I wish I had a Pavlov-like buzzer for television Directors of sports events

During the ESPN broadcast of the Redskins game, I was reminded of something that has frustrated me during Wizards games on Comcast Sportsnet. Directors stay on camera angles that have nothing to do with the action on the field, much too long. I was reminded of this frustration during the Skins game, when the Director decided to stay on Andy Reid for what felt like an eternity, all because the game crew was discussing the issues with his sons. How about you show him for a second or two, just long enough to put a face with a name – for those who don’t know what he looks like – and then get back to the action on the field? I would rather look at the players in the huddle then Andy Reid (or any coach for that matter) for an extended period of time.


This problem happens much too often during the Wizards games – whether it is a close-up of someone in the stands, Eddie Jordan, a player on the bench, the Polian’s in the owners box., etc, etc, etc. What is most frustrating is that I have lost count of the times that the television audience has not been shown live game action due to one of these occurrences, from foul shots, to steals, to dunks the list is endless. I remember a number of occasions in which they had to show the audience a replay of on-court action to make up for the fact that they did not show it lives. And let’s not forget the advertisements that they display during the game. They are not commercials mind you, but the advertiser’s logo and a brief amount of copy that Buck is obligated to read. These have also caused a fair amount of game action to be missed over the years. It would be nice if their production crew could make those advertisements transparent or at least minimize the screen so that the game can actually be seen.


The folks at the Neilson Ratings should develop a device that allowed people to administer an electric shock – nothing lethal mind you – to either the Director or Technical Director of a sporting event every time they stayed too long on a meaningless camera angle. (Or maybe even the on-air crew when they spend an eternity discussing whether or not Donovan McNabb is being under appreciated in Philly.)


Am I the only person who is bothered by this?

Have the Redskins finally turned the corner?

For the second straight game the Redskins have been able to win a close one. What appears to be most impressive is that they have done this while loosing two of their starting offensive linemen, while remaining very productive on offense. The fact that Campbell did not get killed against the typically tough Eagles’ blitz is a testament to how well the backups turned starters played. The coaching staff, showing their trust in Wade and Fabini, continued to let Campbell take shots deep. Maybe even more impressive than that is the strength of Campell’s arm. We often here about a quarterback with a strong arm – particularly leading up to the draft – but seeing how far Campbell throw the ball on a number of occasions and how effortlessly it came out is truly impressive. Once he learns some touch he will be incredible.


On the negative side, the defense which played well overall gave up a little too much yardage to Westbrook. In their defense, Westbrook had an incredible game – no doubt in part because he was playing in front of his home town fans – for much of the game his quickness seemed to be on a different level. On a number of occasions, he made some of the quickest Skins defenders grasping at the air. But, as the Monday Night Crew pointed out, it will be interesting to see if he can hold up under that type of workload for a full season.


It was also a little disappointing that the stone hands in the Redskins defensive backfield is a little contagious right now. Once they get better at catching the ball, or getting more take-a-ways in general, that defense has the opportunity to be special. One has to love the young core of the defense with nearly all of them making big plays when it counted most, accented by the big hit that Landry made on 4th down to end a potential game tying drive by the Eagles.


Prior to the season, a number of local sports media were talking about how bad the Skins “could be” this season. Based on last season, and some of the questions with the team that did not appear to be answered, it is not hard to understand why they would believe that. It is a long season, and a number of teams have started undefeated only to crash and burn later in the season. None of us knows how this season will finish for he Skins, but through 2 games they have been entertaining to watch and have provided us fans with reasons to be optimistic.

Redskins Recap: Redskins 16 Dolphins 13

How much we take from the Skins game today is a bit unclear.  What’s most important is that they won a very hard fought game against a team with a very good defense – at least based on past performance – and an offense that has the potential to be better than last year.  One game does not give a good indication of how a team will play over an entire season, but there were plenty of encouraging signs.  Here were a few things that I was impressed with:

  • Jason Campbell through a bad interception at the beginning of the game (and two overall), came back to make some big completions in a very tight game.
  • It was refreshing to see the Skins throw the ball down the field, which will continue to make things easier for the running game, and vice versa.  How nice it is to have a QB who can actually throw it further than 7 yards.
    Samuels played very well considering that he did not play during the pre-season.  He and Kendall look like they are going to prove to be a great combination on the left side of the line.
  • Stephon Heyer continues to prove critics wrong.  Called in to play due to Jansen’s possible season-ending injury and switching back to his natural RT position, the UFA played a great game.  While it has been pointed out that some (unnamed) scouts believe that he is not yet ready for the NFL, in a game in which the final score counted, he played well enough not to stand out.  If you have watched enough football and/or played it you know that an offensive lineman normally only stands out when they give up a negative play.
  • It appears that Clinton did not need to play in the pre-season after all!  And with him and Betts combining for over 140 yards rushing that production will only make Campbell’s job throwing the ball that much easier.
  • And while the defense gave up a little more yards then they would have probably liked, given that they were put in some short-field situations, they actually continued the type of play that they have demonstrated during the pre-season.  They gave up some yards in the passing game, but were able to hold the Dolphins to 13 points.

