Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Week 7 - Stick a Fork in Us (Issue 14)

To my beloved Jew-fans of the Ole Dixie Braves:

I don't know a better way to phrase this situation other than: we are screwed.

You want analogies, I'll give you analogies: Lee Harvey Oswalt after he shot Kennedy, Martin Luther King while taking his morning shower at the Lorraine Motel, Honest Abe as he was shluphing through some boring play, Diana and Dodi while they were fooling around in the backie-back, the accused guy in "Dead Man Walking." Got me? This team is on life support and the Colts are in the waiting room.


I know SkinsServ is a day early, but I've seen and read enough. I need to use this forum to get the bad news off my chest now so I can regroup and give you a more favorable assessment tomorrow when my old optimistic self comes back. For now, the news is only dreary. I had actually bounced back from the Titans game pretty quickly (didn't even have to use meds to do it). On my drive home from work on Monday my mind was already drawing images of CP breaking through the Indy d-line and Santana and Lloyd having big days on the astro turf. Well, my friends, those delusional visions of success have quickly crumbled this afternoon after a couple of pieces of news have knocked my tusch down from the artificial (actual?) high.


Get ready, this will sting for a second (just a quick rub of the prostate):


1) Carlos Rogers is out on Sunday: No real good way to spin this one other than the fact that he's been drek all year so it won't be much of a difference. Here's the problem - there is nobody to back him up. Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne are the best receiving tandem in the league and we're going to have an injured Shaun Springs and an incompetent Kenny Wright matching them up 1on1. And guess who's going to play nickel for the Skins this week? Troy Vincent. Yup, your eyes aren't failing you that is Troy Vincent, Wisconsin class of 1992 (that's when CZ in the corner graduated HS!!!!) The dude is going to be manning-up on guys while using a walker. When Springs goes back down with injury early in the first quarter, fret not because Mike Rumph will be there to save the day!!!! And when Vincent breaks an ankle while slipping in the shower this week (common old person injury for you novices) guess who's going to back him up? Ade Jimoh. You may remember our old friend Ade, he was last scene trailing the Tennessee receiver by 10 feet on the Titans second TD on Sunday. The Skins might be holding an open tryout at Redskins Park this week for CBs in the DC area; I'm thinking I have a legit shot of suiting up on Sunday (I have 4 picks in my Booz Allen league this year and my sore groin ain't so sore


2) Salavea and Griffin are also out for Sunday. I know what you're thinking - they are supposed to be back this week. Nope - Salavea's calf is still not right (I'm thinking he should just get calf implants). Samoa Joe is probably closer to retirement than he is playing. Very sad - I loved seeing how many layers his belly had every week. The Skins are going to try to cover up Griffins hip problem by listing him as questionable this afternoon, but my man on the inside says they're full of crap and if he plays he'd be risking a much more significant injury. Is it me or have these two missed about 50% of the Skins games over the past two years? Both guys are not durable enough and should be waived when the season ends on 12/30/2006 (there, I said it, no playoffs). BTW - remember how I thought Montgomery and Golston were adequate replacements at tackle? I was dead wrong. I read that same stuff you guys read -  Redskins.Com said these guys are good. Redskins.Com? Duh. I just realized the Redskins publish all the content on Redskins.Com! Travis Henry put up an 175-spot on these two clowns - it's only going to get worse against the Colts.


3) The Colts shored up their d-line yesterday by trading for 300 lb tank Walter MacFarland. The big guy was supposed to practice for the Colts today and chances are he'll be in the starting lineup on Sunday to obliterate our offensive line. Even with MacFarland, CP, in theory, could have a good day. Here's the problem - the Skins offense may never be on the field. I have no reason to believe we'll be able to stop the Colts and keep their offense off the field. Addai is going to be huge and look for Harrison and Wayne to both go for 100 yards and some TDs. I wish DollaBill will get a chance to carry the load as he has been begging Gibbs his staff of curmudgeons to do, but if the Skins will be playing from behind (which they will), expect to see Brunell throwing the ball a lot again.


