Monday, December 11, 2000

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse…

I laugh to stop myself from crying. I am reasonably certain that the St. Mary’s College of Maryland Seahawks can beat the Redskins. And we don’t have a football team.

Any fans of this Triple-A level football team must be hanging their heads so low they need a chin guard. There’s been some poor football in this state before, but I cannot remember such a letdown as was exhibited by the Skins Sunday. I listened to WJFK’s Sports Junkies after the game for about five minutes. All they did was yell. I believe the words “abomination” and “disgrace” received liberal usage.

For the record, I stopped watching in the fourth quarter with the score 22-7.

Not that there was so much on the line, really. The odds of the Skins getting in was growing more and more slim as Sunday’s early games progressed. This slim margin, of course, was due to their horrendous 7-point output AT HOME against the Giants and a shanked 40 yard kick AT HOME against the Eagles.

Yet, I wanted the Skins to beat up on somebody, if for no one else but Terry Robiske. He’s obviously in a tenuous position, and a strong performance against a 4-9 team would begin to answer some questions about the team’s problems. Was Norv’s firing the cure-all? Will George’s arm and Davis’ legs mesh into 30-point games? Was LeCharls really why the special teams weren’t special? Can we squeak into the playoffs?

I have no answers for these problems. Terry, all the best, buddy.

The defense had to have another bad game sometime; I just wish they’d do it against somebody besides Dallas. Aikman and Rookie Boy threw a combined eight passes. EIGHT.

The offense stank. Again. Next week, Wes, Dominic, and Norv will be filling in for the offensive line.

Dallas’ first two drives began at the Redskins’ 28. That’s pre-preseason scrimmage position. Thank you, special teams.

OFFENSE: The what?
DEFENSE: Who let the dogs out? Woof-woof-woof-woof!!!
Sp. TEAMS: Update your resumes.
COACHES: Let’s see…no quarterback…how do you think Dallas will move the ball?

P.S. Redskins vs. Cardinals tickets on sale. Cheap.

Tuesday, November 21, 2000

Does It Get Any Better?

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is what Snyder expected to see when he bankrolled the Redskins. All cylinders firing in time, on time. With the breaks also going the Redskins’ way, the St. Louis “Marshall Faulk is back!” Rams had no chance. I believe that the Titans, Raiders, and even the Vikings would’ve had no chance. (Okay, maybe.)

It’s about friggin’ time, I thought to myself around 11:30PM, that the interceptions, penalties, and other pigskin quirks started going OUR way. No 103-yard fumble recoveries here. (Although I would have LOVED to see Champ take that interception 107 yards.) This was Big Time Football.

The Redskins converted 3rd downs, they deflected passes, they even pulled a little trickery. They outcoached and outplayed the Rams. People, particularly in D.C., are always compaining about how soft-minded our team gets and usually blames any mental breakdowns on the coaches. Well, they deserve some praise today—being down 10 points against the Rams is scary. At least, I was scared. But to stick to the game plan—run the ball first, set up the short pass w/ the long pass the third option—is to be applauded.

Tell me that wasn’t last game’s goat, Special Teams coach LeCharls “Please make a tackle, Guys!” McDaniel calling that oh-so-sneaky onside kick. When I saw it happen, I thought of all the times I’d seen that play executed on NFL Prime Time and wished the Skins had the guts to try the same. It’s about time we played with some urgency. True, the special teams gave up some unnecessarily long returns, but none went for points. Eddie Murray, you may unpack now.

The offense put up 33 points. Wow. Could’ve been 40, if there hadn’t been holding on Skip Hicks’ touchdown (which looked like a scrimmage play). Stephen “I Ain’t Hurt” Davis was again the money man, but that title was challenged by the sudden laser-accurate Jeff “What Interception?” George. Oh, let the controversy begin. Tell me, do you think Brad would’ve been able to hit Irving “The Reverend” Fryar on that 40-yard throw like that? I really don’t know. The 1999 Brad would’ve…

Is it me or is Darrell “The Ageless Wonder” Green still the Redskins’ defensive MVP? Man, the Rams tried to test him early and often. But strained calf and all, he limited Isaac Bruuuuce to only a couple catches. And darn if Green wasn’t the only man making tackles in the first quarter. Hats off to my man.

Marshall Faulk? MVPuh-leeze. Faulk disappeared after halftime. The D slowed the 4x100 squad and shut down that stupid 40-yard screen pass the Rams are known for. (Heck, the Skins offense executed it better!). Bruce “I’ll Take Two” Smith and Marco “Finally Got Another Sack” Coleman provided just enough pressure on Trent “Money” Green at the right times to make Green force some throws. Which was just enough for us to win. How ‘bout that Champ “Lil’ Darrell” Bailey? The Rams threw at him once, maybe twice—and Champ took one of ‘em away. Excellent.

