Means nothing, is still football
The 2010 Pro Bowl kicks off in one hour, which is different from previous years, there is a whole lot to talk about: This is the first time ever that the all-star game has been held before the championship game; and to make matters even more different, this is the first time since 1979 that the game has not been held in Honolulu Hawaii, it is being held this year in the same town as the Super Bowl, in this year's case Miami.
1. Placing the game before the Super Bowl is a bad idea and should not be repeated. Having the Pro Bowl the week before the Super Bowl detracts from the Super Bowl build up, robs us of even optional participation by players from the Super Bowl teams and as such has created ill will among teams and fans.
This is supposed to be Media Week, the week before the Super Bowl when all the players line up in their big kiosks or on big stages and field ridiculous questions from domestic and foreign journalists. Beat reporters from the big outlets write their profile pieces, we learn all about the venue, serious football fans roll their eyes and fans of the teams in the Big Game get to WALLOW, for after next week, half the fans will be in the dumps.
If there were Media Week events, they were uslurped by the Pro Bowl hype, which is bigger this year because of the new placement and some of the stories around the players. The Pro Bowl is supposed to be a lesser draw than the Super Bowl and by placing it the week before the championship the lesser hyped game has stolen the thunder of the real deal, and there must be a league employed bean counter that has this figured out.
Further, the seemingly arbitrary rules about who can play and who has to be there have rankled owners and robbed fans of even the possibility that players from the Super Bowl teams may play.
The league mandated that players from the Super Bowl teams would not participate in the game in order to ensure no injuries, and to back up that requirement, granted players from the two final teams full wage shares, so those are the lucky guys, they get somewhere north of 22 thousand dollars just for being on a Super Bowl team.
But the league also mandated that Pro Bowl selections from both teams be in Miami for media events, which has at least one owner Bob Irsay of the Colts, pissed off and wondering why if they cannot play do they have to be there, losing at least two days of preparation for the Super Bowl? And as far as fans are concerned, many Super Bowl players are nicked up and choose not to play anyway, but at least that is their choice, not the league's.
Anecdotally though the total number of starting Pro Bowl players missing the game is not hugely larger than previous years, it looks that way.
2. Putting the Pro Bowl in the same city as the Super Bowl is a silly twofer and looks like an insider deal. The Pro Bowl is a huge event economically for the city of Honolulu, and it is that city and state's logical connection to the NFL, due to the location there is zero chance a team will ever play there permanently and keeping that tradition in place keeps those fans happy and guarantees everyone that wants can see at least one NFL game a year, considering that the Pro Bowl never looks at capacity. Taking it away hurts that city's NFL pride and hurts the businesses that have had thirty years to forecast a fat week in February.
The players and media also love the experience of going to Hawaii though that means nothing to me, it is already a privilege to play in, participate in or cover the NFL. Players that already make one hundred times or more the average salary of the US worker complaining about not getting a free weeklong trip to Hawaii is a really serious public relations warning light and the league should communicate this to its players.
As far as the game being in Miami, the same city as the Super Bowl, that seems like a boondoggle or a favor to someone, who had to suck whose dick to make that happen? It concentrates the economic activity and will have the effect of squeezing out the average consumer that would be looking to make a flight, hotel or car rental reservation for the week. If I could I would put my investigative reporter's cap on and check into the team owners and find out who has the Miami franchises that are most likely to benefit from this arrangement.
Another way you know this was all about Miami and not just about trying something new, next year's Pro Bowl location has not been announced. It may be in the same city... or it may not. It may be back in Hawaii... or not. Hell it could be in Sheboygan Wisconsin, home of the Howards Grove Senior High Tigers.
If I had to guess I would say the Pro Bowl will be back in Hawaii next year though there is no reason it could not be placed in any other city.
Curly R Pro Bowl policy prescription: In the first place holding the all-star game before the championship does not make sense for all the reasons described above, and the league must realize it has cost them money.
However, if the league insists on holding the all-star game before the championship, here is how it should be done:
1. Hold the Pro Bowl in a different city than that which hosts the Super Bowl. This should be a city that conceivably could have an NFL team within twenty years. My top five would be Los Angeles California, Portland Oregon, Las Vegas Nevada, Hampton Roads Virginia and Buffalo New York.
2. Prevent players from the Super Bowl teams from coming to the Pro Bowl city by mandating those players stay in the Super Bowl city and participate fully in Media Week.
3. Emphasize Super Bowl Media Week in the city hosting the Super Bowl from the Wednesday after the conference championship games, taking Pro Bowl Sunday off, and through the week of the Super Bowl.
This a Pro Bowl gameday open thread.
2010 Pro Bowl stylized logo from here.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Super Bowl on the line
Two great games on Championship Sunday, this is the last time there will be two NFL games in the same day until the start of the 2010 season, enjoy watching the two berths into the Super Bowl determined.
New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts, 3:00pm ET, CBS
Consensus line: Colts minus 8.5
Curly R spread pick: Colts
Curly R straight up pick: Colts
The kind of game football fans love, when the Colts pulled Peyton Manning and their starters with two games to go in the regular season, the Jets capitalized on it and came back to win, they have not lost since and so in a very real way the Colts are responsible for the Jets and all their confidence being here.
Still despite how the Jets have been able to win twice on the road and humble higher seeds, I see no way they can outlast the Colts. The Colts have won just about every way this season and they will find a way to win against the Jets, you simply cannot bet against Peyton Manning, he is better than any defense can be.
Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints, 6:40pm ET, FOX
Consensus line: Saints minus 3.5
Curly R spread pick: Saints
Curly R straight up pick: Saints
Another really hard game for me to call. If the same Saints team from last week shows up there is no way the Vikings can run with them, the Saints can move the ball at will and have too many weapons. Even if the Vikings get the same pass rush as last week I think volume wise there will simply be too many opportunities for Drew Brees to make a play downfield. Simply cannot pick against the home team here.
And you know Brett Favre is loving being the underdog here, all he wants to do is go out and throw the ball around, which is pretty much what they did last week, it is clear that Adrian Peterson or no Adrian Peterson, the Vikings are going to live or die in these playoffs on Brett's arm. Of the two games, this was the harder for me to pick.
Both of these are excellent games and I have no dog in either fight, all would make great stories, let's see some frigging football.
This is a championship gameday open thread.
Team logos from here.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Update Monday 18 Jan by Ben: Man I love to see Tony Romo take a beating. And how can you not think the Colts-Jets game next week is going to be a great game?
Two more playoff games to sate your ravenous hunger for football, and in the traditional 1pm and 4pm time slots, I like the 4pm and 8pm deal for Saturdays, it would not work for me tonight as the only thing that trumps playoff football is on tonight: the two hour season eight premiere of 24.
Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00pm ET, FOX
Consensus line: Vikings minus 2.5
Curly R spread pick: Vikings
Curly R straight up pick: Vikings
Such a narrow spread, inside the de rigeur three point home field advantage gimme, reflects linesmaker thinking that the Cowboys are the better team, and I think they are, they have shown over the past two weeks that they can hit you with too many weapons for you to keep up with, starting with three tailbacks that all could be legitimate starters on many teams. Tony Romo is looking old school in his ability to find open receivers and there was even a Roy Williams sighting last week.
This game though is all about Brett Favre. If he has a Brett Favre kind of game then the Vikings are just as loaded with weapons as the Cowboys. If Brett is out there loose and tossing the ball around like he did in the first seven or so weeks of the season, there is no way the Cowboys can win this on the road. The Cowboys have to hope that we see the old and frustrated Brett, DeMarcus Ware will have a lot to say about that. All that said I think the Vikings will win this game, but that is my heart talking more than my head, I am very invested in seeing Dallas end its Super bowl run right here and now.
New York Jets at San Diego Chargers, 4:40pm ET, CBS
Consensus line: Chargers minus 8.5
Curly R spread pick: Jets
Curly R straight up pick: Chargers
The Jets and rookie head coach Rex Ryan have a bravado I love, coach Ryan published his team's postseason schedule and it included the Super Bowl and a Canyon of Heroes parade through lower Manhattan, he said before the Jets beat the Bengals that New York was the better team and should have been favored and after that game said there was no reason the Jets should not be the favorite all the way on out. Their defensive performance and statistics may bear this out, if it is true that defense wins championships.