Moss, and many of his colleagues in the NFL, dropped way too many passes today.  (It was amazing to see the number of dropped passes today.  At times it was as if we were watching the first pre-season game.)  The biggest drop was by the Smoot-mobile, who had nothing but open field in front of him near the end of regulation.  Thankfully that drop did not come back to cost the team.  Speaking of Smoot, while he had a fairly good overall game, I’m sure others were surprised that he started over Springs.  Correct me if I am wrong, but Springs was clearly the starter following pre-season, but was only brought into the game during nickel situations????  What was this about?

Skins sign Randall Godfrey and release Lemar Marshall

Sometimes an unforeseen circumstance can set a number of wheels in motion.  I wonder if the signing of Randall Godfrey and the release of Lemar Marshall would have happened if Marcus Washington hadn’t been injured.  I also wonder if this signing gives some indication to how highly they regard other individuals.


With Marcus being injured, potentially for a while, the Skins would benefit from someone experienced that could play both inside and outside LB.  Enter Randall Godfrey who has played for Gregg Williams before – arguably played his best football under Gregg Williams.  Godfrey has mostly played ILB but has shown the ability to play OLB as well.  To make room for Godfrey, the Skins cut Marshall, which makes me believe that they made this move, in part because they feel comfortable with the progress that H.B. Blades has made during the pre-season.  Plus once Washington is healthy you can also plug Godfrey in as a backup MLB.

Rocky McIntosh: Star in the making?

Rocky McIntoshRocky McIntosh 


So far this pre-season the defense has been playing very well.  And one of the biggest surprises has been Rocky McIntosh – who barely touched the field last season.  Now it is only pre-season and most teams keep their offenses very vanilla, but he has been blowing people up so far this pre-season.  Only time will tell how well he plays once the regular season gets started, but he looks like a great addition – one made through the draft (what a novel idea).  What’s been most impressive is that he appears to be making plays, while playing within Gregg Williams’ system.  It will be fun to see this guy continue to develop, but he appears to have all-pro-type talent, but time will tell if he reaches his potential.

Carol Maloney and Trevor Matich got carried away

I was listening to the Feldman & Maloney show on Sportstalk980, when I heard some of the most ridiculous statements that I have heard in a very long time. First let me put out my disclaimer – I was born and raised a Steelers fan, but I have followed (and grown to love) the Redskins for the last 11 years. So I am pointing out that I have divided loyalties. It made watching the game on Saturday very difficult, I didn’t know who to cheer for. But I digress.


Carol Maloney said that she felt Brett Keisel’s hit on Jason Campbell was a cheap shot and he should have been ejected from the game. She went on to point out that she believed that it was Keisel’s, if not the Steelers, intention to hurt Campbell. I was amazed at what I was hearing. She continued by pointing out Kimo von Oelhoffen’s hit on Carson Palmer during the 2005 playoffs as proof that the Steelers have some sort of history with injuring opposing team’s Quarterbacks.


First let me point out that there is little that the two plays have in common except that both players (Kimo and Brett) have very high motors and play until the whistle is blown. When Kimo hit Palmer, he was being blocked just before he made contact with Palmer’s lower legs. Brett quickly got around Heyer but then stumbled in the backfield, lunged as he was going down and made contact with Campbell’s thigh. It was unfortunate that Jason got injured during the play, but it was not an intentional act. It was amazing how quiet FedEx Field got during the injury timeout. (BTW I and others could not believe that they never showed the replay on the stadium screens.)


But beyond Maloney’s rant – which she is entitled to – however misinformed it is. I was completely shocked that Trevor Matich, a former NFL player, would agree with her opinion. Trevor went on to state that Keisel was not stumbling, that he could have absolutely controlled his body – during flight – that he could have just put his arm out. I could not believe I was hearing a former NFL player. He then went on to say that if he were coaching the Redskins defense that he would have sent everyone after Rothlisberger. Since Campbell got injured, on a dirty play, then he would have made sure that Big Ben was sidelined for the rest of the year. The only person on the show who seemed to have a sensible opinion on the matter was Andy Pollen who was sitting in for Feldman.


Keisel and Campbell


Those of us who have watched football for any length of time and/or played it at any meaningful level know that it is a dangerous sport and that at any moment you can get injured. Thankfully it appears that Jason’s injury is not serious. My point to Maloney or Matich would have been – show me evidence that this was intentional? Furthermore, what would the Steelers have gotten out of this “intentional cheap shot?” What would they have to gain? The last I checked the Redskins are in the NFC and the Steelers play in the AFC. The Steelers would gain nothing from intentionally injuring Campbell. I could follow the logic IF it were the Cowboys and the Redskins in a pre-season game. Then you could make the argument that the Cowboys would gain something from Campbell being injured.


