August 30, 2010

Redskins Key Stats Tracker (Preseason Game 3)

Welcome to preseason installment three of the 2010 Washington Redskins' Key Stats Tracker, a weekly feature focusing on three specific statistical categories—turnover differential, third-down-efficiency and red-zone-efficiency—plus any specific observations/anomalies that stand out from any given game.

This week we look at the Redskins' 16-11 road win over head coach Rex Ryan's big bad (just ask them) New York Jets last Friday night.

And yes, I will let it go now.

Key Stats Tracker

Quick Notes:

● W/L record of team that forces more turnovers: 3-0.

● The Redskins defensive 3rd down efficiency coming into this one was an impressive 2-20 (10%), with complete-game one-hitters against both Buffalo and Baltimore.

This weeks' 5-13 (38%) is a little more to the norm, but it is worth noting that in the first half, with "starters playing against starters," the Jets offense converted only 1 of 6 (17%) third down opportunities.

It is also worth noting that in the second half, the Jets' first-team offense converted on 3-of-4 (75%) against the Redskin second team defense. Which is, you know, big and bad.

Okay now I'll let it go.

● Field goal kicker Graham Gano quietly went 3-3 on the evening, including efforts from 41 and 42 yards with the game still in question. Surprisingly, does not show field goal highlights unless:

1) they are at the end of a game,
2) the ball hits an upright,
3) the kick comes up short and some dude takes it 108 yards the other way,
4) it's a fake,
5) the kicker gets mangled, blown up or otherwise mutilated,
6) a fan jumps out of the stands to try to catch the ball, or
7) the guy in the control room is asleep at the switch.
... but if memory serves, both of the longer kicks were straight, true and plenty long. Which I bring up only because it makes envisioning a last-second 47-yard attempt to beat the Dallas Cowboy in the season opener just a little less scary than last week.

May the forced turnover be with you.



Redskins: 4
Opponent: 1


Redskins: 8
Opponent: 5


Offense: 5-14 (35%)
Defense: 5-13 (38%)


Offense: 21-46 (46%)
Defense: 7-33 (21%)


Redskins: 1-4 (25%)
Opponent: 1-2 (50%)


Redskins: 5-11 (45%)
Opponent: 3-7 (43%)

Bonus:  this one is my own pet peeve and will be tracked, relentlessly and with ever-increasing angst, until it is broken. As of this writing the last Redskins' defensive touchdown came in October 2007, when the Redskins beat the Arizona Cardinals 21-19 at FedEx Field and linebacker London Fletcher picked off Kurt Warner, taking it to the house in the second quarter to give the Redskins a 14-0 lead. At least it was epic--be sure to check out his flying leap into the end zone.

For those scoring at home, that was 55 games ago (43 regular season, 11 preseason, 1 playoff).





* tap ... tap ... tap *

August 28, 2010

Redskins Beat Big Bad (just ask them) Jets

You know, I have to say this. It's preseason. It's meaningless in almost every regard. But sometimes you just really want your team to beat someone else.

Last night was one of those nights.

The New York Jets are doing everything they can these days to call attention to themselves and assume the role of AFC East schoolyard bully. Thing about bullies is, they better be able to back it up.

New York Lite got on a nice run after squeaking into last year's playoffs with a 9-7 record, and apparently the attention got good to them because they haven't stopped talking since.

Rex Ryan, their corpulent head coach, may well turn out to be a great. But he may also turn out to be just another front-running loudmouth. Most people I respect don't start acting like the former until they are well on their way to disproving the latter.

Not so with Rex--he's cashing in "look at me" chips like pocket change.

Fair enough, that's his choice. But to me he's setting himself, and the Jets, up for epic ridicule if they turn out to be just another team. Which through three weeks of meaningless-but-satisfying preseason football is pretty much what they look like.

But enough about that. On to the game.

Stream-of-Consciousness Recap

Here we go again.

What follow are real-time notes and observations made during last night's preseason tilt between the Reskins and Rex Ryan's big bad (just ask them) New York Jets. It has been edited only for grammar, punctuation and clarity.

August 27, 6:55 pm EST

- So, Rex Grossman is the Redskins starting QB tonight. If you'd have told me that this time last year I'd have asked you to pass the doob. Do they still call it that?

- I refuse to let JT (Joe Theismann) get under my skin (Skins?) tonight...

August 27, 2010

Synaptic Shotgun 8.27.10 - Gameday

Occasional, recurring short-form posts about
the Washington Redskins, NFL and maybe even Life.
Almost like a blog.

