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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
November 7, 2004
Smoot Deadline Looming The Post and Times are both reporting that Fred Smoot and his agent are in the process of negotiating a new deal for the cornerback. Certainly, the Redskins want Smoot, who is in the last year of the four-year, $2.8 million dollar deal he signed as a second-round draft pick in 2001, and Smoot, by all indications, wants to stay. He was quoted as saying:
I love D.C., man. I love the people. Nobody's got the fans we've got. Regardless of what the record is and who we're playing our fans are going to be there, and just the city, I just love the surroundings. I love everything.Besides Smoot's love and the team's desire to keep a productive player at a key position just entering his prime, there is some additional incentive to get a deal done, and soon. This Monday is the deadline for teams to count signing bonuses for extensions against 2004 base salary, according to ESPN's Len Pasquarelli.
I'm looking at the situation like Coach Gibbs is going to be here. When [Bailey] was leaving, it was like he didn't know who was going to be the coach. But if Coach Gibbs is going to be here and I go to another team, that's change again. I'd rather stay here.
It's not one of those battles where we're in two different places. We're on the same frequency right now. I'm sure it'll get done."
Now, there isn't a ton of money at stake here. The Redskins are right up against the cap, with a million or so to spare. Still, with this team, every cap dollar counts so if the team could, say, give him a million dollar "raise" this season and take it off of the pro-rated signing bonus for the new deal. That would save enough to sign an injury replacement or two per year, not much but also not insignificant.
Pasquarelli reports that a deal is unlikely by Monday and the DC papers both seem to say that the talks have yet to heat up being the discussion stage. While neither side should rush to a deal, it would behoove both Smoot and the team to get it done sooner rather than later.
One very encouraging development is that James "Bus" Cook, Smoot's agent, is very well grounded in reality. In reference to the six-year, $63 million contract his client's former teammate Champ Bailey signed last spring, Bus said:
I don't know if we can get that kind of dealFor an agent these days, that was a statement of raging sanity.
Redskins vs. Lions Bold Predictions
In 1999, I owned a Dodge Caravan. Today, I own a Dodge Caravan.
I said the other day that the Washington Redskins own the Detroit Lions. As a historical fact, it was accurate. But the car I own today is the same as the one I had five years ago in name only. In some ways it's better and in some it's worse, but it's a very different vehicle.
And the Lions are a very different team from the one that the Redskins whipped year after year from the sixties through the ‘90's. In some ways they're worse but in other ways they're better.
They may be worse at running back. I like Kevin Jones and he may well turn out to be a very good player, but right now, in November 2004, he's not Barry Sanders or Billy Simms.
They are probably better at quarterback. Joey Harrington is making baby steps towards his potential but right now he's superior to Greg Landry, Jeff Komlo, Gary Danielson, Erik Kramer, and Gus Frerotte, just a few of the quarterbacks the Lions lost to the Redskins with.
Roy Williams is certainly the best receiver Detroit has had since Herman Moore, but he may or may not play in Sunday. Even if his ankle permits him to play, the rookie will find it tough going against either Shawn Springs or Fred Smoot.
If Williams is either on the sidelines or shut down, then, the Lions' ability to score will hinge on two things: Jones' rushing and the ability of Harrington to find alternate targets such as Az Hakim or former Washington tight end Stephen Alexander.
Still, all of this adds up to the worst offense in the NFL; that's what the total yardage ranking will tell you, anyway. But they've averaged almost 20 points per game, so they're not all that bad.
Detroit is a middle of the road defense, not great, not terrible. They appear to be weaker against the pass than against the run. Of course, when they're playing the Redskins, that's frailty vs. frailty and power vs. power.
For Washington, Clinton Portis has to have a great day and Mark Brunell must have a decent day. There is much confidence in the former, not much in the latter.
Jones won't find much running room against the patched-up Washington defense and Gregg Williams will scheme to harass Harrington into some sacks and an interception or two. Kicker Jason Hanson's leg won't be deterred at all, so let's say that the Lions get a TD and three Hanson field goals for a total of 16 points.
Normally, a prediction that a team will give up just 16 points would lead to a prediction of victory for that team. However, the Redskins have scored over 16 just once this year, so that's the key.
Getting to 17 is the key for the Redskins. I think they're capable of doing it, but they haven't demonstrated the ability to do so in a winning effort thus far this year. That makes it difficult for me to predict that they will.
In the late going it will be Detroit 16, Washington 14. Ola Kimrin will have a field goal attempt to win it. It will smack off of the upright and 16-14 is the final.
November 5, 2004
Announcement: A Mirror Image
I've started up a mirror site for this blog at http://redskinsblog.blogspot.com. Everything that is published here is going to be there and vice versa. Then why go with the mirror site?
The mirror site is set up for blogs. Your best source for Redskins information and analysis, WarpathInsiders.com, from where my ramblings originate, simply isn't set up to be able to manage a blog in the way that Internet users have become accustomed to. It's the same case for our fine syndication partners such as Yahoo! and Fox Sports.
