Archive for December, 2009

The Fairweather Fanny has returned from an unapproved hiatus to provide you with his final power rankings of the NFL season. It looks like he thinks that either Indy or San Diego will be playing the Eagles in the Superbowl. As my only interest in this playoffs will be that Dallas and Philadelphia do not win the NFL’s ultimate prize, I certainly hope he is wrong about his NFC prediction. With that being said, I look forward to the Redskins being where Indy is next year at this time.

1. Indianapolis Colts (2): Caldwell relieves pressure of maintaining perfect record

2. San Diego Chargers (3): Will December perfection extend into the playoffs?

3. Philadelphia Eagles (5): Critical game against the Cowboys.

4. New Orleans Saints (1): Playing possum???

5. New England Patriots (9): On a roll going into the playoffs

6. Dallas Cowboys ( ): December jinx over. Can they win a playoff game?

7. Minnesota Vikings (4): Favre/Childress conflict could hurt playoff chances.

8. Cincinnati Bengals (6): Decline due to rise of Dallas & New England.  

9. Green Bay Packers (8): Coming on strong at season’s end.

10. Arizona Cardinals (7): Decline due to rise of Dallas & New England.











Honorable Mention: Denver, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, Houston, Carolina & Baltimore.


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As a long time Georgetown fan and thus one who has been following the Big East since the early 80’s, let me say that I don’t really like how big the conference has become. I accept it as a reality and understand that in addition to thinking about Syracuse, Pitt, UConn and ‘Nova, I have to think about Louisville, Marquette, Cincinnati and West Virginia as well.  That being said, whenever Georgetown does play one of the original 8 schools (there used to be nine before BC bolted), the game always carries a little bit of extra weight in my mind and heart.

So tonight, the real basketball season starts and Georgetown gets to play one of its oldest foes in St. John’s – a team that we have dominated of late and who has had a few rough years, but a foe nonetheless who ripped out our hearts last year by beating us in the 1st round of the Big East tournament in addition to defeating us near the end of the regular season.

The Big East is going to be tough this year as the top five teams – Syracuse, ‘Nova, UConn, WVA and Georgetown will face serious competition from Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, St. John’s, Rutgers and Notre Dame.  Seton Hall and Marquette will be tough and I bet that S. Florida, Providence and Depaul won’t be pushovers.

That being said Georgetown has performed pretty well in the early going having defeated three top 25 teams in Butler, Temple and Washington.  They have only lost once and have played as difficult a schedule as any other Big East team except perhaps UConn.

Their one hiccup came against Old Dominion at home in which Georgetown looked asleep and obviously didn’t take its opponent seriously.  That kind of performance should cause concerns from GU’s fanbase who saw this team go through stretches last year where lack of focus and rebounding intensity cost them many games.

However, I’m gonna predict that this is not the kind of performance we are going to see tonight from the Hoyas. Our starting 5 remembers losing to St. John’s twice last year and should be out for revenge and to make a statement to the rest of the Big East that this will be a different GU team this year.   Based off of what I’ve seen this year so far, I still think Georgetown will finish in the top 3 of the conference and tonight’s game  should provide a good first step forward.

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Where’s the D?

Well now we the Caps have given up 11 goals in two games. This happened earlier in the year when we gave up 10 goals to Carolina and Toronto in back-to-back games, but it’s certainly not the kind of thing I want to get used to. The fact of the matter was that before Monday’s game against Carolina, the Caps had surrendered 2 goals or less in 4 of their last 5 games with the one exception coming in a 3-2 loss at Vancouver. We were playing very good hockey of late.

But, for the second game in a row, the Caps came out in the 1st period lifeless. For the second night in a row, the Caps ended the 1st period down 2-0. Are we still feeling a hangover from the trade? Well, if so, OV, Laich, Bradley, and everyone else, you better get over it, because Chris Clark is not coming back.

It’s always hard to soak up a hockey game when listening on the radio as I was tonight while I continue my vacation in North Carolina visiting my in-laws, but to be honest, the Caps controlled large portions of this game. They were able to keep San Jose’s top line under control and were able to pressure the Sharks fairly well in the Caps offensive zone. Our PK was good and if either of Mike Green’s shots that hit the crossbar had instead hit the back of the net in the 2nd period, the game could have gone differently.

The reality though is that the Caps have not played great hockey the last two games and now have to face a Kings team that is slumping and will be desperate for a win on Saturday afternoon in L.A. I gotta believe the Caps have it in them to rebound, and I don’t want to get too panicky after a couple of losses, but with the change in personnel and the new team dynamic, it would be really great to see us play some good hockey and alleviate some of these doubts that have begun to enter my mind.

By the way, am I the only one around here who can’t wait for Varly to come back?