The Chargers though have something about them that I cannot put my finger on. Phillip Rivers has the quickest release in the game right now, but it looks incredibly awkward, like a shot put and it does not seem like the ball should go so far so quickly and so accurately. The Chargers and Norval Turner are rolling on an eleven game win streak, rock on Norval.
This is a playoff gameday open thread.
Team logos from here.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
This morning I got an anonymous comment on a thread from last week:
Redskin QB rumor in Philly. Schanahan [sic] wants his old QB Jay Cutler. Philly trades McNabb back to his old hometown in Chicago, Chicago sends Cutler to Redskins. Philly gets draft picks in 3 way deal.
I went on to the intertubes and was unable to find any substantiation, not even a recitation of the rumor. So I have no idea where that comes from.
Still, conceptually there are four reasons this is not a crazy idea:
1. We know the Redskins were interested in Jay Cutler in the 2009 offseason. Ultimately they could not pull it off. In the aftermath of that story there was at least one rumor that the Redskins had made it known to Jay Cutler, way back in April of 2009, that the team was looking at Mike Shanahan as its next coach. Were Mike Shanahan and Jay Cutler just taking a year off from each other?
2. Mike Shanahan would be happy to reunite with Jay Cutler. As the 2009 season wound down and coach Shanahan's name entered the coaching sweepstakes around the league, the Chicago Bears surfaced as potentially a good fit, principally because of coach Shanahan's quote comfort level unquote with Jay.
3. Chicago did not warm up to Jay Cutler. In his first season with the Bears, after turning the league on its ear with demands to be traded away from Denver and new coach Josh McDaniels, Jay set a career high for interceptions. The team and the fans are clearly frustrated and it would not surprise me if Jerry Angelo and the Bears front office was spitballing ways to get one of those first round picks back, or get another proven quarterback with some tread left.
4. Donovan McNabb is the subject of many trade rumors around the league. Despite Eagles coach Andy Reid's assertion that Donovan is his starter for 2010, there is a head of steam among the Eagles faithful that it is time to part ways with Donovan while he still has some trade value. Personally I think that is crazy, the guy has done everything in the world for that franchise and they should be announcing publicly that Dono will be there until he decides to leave football. Nonetheless, coach Reid waffled on his options for 2010 and the fanbase wants him gone. Donovan McNabb is originally from Chicago.
So in this trade scenario the Bears get Donovan McNabb, the Redskins get Jay Cutler and the Eagles get what they always want, more draft picks.
Notwithstanding my serious manlove for Jason Campbell, Jay Cutler would be a good fit with Mike Shanahan in Washington for all the reverse reasons Jim Zorn would not be a good fit with Jay in Chicago.
Jay Cutler: Uncredited image from here.
Whatever it is, it is not as much we're doing
A glorious playoff Sunday, fifty degrees Fahrenheit, still and no chance of rain, this is our playoffs configuration on Swarthmore, two propane patio heaters, a fire pit and Shed TVTM, that is neighbor Bill on the left and neighbor Scott on the right. As I write this we have already added two more, neighbor Paul and neighbor Michael, Tony Almeida cannot be far behind.
Enjoy the game, this first one looks like a barn burner in the making.
Photo by me.
Bring it on
What a glorious thing is playoff football, I will be glued to the toob from 4pm until midnight, we have two great games on tap for today.
Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints, 4:30pm ET, FOX
Consensus line: Saints -7
Curly R spread pick: Cardinals
Curly R straight up pick: Cardinals
You cannot do much better as a quarterback than Kurt Warners 154.7 quarterback rating last week in the epic slugfest against the Packers. Will Kurt continue the magical run or will he stumble? Either way this game figures to feature a lot of passing and short possessions, potentially a three and a half hour game or longer.
I think the Saints will look less like Who Dey and more like What Dat, Drew Brees will be running for his life and the Cardinals win in another high scoring game. I heard a statistic on Sirius NFL Radio this week, Kurt Warner is 8-2 lifetime in the postseason in domes, with his only two losses coming in the New Orleans Superdome. Third time is the charm for Kurt.
Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts, 8:15pm ET, CBS
Consensus line: Colts -6.5
Curly R spread pick: Ravens
Curly R straight up pick: Colts
Our first split pick of the playoff season, the Ravens did a number on the Patriots last week, finally revealing them for the collection of individuals they are, Baltimore is going to have to play at the very top of its game to beat the Colts today, the Ravens have an excellent running game and the Colts are soft against the run.
But then there is Peyton Manning. Peyton and the Colts showed in the regular season that they can win every which way, in a blowout, in a close game, coming from behind and with the running game. I think when all is said and done it is a very close game and the Colts have a solution for the Ravens.
This is a playoff gameday open thread.
Team logos from here.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
It's what I'm doing, two draining hard days in the real world and I have no energy to write what must be written about the retirement of offensive line coach Joe Bugel and the hiring of defensive coordinator Jim 'bullcrap plays' Haslett.
Hopefully these moves signal a wholesale changing of the guard, time for a fresh start for the Washington Redskins.
In other new, the wife, in a move of epic galactic proportions is taking herself and my three boys out of town for the weekend starting tomorrow. I am taking Friday off and will be blogging for the win until Sunday night, stay tuned to Curly R all weekend, it could get ugly. The only distraction I am facing for a weekend of playoff football is an empty glass and maybe remembering to eat.
Smoke break from here.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Don't do it Jim
Now that the smoke of getting fired has blown over, Jim Zorn's name is surfacing as a candidate for other NFL jobs, we always knew, no matter how bad it got, that Jim Zorn had made a lot of friends in thirty years in the league and there would be PLENTY of suitors that would not hold his Washington experience against him, at least for positions below head coach.
First it was Cleveland, that speculation swirled mainly before new president Mike Holmgren decided to keep head coach Eric Mangini, the only way I see Jim Zorn on coach Mangini's staff is if Mike Holmgren forces coach Mangini to take Jim, which would mean coach Mangini is as neutered as Jim Zorn was in Washington, and I think Mike Holmgren is more of an adult that that, he would rather see Eric Mangini fail on his own than be known as a meddler.
Now it is Chicago, after the Bears' disappointing 7-9 season team leadership stripped head coach Lovie Smith of defensive playcalling duties and fired most of coach Smith's offensive staff. Now Jim Zorn's name has surfaced as a potential candidate for quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator or both.
I think this is not a good match for Jim Zorn and he should be wary of taking a postion in Chicago, and this is not because I do not want to see Jim coach again or because I think he cannot handle the job because I do want to and think he can.
Jim should not take a position with the Bears for three reasons:
1. Jay Cutler is barely coachable and not teachable. A huge amount of Jim Zorn's 2008 success in Washington was tied to quarterback Jason Campbell's improvement that year. Jason opened 2008 with eight straight games without an interception and only threw six for the year, down from eleven in 2007 on just thirteen starts. Jason also improved his ball protection, fumbling only seven times, down from thirteen in 2007.
Personally, I attribute Jason's improvement in 2008 not only to Jim Zorn's teaching, but also Jason's openness to being taught. It takes a receptive mind to hear the constructive criticism Jim laid on Jason and then take the teacher's input and really internalize it. And Jason did. He listened, he believed in the program and he improved.
The easy way out as an adult that has been in a single profession for a period of years, is simply to smile, say uh-huh a lot, appear engaged and then go back and do what you do. That right there is Jay Cutler. An arrogant and self centered quarterback archetype, he would laugh in Jim Zorn's face.
After watching Jay revel in twisting the league in knots as Jay tried to discredit his new coach in Denver then put interested teams on tenterhooks with speculation on where he would land and how many first round picks he would cost, do you really believe he is open to input about his mechanics and his field vision, even after career highs in interceptions and sacks in 2009? And if he was, do you think he would consider Jim Zorn to have any authority after watching Jim be humiliated in Washington, leaving in disgrace?
QB Coach Zorn: Jay, we need to work on your pocket presence, your progressions and check downs.
QB Jay Cutler: Yeah just like when you checked down to
the unemployment line.