If there was ever a time to create some kind of sports mesheberach, here it is.

This game is the biggest of the year. 2-5 and 3-4 are astronomically different (numerically different?), especially going into Cowboys week. For the sake of my first real tailgate of the year on 11/5 and for the sake of the value of my tickets (and my mental stability, etc, etc, etc), I pray the Skins win this week. If they can shock the world, then they can play Dallas with a chance to be .500. If not, gear up for the fat lady to belt out a dirge on the the most disappointing Skins year in my lifetime (or just since 04).


More to follow tomorrow...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Week 6 - Skins Will Cover (Issue 13)

The Craziest, Most Psychotic Preamble Yet (reader discretion is advised)

Howdy fellow tribesmen:

Anyone notice that last week I skipped from Issue 10 to Issue 12? I would assume not, considering circulation for Skins Serv didn't reach quarterly estimates and readership of Skins Serv was even worse. Even though this week's edition is technically the twelfth, I am just going to call it the thirteenth and move on. Lets just say we skipped the eleventh issue in honor of those lost in the tragedies of 9/11.


A few tangents to start. I get the sense that the Skins Serv is becoming too much x's and o's and not enough Saadman. At the start of Skins Serv I was achieving that perfect blend, but since the season started my writing has lost the beautiful balance and focused too much on game-planning and Washington Post-like catchy stories. There was not enough about my fanatical perspective on, and relationship with, our Braves on the Warpath. I am going to try to get back to what got us here (I have no idea what that means - it just sounded very football-like).


I have been crunching the numbers and trying to put together patterns to explain the Skins up and down performance thus far. As was pointed out this week by my brother, I refuse to point the finger at specific players on the team. I protect the players I have grown to love so much and will continue to do so. I am also not going to blame the losses on the coaching staff - the Skins have been hampered by injuries on defense, and against the Giants the offense was never really on the field. So if not the coaches and players, who do I turn to? Well, no one other than me. Yes, me. Before anything else, I must take a good long look at myself and re-assess what I'm doing as a fan and how I can improve. If we each take some personal responsibility for the Skins anguish, I think we will start seeing a steady improvement from our boys.


So back to the number crunching: what can I change to get the Skins back on the road to victory?

The first thing would have to be my observance of Judaism in relation to the games (this portion of the serv is off the record and not to be forwarded around). Is there a pattern? Let's go to the videotape:

The Redskins record in games I have watched on yom tov this year: 1-1

The Redskins record in games I haven't watched on yom tov this year: 1-0

Ok. Maybe there's something to this, but I am going to rule out any patterns and say it is a push. There are tons of Skins fans who both observed and didn't observe on gamedays thus far, which means that religious observance can't really be a deciding factor in the outcome of the games (never mind the Jews rooting for our opponents).


Next: my writing patterns on Skins serv. Sometimes I write a lot, sometimes I write less. Maybe I can find a correlation there.

Total Skins Serv Words in Redskins Wins: 2026 (1,013 Avg)

Total Skins Serv Words in Redskins Loses: 4575 (1,525 Avg)

Looks like we might have something here - less looks to be better in terms of wins and losses. If I can keep Skins Serv at around a thousand words then the Skins will win. Not so fast - In the Texans win, I wrote a mere 342 words, while in the Jags victory I wrote a whopping 1683 words. Not much of a correlation there.


So maybe it isn't a numbers issue for us. Maybe it is a mental issue. Is it possible that because of so much weekend yom tov we've all just not approached this season in the same passionate manner that we've approached seasons past? This could very well be. I personally don't have the mental vigor I had when entering mid-October of last season. And I think it is safe to say that you guys are feeling the same indifference. I know it's early in the season, but don't you feel like you are lacking your Redskins edge? Maybe we (and the religion) are to blame. Then again, the Redskins went from 1993-1999 without making the playoffs and from 2000-2005 without making the playoffs. Those were some lean years that included both times in which yom tov was during the week and on the weekend. I guess we can't really blame the big guy after all.


