"Haters Suck" – Scott Elisha Zakheim, 11/9/07
Mr and Mrs. Halfways,
I first would like to apologize for the interruption to Skins Serv last week. Please don't be misled - it had nothing to do with the Patriots defeat, but was rather a ramification of a severe time crunch due to a Skins Family wedding in Miami this weekend (mazal tov). In fact, I was more driven than ever to write Skins Serv last week, with the majority of my planned missive to be aimed at Redskins fans, and not the Pats game or X's and O's. So here, now, 10 days after the Foxboro Swirly, I would like to comment on a certain breed of Skins fans who have reared their ugly, cowardly, incest-produced faces in the last week and a half: Skins Haters.
I define a Skins hater as someone who uses every opportunity they have to get down on our team. Criticizing coaches, players, the front office and the Funky Four, Skins haters are those who make themselves feel good by pouncing on our beloved heroes as a mere defense mechanism to protect against future losses and a fall in the standings (stupid cowards). And of course, when the Skins come back and prove those haters wrong, they are the first to cheer for the burgundy and gold, buy Redskins performance fleeces, and flaunt the accolades of their amazing team to their friends and loved ones. These type of people make me sick (literally - I had a fever last week).
And, as can be imagined, Skins Haters were out in force last week, literally kicking the Skins while they were down (according to Dave Feldman of WTTG Fox 5, a Skins hater was actually seen punching Santana Moss just outside the Skins Ashburn facility last Monday - typical). Instead of sticking with their guys, their soldiers, their warriors, their flesh and bloods, Skins haters packed it up and went home for the season. Just called it quits. And why not? For heartless deadbeats, it's so much easier. I hope Skins haters don't treat their wives and children the same way, because if they do, divorce rates and orphan cases will skyrocket in the DC area.
So the Skins got run out of town by the Patriots? Big freaking deal. Who hasn't? I know 52-7 is astronomical, but please consider the fact that they were lining up David Macklin, Leigh Torrence and Pierson Prielou against Moss, Stallworth and Welker - was that really going to work? But never mind excuses - the Skins lost to what possibly could be the greatest team ever. Does that mean the defense is bad? Nope. Does that mean CP's career is over? Nope. Does that mean the Skins can't be one of the best teams in the NFC? You got it - no.
And when those evil haters peered their disgusting heads again after the Jets victory, I hope you punched them in the mouth, kneed them in the balls and sent back to hibernation until Norv Turner is coaching here again. Why? Because despite what it may have looked like to a plebes eyes, beating the Jets was a good win. The Skins gave up a special teams touchdown and allowed another three points due to a stupid personal foul call before they even had a chance to catch their breath. They ended up dominating the game in the trenches and only gave up 13 points on defense - to a quarterback who showed great escapability in the pocket and who was able to zip some passes to his receiving threats (something previous Jets opponents didn't have to worry about with Chad at the helm). The Skins also were minus Griff - a defensive stalwart who helps the front four with pocket push - and yet they still contained the Jets and kept pressure on all day.
Portis carried the ball 36 times! Explain to me how some washed-up, knee-crippled, fast-food eating punk could do that? Push. That's it - push. I know they did it against a bad run defense, but the offensive line is actually getting better. They've played together as a unit for 4+ weeks now and it's starting to show. CP ran behind Samuels and Kendall most of the game, but actually had some nice bursts behind Fabini and Wade (who got a game ball). A lot of this stuff is continuity, communication and timing: as CP gets used to this O-line and they get used to one-another, the running situation will only improve - 196 and a TD is a great start.
So what's it going to be? You can be a cowardly (third time I've used that word) hater and turn your TV off for the rest of the season - CP is done, the defense is reeling and they can't move the chains enough to win games against good teams - so don't even mention playoffs. OR - you can look at the fact that they're 5-3 at the midway point, have a tiebreak against Detroit, have lost to teams with a combined record of 22-3, have a star running back who is in prime form for the first time in two years, a defense that is lightning fast who will be getting their anchor back this week, an offensive line that is gelling, and a receiver (Santana Moss) that might actually be getting healthy again. And oh yeah - Randy Thomas WILL play against the Giants on December 15.
We're halfway through the marathon and I'm sticking with my boys. Are you?
Looking at Week 2 v. Philly
1) CP the Workhorse - Don't expect to see CP running totally wild against Philly this week - he'll have to earn all his yards. Philly's run defense is seventh in the league and CP ran it 17 times for 69 yards (about 4.0 a clip) in their first meeting. Remember, that was the first game with the new O-Line (Thomas got hurt early) so we might see some improvement to those numbers. I see this one playing as a grind-it-out NFC battle and if CP can get 4-4.5 per carry and they can run him 25-30 times, they should be just fine. It seems like Gibbs is going to stick with the running game and has clearly made CP his top dog.
