Sunday, November 23, 2008

Now or Never: Volume 3, Issue 13

I just want to again thank Yair for his fantastic Skins Serv last week. Knowing that Skins Serv has such great bench strength makes the future of this project even brighter - although it does put a bit more pressure on me to give you more substantive, knowledge-based writing. Now that you know what's out there, I can't really mess around. So here goes...

This is it. Make or break. Must win. Now or never. Pick a cliche, any cliche. Win won for the gipper, the scooter, the pope. I don't care - just freaking win one. Just to set it up for you a little bit. If the Skins win today (while showing us some improvement in their offensive vitals), then they sit pretty with 7 wins and 5 weeks to go. Looking at the schedule (again, based on an improvement this week), there are probably still wins out there against Cincinnati, San Francisco and Philadelphia (the Philly prediction isn't based on us as it is Philadelphia's gradual implosion). By December 21, we might not see McNabb or Westbrook. 10 wins with 3 more conference wins in the pocket, probably get us in.

On the other hand, if our Redskins show up this week in Seattle and lay another leggo my eggo, you can chalk up 2008 to another 1997 - hot early, stumbled late and out of the post season again. Maybe we call it the year Zorny should have popped a 17-week Cialis and not an 8-week Viagra. Lets face it, if the B&G can't beat a 2-8 Seahawks team, then they're 6-5 (a game behind the Cowboys probably) and all games going forward are hefker. No gimme in Cincy, no gimmy in San Fran and no gimme against the Ron Jaworski-led Fleagles. This is the week we will either look back and say that the Skins righted the ship or the week that we wrote 08's epitaph.

So how do I feel about this 53 man roster of old maids? On paper, they have as good a shot at winning this game as they did winning last January in Seattle (they lost that one - remember?). A little harsh maybe, but lets face it - this is the exact same team, with the exact same inept offense and exact same non-existent pass-rush. Ma Nishtana, people? Ma freaking Nishtana?

You know what, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that this offense is worse now than it was when the Skins marched into Seattle earlier this calendar year. If you recall, that team could not only run, they could pass, pass block and wait, here's the clincher...score points! If you put your prejudices against the front-office and their disastrous decision making to the side for a second and just run some simple numbers, the case against this offense is easily formed. They're 27th in the league in points scored. They haven't scored 30 points once this entire year. They've broken 20 only once in the last five weeks and that was against a Lions team that has surrendered 31 points per game this year.

The 16 total points the Skins have mustered over the last two weeks are not only embarrassing and shameful, they have exposed this lackluster unit and all the schemes behind it to the rest of the league. To Joe Gibbs credit, at least he took care of his QBs. No matter how defunct the offense was between 04-07, Gibbs always left the extra blocker in the box to protect the man behind center. Say what you want about the lack of imagination behind two-WR sets, at least they gave the QB time to not find the open receiver. In this latest iteration of Washington offense, the Skins leave nobody in the box to protect JC so the poor kid has zero time to find those same unopen receivers. Defenses have officially gotten the memo: tee off on Jason Campbell because the Skins won't max protect and they won't beat you with their outside weapons (because they don't have any).

Can five o-lineman change so much in 8 months? Maybe. But I have a hunch Gibbs and Buges understood their front 5 a little better than the next administration does. They're great getting out in run blocking, but if you're gonna sit back and wait for things to open up downfield you better help these geriatrics out.

Jason Campbell has been steady, but have they really asked him to do much. Talk about stat padding. I could have a 90 QB rating throwing slants, TE screens and RB screens in a very scientific three pass play rotation that is the Redskins passing offense. Maybe he's not getting time, maybe Zorn's not protecting the young man, or maybe he's too scared to take a chance, but when's the last time JC has thrown a seam route splitting a corner and a safety? That'd be October 12th against the Rams (a nice toss to Cooley right before the Pete Kendall debacle). If Campbell is going to take the next step and join the QB elites, he's going to have to start carving up defenses himself. No more check downs, no more safe routes - down field throws that might be intercepted but might also lead to points. Being risk averse has put us in this position - why not start taking some chances?

To the Dee for a second. They're good, but not great. I know many on this serv swear by the defense and their very misleading number four ranking, but I do not get caught up in the hype on this one. Just like when the Redskins offense goes on the field, you kind of know what you're getting when the Skins defense goes out there. Heavy pass coverage, decent run defense and zero pass rush or turnovers created (and Ami before you start screaming that that Skins forced two last week, go back and watch game film - those were both on Romo). The Giants marched into the Super Bowl because of a stellar pass rush. Defenses in this league are considered great when they constantly wreak havoc for a QB and set up their offenses with short fields. The Skins bend but don't break and have been doing it for 5 years now. I'm sick of it. Either break or break someone else.

I guess I have to switch to the point by point section at some point.

Kol Tuv,


1) Shir Lamaalot M'Malcolm Kelly - Get on the field today, young man. Excel today, young man. Use all 6-4, 225 pounds of your god-blessed frame to eat up those diminutive Seattle DB's. Continue catching the balls with ease and grace as you do in practice and please don't worry about where you're next injury is gonna come from (although I got 50 bucks it'll be a pulled groin). Catch 7 balls today, Yes Malcolm Can! Be a Red Zone target today, Yes Malcolm Can! Be a compliment to Santana Moss, Yes Malcolm Can! Take 2 defenders out of the box, Yes Malcolm Can!

2) CP will Play - The only benefit to CP playing with that knee last week is that everyone in this area loves him as much as I do. No more haters, no more critics. This guy cares and this guy will give you everything on Sunday. The numbers might fade as he is slowed by this knee and teams hone in on the run more, but Portis has shown everyone his true colors. He wants this as bad as all the great ones do and will do whatever it takes to make this team win. Playing with a 3 inch tear in the knee? You gotta be kidding me. I was going to buy my CP Pro Bowl jersey in a couple of weeks, but I probably can get it cheaper with a bulk order. Who else wants one? And yes, FoxSports.Com reports that despite another week of knee pain, Kid Bro Sweets will start today.

3) Jason Taylor is one week away from being a bust - No more excuses, twinkle toes. The knee's fine. The calf is fine. We need something out of you. Remember, the Skins gave up draft picks for this guy. I was about making this move as much as anyone else, but at some point the excuses run dry. He has got to start getting at the QB.

4) Zorn's Emotions - I read something interesting about Zorn's emotions getting to him on the sidelines to the point where it effects his play calling. Lets hope he doesn't get caught up in the Seattle thing today and calls a nice game. As I said earlier - more jumbo sets to protect Jason is a must.

5) The O-Line - I know I kind of defended them before and I truly believe that Zorn's thrown them under the bus this week by saying that the scheme is right, and the o-line just needs to hold. The NFL doesn't work like that, Zorn. You need to scheme around your players - not force them into something they can't do (see Steve Spurrier). Zorny's gonna start having to take some accountability for these embarrassing showings. Change the scheme, go to max protect, run on first and second down and pass on third. Don't force the issue with guys who can't hold up in protection for that long. It's not working. CP got hosed earlier this year for his comments about the o-line. I think what Zorn did this week was far worse.

6) That Being Said - This unit is aging in dog years.

7) Vinny - He's a miracle worker. I am constantly dumbfounded how this team will go into this offseason with all the exact same issues as it did last off season. At least have some new issues to deal with. Or some one less old issue to deal with. No, says Vinny. After 10 draft picks and a handful of free agent acquisitions, all the same issues need to be addressed. An aging offensive line - they will need at least 2 new starters after this year and will need five new starters after 09. No second WR. Third WR. Fourth WR. Fifth WR. Pass rusher. Interior lineman. I just can't believe that the personality and make-up of this group has been so consistently mediocre for this long without changing. This team is becoming the 1980s Washington Capitals. It must change.

8) Seattle - If the Skins do lose, it will be another case of wrong team, wrong time. Seattle's getting healthy with Hasslebeck and Deion Branch back in the lineup. Their defense is without Kerney for the rest of the year, but they still have a formidable pass rush, still have Lofa roaming the middle and still have Trufant as a shut down on Moss on the outside. Oh yeah, they play in our personal gey ben henom.

9) Injuries - Shawn Springs will be in the lineup today. Look for him playing as a safety in deep shell coverage with Landry blitzing more and Chris Horton watching from the sidelines. CP is a warrior and Betts will play too. Marcus Washington may have played his last game for the Skins. Anthony Montgomery should give the interior line some more depth today.

10) Prediction - After painting a black and white picture, the Skins leave us a lot more grey area after this one. They'll win. Barely. Another barn burner with limited points and ugly play on both sides. They'll get to 7-4, leaving us all wondering if it'll end up being 11-5 or 7-9. Redskins 20 Seahawks 14.


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