Regardless of how porous my three theories on the season are, I think it is still good mussar for all of us. Maybe just like the players, who are searching for answers right now, we too as fans need to be searching for solutions and figuring out what we can improve upon in order to turn this thing around (right now, there's no tomorrow, right now, its everything).  I will be looking to improve myself in the coming days and I hope you will be too.


The Situation

I am going to stick this whole "no x's and o's" thing for this week and just give you my gut feeling based upon how I have seen it unfold this week on Redskins.Com TV. The Redskins are pissed. I have never seen so many unfriendly interviews by this team in my life. They got embarrassed by the Giants - they were outplayed, outphysicaled and outtrashtalked. Whats worse is that they were thrown down on their asses by former players such as Pierce and Arrington who looked like they knew what was coming before the plays even began. Sean Taylor will be angry because he got schooled and Mike Sellars will be angrier because the Skins opted to pass on that big 3rd and 1. The Skins want to be a physical team and will be out there on Sunday trying to prove just that. Because of the aforementioned reasons, the Skins are going to obliterate the Titans. This game won't be close from the beginning - a celebration of Redskins football, if you will. Remember when Alex Smith came in last year? 52 points? Look for it again with Vince Young. The Skins have put up 31 and 36 on the two AFC South teams they've played already and this is the worst of the bunch.


With this week's win in the bag (even me jinxing it can't screw it up), we have to consider the Indy game. Talk about a must win!!! The difference between 3-4 and 4-3 heading into the bye week is astronomical, especially considering they play Dallas and Philly in the weeks after the bye. I had the Indy game penciled as a loss at the beginning of the year, but even after the debacle on Sunday, I think the Skins can win in Indy - they are just not that good this year. Enough about next week...for now.


Springs - Old man winter was back on the practice field yesterday after a 6 week hiatus. Springs made it through one on one drills and 7 on 7 drills without pulling, tearing or cracking something. That is great news. Springs said that some days he feels better than others and thinks he could play Sunday. He won't. The Skins will be super prudent with Springs and make sure he's 110% before playing in a game. If Springs is back for Indy, it could make all the difference in the world.


Hall - His career as a Redskin is over. The last straw was him not telling the truth about his sore thigh and groin leading up to and during the Giants game. If Gibbs was aware of the injury there is no way he sends Hall out for the 42 yarder on 4th and 1 with the Skins down 16-3. That was a huge spot in the game and Hall screwed us big. Hall, who was last scene slamming his limo door on the Washington media yesterday, is on IR for the rest of the year. In his place the Skins have brought in former Terp Nick Novak. He hit the game winner last year against Seattle, but nobody is sure how he'll perform as the full-timer. The Skins were also concerned about a calf injury to Derrick Frost, but it appears he'll be ready on Sunday.


Samoa Joe - More leg problems for big 9-5. He acknowledged this week that he will have to earn a spot in the rotation with Golston and Montgomery playing nicely.


Dolemite Jenkins - In case you missed it, CP did his best Napoleon Dynamite rendition during his Thursday Presser last week. He had the wig, the boots and the fro and he also had a shirt that said "Vote for Santana" (for NFL player of the month). His impersonation was fantastic and he also really nailed the dance. Another masterful performance from my boy Dolla Bill. No alter-ego this week though.  Remember - they are angry.


Washington - The Skins are downplaying a hip injury Marcus suffered last week, but I think its something to watch for. 53 did not look right during the second half against the Giants and it sound like something that could be recurring. Washington has rested it all week - let's hope there are no lingering problems.


The Right Side - Andre Carter and Warrick Holdman were nowhere to be found at the Meadowlands and Tiki abused them. The only fallout I can think of from this meltdown is that just like last year, Holdman will be dethroned in the next two weeks. I imagine Rocky McIntosh will be starting by the Dallas game on 11/5.


