fritz Pollard Alliance, the organization that regulates NFL compliance with the Rooney Rule. So approved, prior to the incumbent's departure, it gave Dan Snyder a free hand to execute the move he wanted with the timing he wanted and there you have the story of the latest white guy to run a football team.

But that was not all, there was another reveal, it was as precedent setting in a much more high profile way because it involved the head coaching position.

And that was that Jerry Gray has interviewed for the head coach position. Despite its not being vacant. And being currently occupied by a guy who would more or less be his boss, Jim Zorn.

This in and of itself is not a huge reveal, as the football community more or less already knew this. Jerry had been evasive and had not done himself any favors in getting ensnared in Dan Snyder's web, and Sunday night was just the confirmation.

What has been most interesting since Sunday night has been the Keystone Kops series of confirmations and nonfirmations about what has happened. Basically Jerry Gray cannot get his story straight, the NFL wants to say nothing and the Fritz Pollard Alliance is like dude he totally interviewed and we consider the interview compliant with the rule. Here is a sample from Pro Football Talk:

In subsequent exchanges with [NFL spokeshole Greg] Aiello, however, it became apparent that the league has some discomfort regarding attempts to comply with the Rooney Rule with respect to head-coaching jobs that aren't yet vacant.

Specifically, Aiello pointed out that a team "can't be non-compliant if there is no vacancy." Asked whether this also means that a team can comply if there's no vacancy, Aiello said, "Not officially. That is why we are not commenting on it. Jim Zorn is the head coach. As you noted, the rule is silent on whether there must be a vacancy before there can be compliance."

But, again, it's silent because the rule presumes that a team would be looking for someone to fill a job only once the job is open.

Really? I mean for real? Do we all understand what just happened here? A precedent has been set, that the NFL and the external body regulating the application of the Rooney Rule approved, that explicitly permits teams to conduct sham interviews before vacancies exist in order to clear the way for preferred non minority candidates. As if the Rooney Rule by its nature did not already encourage tokenism, now it is a complete sham.

So with the benefit of retrospect in the Vinny Cerrato Morocco Brown Bruce Allen charade added to the speculation that a contract may already be in place for Mike Shanahan to coach the team, I would feel pretty used right now if I was Jerry Gray.

More on what it means for Jerry Gray and the Rooney Rule tomorrow. Here is a hint, both are about done.

Jerry Gray: uncredited image from here via here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

"I want to punt."

... and ye shall be punted

Takeaway Drill:
Another primetime humiliation, a complete zero on offense and death by short play on defense; I would cancel the last game if I could to spare Jason Campbell further injury and LaRon Landry further embarrassment.

Quick jump to

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

Monday Walkthrough: Say thank you Dallas fans, the Redskins got your team into the playoffs in their one hundredth meeting as the Redskins lay a complete goose egg in the final home game of the 2009 season, losing 17-0 to the Cowboys to drop the Redskins to 4-11. Jim Zorn literally gave up at the end, please put us out of our football misery.

Dallas kicked off to Washington to start the first quarter, the Redskins first possession shows some life, then on the fifth play, third and three in Redskins territory, Jason Campbell throws an off balance pass to Fred Davis, it tips off Fred's hand and is intercepted by Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman, Dallas ball. The Cowboys first possession starts with a short field, they go about 30 yards easily, on second and goal from the Washington four yard line Tony Romo moves in the pocket, avoids a sack and finds Roy Williams in the back of the end zone for a touchdown, Dallas takes an early 7-0 lead and it is looking like a replay of last week. Washington gets the ball for the second time, Jason Campbell goes right back to Fred Davis, Santana Moss commits an offensive pass interference, two plays later Jay Ratliff moves right around right guard Mike Williams for a sack and the Redskins are punting. Dallas' second drive starts with pressure on the quarterback, Phillip Daniels gets his first sack of the season, two plays later the Cowboys are punting on a three and out. The Redskins third possession starts on their own seven yard line after a penalty on the punt return, only a holding call on DeMarcus Ware preserves Washington's drive, Marcus Mason would see action, as would Malcolm Kelly, who would catch a ball short on third down and that is where the quarter would end with the Cowboys leading 7-0. [Quarterly summaries: Washington Post :: Washington Times :: ORB]

