Monday, December 27, 2010

Week Sixteen: The Expendables

Washington 20, Jacksonville 17 (OT)

When the Redskins' season gets to this annual point--where the team is far from playoff contention, many of the early-season starters are benched or injured, and it's a holiday weekend--the motivation for players to play and fans to watch can be lessened. This year, despite the change in managerial and on-field leadership, Washington found itself in a similar place to Jim Zorn and Jason Campbell's team from a year ago. In week fifteen of the 2009 season, the Redskins were pummeled on
(surprise!) national television by the New York Giants, 45-12, in front of new GM Bruce Allen.

This season, for reasons to be debated well into April 2011, the Redskins stood their ground and pulled off an underdog win against a playoff aspirations. That was inspiring. What made it even
more poignant (and watchable) was that Mike Shanahan fielded a team missing many of the best players on the roster--LaRon Landry, Brian Orakpo, Clinton "Remember Him?" Portis, and Donovan McNabb.

Like the real-life version of a team-up of Sylvester Stallone, Terry Crews, and Jet Li, it was The Expendables who pulled off what hadn't been done but five times all season: play a full 60 minutes and win.
During the game, the broadcast team joked with the truth that Mike Shanahan and the coaching staff weren't sure of all the names of players they were using. But it was practice squad and castoff guys named Rob Jackson, Macho Harris, and Byron Westbrook who made plays while veterans like Chris Cooley and Rex Grossman had average or sub par games. Jackson, for example, went from not being on the practice squad weeks ago to making three solo tackles and forcing a fumble.

The Jaguars offense, minus Maurice Jones-Drew, had everything to play for but were held to 17
points, 78 rushing yards, and just 336 yards. (Yes, 336 isn't much to be proud of...unless your defense routinely allows 400 yards per game.) Moreover, the Redskins defense provided relentless pressure on quarterback David Garrard, sacking him four times and influencing his worst throw of the game, an interception in overtime.

After Rex Grossman's touchdown-a-thon against Dallas last week, the question in most fan's mind was whether the backup-now-starter was part of the Redskins' future winning equation on just another jersey you'll find on the clearance racks like Donovan McNabb's. The answer, after a medicore,
19-for-39, 182 yards, one touchdown/one interception day, is...don't waste your money. Contrarians might argue that Grossman's numbers are negatively affected by Cooley's four-drop day, which included an easy touchdown.

But when the game was on the line--the dreaded two-minute drill that Shanahan said McNabb hadn't grasped for most of the season--Grossman led the offense to produce one first down, burn a minute and thirty seconds, and produce four net yards before punting. The third down completion
issues from McNabb's leadership continued, as Grossman's team went 0-for-7 before finishing 4-for-15. Hardly an upgrade. How about starting John Beck against the Giants and see what happens?

But this day belonged to the second and third-stringers, who confirmed that this season isn't the total flaming mess of last year. (It's a mess without the flames.) And part of the difference, as shown in the last two weeks is that they players are playing for themselves, their pride, and their fans. Rob Jackson, when asked what this victory meant, put it best: "it means that we've got a lot of potential, a lot of upside."

OFFENSE: C. Why the Redskins ran on 24 of their 64 plays is a mystery for Kyle Shanahan to explain. Torain remains a solid back and should be in the backfield discussion come offseason.
DEFENSE: A. Carlos Rogers nabbed his first interception in forever, the defense got four sacks, and, most importantly, won the game. What more can you ask for?
Sp. TEAMS: B. The punting game was adequate, but isn't much better than when Hunter Smith was playing. Kicker Graham Gano gets his third game-winner and can breathe a little easier.

COACHES: B. Kudos to coach Shanahan for playing his young guys and for Jim Haslett for continually mixing blitzes. The D was energetic, aggressive, and effective.