I think that's it. In another personal plug, I have attached my proposal for the Skins to lead a mission to New Orleans during the week of the Skins/Saints game in December. The proposal has pretty much been rejected by the Skins (they are sending team wives instead). Anywho, I am still considering going down for the game and volunteering to build some houses in the days leading up. The trip will be fun and meaningful and I would like to cordially invite all of you to join me.


Parting Shot

Every time I dream the Skins are going to win, the lose. Every time I dream they're going to lose, they win.

Think negative thoughts.



Word Count: 1742 (that's within 59 words of the Jags game - good things)

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Week 5 - This One is Huge (Issue 12)

I know I promised to change the tone of my emails after the great win Sunday against the Jags, but to be honest, it is very hard for me to muster positive sentiments when it comes to discussing a Redskins road trip to the Meadowlands. Myself, Ami, Elan, Yair, and Chaim can all attest to the very bitter taste left in our mouths after the Skins got throttled by the Giants at the Meadowlands last October (36-0). I won't get in to the gory details of the debacle, but let me remind you that since Gibbs' return to the Skins, they are 0-2 at the Giants, have been outscored 56-14, have committed 11 turnovers, and have been sacked 9 times in those two games. Please also don't forget that Brunell has started three times against the Giants during his Skins tenure, and two of those times he has come down with significant injuries (Hammy in 04, Knee in 05). We also can't forget about LaVar. I believe he will be useless and a non-factor in this game, but regardless of that, we do know is that he really hates the Skins, he will play harder then he ever has, and that he's going to want to hurt one of our beloved offensive superstars. 


But perhaps 2006 will be different. For one thing, because of yom tov, none of us losers will actually witness this potential pummeling. But more likely, perhaps this year the Skins will be on the opposite side of the butt-whipping. Perhaps this year Lavar being in all the wrong spots will be a good thing. Perhaps this year it will be Eli's tusch, and not Brunell's, that will hit the deck every other play. And perhaps this year the Skins will be on the plus side of the turnover ratio. What I am saying my friends, is that maybe this year the Skins have a fighting chance of winning (How was that Noam L?).


Everyone involved in this one, especially Arrington, knows whats at stake Sunday. Both teams are 0-1 in the NFC East, both teams know they can gain a game on the Cowboys or Eagles, and both teams don't want to be under .500. Holding your home court is crucial for surviving in the division and stealing a game on the road can make a season and boost a team into the playoffs. The Giants are reeling - they are combating intra-team hostilities, players are bickering, and they are trying to figure out a way to stop teams from throwing the football on them. Everyone in NYC understands this game is make or break for them - they need a win in a huge way. The Skins, on the other hand, are going in the opposite direction: the offense is coming together, the players believe in each other and in their system, and even their beleaguered defense showed life last week (see, that's a positive spin). Both teams seasons can be turned upside down because of this game - that is why I think it will be played close and tight. A shootout is very possible because of weaknesses in both secondaries, but we can't forget that this is NFC East football - the team that grinds it out harder will probably win.


Keys to the Game


Shawn Springs - Is not playing again this week. The Skins secondary has been getting burned all year long, and there is no reason to assume it gets better this week. The Redskins have allowed 17 passes of 20 yards or more through four games, that is good enough for second-worst in the league - and don't forget the three drive-saving pass interference calls they get nailed for a game. The Skins will have to match up with Plaxico and Toomer on the outsides while keeping an eye on Shockey and Barber in the under stuff. The Skins are going to have to figure something out quickly - blitzing Byron Leftwich was effective last week, but on some blitzing plays the Skins got burned for big plays also. Eli Manning isn't the most accurate of QBs, so if the Skins corners can be near their opposing wideouts they will have a chance of picking the ball off. In terms of Springs, the outlook gets more bleak by the day. The Skins are now saying he is a few weeks away, but this quote is very telling (and scary): "I want to see the statistics of guys who had a sports hernia and came back the same season." Ohhhh boy.