Redskins vs NY Jets - August 27, 7 pm EST

● According to Mike Shanahan the Redskins will be gameplanning tonight's game against the Jets. A little, anyway. So far against Buffalo and Baltimore all we have really seen from the Redskins is situation-specific play calling, set against a backdrop of "getting looks" at certain players in certain situations. This will mark the first time we get even a taste of Kyle Shanahan's playcalling rhythm and style. Same with Jim Haslett.

Consider my preseason curiousity moderately aroused.

● The flip side of that is that Rex Ryan's mouthy New York Jets are sure to want to put on a show of their own for the home folks and slobbering local media. They will be "gameplanning" as well, and the prediction here is that they will have taken that aspect of tonight's affair far more seriously than Washington. Remember the Ravens' "they did what?" fake punt last week? That may pale in comparison to what the Redskins see tonight.

If for some odd reason you have actual money on the Redskins in this one, start taking your Pepto and Advil now.

● Three men who should be particularly cognizant of the above are Redskins quarterbacks Rex Grossman, John Beck and Richard Bartel. Keep your heads on the proverbial swivel, gentlemen. The big bad (just ask them) Jets are coming after you...there are Sportscenter highlights to be had after all.

Wish List Lite

● The Redskins need to not get caught up in the woofing and hype. Show professionalism and discipline.

● At least a couple of sparkling schematic moments—some "nice!" individual play calls from Kyle Shanahan; a well-scripted and executed drive; a couple of Haslett-designed blitzes springing someone in clean on Mark Sanchez and company. Not a lot. Just a taste.

● One or two bubble or concern players flashing (as it were) enough to make tomorrow morning's discussion of this affair bearable. Anthony Armstrong, maybe. Brandon Banks. Andre Carter. Graham Gano?

● No injuries.

Sam Bradford

I haven't had the chance to watch him in real time yet, but if first impressions from extended highlights mean anything, the woebegone St. Louis Rams may have hit the lottery. Even fresh out of the rookie gate, the game is not moving too fast for Bradford. He looks poised, quick in his decision-making and release, and most impressively, dead-on-balls accurate.

Hyperbole? Perhaps. But sometimes it's merited. This kid is one to watch.

It Figures

Steven Strasburg needs Tommy John surgery. The baseball gods hate Washington. Truth? Washington doesn't think much of those sadistic bastards either.

Hall to the Redskins (plus Redskins All-HOF Team)

With Russ Grimm's recent induction into the Hall of Fame, the number of Washington Redskins in the Hall from the Joe Gibbs glory years rose to five—Gibbs, John Riggins, Darrell Green, Art Monk and now Grimm.

It has long been an article of faith among Redskins fans that the Hall was somehow biased against those teams; that they were under-represented. Theories as to why include that the blue-collar Redskins weren’t “flashy” enough, and that the individual players weren't of self-promoting type who get their names into the news by any means necessary.

Redskins fans have long believed—I can say this because I count myself among them—that the Glory Years Redskins teams have been under-represented, at least as compared to the teams one automatically thinks of when discussing the Hall of Fame.

I thought I might put the theory to the test.

Having cut my football fan teeth as a child of the 1970’s, the first team I thought of was the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers—they of four Super Bowl titles in six years (1974-79). There are ten Steelers from that era in the Hall of Fame.

Next I thought of the iconic Vince Lombardi Green Bay Packers, the early 1960’s teams that mark and dominated the beginning of the Super Bowl Era. There are also ten Lombardi Packers in the Hall.

What about the Don Shula Dolphins of the 1970's? Eight of those big fish are mounted on the walls of Canton.

The great San Francisco 49er teams of the 1980’s and early 90’s sent six to the Hall.

I almost hated to look, but I did: what about the hated Dallas Cowboys of the 1990's? Four of those cursed silver stars dot the shelves.

Ah, that's more like it...

August 24, 2010

Redskins Key Stats Tracker (Preseason Game 2)

Welcome to installment two of the 2010 Redskins Key Stats Tracker.

This is a weekly feature focusing on three specific statistical categories—turnover differential, third-down-efficiency and red-zone-efficiency—plus any specific statistical observations/anomalies that stand out from any given game.

Baltimore Ravens 23
Washington Redskins 3

This week's Quick Notes:

● Through two preseason games, won/lost record of team that forces more turnovers: 2-0.

● It seems counterintuitive, but despite gaining 396 total yards, the Ravens only went 1-10 (10%) on third down.

