Monday, September 28, 2009

Washington Redskins - Where Do We Go From Here?

"Where do we go from here?" That's the question echoing around everything that it the Washington Redskins. Coming off a backbreaking loss to the Detroit Lions, who were 0-19 in the regular season coming into this game... the Redskins need now more than ever to submit to the old saying, "we need to find an identity."

Players are going to tell fans as players always tell fans, "we are out here competing, you all are just fans" and that's true... to an extent. Players know the x's and o's better than any fan... but fans know the struggle, the year in and year out, the unability to purchase expensive tickets so you have to watch from TV, the dependency on a team. The players know the fans are just as, if not more, important than they are. But does Dan Snyder know that?

I won't be one of these people saying we're fielding a bunch of talented guys who are overrated. Not a soul on this team is overrated by any means. The Redskins have plugged more guys at more positions than anyone else, and they've all done reasonably well.

This is a group of guys who don't function as a team, and it's not going to help if Snyder starts terminating contracts and executing trades. Besides, we all know what happens when a former Redskins finds a bond with another team. Stephen Davis made it to the Super Bowl. Antonio Pierce WON a Super Bowl. This is a group of guys who can win more than one Super Bowl, but they need to figure out who is who on this team. There's no room for anyone to be selfish, and that's what I want to address.

Now I, along with probably 100% of Washington Redskins fans, love Clinton Portis. He's a hard, physical runner who changed his game from the shifty, juking game that found him success at The U and in Denver. He's probably the best blocker in the entire league, and he's a damn good receiving back. But Clinton is selfish, and everyone knows that. He wants the ball, as all guys do... and while he's not as bad as Terrell Owens, it's apparent enough in him calling 4th down plays last season to give HIM the draw play. Portis has put his body on the line for this team, but it feels as though he's gotten content, he's happy where he's at, and he's not succeeding for us. I've seen some pretty good blocking, especially in yesterday's game against the Lions, where Portis tripped up, failed to come up on the other side of the line.

I know it's never easy to punch it in at the goalline, even Jerome Bettis has been stifled on goal, but Portis' effort looked like it was non-existant. Portis is a guy who runs people over and keeps his legs moving. Instead he went low trying to slide it in, and let his legs submit. I'd love to keep Clinton, but perhaps Washington NEEDS a new back, or a true 1-2 punch. Betts has all but remembered how to play football, he's been extremely disappointing, and Portis needs a guy who can spell him, and keep him fresh. This team wants to pass, and they've done decent at it, and it feels like Portis is unhappy not being given the chance to go for 2,000 yards.

This team appears to be dead-set on close games. All this tells me is that there isn't the heart of a warrior. Campbell doesn't trust the young guys yet, as he's really only going to Sellers, Moss, and Cooley in the endzone. It's time to show these young tall guys you wanted that you trust 'em. Screw a play-call from Zorn, you did better on your own, Jason! But Jason's been on fire, and I think he's the furthest from the problem... he's our savior. He deserves a new contract to be the franchise quarterback of the Washington Redskins. Eli did far worse until the playoff stretch leading to the SuperBowl, and now he's the richest QB in the league.

An O-Line. Heyer & Rinehart looked good together on the right. Samuels and Dockery looked good on the left. Rabach is small and handles his business. But this line is split into three parts on the field, and nobody sacrifices to block two guys on a blitz. Just like the offense is divided into 4 parts. A separated line, a quarterback, the running backs, the receivers. They need to be an offense... not tectonic plates.

The defensive line is under a lot of scrutiny, but with Orakpo and Haynesworth added, it'll take time, not be immediate. Redskins fans want immediate results more than Snyder does, and because of that, Snyder will get rid of someone too early. A coaching staff and offensive scheme takes years to learn and master. It's why the Giants, Colts, Patriots, Steelers, etc. all succeed. They take the good WITH the bad, and show patience. Zorn is still a new coach, and the team is still trying to learn his gameplan.

The linebackers are good. We might have the best three linebackers in a group.

The secondary... Hall hasn't done bad. Rogers hasn't done bad. But these guys are trying to be playmakers, and not play the way they found success. PRESS COVERAGE! Carlos is one of the best press-corners in the league, and it'll do him more good than bad in this contract year. Hall is a better press corner than he thinks, and until we get that pressure that comes with trust and time, he needs to play that way. Safeties have done well, in my honest opinion.

But the defense, too, is divided. There's no group-feel to the defense.

