Monday, September 23, 2002

This is precisely why I play Fantasy Football

I got to watch the Skins vs. 49ers yesterday with my boy Dan, and at the game's conclusion, I turned to him and just shook my head.

"What am I supposed to say about this game?" I said.

"Well, the D wasn't that bad, it was just that our offense needs work."

That 'bout sums it up. The Redskins managed to hold the 49ers to 20 points (although a good D gives up less than that) and keep the offense in the game. Yes, I know that the defense gave up something close to 200 yards of rushing, with both of San Francisco's backs looking dominant. But it would've been moot had the offense been able to take care of their end of business when the opportunity came their way.

I speak not of the Danny "Woeful" Wuerffel interception, but of the previous drive led by Shane "Benchwarmer" Matthews in the 3rd quarter. It was second down, if memory serves correct. The Skins were just inside the San Fan 50. Spurrier called the perfect play: Two right-side wide receivers criss-crossed, leaving the inside reciever (I think it was Jacquez Green) running a 12-yard out route.

Was he open? No. He was WIIIIIIIIDE open. As in, nobody within 10 yards of him.

The offesive line gave good protection. For a change. Shane's pass? Completely over the head of Green. Not even worth jumping for. The ball landed somewhere out of bounds. Probably hit a cheerleader.

Now Shane had taken a cheap shot earlier in the drive from a San Fran lineman (who needed to be ejected and/or fined), so I suppose Shane just wasn't the same after that. But I point out this play because, really, it was the last legitimate chance the Skins had to come back and win this one. We complete that pass and we're practically in field goal range with a couple Davis runs. Alas.

Following the preseason and first regular season game, I said I was sold on the Fun-n-Gun. But now, I dunno--the playcalling seems to have taken a more subdued, conservative approach. Maybe it's because the Skins' QBs aren't executing well. Maybe because Sir Spurrier wants to get Stephen "Fumble at the worst times" Davis more involved. But from my seat, I see short passes (Davis is the leading team receiver) and #$@@$ running plays on 2nd-and-20. On fourth and one, Davis up the middle? What happened to the three-reverse play-action playbook?!?

Special teams did a great job. The fumble call against Jacquez Green was a toughie, so I'll let that slide. But fantastic job downing punts and the like.

The D still needs to tighten up, but since I smacked 'em last week, I'll go easy on them. This game could have been a nail-biter, but it ended up being a head-shakin' affair. Which brings us to...

My Young Avengers Fantasy football team managed to avenge a first-week loss and a second-week tie by pasting Lone Star and The Bandits in one fell swoop! (The tie is resolved by using the next week's score as a tiebreaker.) My 2001 Championship team still has Marshall Faulk, Ernie Conwell, and Keyshawn Johnson still to play tonight but those points are moot. I went from being possibly 0-3 (et tu, Ravens?) to 2-1. Nothing makes a Skins loss feel better than a Young Avengers win!

Next week: BYE. Skins lose, 21-13. Just kidding. Somebody suit up Patrick Ramsey...

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Old. Fashioned. Butt. Whuppin'.

Hey, not my words, but only because Champ "Porous"Bailey used them first in a post-game interview. I'd also like to add that the Redskins got pimp-slapped around for 60 minutes. They got their manhood taken. And most importantly, they disappointed their fans.

Let me start by addressing a most disturbing comment by LaVar "Beast" Arrington post-game. I believe Sonny Jurgensen was asking Sir Arrington if they was some confusion on some defensive plays. LaVar said, and I paraphrase here: "Yeah, we were confused a couple times. The fans were so loud that we really couldn't communicate well with each other, so we made some mistakes."


In NFL history, has the defense EVER blamed their performance on their HOME CROWD?!? Were the Redskins' defensive plays so complicated that they needed to talk about what they were going to do? Appartently not--McNabb punt-passed-and-kicked his way through LaVar and Co. anytime he wanted. And for the record, we were loud only for about ONE QUARTER because after 15 minutes the game was already beyond the Redskins' reach. This is the most ridiculous, buck-passin', apology-needin' post-performance excuse I have ever heard. The nerve.

I'll also quickly note that Champ said that Donovan "Chunky Soup" McNabb just had a perfect game and they needed to work on a scheme to defend him. Mr. Bailey, they needed to work on a scheme to defend McNabb LAST WEEK. This is why you don't play two games back-to-back. That's what Marvin "Unproven" Lewis was brought in to do. Horrible game plan, Mr. Lewis, and even if the plan passed as marginal, the execution by the defense was straight poop.

The Skins play the Eagles twice a year, and McNabb's a 4-year veteran. That's up to 8 times the Skins have had to "work on a scheme to defend" McNabb. Ain't figured it out yet. I'll give you that Donovan was on target last night--but we didn't exactly give him much resistance. He passed to wide-open receivers in the middle and burned our corners and safeties down the middle. Perfect? Naw. Unchallenged? Yep.