The Philadelphia area was blanketed by blizzard-like conditions on Sunday, and the NFL postponed the Minnesota Vikings/Eagles game until Tuesday. The NFL's statement cited road safety and stadium clearing as reasons for the postponement, not player safety or impossibility in playing the game. With modern technology, the game could have been played. Instead, the NFL knew they'd lose out on lots of revenue if the seats are partially empty for their nationally-televised game. Even the governor of Philadelphia disagreed with the postponement.

It wasn't that long ago--okay, forty years ago--that the NFL decided to man up and was rewarded with one of its greatest games ever: the Ice Bowl Championship game of 1967. The wind chill was minus-36 degrees, the surface was rock-hard, and the referees' whistles froze right after kickoff. And you know what? They played anyway, because it's football and football is played regardless of the weather. (Um, unless there's lightning.) Who knows how the legends of that game--men like Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, Don Meredith, Bart Starr and Ray Nitchske--would have been viewed if they preferred to make sure everyone could see the game instead of just playing it? The NFL should remember its own history...

Redskins photo courtesy, the Ice Bowl courtesy Sports Illustrated.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Week Fifteen: Half Full or Half Empty?

Washington 30, Dallas 33

Well, this was unexpected. Given the dwindling hope, negative media attention, and prominent roster change, it was easy to assume that the Redskins would walk into Dallas and provide another lackluster, disappointing performance. Instead, the team looked, well, unusually competitive and competent. But is this one day symbolic of anything substantial, or is it simply Fool's Gold? Let's look at the major headlines from the game:

Mike Shanahan: Genius All Along?
The facts are indisputable: Washington produced their best comeback of the season, twenty points, against their biggest rival, on the road. With Shanahan's choice for starter, Rex Grossman, at the helm, the offense was a perfect four for four in the red zone and converted two-point conversions for the first time in years. When previous Redskins teams would've folded like a cheap tent after a deflating first half, Shanahan's squad rallied to not only make it a game, but could actually have won. (Yes, when you've only won five times all season, you cherish every single one of them.) So maybe we cut Shanahan some slack, let him choose his starting quarterback, defensive linemen, and schemes when and how he likes.

On the other hand...the Redskins needed that wonderful comeback because his offense was indeed absent for most of the first half. Dallas had triple the time of possession and a 13 point lead by halftime. And despite a few defensive stands, the Shanahan/Haslett 3-4 scheme has once again allowed over 400 yards of opponent offense. Dallas spent the first half in the Redskins' red zone, and had they been just a bit more efficient, the final score would have certainly topped 40 points. None of this is a prescription for a winning game.

And let's not gloss over the disrespectful mismanagement of Donovan McNabb, which continued right into the game's beginning. Despite benching McNabb, Shanahan asked him to participate in the ceremonial coin toss. In a show of exceptional maturity and poise, McNabb did so. Why Shanahan would demote a player, then ask him to represent the team--what an awkward position to be asked into--is further circumstantial evidence of the minimal professional respect for McNabb. Hardly a genius maneuver there.

Finally, let's not forget that this was still a loss to a division rival. For all the philosophical and structural changes made, the Redskins are 5-9, just one game better than they were last year, and are again sitting at the bottom of the NFC East once.

Rex Grossman
: One Day Sale or Long Term Investment?
It's been a long time since the Redskins have witnessed a quarterback have a four-touchdown game. And hardly anyone predicted that Grossman would be the man to provide it. But on Sunday he finished with a very respectable stat line (25 for 43, four touchdowns, 2 interceptions, one fumble) and placed the team in position to complete a comeback. His second-half poise, particularly in the red zone, was the difference between scoring touchdowns instead of field goals. His perfectly-thrown pass to Santana Moss was dropped, but it could have capped an exciting, game-winning drive.

But let's not forget...that Rex is equally as capable of tossing interceptions as he is throwing touchdowns. His last season as a starter, 2006, shows him having four games with three or more interceptions. In three of those games, he didn't have a touchdown. It was widely considered that the 2006 Bears made the Super Bowl despite Grossman, not because of him.