The Redskins punted to start the second quarter, Dallas gets the ball for the third time, LaRon Landry does not embarrass himself, on third and eight Jason Witten catches a pass for seven yards and the Cowboys are punting. Washington gets the ball for the fourth time, it starts with a throwback receiver screen to Santana Moss for 29 yards, nothing else doing on that drive and the Redskins are punting. The Cowboys get the ball for the fourth time, on first and ten in Dallas territory Tony Romo finds Jason Witten who beats LaRon Landry badly for 69 yards, on the next play Marion Barber goes in for the touchdown and the Cowboys are up 14-0. Washington gets the ball for the fifth time, an unoriginal three and out and the hometown fans are booing. The Cowboys fifth possession looks like it might be a three and out but Tony Romo dances in the pocket and finds Miles Austin for the first down, luckily the Cowboys succumb to the temptation to run a wildcat play which Chris Wilson sniffs out for a thirteen yard loss. On the next play Tony Romo tries to get it all back, Tony passes to Roy Williams, Carlos Rogers bumps Roy at the point of contact, the ball bounces off Roy's hand and is intercepted by Reed Doughty who gets up and returns the ball twelve yards, Redskins ball. Washington's sixth possession almost starts with a turnover on a Jason Campbell fumble, Jim Zorn wins the challenge and Washington retains possession, there is no downfield passing game and the Cowboys crowd the line, three plays later the Redskins are punting. Dallas gets the ball for the sixth time with less than two minutes left in the first half, they move slowly but steadily, Roy Williams has one bounce off his hands, the Cowboys scramble and get within field goal range but there is not enough time and the half expires with the Cowboys leading the Redskins 14-0. [Quarterly summaries: Washington Post :: Washington Times :: ORB]

Dallas gets the ball to start the third quarter, it is the Cowboys seventh possession, Dallas starts with great field position after a short kickoff and good return, Dallas moves 24 yards to the Washington 35 on six plays, on third and one Albert Haynesworth stops Marion Barber short, then on fourth down Albert was in on the fourth down stop of Marion again, Redskins ball on downs. Washington's seventh possession MY GOD IT IS ALIVE as the Redskins find an ability to block for Jason Campbell, Santana Moss and Malcolm Kelly are on it before cornerback Orlando Scandrick in unblocked on third and eight, he gets one of the highlight type blind back arching hits on Jason Campbell, Stephon Heyer is also down on that play, fourth down and the Redskins are punting. Dallas gets the ball for the eighth time, the Redskins almost hold the Cowboys to the three and out but do not as Tony Romo finds Jason Witten for fifteen on third and six, two plays later it is third and three, pow Tony Romo finds Miles Austin, it is still a festival of Dallas offense until fourth and inches five plays later, for the second time in this game the Washington defense stops Marion Barber on fourth down, Redskins ball. Washington's eighth possession starts with less than a minute left in the third quarter, Santana Moss catches one for seventeen yards, then a two yard Quinton Ganther run and that is the end of the third quarter with the Cowboys still leading 14-0. [Quarterly summaries: Washington Post :: Washington Times :: ORB]

The Redskins start the fourth quarter still in their eighth drive, two plays later, including an intentional grounding on Jason Campbell, the Redskins are punting. The Cowboys get the ball for the ninth time, it is a long long possession, covering nearly seven minutes, nearly half the fourth quarter, thirteen plays and only three third downs before former Cowboy, former Redskin and current Cowboy Shaun Suisham kicks a 3 yard field goal to put the Cowboys up by three scores, 17-0. Washington gets the ball for the ninth time, four straight passes, then two incompletes, then fourth and eleven and the Redskins DO NOT go for it, instead punting in a case of a condemned man choosing his own end. The Cowboys get the ball for the tenth time, it is all academic as Dallas moves twenty yards on five plays, there is no life left in this game, Dallas punts and one gets the sense they could have scored if they wanted. The Redskins get the ball for the tenth and final time, the Cowboys give up lots short and quick, in eight plays the Redskins only manage twenty yards, Jason Campbell's former Auburn University teammate Jay Ratliff scores his second sack of the game to put the Redskins out of field goal range, Jason Campbell's fourth down pass to Marko Mitchell is short and Washington turns the ball over on downs. Dallas gets a one play eleventh drive, a victory formation kneeldown and that is the game, Dallas shuts out Washington 17-0, and the Redskins fail to win a single NFC Beast division game in 2009. [Quarterly summaries: Washington Post :: Washington Times :: ORB]


Soapbox: I am resisting the urge to be darkly comical about this game, it was a complete embarrassment, do not let the score fool you, this game was as bad as last week's prime time home debacle against the Giants, last week the Redskins mustered some effort only when the game was no longer in question, tonight the game was never out of reach until the very end, and thus the team never could bring themselves to perform.

The offensive line was once again decimated by injuries and exposed for lack of talent, and perhaps poor coaching or an inability to adjust. The Cowboys threw all kinds of edge rushes and changed up their blitzers all night and there was little in the way of pass blocking in the backfield. That is one area in which the team misses Clinton Portis.

No running game to speak of, never more than two touchdowns down for three quarters and the best the Redskins could muster on the ground was thirty yards on fourteen carries; Jason Campbell had as many yards in four busted play scrambles as starting tailback Quinton Ganther had on all seven of his carries. There may be a place on this team for both Quinton and Marcus Mason though at this point no one that makes decisions is thinking about them.

Santana Moss finally got into the game, he had his most receptions with eight and most yards with 92 since game three at Detroit. Jason Campbell was a trooper, though as I wrote last week, he is declining with injury, his teammates are a million miles away in their minds and I do not doubt even Jason is having a hard time concentrating.

