Sunday, September 26, 2010

Week Three: Different Team. Same Result?

Washington 16, St. Louis 30

Last week I explained that the 2010 Redskins were, through their first two games, creating four fears for the NFL and their own fans. At the conclusion of Sunday's loss to the St. Louis Rams, allow me to add one more, this one the most cringe-inducing:

Fear #5: The Redskins are the same #@$%@ team we booed off the field last season.

You remember them: Jim Zorn's boys lost to bad or rookie quarterbacks, allowed previously unknown backups to have their career best days, squandered opportunities through failures to perform the
basic requirements of football, and, generally, made the worst teams look better than they really are.

(Boy those were tough years.)

Now, before we succumb to fear #5, let's remember that the 2010 team is just three games into a season. To suggest that the Shanahan Era Redskins are the same as the Zorn Era Redskins (and, one might argue, the modern-era Redskins) is a wee presumptuous. The current football product is an amalgamation of a new scheme, new coaching, and new leaders.
Even the ownership seems to have turned a leaf. So at its essence, the present can't be the past.

But on Sunday, the circumstances were eerily familiar, the results uncomfortably predictable. They faced a Rams team that had one win in its last 28 games. The Rams had a rookie quarterback, no star wide receiver and got less than half a game's production from its star running back. Their best safety was out with an injury and even their fans didn't seem to want to show up for the contest.

Yet, in true Zorn fashion, Shanahan's Redskins still managed to lose. Badly. Before garbage time
padding, Washington had virtually half the plays, half the time of possession, half the yardage, and half the points of St. Louis. New defensive coordinator Jim Haslett's mighty 3-4 defense, which had some success against two top-shelf quarterbacks, managed one measly sack of the rookie. New offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's offense ran well in the first half, disappeared in the second half, and converted--get ready--one third down.

It gets worse: in the first nine minutes, the Redskins had a punt blocked, had lost a fumble, allowed a 42-yard rushing touchdown, had two false-start penalties, a crack-back penalty, and were down 14 to nothing. Egad.

The second half adjustments for Washington? How about zero sacks of Bradford, zero red zone touchdowns, sixteen unanswered Rams points, and nearly four yards a carry for backup Kenneth Darby, a chap who in three years had never rushed for a touchdown?

The hope, naive though it may be, is that this loss represents the Low Point Before the Ascent. That coach Shanahan looks back at the 2010 season and can say "I told everyone that it was a new day, and the Rams game was the last time we reminded anyone of the old days." That unlike the past, the Redskins won't find new, stomach-churning ways to lose to the lesser and narrowly fail to the better.

But with a team currently giving up huge yardage, barely able to run, and relying on field goals, it's hard to believe that this is the worst. History says to buckle up. It's gonna be bumpy ride.

OFFENSE: D. 1/10 on 3rd down, 0/3 in the red zone. That's all you need to know.

DEFENSE: D. Now's a good time to ask DeAngelo "This is my defense" Hall how Mark Clayton and some guy named Danny Amendola managed to move the sticks on him. How bad did the Rams control the Redskins' defense? After kicking a field goal in the second quarter, the Redskins ran 32 plays, the Rams 73.

Sp. TEAMS: C. Graham Gano stepped in for an ailing Josh Bidwell, so positive points here. But the weekly foul-ups in blocking or ball handling are inexcusable.

COACHING: F. OK, so Portis averages more than five yards per carry in the first half but in the second half he's relegated to 3rd downs while backup Ryan Torain gets the rock? And where was Jim Haslett's adjustment to Bradford's series of short passes or Darby's consecutive rushes in the second half?

It's nice to see a Madden moment work in Washington's favor. After achieving a first and goal at the one yard line, the Redskins defense held St. Louis to a field goal attempt. At the snap, 310-pound Philip Daniels hurdles the offensive line and is practically standing straight up while blocking the kick. I've had all of one field goal blocked in my years of playing Madden, and it happened just like that. It was shocking in a video game, even more so in real life.

Photo courtesy
John McDonnell-The Washington Post

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Week Two: Be Very Afraid

Houston 30, Washington 27 (OT)

When your team allows twenty unanswered points and nearly 500 yards at home on the way to losing a practically won game in overtime, there are plenty of people to blame. Some even call it a repeat of last season's Zorn-rific choke to New Orleans. Contrarians are preferring to celebrate what appears to be an excitement that hasn't been seen in Washington in nearly ten years.

