Monday, October 29, 2001

To quote Marty Schottenheimer: "We are on a f---in' roll!"

That's what FOX caught Marty saying quite loudly after Westbrook's TD reception, and I have to agree--to a degree. For the first time this season, the Skins' offense/defense/special teams played a full game. The defending NFC Champions arrived in DC, and--what's this?--Tony Banks threw the long ball and--what's this?--Stephen Davis got his 100 yards, and--what's this?--the special teams scored for us!

It wasn't last week's jaw-dropping spectacle, but it was a solid win against a very good team. Yet I kept getting the feeling that this was a completely different team than the one I watched stink up the joint for five weeks. Yeah, they made their mistakes (can we save our timeouts until the end of the game for once?), but everybody was hustling. Check the punt return coverage on Metcalf's TD--you saw players running full speed to block downfield. It was beautiful.

It was as if somebody told Marty during the fourth quarter of last week's game that if the Redskins didn't score points NOW, he'd be out of a job by November. Really. I don't care what Marty said during the postgame: since the 3rd quarter vs. Carolina the Skins have not been playing West Coast offense. This was Redskins football--long passes and tough running with sweeps (whatever happened to the counter-trey we used to be known for?). Davis looked like Riggo out there in the 4th, wearing down the demoralized Giants D. That's exactly how Riggins used to get his 100 yards a game, and unlike some commentators, I have zero problem with that. So kudos to Team Schottenheimer for not doing what most figured they'd do. (I know what you're thinking, and no, I still don't like him.)

Defense needs some help, no doubt. Look, I like Darrell Green as much as the next fan, but Amani Toomer smoked him for 8-10 yards whenever he wanted to. Beyond Toomer, though, most receivers from the backfield were wide open in the flats for easy gains. When we blitzed, Kerry Collins had plenty of time to get his passes away. Arrington is still a beast, and Bruce Smith still is giving 100%, but we need to apply pressure better on QBs. But hey, the D bent but didn't break, stopping the Giants when they absolutely, positively, had to. Boy I wish we still had Ray Rhodes.

Eric Metcalf = Butter. Immediate impact player. Rest of the special teams tackled with purpose. Good stuff Sunday.

Now this NFC East race is getting interesting. What a gallery of losing teams. If you think about it--and I do--the Skins still have to play the Cardinals twice, Dallas in DC, and the Eagles twice. And none of them are looked better than the Skins on Sunday. Hmm...
OFFENSE: B- (Hey Tony, you should not SLEEP until you learn the rest of the playbook.)
DEFENSE: C- (Oh, I long for the days of Carrier/Sanders/Bailey/Green.)
Sp. TEAMS: A- (Aside from marginal punting, they did everything you could ask.)
COACHING: B (Psst, Marty! Whatever playbook you had in the offseason--burn it. Now.)

Mr. Jones

PS In Fantasy Football news, my Young Avengers team humbled Wesley's WesLaw team 130-78, with my defense still to play tonight. I don't mean to rub it in (OK, I do), but my 4 reserve players had more points than his starters. There ought to be laws against beating people this bad. Oh, that's right. There are.

Monday, October 22, 2001


OK, Carolina’s coverage team completely blew coverage.

And sure, Biakabutuka went out with 7 minutes left to play.

And one could argue that Chris Weinke dissolved into an inept rookie before our eyes.

And yeah, Carolina had won only 1 game before Sunday.

And I don’t mean to overstate anything, but

THAT WAS THE GREATEST WIN IN REDSKINS HISTORY. That’s right, I said “in Redskins history.”

Now you’re probably thinking “how could this very lucky win over a less-than-marginal Panthers team even begin to compare with the Skins’ wins over the Cowboys in the 70s and 80s. And surely one if not all the Super Bowl wins eclipses yesterday’s 3-point victory.”

To that I say the following:

That was the greatest win in Redskins history because nobody, and I mean NOBODY expected, predicted, or imagined that the people who took the field yesterday were even slightly capable of what they accomplished. Even Marty “Hot Seat” Schottenheimer only hoped to be competitive. I saw no prognosticator even suggest that Washington could contain the mediocre Carolina offense. Even the fans didn’t believe: at the game, FedEx Field looked just over half-full. And some of those folks LEFT before the 4th quarter.