● 51 of those total yards, of course, and ultimately the play of the game, came on a fake punt down to the Redskins 1 yard line that led to the only touchdown of the first half. Yeah. A fake punt. In preseason. Whatever.

● Interesting to note the Redskins' run/pass ratio: 47 passes, 14 runs. Those were not garbage-time passes playing catch-up either; 26 of the 47 total passes were by Donovan McNabb in the first half. By contrast, last week against Buffalo the Redskins' numbers were 41 runs and 33 passes (first half: 18 runs, 22 passes).

What does this week's disparity suggest? That Kyle Shanahan came into the Ravens' game with a specific goal in mind—working his passing game. To what end? Could have been to look at the offensive line against the Ravens' pressure packages sans any real gameplanning, or getting McNabb untracked, or something else entirely. We can speculate but will never know.

Just another illustration of the folly that is trying to draw meaningful inferences from preseason results.

On to the raw numbers...

Redskins Key Stats Tracker


Redskins: 1
Opponent: 4


Redskins: 4
Opponent: 4


Offense: 4-13 (30%)
Defense: 1-10 (10%)


Offense: 16-32 (50%)
Defense: 2-20 (10%)


Redskins: 0-3 (0%)
Opponent: 2-4 (50%)

Redskins: 4-7 (57%)
Opponent: 2-5 (40%)


Bonus:  this one is my own pet peeve and will be tracked, relentlessly and with ever-increasing angst, until it is broken. As of this writing the last Redskins' defensive touchdown came in October 2007, when the Redskins beat the Arizona Cardinals 21-19 at FedEx Field and linebacker London Fletcher picked off Kurt Warner, taking it to the house in the second quarter to give the Redskins a 14-0 lead. At least it was epic--be sure to check out his flying leap into the end zone.

For those scoring at home, that was 54 games ago (43 regular season, 10 preseason, 1 playoff).





* tap ... tap ... tap *

Hail! Magazine Arrives

Proud and excited to be part of a singular, bold new Redskins adventure. 

Which I will let speak for itself.

Hail, indeed.

August 23, 2010

Redskins vs Ravens: Stream of Consciousness Recap

Baltimore Ravens 23, Washington Redskins 3

Last week's stream-of-consciousness recap was received more warmly than I had any reason to expect, so I agreed to try it again this week.

Of course, last week the Redskins were the blowouter. This week they were the comparative blowoutee.

How that will affect the reception herein remains to be seen.

Once again, these are "live" notes taken during the game, edited only for spelling, punctuation and grammar. Where I had referred to players by initials only I have identified them (for those who need it) in parenthesis after the first reference only.

Enjoy. If you can.

6:55 pm

- few minutes til gametime. No idea what to expect--same surprising team from last week, or the first time we see the Shanahan Redskins look like Redskins teams from the past too many years?

- pizza hot. beer cold. life good.

- Sellers at midfield for the coin toss...that's one big sonofabitch to be carrying the rock.

- AH (Albert Haynesworth) with a smile and earbling. Too much money for one man unless the man is special. AH is special but not the way he thinks.

1st Quarter

- The New Redskins: 1st 3rd down conversion attempt...DM (Donovan McNabb) gets protection, finds receiver, threads needle, converts 3rd and long. Last year we're punting...

August 21, 2010

Redskins vs Ravens - Game Day Wish List

Truth is I only have one real wish for week two:

Don't crash and burn.

With their unexpected dude-what-just-happened-here debut blowout win last week, Mike Shanahan's Redskins set the early bar almost impossibly high for themselves. That's a nice problem to have, of course, but it doesn't leave a whole lot of room for improvement. Not in preseason anyway.

You can't prove anything in preseason, just offer glimpses and set the expectations pendulum swinging.  The Redskins swung it pretty damn far in the direction of the good last week...will they be able to keep it from reversing course just as dramatically?

Chances are the Redskins won't blow out the Baltimore Ravens. In fact, I'm prepared to predict right here and now that they will not. Bold, I know.

But they can definitely make a statement.

So to flesh out the "one real wish" thing a bit...I do have one. It has nothing to do with the score. It doesn't have that much to do with individual performances, although obviously I'd like to see more of what I saw from key personnel and units last week.

No, this week it has to do with attitude.

It's a short list:

3) A continuation of the professionalism we saw last week. In every phase and form every unit. Last week it was relatively easythe Redskins got ahead early, got some breaks and good bounces and steamrolled an opponent that lacked the wherewithal to dig in and fight back.