Before Sunday, Rex's last relevant action as a starter was in the third preseason game against the New York Jets. After the game (a loss, by the way), Shanahan celebrated Grossman's decision making, quick release, and understanding of Kyle Shanahan's scheme. The reality was that he had third down passes deflected at the line, was solely responsible for a safety, fumbled on a sack, and sometimes tossed right into clear double coverage.

His career touchdown day against Dallas needs to be viewed in light of the two turnovers he had that led to 14 Dallas points. The offense looked no better than under McNabb for half the game, and if the Redskins are going to dream of being competitive against the NFC East's best, that's not going to be acceptable.

There is no denying that, for at least one moment in time, Grossman proved to be a winning hand. Let's see how he does against Jacksonville.

OFFENSE: B. It's an outstanding grade, considering that they were outplayed badly in the first quarter. But 30 points is 30 points. Ryan Torain again proved that he is dangerous in the open field and can make roadkill of opposing secondaries. If he can stay healthy in 2011...
DEFENSE: D. Lost in all the Grossman and Shanahan talk is the continual mediocrity of the defense. For all the upgrades on offense, if this defense can't stop anyone from putting up 350-400 yards per game, well, it's all for naught.
Sp. TEAMS: C. I'm sure many fans were praying that Brandon Banks would save the day with an outstanding punt return in the fourth quarter. It was not to be, though the special teams coverage and punting was adequate on the day.
COACHES: C. Kyle Shanahan, to his credit, called some great plays, including a blitz-beating screen to Ryan Torain. Also, I get that you go with what you think will work against an opponent. But the eleven Torain rushes are exactly why the Redskins fell behind in time of possession and points. Lastly, is it me or did Shanahan seem surprisingly happy after a loss?

The East provided not one but two close, down-to-the-wire finishes on Sunday. On the road in New York, the Philadelphia Eagles scored not one, not two, not three, but four touchdowns in the final seven minutes on their way to securing a hammer lock on the NFC East title. For those who haven't seen the miracle finish, it's breathtaking, even if you can't stand either franchise. The Eagles may not have the best record in the NFL, but I'm certain that, after the Patriots, they're the team you least want to play.

Photo courtesy

Friday, December 17, 2010

Reasons # 545, 546, and 547...

...on why you have to be crazy to be a Redskins fan. For the four people in Des Moines, Iowa, who aren't familiar with the bad reality show that this franchise has annually been, here's a small slice of the ridiculousness endured by the burgundy and gold faithful:

Reason #144:
Daniel Snyder hires Marty Schottenheimer to run the highest-payroll team in the league. Though starting 0-5, the team rebounds to finish 8-8, made the cover of Sports Illustrated and actually began smelling the playoffs. Snyder immediately fires Schottenheimer.

Reason #182:
Starting quarterback Gus Frerotte scores a touchdown against the rival Giants, but cannot finish the game due to a self-inflicted head injury created when he celebrated by slamming his head into a wall. Without Gus, the Redskins finished the game with a tie.

Reason #201:
Deion Sanders wears a Redskins uniform. 'Nuff said.

Reason #391:
In the midst of yet another losing streak, Daniel Snyder bans fan-made signs at FedEx Field. Parking and beer costs remain the same.

Reason #402:
Head coach Jim Zorn calls one of the worst plays in NFL history, where his punter takes a snap and, without any blocking, launches a desperation pass into the general direction of three opposing players. What's worse is that Zorn set the play up, the opponent called a timeout, and coach Zorn re-ran the play anyway. Result: an interception and national lampooning.