2. If it does not work Jim Zorn will get the blame and it will hurt his reputation further. The Bears and general manager Jerry Angelo all but fired Lovie Smith, in fact they Zorned him: took away his specialty playcalling duties and fired his offensive staff out from under him. Lovie Smith in 2010 will be very much like Jim Zorn in 2009. Everyone will be looking for scapegoats.
If Jim comes in and takes a lead role in the offense and it does not work it all has a good chance of landing at Jim's feet, there is already a narrative out there that says Jim's playcalling is suspect and one that says he is not a good leader and one that says he wears off after a few games. Whether you think of these memes as true or real is irrelevant, he will be in a new media market full of lazy sportswriters just like every market, the easy headline to write will be
ZORN'S OFFENSE GOING NOWHERE.
Lovie Smith can expect to be fired after 2010 if not during, Jim should not open himself to going down with that ship, that is a losing proposition.
3. Jim Zorn should be in no hurry and should wait for the right opportunity. There are many young quarterbacks out there that could benefit from Jim Zorn's tutelage and while the easy story to write may be that Jim's reputation is in tatters, the reality is he is still highly respected for what he has done in Seattle, he still has friends in the NFL.
With another year at 2.4 million dollars coming to him, he should step back and attempt to sublimate his desire to get back in the game right away, to put on a happy face and show that he is not broken by his experience in Washington, in favor of figuring out what he really wants to do in the NFL, how high he really wants to go and then selecting the right opportunity.
Jim Zorn was and is a good guy, I am not going to trash him on the pages of The Curly R, we will be discussing his tenure frankly in the coming weeks.
Jim Zorn: Uncredited image from here via here.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Definition of cock up
Thanks to Rich Tandler for the heads up, commenting on Curly R went down at some point since last week, I had been worrying about this and done nothing about it out of incredible laziness and a sincere hatred of blog maintenance.
Haloscan, one of the oldest and simplest blog commenting platforms on the internets was acquired by JS-Kit in 2008, they had been nagging me for some time to migrate to their native platform and I declined, then those fuckers debuted a pay-only model and a new platform for comments, if I did not pay ten bucks a year I was going to lose commenting abilities as they shut down Haloscan.
Sayonara Haloscan and JS-Kit, I am not paying for comments, not even ten bucks a year, maybe when Curly R makes me a wealthy man I will take a look back at pay platforms, right now there is zero dollars in the budget for infrastructure, for those that do not know Curly R is a volunteer effort, I have zero advertisers, zero sponsors and take in exactly zero dollars revenue on this site.
After a brief search I was unable to find anything free, industry standard and compelling to switch over to, so I have moved Curly R back to Blogger comments for the time being. They are improved since I switched them off on day one back in 2006, I would still prefer to use another platform but I am not going to get held over a barrel and having a line open to readers via comments is important.
Thankfully the JS-Kit fuckers let me export my Haloscan comments into XML files, however there appears to be no easy way to import Haloscan comments into Blogger or any other platform, if anyone can point me to a walkthrough on this or to any other free commenting service I would appreciate it.
Thanks also to Shailendra at I Didn't Know That technologoy blog for a straightforward walkthrough on uninstalling Haloscan comments from a Blogger template and replacing them with native Blogger comments, Haloscan's own support page on removing the embedded code, which was installed automatically through a web tool in 2006, is so barely helpful that it could be considered not helpful at all.
I hope to migrate back the 1821 comments left via Haloscan on Curly R's 1232 posts over our first 1252 days, it is possible that these comments will for all practical purposes be lost.
Naughty maid from here.
Last night we witnessed the highest scoring postseason game in NFL history as the Cardinals held off the Packers in Arizona 51-45, the total of 96 points surpasses the total of 95 in the Eagles 58-37 victory over the Lions on 30 December 1995.
After putting my two year old to bed I headed over to neighbor Bill's to watch the end of the game, I arrived at his house with about twelve minutes remaining in regulation... and still witnessed another four touchdowns. It was truly amazing... unless you are Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers or Arizona defensive coordinator Billy Davis.
There is a Redskins connection to this game. Although this game was the highest scoring game in NFL postseason history, it was not the highest scoring game in NFL history, in fact it was not even in the top four.
No, the highest scoring game in NFL history was won by your Washington Redskins, 72-41 over the New York Giants on 27 November 1966, a total of 113 points, the game was played in DC Stadium, the venue later to be known as RKF Stadium.
Sonny Jurgenson was a modest 10 for 16 for 145 yards and three touchdowns, future Hall of Famer Charley Taylor caught six of those passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns, future Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell had two carries for 54 yards and a touchdown, rookie safety and future Redskins Ring of Famer Brig Owens had two defensive touchdowns, a 62 yard fumble recovery and a 60 yard interception return.
Those 1966 Redskins ended the season 7-7 and last in the NFL East, it was the closest the Redskins had come to a winning season in eleven years, they would have to wait another three seasons to experience a winning record, when Vince Lombardi came to town.
Sonny Jurgenson: from here via here.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Update by Ben Sunday 11pm: Once again I was wrong about both games, that drops me to 0-4 and 0-8 for the weekend, everyone loves to see the Patriots take a beating and if there is are local deal for free pizza toppings for every Cardinals or Packers touchdown, there are going to be some heavy pizzas delivered today.
Sunday playoff football in the traditional 1pm and 4pm ET slots, a good way to cap a weekend and ensure my Monday is not miserable, sit back and enjoy two more rematch playoff games.
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots, 1:00 pm ET, CBS
Consensus line: NE -3.5
Curly R spread pick: Patriots
Curly R straight up pick: Patriots
A more distant rematch, the Ravens and Patriots met in week four, the Patriots came away with a 27-21 win. The Ravens are not quite themselves on offense or defense this season, still a team to be reckoned with and Ray Lewis and that defense can still get a helmet up in Tom Brady's giblet.
The big question for the Patriots is how the team will deal with the loss of Wes Welker, who tore his ACL and MCL in the season finale, Wes was New England's leading receiver by get this, forty catches more than number two, Wes went down with 123 catches, he is most certainly Tom Brady's relief valve and occupies the role tight ends play on many other teams. They are still a threat anywhere and everywhere, I look for them to get Ben Watson more involved with Randy Moss being sort of a decoy.
Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals, 4:40pm ET, FOX
Consensus line: ARZ -2
Curly R spread pick: Packers
Curly R straight up pick: Packers
Like yesterday's games, a direct rematch, this game was played in the same place last week with the Packers rolling 33-7, in that game both playoff seeds were set and the Cardinals kept it close to the vest. As a result of the seedings and final week, we have a situation this game where a team with eleven wins comes to play a team with ten wins. I have read variously over the past couple of weeks of a movement, tied to fake concern about landed teams sitting their starters at the end of the season, that playoff seeds should maybe be tied to final record period and not division title seeding slash wild card seeding. In this model Arizona would be traveling to Green Bay because even though the Cardinals won the NFC West and the Packers did not win the NFC North, the Packer had the better record, thus giving teams fewer cushy scenarios in which they could sit players.
Well that is all bullshit, we separate the teams into divisions for a reason, that is the central competitive conceit of the NFL, winning your division should always place you in the playoffs ahead of teams that did not. I think the playoff seedings and structure are just fine the way they are, the solution to the fake problem of teams sitting players at the end of the season, which is a marketing and revenue issue not a competition or safety issue, is more competitive divisions. AL that said, the Cardinals play better on the road than at home,
This is a playoff gameday open thread.
NFL logos from here.
Saturday, January 09, 2010
Update by Ben, Sunday 9am: Boy was I wrong about both of these games, the Jets backed up Rex Ryan's trash talking, I would expect the Bengals kicker to face some competition in camp next season, if he makes it that long. In the other game, a strange combination of the Cowboys looking stronger than I expected with the Eagles looking weaker than I expected. Dallas just has too many weapons on offense, the Cowboys are neighbor Bill's pick for the Super Bowl, which would just kill me.
Saturday playoff football, pour a drink and make yourselves at home, we got two great games today, both are rematches of week seventeen action.
