Every year around this time of the season I go through a proverbial mid-season writing crisis. Basically, I question whether or not this list serv is intended for x's and o's or whether it's meant to provide a sassy slant on our team, coming from the brain of a psycho, witty (?) Redskins fan. If it's the former, than I have done good, Obie One. To my credit, I (well, really, Jason LaCanfora) drew up a hell of a game plan last week. Jim Zorn, an avid Skins Serv reader, just implemented it. But I fear that I should be giving you more of the latter - the personal touch: what about the Skins that gets me risin' in the mornin' and keeps me from shluphin late at night. Well, my friends, I'm gonna give Skins Serv Personal a whirl this week because I got a lot I need to get off my chest. And this is a whole lot cheaper than paying for a shrink.
First of all, I haven't been this hung over on a Skins Sunday morning since week 4 of 2005. Good Omen? You know it. That week, the Skins triumphed over the eventual NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks. As you may recall, Mark Brunell hit Santana Moss over the middle for a 30+ yard gain setting up a game-winning Nick Novak Field Goal in overtime. On that glorious day, the Skins moved to 3-0 - remember they beat Chicago out of the gate, then beat the Cowboys in the miracle game and had an early bye. Anyway, point is, my Blood Alcohol Level reached October 2005 levels at about 3AM last night - horrible for Uncle Scooter, amazing for the Redskins.
Second, I feel terrible about the fact that I won't be in Philly today. I haven't missed a Skins/Eagles game since before the glorious "Poopie on the Car Incident" of January 1, 2006. But alas, due to two midterms, I'll be watching this tilt on my Samsung. I feel sick to my stomach about it (literally). If I had nothing else to repent over this Thursday (Yom Kipps), I can now go into Shul with plenty to haggle about with the Big Guy because now I gotta explain why I didn't trek up 95 this morning. Sorry Big Guy (Sorry Sean). Also, I pin the Skins recent success at the Linc to the fact that I've been there in the trenches with them over the past three years. I was there when the Angel scooped the fumble, I was there to care for CP when he broke his hand and I was there when Jason Campbell had his short-lived coming-out party last year. Hopefully they don't need me today.
Third, I finally had my first Redskins dream of the season on Friday night. This has all sorts of ramifications, but I'll deal with two. This means that subconsciously a part of me has finally accepted the fact that the Skins might be good. If you haven't noticed, my conscious self has been in total denial over the notion. Even this morning, I lay in the Viking Ship pretty unsure about what kind of team we really have (I'll get to that later). But, as I mentioned, something deep in my loins is starting to drink the Kool Aid (and its mixed with Vodka). As you know, it's bad when I consciously or sub-consciously drink the Kool-Aid. I usually do it before the season and the Skins usually respond by going 6-10, or I usually do it before a big game and the Skins usually respond by losing 52-7 in Foxboro.
Well, my friends, I had a dream the Skins won 24-6 (and that Jim Zorn won't be judged by his spiky hair, but rather by the content of his play calling). You pretty much don't have to watch the game, because when I chalk up a W while catching Z's, they lose. Can't hate a man for dreaming, right? No, you can. I wanted to kill myself yesterday morning. The second I went to the dream video tape and realized that my cerebellum produced a late-game Devin Thomas TD (the first of his career), I knew we were in big trouble. Why? Because, as I said, I never dream correctly, and worse, the national media is starting to play with my head. Which takes me to paragraph five.
Achtung Redskins Fans! The national media is evil! They're just luring us in just to crush us. Please don't fall for it!!! It's like Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, except now it Little Red Skin Fan Riding Hood and the Wolf is being played by the Fox Sports NFL Power Rankings. Don't buy it! These media folks hate us and are just plotting our demise. Number two in the NFL? Number four in the NFL? The Skins haven't had approval ratings this high since just after 9-11 - these numbers are totally absurd and inflated! These people are messing with our heads and anxiously waiting for the Skins to falter so they can rip on them again and drop them in their rankings. When you're this high in the week four power rankings, there's only one place to go: down.
You may think this is all paranoia. Me trying to play reverse psychology in hopes of the Skins disproving us yet again. I say no. I really believe it's too early to roll out any forms of group transportation. This team has major structural flaws, hasn't shown it can decisively beat anybody, and hasn't shown the ability to run up 7's at will. If the Skins can meet those requirements, then maybe I'll be sold. Till then, I ain't gonna do it. Yes last week was amazing, and yes it was an epic win, and yes it was worth celebrating. But it doesn't mean a playoff spot, and it sure as hell doesn't mean a home playoff game. All it means is that they're better than we (I) first thought.
So through four weeks how good are they? I still don't know. Can they apply pressure like the 85 Bears? Nope. Can they put up points like the 91 Skins? Nope. Right now, they're a mistake-free offense (huge kudos to JC for that, btw) that is capable of sustained drives and one to three major downfield plays. I think they're offense could use a legitimate second receiver threat and I still am not sold on their pass protection. This defense is bend but don't break. That works for a 9-7 team but I don't know if it works for a division winning team. I'll believe in the Skins defense when they force the issue, i.e getting pressure out of a four-man rush. Maybe it won't happen until J Taylor returns - until then, I ain't buying.