The main features that I wanted from a blog site were a clean archives format and the ability to leave comments (and, oh yeah, I wanted it to be free). Google's Blogger.com site filled the bill very well.
So, should you want to go back and see what I've had to say about this or that earlier this season, you can easily find that in the mirror site's archives. And, even better, should you want to clarify, discuss, ask a question about, or comment on something in the blog, you have an avenue to do so. While those of you in the Warpath Insiders community have been able to do both, this opens those features up to the syndication partners as well.
The site is not yet 100% set up as far as the archives go. The past several days are on there and I'll continue to backfill over the next week or so until everything in the vast, six-week history of my ramblings are in there.
Note to the Warpath Insiders community: Of course, you can continue to comment on the blog on the CPND Board, but the archives will be accessible only on the mirror site.
Much thanks to Punishment at Warpath Insiders for giving me the leeway to write the blog and give it a second home and especially to you, the readers, for making all of this worthwhile.
Again, that mirror site address is http://redskinsblog.blogspot.com.
While I was on the way home from Sunday's game, I was listening to Frank Herzog's radio show. One thing that Herzog kept railing on was Mark Brunell's quarterback rating of 66 for the day. That is a pretty bad rating, but thanks to Rat Boy, Webmaster extraordinaire at Warpathinsiders.com (from where these ramblings originate), here is the difference between what his rating would have been without that cheap penalty on the touchdown to Portis:
With Penalty: 25/44, 56.82%, 218 Yards, 4.95 YPA, 2 TD's, 2 INT's, 66.29 RatingOf course, he's adding in the yardage and TD for the Portis play, taking out the interception that came on the very next play and assuming that Brunell throws no more passes on the day.
Now, without that penalty:
26/45, 57.78%, 261 yards, 5.8 YPA, 3 TD's, 1 INT, 87.36 Rating
A rating of 87 on the season is pretty good; you're in Favre, Brady, and Warner territory there. A 66 for the season you're, well, Mark Brunell.
Jaws on Redskins O
Ron Jaworski was the "Five Good Minutes" guest on PTI tonight and Wilbon and Tony K asked him about the Skins' offense (emphasis added in both quotes):
I though when Joe came in he did the right things; he got Clinton Portis, he got Mark Brunell, he had Rod Gardner and Laveranues Coles. But this offensive unit just hasn't come together. The one thing I do see, and this is where Joe is going to have to adapt to the present-day NFL, I don't see enough short passing. He's back to those old days where it was a seven-step drop and you waited for things to happen down the field. You can't do it with this offensive line. I think he's got to go back to the three-step and five-step passing game and get the ball out of Mark Brunell's hands quicker and I think that's the adjustment he will make in the second half of the season.Even given the loss of Jon Jansen the offensive line has been a major disappointment and a lot of Brunell's problems can be linked to his need to throw under pressure. If this is true—and with Jaws you know that he's basing what he says on having looked at films and isn't just talking off the top of his head—it's a shame that Gibbs can't run his offense because of his offensive line. The unit doesn't need to be rebuilt but it could be upgraded at center and certainly better depth is needed (not an easy thing to acquire in today's NFL in any case, much less when you have so much cap space allocated to "stars").
In any case, the line should shut up about coming up with a catchy nickname until they actually accomplish something.
Then Tony asked if Brunell should be benched and Patrick Ramsey brought in:
Certainly the leash is becoming a lot shorter. Patrick Ramsey is a guy who has tremendous upside and I've always liked (him). As you look at Brunell right now, if he doesn't play better, you're going to have to make the change to Patrick Ramsey and start looking to the future.Does giving Ramsey a shot necessarily mean that the Redskins are throwing in the towel on the season? I don't think so. He can win games now.
Mort on Spurrier
On NFL Live, Chris Mortensen was asked if Steve Spurrier would get another shot at the NFL since he's decided not to return to the University of Florida:
If the Miami Dolphins fire Dave Wannstadt and call Steve Spurrier and say, listen, we want you as our coach, I think it's going to be tough for him to say no. I think he still wants to prove he can win in the NFL, there are still some NFL executives that think he can win in the NFL. But I don't know that he's number 1 on the Dolphins' list, their general manager said he is not monitoring the situation, so there's still a question if the door is actually going to open for him.Mark Schlereth then said, "I can't imagine anyone in the NFL giving Spurrier a chance right now." He cited the Ballcoach's lack of willingness to do what it takes to prepare (meaning that Spurrier wouldn't put in the time needed to get the job done) and his choice of a coaching staff was highly questionable (meaning that he hired a bunch of college guys when he needed some pro experience).
I've heard these of these "NFL executives" who think that Spurrier can cut it in the pros before. It's my guess that they are among the Dan Snyder haters in the league who just think that he was in the wrong situation. While it's true that the Redskins organization isn't the model NFL outfit, nobody can make a reasonable case that Spurrier wasn't given what he needed to win.
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