This was the greatest win because Tony Banks had thrown all of three passes over 20 yards in five games. For five games, Banks’ throws often skipped the ground or soared over receivers’ heads. And the balls that DID reach their intended targets were dropped. In one quarter, Banks suddenly became Joe Montana. He couldn’t miss, and the receivers had Stick-Um on their gloves.

This was the greatest win because this team looked so inept, so woeful, that at the start of the fourth quarter, the announcers joked that the Skins would have to score more points in one quarter than they had managed to in an entire game.

This was the greatest because Darrell “7 Tackles” Green, Stephen “Hot Potato” Davis and the “Bend But Don’t Break” defense gave Skins’ fans something we haven’t felt in months: hope. Sure, we still sink as a squad, but yesterday this team displayed Steel Curtain resiliency and heart. They never gave up, never surrendered—even though I figured them finished somewhere during the third quarter.

The Skins have been good, sometimes very good, but as far as I can remember they have never been a jaw-dropping surprise. Yesterday they were.

Offense still needs a lot of work, especially on consistency. I dunno what they put in the Gatorade 4th quarter, but it worked. Garndner, Westbrook, and the other no-name receivers remembered that their job is to RECEIVE the ball. Davis ran competently again, just shy of 100 yards for a second game. (And for a second straight game, if he’d held onto the ball, he would’ve had that 100th yard.) Tony Banks, for a couple minutes there, looked like the QB he was expected to be when drafted from college. His passes were crisp, on point, and perfectly timed. Who knew?

Defense did outstanding, even if Biakabutuka ran through them like butter for most of the game. Thank God for injuries. That Carolina got zero points from field position inside the 10 yard line is a stat any defense would be proud of. That they were in the red zone more than that and came away with 14 total points is phenomenal. Now if we can only keep teams from getting there…. Darrell Green had an outstanding game, and Arrington has proven to be a keeper (when he maintains focus), and a monster.

I think the Special Teams played. Don’t remember what they did.

Perhaps the best part about this win is that it demonstrated to Marty and the Family Schottenheimer that, when the moon is in its 3rd phase, and the planets align, that this offense can open up for big plays. That, folks, is a hope we haven’t known in a long, long time.

By the way, this is the hardest week, in recent memory, to rank the squad. The Skins did a lot wrong a long time. But winning sure cures a lot, don’t it?

DEFENSE: A (how’s that a turnaround from last week?)
Sp. TEAMS: C (by default)

Mr. Jones

PS Special message to Nolan, Ryan, Dominic, and other Baltimorons: Ravens, shmavens.

Friday, October 19, 2001

...Braves on the warpath...fight! For old D.C.!...

(Ravens fans can sing the high parts.)

Somebody tell me the Skins aren't the hottest team in the NFC, maybe the NFL. Somebody tell me they didn't just beat Denver at home--in its own crappy elements. Tell me we didn't fumble six times and STILL managed to win. And tell me we ain't the FOURTH team EVER to win four after losing five. Whew!

Yep, it was an ugly game, but a W's a W and quite frankly, the Skins put it on Denver. Aside from Eric "Fairweather" Metcalf's Denver donation, the Broncos hardly moved the football yesterday. Brian "Greasy" Griese was 11 for 31 for a grand total of 114 yards. They got 186 yards total. Tell me the Skins' D didn't put it on 'em. LaVar Arrington, who is quickly turning into a Lawrence-Taylor-beast, was everywhere on the field, despite multiple injuries. Brrrrrruuuuuce Smith is still hustling, and man was I hoping he and Arrington would put a massive hit on Griese in the second half. (They both missed.)

While Stephen Davis ran well--practically 100 yards--the big story is Kent "Superman" Graham, who literally came off the bench to win the game. His stats were significantly better than Griese, though Broncos fans may say Graham was less worn from the elements. I don't care--he passed the ball much better than Griese, and did so in the face of a consistent blitz package from Denver. And he knows even LESS of the playbook than Banks (if that's even possible).