Don't get me wrong, 3-1 is amazing. I thought they'd be 0-5. My problem is I don't know what to do with 3-1. I never gave this season a chance, so basically as the Skins get better, my optimistic side is just getting its legs (the optimistic side reported late to camp, if you will). Usually the Skins win the off-season Super Bowl and all of us are ready for glory in week 1. The wasn't the case this year, so my mind is all out of whack. For us fans, this whole turning it around thing has been like trying to hit a Jeff Ballard sinker ball. I think dreaming about a victory is a good first step (albeit dangerous), but I still believe cautious optimism is the healthiest way to go about this thing right now. It's way too early to be thinking big.
Which leads me to today. Talk about playing with house money. The Skins already have a road divisional win in their pocket, they've already clinched at least a 3-2 record going into a much easier 3-game run, and they already have 3 conference wins (huge for tiebreakers). If they win, amazing - another step in the right direction and another confidence builder for JC and the entire bunch of em'. If they lose - no big deal. Winning in Philly is a daunting task no matter the team, and as long as they can hold home-field against the Eagles later in the year, it's a push. They're playing a very hungry Eagles team who is coming off an ugly loss. They know the importance of a home divisional game and can't afford to go under .500 in this division. McNabb said it's a must-win. I believe him. The Cowboys didn't play hungry last week and Philly's a much scarier environment than Texas Stadium. Pulling this off could mean a lot (and I'll talk about that), but losing isn't so bad.
Shhh (Quiet Time): What if they Win? I know I'm preaching cautious optimism, but I gotta be true to my heart here and tell you what I'm thinking. If the Skins pull one out today, it is a HUGE step towards making the playoffs and even, dare I say it, winning the division. If they win, the Redskins-hating schedule makers become Santa Claus. After today the Skins will be the only team in the entire NFL to have completed their road divisional schedule - which essentially means they have a much easier road than any other team going forward. With that said, a win today also gives them a two-game lead on the Eagles, a 2-1 divisional record with 3 home division games to go, and gives them a legit shot at being 7-1 going into the bye week. I know - the possibilities are endless.
Do I think they're gonna win? No sir (at least consciously).
3-2 is still a whole lot better than 0-5.
1) 26 Blitz Packages - These are the 26 reasons I think the Eagles will win. Jim Johnson is a psycho and the Eagles believe that the only way to win is to be in Campbell's face the entire game. This means two things. One, the Skins o-line, which has been susceptible to a heavy pass rush, is going to have be strong. No easy task in a hostile road environment. The Philly fateful will be loud. This also means that Campbell is going to have to get rid of the ball fast. The West Coast offense was built to break down a blitzing defense - we'll see how it works today. If Campbell can connect early on some three-step drops, Johnson will be forced to tone it down.
2) Testing Lito, Sheldon and Asante - Another way the Skins can beat the blitz is by chucking it deep. The Eagles corners will be in man coverage with no safety help. Campbell can lob some things down field and make his WRs go get it. Asante is a great deep cover corner, so again, pray ARE or Devin Thomas can give the Skins something on the outside if Moss can't break free. I think if we can hit with those two guys the Eagles will be forced to play more coverage. The Bears did it last week with much weaker WRs and a much weaker QB.
3) The Double Screen - Even NFL novices knows that you beat a blitz by setting up a screen. You don't think Jim Johnson knows that? Look for the Eagles to stagger their blitzes and even pick and choose sides based on where they think the Skins will go on a screen. I think the Skins need to be one step ahead on this one and try to set up the double-screen early on. Look for Campbell to pump-fake to CP's side, twirl and toss it over to Cooley on the other side. The Eagles don't have the resources to blitz, look for the screen, and account for the weak side.
4) Donovan - Dude's become a pocket passer again. He looked real quick in week 1 and 2 but the guy is hurt and is vulnerable now. The Skins need to hit him - he's just not as good when he's in pain.
5) Westbrook - He'll play today, but I don't think he'll be a factor. As I said, this is a huge game for Philly so he'll give it a go, but I don't think he's ready to take on a big load.
6) Manning up on the WRs - I know a lot of people don't think highly of the Eagles receiving corps, but I'm scared of DeSean Jackson and Reggie Brown. In the absence of Springs today, Smoot and Carlos are going to have be huge on these guys - especially if Westbrook gets more carries and touches than I think.
7) Heroes - I haven't been doing a lot of recapping of the previous week's game but I stil would like to give out some game balls. What should we call my game balls? Scooter's Beytsim? Scooter's Sensationals?
JC - What a mentsch. So composed, so unflappable. No turnovers in four games. Perfect in the fourth quarter and nearly perfect in Dallas? Who is this fellar? I love it.
Chris Horton - A lot of this stuff is right place, right time. Kol HaKavod, Chris. Keep doing what you're doing.
CP - Troy Aikman loves him. I love him. He's running harder and tougher than ever and he finally broke through in Dallas. Dolla Bill is back!!!!
Springs - Manning up TO like that. Unreal. I don't think Champ could have done as fine a job.
Zorny - Dude's a natural born playcaller. If it wasn't for Casey Rabach, I would officially coronate Zorn King of the Red Zone. It'll have to wait another couple of weeks.
Snyder - Did anyone catch Snyder post-game? If not, here it is (http://www.youtube.com/watch?
8) Injuries - Springs Out. Taylor Out. Heyer Out. Washington in. Smoot In.
9) Prediction - This thing is going to be ugly. NFC East roadie with a lot on the line. The Eagles blitz is going to wreak havoc, while I don't see the Eagles offense having much offense to capitalize. Low scoring, grind-it-out type game. Skins come up short.
Eagles 14, Redskins 10