One might think, "Hey, weeping only endures for a night, right? I mean, the Cincinnati Bengals and New Orleans Saints fans didn't wear bags forever...give it some time while [insert coach/GM/QB here] gets things together." You would be wrong. The names, numbers, and press conferences may change, but the results are the same. Here are, sadly, more Reasons You Have to Be Crazy to Root for the Redskins:

Reason #545:
Two days after mishandling an extra point snap that would have helped provide game-tying points, punter Hunter Smith is fired. His numbers this season weren't spectacular, but he demonstrated honesty, ownership, and consequence for the error. He also had nothing to do with the offense's inability to score in the red zone, or kicker Graham Gano's inability to make easy field goals, both of which would have removed the necessity for Smith to make the failed play. So does Shanahan dump the kicker, or consider letting Smith go post-season, given that they're fourteen games into a losing season? No. Coach Shanahan dumps Hunter Smith and brings in some new guy. How refreshingly honest was Hunter, on his way out the door? Here's some of what he had to say to TBD's Parker and Parker:
"Am I a scapegoat?" Smith repeated. "I believe that in the NFL, there are a couple of different types of teams out there. There are some teams that display undying loyalty to their coaches and players. There are other teams that tend to want to make a little more of a statement in times of quote-unquote tragedy or something like this going on, by making an example out of somebody, by partially putting the blame on them for the loss. And I'm not saying that the Redskins are completely that kind of a team, but in this sense, I think that it does come down to that..."
If there's one thing the Redskins are good at, it's straightening the artwork on a sinking Titanic.

Reason #546: An interesting article at the Washington Post revealed a little-publicized fact about the Redskins: they are one of the few teams in the league who don't have a dedicated indoor practice facility. When the weather turns sour, as it did on Thursday when snow moved through the Washington area, practices are moved to odd venues like basketball courts or, in some cases, canceled. The article notes that in this season alone six separate practices were moved or postponed due to bad weather. Or more specifically, practices were altered because the Redskins lack the basic facilities with which to prepare for games.

Seriously? Daniel Snyder owns one of the top money-making franchises in the most popular and profitable sports franchises in America, yet
hasn't kicked out the cash so his team can prepare in less-than-ideal weather? Is it any wonder that the Redskins are 5-17 since 2008 in games after November? How is it that this team, in this climate, in this division, doesn't have anything comparable to its rivals, whom they're guaranteed to see twice a season? As a fan, wonder no more why the Eagles, Cowchips, and Giants mop the floor with the Redskins. But hey, at least FedEx Field has new giant video screens.

Reason #547: The Donovan McNabb Era has come to a close, with him on pace to reach 4000 yards, and in possession of a Redskins franchise record for consecutive games with a passing touchdown. It's hard to believe, but Mike Shanahan has officially benched McNabb, placing him behind Rex "Wrong Answer" Grossman and unknown commodity John Beck. Shanahan can't guarantee that DJ McNabb is coming back next season and McNabb's agent is furious, calling the move "beyond disrespectful."

There are plenty of angles with which to view this national-attention-grabbing story. (Was it justified? Why do this now, before a game against rival Dallas? What does this reveal about Shanahan's egotistical hold on his players?) But the must hurtful one is this, and it's a familiar one for longtime Redskins fans: Here. We. Go. Again.

If it's not Albert Haynesworth, Mark Carrier, Jeff George, Joe Gibbs, Steve Spurrier, or Dana Stubblefield, it's Adam Archuleta, Brandon Lloyd, Mike Shanahan, and, now, Donovan McNabb. This show is as scripted as "The Real Housewives of Washington, D.C." Regardless of the so-called philosophy, this franchise continues to pay big money and get small results. The veteran walks in town, takes money, and, by hook or crook, flies out quickly to new pastures with fatter pockets.

And the fans are fools for ever paying $80 for their jersey. They sport the colors on their car, they buy the Christmas ornaments, they spend three hours every Sunday hoping that the inevitable won't happen.

You have to be crazy to do that.

For the record, it was noted here at the Review, on April 5th, a note of caution about McNabb's trade to Washington. It bears republishing, if for nothing else than it's sad prophecy:

Now the Philadelphia front office won't admit it, and I'm sure head coach Andy Reid won't divulge the truth even under a cheesesteak lie detector test, but it's clear to me that the Eagles think that McNabb's best days are behind him...the Eagles did more than just trade a guy because they thought his skills were in sunset. No, they traded their franchise quarterback to a hated division rival who they knew had questions at quarterback. McNabb isn't going to Kansas City, a team they play once or twice every four years and has minimal effect on their overall record. He's landing with a team that impacts their Super Bowl chances at least twice a year.