When the highlight of the game is back to back fourth down stops of Cowboys tailback Marion Barber, we know there is a problem, and it is with Wade Phillips' playcalling.

Of course the irony there is that the field position on those two fourth down plays would have set up 53 and 48 yard field goals respectively for former Redskins kicker Shaun Suisham. Coach Phillips wisely did not trust Shaun with those kicks.

And more hilarious than ironic is Shaun Suisham's fourth quarter field goal. Leading 14-0 with nearly eight minutes left in the game, Shaun lined up for a 23 yard field goal. The same distance as the field goal he missed in game twelve against the Saints. That cost Shaun his job here. From the same side of the field. And the same right side hashmark. And this time he made it.

But the real sad story of this game? The coach gave up. He packed it in, he said enough is enough, sayonara, bring on the axe.

Seriously, I am not kidding. With more than six minutes left in the game and trailing by seventeen points, Jason Campbell threw an incomplete pass on third and eleven from the Washington 40 yard line to Rock Cartwright, it being fourth down and all and the Redskins having no points, Al Michaels and everyone at neighbor Bill's where I watched the game said, and the Redskins will go for it on fourth down.

And then they did not. The camera cut to Jim Zorn saying very clearly into his headset, I want to punt. The camera cut back to a visibly disgusted Jason Campbell running off the field, Jason and coach Zorn had an animated discussion on the sideline, coach Zorn's postgame explanation of the decision was wholly unacceptable.

What it was was the final concession: We are done here.


Chattering Class: John Keim of the Washington Examiner reviews studs and duds, up with Santana Moss and HB Blades, down with LaRon Landry and pretty much everyone on the offensive line. Also, John does this for a living and see more and from better angles than I do, I thought Albert Haynesworth had a better game than did John. Maybe John is discounting Albert's performance against his big mouth, which pissed off London Fletcher by the way.

John also reviews what we learned this week, even if LaRon Landry moves to strong safety next season he will still be a liability against the pass, as we have learned the past three games since LaRon has moved to play closer to the line, points out that the tight end position on this team is producing consistent results, Fred Davis and Chris Cooley have nearly identical stats which I think makes Chris trade bait, he is perhaps the only player on the Redskins roster that could rate a first round pick, more on this in the offseason.

Rick Snider also at the Washington Examiner wishes good riddance to this awful decade of Redskins football and has an alarmingly long offseason wish list. Of note in that second piece is also a good summary of how the offseason changes if a new collective bargaining agreement is negotiated, or not.

David Elfin at the Washington Times grades the Redskins, nothing higher than a C and that was special teams. Dan Daly, also at the Washington Times wonders what good new actual general manager Bruce Allen could possibly take out of these past two games. And finally the Times' Mike Fratto writes that a bad combination of slow start on offense and defensive struggles doomed the Redskins last night. This is a column that sort of writes itself.

Rich Tandler at Comcast SportsNet thinks this game perfectly summarized this deadful 2009 season.

John Pappas at Warpath Confidential writes this Redskins team may be worse than they look and the best analogy to them may be the 2003 team, the awful second season with Steve Spurrier, see also my final comment in the Omnibus section.


Omnibus: Broadcasters: The Sunday night team of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, count me among the football fans that wanted to see Cris fall on his face in the footsteps of John Madden because I kind of think of Cris as a buffoon. Boy was I wrong, the guy is good and does his preparation.

Uniform watch: I cannot figure this team out, after going heavily with the burgundy jersey and white pants at home, what I think of as the road uniform, the team chooses tonight to go with the traditional home uniform of white jersey and burgundy pants… which of course allows the Cowboys to wear their preferred uniform of blue jerseys and white pants.

Saw a great promo for the New Year's Classic NHL game, this year at Boston Fenway Stadium, it is amusing and ironic that we cannot have a Super Bowl too far north because of the frozen weather, and cannot have an outdoor hockey game too far south because of the warmer weather and possible rain. I am not sure we could see a game at Redskins Stadium, simply because there is a fifty percent chance the weather is either warm and sunny or pissing cold rain.

Before the game we learned that because Carolina laid a smackdown on the New York Giants, if the Cowboys win tonight, they are in. Further, if they win tonight against the Redskins and beat the Eagles next week, the Cowboys win the NFC Beast division and host a playoff game. Let's play spoiler.

The Cowboys are without their special teams coach, Joe DiCamillo, he underwent an emergency appendectomy tonight. Youch.

One play into the game and Mike Sellers is already blowing assignments. Anthony Spencer stunted inside then went outside and tackled Quinton Ganther for a loss.

Jason Campbell's interception in the Redskins first possession was mainly due to poor blocking, Jason had to roll out and made a bad toss. Get him better protection and that does not happen.