New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals, 4:30pm ET, NBC
Consensus point spread: CIN -2.5
Curly R spread pick: Bengals
Curly R straight up picks: Bengals
This game was played last week in New York, a game the Jets won 37-0, the Bengals were seeded and had nothing to play for and it showed. I have a soft spot for the Bengals, they have long suffering and passionate fans, a great stadium I got to see up close and personal last season, the team and its fans are going through the loss of 26 year old receiver Chris Henry who died on 17 December 2009 from injuries suffered from a fall, or possibly a leap, from the back of a moving pickup truck.
As for the Jets, after starting 3-0 the Jets and rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez who was coveted by Redskins owner Dan Snyder, went into a 1-6 tailspin, Mark was benched for one game, the team recovered with a 5-1 streak to end the season and qualify for the playoffs.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys, 8:00pm ET, NBC
Consensus point spread: DAL -3.5
Curly R spread pick: Eagles
Curly R straight up pick: Eagles
This game was played last week in the same place with the Cowboys beating the tar out of the Eagles 24-0, the Eagles were listless and managed no pressure on quarterback Tony Romo, the NFC Beast division title and a home game were on the line so I have no idea why Philadelphia was unable to get it up. I have no fear though, even though the Eagles are on the road, the team is 7-0 in their opening playoff game, they have never been eliminated in their first playoff game since Andy Reid took over.
The Cowboys, well they are built for disappointment, Jerral W. Jones has said he has no desire to make a change at head coach, he has said he really wants to see that desire validated with a playoff win, which would be Dallas' first since 1996. Personally I think Jerral W. Jones is looking for a reason to move on from Wade Phillips and has his eye on hiring Mike Shanahan should Mike choose to return to the sidelines in 2010.
This is a playoff gameday open thread.
NFL logos from here, an indispensable resource for any sports fan.
Because it pisses off Cowboys fans
A conventional wisdom formed as the 2009 season waned once it became apparent that Redskins coach Jim Zorn and Cowboys coach Wade Phillips were both on the hot seat, with Mike Shanahan wanting back in the game the football tastemakers wondered, was Dallas or Washington a better fit?
That conventional wisdom was that Dallas was a better fit because the Cowboys were shovel ready, they were better put together from top to bottom with a reliable quarterback under long term contract, a solid offensive line and a stable of hard running tailbacks.
And if the Cowboys and Redskins were both about the same as far as degree of ownership involvement then why would Mike Shanahan not want to go to Dallas where he could potentially win out quicker?
From listening to Sirius NFL Radio and its non scientific sample of call in Cowboys fans, there was a decent cross section that was going to be really pissed if the Cowboys lost Mike Shanahan to the Redskins, that means to me that Cowboys fans are ready for a change, ready for Wade Phillips to hit the road.
Did the Cowboys lose Mike Shanahan to the Redskins because they were in the playoffs and were unable to make a deal as quickly as the Redskins?
I guess Cowboys fans will have to wait to find that out until after the Eagles kick the shit out of them in the playoffs tonight.
Wade Phillips: Getty Images from here.
Danny Rouhier is here with his final Redskins video of the 2009 season, a list of grievances and sore spots from these past sixteen games, enjoy and please visit YouTube channel and tell him how much you enjoyed these videos.
Danny, thanks for making us laugh and I hope to see you in the 2010 offseason.
YouTube from here.
Friday, January 08, 2010
Wait I thought we always wore pajamas
Chris Gordon, longtime reporter for NBC's channel four affiliate in Washington DC, has been making the rounds of area Redskins bloggers to gauge reaction of the media underclass to the firing of Jim Zorn and the hiring of Mike Shanahan. Wednesday I got my thirty seconds on a street corner near Capitol Hill in the piece on the the hiring of coach Shanahan.
Monday Chris caught up with Kevin Ewoldt of Hogs Haven, the SBN big dog Redskins blog, and Rich Tandler, the godfather of Redskins bloggers who writes for Comcast SportsNet Washington and runs his own must read blog Real Redskins, their video is above.
I had a chance to hang with Kevin and Rich and a bunch of other Redskins writers at a Nationals game last season, an event I photodocumented thoroughly and never got around to posting up on, we mostly drank at the Red Loft bar while some guys played baseball behind us.
Redskins blogs and other alt media outlets are steadily gaining influence, the traditional media outlets want to catch the buzz. Twelve thousand monthly visitors cannot be wrong.
Embedded video snarfled from here.
Bet his first film study was this press conference
Mike Shanahan has begun his tenure as head coach of the Washington Redskins. It is true, that is a true fact. And that guy seated next to him at Wendesday's introductory press conference was not team owner Dan Snyder, it was new actual general manager Bruce Allen. The Redskins have a real actual general manager, also a true fact, that actually happened.
You are not dreaming. Rub your eyes, it is all still there.
Will it work out? Impossible to tell and for Curly R this is not the time to deconstruct the reasons why not.
The owner is mad with power, that much we know, the last time he did this step aside gig head coach and president of football operations Marty Schottenheimer fired Dan's toadie shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato within days of taking the job and as the 2001 season waned and with the team on an 8-3 tear after an 0-5 start when Dan asked Marty if he was ready to cede some of his contractual authority back to the owner and Marty said GTFO it was worth nearly eight million dollars to Dan to shitcan Marty and take it back.
So no, it may not work out, we will get hints all along the way, how coach Shanahan's staff is formed, how current players and coaches are dealt with, if coach Shanahan's operations muck with tradition or history, how the team handles free agency and the draft, offseason workouts, by training camp in July observers will have a legitimate body of evidence to start making informed judgments on early returns.
On the surface though you have to look at this as clear progress: a real actual general manager and a real actual coach with real actual Super Bowl experience, neither of which have real actual reasons to kiss Dan Snyder's ass and both of which have real actual reasons for wanting to succeed and show the world they can succeed.
I have been a Redskins fan long enough to know that Dan Snyder does not care much about anyone outside his bubble or what they have to say so the notion that any of what has happened over the past two years has been fan driven or the result of pressure by the media or football tastemakers still seems far fetched to me, there is a paper trail forming:
Jim Fassel gets one hair from being named head coach of the Redskins during the search without end in January and February 2008. When word leaks out that Jim Fassel was the quote mystery candidate unquote there is a fan uprising that is so severe the Washington Post reports on it in the Sports section. After Jim did not get the job he blamed bloggers, message board posters and sports talk radio callers for influencing Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato. Dan Dan the Sports Bog Man singles out four bloggers for behavior detrimental to Jim Fassel's candidacy.
Then all through the fall and collapse of 2009, the fights with fans over signs, the stripping down of the head coach, the failure, the lack of talent, spark and execution, a common thread formed outside the Ashburn bubble: Dan Snyder needed to get out of the way and turn the business over to professionals, like a small businessman with too much success too fast and not enough skill or confidence to delegate, Dan was stuck trying to shove too much through a small pipe and was making bad decisions. Enter professional management and a gentle invitation for the owner to go spend some time on his private island.
Dan's kneejerk reaction to go from trying to hold the status quo in the face of a customer revolt to becoming a humble man of deference in itself is suspect. After firing Norval Turner at 7-6 and still in the playoff hunt pissed off Redskins fans, his kneejerk reaction then was to throw it all at Marty Schottenheimer, then when the team was 0-2 then 0-3 then 0-4 then 0-5 Dan, who was then still engaging the media and the public, made his message basically, don't look at me guys, you wanted me to find a football guy and put him in charge, none of this is my fault.
And because he did not give Marty even two years of his three year plan in his mind Dan gets to rescue the team from a problem he does not realize he has created.
The same thing could happen this time, it would cost him a lot more money and this time he is not playing with Monopoly money, Redskins fans are seriously ready to drop their tickets, something they were not ready to do in 2001.
We can quibble and oh believe you me I intend to address the disastrous end of the Jim Zorn era next week, we can quibble over how we go to this moment, the journey to becoming a good NFL owner starts with hiring a general manager to oversee operations and a head coach who has the vision and capacity to shape the team on his own. There will be other hires designed to bolster this new power structure and we will analyze them all. Maybe Dan Snyder will let them work.
Today, I am happy with my team's owner.
Mike Shanahan: AP Photo from here.
Thursday, January 07, 2010
I really don't look that much like Ted Koppel
Yesterday I spent five minutes outside for a blogger on the street interview with NBC 4's Chris Gordon on the Redskins' hiring of Mike Shanahan.