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The mood was very subdued in the green lot before the game on Sunday night. It’s as if all the Redskins fans were holding their collective breath while we hoped for the best, but feared the worst.

The night got off to a rough start as my old man was ticked off that the folks at Fedex didn’t think he looked old or injured enough to allow him to use the elevator to get up to section 449. (They had allowed him to use the elevator after the Giants game after he had injured his foot in the now infamous fall through the sewer grate. One more note: the folks at Fedex had placed a hermetic seal on top of the hole through which my father fell. The metal used for this impressive seal appeared to be made of the same kind of metal used to build American tanks).

The stadium was packed mostly with Redskins fans. As my old man pointed out, it’s nuts to see how many Redskins fans were there to support a 4-10 team, soon to be 4-11. As I have said before, this team has a lot of weaknesses, but an eroding fan-base does not seem to be one of them. There were more Dallas fans than I felt comfortable with (although even one makes me uncomfortable), and much more than any time since Gibbs returned in 2004.

Let me take a quick time out to talk about these Dallas fans. I know this may seem outdated, but to me sports is about where you are from, it’s about being part of a community and being proud of being from someplace. To me, supporting your home team is supporting your hometown and supporting who you are as a person. This may seem old-fashioned and simplistic, but this is how I see it.

Now I know some people, Gay for Jay namely, who have mixed allegiances, but they are not Dallas fans growing up in D.C. How someone, like the guy I met in front of me in the concession line at halftime on Sunday night, who is my age and born and raised in Reston, VA can swear allegiance to the ‘Skins arch-enemy in the Cowboys is mind-boggling. What will he do if Dallas ever wins a Superbowl again? Pop the bubbly with 15 of his fellow Cowboys fans in someone’s home and walk around the next day with a smile on his face rubbing it in the faces of all the people he grew up with and lives with in the same community. It just doesn’t make any sense.

By the way, my old man despises this group of people. On the way out of the stadium on Sunday night, as we were walking with our heads low, a young lady, who could not have been more than 19 years old, who was a Dallas fan, had the nerve to go up to my old man in his face and say “Ha, ha, you’re leaving your own damn stadium that we took over”. My old man responded by taking his right hand, brushing past her and left her with a firm “F#@! you”.

Now I’m sure that my old man is not thrilled that I am reporting this, but I feel like this is how misguided all these people are. I have no proof, but this young lady did not speak with a southern accent that could have indicated that she was from Dallas originally and was a transplant here to the D.C. area. (I don’t love these kind of Cowboy fans, but I respect them). My guess is that she is from this area. She was proud that she took over our stadium, but the stupidity is that it is her stadium as much as it is ours. It is the football stadium in her hometown where her hometown team plays yet she chooses to support another team that hasn’t won a playoff game in her living memory, but is just a fashionable thing to do.

Alright, I will stop talking about this.

The first fight in a long time to take place in section 449 occurred on Sunday. It was a pretty bad one started by a Dallas fan who was talking trash to many a disgruntled Redskin fan. THe two combatants actually tumbled three rows down during the course of the altercation. The Dallas fan tried to escape notice as he attempted to sneak out of the section after the fight had ended. However, none of the Redskins fans let him escape and he was quickly escorted out by security. I don’t know if the Redskins fan was ever sent out or reprimanded. Redskins fans are not the fighting type, but they will rise up against another fan trying to humiliate us. The whole incident was another ugly scene on an otherwise unseemly evening of football for D.C.

The ‘Skins defense did not play aggressively against the pass on Sunday night. Did anyone else notice that it seemed like the ‘Skins were content to rush 4 against Romo almost every snap?

Our safeties continue to play 30 yards off the line of scrimmage on 3rd and short and play closer to the line on 1st down. I don’t get it. I’m sure Blache does not want to get burned on a big play, but on 3rd and short, why don’t you even try to play a defense against the Cowboys, who are very good at getting their backs and tight ends into space, that would prevent them from picking up third and short so easily.

The only time the ‘Skins dominated the line of scrimmage was on short-yardage situations where either due to stupidity or too much hubris, the Cowboys ran straight up the gut and got stuffed. The interior of our defensive line has become a strength and I feel like even if Griffin is gone next year, Haynesworth, Golston and Alexander will continue to fortify the center of our line.

The last two games have seen our linebackers and safeties get repeatedly burned by good tight ends. This used to be a strength of ours, but from section 449, you could see either because of technique, scheme or speed, all three of our linebackers as well as Laron Landry had trouble keeping up with Jason Witten. He was wide open a lot, to the point that on several big 3rd downs throughout the game, while the crowd was screaming at a fevered pitch trying to throw off the Cowboys’ offense, you could hear a groan as soon as the play started because we would see Bennett or Witten break into the clear very quickly. This will definitely need to be addressed going forward as this division has a lot of good tight ends.