I prefer to view these 2010 Redskins as...scary. I've seen enough football and horror films to know when to trust my fear-fueled spider sense, which tells me that something ain't what I thought it would be. In lieu of What Worked and What Didn't Work, here's what, if I'm the rest of the NFL, just might make 'em shake in their shoes:

Fear #1: Donovan J. McNabb is still a top-ten NFL quarterback, and it was the steal of the offseason for Washington to have him. Every dollar of DJ McNabb's contract was verified by his outstanding performance on Sunday: 38 for 48, 426 yards, one touchdown, and zero turnovers. Throw in the absolute lack of run support--more on that fear in a moment--and you have one of the best Redskins quarterback performances in a decade. The Philadelphia Eagles may have found a stopgap to their QB troubles in Michael Vick, but I guarantee you they saw McNabb's performance and felt a twinge of fear and regret. How good is McNabb? Even ancient Joey Galloway is a deep threat. DJ is the Man of the Game.

Fear #2: The Redskins' 3-4 defense looks like it's been in Washington all along. There was concern in the offseason (and, frankly, in the preseason too) that coordinator Jim Haslett's adjustment to the traditional 4-3 would take time to gel. But Brian Orakpo, LaRon Landry, and London Fletcher lead an aggressive, pressuring attack that has the potential to harass even the best quarterbacks. The Texans' Matt Schaub hit the dirt five times--how long has it been since that happened for the Redskins?

That said, Sunday's loss exposed some facts that should keep coach Mike Shanahan sleepless throughout the season:

Fear #3: The Washington defense lacks a shutdown corner. DeAngelo Hall is good, not great. The rest of the secondary's quality drops quickly and dramatically from there when it comes to pass coverage. Fans were shocked (some gave sarcastic praise) when Carlos Rogers caught his first interception in recent memory. Safety Reed Doughty led the team with ten tackles, but that wasn't from blitzing; it was from Schaub's receivers getting open early and often. And for the second week, an opponent's primary target got open on a fourth and long when an incompletion would have iced the game.

Fear #4: The Redskins' running game is a thinly-veiled facade. I mentioned last week that the ground game is more diversion than attack. On Sunday, the two-headed Pop Warner running game produced 18 net yards on 17 rushes. That's one yard per run, a statistic that would make the Hogs of yesteryear spin in their pigpen. Part of McNabb's performance was from necessity--he had no help in milking the second-half clock or punching out four yards on third downs. It was bizarre that the Texans were fooled on any play action passes after the first quarter. The optimist in me thinks that the Redskins can make 8-8; but with this comical running game 7-9 would be impressive.


OFFENSE: C+. It's just unfair to soil McNabb's outstanding performance with the running game. But that's football. The worst moment was Larry Johnson deciding to not lower his head and attack a defender but circle around and lose ten yards. His production: two rushes, minus-seven yards. Hang Your Head. Is Trung Canidate available and in shape?

DEFENSE: D. It's accepted that the Texans possess an emerging QB and a top-five receiver. But for the love of Chris Hanburger, can the defense not allow them to connect during the critical plays? Can this defense put their opponent in a sleeper hold and not allow them to stand up?

Sp. TEAMS: C. Graham Gano had his game-icing field goal deflected by an unblocked Texan, and then missed a second attempt at a 51-yarder to win in overtime. Otherwise, fantastic directional kickoffs by Gano helped pin Houston deep.

COACHING: C. For all the knowledge that offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan possessed of Houston's plays, the defense did little to stop them. Where was his father's kicker-icing timeout? Didn't he invent that annoying tactic? And for the record, one last time, let's say that Shanahan needs to either play Haynesworth or trade him. (If you really want to twist his nose, put Albert on special teams.)

OWNERSHIP: C. My club-level gameday experience was great: cool air conditioning, still-comfy leather chairs, and 50 of my new friends cheering the Dallas loss on the HD screens. Then there was the $34 for two shakes and two cheeseburgers at Johnny Rockets, and I shook my head.