This game was rough to sit through because the pre-kickoff hype was electric. They must've played the Monday Night Football theme 10 times, and paratroopers flew right over our heads onto the field. When the last, with an American flag in tow, landed, the stadium was deafening, shouting "USA, USA!" Great, great stuff.

Our offense stepped on the field and, um, did squat. Zilch. They got less and less yards on consecutive drives--Spurrier apparently trying out his "None-and-Gun" scheme. Stephen "Last Man Standing" Davis gave great effort, still picking up 5+ yards on carries through the second half (when they gave him the ball). But Shane "Shame" Matthews and Danny "Woeful" Wuerffel provided next to nothing. Bad reads, horrible throws, and Danny went down for a sack anytime the wind blew. We COULD have been in this game when we went on 4th-and-10 (!) at the close of the first half. But Rod "Westbrook" Gardener let a pass hit him in the hands and didn't bother to catch it. (Must've been thinking about how much money Snyder gives him to practice catching the ball.) Would've been a touchdown. Eagles got the ball and kicked a field goal. 10 point swing, ballgame.

Jacquez Green scored our only points tonight in a spectacular punt return. And we made the extra point. That's all there is to say about special teams.

I know ABC has had enough of putting the Skins on MNF; we stank it up against Green Bay last year (37-0) and even lost the 2001 Toilet Bowl vs. the Cowchips. After last night, heck, *I* wouldn't schedule 'em for a Monday night. I shudder at the loss of revenue when people went to sleep in the first half.

It's easy to get apocalyptic with the Redskins, so I'll resist the urge and put this in some perspective. You gotta fall back on what you know to help you get through rough times. So this is what helped me swallow the loss and look forward to next week:

At least we're not as bad as the Baltimore Ravens.
OFFENSE: F (We have an ugly QB controversy brewing now...)
DEFENSE: F (Dorsey "Backup" Levens runs for 47 yards?)
Sp.TEAMS: C - (Jacquez gets the week off. The rest of the team has to watch "Moulin Rouge" every day.)
COACHES: F - (We were down by 23 points and ran the ball on 2nd and 22 and 3rd and 23. Have some heart, Spurrier.)

Monday, January 14, 2002

Schotty...we barely new ye...

Well, that was quick.

Under 15 months and the Skins have had FOUR--count 'em--FOUR coaches. Norv "Dimples" Turner, Terry "Scapegoat" Robiske, Marty "Forward Pass" Schottenheimer, and now Washington welcomes Mr. Steve "Steel" Spurrier. Sigh.

Those of you who've read my little columns this year know that I haven't exactly been a Schottenheimer Era supporter. I think Marty and his band of merrier coaches came into D.C. and messed up a program that needed only minor tweaking. They completely overhauled the Skins, removing 30 players and practically demoting veterans like Green and Smith. Carrier? Gone. James Thrash? Larry Centers? Ray Rhodes, Deion and our 4th-ranked defense slid out the back before Marty got in sniffing distance of the Skins. Rather than picking up a ball-control QB like Dilfer, Brad Johnson got the axe for Jeff George, who was promptly canned before the bye week. Enter Banks who didn't know the playbook until, oh, the seventh week. And Stephen Davis? Marty didn't realize Redskins-style football until it was much too late in the season. Against the Bears, with the season on the line, and the ball at the 3, we ran Stephen Davis one time.

So while I applaud Marty's ability to get in the players' good graces haflway through the season and make a record-breaking salvage of the year, I gotta say I haven't been impressed. Marty wanted full control, and with it the Skins were, in the end, mediocre.

...but we had potential for the 2002 season. Just like after Norv/Robiske's departure, there was room for tweaking. That's tweaking, not complete rebuilding. Spurrier's style of football is Superman to Marty's Bizarro, and how the players are going to respond is anybody's guess. Who the players will be is anybody's guess.

All this confusion is courtesy "Richie Rich," known to the rest of you all as Daniel Snyder. I haven't said it before, but I'm saying it here and now: he is a horrible, horrible owner. Call him snobbish, childish, whatever. His worst quality is his impatience. You canNOT create a contender in one season with different leadership. He's failed to learn this. Darrell "Ageless Wonder" Green stated how comraderie is built: look at Baltimore and St. Louis. How bad were the Rams before they got it together? Same for the Buccaneers. Give it time, Danny, give it time! Sheesh.

We'll just have to see.

In other news, Baltimore has got that Super Bowl Swagger back. Have you read the press today about yesterday's game? Ooh, the Ravens can talk smack. They're backing it up, so everybody in the AFC needs to be on alert. I think they're the team to beat on that side, while the Rams are the giants of the NFC. Their game vs. the Packers should be Super Bowl-quality. Come to think of it, this coming weekend has two Super Bowls. God bless the NFL!

Mr. Jones