I smell a QB controversy, and here's why: Banks is likely to be groggy for a couple days--come Wednesday, do you start in a very big game against the Eagles, or do you go with Graham, who found Westbrook in ways we haven't seen in two years? Graham did far above expectations in horrible conditions against a good defense. Banks, on the other hand, looked poor in the same situation. Hmm...

Speaking of poor, what in the name of Moses happened to the Baltimore Ravens? I know hindsight's 20/20, but I bet somebody in the front office is rethinking the decisions to let Dilfer and Priest Holmes go. Even if they are now, record-wise, the vibe in Baltimore is much, much different than a year ago. Hmm...

For the record, my Pops called Westbrook's dramatic emergence in the game nary one play before it happened.

Nuff said. Here are the grades:

OFFENSE: B Game balls go to Graham & Westbrook.
DEFENSE: A Really, what more can we ask of them to do?
Sp. TEAMS: B- Metcalf notwithstanding, the punting & coverage was very good.
COACHES: A Great play-action call on the last touchdown...must...resist...liking...Schottenheimer...

Mr. Jones

Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Return of the Z-Minuses...

I remember a couple of years ago when Washington had an absolutely bangin' team. They were something like 7 or 8-0, rolling over opponents. While they weren't expected to challenge the unbeaten record of the '72 Miami Dolphins, the Skins had become a force to be reckoned with. Looked like nobody could beat them. There was one team, though, which had everybody nervous--and we couldn't figure out why. It was the 0 -for everything Dallas Cowboys.

The Cowboys won a grand total of ONE game that year. They went 1-15. Guess who they beat? Though the Skins kicked butt the rest of the season, giving a pitiful Cowchips team a victory felt horrible. It was as if Skins fans would've traded in 3 or 4 victories (heck, we didn't need 'em) to sweep the Cowgirls that year. What a revoltin' feeling.

I feel pretty safe stating that after yesterday's game, we've reached the true bottom. No feeling's worse than this one. This is the Zenith of Ineptitude, the Height of Horrificness, indeed the Peak of Piss-Poor Play. (I made that last one up.) If there was to be any joy in D.C. for the Redskins, there needed to be a victory (not a drubbing or blowout, be even a squeaker would do). They failed to show any heart, any discipline, or any hope. Pre-game, the Skins players talked about "salvaging the season" and "there are lots of games left to play."

No, you can't, and no, there aren't.

Redskins 2001 season? Over. Done. Kaput. When you can't beat a team as woefully backward as the Emmitt Smith (who is, by the way, 80 years old) led Cowboys, then those yahoos on the field don't deserve to be donning the burgundy and gold. Really. I'd rather see the scrub team from '83 play than these half-stepping chumps (who make 100x what I do). This horse needs to be taken out to the hills of Shenandoah and promptly put to sleep.

Sigh...OK, offense was horrible. Banks overthrew, dropped back too far, mishandled snaps, called THE SAME AUDIBLE twice, and um, oh yeah, sucked. Stephen Davis was the usual workhorse, and I forgive him for that fumble. These things happen, but is it me or does Davis fumble at THE most inopportune times? Like on the goal line, or near the end of a game? Riggins never did this. I hate to criticize the man because he and Darrell Green are the ONLY players acting like they want to play football in DC. But ay carumba he gives it up during the worst times. Michael "Paycheck" Westbrook might as well be on another team. He didn't even finish his routes when Banks overthrew, as if he didn't want to bother expending the energy. Somebody needs to beat him up.

Defense, according to the scoreboard, did well. They didn't. Dallas is just that bad. Emmitt and their 2nd back had like 1000 yards against the D, and we lost Smoot (who wasn't doing all that well to begin with) to injury. The D gave up yards when it needed to make a stand. I bet Bruce Smith's recovery will take a reeaaal long time; like 'til the end of the year. I cringe when I think of Denver's offense stepping on the field against us.

Special teams did aiight, though their first-time-returning-kicks returner did better than our guy. Sigh...

In the hallowed halls of RFK & FedEx Field, this season will be largely, and purposefully, forgotten. Heads must roll.

COACHES: Z- (Fire 'em all. Every stinkin' one of them. Our D was ranked 4th last year. Fire them now.)