If you've played Madden for any length of time, you know how the CPU will be able to ramp up its efficiency in the fourth quarter. You know it's happening when the running back suddenly turns into Gale Sayers and Barry Sanders' love child and bursts for a five-tackle-busting 80-yard touchdown. Or when, on a game-winning 4th and 10, the quarterback avoids the rush and lanches a long touchdown to a receiver who is unbelievable open for the score. That's what happened to Reed Doughty and Philip Buchanan, who provided little resistance to Andre Johnson on the tying score. The lesson: if you're in double-coverage on their best receiver, don't worry about whatever's happening at the line of scrimmage. Just stand near the guy you're covering!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Week One: Preparation + Opportunity = Win

Dallas 7, Washington 13

For Redskins fans, every game against Dallas begins with a nervous, angry excitement ("we're gonna kill 'em!...I hope..."), continues during the game with disbelieving pronouncements ("why aren't we #$#% RUNNING THE BALL?!?") and ends one of two ways: with a silent shaking of the head with hands covering the face, or with a long, smiling exhale.
Is it written somewhere that Redskins/Cowboys games must be this excruciating to watch? That, regardless of the players or coaches, the contests must be as deodorant-bustingly dramatic as possible? Is "bustingly" even a word?

The headlines for this game have read like this one from the's page: "Cowboys miscues costly in loss to 'Skins." And there was this link over at Sports Illustrated: "Game ending penalty helps 'Skins beat Cowboys."

I respectfully disagree. Mike Shanahan's team earned every bit of the W on their record. The Dallas mistakes weren't committed in some vacuum like they were on the Cowchip practice field; but instead they were created by a well-prepared defense who seized opportunities to apply pressure, steal a football, and alter their opponent's game plan. This win gets filed in the Rivalry Annals as
less a miracle finish than the imposition of will by the Washington defense on a so-called Super Bowl-caliber offense.

Make no mistake: the 2010 Redskins have a lot that's not yet right, seems unsettled, and is cause for concern. Let's start instead with...

With one exception, the Washington defense did exactly what it wanted to. The box score may show Tony Romo had no interceptions, Miles Austin had ten catches for nearly 150 yards, and the defense allowed 380 net yards. But the story is that Jim Haslett's defensive schemes limited Romo to one pass of 30 yards or more, never gave up a run longer than twelve yards, and silenced Romo's favorite target, tight end Jason Witten. Haslett dialed up varied blitzes, forcing checkdown passes that seemed to alter Dallas' first half downfield attacks. (I counted at least four screen passes that went nowhere.) LaRon Landry was everywhere, making 17 tackles. And let's not forget that Dallas managed a paltry seven points--the second lowest output of any team on Sunday, and by far the worst in the NFC East.

Though the offense was limited, it didn't commit a turnover. Anyone who has followed Washington lately knows that the team finished minus-11 in turnover ratio last season. No slip-ups by Portis, McNabb, or anyone else kept the defense from having to defend a short field.

The Player of the Game is, without question, linebacker Brian Orakpo. He had one solo tackle and one assisted tackle. But it was on the game's two pivotal plays that he asserted his
dominance. Here's the first, the fumble by Tashard Choice. Kudos, of course, to DeAngelo Hall for his heads-up, ball-hawking focus on what's usually a throwaway play. But Orakpo is the player whose pressure and jump up in Romo's face is the impetus for the quarterback to break the pocket and scramble forward. (The Unsung Hero award goes to #97, linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who pressured Romo's back side and stayed in the play to make contact on Choice when Hall was going for the strip.) His second outstanding effort was on the game's final play--watch Orakpo cause Dallas' Alex Barron to pull a Rowdy Roddy Piper clothesline, ending the game in Washington's favor. Orakpo nonetheless had so much speed and power that Romo still had to escape the pocket. Had Barron not held Orakpo, it could very well have been a sack that won this game. Imagine how FedEx Field would've shook then.

The ground game
is more diversion than attack. It's time for a concerned pause when the quarterback is your leading rusher after thirty minutes of football. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan oddly trusted the offensive line to protect DJ McNabb more than to block for Portis. The team passed ten more times than it ran; that's not a lot of difference on paper. But Washington led the entire game, which would normally skew the play calling toward the run. In the preseason, I noted that Portis, Larry Johnson, and Willie Parker were largely ineffective, hoping that the regular season would show a better attack. Not so. It was a similar cutback run almost all night.