Brandon Lloyd - Just like the Redskins secondary, the Giants back four have been abused so far by opposing NFL teams. Sam Madison (who is totally washed up) cannot take anyone man-to-man, and Cory Webster has been equally inadequate playing on the opposite side. Will Demps, who was supposed to be a huge upgrade at safety, is having trouble adjusting (hello Adam Archulleta) and Jibril Wilson has been their only strong point. As you recall last year, an equally miserable Giants secondary was able to shut down Santana Moss in their first match up. After Moss lit up the 49ers the week before, the Giants shaded over double teams to Moss' side, leaving him with 4 catches for 34 yards. The Giants were able to send double teams over to Moss because the Skins had no receiving threats on the other side of the field. Thankfully Brandon Lloyd is in Burgundy and Gold, so if the Giants try to go with the same shtick, Lloyd (and Randle El) will face a ton of single man coverage. Lloyd, who started the season slowly, got into the act last week with a 30+ yd catch that led to a CP touchdown. I am expecting big things from the Illinois alum.


Samuels/Jansen - Osi and Strahan have had NFL Total Access to Mark Brunell over the past two years, and Jansen and Samuels, who match up with them on the outsides, are fully responsible for the QBs pain. The two tackles have always struggled against the Giants (especially on the road) and are going to have and step it up for the Redskins to have a shot. Here's what the game will come down to: If Brunell has time in the pocket to step into his throws (and get mustard on them), then the Skins will win. If Brunell is on the run, stick a big old fork in us.


CP/Tiki (It Rhymes)- This is a pretty simple one. If the Skins can stop Tiki early on (which they weren't able to do last year)  then this will force Manning to put up the ball and allow the Skins to blitz (hopefully a good thing). On the other side, if CP can get good bunches on first and second down, the Skins will have more manageable third down plays and will be able to control the clock. Portis and the Skins O-line ruled the trenches against a much better run defense last week, if they can do it again, it will alleviate a lot of pressure from Brunell. Just remember, in both games at the Meadowlands in the new Gibbs era, Portis has been shut out of the game early and the Skins were forced to throw the ball for 3.5 quarters. This can't happen again.


Montgomery/Golston - Man have these rooks been solid. The Skins haven't missed Salavea at all. The Skins run stopping unit held Fred Taylor to under 40 yards rushing and if they can do it again this week,  the Skins will win again. Salavea has said this week that he feels better but is still uncertain if he will play Sunday. My thought is that he won't be in the starting lineup regardless of whether he is active or not.


Saunders - Just wanted to give a shout out to the man I have been hatin on for the past few weeks. The Skins offense was a well oiled machine last week, the proverbial 1976 Dodge Aspen. The motion worked, the running to the edges worked, the running up the gut worked, the short passing  worked and the long passing work. The only thing that didn't work was the trickery - and I wouldn't expect to see that on the road anyway. Saunders usually doesn't recycle plays for more than four weeks in a row, so expect to see a whole new bag of goodies from the braniac in the box this week. Who's excited?


That's all I can think of. Besides Springs and Samoa Joe, there are no significant injuries to report.


Player to Watch: I have a feeling ole' Rock #30 is going to break another big one this week. He was only a couple of tackles away from doing it to the Jags.


No real good tidbits this week out of Ashburn, except this awesome quote from Springs yesterday which I saw in the post:

"Of course, Springs also had the line of the day. When he was asked if the Giants would have an advantage over the Redskins because Arrington is so familiar with the Redskins' defense, Springs replied, "'Well, I don't think LaVar knew all of our defense when he was here.'"


I hope you all have a great yom tov and keep doing what you did on Kol Nidre night - if we win this week, we likely head into a huge game versus Indy at 4-2.




Monday, October 2, 2006

Week 5 - UK Perspective (Issue 10)

"Please do everything you can to make sure the Skins win this week." - Scott E. Zakheim, 9/28/06.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Skins Serv. Whatever you guys did during Kol Nidre worked, because we were given the first miracle of the early year (sorry for those offended by the sports and prayer/god stuff).

After many complaints about the tone of the Serv being too pessimistic, the Skins Serv (and the Skins season) has officially been upgraded to "cautious optimism."

