Sunday, October 19, 2008

That's More Like It: Volume 3, Issue 9

Ram Rods,
I hate making this blog all about me. As a pseudo sports journalist and life-long sports enthusiast, I have learned to loathe those folks in the media who make their craft all about themselves while losing sight of the sport that they're being paid to report on. Those who are most guilty of this charge are Chris Berman, Stuart Scott, Tony Kornheiser and Greg Gumbel (to name four DB's). With that being said, I'd be failing all three of my readers if I didn't mention my awful prediction record this year and in years past. For those who haven't done the math, I'm a whopping 1-5 this year in predicting Skins games, and if it were not for a miraculous throw from JC to Tana in week 2, I'd be 0-6. Not surprisingly, my personal 1-5 number is exactly where I would have the Skins right now according to my weekly picks (in my preseason predictions, I had them at 2-4 - not much better). Point is, I'm really starting to believe I might have some prophetic tendencies - more specifically, I might be a reverse prophet. Whatever I say, the exact opposite happens.

Certain Skin Serv readers caught onto this phenomenon quite early, in fact, I have been threatened to get my bum kicked by a unnamed reader (who lives in Israel) if I don't stop predicting Redskins victories. So what should I do? Keep going with my gut and giving you all a chance to make great money on money-line bets (its like shorting a stock)? Or should I start preempting my gut and go with my naturally opposite thought line (like George Costanza)? And what if I guess? Is it really fair that I get blamed for the loss? I guessed!

I think I'm gonna just keep truckin' - I'll get his thing turned around. You guys want to start betting against me, that's your prerogative. One day - yes, one day - it might bite ya in the butt (it could be a while).

I also wanted to give another shout out to myself for making the season's first chili. Another yom tov, of sorts. Rosh Hashanah shel Chili - one last chance to get the all the Al-cheyts in for finishing off your families supply of Tums, not courtesy flushing, and for dutch ovening your wife on winter Sunday evenings.

And back to what really counts - the big one at 4:15 (CBS, national TV). Btw - those of you watching it in DC could have the beginning of the game blacked out because of the Ravens. Unreal right? The entire country gets to watch the Skins while DCers are stuck watching Keanu Reaves led the Baltimore Sentinels. ! I might hate the Ravens more than I do the Cowboys - can't wait to purge those purple pansy poets on December 6th.

This is a huge game. For the Skins, for me, for all Skins Servers. For various reasons that I only get into with Dr. Epstein, I've had this mamma-jamma circled on my schedule for about 3 years now. If there was ever a chance that I run on the field in the middle of a play in order to alter the outcome, it might be this game.

Speaking of which - I saw Leigh Torrence blow that play well before he actually did. While I found that ball in mid-air from my seat in the 7th row, Torrence was still checking out the out of town scoreboard (or maybe the cheerleader just inside the 17 yard line, Ashley, is it? She sure looked good). In hindsight, there was no reason that I personally didn't make a play on the ball (Bulger hung it up forever). The officials, the NFL, Fed Ex Security - they can't do anything about a fan breaking up a play. It isn't challengable. I see the ball, run on the field, make the play, no challenge, 4th down, I get arrested, and I am a living hero in this city forever. My closing speed is awesome right now - I could have made the play. My bad.

Back to my point. Last week the Skins did what they've done every year since 1991 - let us all down. This had Raiders in 05', Titans in '06 and Bills in 07' written all over it. To be honest, besides the collective shart in week 1, this was the most Redskins-like thing the Redskins have done all year. I didn't cry after the game, there was no Monday hangover; as a matter of fact, it felt just right. After five weeks of mental insecurity, I finally felt comfortable again as a Skins fan. How sad is that?

And now, with us and the rest of the nation just as unsure of this team as we were a month ago, the Skins have a chance to go out and make a big statement. Yes the Browns are sub-.500 and yes they've looked like a Pop Warner team at times this year, but just six days ago they looked like one of the best teams in the NFL. The Redskins have a chance to cut off the Browns momentum and calm my fears that the Mistakes might actually be good this year. Besides restoring reality to the NFL, this is also a big game because the Skins cannot afford to give another game back to the division, they cannot afford to lose another game at home, and they cannot afford to effectively squander everything they did in September. A loss would be tragic - seriously. Even without my personal need to catheterize Cleveland, the Skins need this game if they seriously want to vie for the division. The Skins win tomorrow, they got as good a chance as anyone to win this thing, but if they lose, just like '05 and '07, it'll be a four month struggle for the wild card spot. The difference between 5-2 and 4-3 is gigantic (especially before the Detroit game - a team we haven't lost to since the Harrison administration).

And with that official "must win" call, please don't forget that I need this one. It's another four years until we get a chance to beat these clowns again.