FYI the point in this video where the audio cuts off in my shot is where the segment goes back to the studio for the live wrapup with Chris.
Embedded video from here.
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Student of the game
It is official, the Redskins have hired Mike Shanahan to be the 28th coach in team history, completing a leap from a failed experiment with an inexperienced head coach and an ineffective football management team to a franchise with an actual general manager and coach with deep experience in football operations.
Dan Snyder armed coach Shanahan with a five year deal worth approximately seven million dollars a year and handed over near total control of the day to day football operation. Expect everything from the signage to equipment checkout processes to practice habits to dress code to walkthroughs to gameday routine to reflect coach Shanahan's vision of a football team.
The management plan as I understand it will feature coach Shanahan working closely with actual general manager Bruce Allen on high level strategic football matters, player selection, draft prep and selections, roster moves and trades, while Bruce handles contract negotiations and manages the salary cap.
Coach Shanahan is expected to have the final word.
This is not peepee caca news for the Redskins. The implications of this football management structure are huge for the Redskins and their fans. If this is all true then it means Dan Snyder, after more than a decade, has realized he should not be in those meetings, should not be viewing that scouting tape or driving those draft picks. He has realized he needs to step back, put it all in the hands of professional football people, sign the checks and let them work.
Will it work? Who knows, we all thought Dan had had this same revelation before the Marty Schottenheimer hire, from the beginning it went off the rails with veteran players such as Bruce Smith complaining in the media about coach Schottenheimer's tactics, Dan let the coach be undermined, never sold out to Marty, never let it be known that it was Bruce Smith's tough shit, if he did not like it he should retire.
Marty, for his part never batted an eye, armed with a solid contract he went about the business of transforming the team, jettisoning the bloated contracts and unneeded player, steady in the belief that he was right and in charge.
And then Dan fired him because he panicked, he got mad that someone else was playing with his toy. And for what? Fucking Steve Spurrier.
This could all happen again, Dan could get cold feet when the 2010 Redskins are 6-10 or 8-8, fire everyone and bring back Vinny Cerrato, give himself a parade and give the finger to Redskins history.
It may take longer than that and still fail. Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan may not be able to work together, they may conspire to sign a bunch of ineffective old Bronco players and pick the next Heat Shuler in the draft. The job of coaching the team and running the show may be more than a 24 hour a day job, hell Jim Zorn could not even coach the roster given him and call plays at the same time!
Redskins fans though will tolerate a lot of failure from this regime before they give up, Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan are name brand guys putting their reputations on the line, tthey are not lining up to be anyone's pet the way I think poor Joe Gibbs did in his second go round.
No matter how you look at it, no matter what prospects you think this management team has for failure or success, the moves to hire an actual general manager and bring two time Super Bowl champion Mike Shanahan to the Redskins represent bona fide change to the status quo in Ashburn.
Now the fun begins.
Mike Shanahan: Rob Schwane / AP photo from here via here.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Oh yes there will be yelling
It is official, or rather not official official, it is leaked official, the Washington Post is reporting that the Redskins have signed former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan as head coach and head of football operations, coach Shanahan may have near complete control over football operations. Details will start to pour out in the morning and we will learn more, my expectation is that Bruce Allen is in charge of putting together the lists and negotiating the deals, coach Shanahan will have final say on all football decisions.
Needles to say Redskins fans, THIS IS A VERY GOOD THING. Mike Shanahan is experienced, with sixteen years as an NFL head coach, including his own private Zorning in Los Angeles with the Raiders and Al Davis.
Mike Shanahan will likely assert himself down to the most minute details of the franchise as he crafts this team in his image, coach Shanahan and Dan Snyder have a double dare going here, the owner daring the luminary to take on the reclamation project that is the Redskins and the coach daring the meddler to keep hands off. If it works the Redskins can once again be a team Redskins fans can be proud of.
As Dan Snyder is wont to do he has thrown us from the fire back into the frying pan, from a flyer on a guy that was never a head coach to a likely future Hall of Famer. Be sure you save a dessert pocket for the obligatory naysayers and doubting thomases that question Bruce Allen's personnel skills or whether Mike Shanahan can really run it all and coach on Sundays and whether he was really successful in Denver because if so why was he fired? It didn't work with Holmgren, Dan Snyder will never step back, the culture is rotten from the inside, these players will never get up for him, etc etc yada yada and so on and so forth.
Of course all of that may turn out to be true and Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen may not be able to turn this team around. I have already been challenged by the guys at Hogs Haven to predict the number of NFC Beast division titles and playoff appearances in these coming five seasons, it may all flame out just as it did with Marty Schottenheimer.
Redskins fans know losses can still equal progress. Show me you have a plan to move forward and we will tolerate the building process, the growing pains and the oopses. Just make sure you beat the fucking Cowboys.
It worked kids, the fans freaked out in 2009 and demanded change, and Dan Snyder has delivered. Tip your glass back and let us drink to coach Shanahan.
Mike Shanahan: AP Photo from here.
Coming to town
Queue it up kids, the Denver Post is reporting that Mike Shanahan and the Redskins have an agreement in principle making Mike the seventh Redskins head coach in the Dan Snyder era, hat tip to Jason Reid for the news.
The rumored contract particulars are five years in the neighborhood of seven million dollars a year and I would have to assume a high degree of control over player personnel.
Dan Snyder is about to do it to us again.
Mike Shanahan, Super Bowl winning coach: Uncredited image from here via here.
Time is a wasting
The Washington Post's Jason Reid reports that Mike Shanahan's agent has been summoned from whatever wretched hive of scum and villainy agents dwell in to get down to brass tacks on a contract for Mike, it is still perplexing that it is taking this long, I mean seriously, the team negotiated a one hundred million dollar contract with defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth in five hours so what is the hold up?
Methinks Mike has Redskins owner Dan Snyder over a big old barrel and is larding up the deal with every possible privilege and perk he can come up with, and the coach shall have final say on all personnel moves and the general manager shall defer to the coach on all matters of assistant coaches and the owner shall shower the coach with rose petals on Mondays...
In the meantime I can no longer wait to start discussing what happens to this team in the offseason, I am still a bit confused about exactly what no salary cap will mean, who will become disposable and how hard it will be to acquire free agent talent and at what cost, I am sure the focus will turn to this topic in short order once the team's coaching vacancy is filled.
So the quick takes on some of today's news should be taken with the big old grain of salt that these are my opinions in a vacuum and without regard to salaries, draft picks or complications in free agency. Ok, ahem.
Reacting to John Keim's piece at Redskins Confidential:
On drafting versus free agency: OF COARSE YOU CAN'T BUILD A TEM THROUTH FREE AGENCT ALONBE!!!1! Bruce Allen better know that, draft picks are more valuable than ever in a world where decent free agents cost real draft picks, so the Redskins are now in a position to try and hoard picks which could be difficult since the Redskins have only five picks out of a possible seven, plus any supplemental picks awarded, hey thanks again Vinny for that Jason Taylor deal last year.
So in a world where free agency costs draft picks, the Redskins need to be sellers, not buyers. No one is going to give up first and third round picks for Jason Campbell and as much as I like Jason if Mike Shanahan has his eyes on a young guy then get a second or third for Jason and move on. If you can get a ham sandwich for Carlos Rogers, do it. Anyone else that is tradeworthy, listen when other teams call.
On Chris Cooley versus Fred Davis: If it is true that Mike Shanahan likes one tight end that can catch and one that can block that would make him... exactly like every other coach. I never figured out why the team drafted a guy projected to have an upside no bigger than Chris Cooley's with a second round pick, nothing about Jim Zorn's style screamed two tight end sets, and they had one and a half seasons to implement the Unicorn set with both Fred and Chris in there and never did it.
See free agency versus draft directly above, Chris Cooley is probably the most tradeworthy player on the roster right now, young, mid contract and productive. Fred Davis is inferior at this point to Chris, I counted at least four major mistakes on his part in the season finale against the Chargers, and yet he managed to achieve almost exactly Chris' output.
The verdict is simple: Trade Chris Cooley, especially if you can get a team to part with a first round pick. Fred Davis is good enough that having him and not playing him next season is counterproductive.
On Bruce Allen is a good listener: I bet he never forgets your birthday either does he?
