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Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs' Washington Redskins. Get details and order at http://GutCheckBook.com
October 31, 2004
Bold Predictions: Green Bay at Washington--
Sometimes I ramble on and on before getting into it. Today, I don't.
The potential is there for Brett Favre to have a huge day. While Springs and Smoot will be starting and they're pretty good, the situation at safety is not so good in the light of the Sean Taylor "deactivation". Favre is the master of burning teams trying to blitz him—he can throw it with touch and accuracy off of his back foot while going to the ground--and that's the only way the Redskins have of generating pass pressure. If you define a "big day" in the NFL has getting 300 yards passing and a couple of TD's, I do think that Favre will achieve that.
Even against a depleted Packer secondary, Mark Brunell will not have a big day. A "breakout" game that will cease the catcalls from those believing that he should be benched doesn't seem to be in the cards. The best he can hope for is an efficient couple of hundred yards with a TD and no picks. Again, his line should resemble something like this.
Joe Gibbs will try to hold Brunell's pass attempts down to a couple of dozen max. The best way to defend Favre is to keep him off the field and Clinton Portis should get another heavy workload.
Portis and Ahman Green both have slipped a bit this year, going from being considered elite backs to being considered merely very good. Two weeks ago against the Bears, Portis made his bid to return to the cream of the crop with a 171-yard effort. Last week a 90-yard touchdown run highlighted a 163-yard day for Green. Each of them hopes to use his performance in the previous game to propel him back into the upper crust.
Which back will have the better game? While the defensive stats can be somewhat skewed by matchups at this stage of the season, the Redskins defense is allowing a yard and a half less per rush than the Green Bay defense is. That and Portis' superior explosiveness gives the Washington back an edge.
So, Favre will be the better of the two QB's, Portis the better of the two RB's.
Who will win? I hate to do this and I promise I'll only use this one once or twice more this season, but the team that makes fewer turnovers will prevail. Yeah, that's a cop out since eighty or so percent of NFL games are won by the team winning the turnover battle. Still, these teams are pretty evenly matched and that's the deciding factor.
Redskins one turnover, a fumble. Favre gets picked once and Green coughs it up once.
Redskins 24, Packers 21
October 29, 2004
Taylor Should Sit
I was going to write an entry strongly questioning Joe Gibbs' decision to bench Sean Taylor for Sunday's upcoming game. DWI is a serious offense besides being a dangerous, dumb thing to do. However, it's not like he robbed a bank or committed a violent act (albeit the potential for a violent collision in the car is certainly present when driving impaired). His violation of the law is a matter that will be dealt with by the law. My original line of thinking was that the authorities should be the ones to punish Taylor, not Joe Gibbs and the Redskins.
I mean, most of us would be permitted to return to work without penalty after such an incident. Why not Taylor?
As more details of what happened yesterday came to light, though, it became apparent that the decision to make Taylor inactive for the Packer game was the right thing to do.
In politics, they say that what gets officials into hot water isn't whatever wrong doing they may commit, it's the cover up. Taylor's problem wasn't so much the DWI, but what he did—or didn't do—afterwards. He was arrested at about 2:45 AM and after being booked and posting his bond, he was released from the Fairfax County jail at about 10 AM.
At that time of day, it's about a 30-minute drive to Redskins Park at the most. Perhaps he might have wanted to duck in to Fair Oaks Mall and get a change of clothes, so add 15 minutes. Regardless, he could be at Redskins Park by 11 AM. But as of the time that practice ended at 1:30 PM, Gibbs said that he hadn't heard from Taylor.
"I haven't had a chance to talk with him. In fact, we don't know where he is," Gibbs said at the time. "He wasn't here for practice today. I think it's a serious thing. We'll just have to deal with it as best as we can."Even if for some reason he couldn't make it to practice, there's a new invention called a telephone that he could have used to notify the team that he was alive, if not doing so well.
The bottom line is that Taylor was absent from practice without having been excused. Whether the absence is due to having been in the drunk tank or simply having overslept, there must be consequences. Assuming that Gibbs enforces the same standard in the future—you miss practice, you sit out the game—then it was the only way to go.
October 28, 2004
The "In's" Root For the Skins
I wanted to get to this before the rest of the media did, but it's too late. Since I didn't talk about it first, I'll have to do it better.
"It" is the streak involving the result of presidential elections and the fortunes of the Washington Redskins. I've received a few emails about it and why not do what the Redskins beat reporters have done and rip out a thousand words or so on the subject.
For those of you who have not yet heard of the phenomenon, here's the deal: In every presidential election since the Redskins moved to Washington in 1937, the result of the team's last home game before the quadrennial vote has been the same as the result of the incumbent party in the White House. In other words, if the Skins win that last home game before the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in leap years, the party in power in the executive branch has remained in power. If Washington does not protect its house in that game, the incumbent party loses the house on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Again, you're probably read the generalities of all of this in other places. What you don't get elsewhere are the details. That's why I'm here:
11/2/40—Frankie Filchock and Sammy Baugh team up to go 14 for 15 passing to lead the Redskins over the Steelers 37-10. Two days later President Franklin D. Roosevelt easily defeats Wendell Willkie 449 electoral votes to 82.