In his post-trade press conference, Coach Reid spun a carefully crafted web of "been a great player here for 11 years...set every record you can set for this organization...nothing but good things to say about him...we're doing what's best for Donovan..." and other oddly pleasant reviews of McNabb's work in Philly. Which raises the question: if he's been that good, why let him go? This guy got you to the playoffs with no-name receivers and then again with managing the cancerous Terrell Owens. Might their training staff know something about McNabb's past injuries that the Redskins don't? Could the Eagles think McNabb is really toast?

Simply put, are little green men with wings on their helmets going to jump out of Donovan's [backside] and sabotage the Redskins' season?

Photo courtesy the Bleacher Report.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Week Fourteen: Rough Torain

Tampa Bay 17, Washington 16

Mike Shanahan and the 2010 Washington Redskins have been trying to establish some sort of identity, some form of consistency that defines the team. Are they a deep threat, high-powered offense, as shown against the Texans? Is their defense all about giving up yards but forcing turnovers, like the Indianapolis loss? Or are the hard-hitting special teams the x-factor that can snatch victories from defeat?

In Sunday's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (dropping the Redskins to 5-8), what became clear to fans is that whatever persona this team is going to establish will require a whole lot of their patience. The kind of patience necessary to sit in more than three hours of cold, rain, and wind, only to see a game lost on the simplest and most fundamental plays in football. Pack a valium lunch, Redskins faithful. It's going to be a long, difficult, rocky road.

The easy person to pin this loss on would be Graham Gano, who missed or nearly missed, every extra point or field goal he attempted. To his credit, he admitted that this was the worst game of his career. The weather should mitigate some of that criticism, but it's hard not to point a finger at any kicker who misses two easy field goals that would have kept the home team comfortably ahead. (Meanwhile the Bucs' kicker, Connor Barth, went 3-for-3, including a 44-yarder.)

The Donovan McNabb offense is more to blame. The stat line for the quarterback wasn't too bad--22 for 35, 228 yards, 2 touchdowns--but it doesn't begin to show how inconsistent he was. He was skipping passes off the ground often, and, ironically, if two of them hadn't been poorly thrown, they would have been easy pick-six interceptions for Tampa Bay. When Ryan Torain and the offensive line got the ball in six-point striking distance, the team consistently ran out of gas. After dominating the first half in production, they had ten points instead of 28. The offense disappeared in the third quarter, and ran the ball for just 12 net yards in the second half.

London Fletcher and the defense did a solid job holding back Tampa Bay from mounting a comeback, but they again neared 400 yards of offense allowed and gave up the winning touchdown with less than four minutes to go.

The good news, from this landfill of a season, is the emergence of running back Ryan Torain. In the Week Six review, Torain was crowned the future franchise rusher, and his return to the lineup certainly confirmed that coronation. From his first carry back from injury, he was in strong form. He patiently picked his holes, he ran through arm tackles, and he had a burst of speed when in the open field. He was positively Maddenesque in his first half production (18 rushes, 158 yards, 8.8 yards per carry) and seemed a lock for 200-225 yards and a touchdown by game's end. What you might notice in his highlight reel, however, is how the score barely changes.

These are the Redskins, so instead of preparing for Tampa Bay's halftime adjustments to the run, the burgundy and gold decided to more than double their first half pass attempts. Torain rushed just six more times for 14 yards. Sure enough, the Bucs won the time of possession battle in the second half and it was Washington scrambling down the field to try to tie the game.

Nonetheless, this may be the game that solidifies Torain as the favorite to run the rock in 2011. He's one of the few bright lights on this dark, frustrating road ahead.