During the Redskins second possession Al and Michael in the booth went into how Jason Campbell is in the middle of the NFL pack in most major NFL statistics, while some may think of that as quote average unquote, I think of it as a guy you can build on, you need better talent elsewhere.

Phillip Daniels' first sack of the season? Really? In the fifteenth game of the season?

Laying wood: London Fletcher just put a hurting on Dallas receiver Patrick Crayton in the Cowboys second possession, first quarter, a forearm to the neck slash facemask. It may have been an illegal hit.

Marcus Mason made his first appearance in the Redskins third possession, following the DeMarcus Ware penalty first down. Three straight runs. Later in that drive Jason Campbell would drop a good one in on Malcolm Kelly, Malcolm would get up for it but flail on the way to the ground and not get feet in.

DeAngelo Hall muffed his first punt return of the game, after Dallas' third possession, as Wilbert Montgomery would ask me via text message, what is up with all the butterfinger Hokies?

An oldie but a goodie: On first down in the Redskins fourth possession, second quarter, Jason Campbell went to Santana Moss in a play that was a staple of the Joe Gibbs II era, the receiver screen, Santana took it all the way back across the field for 29 yards.

LaRon Liability: On first and ten at the Dallas 38 in the Cowboys fourth possession, second quarter, Tony Romo found Jason Witten, he beat LaRon Landry badly in coverage, I mean badly, LaRon let Jason catch the ball then run with it, then LaRon fell trying to tackle Jason. Only Reed Doughty saved the touchdown, which happened on the next play because the Redskins defensive set had both safeties too far off the line. Chumps.

Unoriginal: The first two plays of the Redskins fifth possession, second quarter, were a trap screen to the tight end and a straight up receiver screen to Santana Moss, both of which had each been called exactly the same at least once previously in the game.

Will Montgomery went in at right guard for the Redskins fifth possession, second quarter, Mike Williams went out with a toe injury. Will was beaten immediately on third down in the Redskins fifth possession on a Rock Cartwright run. Poor.

In the Cowboys fifth possession, second quarter, after the thirteen yard loss on the wildcat play, Tony Romo tried to get it all back on one play, it was tipped to Reed Doughty who intercepted the pass and returned the ball twelve yards, Reed went down hard and was grabbing his ankle, it completely rolled under his body, I would expect we lose Reed for the rest of the night and final game of the season. That was Tony's first interception in the past 168 attempts. Reed paid the price for it.

Thirteen minutes into the second quarter and the Redskins appear to have no deep passing threat in this game.

Working titles for gamewrap: Lost All Division Games, Could I Get A Deep Threat One Time?, For Witten They Got Nuttin, I Want To Punt

Interesting stat: This is the second time kicker Shaun Suisham has played for the Cowboys and Redskins in the same season, the other being in 2006, and he went the opposite direction, from Dallas to Washington.

Anyone else sick of Bob Costas' relentlessly holier than thou halftime diatribes?

Coming to play: Albert Haynesworth was crucial on both short yardage stops in the Cowboys seventh possession, third quarter.

Ditched the banana yellow vest: Third quarter shot of the Redskins owner's box, Dan Snyder with former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan behind him eating something out of a plastic container.

Literal and figurative black eyes: After giving us a couple of camera angles in the second half spotlighting Jason Campbell's black eye suffered last week against the Giants, on third down we see Jason Campbell creamed with a back arching hit by Orlando Scandrick, Jason was very slow to get up.

LaRon finally got one: To start the Cowboys ninth drive, LaRon Landry put a helmet on Felix Jones, the type of hit LaRon goes for and misses so many times.

Who's who: Two more fourth quarter owner's box shots, both principally featuring Dan Snyder talking to Bruce Allen. In the first shot, ABC's Sam Donaldson, in the second, Alan Greenspan again, this time with his wife, NBC journalist Andrea Mitchell.

Revealed: During the Cowboys ninth possession, fourth quarter, NBC's Andrea Kremer confirmed one thing we knew and one thing we suspected: Jerry Gray interviewed for the head coaching job, which we all knew but had been denied, then no commented, and Redskins director of player personnel Morocco Brown interviewed for the general manager position, both Jerry and Morocco are black, Dan Snyder called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who then called the head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance who said even though the head coaching job was not yet open that Jerry's interview satisfies the Rooney Rule for the 2010 offseason. There are two serious tidbits of news in this reveal.

Pathetic irony: Shaun Suisham's first field goal, to end the Cowboys ninth drive, fourth quarter, in Redskins Stadium was 23 yards to put the Cowboys up 17-0. The missed kick that sealed Shaun's fate in Washington was a 23 yard miss in game XX against the Saints that would have put the Redskins up by two scores with less than two minutes left in regulation. I am pretty sure these two kicks were into the same end zone.

Hurrying the end: After the Redskins ninth possession, fourth quarter, Jason Campbell missed Rock Cartwright on fourth and eleven, Al Michaels rightly said the Redskins would line up to go for it on fourth down, the sideline camera then caught head coach Jim Zorn saying into his headset, I want to punt. And that was his fate.