As part of Matich’s argument he points out that a penalty was called on the play for hitting the QB during a pass below the waist. A flag in and of itself does not make a play dirty. Hell, there are times when cheap shots are not caught by the refs by his line of logic does that mean those plays were legal? What I find interesting in the replay is that the flag does not actually come in to the picture until after Cooley has caught the pass, turned up field and gets tackled. Now, I am not pointing out that it wasn’t a penalty, by the letter of the rule it was. And on the replay I have you can not see where the Umpire is in relation to the play, so maybe he through it much earlier and it took a while for it to make it into view of the camera. But I am pointing out that it appeared as if it took him a while to decide that was a low tackle – but at least he did get the call right. But consider that it appeared that there was some indecision on the part of the Umpire but clearly he did not think that it was a dirty play or he would have ejected him from the game.


After watching the play in person and countless times on Tivo, I can only conclude that Maloney and Matich’s comments were completely baseless and a touch reckless. It is okay to be a bit upset with the fact that the starting Quarterback got injured during a meaningless game, but unless you have clear proof that someone intended to injury him, don’t go on record claiming that they did. I have seen plenty of cheap shots over the years, and I do not put that play in that category. Unfortunate yes, cheap shot no!


Skins Defense: Titan post-game recap (pre-season)

While it is pre-season and you do not want to rush to any judgments, it is important to see how well individuals or portions of teams are playing.  With that said, it was nice to see the Redskins defense playing as well as they did against the Titans.  Now, this was a Titans offense without Vince Young, but let’s keep in mind that Kerry Collins is not that far removed from being a starter in the league.

Regardless, the defense, in one pre-season game, appeared to be playing closer to their level of 2 years ago.  The combination of London Fletcher, Sean Taylor and LaRon Landry provide for a group of big hitters.  While Sean had a fairly quite game, Fletcher and Landry both laid impressive hits on various Titans.  Even more impressive than that, Fletcher proved to be in the middle of many tackles and demonstrated why the coaching staff went after him so hard in the off season.  Another bright spot was Kedric Golston, who appears to be growing into the starting DT position opposite Cornelius Griffin.

Let me say again that this was the first preseason game and I am not making any long-term predictions, but the defense collectively and some individuals showed that they may have returned to form.  Now, once the offense gets on the same page – and begins keeping Campbell upright – there might be a reason for optimism this season.

Stephon Heyer: Titan pre-season game recap

It appeared that overall Stephon Heyer, an undrafted Rookie free agent tackle with the Redskins had a solid pre-season debut.  Arguably one could say that he had a better debut with the Skins then his line mate Todd Wade.  It would be very interesting to see how Coach Bugel graded each player, but through watching non-game tape Heyer appeared to have a solid game for a rookie making his first start in the NFL at left tackle.

Now while there were times in which backs and tight ends chipped to his side, overall he seemed to perform more than adequately.  There were a couple of occasions that it was tough to tell if he blew an assignment, someone else blew their assignment, or the Titans defense just had the right blitz called at the correct time.  On those two blitzes, it did not appear that he was out of place – blocking someone else’s man for instance.  But, without knowing the exact call and who has what responsibility it is nearly impossible to assign blame – if there is any blame to assign.

In retrospect, it is easy to see why the coaches like this kid.  If anything, I am surprised that no one took a shot on him late in the draft.  There will be plenty of late round draft picks who will get cut over the next couple weeks, and here is a guy who will clearly make the active roster.  It makes you wonder about what all of the teams in the NFL, including the Redskins, didn’t like about this guy to invest a 7th round pick on him (at the least).  If nothing else, his performance demonstrates that scouting is not an exact science – hell one of the Redskins greats Joe Jacoby was an undrafted free agent during a time when there were many more rounds in the draft.  Now, I am not suggesting that Heyer will be a Jacoby, I am pointing out that scouts can and do miss a few talented people.  And sometimes there are a few people whose drive is larger than their talent.

Football is here!

Training camps are opening. It is a wonderful time of the year. Nearly every fan of an NFL team believes, rightfully so, that their team has a chance to make it deep into the playoffs. I tend to be very optimistic when it comes to my favorite team – which is why I do not gamble – I cannot separate my head from my heart when it comes to my favorite teams. As the heat and humidity kick up and the pads thump at training camp, I still am left with a troubling question. When will the Redskins finally wake up and hire a Football man (or woman) to run the team. Maybe after this season, Gibbs will move to the front office full time, but until he does every successful team has had a very competent person running the front office. But as this season gets underway, I will not let that get in the way of my enjoyment of the NFL (and football in general). It feels like it has been an eternity since the last snap. Welcome back, football.