OFFENSE: C. This offseason should be very interesting. Keep McNabb but draft a young QB? Draft only o-linemen? Find compliments for Moss and Armstrong? Jettison Portis? Every area needs help.
DEFENSE: C. Perhaps LaRon Landry's presence is more vital than anyone originally thought. The D allowed young Josh Freeman to continue to look like a future star in the league.
Sp. TEAMS: F. Their only good play of the game--a much-needed return by Brandon Banks, was foiled by a penalty. Otherwise, it was muffed routine plays, missed field goals, and ineffectiveness.
COACHING: D. It's tempting to think back to the Gibbs days, when in cold, rainy weather, the offense would pound the ball and eat up the clock. Kyle Shanahan put the game in the hands of his QB, and the results were unnecessarily dramatic.
OWNERSHIP: C. Would it hurt to have cheap, Redskins-logo'd free ponchos for fans when they've decided to spend their Sunday afternoon in the rain, rooting for your out-of-the-playoffs franchise?

...comes from Facebook. The Redskins, like every other business in America, has their own page on the social networking site. During and after games, they post updates and results. The comments section, particularly after losses, is where fans get to lay bare their frustrations with the team and ownership. After Sunday's loss, this comment surmised the burgundy and gold experience: "T
he biggest problem with being a Redskins fan is that when you run into someone who wants to talk $^%*, there's really nothing you can say back to them."

Monday, December 06, 2010

Week Thirteen: Holiday Wish List

Washington 7, New York Giants 31

A long, long time ago, back before there was Facebook, compact discs, and online shopping,
Sears printed and mailed a Christmas Wish Book to homes across America. The Wish Book was, for children, like receiving Moses' stone tablets every year. The two-inch thick book, containing the latest toys and video games, provided hours of childlike planning, dreaming, and coercion. It was the singular source for wistful hopes of happy days.

The Washington Redskins are, after another embarrassing division loss, hopeless. The offense is rudderless, the defense is a sieve, and the best guy on special teams is the size of a high school senior. You know a game day performance was the center ring in a Cirque de Suck when the
dominating story on Monday is who didn't contribute to the horror.

The fans of the burgundy and gold deserve much, much better. They have been demanding it, in various and sometimes hilarious formats, for years now. But until someone with more money usurps owner Daniel Snyder's power, well, all there is left to do is dream. The Redskins Review has been pouring over the 2010 season like an old Sears catalog. Here, then, in the spirit of the season and the futility in not being able to do much else, are the Top Five Wishes for the Washington Redskins. (Cue the Johnny Mathis...)

1. Find us players with heart, who care about winning more than themselves. Let's get this out of the way now: "Albatross" Haynesworth should be the last high-priced, massive-ego free agent ever hired for the Redskins. His training camp, preseason, and in-season selfishness should be immortalized on a poster in Ashburn, Virginia, with a warning that if anyone acts this way, begin cleaning our your locker. His marginal statistical line and salary should be laminated and charted in the head coaches' office. #92's story is well known: he doesn't want to show up for camp, he can't pass conditioning tests, he whines about having to play 3-4, he doesn't start, he gives half-effort when finally playing, and he shows up late for mandatory team meetings. Oh, and he is the highest paid defensive player in the NFL.

He is, unfortunately, just one in a sad history of poor choices by the "talent evaluators" at Redskins Park. It's easy to poke holes at Daniel Snyder, whose checkbook funds this madness. But he
doesn't scout, and he doesn't watch film of free agents. That's Gibbs/Zorn/Shanahan and their staff's job. Apart from London Fletcher, it hasn't been pretty. That must end. Now and forever more.

There's a chap in Pittsburgh who, on national television, took to the field against a top defense and pulled out a thrilling win in freezing temperatures. He did so with a poor defensive line, no running game, linebackers in his face, a bad ankle and an in-game broken nose. When was the last time the Redskins had anyone that dedicated?

2. Call some plays that require pelotas de acero. End the passive, let's-hope-we-can-get-these-seven-yards-on-third-down-with-a-screen-pass mentality that's been pervasive in this and recent seasons. Sure, the Redskins are currently less talented then Auburn, Oregon State, and that blue team from Boise. But does that mean that Kyle Shanahan can't call unexpected, oh-no-he-didn't stabs at yardage? What do we have to lose? Respect?

