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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 20, 2004
How the Redskins Can Beat the Eagles
There are a few different theories floating around as to how the Redskins can pull the upset and beat the Eagles. Let's walk through them here:
- It's a trap game—The Eagles are coming off of a big Monday night win in
and are headed into games against the Giants and Packers that could pretty much wrap up a playoff spot. The Redskins won't get their full attention. Dallas
- Weak Eagle rushing defense—Clinton Portis will run wild on the league's 23rd-ranked rushing defense. This will allow the Redskins to control the clock and will slow down Philly's blitz, giving Patrick Ramsey time to burn their suspect secondary.
- They're one-trick ponies—All they have going offensively is Donovan McNabb to Terrell Owens. The barely average a hundred yards a game on the ground and their second-leading receiver, Todd Pinkston, has just 330 yards.
- Reid will be pulling back the reigns a bit—The past two years, the Eagles peaked too soon and Andy Reid knows this. He'll want to have his team ready for this game but it's hardly a crucial one for them and he wants them to have something to play for so that they're primed for the playoffs.
The Redskins should be able to hang on into the third quarter, but a big play by Philly will break it open in the second half.
Eagles 24, Redskins 10
The Slippery Slope
A couple of people I know related a story about what they did while sitting behind the visitor's bench during a recent Redskins game. Emboldened by some mean "punch" consumed before the game, they heckled the visiting players about everything from their playing ability to steroids to their uniforms. It was all in good fun. One player not dressed for the game even came over and chatted with them after it was over.
This was just a somewhat amusing anecdote until we saw the outrageously ugly riot that broke out in the Detroit-Indiana NBA game Friday night. Then such behavior became the peak of the proverbial slippery slope.
Such an incident has never happened in the NFL, at least not in modern times. But it's easy to see how it could.
My friends would never get involved in anything violent nor would they shout out obscenities, but let's say that they're yelling to a nearby player that his mother wears combat boots. That doesn't draw a reaction. But another individual sitting nearby, perhaps not a level-headed at the others and who has been taking shots out of a flask all game long, moves from commenting on the apparel of the player's mother to her ancestry or what she does in her spare time. This draws some angry words from the player. That gives others sitting near the heckler incentive to really let him have it. Things deteriorate from there and you have the scene in Detroit all over again.
Now, this is a somewhat simplified scenario, but does anyone doubt that the incident at the Palace started with some good, clean heckling? In other words, if nobody heckles, the whole thing never happens. The words created an atmosphere of hostility, one that became extreme when Artest committed the hard foul that provoked Ben Wallace's shove. It just became a small leap for the abuse to go from verbal to physical.
I certainly am not going to defend the players going into the stands. However, had the whole thing ended with Artest getting hit in the face with that cup and beverage, it still would have been a very ugly incident.
I've never liked heckling. My idea of a good time when going to a sporting event is cheering on my team, not razzing the guys on the other side.
At the same time, I'm not going to play the speech police here. Just because it's not something that I like to do doesn't mean that I think that those who do get a kick out of it don't have the right to do so as long as the language is appropriate.
I'm concerned, however, that the bad apples, the ones that escalate the hostile atmosphere to the point of physical violence, are going to lead to a necessity to have physical barriers in between the fans and the players like a third-world soccer field has. That would diminish the experience for all involved.
So, heckle if you must. Just remember that you may have to be doing it from across a moat and through a barbed wire fence some day.
November 19, 2004
Art, Jake, Grimm Make Hall First Cut
Art Monk, Russ Grimm, and Joe Jacoby have made the first cut on the way to the Hall of Fame. The three Gibbs-era stars are on the list of 25 semi-finalists for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. From the Hall of Fame's website and press release
Modern-Era Semi-Finalists for the Class of 2005 - Pro Football Hall of Fame: "The list of 25 semi-finalists will be reduced by mail ballot to 13 modern-era candidates. That list will then increase to 15 finalist nominees with the inclusion of the two recommended candidates of the Hall of Fame's Senior Committee. This year's Seniors Committee nominees, who were announced in August, are two of pro football's early pioneers - Benny Friedman and Fritz Pollard. The Seniors Committee reviews the qualifications of those players, coaches, and contributors whose careers took place more than 25 years ago. The list of 15 finalists for the Class of 2005 will be announced in mid-January."The exclusion of Monk, now in his fourth year of elegibility, from the Hall has been a particular sore spot for most Redskins fans. Simply put, it's difficult to explain how the man who once held the NFL records for receptions in a season and receptions in a career can be left out.
This is just my speculation, but there may be a political dynamic in play this year that will help Monk get in. Paul Zimmerman of Sports Illustrated, known as "Dr. Z" has made no secret of the fact that he has opposed Monk's entry for a laundry list of reasons. After the selection process last year, Zimmerman resigned from the Veteran's Committee, which picks two nominees from the 1970's and earlier. In doing so, he loudly criticized those on the main selection panel for not enshrining his nominee.
That's not likely to sit well with the panel. They're not likely to be very responsive to the arguements of the the man who threw them under the bus last year, who basically said that they didn't know what they were doing. Perhaps that will give Monk the edge he needs.
It's a shame that you have to discuss the political machinations of the committee instead of Monk's merits in weighing his chances of getting in, but that's what it's come down to. His exclusion clearly isn't on merits, so it must be due to something else.
I don't want to give Grimm and Jacoby the short shrift here and the cases for them will be detailed in this space in the future. Grimm, I think, has an outside shot. Jake is a longer shot. Both are deserving and both should make it eventually although Jacoby likely will have to go via the Veteran's Committee in a decade or so.
Delhomme: A Correction
In a post on Wednesday, I incorrectly said that Jake Delhomme didn't take an NFL snap before the 2002 season. He started two games late in the 1999 season, going 42 for 76 (55.3%) for 521 yards (6.9 per attempt), 3 TD's and 5 INT's.
It's certainly possible that Schottenheimer could have coveted Delhomme based on those two games. There still would have been the obstacle of Delhomme's status as either signed or a restricted free agent.
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