On Mike Shanahan is a control freak: I wish I could be there the first time he politely tells the owner to get the fuck off his practice field.
On the players addressing grievances above Jim Zorn's head: Yes it is true that Jim Zorn was a player's coach and more of a friend than a father figure, you cannot fault him for that. I lay that dog at the feet of Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato for creating a culture where the parade of spoiled brat players like Clinton Portis and LaVar Arrington before him can ingratiate themselves with the owner at the expense of the coach.
Given the egos on star football player I cannot really fault these players for flowing like water through the path of least resistance to the most powerful person in the building that will blow sunshine up their skirts and as such this is really Dan Snyder's problem. He needs to learn the discipline to keep a professional distance from the players and not show favoritism, like a teacher banging his students, temptation and opportunity are there, it seems harmless at the time, and nothing good can come from it.
On coach Zorn losing the players as far back as September: Blame that on Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato for creating a locker room culture that ensured Jim Zorn was neutered from the moment the 2008 season ended. Really though that is almost beside the point, look at how fast the fans sussed out the 2009 Redskins, there were four thousand no shows on a sunny late summer football day for the Redskins first home game against the Rams, the Redskins were only 0-1 after losing to a team they had not beaten since 2007 and the fans booed the team off the field after a win.
Like dogs the Redskins fans could smell that cancer in that team the moment we met them.
On Clinton Portis and Albert Haynesworth not having a lot of friends in the locker room: Clinton did it to himself and Albert has at least a season to get back in good graces. Another season of dogging it in the first quarter and worrying publicly about his legacy while on the inactive list in a late season game and Redskins fans will be done with him as well. Fifty percent chance that if Clinton Portis is gone this offseason that Albert Haynesworth inherits the mantle of player Redskins fans hate because we think He Doesn't Get It.
On Danny Smith being endangered: Danny Smith this, Danny Smith that, the Redskins special teams were not spectacular this season, punt returns were awful, the star punter came in and got hurt, there was never a solid plan at kick returner and cutting your kicker in midseason does not accrue well to the special teams coach no matter how you slice it. Toss them all out and start over with new coaches in burgundy and gold.
On Carlos Rogers coming back next season: Only if it is that or a stick in the eye. Carlos has not had a consistently good season since his rookie year and a cartoonish superhero weakness like being a cover corner that cannot catch the ball makes him expendable at best, tender offer at worst.
On Joe Bugel retiring: Buges will always have a special place in my heart, unfortunately though he has lost his objectivity. Vinny Cerrato and Dan Snyder did not give him quality talent, to be sure, but he was so far set in his ways he was unable all season to separate a guy that can get coached up from a guy that is just not starter quality. As the team cycled through all the backups coach Bugel had unfailing praise for all of them and they all sucked. That tells me Buges cannot tell the difference anymore.
On players criticizing Jim Zorn with no repercussions: See Jim Zorn losing players above, coach Zorn may have had the failing of being a player's coach reluctant to attack grown men with jobs to do, the blame really falls on ownership for not selling out to the coach. If they hated Jim Zorn so much then why the hell didn't they fire him and have done with it? The long trudge with the awkward silences and belated and half assed votes of confidence was not good for the players, the coaches, the fans or the organization itself. Man how awful would it be to have Dan Snyder as a boss?
On players being on time for meetings and being all together: Albert Haynesworth was a big dumbass to show up late to practice on Christmas Day, I wish I could have seen the look on Albert's face when he realized after laughing at coach's first dismissal, dressing in for practice, taking the field, getting harrassed by coach again, then realizing, wait, he IS ACTUALLY GOING TO SEND ME HOME. Twelve games his first year with the Redskins, Albert missed one quarter of the team's games.
Reacting to Rick Maese's piece on Clinton Portis and the star treatment on Redskins Insider:
STFU Clinton. You believe you are above the team, that you deserve special treatment. You have cultivated a relationship with the owner not because you really want to be friends with him but because it maximizes your income while minimizing your workday. You can build yourself up at the expense of the team, you are the player version of Vinny Cerrato.
When you were tearing it up, no one cared, that is a rule in football. When you dislocated your shoulder in the 2006 preseason, you complained about Joe Gibbs playing you, said you were making a perfect form tackle at one hundred percent effort and if coach did not want you to get injured then he should not play you in preseason.
And what the fuck with attacking Jason Campbell? Clinton thinks that because Jason Campbell keeps it medium, never flies into a petulant Jay Cutler rage over route running or blocking that he is not a leader, that his unchanging demeanor is evidence he is incapable of leadership, that he has trouble getting the plays in and controlling the huddle, called Jason a poor captain.
I got news for Redskins fans, Jason Campbell was the best thing the Redskins had in 2009.
Clinton Portis is an example of why this Redskins team did not work out, no discipline, no class, no sense of commitment to anything but a paycheck.
He needs to be gone from this team.
Update 8:35pm: Jason Campbell has returned fire, shorter Jason: Clinton UR an idiot.
Bruce Allen: Getty Images from here.
What is the hold up? We need to get moving!
Come on guys, Mike Shanahan has been in town since last night, he was courted at Redskins owner Dan Snyder's riverside manse with the conveniently unobstructed view of the Potomac River, there was even a report that Dan and Mike were heading out to a Reston restaurant, I have a feeling they were not headed to Champp's for a beer and a bowl game.
Move it people, the offseason is here and we need to get things done, lists have to be made, all the god is great stuff needs to come out of the head coach's office and those disloyal assistant coaches are not going to fire themselves!
The tailor is already scheduled to take Mike's measurements for his next awesome leather coach's jacket, I think I may have to get me one of them, and think of all that money the team will save on heating costs keeping the temperature in the 30s year round so Mike's icy heart does not melt, you don't think living in Colorado was an accident do you? Mike does not wake up on the couch in his office as much as he reanimates.
Seriously guys, if there is anything I can do help close this deal today, let me know.
Mike Shanahan: Uncredited image from here.
Monday, January 04, 2010
Maybe he's just here to visit Udvar-Hazy
The first time I read Dan Hellie's tweet today that Mike Shanahan was in town and spotted getting into Redskins owner Dan Snyder's Maybach I thought it was a joke, hyperbole at worst, as I troll teh internets looking for late night leaks that the deal is done, I came across this video, it appears to depict actual Mike Shanahan at an airport getting into an actual Maybach.
Let me tell Redskins fans that this is a done deal, Dan Snyder does not bring Mike Shanahan into town and be seen and risk the FAIL if the signature is not already on the paper.
Everyone get your welcome coach Shanahan posts, comments and tweets ready, we will need them tomorrow.
Embedded NBC video sourced from DC Sports Bog here.
If this is the way it is going to be then let's get on with it
Throughout the day reports placed owner Dan Snyder's Redskins One jet in Colorado then back in Washington, multiple sources have reported that Mike Shanahan was on that plane and is now in town.
Tim Brant at ABC 7 reported that as we speak Dan and Mike are at Dan's palatial estate, the one with the unobstructed view of the Potomac River and that later they may make an appearance at a quote Reston restaurant unquote. Tim Brant reported that there may be an announcement in the morning if they can get the contract done. I fully believe the deal is already done and everyone is just in making sure this what everyone still wants mode.
Jason Reid at the Washington Post reports that Mike could be introduced as coach Shanahan tomorrow, offensive line coach Joe Bugel is expected to retire as soon as tomorrow and this announcement may delay the official announcement of Mike Shanahan as the 28th head coach of the Washington Redskins.
Looks like this is going to happen people.
Mike Shanahan: Getty Images from here.
No longer your Redskins head coach
As we welcomed Jim Zorn on the day he was hired two years ago, so do we bid farewell to Jim Zorn on the day he was dismissed.
Coach Zorn's tenure as head coach of the Redskins was 694 days and a wake up, or rather a stay up as he was dismissed in the wee hours after a sleepless flight from California and a late night in Ashburn.
In those nearly seventeen thousand hours as head coach, the Redskins amassed twelve wins in 32 tries, here is a quick break down:
The team just showed no real progress in coach Zorn's two seasons, though this is not entirely attributable to Jim Zorn. Team owner Dan Snyder and former shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato hobbled Jim Zorn with a roster inadequate to the team's needs and a contract preventing coach Zorn from coaching the way he saw fit when the team needed it the most.