Now let's use a little wisdom; we're not talking about calling the Worst Play Ever, courtesy Jim Zorn. We're talking Joe Flacco launching not one, but two 60+ yard pass plays on third down from inside the Ravens' own five yard line. That's play calling that says "Screw it, we're here to win this football game. And if we fail in the process, it won't be because we didn't pull out every stop to try."

And speaking of wishing for offense...

3. Get us a Steve Smith. That's right, Steve Smith.
If the Redskins are going to keep old, backside-of-their-prime players on the roster, let them be fearless, soft-handed guys who still can challenge a defense. That's Steve Smith to a tee. At 31, he can still stretch a defense and has the will to play the game, despite being with the less-than-prolific Carolina Panthers. (That alone earns him kudos.) Santana Moss, by comparison, is also 31, the same height, weighs around twenty pounds more, and strikes a quarter of the fear in opponents. Don't even mention Joey Galloway.

Now it's true that Smith hasn't always been a model player or teammate. But his commitment and fire when playing the game at its highest level are unquestioned. The Redskins need to give Donovan McNabb a strong-minded target he can count on; the career-worst season he's having is coinciding with having to work with some of the worst receiver talent in his career.

If that Steve Smith-esque guy could be 6'5", that'd be nice too.

4. Call it old-fashioned, but return to Redskins football. The old heads remember the days when the offensive line dictated the offense. Regardless of what happened in the first half, fans knew that
after halftime, Washington would run, run, run, and then run some more. Kind of how the Giants did on Sunday.

The NFL goes through its phases of so-called success. Some seasons it's about the scrambling quarterback, others it's about the deep pass, some seasons it's about special teams. But one truism is that a strong running game will always keep you in contests. Old coaches used to say that “When you throw the ball, three things can happen—and two of them are bad.” For the Redskins, that 66% usually slides up to around 85%.

So let's wish that Washington finds a Peyton Hillis: a 3rd year, 24-year old back who is, as this video shows, all about "running guys over and scoring touchdowns." He is athletic enough to juke or hurdle, yet with the sheer strength and weight to make road kill of a safety. He is everything Redskins running used to be about.

If Ryan Torain remains healthy enough to be that kind of back, let's use this wish instead to hire solid second and third string offensive linemen.

Last, and most fancifully...

5. Can we get a one-team lockout for 2011? The NFL Players Association recently recommended that players store away their game checks due to the likelihood of a lockout next season. It's wishing a lot, but how about the Redskins simply sit out next season and rebuild? That's right, they forfeit the games in 2011. Dont' dress anybody. Keep the lights of FedEx Field off in the fall and winter. There won't be the excitement of a September kickoff...but there also won't be the inevitable frustration when they lose to a clearly inferior opponent.

Furthermore, there won't be offseason free agent nonsense, no inflated preseason posturing, no disappointing losses to division opponents. No snarky media fixation on the yearly Redskins circus.

In place of the inevitable embarrassments, the fans get to watch Mike Shanahan and the coaching staff dismiss the ineffective, overpaid, and unmotivated. He can actually devise an offensive and defensive scheme using the talent he brings in. Daniel Snyder and Bruce Allen actually get to manage a process without the pressure of having to concurrently deliver on the goods.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

There's no SCORECARD this week, on account of the complete failure by the offense, defense, and special teams to reach a level of mild productivity. McNabb, when he had time, wasn't accurate and fumbled. The receivers, when they got the ball, couldn't hang on or catch it. The defense allowed 200 rushing yards to two guys and an offensive line missing three starters. The special teams couldn't stop Redskins castoff Devin Thomas from blocking a punt. The coaches have now lead this team to two massive, inter-divisional blowouts in the last month.

...goes to John Riggins. On his postgame show, he had this wonderful quote: "This team may not win another game. You may be looking at 5-11. I joked that they are getting better each game at a time. So by the time they become a winning team, we'll all be dead."

Photo courtesy