Awsum statistic: Third lowest scoring team in the decade at 18.2 points per game.

Again with the awful slide, Jason that play needs some work.

Predictive stat: Steve Spurrier finished two seasons at 12-20 before quitting under pressure, leaving fifteen million dollars on the table. Jim Zorn is now 12-19 with one game to go. We are back in 2003. I will no doubt make this analogy again and again after coach Zorn is gone.


Shooter: Quarterback Jason Campbell stood in there again, and got his clock cleaned again. It was pretty clear all night that he had no blocking, judging from the hits and sacks, of which there were only three, but more importantly how short Jason's attempts were. He completed 24 passes for 199 yards, that is less than nine yards per completion, the Redskins had only one play longer than 20 yards, a pass to Santana Moss. Jason's first quarter interception was a bad throw to Fred Davis, who still looks bad by tipping another incomplete into an interception, though Jason would not have made that bad throw if he had not been forced to move out of the pocket because of poor blocking. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick had a highlight reel blindside back arching sack of Jason (op. cit.), Orlando came unblocked right past left tackle Levi Jones, there was no one in the backfield to pick up the rusher.

Fat Contract Albert: After a week of controversy in which defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth said publicly the team has no leadership then was late and got booted from practice then went into much greater detail about how he cannot work with these coached next year then had to defend himself against allegations that he was trying to organize players for a practice walkout in protest of... the practice schedule? Yes after all that Albert was back in the starting lineup and made his presence known, he was disruptive along the defensive line, culminating in Albert coming up big on back to back running plays in the third quarter, the second one being the first fourth down stop of Marion Barber. After that though Albert pretty much disappeared.

OH CRAPPO: Prized rookie hybrid defensive endbacker Brian Orakpo was not much of factor tonight, the Redskins were unable to get a sustained pass rush on Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, the only sack of the night was by Phillip Daniels, oddly enough his first of the season, and Brian's name appears in the play by play only on passing downs.


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

Other recaps: Mark Newgent at Redskins Examiner; Kevin Ewoldt at Hogs Haven; Marion's Crackpipe at DC Landing Strip.

Next up, the Redskins travel across the country for the last gasp of the 2009 season against the San Diego Chargers, a team that has already clinched second seed in the AFC playoffs and have nothing more to play for, except maybe an easy win over a barely there Redskins team.

Jim Zorn leaving Redskins Stadium for the last time as head coach: AP Photo from here. Chargers head coach Norval Turner: Reuters Pictures from here.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Game 15: Redskins (4-10) vs. Cowboys (9-5)


Out of the box: Mercifully the end is near, all I see is black curtains as the Dallas Cowboys come to Washington the rivalry's hundredth game and what easily could be another national humiliation at 8pm ET on NBC, come, sit down with us and watch as the team feasts on it own corpse.

Quick jump to

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


The Story So Far: In the aftermath of hiring a new actual general manager in Bruce Allen, many Redskins fans, and a fair number of Giants fans thought last week's game fourteen could be competitive. We were all wrong, not only did the Redskins clinch last place in the NFC Beast with that loss (ibid.), that spanking on national TV served to refocus the spotlight on what the football county had forgotten since game five or six, and that is not only do the Redskins suck as a football team, their very organization is rotten from the inside, has no unity and seemingly only exists for the short term pursuit of money.

A number of bad stories moved to the front pages. Secondary coach Jerry Gray interviewed for the Redskins head coaching position (op. cit.), a job not technically open yet, which must have made the supervisor-employee discussions between Jim Zorn and Jerry especially awkward this week.

Since we now know it will not be Jon Gruden for next season (ibid.), Mike Shanahan may already be a done deal for this team, everything may already be in place for him to take over in the evening on 3 January 2010. Or not. Either way, he has the approval of tailback Clinton Portis, which has the potential to create more awkward hallway conversation since Jim Zorn is still the head coach.

Fines were handed down to defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and Giants tailback Brandon Jacobs for their scuffle on Monday night, Albert was assessed a ten thousand dollar fine while Brandon was assessed 7500 dollar fine (op. cit.), Brandon started the whole thing, punching and flinging cornerback DeAngelo Hall around by his facemask. Albert stepped in to defend DeAngelo, a move that was appreciated (ibid.), those two guys are like peas in a pod, never able just to play football, there always has to be sumpin.

Speaking of Albert Haynesworth, following that Monday night spanking in which Albert Haynesworth had one of the Redskins two sacks, Albert slammed the team for lacking leadership and for not using him in the way most beneficial to the team, which apparently is just to let Albert do whatever the fuck he wants on the football field. Four days later Albert was late for practice on Friday Christmas morning, somewhere between twenty minutes and one hour late and after heated discussions with head coach Jim Zorn defensive coordinator Greg Blache, was sent home as punishment.