This week it is unlikely to play out that way. Baltimore is tough, confident and will not roll over if things go sour early. Regardless of what the scoreboard says tonight, even if it is tilted badly in the wrong direction, I want to see Washington continue to look like the smart, composed, well-coached and motivated professional football team we caught such a tantalizing glimpse of last week.

2) Toughness. Baltimore hangs its hat on physicality. They don't beat you with speed, precision or trickeration. They just beat you. They use both fists, both feet, and if things get chippy they aren't above the occasional well-placed head butt. I want to see the Redskins respond in kind. Stand in, stand tall, punch first, punch hard. When necessary, suck it up and counterpunch.

The Redskins got bigger this offseason. I'd like to see that pay early dividends in the most elemental way possible. The neighborhood bully is wandering into the Redskins' front yard saying "I have come to tear up your shrubbery. What are you to do about it?"

I want to see that myself.

1) No injuries.

August 19, 2010

Synaptic Shotgun 8.19.10 - Carter, Cynicism, Riggo Drill, Tremendous Machine

Occasional, recurring short-form posts about
the Washington Redskins, NFL and maybe even Life.
Almost like a blog.


The offseason new Redskins' head coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen have put together has been a treat to watch. They have been confident, in command, and based on the earliest returns have the team headed in the right direction.

Which makes it even harder to wrap my brain around the Andre Carter situation.

I'm a Carter fan—he's a pro, dedicated to his craft and by all accounts a strong locker room presence. But the truth is, to my eyes he looked utterly at sea at linebacker against Buffalo. The man was, generously speaking, mechanical—seemingly running to a spot and hoping to find the play there. It wasn't—and the Bills repeatedly ran or passed to the vacant spot Carter had recently been.

Mike Shanahan saw it differently:

Shanahan disagreed that outside linebacker Andre Carter struggled during his limited time against Buffalo.

“Andre has done a great job in camp,” he said. “You need game-day experience, especially when you switch positions. … [The transition] is why you have those OTAs and summer camp – so he becomes comfortable not only rushing the quarterback, but dropping [into coverage] and playing different routes and techniques.”
I hope so.

When the Redskins take on the Baltimore Ravens this Saturday, I definitely know one thing I'll be isolating on however. I assume Shanahan and Haslett will be as well. I know Dallas offensive coordinator Jason Garrett will be. Not to get all dramatic after one preseason game, but here's hoping the new Redskins' brain trust didn't get this one really wrong.


It was inevitable, I guess, but still irritating.

Last Friday at 7:30 pm EST, the Redskins were a 4-12 team coming off two awful, embarrassing seasons. They had a new coach, new general manager, new offensive and defensive systems, new offensive and defensive coordinators, a new starting quarterback and more than 30 new players.

To say expectations were guarded would be understatement. And anyone confidently predicting a 42-17 thrashing of whatever opponent the NFL saw fit to schedule for their preseason game would have gotten laughed out of even semi-sober Redskins conversations.

Well, turns out the Redskins did precisely that, surprising everyone but themselves and outperforming even the most optimistic of forecasts.

So what happened? Within hours, inexorably and predictably, the "Yeah but's" began emerging. You've heard them. You've seen them. You may even be one of them. I find myself wondering, today, why some folks seem to think everyone else needs to be reminded that it...

August 18, 2010

Redskins vs Bills Final - When Wishes Come True

I won't make a habit of this, I promise, but letting this one go without a public appreciation to the gridiron gods would be sacriligious.

Not to mention it might irritate them again. I'm a Redskins fan. I can't chance it.

Last week I wrote a wish list for the opening preseason game against Buffalo. It was over the top. I asked for, well, everything.

Didn't expect to get it.


So, for the record...thank you oh wise and powerful pigskin spirits, for marking the end of the eight-month offseason odyssey from Jim Zorn to 42-17 in such otherworldly fashion:

12) I want to see some long, lingering looks at the renovated digs. The old Lite-Brite scoreboard was cute. Thing is, if it ain't holding pom-poms, there is no cute in football. It took 13 long years, but it seems Jack Kent Cooke Stadium may finally be "finished."
Sweet. Just sweet. We could grouse about the fact that it's 2010, and 13 years into their tenure in Raljon or Landover or whatever that plot of ground is called, and the Redskins finally have a stadium worthy of a flagship NLF franchise. But that would be crass. The New Big Jack debuted with a stirring, new-era-marking whupping of some team wearing blue. I'm going to bitch about the delay in adding a few pixels after that? I think not.

