Category:NFL
Posted on: September 22, 2009 5:13 pm
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Skins Have Questions. Kendall May Have Answers.

It was bound to happen sooner or later.

 

It happened sooner.

 

The aging and injury prone Redskins line suffered a blow in week two when right guard Randy Thomas was lost for the season with a right triceps tear.  Now the question of how to replace him is left to be determined by head coach Jim Zorn and line coach Joe Bugel.

 

The Redskins do have some promising young talent that could possibly fill in this year.  Guard Chad Rhinehart was drafted for this very reason two years ago.  But the coaching staff has question marks as to whether he is ready.  He has yet to make the active roster this season.

 

Will Montgomery has a little more experience.  He can play guard and center and performed fill in duties for Carolina two years ago.  He has four starts to his name, but did not see action last year.

 

If the Redskins want to give their young talent game experience this is the perfect opportunity.  If they aren’t convinced that it would be in the teams best interest there is one possible alternative option.

 

Pete Kendall, the Redskins’ starting guard last year, is currently a free agent.  He played the last two seasons in Washington and played fairly solid football (minus one very costly mistake against the Rams last year, but that was a bizarre play any way you slice it).

 

At thirty five and with very creaky knees Kendall might not be the Redskins ideal replacement.  But given the lack of depth and the apparent reticence of the coaching staff to start the young guys he should get heavy consideration.

 

He knows the team and has played in the system.  And he is a proven commodity.

 

The Redskins may be better served to let the young guys play and gain experience.  It obviously would be much better to find a capable starter that will be around for years to come.

 

But I think the Skins can only benefit from bringing Kendall back.  The ideal situation would be to sign Kendall and have a three way open competition for the job.  Even if Kendall doesn’t end up playing he could be a mentor to Rhinehart and Montgomery.  He would also provide insurance in the event of poor play, or another injury.

 

The Redskins should hope that this setback can be the springboard to launch the career of a young, talented guard.  But they should also pursue signing Kendall as an insurance policy.

 

A good plan of action is to always hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

 

As long as Kendall doesn’t try to catch any deflected passes he should be a prime candidate in the decision making process.

Posted on: September 22, 2009 3:09 pm
 

Cause of Death: Washington Redskins!

As I was watching the Redskins play the Rams on Sunday a thought occurred to me that I hadn’t ever thought about before.

 

I thought about writing up a will.

 

Now I am fairly young, and I don’t have any money, but there are a few things that I want done in the unfortunate event of my passing.  The one thing I want made very clear is that should I die of a heart attack I want the official cause of death to be listed as The Washington Redskins.

 

To someone who is not a passionate sports fan that may sound rather silly.  But I’m sure many sports fans that aren’t blessed to follow great teams can empathize.

 

When I saw that the pre-game betting line favored the Redskins by nine and a half points I had to laugh.  If I lived near a legal gambling establishment I would have bet a large sum against them.

 

The Redskins play most teams very close.  Whether they are overmatched or clearly more talented the Redskins always seem to play to the opposing team’s level of talent.  Most of their games end with a seven point margin of victory or less, no matter which team wins.

 

I know many people who like close games.  I do too, but when it comes to my favorite teams it would be nice to have a blowout victory every once and a while.

 

Having my heart pound in anticipation for three and a half hours straight every week for four months can not possibly be healthy.  Therefore I want the reason for my heart attack made very clear to everyone.

 

There are many reasons why the Redskins always seem unable to put a team away.

 

One of them is their unique talent to commit costly and silly penalties at very inappropriate times.

 

Like a personal foul on Stephon Heyer during the game last year against the Cards that nullified a sixty yard touchdown by Devin Thomas that would have given them a two touchdown lead late in the game.

 

Or Casey Rabach committing back to back holding penalties on back to back touchdown plays against Dallas last year.

 

Or this week, when a VERY late hit on Mark Bulger by Brian Orakpo whipped away a key fumble recovery deep in Ram territory that could have helped build an early lead.

 

Every time the Redskins make a great play I first look for a flag and then hold my breathe until the next play is snapped and the play can no longer be challenged.  I think I have post traumatic stress disorder from watching this team.

 

The Redskins also have a knack for committing costly turnovers in scoring position.  In the last two games against the Rams the Redskins committed turnovers at the exact same time in the game on the exact same part of the field.

 

This year a Santana Moss fumble thwarted a chance to go into halftime with a lead.  Last year a Pete Kendall catch of a tipped pass lead to a fumble and an eighty yard Ram touchdown, effectively causing a fourteen point change of fortune.

 

Coaching decisions have also played a part in aging me well before my time.

 

In the Joe Gibbs era it was a strict belief in playing very conservative on offense with a lead combined with the use of prevent defense that seemed to be the reason that the Redskins could never put a team away.  Everyone is well aware of the saying that a prevent defense only prevents winning.

 

When Jim Zorn was hired fans hoped that the conservative strategy would be gone.  Well it has almost swung to the opposite extreme.  When faced with a fourth down decision at the end of a game Zorn has proven that he will always go for the kill shot.

 

I like that.  But I don’t like that EVERY SINGLE TIME!  Zorn needs to look at the flow of the game when making these decisions.

 

The first fourth down run I understood.  Shaun Suisham is very unreliable, and a kick from over thirty-five yards out is almost as much of a gamble as going for it.

 

But when you have a fourth and one at the two yard line it is a totally different situation. A nineteen yard field goal is a 95% sure thing.  If you have that good of a chance to go up by five points against a team that has produced one scoring drive all season you must take it.

 

The Redskins did not, and the results might have cost Zorn his game and his job if it weren’t for the stellar play of the defense.

 

Despite these very good reasons, the most important reason why the Washington Redskins can never win big is that the just can’t score.

 

They have changed coaches.  They have changed players.  They have changed offensive philosophies.  They haven’t changed the end results.  They can move the ball with ease from twenty to twenty.  But once they get inside the red zone something happens.

 

I don’t know if Dan Snyder broke a mirror seven years ago or if he offended a voodoo witch doctor.  All I know is that the Redskins seem to be suffering from a scoring hex.

 

This hex can not be blamed on any one person.  Jason Campbell threw two great passes during each of the first two scoring drives.  On the first Devin Thomas dropped the ball.  On the second Mike Sellars dropped it.

 

During the third scoring drive terrible play calling seemed to doom the team.  Two runs up the middle and a third down gimmick caused a drive to stall without giving the QB a chance to make a single throw.

 

There are many reasons why I may keel over any game now.  Until the Redskins can stop making silly mistakes and end this scoring jinx I will be content to stand up during the fourth quarter of games. 

 

I will also be finalizing my last will and testament.

Category: NFL
Posted on: September 18, 2009 11:42 pm
 

Six keys to ensure a Redskins victory this week

Forward this article to all Redskin coaches and personnel.

 

This is the blueprint that will help the Redskins put last week’s debacle in the rear view mirror and hand the St. Louis Rams a resounding defeat.

 

DEFENSE:

 

  1. Blitz early and often.  The Rams present a unique combination of one of the most immobile QB’s in the league with one of the most inexperienced receiving corps in the league.  If that doesn’t favor an aggressive blitzing defense I don’t know what does.
  2. Play tight one on one coverage against the receivers.  The Redskins got killed by playing a very soft coverage scheme last week.  The Rams do not warrant that kind of respect.  Playing tight does leave open the opportunity for a big play, but the Redskins corners are used to this type of coverage and will still have help over the top from LaRon Landry.
  3. Run blitz away from Albert Haynesworth.  Last week the Giants ran away from Haynesworth and had moderate success doing so.  The Rams will follow that blueprint.  If the Redskins keep an extra defender down in the box on that side it will help them to cover all their bases.  While Haynesworth was ineffective last week in passing situations he proved his worth on key running plays.

 

OFFENSE:

 

  1. More play action on first and ten.  Last year Jim Zorn passed a lot on first down.  Maybe he was looking to avoid a play calling trend, but this decision did not work out in his favor.  Clinton Portis will command enough respect to get defenders to bite on first down play fakes.
  2. Mix in a little shot gun hurry up.  Jason Campbell was 14-17 from the shotgun last week.  While I don’t advise doing it all the time it would be a nice change of pace to go with the hurry up offense once per half in non hurry up situations.
  3. Sub Portis on second down, not third.  I understand that Zorn is trying to save Portis from an early burnout, and I like the idea.  But I don’t like having the best blocking back in the NFL and the best pass catching running back on the team on the bench in key third down situations.  Betts is a capable player, but the Redskins would be better served using him on second down than on third down.

 

If the Redskins follow these six simple steps they will have greater success this week.  If they don’t they still have the talent to win, but they will give the Rams a break that they do not deserve.

 

Everyone knows what happened in this game last year.  However the Skins do not come into this game overconfident after beating two divisional opponents on the road.  They come in hungry and eager to redeem themselves.

 

Zorn and Campbell may be on a short leash this year.  This is a perfect game to get back on track.  I have every confidence that they will learn from their mistakes and take out their frustration at home against a young team.

Category: NFL
Posted on: September 14, 2009 11:09 pm
 

Buffallo can't reverse it's Karma, but some have

Call it what you will.  Luck.  Fate.  Preparation.  Karma.  Destiny.  A certain feeling that your actions are in some ways altered or influenced by a power that is beyond your control.

 

I don’t know what the correct term is, but I see its influence all around me.

 

I was moved to ponder these questions of a collective destiny while I watched the fourth quarter of the Buffalo/New England game.

 

I wasn’t going to watch either game tonight because, frankly, I felt that both would be very lopsided and dull.  But when I logged onto cbs sportsline and saw that Buffalo was leading the Pats deep into the fourth quarter I felt compelled to watch.

 

I really wanted to see the Bills pull off a stunner, but deep down I knew they would blow it.  I tuned in to witness the manner in which they would blow it.

 

They didn’t disappoint.

 

Down 11 points with 5:25 left in the fourth quarter, Tom Brady started doing what Tom Brady does best, methodically leading his team to a touchdown drive.  When the two point conversion attempt failed I felt a little more hope for the Bills, but with over two minutes left and three Patriot timeouts left I knew that there was just too much time.

 

On the ensuing kickoff Leodis McKelvin became a full fledged member of the tragedy that is the Bills when he fumbled and gave Brady the ball right back with only 33 yards to go.

 

You know the rest of the story.

 

Witnessing this cruel but inevitable twist of irony has led me to ponder the importance of team karma, and how a team that has proven that it was born to fail can change its mindset and shake off the curses.

 

Buffalo is no stranger to results like this.  They pulled a similar choke job against Dallas in one of their most recent primetime appearances.  Of course these regular season games pale in comparison to their most stunning choke job in the 1991 Super bowl when their kicker shanked a very make able kick wide right to lose the game for them.

 

Their ineptitude has even inspired the film industry to make a movie about that Super bowl (the great Buffalo 66 starring Vincent Gallo).

 

This loser karma was also on display on Sunday.  Detroit kept playing its role as NFL doormat.  The Redskins invented new and interesting ways to lose to the Giants But the most blatant example of maintaining a losing tradition has to go to the Bengals.

 

In a game where Cincinnati outplayed the Denver Broncos for 59 minutes, a freak deflection to a wide open Brandon Stokely proved to be the Bungles’ unlikely but inevitable undoing.

 

Fans of these teams have it very hard.  They are always waiting for the other shoe to drop.  But sometimes the unthinkable happens: a team actually defies logic and karma and changes its own fate.

 

Take Arizona for example.  They were the brunt of probably the most memorable choke jobs in Monday Night Football history (honorable mention goes to the Dolphins against the Jets).  How many ring tones and Coors Light commercials have resulted from coach Denny Green’s post game press conference?

 

But was anyone surprised?  NO.  This was the Cardinal way.

 

Yet despite these years of manifested negative energy Arizona was somehow able to overcome its collective demons and rally from a fourth quarter choke job to get to the Super bowl.

 

Another example is the Colts.  I know that they are a great team, but when it came to playing in playoff games against the Patriots Peyton Manning was known to fold like a cheap tent.

 

Manning and the Colts were in mid fold form in 2006 when the improbable happened.  Manning suddenly caught fire and rallied his team to the most stunning comeback victory in Colts history.  What made it even more stunning was that it came against Tom Brady and the Patriots.

 

I am pondering these questions to seek an answer to why certain teams become doomed to failure, or blessed with resilient success.  But I am also doing this to talk Buffalo coaches, players, and fans down off the ledge.

 

No matter how bleak the situation there is always hope.  Every once in a while karma gets tired of relieving itself on a certain team and gets off the pot in search of a new victim.

 

While tonight’s predestined debacle is proof that karma is still in mid stream, please take heart that even a drunk Patriot fan at Foxboro has to stop peeing sometime.

 

Keep hope alive.

Category: NFL
Posted on: September 13, 2009 11:49 pm
 

Equal blame all around

As a Redskin fan I would like to say that this game was truly maddening to watch.

While the offense certainly was the worse of the three major units today many people must share the blame.

First of all, I hate criticizing Greg Blache because his defensive schemes usually keep the Redskins in games, and this game was no exception.  But I feel that Blache made a critical strategy error early in this game that cost the Redskins ten points before they made any adjustment.

Everyone with any football acumen knew that the biggest question mark for the Giants coming into this game was their lack of experienced receivers.  Everyone also knew that Peyton Manning was one of their greatest strengths.

So it really infuriated me when I saw the Redskins laying back in a VERY soft zone and only rushing four at Manning to start the game.  The obvious results were that the Redskins got zero pressure, Manning had all day to dissect the defense, and the DB's gave such a cushion to the receivers that seven yard button hooks and slant routs were easily completed.

I am from the school that demands a young player to prove he is worthy of respect before you give it to him.

Blache should have sent extra rushers at Manning to force him into his hot reads and played bump and run man coverage on the young Giant receivers.

Instead Blatche treated these guys like they were Plaxico Burress and backed so far off the line that Manning could play pitch and catch on underneath routes all the way down the field.

It looked like the Redskins were playing prevent for the first three defensive series.

When Blache finally made the obvious adjustments he turned it over to the offense to make boneheaded plays.

Antwann Randle El has been running the reverse option for many years now.  He has been told countless times to throw the ball away if the easy play doesn't present itself.  So why did he give up an unneeded and very costly eleven yards when every instinct and coaching lecture was screaming in his ear to throw it away?

And while we are on the subject, can we stop running that play.  My grandmother is 88 years old, and even she knows that if Randle El gets a reverse that he is looking to pass the ball.  Trick plays are worthless once they lose the element of surprise.

Now we come to
Campbell.

I defended him all last year and into the off-season.  I felt he took too much of the blame for the Redskins' collapse last year.  But if he plays another game like he did today I may have to stop fending off the masses and let them eat him alive.

Campbell made two truly horrific plays in this game.  The first was when he threaded an interception after he had run a good four yards beyond the line of scrimmage.  That was inexcusable.

The second blunder was due to poor mechanics. 
Campbell was given a perfect pocket in which to throw, but instead of stepping up into it Campbell chose to plant his feet, pump fake, and then attempt a long wind up.  If he takes two steps forward he has a twenty yard completion.  By forgetting his technique he cost the Redskins seven points.

I won't rag on DeAngelo Hall too much, since he did make a great heads up play later in the game, but if I see him do his Deion Sanders impression the next time he has to tackle a receiver in the open field I will start a petition to ship his butt back to
Oakland.

It is very clear what the pros and cons are of the decision to keep Hall and jettison Springs.  Hall will make the "WOW" plays.  Springs will make the solid tackles.  I hope the wows make up for the whiffs this year.

This list would not be complete without mentioning Jim Zorn's name.  His play calling was very conservative and predictable.  I wish that he would recognize the fact that
Campbell seems to respond favorably to the hurry up offense.  I wish he would let him run it on more occasions than just end of game scenarios.

As disgusted as I am by this game, the world is not over.  The Redskins have a very favorable schedule ahead in the early goings.  There is still time to right the ship.  But I implore Zorn and Blache to seriously reconsider some of their strategies for this year.  This may very well be their last chance to do so in a Redskins uniform.

Category: NFL
Posted on: September 6, 2009 1:54 am
 

Da Bearss!

The greatest comedy is the comedy that is a true reflection of the reality in which we live.

Based on Bears fans' reactions after the Cutler deal I have gained a new respect for the early nineties SNL Bear fan parodies featuring Mike Myers and Chris Farley, among others.