Kol Tuv,


1) Run along the Edges - I'd like to take a moment to let everyone know that before this season I decided that I would put 10 dollars away after every Skins game (even I can save money) so that at the end of the year I could buy myself a Clinton Portis pro bowl jersey (knock on wood, poo poo pooo). Even though I have forgotten to actually put the money aside, Kid Bro Sweets hasn't forgotten his end of the deal. Dude is breaking tackles, hitting holes and going from zero to twenty faster than I've seen from him in five years. I'm in heaven watching this guy right now. Tomorrow, just like in the 4th quarter last Sunday, Coach Jenky Spanky is going to have to carry this team. The Browns have a solid front led by nose tackle Shaun Rogers. In order to wear this unit down, the Skins are going to have to get those fat Brown defenders moving laterally. The Skins will do this by running CP off tackle behind Samuels and Jansen while being led by Mike Sellers. The Skins might get stuffed early, but if they stay patient and keep pounding the rock, the Browns line will fade and CP will net some big numbers in the second half. I'm gonna go out on the line and say Portis could go for his first 200 yard game of his Skins career tomorrow (if he goes for negative 200, I'm sorry in advance).

2) Secondary Concerns - CP is also crucial because a good running attack keeps the Browns offense off the field. This Browns unit, which has looked awful early on, came alive Monday night. Unfortunately, the Skins might not have the personnel to match up with them right now. All three Skins corners are nursing injuries and it looks like Carlos Rogers will probably have to play hurt against Braylon Edwards, while our favorite Leigh Torrence (featured in SI's Who's Not) will get assigned to Dante Stallworth. The Skins secondary will also have to be accountable for Kellen Winslow - who will play tomorrow despite enlarged testicles (what do I write to make that any funnier than it already is? OK - ping pong sized? baseballs? basketballs? medicine balls?). Look for Chris Horton to draw the Winslow match-up. The Skins have been great stymieing good arial attacks (Cowboys, Cards, Saints) but that was with a full boat of healthy players. Who knows how Carlos will be and what Smoot can give them tomorrow as the Nickel. Justin Tryon, a key component of this year's draft class (insert laughter here) might get on the field tomorrow - a scary thought considering he had no business being on the Skins pre-season roster.

3) Pressure - As I discussed last week, the Skins lack of front-four pass rush is starting to hurt them. The Skins did send some secondary blitzes last week to compensate for a lack of pass rush, but those attempts failed. Carter and Taylor were nowhere to be found last week, and if these guys don't get better soon, the secondary will get exposed. Tomorrow is a great day for our ends to show up - if they can get a hand on Anderson, he'll make a mistake. Anderson is playing on the road with the pressure of being benched permanently, the Skins need to pounce on his vulnerability.

4) Receiver Issues - My biggest problem with this team is our lack of weapons on the outside. Opposing coordinators are taking Santana Moss out of the offense and challenging the Skins to get big plays somewhere else. It isn't happening. ARE doesn't look right, Devin Thomas can't get on the field, and Malcolm Kelly is one sniffle away from IR. Chris Cooley is great but he isn't a number two threat. Like in past years, teams are going to start stuffing 7 and 8 men in the box while keeping an eye on Moss - if the Skins can't combat that by hitting some down field plays with their other guys, this offense will hit a wall fast. Even my dear Dolla Bill will be held in check. Tomorrow the Skins need to come out looking to establish the pass early with some of the other guys, which will then force the Browns to play coverage. If they can do that, things will take a much better course. If not, it might get ugly.

5) Turnovers - Turnovers are fluky, they're heart breaking and for the first month of the season we Skins fans forgot all about 'em. Well thanks to three mental lapses, we remember now. The Skins had no business losing to the Rams and besides for the three mishaps, actually outplayed the Rams on both sides. Means nothing if you can't hold on to the ball. Can't happen again - I just pray the Skins win enough that we don't have to look back on the season and curse Pete Kendall. He's a good guy with a nice family. Poor fella.

6) Remeber '04 - Gibbsies first year - the Skins win the first and then drop two close ones to NY and Dallas. Well the tailspin continued in C-Town. The Skins took an early lead with some nice Brunell to Coles hook-ups but eventually faltered at the hands of Lee Suggs. That was an awful Browns team, and despite our eventual 5-11 record we had no business losing to them then, just as we have no business losing to them now. Lets do this.

6) Injuries -
Assume Springs is out. Assume Carlos will play. Smoot won't be a factor. Jason Taylor still has calf issues and I'd wish the Skins would let him heal but he'll be out on the field and probably be ineffective. Portis didn't practice most of the week with a hip flexor, but I still think he gets 25 carries. Sean Alexander is slated to back up CP - look for the Brown to blitz on Alexander downs and look for #35 to be on the bench quick when he doesn't pick up those blitzes. Betts is done for a month. The Skins o-line is banged up but it looks like Hands Kendall and Samuels will go.

7) Prediction - I think Zorny gets these guys ready to play. The Skins defense will continue bending but not breaking, and the offense will be fluid, not spectacular. The Skins will eat lots of clock, cause some timely turnovers and overpower the Browns along the lines - just the way the did against the Cowboys and Eagles. No let down tomorrow. I'm bringing it and so are they.
Redskins 28 Browns 17


No comments: