Monday, October 23, 2006

Redskin Rants and the Election

I haven't written much recently about the upcoming election. I just think that until the votes are tallied, we can't know what the lay of the land will be next year. For what's it's worth, I'm not not overly optimistic that the Dems will take either house. I've also found the strange descent of the Ned Lamont campaign in Connecticut puzzling and disappointing. Any answers? Jane Hamsher? Why is Ned Lamont down by as much as 17 points in some polls? How has Lieberman maintained any kind of organization, with much of his senior staff either quitting or getting fired after the primary, and the state's, as well as the national Democratic party structure lining up behind Lamont? Oh yeah, maybe that's why. But in this year, when the Dems should have some semblence of good will, it's hard to figure. Maybe it's still name recognition after all of this.

Anyway, here's what really pissed me off about the Redskins yesterday. Down 10-7 right before the half, Antwan Randle El runs back a punt for a touchdown. Redskins up 14-10. Except one of the jubilant Skins got flagged for excessive celebration after the score. 15 yard penalty, assessed at the kickoff. I didn't see what player exactly got flagged or even what the penalty was in reference to, so maybe the call was ticky-tac as many of these calls are. But here's the problem. Redskins, you're 2-4, on the road, and playing an undefeated team. An excessive celebration in this situation is the kind of thing where you want to avoid even the appearance of wrong-doing. Act like you've been there before. You score, you hand the ball to the referee, and get outta the end zone. All of you. Once again, you're 2-4. Can we show some seriousness out there, please? Beat somebody. Then maybe you can celebrate.

Of course once the 15-yarder was tacked on, the Redskins managed to be caught offsides on the first kick-off attempt. Another five yards. Then somehow, the Skins kicker got upset and, wait for it, took. off. his. helmet. That's another 15 yards. The taking off the helmet thing is a no-brainer. There's no debate. You take the helmet off, you get 15 yards. Even the late Johnny Cochran couldn't have gotten anyone off of that charge. So the skins ended up kicking off from their own 5 yard line. The five yard line. Ever see anything remotely like that before?

Fortunately, the Skins managed to hold the Colts to 3 points, so that series of events wasn't numerically significant.

But it was nonetheless highly symbolic and representative of the team's attitude and lack of discipline this year. Whatever range of talent might now be on the team thanks to another off-season spending binge (and the original punt return courtesy of Randal El was a demonstrated result of that binge), the team just isn't displaying any sense of a commitment to winning. They seem more intent on getting themselves the ball or showing up on ESPN sportscenter highlight film. And for that, I blame the coaching. I'm hesitant to blame Joe, but the responsibility for this stuff begins and ends with him. Whether it's a problem with his assistants or not I don't know. But he has to set the tone.

As the fellas on 980 were saying this morning, it isn't like the Redskins players are from a completely different generation than the players on the Patriots or any other team. So this isn't just a generation thing.

Beyond that, yesterday was the same odd mix of dump off passes and lateral running plays. Very weird in that in the Colts they were facing for the second straight week a team regarded as weak against the run, particularly up the middle. And yet the team didn't seem interested in trying to exploit that seeming advantage.

At least T.J. Duckett got on the field for one play at the end of the game.

But another week or two of this stuff--and Dallas, Philadelphia and a revived Tampa Bay squad are on the schedule after the bye--and the calls for inserting Todd Collins or Jason Campbell will be deafening. The Fox broadcasters--Troy Aikman among them yesterday--pointed out that Campbell had four offensive co-ordinators in college and has had three as a pro, so the reluctance to play him has some valid foundation. But if for no other reason, a qb or who might be able to go long would add a dimension to this team that everyone and their grandmother now knows it lacks, which results in defenses stacking the line, and the running game getting stuffed, creating a circular process of offensive ineptitude.

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