Thursday, December 6, 2007

Putting the Pain in Perspective: Volume 2, Issue 16

"Shver tsu zayn a Redskins Fan"  - Scott E. Zakheim, 12/2/07, 4:15PM ET         


For Those Still Reading,

Let me first start by saying that I understand the pain felt from Sean Taylor's tragic death in incomparable to any feelings rendered by a football team's success or failure. That being said, Skins Serv must go forward this week, and as inconsequential and meaningless as it may appear in light of Sean dying, I feel I must try to contextualize how awful the last four weeks have been on a football front.


Quite simply, 2007 has become a total nightmare.


Somehow, someway, a season that started with such great hope, has slipped away in just one month. But the Skins 07 undoing did not happen decisively, a self-destructing of monumental proportions due to the oppositions blitzkriegs, but instead, in the most torturous and twisted way possible: 4 winnable games, 3 blown leads, 4 opportunities to win or seal a win with in the last offensive possessions. 0 victories.


If your memory is a bit rusty right now - let me jog it for you.


Philadelphia 11/11 (The Skins are 5-3): The Redskins blow a 9-point 4th quarter lead and give up the go-ahead TD after the Redskins settled for a FG after having 1st and Goal from the Eagles 3 yard line (a TD would have given them a 10 point lead with 4 minutes to go).


Dallas 11/18 (The Skins are 5-4): Down 5 points, The Redskins have first and 10 from the Cowboys 19 yard line with under two minutes to go. On 3rd and 10, Jason Campbell is intercepted by Terence Newman to seal the Skins fate. Campbell, who had yards of daylight ahead of him on the play, could have run for a first down and possibly a TD.


Tampa Bay 11/25 (The Skins are 5-5): After laying an egg in the first half, the Redskins, down 6 points, are given two opportunities to win the game inside of 5 minutes. On the first drive, Campbell is intercepted by Ronde Barber at the Bucs 28 yard line (with just under 4 to go), and on the ensuing Redskins drive, with 25 ticks left, Campbell is again picked - this time in the end zone.


Buffalo 12/2 (The Skins are 5-6 and still very alive): The Redskins blow a 8-point fourth quarter lead and had an opportunity to run the clock out on the game with a single first down. Unable to convert, the Redskins gave the Bills the ball back with 56 seconds left down 2 points. We all know what happened from there. 


Looking at it from strictly a football perspective, the last four weeks might have been the most painstaking weeks in the history of the Redskins franchise (pretty shocking considering everything else the Skins have had to cope with).


Be a lousy team and tank it for four games - fine. Get blown away by superior opponents - fine, I can handle that too. But to play tight games over the course of a month and have a good chance to win them all and not come away with one single victory? No team deserves that. Not even a high-priced, big-market team with a sometimes-greedy owner.


I'd venture to say that these last four might be the toughest stretch of losses for any team in this league's history. Most teams who lose heart-breakers fold at some point, so getting the opportunity to lose four straight in this manner rarely comes around. There's usually a blow-out or two mixed in. To the Skins credit, they've hung tough. Unfortunately for them and us, the pain of all this losing and they way they're doing it is just too much. Enough already - I'm too old to cry this much.


Mix in the fact that these players are coping with Taylor's loss, and even the biggest Redskins haters are sympathetic to the run of bad luck this team has hit. It's official - November 2007 has transformed the Redskins from the obnoxious underachievers to the lovable losers. Uch.


But the Skins have a caught a break - yes, despite everything that's gone wrong, the Skins are somehow only one game out of the playoffs with four games to go. And they have an opportunity to hold the tiebreak on every single team vying against them for that last spot. Of course, after all that has befallen this team in recent days, I'm not saying they'll take advantage of the opportunity. But what I am saying is that for tonight, they're still in it. And if they can pull out a victory, then they'll be in it for another 10 days (that would at least keep us hoping till 12/15 at 8:15 PM). Meaningful games, people - that's all I'm asking for at this point.


Yair sent me along a tidbit from a previous Skins Serv and I thought I'd be a nice way to end the preamble today:


"Parting Shot: Sean Taylor - Sean is finally becoming the player we all dreamed of when the Skins drafted him. He's hitting, he's intercepting, he's covering, he's limiting stupid penalties and he's becoming the leader of the defense. The guy has not let anything behind him yet and when it looks like he does, he breaks to the ball and stops the play. I know he got roused in the media for dropping 3 potential picks, but that kind of thing comes with time - the more opportunities he gets the more relaxed he'll be when the ball's in his hands. ST is in all the right places - he has defenses scared to throw deep and scared to throw over the middle. I wouldn't want to have any other safety in the league playing back there. If the Skins manage to sneak into the playoffs, he'll get major votes for defensive MVP."


Hang in There,





The Skinny (This'll Be Quick)


1) Welcome Back, Welcome Back, Welcome Baaaaack - If there was ever going to be a game where the Skins might have some offensive romance explosion, this would be it. Tonight will be the healthiest this team has looked all year. Randy Thomas, yes Randy Thomas, will be starting at right guard (cause anything else would be uncivilized). Mike Sellars will be back lead blocking for Mr. Portis. And my boy from Indiana, ARE, will be back lining up as the number 2.


2) More on Thomas - I was thinking today that if you broke the offensive playing field down into four quadrants (bare with me) - pass right, pass left, run right, run left - then the defense has a 25% chance of picking what area of the field the offensive play will be going to. Now (this is where it gets good) the Redskins, who are usually averse to throwing the ball at all (see Buffalo second half), give opponents an easier time guessing as they eliminate half the field off the bat. It's either run left or run right -50/50. Now (the kicker), once Randy Thomas went down, the Redskins had only one choice when calling plays - run left! That means defenses never had to guess and could stack all their defenders on the short left side of the field. I know I've simplified things a bit and appear sarcastic, but if you watch games, I couldn't be more right. Buffalo was actually keeping 7-8 men in on every play and pushing all their defensive momentum to the right. Results: CP - 2.0 YPC, Redskins lose. With Thomas back, opposing D's are back to a 50/50 guess, and heck, if they decide to throw the ball than it's back to 25%-  just like everyone else.


3) Stop Hester - I assumed Suisham crappy kicks on Sunday were in preparation for Hester. Kick it out of bounds or to the front men and let Sexy Rexy beat you. If Hester touches the ball, look for me to come out of the stands to make a play - somebody has got to stop this guy (like a Hawk and a Chihuahua).


4) Rex Scares Me - When I approach a game, I like to know what I'm getting into. With Brian Griese at the helm, you know you're gonna get a watered down, ball control offense that limits mistakes - he won't beat you but won't let you beat him. With Rexy, although he's prone to make a lot of mistakes, he's also got a rocket arm and the ability to beat you deep on every play. Rexy was a hair off on three or four deep throws to Berrian that could have buried the Giants - they connect on those tonight and we're in trouble.


5) JC: Stop Giving Up the Ball - JC is starting to worry me. On Sunday I noticed a lot of sloppy footwork, happy feet, and of course, a lack of ball protection. We are on the verge of a major turnover crisis here, and it must end tonight! Jason's gotta feel pressure, has to know when to tuck the ball and has to make better decisions. The Skins cannot afford to let teams play on short fields - the offense isn't strong enough to recover.


6) My Boy Bro Sweets - CP deserves better than this. The Bills shot every gap on Sunday. There were zero holes, zero push and zero places for 2-6 to run. The guy's still got young legs and he needs something to work with. I hope Thomas and Sellars open some lanes - Dolla Bill needs to go over 100 tonight if they're gonna win.


7) Prediction - Tight game all the way. Defense dominated and ball control oriented. Typical NFC winter stuff. Redskins have the ball at the end with a chance to win the game...lets see what happens this time.



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