The Bears fans are so pumped by the signing of Jay Cutler that they have reverted to Ditka era form.  Please don't give a reasonable argument for why the Bears might not make the playoffs this year.  You will have 50 fanatics cursing you for even considering that the Bears may not succeed.

In honor of the classic SNL sketcches, I would like to update them to accurately reflect modern Chicago fans.

Host: "Alright everybody, it's time for season predictions.  Everyone please give your opinion of how the Bears' season will play out.  Personally, I think that 15-1 is a distinct possibility."

Fan #1: "16-0.  The Packers play us close, but Cutler pulls it out in the end."

Fan #2: "Undefeated season.  This is the year that Don Shula is finally disappointed."

Fan #3:  "15-1, due to a blown call against Cutler by Ed Hochuli."

Host:  "O.K.  We all seem to be in agreement about that issue.  Now I would like to ask you to predict how the Bears will due against Favre and the Vikings.  Who wins?"

Fan #1:  "Da Bears.  Cutler throws seven TD's to Earl Bennett.  52-17."

Fan#2:  "Da Bears!"

Fan#3:  "Da Bears knock Favre out early and manhandle Jackson on their way to a 35-2 victory."

Host:  "Alright, but just to make it interesting, let's suppose that Cutler is only six inches tall.  The Bears have to play with a mini-Cutler."

Fan #1:  "Bears.  21-17."

Fans #2:  " Da Bears, but it's close."

Fan #3:  "DA BEARSS!"
Category: NFL
Posted on: September 1, 2009 7:14 pm
 

Does anyone know the answer to my question?

Ray Ratto wrote an interesting article about the possibility of as many as 12 NFL franchises having games blacked out this season due to poor ticket sales.  This made me wonder about one aspect of the NFL's blackout policy. 

For the record I just want to state that I will never personally be affected by a blackout for two reasons. 

First, my Redskins have a ten year waiting list for season tickets.

But even if millions of Skins fans stopped buying tickets I wouldn't be affected by a blackout because I live outside of their local market.

My question is this.  If an area has a game blacked out does it just apply to local affiliates, or would all cable NFL packages be blacked out also in local areas.  It seems reasonable to black out local stations so fans will have to pay to watch their team.  But blacking out a fan who has shelled out hundreds of dollars to buy an NFL product that guarantees the ability to watch every game would be wrong.

Of corse, the NFL is paranoid enough to black out DirecTV just to prevent a fan without cable from driving over to Buffalo Wild Wings to catch the game on their NFL package.

Does anyone know the answer to this?  Even though it will not affect me directly I am curious about the fine print of the NFL blackout policy. 
Category: NFL
Posted on: August 27, 2009 6:49 pm
 

A few thoughts on the NFC East prognostications


The Eagles proved last year that the NFC East is the best division in football.  They went to the NFC Finals despite going 2-4 in the division and getting swept by last placed Washington.  If that doesn't prove parity I don't know what does.

The Eagles are the hardest team to figure out this season.  I could see them win the East with their talent, but I could also see them finish last due to chemistry issues and injury concerns.

The Giants are probably the safest bet this year.  Even if the recievers don't pan out I have a hard time imagining them going any worse than 10-6 or 9-7.  Their reserve linemen are better than most team's starters.  They are good where it counts: in the trenches on both sides of the ball.

Dallas has been totally overlooked this year, and I can't figure out why.  Does the loss of TO really mean that much?  This is the same team minus two significant players that everyone expected to win it all last year.  Maybe the experts are just afraid to get burned again.  If the defense can improve Dallas will be very good.  The offense will not miss TO.  Their season's success or failure lies with their defense.

The Redskins have the least pressure and most upside of any of these teams.  No one in the media has predicted anything better than a battle for third place, with most placing them squarely in the cellar.  There are no expectations, which could be a very good thing.  The defense should be superb, and Jason Campbell will be playing with a chip on his shoulder during a contract season.  That could go one of two ways, but if the line holds up I think Campbell has the skills to play smart, winning football.

As always with the Redskins, the difference between 8-8 and 10-6 is the ability of the offense to score 20 points a game.  If they can manage that the defense will do the rest.

Injuries play a huge role for every team.  But in the case of the NFC East I think that injuries will be the deciding factor in this very skilled, very even division.  As always, the last man standing will win.
Category: NFL
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com