Mr. Jones

PS I will have my bag ready for Sunday's game. Complete with drawn-on tears.

Tuesday, October 09, 2001

Toilet Bowl 2001: Somebody's Gotta Win!

OK, I didn't see Sunday's game vs. the Giants because I live in Baltimore, and I'd just come in from western Virginia's mountians, and, um, I really wasn't trying hard to catch it. And there was that little military operation going on at the same time. So my eyes were stuck on CNN, ABC, MSNBC, and everybody *except* CBS, who decided that the Ravens' demolition of the Titans was more important.

I don't really consider Sunday's game an "improvement" as some are suggesting. If 23-9 were the score a year or two ago, we'd probably say that the Skins got beat pretty good. Just because we didn't lose by 40+ points doesn't give cause to celebrate. Are we THAT desperate to cheer?

I will say this: Schottenheimer will DEFINITELY be gone at the end of the season. Here's why: even a bone-headed, egotistical, short-sighted "fan" like Daniel Snyder knows that Stephen "Not Getting 1000 Yards This Season" Davis is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the ego and superego of the Redskins offense. He was given the ball less than 20 times on Sunday. Tony "Clutch" Banks is not the answer (and if he is, then we've asked the wrong question), and Westbrook is merely a shadow of the underacheiving player we've known. Why are we relying on them to score, then? What happened to intelligent, win-with-what-works football?

Marty's gotta go. And you know what? If we sent him packing this week, right this minute, I don't think we'd be any worse off.

That said, we look forward to Monday night's showdown with Dallas. I can't remember the last Monday night game between two 0-for-everything teams. Unfortunately, the Skins are much worse off (especially with the loss of Bruce "I'm Outta Here at the End of This Season" Smith) than Dallas. (Who is their QB? Fran Tarkenton?) I expect the Skins to remain true to form, and lose by double digits...

Mr. Jones

PS No grading this week. The team & coaches get F's once again. Which is a marked improvement from those Z-minuses.

Monday, October 01, 2001 how 'bout those Wizards?

If I'd gone to the game, I would've had a paper bag over my head. With an American flag sticking out of the top.

Schotty need not unpack his bags. He won't be around after Week 16. I wasn't impressed that much with Marty when he arrived in town, and the honest truth is that he's shown diddly-squat as a coach & general manager of the Skins. Somebody tell me what we have to show for the losses of Brain Mitchell, James Thrash, Brad Johnson, Tre Johnson, Albert Connell, Larry Centers, and--Lord help us--Ray Rhodes. I'll tell you what we have:

A Stank Team.

Commentators on yesterday's game kept insisting that the Skins players were underachieving, and their lack of effort to the Schotty system was the reason they were losing so badly. That is true, but only in part. The players on the Redskins are playing with zero motivation and heart. They cannot execute the simple, the basic. This, folks, is the job of the coach/coaching staff to remedy. When 30 out of 53 people are let go in the off-season, is it really fair to solely blame the players for their performance? Who brought these players and personnel here?

People bad-mouthed Norv Turner because he wasn't a motivator, that he didn't get in player's faces. Westbrook complained he was too lax, that the team lacked discipline. What do they have to say about Schottenheimer? Is this abysmal, high-school football an improvement over last year?

Banks did a decent job, considering he knows less than half the playbook. 116 yeards without an interception is good. For a rookie. Stephen Davis did great--over 6 yards per carry. Um, Marty, he's getting SIX YARDS PER CARRY. He knows 100% of the playbook. Give him the ball. Who cares what the score is--we're NOT going to win, so at least let Davis pad his stats and have something on paper to show he's playing with heart.


Special Teams?

OFFENSE: D (Davis gets an A, Banks gets a C)
DEFENSE: Z- (that's "Z-Minus" like Peppermint Patty used to get)
Sp. TEAMS: F (can we punt more than 20 yards?)
COACHES: Z - - - (that's Z-minus x 3. I cannot stand the Schottenheimer era. Deion looks like a very wise man right now.)

Mr. Jones

PS The Skins/Dallas Monday night game is looking like Toilet Bowl 2001. Woe to ABC for their scheduling...