Sadly even with an inept and maniacal management team torturing him relentlessly, it became more and more apparent every day as things fell apart that Jim Zorn was not up for the job of head coach for this team, this year.
Thank you coach Zorn, there were some good times, some bad times and some really bad times, please know that the experience was not wasted, your misery helped remove the blinders covering Dan Snyder's eyes, you were not the problem, you were the byproduct of the problem.
Curly R will pay proper tribute to the Jim Zorn years with the appropriate multi part series. I'm just glad I did not have pay out on that bet.
Jim Zorn in his final game as head coach: AP Photo from here.
See you at dawn
Takeaway Drill: Going out fighting and coming up short just like so many other times; could not even beat their backups; a familiar story with no blocking and critical mistakes from key players; Norval Turner ten years on looks like a pretty good coach.
Quick jump to
Monday Walkthrough: Falling down, no blocking, mistakes from key players, wicked poor defense and still had a chance to win at the end? Credit that to the Chargers pulling their starters out of the game in the first quarter as the Chargers beat the Redskins 23-20 to end a long and ill provisioned march through hostile lands. When we wake up tomorrow expect we will have a new Redskins coach, or at least not this one.
The Chargers won the toss and elected to receive to start the first quarter, San Diego's first possession sees Phillip Rivers move the Chargers move easily through the air and not much on the ground, Fred Smoot misses an easy interception then Nate Kaeding kicks a 47 yard field goal to give the Chargers an early 3-0 lead. Washington gets the ball for the first time... a three and out. San Diego gets the ball for the second time, after nearly stopping the Chargers on a three and out Darren Sproles runs through a hole big enough to drive a truck through for twelve yards, San Diego wastes a timeout on third down then an incomplete, then an ugly fourth down shotput pass, two plays later Phillip Rivers finds Antonio Gates for twelve yards and the Chargers are up 10-0 on their first two possessions. The Redskins get the ball for the second time, Quinton Ganther gets two first downs, Santana Moss sees his first action in a first down, on third and eight pass protection breaks down and Jason hurries his pass and it is incomplete, Redskins take a penalty to move punter Hunter the Punter Smith back and they punt. The Chargers get the ball for the third time, Phillip Rivers is out and Billy Volek is in at quarterback, the first play of the drive is a fifty yard bomb to Malcolm Floyd over a badly burned DeAngelo Hall, two plays later on third and six London Fletcher misses a tackle that would have stopped the play short, it is a first down and that is where the first quarter ends with the Chargers leading 10-0. [Quarterly summaries: Washington Post :: ORB]
San Diego continues its third possession into the second quarter, without the Chargers starters they can only manage a 24 yard field goal and the Chargers extend their lead to 13-0. The Redskins get the ball for the third time, Antwaan Randle El catches his one pass for the day, Rock Cartwright, Santana Moss and Malcolm Kelly all make great plays, Todd Yoder finally caps the seventy yard drive as Todd Yoder catches a two yard touchdown pass to bring the Redskins back to 13-7 Chargers. San Diego gets the ball for the fourth time, it is a four and out and the Chargers are punting. Washington gets the ball for the fourth time, on first down Jason Campbell finds Malcolm Kelly on a seam route, Malcolm takes the ball 84 yards, almost scoring before falling on his dick, three plays later Jason Campbell runs playaction right to Mike Sellers for a three yard touchdown and the Redskins TAKE THE LEAD 14-13. The Chargers get the ball for the fifth time with less than one minute left in the half, a Darren Sproles run and that is it, the half ends with the Redskins leading 14-13. [Quarterly summaries: Washington Post :: ORB]
The Redskins get the ball to start the third quarter, Washington's fifth possession, it is a bad looking three and out, Redskins punt. The Chargers get the ball for the sixth time, their own three and out and the Charger look like they are down to the third team. The Redskins sixth possession sees Santana Moss and Marko Mitchell, Quinton Ganther and Fred Davis all move the ball forward, the offensive line cannot stop a small child from opening the fridge and Graham Gano kicks a 22 yard field goal and the Redskins extend their lead to 17-13. The Chargers get the ball for the seventh time, San Diego continues to look more and more like they are playing preseason ball as they three and out. Washington's seventh possession is like a wet cat trying to get away from you as the Redskins five and out, punt. The Chargers get the ball for the eighth time, on the third play of the drive, first and ten from midfield, Billy Volek went deep for receiver Craig Davis, it was intercepted by Rocky McIntosh, he appeared to fumble, or not, then Carlos Rogers picked up the so called fumble and it was Redskins ball. Washington got the ball for the eighth time and three and outed, punt. The Chargers got the ball for the ninth time, Kedric Golston sacked Billy Volek on first down and that is where the quarter ended with the Redskins leading 17-13. [Quarterly summaries: Washington Post :: ORB]
San Diego continues its ninth possession into the fourth quarter, mainly on a long play to Michael Bennett the Chargers move down the field and kick a 45 yard field goal to bring the Chargers back to 17-16 Redskins. Washington's ninth possession sees the Redskins actually able to pass block, though if this is because of San Diego playing backups that would disappoint, Marcus Mason makes an appearance for seventeen yards, an awkward slide, a fumbled snap and the Redskins are at third and one from the San Diego three, Quinton Ganther cannot get the first down, Jim Zorn sends the offense back on the field and Derrick Dockery commits a false start penalty, the Redskins send the field goal unit out which is what they should have done in the first place, Graham Gano kicks a 25 yard field goal to put the Redskins up by four points, 20-16. The Chargers get the ball for the tenth time, Billy Volek can move San Diego, not nearly as well as Phillip Rivers obviously, on first and ten with less than two minuted remaining in the game Justin Tryon nearly intercepts the ball but cannot pull it in, three plays later Billy Volek finds receiver Craig Davis at the goal line, Kareem Moore makes another great flying stop to force a goal line play, Michael Bennett is short on first and goal, on second and goal Billy Volek finds a wide open fullback Mike Tolbert in the right flat, it looked like Rocky McIntosh blew the coverage and the Chargers take the lead 23-20. Washington gets the ball for the tenth and final time with 35 seconds left in the game and no timeouts, a festival of flailing and a long incomplete on fourth down. The Chargers get the ball for the eleventh and final time with four seconds left in the game, one kneeldown from victory formation and that is that, the Redskins lose the final game of the 2009 season and the last game of Jim Zorn's Washington career 23-20. [Quarterly summaries: Washington Post :: ORB]
Soapbox: Th-th-th-that's all folks, the season ended where it began with the Redskins playing a good team and losing, except for the season opening game one against the Giants was the Redskins had not yet played five straight winless teams, had not broken the Lions winless streak, had not benched Jason Campbell, had not hired another set of eyes. Had not stripped the head coach of playcalling duties, had not discussed who was in place to serve as interim. The shadow general manager had not resigned and a new actual general manager had not been hired. And that week one New York team did not sit its starters in the first quarter.
Things started in a familiar fashion when the Redskins gave up a touchdown and field goal on San Diego's first three drives, the defense looked dreadful against the pass, just happy to give up anything Phillip Rivers and Billy Volek tossed up. Short and long, the Chargers receivers were open all night, it was mostly due to overthrows the prevented this from being a Denver game kind of night.
But then just as fast as the Redskins got down they came back, Washington responded in the second quarter with another patented short Todd Yoder touchdown catch, then after Malcolm Kelly's 84 yard catch and run a Mike Sellers TD catch and then pow the Redskins were winning at halftime.
And for a while it looked like the Redskins might win, as the Chargers gradually pulled more and more of first their starters, then their second team then their third team, the Redskins offensive line looked like it began to get a rhythm, what it was actually was was the level of competition sinking to where the Redskins could finally compete.
I was somewhat impressed with Malcolm Kelly tonight, the yardage does not tell the story as he had 84 of his 109 yards on one play, that had as much to do with Jason Campbell not having time to find deeper routes.
There is not much else to say about this game on the field, the offensive line was abysmal, I caught Stephon Heyer standing around while Jason got sacked and the pass blocking by backfield backs was spotty at best. If I were Jason Campbell I would be happy the season was over.
The running game was a big fat zero, Marcus Mason looks like a better back for this offense than Quinton Ganther, mainly because Marcus is niftier meaning he is better at dancing through a line that is collapsing. Together Marcus and Quinton may make one good NFL back and may hold the place into next season for a name brand tailback.
The pass defense continues to look like it is paid by the opponent's playcaller, short medium and long routes are open. The idea of having Fred Smoot as a strong safety makes me laugh, and not in a happy way. There was one bright spot for the defense, safety Kareem Moore, based on tonight's game I will take Kareem over LaRon Landry at free safety.
Things shift for the Redskins starting tomorrow, while the organization does the obvious things, firing the coach, hiring a new one and stewarding the creation of a new coaching and football operations staff, time for Redskins fans to start thinking of this team top to bottom, who should stay and go, where the team should go next month in free agency, such as it is, and what prospects are available in the draft.
We need to keep the pressure on the team to do the right thing.
Chattering Class: We will bring you Redskins tastemaker reaction to this game in this space.
Omnibus: Broadcasters: Ron Pitts and John Lynch, I like John even if this is the end of the bench, check back to the game preview and see the broadcast coverage, there are maybe 400 people watching this game.
Uniform watch: The Redskins are wearing the traditional home uniform of white jerseys and burgundy pants.
As promised, Kareem Moore and Fred Smoot come out at safety, with Fred playing closer to the line. That is a mistake even if there is no one else to play the position. Put a frigging linebacker in there.
FRED! In the Chargers first possession Fred Smoot had a shot at a goal line interception, he bobbled it and dropped it. San Diego ultimately kicked a field goal. That's one.
Statbox: Redskins have given up at least 44 sacks both of Jim Zorn's years
Rough start: The Redskins started three and out and looking bad, poor hands on Fred Davis no where for Quinton Ganther to run, poor throw by Jason Campbell.
Come from behind: On first down in the Chargers second possession, Phillip Rivers threw a screen pass to his right, it was caught and Andre Carter caught the play from behind, then on second down Andre got up in Phillip's face and pressured the quarterback.
In the Chargers second possession, on third and one tight end Antonio Gates was wide open but Phillip Rivers mssed him, then on fourth down Phillip shotputted the ball on a slant, it was ugly but it worked. Gack.
Two San Diego drives, ten points, so far so good.
Two Redskins drives, zero points.
Finally found a way to get Malcolm Kelly open, toss him the ball on a lateral receiver screen. Jeesh.
Blowing it: On first and ten in the Redskins second possession, Fred Davis missed a really east blocking assignment on the right side, it led to Quinton Ganther getting hit for a four yard loss. The thing about that play is that Chris Cooley would not have given us any better. Two plays later Fred Davis committed a false start. That is three so far on Fred.
YouTube replay: In the Chargers third possession, first quarter, Billy Volek came in for Phillip Rivers and tossed a ball deep to Malcolm Floyd on first down, DeAngelo Hall was BADLY beat, they did give us a replay but in a sign that this game broadcast was way down FOX's priority list, the wide angle second deck replay camera looked like a grainy YouTube video.
Work on your production: In the Chargers third possession, second quarter, to highlight the San Diego starters coming out the camera cut to tight end Antonio Gates on the sideline sloppily eating sunflower seeds, drooling the shells into a paper cup, production dudes take note, whenever you see anyone eating just move to another camera.
Tip drill: In the Redskins third possession, second quarter on second and ten Jason gets harassed into a quick throw, Santana Moss on the left side leaps way higher than he should be able to tips the ball to himself.
Nice hit Kareem: In the Chargers fourth possession, second quarter, on third and four Billy Volek threw to K Osgood, Kareem Moore came up and literally hit K in midair, he came down out of bounds, Norval Turner challenged the play and it was upheld, it was a great flying hit.
He fell on his dick: In the Redskins fourth possession, second quarter, on first down Jason Campbell found Malcolm Kelly on a seam route, Malcolm juked and took the ball 84 yards, nearly scoring, he was caught from behind on the three yard line. Malcolm went out for the next play and the camera unwisely caught Malcolm on the sideline massaging hid cock and balls area with a pronounced grimace on his face, on replay he pretty clearly fell on his athletic cup.
During the halftime show, Will at FOX 5 in Washington reported according to an anonymously sourced AP report, head coach Jim Zorn will be fired tomorrow, Monday.
Working titles for gamewrap: Redskins Are on Clearance, He Fell on His Dick, Firing Squad, The Snyder-Allen Firing Squad, I Can Already Feel the Rope
Jason Campbell had a 140.0 passer rating in the first half.
To start the second half in Washington's fifth possession, Fred Davis missed another easy catch, that's four, on the next play Stephon Heyer let linebacker Marques Harris come in unblocked to sack Jason, Stephon we are done here.
Redskins seventh possession, third quarter, Fred Davis drops another easy pass, that's five buddy. Next play Fred came back and caught the ball for a first down on third and seven.
Saw a commercial for the first (ever? modern?) Pro Bowl BEFORE the Super Bowl, not sure if I am going to like this.
Should have challenged: Looked to us like on that Rocky McIntosh interception in the Chargers eighth possession, third quarters, when he was tackled he was down, Carlos Rogers picked up what looked like a fumble and returned it another twelve yards, the Chargers did not challenge it and the extra yards counted. Did not matter though, the Redskins three and outed.
In the Redskins ninth possession, fourth quarter, Jason Campbell almost slideded!! Seriously Jason, that move needs some work. Next play was a fumbled snap.
You need to be fired now: In the Redskins ninth possession, fourth quarter, the Redskins got down to third and one from the San Diego three yard line, Quinton Ganther cannot get the first down, he cannot, with five minutes left in the game Jim Zorn sends the offense back on the field to go for it on fourth down. This was a horrible football call, as to take the field goal would put the Redskins up by four points, requiring the Chargers to score a touchdown to take the lead. Not to make the fourth down would give San Diego the ball in poor field position, but needing only a field goal to take the lead. Luckily for the Redskins left guard Derrick Dockery false started and the Redskins settled for the field goal. Since we know that under the new playcalling triangle Jim Zorn is in charge of fourth down calls, we can lay that near bad call on coach Zorn, you need to be fired now.
Another flying stop: In the Chargers tenth drive, fourth quarter, receiver Craig Davis was about to go in for what would have been the go ahead score, safety Kareem Moore makes another flying stop with an assist from safety Fred Smoot.
Rocky McIntosh's blown goal line coverage, Justin Tryon's missed interception, Derrick Dockery's false start at the goal line and all of Fred Davis' gaffes today, these are the things that separate winners from losers.
I can already feel the rope: As the game ended and the camera caught Jim Zorn leaving the sideline after the game, he placed his right hand to his neck, look out here boss got a dead man walking.
The Redskins are losers. Good night 2009.
Shooter: Statistically quarterback Jason Campbell had a great game, 28 of 42 for 281 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, and he did have one fumble, borne of poor pass protection. With no running game to speak of Jason had to carry the team himself, ten different players caught passes with five different players catching three or more. Jason finished the day with a 101.4 passer rating, his fifth game of the season with a passer rating over 100. I am telling you, this team could do a hell of a lot worse than to keep Jason Campbell at quarterback.
Fat Contract Albert: Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth did not play. Was in San Diego for the game, on the sideline wearing a tee shirt. Albert missed four games this season. All in all a decent season for Albert, when in the game he showed what a difference he could make, then other times he got winded or just kind of sat there.
OH CRAPPO: Pro Bowl rookie hybrid defensive endbacker Brian Orakpo was credited with two tackles in the box score, Brian did not have a terrific game, he had one good play and one bad play in pass coverage. All in all a good season for Brian.
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 and Ken Meringolo at Hogs Haven, Rico Fantastic at DC Landing Strip, Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down at DC Pro Sports Report.
Next up, nothing, the NFL Redskins 2009 season is over, whatever happens with a new coach, free agency, the draft and all the other intrigue that we have become accustomed to, whatever happens there will be no more Redskins football until August 2010. It has been a pleasure sharing these Sundays with you, thanks to Curly R readers for stopping by.
Curly R's offseason coverage of the Washington Redskins will continue.
Jim Zorn leaving the field: Droid phone screencap by neighbor Scott. Nothing from here via here.