Interesting side note: Word around the NFL is that Gibbs has taken back the game planning and offensive direction of the team from Al Saunders - so don't expect anything cute going forward, just a lot of downhill running mixed in with some play action. Many believe Saunders's contract will be bought out after the season - if that's the case, I assume he'll marginalized more and more as the season goes on, especially if the offense improves.
An additional note on CP - whether you think Portis's early season struggles were due to the o-line, injuries, or him getting back into playing shape, I will admit this: whatever it was, it shattered his confidence. Against the Pats and Cards Portis wasn't running with any belief. It was as if he knew holes weren't going to open and he might as well brace himself for a big hit from an oncoming LB or Safety. Heck, CP hadn't had a 100 yard game in over a year and was struggling to get 3 yards a carry, why should he have had any confidence? Portis, who has all the swagger in the world off the field, wasn't running with the same swagger on it. CP put himself out on the line last week by saying he could carry the team against New York - whatever he knew ended up being right. Portis ran with aggression and spirit and I think he will use Sunday to propel him to better things (chayil to chayil baby).
2) JC Must Get it Done - Looking back at Skins/Eagles I, Jason Campbell was solid. He passed for 209 yards, but more importantly he spread the ball around and converted third downs (they were 8 of 15). Moss had his best game with 6 for 89, Randle El was big on third down and Cooley had that big TD before the half. It's gonna have to happen again. CP will get Jason to those 3rd and 3s and 3rd and 2s and the young man is going to have to make plays. Moss will be 100% for about 25 snaps, so JC will have to take advantage of 89 when he's in there, he's also going to have look to other targets (Yoder, McCardell and dare I say Lloyd). To be frank, Campbell hasn't been good of recent. He doesn't look confident in the pocket and his accuracy has faltered a bit. The kid's going to have to make plays to get the chains moving. The Eagles are more susceptible to the pass and their linebackers aren't good in coverage - the Skins will get opportunities and Jason must convert.
3) Front Four Must Get Push - Going back to Skins/Eagles I, the front four was excellent all night. They got in McNabb's face, forced bad throws and took him down. The same must happen again. I think we might see a little more safety blitzing to help the big guys out (the Eagles WRs are pretty weak so that isn't a concern), and Griffin's return should help Carter, Daniels and Montgomery collapse the pocket, making it easier for the guys behind them to force turnovers.
4) Containing Brian Westbrook - Brian Westbrook was very very good against us in the first go-round and the Eagles didn't use him when it mattered. He was getting major chunks in the first half and Reid (in typical manner) went to the pass throughout the second half. Reid will get smart (especially after seeing what Maroney did in the first quarter last week) and Westbrook will get a ton of carries - the Skins are going to have to stop him. The defensive gameplan will be different than in most previous weeks as the Eagles have a weak aerial attack but instead hand it to Westbrook and pass in the flat. The Skins will bring Landry and the LB's up to stop Westbrook and let Taylor worry about Brown as their lone down field threat. If the Skins stop Westbrook, they win. Easier said than done though.
5) Injury Update - The Skins are taking a different approach to Moss this week. They're gonna let him rest (sit him out of practice) and as I mentioned, limit his snaps so he isn't slowed later in the game. The strategy paid off against the Jets as Moss looked quicker than in weeks past. I hate making excuses for the anemic offense, but Moss's injury was a lot worse than people thought and he hasn't been the same WR - that's killed the passing game, and I think it will improve as he gets healthy. The Skins sat Griff today in practice, but all signs (JLCs blog) indicate he will go Sunday. Marcus Washington did conditioning drills, but the Skins don't seem to know if he'll go. Lastly, Smootsie (who missed most of the 4th quarter) won't be practicing all week in hopes of resting the hammy for Sunday. He'll be active, so we'll see how long he makes it. I think they actually can afford to take it easy with Smoot this week because of the lack of Eagles receiving threats, Springs and co. should be ok if Leif Ericson Smoot is still hobbled.
6) Prediction - I am convinced that Sunday will go just like the first matchup, except Portis will be more of a factor. As I mentioned, Dolla Bill will get a nice workload and help keep the Skins on the field more than we've been seeing. I also think the Skins are going to have to take some more up field shots if they want to score (as they did nicely up at the Linc). The Skins could get some fits from Westbrook, but I think a bad Eagles passing game will help the Skins out. Look for the B&G to get a nice boost from being back at home - they'll force at least 3 turnovers and work with much shorter fields than they did over the last two weeks. Redskins 24 Eagles 13.
Remember: Down with the hatas, up with the playas.