The red zone playcalling was atrocious. One corner pass, from the five yard line, to new receiver Anthony Armstrong is questionable. A second pass to Armstrong, on third down, when you can go up by three scores, is just disrespectful to your playmakers Chris Cooley and Santana Moss. How about a three-wide receiver draw to Portis? Or, maybe, a quarterback bootleg? Virtually anything was better than throwing to your least-experienced starting receiver twice in a row. Remember when the Redskins would line up from the eight yard line and pound the ball for three yards at a time? That was twenty-five years ago.

So Hang Your Head this week, Kyle Shanahan. Your offense may not have lost the game for Washington, but it certainly didn't win it.

One more note on preparation and opportunity:
it is on the last play of a game when off-season conditioning is most important. Brian Orakpo came to training camp in shape, passed his tests, and practiced. Albert Haynesworth whined, showed up late, failed his tests, and earned himself a seat on the bench when the game was on the line. Enjoy your money.

OFFENSE: D. The upside is that McNabb is still fleet of foot and has a strong arm. Also, Trent Williams did an adequate job defending Andre Ware. But the Skins won't win without better running.

DEFENSE: A+. Aside from allowing Miles Austin to catch a 31-yard catch on 4th and 15, it's hard to criticize Haslett's defense. Actually, Carlos Rogers dropping a game-winning interceptions comes to mind...

Sp. TEAMS: B+. Kicker Graham Gano went 2 for 2, including a hastily-called, crucial 49-yard field goal. Holder Josh Bidwell can practice hands drills with Rogers.

COACHING: B. The field goal from 49 yards was incredibly gutsy, the defense was outstanding, but the offense must score in the red zone.

OWNERSHIP: A. First "A" ever given to Daniel Snyder. The new screens looked fantastic, the new stomping area is a great idea, and opening the gates eight hours before kickoff was fan-friendly.

It's always strange when real football imitates video game football. You've probably had those moments when, playing a friend, you just call the Four Verticals play at the end of a half and hope for the best. Cowboys coach Wade Phillips' did just that, and even before the turnover it looked like an idiotic idea. Did the coaching staff think that Romo was going to complete a 60-odd yard Hail Mary? Did Choice think he could catch a lateral and outrun ten or so Redskins on the way to the end zone? The lesson: take a knee and preserve your integrity.

Photo credit:
Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The 2010 Prediction (Let's Hope Madden 11 is Wrong)

I'm comfortable admitting that EA Sports' Madden video game series has some power over my pre-kickoff football opinions. To be perfectly honest, my enthusiasm for purchasing Madden is directly proportionate to my assumed improvement of the Redskins' statistical ranking. (So, as you might imagine, last summer I nearly passed on Madden 10, which had the Jim Zorn-led Redskins at a cellar-dwelling 70.) The game drops in early August, and at the time the NFL has yet to play even preseason contests. That virgin game on Madden, then, is the first indicator of how great your team just might be in September.

This year, I was particularly stoked about the potential for my team to be judged favorably by the faceless programmers at Electronic Arts. No recent version of Madden has featured such an overhauled Washington Redskins. Surely they'd be highly ranked--even if no one in their right mind can predict how they'll finish. (More on that in a moment.) So with some gusto I ripped open the packaging, slid the disc in my PS3 and eventually began my first game. I say eventually because I had to reset my system no less than three times while inputting redemption codes, downloading rosters, and getting hardware updates. Remember the days of popping in a cartridge and playing?

Anyway, first thing I noticed was that Washington was a mediocre 76. Even with the latest roster update (which oddly keeps Willie Parker around), the Skins are a good four points below anyone in the NFC East. At least they're rated significantly higher than the Chiefs and Rams, two teams they had trouble with under Jim Zorn.

For a fair game, I invited Miami (rated 78) to virtual FedEx Field on the All-Pro level. For the record, I'm good at Madden on the higher settings. My Redskins franchises have yet to lose more than three games in any season, and I regularly post undefeated championships. Once I'm comfortable with the playbook, make some depth chart substitutions, and feel out whatever play calling changes EA throws in, I'm dangerous even with my perennially marginal home team.

I mention this because my first half of Madden 11 football was...horrific. It was so bad that it slipped a measure of fear into what the Redskins' 2010 season might be like. I was in disbelief because everything that you knew could happen this year did happen.

The new 3-4 defense immediately gave up multiple plays of 50+ yards: a 60-yard touchdown to Brandon Marshall (in which CPU-controlled Laron Landry whiffed on a big hit) and on the next series, a 51-yard run by Ronnie Brown when Albert Haynesworth was blocked right out of his assigned gap. By the way, Albert's endurance lasted exactly two plays before his icon went red and he needed to be substituted. On offense, I took DJ McNabb (rated 89) on a blitz-avoiding scramble and saw Santana Moss streaking ahead of his defender. I gently pressed L1 to lob him a simple leading pass for the easy score. McNabb threw an awkward, wounded duck that was easily intercepted. When I went to my ultra-effective goal-line run offense (usable anywhere on the field!), Clinton Portis finally broke through to the second level of defense, with one man to beat for a satisfyingly long touchdown. He twisted in the tackle and promptly fumbled the ball three yards sideways. In the next series, McNabb limped off the field after completing his first pass, a 61-yard touchdown to the ancient Joey Galloway.

At halftime: Miami 24, Washington 7. The Redskins' defense was swiss cheese, the offense couldn't sustain a drive, and Rex Grossman (rated 65) was all I had left to mount a three-score comeback. Egad. The scenario was so nightmarishly plausible, so disarmingly realistic, that I stopped the game and had dinner. Really.

I don't believe I'm alone in hoping that 2010 looks nothing like that in the real world.
So how will the Redskins fare in 2010? I've seen predictions from 4-12 to 10-6 with a wildcard birth. Choosing is an absurd practice. Remember last season when the ESPN experts picked the eventual champion Saints to finish 18th in the league? The Washington Post recently asked how the Redskins will finish and responders optimistically predicted a nine-win season. I can't resist being absurd too, so I'm predicting 8-8, with a 7-9 season a distinct possibility. Maybe I'm just shaken by that first half of Madden. Here's how I see it breaking down:

Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys - Win
Big D is unprepared for the new, very un-Zorn game plan by Shanahan and is stunned on national television.

Redskins vs. Houston Texans- Loss
The Texans' Mario Williams manages multiple sacks and Trent Williams learns how fast the NFL really is.

Redskins at St. Louis Rams - Win
The perfect rebound opponent. Rams QB Sam Bradford shines, but his defense allows McNabb and the Skins offense to have a field day.

Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles - Loss
Andy Reid and the Eagles hooligan fans manage to rattle McNabb on his first visit back to Philadelphia. Did I mention that their fans are hooligans?

Redskins vs. Green Bay Packers - Loss
The defense begins to show signs of proper execution of the 3-4, but Aaron "Favre Who?" Rodgers proves to be too much for them to handle. Seems like a long time ago that he was the 24th pick in the draft.

Redskins vs. Indianapolis Colts - Loss
Just about everyone will lose to the Colts this year. Nonetheless, the "Shanahan sucks!" thread on reaches 10 pages.

Redskins at Chicago Bears - Win
This is the beginning of the happier days of the 2011 season. The 2-4 Skins upset Chicago with its first mistake-free game.

Redskins at Detroit Lions - Win
Last season's loss in Detroit was a figment of their imagination, and the whipping the receive from Washington helps erase the memory.

Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles - Win
Kevin Kolb and the Eagles, reeling from their loss the previous week to the Colts, are no match for the confident Redskins and their bandwagon-riding fans. At 5-4, hope for the playoffs seeps into the fanbase.

Redskins at Tennessee Titans - Loss
Despite Santana Moss' best day of the season, the Titans' Chris Johnson has the last laugh with a late touchdown. Every season there's one game that you wish you could have a Rewind button for two or three plays. This is that game.

Redskins vs. Minnesota Vikings - Loss
Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson remind Washington what the cream of the NFC looks like in a cover-your-eyes loss.

Redskins at New York Giants - Loss
Here's where the playoff dream is officially dashed. Washington keeps it competitive, however, in a strong showing.

Redskins vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Win
If Zorn, Campbell, Smoot, and the rest of the 2009 castoffs can beat them, surely the 2010 team can.

Redskins at Dallas Cowboys - Loss The Cowchips are making their annual playoff run, and take out their revenge for the week one loss. The offense continues to lack consistency. Jerry Jones' face reportedly cracks a smile.

Redskins at Jacksonville Jaguars - Win
With a .500 season in view, the Redskins thump the Jaguars. Fortunately, no one in Jacksonville sees the beating because of the blackout.