11) It won't take long for the cameras to focus on the Redskins' owners box. And that's cool. Not seeing this alone makes the affair Tivo-worthy.
If they showed a shot of the owners box, I never saw it. In fact, the only owner sighting I saw had a tanned, fit, humble and reserved Dan Snyder schlepping to the broadcast booth for a brief chat with Kenny Albert and Joe "I Played—Really" Theismann. Is this a great country or what?

10) I'm curious to see what new name(s) will jump into the discussion. Who will do something—good or bad—to catapult their name(s) to the top of the message boards? For the first time in eight long months we will get to see a Redskin do something on the field worth discussing. Here's hoping it's more along the lines of a McNabb-to-Thomas-TD-bomb than a Trent-Williams-getting-burned-and-McNabb-crushed variety.
There were more, but I'm trying to keep this short so I'll go with the first three that jump to mind...

August 16, 2010

Key Stats Tracker (Preseason Game 1)

This is something I have been meaning to do for years. I am finally going to commit to it in 2010.

Not all NFL statistics are created equal, and as any thinking man or woman understands, statistics are highly subjective and, in the hands of the right sculptor, can be molded to support almost any notion desired. But there is substance to be found in the raw numbers—the trick is to know one kind from the other.

I don't pretend to any greater insight than you, kind reader, but I do have my own ideas about which NFL statistics are more impactful than others and directly correlate to success on the field.

For the record, I am a long-time proponent of the idea that turnover differential is likely the single most important stat in professional football. The old adage "we need to win the turnover battle" didn't become so by accident.

And new Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan hasn't spent his entire first offseason in Washington preaching their importance and re-building the Redskins' defensive scheme into a 3-4 base from the 4-3 base they have run since George Preston Marshall sat back in a Boston office in 1936, removed the big cigar from his mouth and growled, "Washington D.C., huh?"

So basically I'm going to track that this season.

Also going to track third down and red zone efficiency. Both, to me, are undervalued around the water cooler on Monday mornings when passionate fans break down reasons for the win that has them flying or loss that has them sunk.

I may throw in other points of statistical interest that jump out from week to week, but the aforementioned three will be updated within a day or two of each game. The plan is to maintain this "record" for as long as this blog continues to vibrate along the cyberspectrum.

So there.

August 14, 2010

Redskins vs Bills: Stream-of-Consciousness Review

By now, with almost 24 hours to digest last night's epic 42-17 pasting of hapless Buffalo in Mike Shanahan's Redskins debut, you have probably read a dozen "game impressions" blog posts from around the web. And I bet some of them were pretty damn good.

So rather than go all serious on you, here's something a little different. An experiment. What follow are raw real-time notes jotted down during the game. They weren't intended for publishing, just as reminders of what I wanted to comment on and hopefully capture the vibe to flesh out later.

I have only polished it up for some grammar, punctuation and spelling. The content was written "hot" while also juggling a cold beverage (or two) and simultaneously working on a "formal" article I believe you will be seeing ... well, soon. I'd tell you more but then I'd have to kill you. And who wants that? Especially while we're basking in the afterglow of a burgundy and gold woodshed job?

Not sure if we'll reprise the post format or not, but what the heck.

It's preseason.


8/13/10, 7:20 pm

- Almost gametime. So, is it normal to have butterflies before the first preseason game? Weird.

- Never have quite understood why offensive players are allowed to facemask and defensive players are not. See it every week. Weirder.

- Haslett's new defense isn't exactly starting well.  Definitely isn't aggressive like we saw in camp last week. Not a lot of presnap movement, hardly any blitzing.  It will look different in September.  Hopefully.

- No disrespect, but NBC's coverage sucks. No down and distance half the time, silly commentary by Joe Theismann; Donovan fooling camera man so bad on a simple playfake he's STILL trying to figure out how the hell the ball ended up 40 yards downfield on the other side of the field.

- Torain looked like Ladell Betts reincarnated there.  Good strong tackle break on first carry turns 3 yard loss into 5 yard gain. Good first impression.

- Starting to get offensive rhythm on 2nd drive. Did you notice? In and out of huddle quickly, snapping ball on quick count ... love it. Campbell's offenses always seemed to operate methodically ... lingering mental image is JC standing over center, scanning field, standing over center, scanning field, standing over center scanning ... JASON CALL HUT ALREADY. I wrote earlier this offseason that younger Redskins fans were going to know "offensive rhythm" when they finally saw it.  First official taste came on 2nd drive of the first preseason game.

