Monday, September 20, 2004

Week 2: OK, Breathe…Easy…Inhale…Think Happy Thoughts…

Washington 14, New York 20

Over this summer some college buddies and I got together and caught a Saturday matinee. There were some interesting movies out at the time, including The Manchurian Candidate, Collateral, and The Bourne Supremacy. Not a bad selection to choose from. When we couldn’t agree on which to see, Norv, Dominic and I somehow found ourselves sitting in Alien vs. Predator. We certainly didn’t have high hopes for the film, as movie review compiler had it rated as less than 40% “fresh.” I personally blame Dominic for his mere suggestion of this film.

What we saw, scene after scene, was abysmal direction, clichéd dialogue, and a general pooping on two celebrated action/horror franchises. More like a cheap 90’s MTV Headbanger’s Ball heavy metal video than classic monter vs. monster battle, my boys and I were stunned at how consistently flawed and banal A v. P was. If there weren’t scenes where the action was completely indistinguishable, there was Sanaa Lathan (God bless her for trying to maintain some dignity) with a ridiculous gutted Alien head for a shield outrunning a befriended Predator in a dead sprint, and, in a tender moment, bandaging his wound. Hel-LO! Predators don’t make friends. They kill people. That’s why they’re called Predators.

There’s something to be said for consistency; even more when something is consistently bad.

That was Alien vs. Predator.

You know where I’m going with this.

It was a lot like watching the Redskins on Sunday.

Here’s what we saw, for those who wisely avoided all stats and information on this game:

Mark “My Hammy!” Brunell: 1 touchdown, 1 interception, 1 fumble, 1 hamstring injury.

“Mr. President” Clinton Portis: 260 previous carries without a fumble…two fumbles Sunday, one for defensive touchdown.

Patrick “Happy Feet” Ramsey: 1 touchdown, three interceptions, zero confidence.

For those mathematically challenged, that’s two touchdowns and seven turnovers. Add it together and you get one miserable football contest. It’s difficult to comprehend Chief Joe Gibbs coaching a team that makes that many mistakes in one game. (Wrap your brain around this: it could’ve been nine turnovers—we recovered an additional two other Ramsey fumbles.)

I had to keep reminding myself “it’s only one game…it’s only the second week of the season…Gibbs is gonna whup some tail this week…it’s only one game….”

If there is something for Redskins fans to celebrate (besides the game mercifully ending), it was that the defense played well enough to keep the falling-over-itself offense competitively in the contest. Let’s give credit to the New York Giants, proving that they really aren’t too strong a squad by shanking field goals, avoiding easy first downs, and never delivering a knockout blow.
One other note: while I try not to get into the what-ifs game, I did predict a Skins win 24-10. Had the Skins scored when they got into scoring range and not committed the turnovers, the game would’ve been almost precisely that point total and result. Miscues on the both sides resulted in the actual score. (This is what people who predict scores say to themselves to maintain their pride.)


Once again the defense saved the day. I was a wee concerned that the Giants’ receivers looked open on most pass plays in the first half, but I think the D tightened up enough to limit New York’s production in and near the red zone. Matt “Blitz Me!” Bowen again is playing above last year’s form in his quarterback pressures, and linebacker Marcus Washington shined with 11 tackles.

A tip o’ the hat to Chad Morton and the special teams, no longer playing as if they stepped off the short bus. Morton averaged over 20 yards per kickoff return (bonus Madden points there) and John Hall made four field goals to keep the game honest.


Ay carumba. Was I mistaken, or was Portis benched for Ladell Betts midway through the game? After Portis’ second fumble, the FOX cameras showed Sir Portis, sans helmet, pacing the sidelines with the Skins offense on the field. No matter. He returned and was, generally, ineffective.

It’s much too early to second-guess, but Mark Brunell’s got some work to do if he wants to gain Redskin fans’ approval. Would Jeff Garcia (who had a hor-REN-dous day against the Cowchips) or—gasp!—Kurt Warner been wiser choices instead? Perhaps even let Patrick Ramsey finish earning his stripes under center. The mind wonders. (Forgive me, Gibbs, for questioning your coachitude.)

Brunell and Ramsey’s numbers might not have looked so bad had the Washington wide receivers not dropped sure catches. I dunno whether they were spooked by footsteps or the ghost of Jimmy Hoffa but I saw Coles and Rod “Parkay” Gardner ruining great coaching and quarterbacking. In fact, now that I think about it, I’m putting the loss on the receivers. Hey, if Gardner catches his third quarter touchdown, Ramsey doesn’t throw his next pass into double coverage for a Giants touchback interception and the Skins are tied at 20 with an extra point to go. Coles doesn’t drop an easy third down play during the Skins’ last drive and who knows what happens?

Where’s Michael Westbrook when you need him? Just kidding.


OFFENSE: D (I said last week that Laveranues Coles would break a sweat during the game. Didn’t know it’d be all over his hands.)
DEFENSE: B (The only squad who deserves not to run suicide wind sprints Tuesday through Friday.)
COACHES: A (I know, I know. But coaches don’t tackle, they don’t catch passes, they don’t throw blocks, and they certainly don’t complete passes. I like the gameplan and it would’ve worked. Anybody care to challenge me on this one?)


Anybody want Rod Gardner from my fantasy team? He is, statistically speaking, fresh doo-doo. He lets good points for my Young Avengers slip away as if he doesn’t care about me winning yet another Festivus Maximus championship. I have to put my hope in—eww—Terrell Owens of the Egos to make up my 29 point deficit to Wes “Not The Momma” Greer’s 4Gen Warriors.

One other note, if anybody’s online with the PlayStation 2 Madden 2005, send me a message for a game: GoSkins 72.


The luster on Monday Night Football’s contest against the Dallas Cowchips is a bit dull following the Redskins’ loss, the Cowchips’ drubbing by the Vikings in Week One and the comedy of interceptions Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. But ah, it’s still prime time on the national stage, it’s a classic rivalry, and most importantly it’s two of the most respected coaches in NFL history squaring off one more time. (Reminds me of the greatly anticipated battle between Optimus Prime and Rodimus Prime after Optimus came back to life following the Transfomers movie because Megatron, who later became Galvatron, killed him to acquire the Matrix for Unicron but lost it to Hot Rod who led the Autobots now as Rodimus…and…um…nevermind.) My point is, this ain’t Dave Campo and Steve Spurrier.

This is why I like the NFL. This match up offers two teams who face virtual elimination from the wild card race with a loss or two in the division. And it’s still September.

At the risk of being obvious, turnovers will be critical to winning this one. I’ll bet anyone a Quizno’s sub that Portis doesn’t fumble next week. Vinny “AARP” Testaverde should make enough mistakes to allow Sean Taylor and company to win this one. Keyshawn Johnson will commence whining like a little girl.

The Skins need to get the passing game going. The run will be there; I think our offensive line can handle their defensive line and blitzing linebackers. But if our quarterbacks (whoever they be) continue this sporadic play, the game will be much closer than it should be. That’s what, sadly, I’m predicting.

As sportscaster Keith Jackson says, “Whoa Nelly! This one should be a dandy.”

Skins win, 21-17.

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