And, um, I hate to say it, but Neon Deion “Prime Time” Sanders made a play. A big one, too. I dare say one of the biggest of the game. I’d already called him Sissy Sanders for hurting himself BY HIMSELF in a contact sport. But he redeemed himself with a heads-up play.

It’s not time to make a Super Bowl Shuffle video, but…if the Skins give 80% of this effort against the Eagles, Giants, Pittsburgh, Dallas, and Arizona, we sweep ‘em all and get home field for the playoffs.

Go Skins.

OFFENSE: A (George & Davis: two great tastes that taste great together)
DEFENSE: A (Deion gets a part of it, too. Shoot.)
Sp. TEAMS:B (I still hold my breath on kickoffs.)

P.S. I hope somebody has this and the Bucs game on tape. Best Skins games I’ve seen in years.

Monday, November 06, 2000

Boo! Boo boo boo!

For once I’d like to see the Redskins get beaten without the outcome the result of Redskins mistakes. Nobody beats us like we do.

Let’s get this over with.

On the Special Teams: LeCharls McDaniel, or whatever his name is, has gotta go. He’s the coach of this squad, and because they stink, he stinks. He should’ve been gone after last season, to be honest. Every kickoff and punt is an adventure for the Redskins. And the falls are NEVER in our favor—when was the last time the Skins ran a kick back for a touchdown? Can anybody remember that? I bet you can name off the top of your head three times that the Skins have given up critical plays on special teams. Oy.

And what’s with the kicking game? The extra point is the easiest way to score in football, and it’s been botched at least twice this season. Do you realize that some teams go an entire season without botching ONE kick? And that Heppner kid misses a 33 yarder? Horrible. Somebody’s gotta take the fall, and it might as well be LeCharlie McNugget. Or whatever his name is.

On the Offense: I kind of liked the zip George was putting on the passes. Granted, they weren’t all accurate. In fact, he missed Connell (or Connell missed him) on a couple of occasions, most notably in the last 5:00 scoring drive. George should’ve run for the first down. Instead, Heppner shanked a kick.. I still miss Brad’s short-range accuracy, primarily because we have no deep-threat reciever for George’s style. Get well soon, Brad. Stephen Davis is again worth his weight in gold. You knew he was going for 100+ yards after the first series.

On the Defense: Good work. 16 points ain’t much in the NFL, and most of the work done for the points came when the D wasn’t even on the field. Apart from one bomb over Bailey, the D held strong. Bruce had a quiet day, but Stubby did good against the run. Can’t believe I’m saying that. Man, why didn’t Deion cut inside and return the interception for a touchdown…?

I said last week that “I guess we shouldn’t spot the other team 14 points next time.” We gave Arizona 10. And I predicted 35-14 as the final score for the Arizona game. Skins had the ball inside the red zone six times, resulting in 15 points. I still ain’t Nostradamus, but if Washington had played half their potential I would’ve been dead on.

OFFENSE: C- (this high ONLY because of Davis’ running. 400+ yards with 15 points?!?)
DEFENSE: A (Heck, Deion even got an INT)
Sp. TEAMS: F- - - (that’s three minuses)

I watched the Rams do the same thing the Skins did today—beat themselves with stupid mistakes. They lost to lowly Carolina. Both teams’ll be looking for vindication and respect. Maybe, just maybe, if Darrell comes back, and Davis isn’t hurt too bad, and Connell decides to finish his routes, we’ll win. Redskins 28, Rams 27. Maybe.

Tuesday, October 31, 2000

I Ain't Nostradamus...

Let’s just say that I know what the Redskins will be doing this week at practice: tackle drills. This heartbreaking loss (which took the Skins out of first place in the NFC East) came down to that one aspect. And it applies to the whole team this time, not just the defense.

But we’ll start with the defense because they did the best of the Redskins’ squads overall. The Titans’ biggest threats—Eddie George, Frank Wycheck, and Steve McNair—were sufficiently contained so that the offense or special teams could win it. Remember that 14 of the 27 Titans points came when the D wasn’t even on the field. The Titans got into Redskins territory a couple times and came away with only field goals. To me, the defense will be practicing tackling drills because three—THREE—people missed Wycheck on his touchdown catch to put the game at 27-14. These were clean tackles they botched. And I won’t go into how Deion flew right over and off the head of his receiver in the first half. Again, though, the D did well. (By the way, that was a phantom roughing the passer call on Bruce Smith. It honestly seems like he gets one of those calls every game, doesn’t it?)

