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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
December 14, 2004
Crass Commercial Announcement
I promise not to do this often, but a lot of you have asked about getting your hands on a copy of my book, The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. It has an account of every game the Redskins have ever played, from 1937 through 2001 anyway. I ran out of copies a few months ago and I was going to wait until I had a chance to update it before doing another print run of it.
In the interim, though, I've had enough requests for the book to warrant another run so the order has been placed. There are some copies that are not yet spoken for, thus the announcement here that you can go to http://GutCheckBook.com and click at the link at the top of the page and order your copy of the book. Of course, you can get details about that book and my other one, Gut Check , at that site as well.
This is a limited press run and the books will be sold on a first come, first served basis.
To anticipate a question, it's 50/50 as to whether or not you'll be able to get this book in your hands by Christmas day. They'll be shipped via Priority Mail as soon as I have them, which should—and I'll emphasize the word should as printers are notorious for experiencing delays--be the middle of next week. If you aren't going to get it in time, I have worked up some materials from which you can make up an IOU, including a replica of the cover and some sample chapters and I can email that to you if you want. Gut Check is available for immediate shipment.
This ends the crass commercial announcement. We now return to our regularly-scheduled blogging. . .
Redskins vs. Eagles Predictions Analysis
Every week, I look back at the predictions I made for the upcoming game and rate them according to how much water they held. One bucket means that it didn't hold enough water to drown a housefly; a Five-Bucket prediction holds enough for several suburban swimming pools.
Patrick Ramsey is playing better and better in Gibbs' offense every week. His stats won't be as good as they were last Sunday, but he'll complete at least half of his passes for better than 7.5 yards per attempt. He might throw an interception, but he'll throw for a pair of TD's.Rating: Three Buckets
Analysis: Ramsey did complete half of his passes, going 30 of 46, but he averaged just a shade under six yards per attempt and threw for just one TD and did, of course, toss the INT. He didn't play poorly by any stretch, but he wasn't quite as good as I thought he'd be.
Gibbs will open up the offense more. Last time, in Ramsey's first start, the game plan was so tight, if you'd stuck a lump of coal in it during the week, you would have had a diamond by game time. (If Ramsey had thrown one more of those quick outs or wide receiver screens or whatever those were, the only reason that it wouldn't have been intercepted would have been that all 11 Eagle defenders were fighting over the ball.) Gibbs won't be doing any flea-flickers or triple reverses or anything; look for something like what was run against the Giants with perhaps a couple of longer passes thrown in there.Rating: Four Buckets
Analysis: Certainly, a more aggressively-called game then the last time around. There was even a Portis pass attempt (which turned out worse than Jerome Bettis' but better than Randy Moss' attempts from earlier in the day).
Portis will run the ball until his tongue hangs out. Ramsey will hand him the ball thirty times, give or take. How many yards he gets will go a long way towards determining the result of the game. If he gets closer to 60 or 75 yards, that means a lot of three and outs and lots of chances for the Philly offense to do its thing, which is to put points on the board. Production in the 125-yard range will mean that there were some time-consuming drives for the home team. His production will be somewhere in the middle of those two; put him down for a buck or soRating: Two Buckets
Analysis: Portis carried 23 times, a good workload, but not a "tongue-hanging-out" workout. He got 80 yards, closer to the low end of the range. Like Ramsey, he was not quite as good as I expected
The Redskins defense is one of the top half dozen in the league. Cornelius Griffin, who missed the game in Philadelphia with a hip injury, is back and that should make it even more difficult for Brian Westbrook to find running room. And, certainly, they'll be keying on what really killed them last time, Westbrook catching passes out of the backfield. The Eagle running back could get right around the 105 combined yards he got last time, but he won't score two TD's.Rating: Four Buckets
Analysis: I nailed Westbrook's yardage pretty well as he got 59 rushing and an indentical 59 receiving for a total of 118. He didn't score.