Albert ran to the media, said he is a target for his postgame comments and that other players are not punished for regular violations of schedule policy. Saturday afternoon the National Football Post ran a story that Albert was unhappy with the early Christmas Day start to practice and had attempted to get his teammates to organize, Norma Rae style, and all show up late together. Apparently no one else did. Albert has denied the story.

Naturally as you might expect with this team, after attacking the makeup, age and philosophy of the coaching staff, flaunting his big contract and star status while ignoring team rules and allegedly fomenting open mutiny among his teammates... Albert was back at practice yesterday and will start tonight because the owner wants him to (op. cit.).

Yeah that all sounds about right.


Curly R Aside: I think the notion that, as quarterback Jason Campbell said on Wednesday, some players may have quit on the team is entirely academic, as in it is interesting though not entirely useful as a real world assessment. This team has been flying apart since the second game of the season, as Sally Jenkins wrote back in October, they are going their separate ways.

All season the Redskins have been a team in name only. It is likely not a lot different from the office you work in, there are some serious hard workers that are trying to maximize their effort within the management framework, like Jason Campbell and London Fletcher. Then there are the overmatched, guys promoted to positions for which they were not qualified, they are giving it their best, but that is simply not good enough, like Stephon Heyer and Carlos Rogers, these types might eventually grow into the serious hard workers, or might not have the tools ever to do so. Next are the guys that are coasting, trying their hardest to blend in during meetings, not draw new assignments and pawning off as much work as they can on the hard workers, like Levi Jones and Fred Smoot, these guys always overvalue themselves over beers. Finally are the untouchables, the guys everyone knows have the big paychecks, based on special skills or having been a recruiting target, these guys never have to really perform because they believe their presence alone is performance enough, and all that resentment from the little people comes not from not performing, but rather from jealousy. I put DeAngelo Hall and Albert Haynesworth in this class.

Curly R Aside continues: The continuity game: the same week we learn that Urban Meyer is stepping down as head coach at the University of Florida, we learn that Redskins starting tailback Quinton Ganther was recruited from Citrus Junior College to the University of Utah by none other than Urban Meyer. Quinton has a hell of a story.


Oppo Research: Dallas wins and they are in. They playoffs that is. Win and beat the Eagles next week and they win the division and host a playoff game. Let's play spoiler.

The hilar story of the week was that Dallas cut kicker Nick Folk after missing a bunch of crucial field goal, and then the Cowboys signed... former Redskins kicker Shaun Suisham (op. cit.)! Shaun has already told the Cowboys and head coach Wade Phillips everything he knows about Washington's special teams sets, including the quote swinging gate unquote fake field goal FAIL from the Giants game, coach Phillips knew about that even before the Redskins used it.


Trainer's Table: Defensive end Andre Carter tore his biceps against the Giants, like his defensive linemate Phillip Daniels, he will wrap it up and play through the pain (op. cit.), Andre has missed only two games in four seasons with the Redskins.

Receiver and kick returner Devin Thomas was slowed by a sprained ankle, he did not practice Wednesday or Thursday (ibid.), and is doubtful for tonight's game (op. cit.), fellow second year man receiver Malcolm Kelly will start in Devin's place, and Rock Cartwright will go back to returning kicks in Devin's absence (ibid.).

Cornerback DeAngelo Hall is still bothered by the MCL sprain in his knee, he had limited participation in practice through the week (ibid.) and is questionable for tonight's game (ibid.).

Right tackle Stephon Heyer inured his knee against New York and was replaced in the second quarter by Will Robinson, Stephon is questionable for tonight (ibid.) though he did practice Friday (ibid.).

As of yesterday punter Hunter the Punter Smith was also questionable (ibid.), but I did not see anything about signing a new punter or anyone taking snaps at backup punter, so I guess Hunter will go.

A host of other players had and have lingering injuries, some like quarterback Jason Campbell are just sore as hell, they will all go because they are football players.


Gameplan: ... I got nothin.


My Take in 60 Words or Less: You have none left off the field so try and play with some dignity on the field.


Washington Post interactive gameday, bonus breakdowns of responsibilities of Washington's weakside linebacker, strongside linebacker and defensive line; keys to the game, key matchups, Redskins roster; SkinsCast weather, it will be in the thirties and still, a great winter weather night for football; broadcast coverage is nationwide, it's Sunday Night Football on NBC.

Other previews: Mark Newgent at Redskins Examiner, Mark will also be hosting the Comcast SportsNet official game chat, stop by over there and tell him Ben sentcha.

Enjoy the game folks, we are down to two, and this is the last home game of the season, I will be ensconced in the warmth with friends at neighbor Bill's.

This is a gameday open thread.

NFL helmet logos from here.