So instead of my perspective on the game (as always), I have pasted my cousin Doron's email from the UK after he watched the game on TIVO (and didn't know what happened). You're gonna love this and it is a fantastic analysis of the game as well.

I will be back later in the week for a very upbeat report in the upcoming game v. the Giants.

Go Skins!!!!

(Is this a team of destiny???)



WOW! I can't speak, I'm just too excited! If my heart was beating any faster I'd have to go to hospital.


Let me start from the beginning...


I recorded the game last night and went off to shul. I couldn't stop thinking about the game the entire Yom Kippur and I was so excited for it to be over so I could get home and watch it as live without knowing the score (who's gonna ruin an NFL game in Hendon huh?!)


So I got home tonight and the first thing I did was have a drink. However, the second thing I did was NOT eat. I ran upstairs and swapped my suit for my Skins Moss jersey and settled down in front of the TV with a bit of food whilst my parents ate inside like 'normal' people.


After Brunell's interception I thought 'here we go again' but since I had extremely low expectations for this game, I didn't get too down about it. Next thing you know my baby Santana has delivered me a monster TD and we're away! Even though we went in at the half 4 points down I was so proud of the way our Skins had fought and played against a very good Jacksonville team.


I screamed, yelled, cheered and sweared continuously at the TV - my parents really had no idea what was going on, bless them. When Santana went in for another TD to make it a 10 pointer I was on my way to heaven...just praying we could hold out. We couldn't...


In a flash it was a tied game and my heart couldn't take it. Nevertheless we stayed strong and played so well on offense like we had done all day (CP was absolutely unbelievable! He tore up that Jags D like it was the little girls' league!) Driving the ball upfield, we eventually got a bad call from the refs and had 4th and 1 in field goal range. My heart wanted to give in at this point but Hall surprisingly delivered and gave us the lead with just under 2 mins to play.


This is when my heart got worse. Jacksonville were driving but our D, despite giving up a lot of points, was playing the best they have all season. 4th and 8, the crowd were screaming, I was screaming, but the bastards converted and scored a field goal.


Right about now my heart rate peaked and it wasn't to do with the game. I had added a bit of time to the recording in case of OT but I feared it wouldn't be enough and it would cut out in OT - the worst possible situation!


Anyway, Skins won the toss to my delight and after a gay penalty against Cooley (who was amazing) destiny had come...

Brunell dropped back and passed out left to my baby Moss. Moss leaped up in the air and made an outstanding catch between two defenders. He then ducked straight between them and was away...

You know the feeling - I screamed my head off as he went on his way running into the open space and straight through the endzone into the crowd. I actually celebrated the most I have done since Man United won the treble in the last minute in 1999.

I went completely insane, screaming, jumping up and down, running around - pure unfathomable joy!


I'm still in disbelief. 36 points against the Jags! What a performance! This team is too much - I love them more than anything.

The D played a great game despite the points - it became a shootout so it wasn't their fault. They finally got pressure on the QB sacking Leftwich loads of times - luckily for Leftwich he had his momma in the crowd!

Cooley had a comeback game, Portis played one of the best games I've ever seen - he IS the difference between winning and losing and he ran straight through that 'monster' D. And then there's my baby Moss whose name sits proudly on my jersey. He had another insane game and made me so happy that I don't even care that I left him out my fantasy team - I just feel ashamed and almost blasphemous to have doubted my boy!

Our offense has finally clicked into gear and Al Saunders' playcalling was brilliant. We were conservative when we needed to be and exciting and adventurous the rest of the time.

2-2 now and if we keep up the momentum we could be for real this season! After all my early season despair, my hopes have shot back up and I once again have a lot to look forward to. Life is good again. The air smells sweeter and the birds are singing louder than ever.


Hope you had a good fast and I expect to hear about your experiences of watching the game (whether you watched half and then watched the rest after Yom Kippur or if you just knew the result this morning).

Let me know.


I'm on cloud nine and WE CAN GO ALL THE WAY baby!


Love you all,