Redskins 24, Eagles 21Rating: Three Buckets
Analysis: I'm hesitant to give myself more than two buckets if I get the winner wrong, but I think I had the type of game it would be pegged pretty well. I was much closer than some folks who emailed me bragging of a coming Eagle rout.
Redskins Player of the Year
The Quarterback Club will announce its Redskins Player of the Year award tonight. I got a ballot and several days ago, I asked for your suggestions as to how I should cast my ballot. Thanks to everyone who wrote and commented on message boards; there were some very compassionate and reasonable arguments made for all of the nominees.
The ballot asked you to rank the four nominees for the award from 1 through four. Here's is how I rated them and why:
4. Antonio Pierce--He got the most passionate arguments from all of you and while he's a great story he simply hasn't had the impact on the field that the other three have had. If it was "Redskin of the Year", he might get my top vote, but in judging him with the word "Player" in the award I didn't think it was right to take his story into account.
3. Shawn Springs--He's been all over the place making the big plays and has not been burned very often. You can't ask a cornerback to do much more than that.
2. Fred Smoot--I pretty much flipped a coin between Springs and Smoot for #2 and #3. You can ditto what I said about Springs and apply it to Smoot.
1. Cornelius Griffin--The defense starts on the line and the line starts with Griffin. Without him doing what he did, Pierce, Springs, and Smoot would not have been able to play as well as they have. He's been the proverbial wrecking crew in the middle there and that's been the key to the stellar performance of the defense this year.
December 13, 2004
I admit It's getting betterIt wasn't their best game of the year, not even their best of the month. They committed a dozen penalties for 137 yards, clunked on offense for most of the game, let Eagle receivers run open deep often, gave up six receptions to Terrell Owens, and put little pressure on Donovan McNabb.
A little better all the time (it can't get much worse)
Yes, I admit it's getting better
It's getting better since you've been mine!
Still, they almost pulled out a game against on the three best teams in football. Despite the penalties, Philadelphia converted just 3 of 13 third downs. Offense woes aside, the Skins held the ball for over 33 minutes. The Eagle receivers didn't always catch the ball when they were open deep including one where Todd Pinkston developed one of the most severe cases of alligator arms ever seen when it appeared that the safety was bearing down on him (Pinkston might have to have surgery to remove his elbows from his rib cage, so severely did he yank his arms back to protect himself). Owens' catches gained just 46 yards and McNabb was effective but hardly dominant.
If I believed in moral victories, I'd say this was one, but I don't so I won't. Still, while putting numbers in the left-hand column of the standing is what it's all about, you can take some good out of a loss.
- The defense was good, very good. Holding the Eagles to 17, with seven of those points coming off of a highly questionable pass interference call on Shawn Springs against Owens, is an impressive performance. Not dominant, but impressive nonetheless.
- Ladell Betts continues to impress in different ways. Against Pittsburgh and the Giants he ran well from scrimmage. Yesterday his return of the opening kickoff set up a seven-yard touchdown drive, a score that gave Washington a working margin that got them through some poor stretches to come.
- The whole offense is running more smoothly. It's not always effective, but there seems to more some continuity. Part of this is due to the fact that the offensive coaches are getting the plays in more quickly. The call gets in, they line up, Ramsey starts the cadence, players go in motion, and there are still over 10 seconds left on the play clock. Sure, they cut is close from time to time, but nearly every team does.
Nobody on this team was playing for the Redskins that day (Jon Jansen is the only one left in the organization and, of course, he's out with an injury). There's no carryover, no legacy of pulling out the close ones. If this team is ever to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat on a regular basis it will have to do it the hard way—they'll have to learn it on their own.
Certainly, Gibbs and the coaches will help them learn how to win and a lot of the players who were with other teams recently played in games that their teams won in the dying seconds. That helps, but until they mesh as a team during crunch time and each player knows what the others are doing, it will be a hit or miss proposition.
Last night, it was a miss.
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