Our Own Norma Rae

From many come one has multiple meanings

Oh man this story keeps getting better. Thanks to neighbor Paul this morning for the tip, yesterday at 5pm ET, Brad Biggs at the National Football Post, a football omnibus site I love, reported that defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth's tardiness and subsequent dismissal from practice on Christmas Day were about more than just him mouthing off about leadership and tossing defensive coordinator Greg Blache under the bus.

It would seem he was unhappy about the early start to the Christmas Day team activities and had attempted to lobby his teammates to show up late in a show of unified protest. That seems suddenly to cast Albert in a light several degrees more shallow than he was yesterday. Especially in light of the team's explanation that early meetings and practice were scheduled so players could be back home with their families as soon as possible (op. cit.).

Albert of course denies it all, though in a way that does not refute the core of the story, Albert wonders aloud if he was boycotting practice then why would he be at practice? If the NFP story is to be believed, and they claim quote multiple sources unquote, then Albert was lobbying his mates for a work slowdown, not a work stoppage. It is perhaps then worth noting that NFP reports that Albert was more than an hour late to practice Friday, while he is insisting it was no more than twenty minutes.

The story now moves from one of Albert being beset upon for his honesty following the Monday night debacle against the Giants, targeted for unfair discipline of a type dealt to no one else on the team for similar infractions, to one of Albert willfully fomenting team wide insubordination with Christmas as the ostensible subject when likely the true target was a diminishing of the coaching staff to drive a wedge further between them and the players. That's class bro.

I have some advice for all the whiny ass tittly babies in winter professional sports, the Albert Haynesworths and Stan Van Gundys that just want to deal with fewer obligations on national holidays, and that advice is shut the fuck up and do your job. Just like waiters do not get weekends off, professional football players do not get Christmas week off.

Albert Haynesworth and his defensive teammates: AP Photo from here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

"I disagree with their whole scheme."

Boy no one could have anticipated this (not)

The end stage of Washington's 2009 season began in earnest today, a star player who expressed unsurprising frustration following an epic blowout is now attacking the entire coaching staff and has said he cannot see himself getting through another NFL season if there are not big changes on the team.

Yesterday as I drove home with my family after Christmas dinner with my parents featuring the original Redskins fan named Ben Folsom and roast chicken with sun dried tomato and goat cheese, I heard on WTOP that a Redskin had been sent home from practice, it was defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, I came home and wrote this piece last night wherein I speculated that Albert was sent home yesterday for tardiness not because he violated a team policy and not because the Redskins had suddenly transformed after fourteen games into some bastion of discipline and schedule keeping, but rather because Albert had dared to say what everyone inside and outside Redskins Park has known for at least ten games:

This team has no leadership.

If we are to believe Albert, who spoke with the Washington Post's Jason Reid after being sent home, I was exactly right, this does not make me a genius, is simply makes me able to see and interpret the very obvious.

Back in February of this year, immediately following Albert Haynesworth's free agent signing with the Redskins, the Washington Post's Jason La Canfora, since departed for NFL Network, wrote a terrific piece on Albert and what he might mean for Greg Blache's rigid defensive scheme, how the Redskins may benefit from letting Albert freelance, and if that word freelance makes you uncomfortable, let us replace it with the word play, for that is allegedly the word the Redskins used in contract negotiations with Albert, negotiations that ultimately led Albert to sign with the team for one hundred million dollars. From Jason Reid's piece:

"What [team officials] told me in the early hours of February [27] is that, 'We're going to let you play,' " Haynesworth said of Washington's sales pitch on the first day of free agency.

The piece also focused on the frustrations felt for years by Titans defensive line coach Jim Washburn at trying to reel Albert into the system the coaches wanted to implement. Finally the team relented and gave Albert basically free reign to attack as he saw fit, basically just trying to push through on every play. Also relevant to this piece was defensive end Jason Taylor's frustrations with and lack of production when healthy in Greg Blache's scheme.

So this was not entirely unforseen.

Albert does not believe the coaches have let him quote play unquote, he thinks he has been misused this season and believes defensive coordinator Greg Blache is out of touch, old, autocratic and not open to input from players, even star players.

Further, Albert specifically called out his postgame comments Monday (op. cit.) as the prime motivator behind his dismissal from practice yesterday after being what he said was twenty minutes late. Further, the notion that dismissal is a regular punishment consistent with tardiness is total bullshit and simply thin cover for anger on the part of the coaching staff. From Jason Reid's piece:

Haynesworth acknowledged he was "about 20 minutes late getting to the meeting. I was late. I'll pay the fine. The thing that doesn't make any sense to me, they're talking about disciplinary action because I was 20 minutes late? I'm not going to throw anybody under the bus, but I've seen guys two hours late, show up right before practice on a normal day, and they get to do everything and [the coaches] just respond with, 'Whatever.' This is like the second time I've ever been late. In the preseason, I fell asleep and was like a couple of minutes late for a meeting. This is the second time I've ever been late for a meeting and I get sent home."