It’s tough to judge special teams because when they screw up, it’s very obvious and can drastically change the dimensions of the game. There’s little middle ground. Guess which side they were on yesterday. Oy vey—one punt returned for a TD, and lil’ Tommy Barnhardt gets an unnecessary roughness call. What?!? Let it be written that when the special team gives up points, the Skins lose. (OK, we did beat Carolina, but that was because one of the long kick returns was called back by penalty.) Poor, poor tackling. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as…

The Redskins offense. Now I ain’t one to second-guess, because it’s real easy to do a day later. But…I dunno WHO was calling the plays at the end of the first half. This was the absolute worst playcalling I’d seen from this team. Granted, they did eventually get to the Titans’ 34 with time on the clock, but as I watched I kept yelling (and I have two witnesses to this) “WHY ARE WE PASSING THE BALL WITH 58 SECONDS ON THE CLOCK IN OUR OWN TERRITORY!! RUN THE BALL!!” The score was only 13-7, and we would get the ball back after the half. Why in the world were we trying to score? If we really wanted to conserve time, why have the Titans kickoff twice, squandering precious seconds? Why not, f’crying out loud, run Davis two plays and go into the locker room? Wasn’t that first overturned interception omen enough?!?

And what in the Sam Hill happened to our players on the 81 yard interception return? Did we even have 11 players on the field or did they head to the locker room? Maybe it was the camera angle, but after the Titan caught the ball, I saw five players trying to get to stop the return. Where was everyone else? Chalk it up to the Titans’ defense for switching into special teams blocking in a matter of seconds.

The offense proved, though, that they can move on the best of defenses. The last TD drive by the Skins was phenomenal and should’ve put fear into the Titans. Brad was consistent, Davis was getting 6 yards per carry, and time barely moved off the clock. Heck, even Old Man Reed caught a ball. It was even better than the scoring drive the Skins began the game with. The Redskins were the more powerful and efficient team on the field.

I guess we shouldn’t spot the other team 14 points next time.

OFFENSE: C+ (that was a potentially TEN POINT swing in the first half)
DEFENSE: B (except Deion, who gets a C. Deion, at less than 35 years of age, is the subject of “he’s lost a step” talks and gets excuses for being beaten. Darrell Green is 40—40!!—and still plays better than Deion. You’ll never see me with a Sanders jersey.)
Sp. TEAMS: C- (I bet Snyder is scouting Desmond Howard.)

For the record, the Skins have done better than I expected this year, given the schedule. I thought they’d lose to either the Ravens, Bucs, Jags, or even Giants. But they didn’t, so we’re still in great position for the season. Norv and I will be suiting up for wide receiver tryouts this week.

Next Opponent: at Arizona. Redskins win 35-14.

Tuesday, October 17, 2000

Quote the Ravens: Never Score!

Deion just hasn't impressed me. He's done okay, I guess, but certainly he hasn't earned his paycheck yet. Now he ain't runnin' kicks back anymore. I think it's inevitable that Deion will get beaten for a long play. He barely held on to a Ravens receiver on one play--if he'd slipped, it would've been six. The majority of the Skins' sacks haven't been coverage sacks, but sacks shortly after the quarterback's three step drop. I'll take Charles Woodson from the Raiders over Deion any day...

I'm not suggesting benching Brad or anything--just that I don't have the same confidence in his long ball as I did last year. His stats are still very good--in the NFL top 10. But to beat the Rams and Titans, we're going to have to score lotsa points (frankly because I don't know if we can stop Marshall Faulk or Eddie George). Mistakes will have to be kept to a minimum.

Now we CAN beat both teams if we can rule the time of possession game. I liked watching Davis run like Riggo of old in the 4th quarter. The Rams offense can't score from the sidelines. The better we run, the better the odds of winning.

As an aside, people still aren't giving the Redskins' D respect. Everytime I read about the Rams' possible losses, they talk about the Bucs defense. Uh...hello...they're 3-3. Blame Shaun King & their offense if you want, but Sapp & Co. gave up the points. Redskins are better, and just point to their wins against the Eagles, Bucs, and Ravens as proof.

Jacksonville stinks. Skins win by 8 points. 14 points if Brad doesn't throw an interception.

The Ravens' HQ is located here in Owings Mills, up the street from Karlea's job. I seriously thought about hanging a Redskins flag over their entrance gate symbols...ha!