Washington Redskins 42 - Buffalo Bills 17

I'll be posting full thoughts, reactions and reflections to last night's Era Opener later.  Lots of them, I'd wager.

Until then, allow me to simply savor the moment.

That was fun.

How long 'til the next game?

August 13, 2010

Synaptic Shotgun 8.13.10 - GAME DAY

It has been 222 days since the Washington Redskins last left the field wearing full battle gear. Life has gone on, yes (just ask the people living along the Gulf Coast), but for fans of this magnificent game it has been a long trek through the wilderness.

Fundamental organizational changes only feed the beast so much. It's time for oversized men with barely-controlled mayhem in mind wearing state-of-the-art armor to start slamming into one another for our entertainment again.

And away we go ...

DONOVAN McNABB - is going to play quarterback for the Washington Redskins tonight. Truth? I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the concept. Hopefully visual confirmation will help.

MIKE SHANAHAN - is going to make weird faces on the sidelines wearing a Redskins shirt tonight.


ALBERT HAYNESWORTH - when he puts his hand on the ground tonight, Big Al will have the most-watched backside not wearing hot pants at FedExField. Will he dog it out there, making his coaches and team look bad all over again, or be a soldier and play hard (as much as any NFL vet does in the first preseason game)? Will he interact comfortably with his teammates on the sidelines or stand apart and glower? If he makes a play, will the same crowd that has crushed him all offseason stand and cheer? Hate that this is still a story, but it is.

August 12, 2010

Redskins vs Bills - 12 Quick Wishes

We're getting close.   

Tomorrow night's preseason game between the Redskins and Buffalo Bills may not be all that meaningful big picture-wise, but there are certain things I hope to see. The order of importance in which I've listed them is subjective, of course, but perhaps one or two will resonate...

12) I want to see some long, lingering looks at the renovated digs. The old Lite-Brite scoreboard was cute. Thing is, if it ain't holding pom-poms, there is no cute in football. It took 13 long years, but it seems Jack Kent Cooke Stadium may finally be "finished."

11) It won't take long for the cameras to focus on the Redskins' owners box. And that's cool. Not seeing this alone makes the affair Tivo-worthy:

10) I'm curious to see what new name(s) will jump into the discussion. Who will do something--good or bad--to catapult their name(s) to the top of the message boards? For the first time in eight long months we will get to see a Redskin do something on the field worth discussing. Here's hoping it's more along the lines of a McNabb-to-Thomas-TD-bomb than a Trent-Williams-getting-burned-and-McNabb-crushed variety.

9) I'd like to see the first string, on both sides of the ball, hold their own. I'd love to see a 17-0 halftime lead, don't get me wrong. But I'll settle for an unspectacular 3-3 and looking like a real NFL team waking up from hibernation. Like you'd expect of a competitive team in the first preseason game. Just don't give me 17-0 down and looking like someone forgot to set the alarm.

That would be bad.

8) I'd like to see signs of cohesion on the offensive line. Zone blocking is less about mano-a-mano matchups than it is synergy; about knowing what the guy next to you is going to do and having him do it. First preseason game or not, watching one too many offensive lineman standing with hands on hips after a blown-up play and stariing at a teammate with that unmistakable, "Dude you were supposed to have him" pose ...

That would also be bad.

7) I know this Redskins' offense will be dangerous in the passing game with Pro Bowler Chris Cooley and possible ascending star Fred Davis at tight end. Plus they'll likely feature a dangerous Clinton Portis out of the backfield. But I would still really like to see a Redskins wide receiver make a play.

Doesn't have to be a touchdown, although that'd be sweet. One streaking, in-stride catch over the middle for 30. A key 3rd-and-long conversion with the receiver coming back for the ball and taking it away from the defender. A deep sideline catch while tumbling out of bounds with toes dragging. Just show us something so we can start over-analyzing something else.

August 11, 2010

The Redskins Uniform Debate

If one presumes to blog he should probably opine on weighty matters of the day.

So, for the record:

I'm no Luddite. I keep an open mind. But I am not in favor of changes to the Redskins uniform.

Sure, wear the occasional throwback if that's what the league wants. There's no harm in seeing the spear once in a while; maybe even the gold pants, assuming they can find something gold and not mustard yellow. 

I suppose there could even be a new overall uniform "upgrade" that changes my mind. I can admit the Eagles and Buccaneers improved their lot.  Thing is, they needed fixing.  The Redskins' uniform does not. My fear is that beyond not being an improvement, any new design could end up godwawful. An embarrassment.

Like, oh ... what they did to the poor Patriots

* shudder *

So no black jerseys. Seriously. The XFL died for a reason.

No all-burgundy. This isn't college, why look like Virginia Tech?

Besides, one awesome football power in all-maroon per geographic region is enough.

Ahem. Go Hokies.

The all-white was okay. I wasn't over-the-top crazy about it, but did start to dig it a bit when it briefly caught fire during Gibbs II. That kind of died on the vine, though, when the presumptive ascent back up the NFL ladder ... descended again. Maybe we can try that one again on a limited basis down the road.

The Washington Redskins have a classic look. Until and unless some inspired artist and fan appreciative of the historical and emotional context involved designs a fresh, updated look that supplements the established, timeless look, rather than cast it aside in favor of marketing research ... leave well enough alone.

It ain't broke ...

Please, powers-that-be, don't screw it up trying to "fix" it.

And that's all I have to say about that.

August 10, 2010

Synaptic Shotgun: Camp Impressions 8.10.10

Caught practice today with my son.  It doesn't get much better.

For a recap of the day's drills and other action, check out Gary Fitzgerald's practice recap on Man goes a great job of tracking the who's who and what's what, particularly when it comes to the 11-on-11 stuff you really want to hear about. 

Some broader, more subjective thoughts and observations for your consideration:

CAMP SHANAHAN - it's not the military-style atmosphere you might expect given all the hard-ass characterizations we've heard all year about Mike Shanahan.

Don't misunderstand, it's professional—the players jog from drill to drill, there's no horsing around, things move along with deliberate precision—but you don't walk away thinking you have stumbled on a Marty Schottenheimer camp. Or even a Gibbs camp for that matter. Camp Shanahan is surprisingly low-key.

I like the idea of coaches treating players like pros. I like the idea of the team not beating itself all the hell up before they even get on the preseason field against someone in another color uniform. If I do have one (slightly nagging) question, it's whether or not they will be the kind of team that can flip the proverbial switch and go from 3/4 camp speed to game speed at the whistle.

We won't know that for a while, of course. We may get a little taste Friday night in the preseason opener, but we won't really begin to find out if this is that kind of team until the live bullets start flying Sunday night on September 12 against the Dallas Cowboys.

Fingers crossed.

REDSKINS DEFENSE - if you have watched the Redskins closely for any length of time, you know that for about the last generation their defensive modus operandi has not exactly been of the look-out, hair-on-fire variety. Well, no more. With the brief exception of former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' first year here in 2004, what you see brewing on the field at Redskins Park this fall is the most free-flowing, loose and aggressive defense since Richie Petitbon and crew blew the minds of the poor Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI.

August 8, 2010

Synaptic Shotgun 8.8.10

Occasional, recurring short-form posts about 
the Washington Redskins, NFL and maybe even life. 
Almost like a—what do they call it—blog?

Have at thee.

ALBERT HAYNESWORTH - so the big man is on the field. I had seriously begun to think that the entire convoluted, fitness-test-"injury"-MRI-are-you-serious-melodrama was a charade presented for public consumption. Wan't sure who was orchestrating it, or if it was just Type A personality bullheadedness and money politics from all sides. But I was pretty close to deciding the man would never take the practice field wearing burgundy and gold again. Am I the only one (besides the old guys in ballcaps in the background) a little surprised at this picture?

RUSS GRIMM - from the ridiculous to the sublime: a Hog is the Hall of Fame. The league finally got it right. No one personified the Hogs and Gibbs glory years better. Grimm was a no-nonsense, blue-collar, bag of sledgehammers, true professional. Big Jake may have had better commercials ... but Russ Grimm wasand isThe Man.

August 5, 2010

Preseason Football is a Love/Hate Relationship

I love preseason.

And I hate it.

I love seeing my team storm the field in full battle gear for the first time in eight long months, pouring through the smoke and thundering bass grooves and prehistoric roar of a well-lubricated partisan crowd.

I hate being reminded, around midway through the second quarter, that I don't know who a lot of the guys wearing those colors with unfamiliar numbers are ... and that a lot of them won't be around in a month so how well or badly they do out there really doesn't matter.

I love that a week from tomorrow on Friday the 13th (hmm), I will get to witness the beginning of A New Era—Mike Shanahan, Donovan McNabb, Trent Williams, the 3-4 defense.

I hate that I really won't. The New Era won't truly begin until Septermber 12 when the Dallas Cowboys come to town.

I love that I will get my first taste; my first peek at what this new Redskins team "looks like" in action.

I hate that while I am finally getting that peek, how they play—good, bad or indifferent—may or may not have anything to do with how they look come September 12.

I love that we will have actual football to talk about again. Was it a bad pass or did the receiver run a lazy route? Did the rookie left tackle get smoked inside by the defensive end or did the guard blow his assignment, pulling right instead of taking the away the inside rush lane? Did the corner get toasted one-on-one on a simple fly route or did the safety bite on an average look-off by the quarterback and blow his deep coverage?

I hate that many will treat each and every one of those actual football things as sure-fire Portents of Things To Come. That the player in question is either a can't-miss Pro Bowler or simply can't play. That the new system is either money or fatally flawed. That the New Era is either headed for Dynasty or the new regime will be looking for work come January...

August 4, 2010

Synaptic Shotgun 8.4.10

I'm going to try something new (again)—occasional, recurring short-form posts about the Washington Redskins, NFL and maybe even, you know, life.

Almost like a—what do they call it—blog?

Have at thee.

Mike Shanahan - after one wild ride of an offseason and a quick first week of training camp, one thing is clear. balloon-head Peter King was right (I hate when that happens): Mike Shanahan doesn't care what you think.

Malcolm Kelly - the man has all the talent in the world. He's big, runs like a gazelle, has Lynn Swann hands and seems a decent enough fellow. He probably could have been great. But three years into his NFL career (as Doc Walker likes to say) he has yet to bust a grape. It's always something: hamstring, knee, big toe ... heart ... whatever. Know what I think? It's over.

Colt Brennan - speaking of over, a moment of silence for the Cult of Colt. Have to admit there were a couple of moments early on I said, "hmm ..."

But it wasn't meant to be. It would have been a great, great story had this likable young guy turned out to be The One. It's a damn shame Hollywood and real life can't close deals like this more often.

Albert Haynesworth - Big Old Fat Guy Takes The Haynesworth Test. And that's all I have to say about that.

Brett Favre - as of this morning, The Man from Kiln continues to hold the Minnesota Vikings hostage. Imagine you're the Vegas bookie charged with setting the line on the Vikings Super Bowl odds. You hate Brett Favre. You seriously hate him.

Imagine. One player being the difference between an NFL team being considered a serious championship contender and just another team with some nice parts hoping to catch a wave. They should have a name for that.

Life - Solar Tsunami to Strike Earth. So what do you grab, SPF 15 million or a surfboard? Just a little public service reminder: if you go outside tonight, look up and see rippling green or red curtains of light, dont be alarmed. No doubt it's just the universe unfolding as it should.

Onward and upward my friends.

August 2, 2010

Putting it on the line - Size Matters

There was a time, back in the Gibbs Glory Days, when the Washington Redskins were thought of as a big team.  The relative size of the offensive line Gibbs and offensive line  guru Joe Bugel constructed in front of battering ram running back John Riggins might not turn heads by today's standards, but back then it was a different story.

From the Washington Post in 1982:

"Bugel likes his players big, so the first thing you notice about the Hogs is their size. The line averages 273 pounds, and will get even larger when Starke, who is small for a tackle (260 pounds), retires and is replaced by Laster, 290. Grimm is playing at 270, Bostic 255 and May at 288 after falling to 255 last year."
I remember reading something by a long-time NFL writer (whose name escapes me) back in those days, talking about how Gibbs, Riggins and the Redskins' power running game had (paraphrasing) taken the NFL by the scruff of the neck and dragged it kicking and screaming back to the good old days ... to when the league was about who was bigger, faster, stronger and more aggressive.   

The Hogs redefined how football was played in the 80's and how the football world has looked at offensive lines ever since. Back then the term "Hogs" was cute. Today it is part of the lexicon. Go to any high school football game on a Friday night and listen to the crowd. If you don't hear at least one Dad in the stands clench his teeth and growl about "the hogs inside," I'll buy next time we meet.

The Redskins offensive line was not only better coached, prepared and motivated than their opponents, they were also just plain bigger.

Apparently, size matters.

Don't think so? Joe Gibbs was once asked why he favored his team wearing white so much. He made some comment about it being cooler in the hot August and September sun, and I think suggested it was easier for his quarterback to find his receivers downfield in white. But then he added what always seemed to me was the real reason...