Redskins vs. New York Giants - ?
Here's where I think the Redskins face a gut-check. The playoffs aren't an option and they have nothing to play for but pride. Is this the same franchise that went 4-12 last year and collected a paycheck? Or does this team reflect Mike Shanahan and defend their home turf against the playoff-bound Giants? The answer will be the final statement about whether a New Era has truly come to Washington.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

If I Ran the Jumbotron...

Ask any person who has been to FedEx Field what irks them about the gameday experience, and they might mention the ticket prices, the overpriced beer, or maybe the lack of intimacy that RFK enjoyed. I would suggest, however, that one response would trump them all: "what's up with the 1970's video screens?"

The screens weren't just outdated. They were incapable of displaying multiple images, delayed real-time video, and appeared to be made of 10,000 giant Lite Brite pegs. Three-fifths of the useful area was made up of advertising and another fifth was used for the current score/occasional spinning Redskins symbol. (In more giant Lite Brite pegs.) They were, even by 1990s standards, embarrassing.

For those unfamiliar with the utter wackness of the screens, I present the following, a picture I took at the NFL Kickoff in 1997. And yes, that's Britney Spears.

So I was particularly pleased to hear a few months ago that, just in time for the new NFL season, Daniel Snyder has upgraded the FedEx monitors to...modern standards. The new video screens look a little something like this (but with less attractive ads on the sides):

Wonderful. Now fans can actually see the screen from multiple angles, read down and distance information along the bottom, and enjoy football at the other end of the field. Just like Baltimore has been doing for years now. At least now the fans get called "sir" when they enter and leave.

Although we got to preview the screens during the preseason and Monday's Boise State/Virginia Tech thriller, the big debut is Sunday night when the Skins face Dallas on Sunday Night Football.

So I got to thinking: what would I show on the screens, to simultaneously launch this exciting new season, show off the vibrant screens, and humiliate the Cowchips?

There were many choices, but I hereby present my Top Ten Images to Show on Sunday Night:

1. Open with this picture of the Redskins faithful, watching a game that had nothing to do with Dallas. That's called staying on message. (Make sure to fire up the old "Hail to the Redskins" rendition that sounds like it was recorded by Jack Kent Cooke's old buddies.)

2. Russ Grimm's Hall of Fame introduction, particularly the lovely portion where Joe Bugel describes cramming "50 Gut" down the throat of Dallas' Randy White ten straight times.

3. Celebrated Dallas coach Jimmy "Mini" Johnson's Extense commercial. What next in his "I'm still in my physical prime after 65" tour, a stint on a ridiculous reality competition? Uh, nevermind. You really can't make this stuff up.

4. For a taste of a time when a rivalry meant something: this piece from the NFL Network's Top 10 show. It's, essentially, cliff's notes on former Redskins coach George Allen's obsessive hatred of everything Dallas. "Forty men together can't lose!" is his now-famous quote. Boys and girls, that's leadership.

5. Terrell Owens crying about "my quarterback..." Tony Romo. I know he's not on team. But can you resist the pure hilarity of T.O. weeping about the press not being fair, in front of a wall of blue Cowchip stars, all over Tony Romo? I dare a stadium full of people not to watch and smile.

6. And why not: a 1200-inch diagonal picture of Chris Cooley mocking an unsuspecting Jason Witten at the Pro Bowl. Juvenile? Sure. Funny? Yep.

7. Landon Donovan's goal in the World Cup. Yes, it's not "football," as we Americans know it. But for inspiration's sake, I always get goosebumps when I hear Ian Clarke's enthusiastic "Goal, goal, USA! Oh, it's incredible!" It's more proof for the Redskins that with perseverance, anything's possible. It helps even more when your opponent is Algeria.

8. Tony Romo boldly announcing a Cowchip home Superbowl at a summer Dallas pep rally. (See the one minute mark if you'd prefer to skip as much viewing of Babe Laufenberg's beard as possible.) That'll fire up the Washington faithful. I'd let the video continue for a moment, if only to show Dallas' hotshot rookie Dez Bryant dancing...days before he sprained his ankle.

9. This montage of two modern-era Redskins miracle wins over Dallas. I'm particularly proud to say I attended the second game and saw Sean Taylor run back the field goal. ...And add a Wilhelm Scream to Roy Williams while you're at it.

10. And finally, in big, bold, high-definition letters: WE WANT DALLAS.

After that, it's time to play football. Now how can I get this list in Snyder's hands...hmm...