Friday, September 10, 2010

A Correction

Not mines though

Tuesday the big Washington Post Redskins 2010 preview section dropped, every year the Post puts together a special section in the paper assessing and hyping the coming season, as the Redskins journal of record it is in the best interests of the Post to do so.

This year it was pretty spare, with the main graphical feature being an awkward shot of head coach Mike Shanahan superimposed over a kind of trippy retro collage of Redskins and Washington DC imagery, it pretty well reflects the state of the newspaper business in comparison to 2009's Washington Post Redskins preview section.

Remember September 2009? Scandalous stories of the team suing fans, including a 66 year old grandmother and lifetime fan, of team sales reps selling tickets directly to ticket brokers, and an environment so explosive that the Commissioner himself, Roger Goodell was drawn to town help fight the fire and so stressful that defensive coordinator Greg Blache lost it in a press conference on a former Redskins player and current local journalist, ah yes you nostalgia you lose.

Into that environment the Post launched as the anchor piece of the 2009 team preview a long retrospective on the first decade of Dan Snyder's ownership, including a super cool interactive graphic, better than the two lousy ones this year, one of which is just a piece on Mike Shanahan's offense from May. The Dan Snyder piece was pretty unforgiving and in retrospect was the perfect amuse bouche for what would later become an all time trainwreck of a season.

Continuing the trend, 2008's Washington Post Redskins preview section was better than 2009's, in fact it was truly awesome kitsch, the lead graphic a conveyor belt, former shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato places uniformed Redskins players on the belt, they then run through the Zorn-A-Mator which is a little building with a giant Jim Zorn head on it, they then travel through an electrically charged West Coast Offensisizer and a giant Star Power mixing bowl before being placed lovingly placed into a box of packing peanuts by owner Dan Snyder.

The main infographic was a good, though not interactive, it looks exactly like it did in the paper, breakdown of the Jim Zorn offense, and within the preview was a summary of management, coaching and player moves around a second lead graphic that portrayed the Redskins as a mature product in a new and improved package, on the front of the package above and below the Redskins logo are the marketing exhortations: Bold New Look! 50% More Passing! Now With More Star Power! Improved, More Efficient Offense!

Look carefully though on the side of that package, there are two warning labels, they read Actual results may vary and Caution: Contents under pressure. Truth in advertising.

So back to this year's special preview (op. cit.), I am reading the paper and I go through the schedule section on page two and I review the season, glazing over as I think of each time the Redskins last played these teams, guest divisions the NFC North in 2007 and the AFC South in 2006, the Post helpfully tells us what happened in the last matchup for context, in the entry for Washington's 2010 game two opponent, the Houston Texans we see a sad reminder of what happened when these teams played on 24 September 2006, a game the Texans won 31-15. Wait what?

No the Texans did not win that game 31-15, the Redskins won that game 31-15! It was Curly R's third ever regular season gamewrap and I remember the game well, quarterback Mark Brunell tied the NFL record for consecutive completions with 22, as Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post wrote of Mark's achievement,

The ball rarely traveled even 10 yards through the air

Tailback Ladell Betts had 123 yards rushing, the team had 234 total yards on the ground and 495 yards of offense overall, much maligned replacement for Shawn Springs Kenny Wright had an interception and the Redskins scored 31 points, a total the team would only match or exceed once more in the season on the way to a 5-11 record.

The 2010 schedule is helpfully available online here with the error still there in game two and a link to the Post recap of that game, this is your correction if the Washington Post never catches it.

Image credit: screencap detail of schedule page here.


J.A. Morris


Hi Ben, haven't posted here in a while. I enjoy your writing here even if I'm not a Skins fan(but I love listening to Sonny & Sam on the local radio broadcasts) I hate to be a wet blanket here,but I'm an ex-Bronco fan,followed the team religiously from '77 to '02.
Here's the good news about Shanahan:
He'll be an improvement over Zorn(or Spurier & Turner).

The bad news:Shanahan seems to coach not to win,but to show you how much of a offensive genius-guru he is. For instance, I can think of several games where Shanahan needed a field goal to tie or win,Broncos had the ball on a 3-and-short between the 35 and 40 yard line. He always seemed to have a 1000-yard rusher in the backfield(Terrell Davis,Mike Anderson,/Reuben Droughns,Clinton Portis,Tatum Bell,etc.).

On 3rd and short in that scenario,with that sort of talent,you run the ball. You either get the first down or you put the kicker in better position to make a field goal. So Shanahan usually went for a big play, and failed. Then the Broncos would miss a 50-something yard field goal by a foot. I love a big play,risk-taking offense as much as anyone,but there is a time and a place for that. More importantly, you try things with Elway that you NEVER try when your QB is Steve Beurlein, Brian Griese, Bubby Brister, Gus Frerotte or Jake Plummer. There's a time to take risks and a time to be more conservative, Shanahan coaches like he doesn't know this.

What's more, he hasn't really done anything since Elway retired. He's been good enough to be frustrating. His post-Elway playoff record is 1-4 and he hasn't been to the playoffs since 2005. With the Raiders Shanahan was 8-12.
His last 3 seasons in Denver,his teams started out well but collapsed down the stretch.

My prediction for this season:6-10
The Skins will lose a bunch of close games because he makes some risky play calls when a one-yard run by Portis would do the trick.