Monday, September 29, 2008



This team could be for real!!

Beating Dallas, arguably the best team in the NFL going into this game, at home is a HUGE step forward for the Skins. While the score doesn't necessarily reflect it, the Skins pretty much dominated on offense in yardage, time of possesion, and first downs. Given the points left on the field by the Skins - two touchdowns called back by penalties - the score could have been higher.

As a dyed-in-the-wool Redskins fan, there is nothing that makes me feel better than takin' it to the Cowgirls in their own stadium. To all the nay-sayers, who belittled Jason Campbell's ability, you can all kindly just SHUT THE F%#K UP!! Campbell has turned into a class QB. He showed poise and control throughout this game despite a bruising pass rush from the Cowboys front four (the fact that he has yet to turn over the football this season is testimony to his improvement). I had my doubts after the miserable loss on opening day to the Giants, but I'm a believer now.

This was the first big test as to whether the Skins were going to be contenders or pretenders this year, and they passed it with flying colors. Next week's game on the road in Philly will be the second part of the test. If the Skins can come away with a victory there, then I don't think there will be any doubt that we're back! As Troy Aikman, who was effusive in his praise of the Skins during the game, said, "If you can win in the NFC East, you can win anywhere else."


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Battling to Lose

The Washington Nationals are faced with an interesting, "only in baseball", conundrum: Team pride, a 100 loss season and last place (a dubious acheivement that everyone from the top brass to the batboy would like to avoid) vs. team pride, 100 loss season and first pick in the MLB draft, where highly-touted pitching prospect and Olympic bronze medalist Stephen Strasburg awaits.

With the ghosts of Washington's baseball past swirling through the gleaming corridors of Nationals Park (both incarnations of the Washington Senators shared the same less-than-complimentary slogan: "Washington: First in peace, first in war, last in the American League."), manager Manny Acta's goals for the team at this point are simple: don't finish last. The Nats barely managed to acheive that goal last year with a surprisingly strong finish in which they knocked the Mets out of the playoffs. This year, with the only possibility of playing the spoiler being beating out the Padres and Mariners in the race to the bottom, the Nats have to decide, without making it obvious of course, which direction they want to travel.

Grumbling fans (I don't know of any fans more fickle than those in Washington), mediocre attendence, and falling revenue have increased the pressure on the Nats to field a good team and do it soon. The city government, which ponied up 600 million tax-payer dollars to fund the new stadium, has been vociferous in its criticism of the Nats ownership and the lack of return on their investment. Washington is a win now or be damned kind of city and doesn't have the patience for the build from scratch plan currently under way by the Nats front office. However, patience is what is needed most.

Jim Bowden, the Nats GM, and Stan Kasten, the director of operations, both have proven baseball credentials. They are responsible for taking the Atlanta Braves from MLB doormat to perennial pennant contenders by starting at the bottom and rebuilding the Braves farm system.
In the process, they eventually saved the Braves millions of dollars that would have gone to signing superstar free-agents by grooming their own talent.

Given that they started in D.C. with a farm system virtually destroyed by an uncaring, inept Expos organization, I believe Kasten and Bowden are right on track. The pitching staff, drawn mostly from the minor leagues, is made up of young guys (the average age is around 23) who have shown flashes of brilliance but have lacked the consistency that experience brings. A mid-season trade brought youth and speed to the offense and re-energized the team. The bats have come alive since the all-star break and, while the Nats are still losing, they're losing 10-9 instead of 10-0. I think the pieces are starting to fall into place.

Could the Nats use a pitcher like the 20 year old Strasburg, who has been called "the most refined pitching prospect in a decade" and "an instant franchise anchor"? Absolutely! Can they afford to get him by dropping the last 7-8 games of the season? Probably not.

Monday, September 15, 2008

REDEMPTION!!!! Redskins 29 / Saints 24

What started out as a game that probably left most Redskins fans holding their heads in exasperation, ended in spectacular fashion as the Skins came from behind in the 4th quarter to beat the Saints.

While the Skins looked greatly improved on offense and made it to the red zone four times in the first half, they came away with only 6 points. At that point I was wondering if this was going to be another frustrating loss against a team that normally will put up scads of points. However, after giving up a punt return for a TD (Yeah Vinny! How about that rookie punter you drafted? you F%#@ idiot!) and down by 9, the Redskins came alive. A beautiful 80 yard drive in which Jason Campbell ate up the Saints secondary with precision passes and culminated in a sweet draw play that sent Clinton Portis relatively untouched into the end zone. Redskins down by 2. A brilliant defensive stop gave the Skins the ball on their own 33. On first down, Campbell showed great poise stepping up in the pocket, avoiding the pass rush and launched a 67 yard bomb to Santana Moss for what would turn out to be the winning touchdown.

This game, however; belongs to the Skins defense. Through the first half, the Skins held the vaunted Saints offense to somewhere around 70 total yards. They completely shut down Reggie Bush (although he did score on the punt return, but I blame that on the punter). They had critical 3rd down stops and, for the first time in what seems like forever, generated a pretty good pass rush. The real key came thanks to a rookie so new I can't remember his name: Horton or Orton or something like that. Playing in his very first game, this rookie corner came up with two picks, a fumble recovery, several key tackles, and performed well in man-to-man coverage. The D gave up some points but kept it close enough to give the offense a chance. What more can you ask for?

Now let's take a quick look at Vinny's choice to draft a punter (???) and then release the veteran Derrick Frost, who has since been picked up by the Packers. In the game today, Durant Brooks had punts of 30 and 28 yards one of which was returned for an easy TD! Now let's compare this year's stats:

Durant Brooks (rookie): 9 punts, Avg. 36.8 yards

Derrick Frost (4 year vet): 9 punts, Avg. 46.4 yards

Hmmm? Way to go Vinny, you putz!

Despite Vinny's draft day brain freeze, the Redskins showed serious improvement over last weeks futility. Let's hope they can gain some momentum going into next week's game in Arizona.


On a far more depressing side note, al three of my fantasy teams are TOTALLY getting their asses handed to them.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

It's gonna be a lo-o-o-o-o-ong season.

Watching the Redskins last night was like running over a skunk with your car: it was a mess and the stink will linger. Welcome to the Vinny Cerrato era. Those first three draft picks are looking mighty good now, eh Vinny? Oh wait, that's right, THEY WEREN'T EVEN ON THE FUCKING FIELD!!! Of the ten future Hall of Famers Vinny picked in this year's draft, six were on the inactive list (The only draft pick that played was the punter. Who in their right mind drafts a punter???). The guys that played well in preseason? Oh, they're sitting at home or on their way to make an impact on a team that has a clue. Vinny cut two receivers who had outstanding preseasons in favor of his top two draft picks (wide receivers) who came to camp out of shape, unprepared, and managed to get injured in practice. The only impact they've had on the team so far is the indent their collective butts have made on the bench.

After watching the Redskins inept play on both sides of the ball (the only bright point was special teams), I wonder if Vinny, sitting up there in his cushy office, is wondering, "Hmmm, there were a lot of very talented offensive linemen in the draft. I wonder if grabbing a couple of them would've been a better idea? Maybe someone for the D-Line? Nah. Picking two useless receivers and a tight end was good. His Grand Omnipotent Pubahness, The Danny approved, so that must validate my existence."