Haynesworth believes that Zorn used his tardiness as an excuse to discipline him because of the coaching staff's anger about his recent biting postgame comments. "They're all against me or whatever," he said. "But I know what I'm saying is right because I've been in a scheme that works."

So let us recap: team signs Albert by sweet talking that they will let Albert be Albert, at least one respected football mind warns he may not fit the current scheme, the team tanks, Albert attempts to express concerns and provide input, is rebuffed, things come to a head on Monday Night Football, Albert lets loose that he has been misused, expressing worry that he will be seen as a failure if he cannot play his game, four days later shows up late for practice, is sent home, gets with the media, calls bullshit on tardiness as the reason for being sent home and worries aloud that he might not be able to take another year of this without change.

I am not taking Albert's side on this, he is a prima donna and is shaping up to be one of those guys whose problems are always someone else's fault. I am sure there is a team viewpoint and book on the whole thing as well, it is not relevant, what is relevant is that it has come to this, that the dirty laundry is being aired so publicly, that no one seems to have any decorum any longer, the players and coaches are now transparently hostile to one another.

Don't worry Albert, change is coming, I just hope you can deal with it, quit trying to be bigger than the team and go play some football and let's talk again in January.

Albert Haynesworth: Getty Images from here.

Are You a Depression Sufferer?

Go to your place of rest and comfort

Danny Rouhier is back with his reaction to week fifteen's ridiculous loss to the New York Giants, in this week's video we see Danny's spot on impression of definitely not the Redskins next coach Jon Gruden, some commentary on the offense and where Danny watched the second half of Monday's game.

Great work Danny, you have kept us laughing in a season that has been anything but funny.

YouTube from here.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Albert Haynesworth Getting Sent Home from Practice Today TOTALLY Has Nothing to Do with Calling Out Team Coaches for Not Leading

One of these is a made guy, the other is a dead man walking

Merry Christmas to Curly R readers, most of the country may be shut down for a major national holiday, not the NFL, in fact the Redskins had a practice just today, it was just another practice in a long and miserable season.

And defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was late for it and got sent home for his trouble. He arrived an unspecified amount of time late for pre-practice team meetings and was told he would not be practicing with the team as a result of his tardiness.

In other words, sending Albert home was a disciplinary action. Suddenly the Redskins are all tight ass with their star players.

After he was told to go home he still went into the locker room and dressed in for practice, as the players stretched before practice Albert got into a quote heated debate unquote with head coach Jim Zorn, after defensive coordinator Greg Blache came and joined the discussion Albert finally relented and went home.

Coach Zorn has said Albert would be welcome back at practice tomorrow, Saturday, and that he would play Sunday night against the Cowboys.

Now here we are supposed to believe that Albert getting sent home as a disciplinary measure today has naaahhhhthing at all with the fact that Albert called out the team and coaches for lack of leadership following the Monday night blowout loss to the Giants. Nope, nothing at all.

Obviously we do not know exactly what happened, and there may be some more detail emerging tomorrow, questions I would want answered are ones like these:

  • How late was Albert to the team meetings?
  • What was his attitude when he arrived?
  • Was he insubordinate or giving lip at the points where he should have been contrite and or silent?
  • What exactly were the highlights of the exchange between coach and player? Were Albert's previous comments about quality of leadership revisited?

So given that we do not know more of the details we can only generalize and here is my generalization: Albert, like everyone else inside or outside the building has known since game five against the Chiefs that Jim Zorn was done in Washington and while coach Zorn thinks he is being some noble never say die guy that can just pretend the owner does not want to get rid of him asap, can just pretend that having his balls cut off again and again is not emasculating and that his humiliation is not obvious to his players, to everyone else he just looks like a mumbling incompetent.

Shit man the team is already interviewing for coach Zorn's replacement, secondary coach Jerry Gray is not even waiting for the corpse to cool before feasting on it (op. cit.). Rock Cartwright said he hopes he never sees Vinny Cerrato again. Jason Campbell is pretty sure the team is quitting on itself.

What Albert said after Monday night's debacle has long been on the minds of the players and the fans. Albert is in the first year of a lucrative and long term contract; Albert is not going anywhere and so he is free to say whatever the hell he wants to whomever the hell he wants.

One of Albert's teammates anonymous teammates attempted to draw some sort of professional irony that days after calling out the coaches for not being leaders that Albert, a team leader based on his role and salary, would demonstrate his own non leadership by showing up to practice late, unfortunately that misses the point.

The point is that Jim Zorn has lost this team, and did weeks ago, Albert has no respect for coach Zorn because he does not have to, coach Zorn does not command respect with his authority or with his presence.

Whatever is keeping Jim Zorn in the job, the money, the commitment, some sense of football nobility, whatever it is does not mean anything to anyone else, no one is modeling on Jim Zorn right now.

The Redskins continue to decay in orbit and rip apart violently, the wreckage is falling dangerously to Earth.

Jim Zorn and Albert Haynesworth: Uncredited image from here via here.