11/5/44—Washington was outgained by the Cleveland Rams 407 yards to 197 but they scored two TD's in a four-play span in the second quarter to pull out a 14-10 win. FDR's win was not as close as he outgained Thomas Dewey 53% to 45% and out scored him 432-99 in the stat that counts, the Electoral College.
10/31/48—This one was close in the early going, but a 14-14 tie at the end of the first ended in a 59-21 Redskins win. The election was much closer and Dewey didn't defeat Truman much to the chagrin of the Chicago Tribune and others as the incumbent won 303-189.
11/2/52—Washington's attempted fourth quarter rally fell a point short at the Steelers won 24-23. Adali Stevenson didn't show nearly as much game, trailing Dwight Eisenhower all the way in a 442-89 loss.
10/21/56—This was the first time that the Redskins didn't have a home game on the Sunday immediately preceding the general election. Sixteen days before election day Eddie LeBaron led the Redskins past the Browns 20-9. Ike beat Stevenson in the rematch by over 9 million popular votes and an electoral count of 457-73.
10/31/60—The first of 17 consecutive losses of two seasons for coach Mike Nixon's Redskins came at the hands of Cleveland 31-10. The loser for the GOP was another Nixon, Richard, by a much closer margin to John F. Kennedy. 303-219.
10/25/64—Sonny Jurgensen's fourth touchdown pass of the day went to tight end Pres Carpenter with a minute left to play. Lyndon Johnson didn't have to sweat out his win over Barry Goldwater nearly as much with an electoral tally of 486-52.
10/27/68--Jurgensen had one of his worst days as a pro, going 7 for 25 passing but Washington hung close and nearly rallied before losing to the Giants 13-10. Dick Nixon's comeback, on the other hand, was a success as he beat Vice President Hubert Humphrey 301-191 in a contest that was much closer than the final score indicated.
Finally, a significant game to talk about. Larry Brown had one his greatest days as a Redskin as Washington rallied to beat Dallas 24-20. Nixon, who had suggested plays to coach George Allen the previous season, rode to coattails of the Washington win to a 520-17 trashing of George McGovern.
10/31/76—Pete Wysocki, out of Michigan, was blocking as Eddie Brown returned a punt for Washington's only score in a 20-7 loss to Washington. Former Wolverine football player Gerald Ford, who finished up for Nixon after his term expired before the end of regulation, also lost. Jimmy Carter won 297-240.
11/2/80—The Redskins started a five-game losing streak that knocked them out of playoff contention by falling to the Vikings 39-14. The Republicans launched a three-election streak for the White House with the Gipper, Ronald Reagan, routing Carter 489-89.
11/5/84--In a Monday night game that ended as election day was dawning, the defending NFC champion Redskins prevailed over Atlanta 27-14. Reagan had a much easier time with Fritz Mondale, defending his office by a score of 525-13.
11/6/88—Politicians are infamous for using dirty tricks to win elections and Dexter Manley pulled one off to help his Redskins win. The Saints were in position to kick a game-clinching field goal, but their tackle Jim Dombrowski took a swing at Manley and the ensuing 15-yard penalty put the kick out of Morten Anderson's range. It turns out that Manley had spit (he says he "sneezed", but we know better) in Dombrowski's face to provoke the punch and the Skins won 27-24. Some would say that the Willie Horton ads were the political equivalent of Dexter's expectoration as it helped George H. W. Bush rolled up a 426-111 win over Michael Dukakis.
11/1/92—The New York Giants had possession for nearly 40 minutes and ground out a 24-7 win over Washington. The incumbent Super Bowl champs were on their way out as was President Bush the elder. Bill Clinton won as convincingly as the Giants had 370-168.
10/27/96—The Redskins ran their record to 7-1 with a 31-16 win over the Colts. The early returns from the season had them projected as the winner of a playoff spot but they would later collapse and finish out of the money. Clinton also won easily over Bob Dole, 379-159. He would encounter some rough sledding later on, too.
10/30/00—The Tennessee Titans built up an early lead and held off the Redskins for a 27-21 win. Tennessean Al Gore rallied from behind and took George W. Bush into overtime before losing by one fewer than the Redskins did, 271-266.
Of course, it's all ridiculous. There is no possible cause and effect here, just a crazy coincidence. There will be a lunar eclipse tonight and the Boston Red Sox may win their first World Series since 1918. Should it happen, there will be exactly the same linkage between those events as there is between gridiron results and hanging chads—none.
Still, it's a coincidence that defies the odds and it's something to talk about. No doubt, Skins fans who lean to the right will be rooting extra hard for a Redskins win. While very few wearers of the burgundy and gold who are Democrats will actually be rooting for the Packers on Sunday, they might find some consolation here should the Skins lose.
Click here for previous entries in Tandler's Redskins Blog