Then one of the things I have a major problem with, is the 5 man rush to block field goals... if someone runs a fake, they deserve it. But let's try to block the hell out of 'em!

And let's be Redskins! Warriors! People who fight with pride, for their tribe! People who put the tribe before themselves. Until we learn what it means to be Redskins, we won't be Redskins, and we'll continue to remain in this funk.

And if it means uniting to overthrow the chief (Dan Snyder), then let's do it. Because as a life-long Redskin... I'm sickened by the way we're acting!

Hail to the Redskins! Let's hail teamwork...

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Madden Curse Is Halfway Complete...

Larry Fitzgerald wasn't sweating the curse. He said on the subject before that he doesn't believe in curses, and he makes his own luck. He's not the first guy who said that of the Madden Curse though, and year after year, all have fallen.

On Opening Night- NFL Kickoff, Troy Polamalu (who shares half of the cover for Madden NFL 10, injured his knee and didn't return to the field. Now the speculation is that he could miss anywhere from 3-6 weeks of football with a sprained ligament in his knee.

For those unaware of what exactly the Madden curse is - people believe that players on the cover of Madden get injured the season they're featured. Mike Vick broke his leg, McNabb had a total of 36 injuries (many internal), Ray Lewis fractured his wrist, and Brett Favre tore tendons in his throwing arm. Now the speculation with half of the curse coming true for Polamalu, is that it's just a matter of time before Fitzgerald suffers an injury. But the curse isn't just half complete, it just states that the individual on the cover will get injured, and one of them did, so the curse lives on even if Fitzgerald doesn't get hurt.

But if he does get injured... everyone's eyes will open wider, and more players will probably learn that your luck may be made by yourself, but it gets influenced greatly by other details. So Larry, here's hoping you don't fall victim to the curse as well... good luck!


Congratulations to His Airness on his Hall of Fame induction! Another historic night for a legend who redefined the history of professional basketball, and sports for that matter.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It's been some time since we've had regular season football, and things in the NFL have shaken up quite a bit this offseason/pre-season. The Giants have nearly completely re-tooled their entire offense, the Patriots have shipped out vets for new vets, the Raiders may have ended Crabtree's career before it got started, and the Redskins dished out money for big names like usual. Point being, these franchises tend to do this stuff regularly, and well, the Redskins only added improvement from last year, not decreased their ability to provide. The line is arguably better behind Derrick Dockery who returned from Buffalo. The young receivers are hitting a stride that you expected last year, but you can't always have homerun hitting rookies. And the addition of Marcus Mason at Running Back is sure to give us a big weapon if he lives up to what fans think is all-around natural talent.

Defensively, adding Haynesworth is going to provide better pass-rush from all over, and allow a 5-man blitz with LaRon Landry who can cover man-to-man to do just that, so that we still have a zone defender, and we can get to the QB. Orakpo can play all over the field, and the Redskins feel they have a lot of Linebackers/DE's who can play the hybrid switch (I'm still hoping to switch to a 3-4 at some point in the next couple of years, and it seems likely if the Cowher rumors are really true).

Where I am concerned though, is every year we say we've got something left to prove. And a lot of these guys say they bonded through the tragic death of Safety Sean Taylor... well I hope they realized he spent his professional life as a Redskin, and if you want to honor him, you go and win one as a Redskin and send a ring home to his family.

It's time to put the pieces together, put your pride behind you, and go in with every intention of gathering yourselves as a team. Pick guys up from the field. Hold your heads high after a mistake. Go out and capitalize. Have FUN! But more importantly than all that... play every single down like you'll never play again, because that's the only way you'll ever exceed your abilities.

So what I'm hoping to see is 11 men on every play going all in. If we're in a field-goal block formation - all 11 guys better go in for the block, because you don't overwhelm 6 on 9. When we have a punt return, 10 guys better block with all they have to get Randle-El, Moss, Hall, or whoever else is returning punts at least 10 yards up the field. And then I want to see guys really put their bodies on the line going over the middle. This is professional football, and the great teams have selfless players who put a 6 yard grab on 3rd and 10 over the middle ahead of everything else. You make your money and win championships by doing just that. If you don't want a championship, I don't care if you're the best player in the league... you're not going to win one, and I don't want you, no matter who you are, representing a team I've clutched my chest for year after year.

So Hail To The Redskins! And good luck to the other 28 teams around the league (I show no love to the Cowboys, Giants, or Eagles) this season.