Our offense, as everyone knows, was pathetic. The offensive line was over-matched and it did not seem like Campbell did much of anything to audible out of the formations. That being said, Campbell got hammered worse on Sunday night than I have seen all season and that is saying a lot. The man has guts and while he is flawed as a quarterback, I think his toughness and willingness to take a beating for the team is something that can serve as a source of inspiration for future teams.

Sunday night was the first time I have truly seen Casey Rabach over-matched. I know we have needs at our two tackles and our right guard, but I wonder what the plan is for center. Get one more year out of Rabach? Try out Edwin Williams or Will Montgomery at center?

From section 449, you can see that Malcolm Kelly is not nearly as fast as Devin Thomas and seems to have a hard time getting separation on longer pass patterns. His strength on short plays is evident though and I think he should be the object of more crossing patterns than fly patterns next year. Santana Moss played a lot in the slot in Sunday. Is it possible that this is the role Bruce Allen has in mind for #89 next year? If so, I’m all for it. It was impossible on Sunday night for any nickel corner to keep up with Moss and he is very good at finding the spaces in between zone defenses.

Overall, there were a lot of Redskins fans whose heads were in their hands for big chunks of the night. Indeed, this analysis of what we see from section 449 has deteriorated in the last couple of weeks due to the humiliating and disturbing nature of both losses to the Cowboys and Giants. All we can use to hold our heads high is that the next time we go to Fedex, the sun will be shining and the weather will be warm. There will be hope in the air and lots of people predicting 8-8 or 7-9 seasons for this team. For a little Icarus like me, for whom 8-8 was not lofty enough, I reached for 11-5 only to come crashing down into the these new found depths. Maybe next year, I’ll be a little wiser.

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Pull the plug on this raga

Secretly in my heart, throughout this extremely disappointing beginning to the Wizards season, I have repeated to myself, almost like a secret unfulfilled prophesy, that the Wiz will turn this around. The Big 3 will actually become ‘Big’. Our role players and young guys like Young, Foye, Haywood, Blatche and McGuire will slowly blend into the glue that makes good teams great. There were other parts to this hypnotic, delusional raga, but I won’t get into them.

Last night, as I listened on the radio to the Wiz, long-distance from North Carolina, the music to my raga stopped. My feelings of future grandeur went silent. Gay for Jay’s incessant insistence, that Jamison and Arenas are losing players who will never guide us anywhere, began to gain resonance in the empty spaces of my mind. I now realize that the Wizards will not do anything great this year.

As I listened to the radio description of Durant, Westbrook and Green, a trio of talented, but young players dismantle our “Big 3” and its supporting cast on our home floor during a 4th quarter when the Wiz should have been playing like a desperate team trying to turn our season around, I realized that I have to adapt a new approach to this season.

I can no longer sit down and watch each game waiting for this to be the one game that turns it around, but rather sit and decipher through the depressing mess, like I did last year, what hope there may be for the future.

At least Flip Saunders gets it. At least he apologized to all the fans who have raised their hopes on this team which promised so much when the “Big 3” got healthy. I’m sure there are many people like me who bought many pairs of tickets for the Wizards this year anticipating that our boys would be competing in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference.

Now look at how this season has gone: We started 2-1; then we fell to 3-9; then all of a sudden, we were 7-10 and we thought we were going places; after a few wretched endings to games and a west coast trip, we were 8-17; then some hope was rekindled again as we got to 10-17 with three winnable games on the horizon; now after three terrible losses, two of which featured absolutely abysmal 4th quarters, we are now 10-20.

Each time I, and perhaps others, think we are turning a corner, we find a way to fall deeper below .500.

The “Big 3” used to be a hungry bunch ready to prove themselves every night and take it to the big boys of the league. No one respected the Wizards and we played like it; for a brief 4 months, in the 2006-2007 season, we played like a team on the rise, energetic, hungry and with a chip on our shoulder.

This is not the same “Big 3”. I like the way Arenas is talking. He realizes the Wizards stink. Jamison seems to realize that the teams stinks. Sometimes I think Butler doesn’t get it. I don’t know why. Haywood gets it, but doesn’t have enough skill alone to turn the whole thing around. Blache seems hungry, maybe he needs to start. However, whether they get it or not, the fact is that nothing is changing and things are getting worse.

I like what Saunders said last night. He is pissed, not defeated. Maybe he will rock the boat and bench some guys like he did in the 3rd quarter against the 76ers last week. Except maybe this team, he will take away serious starting minutes from guys like Jamison, Butler and Arenas. Something has got to change otherwise this will turn out to be one of the most disappointing season I have ever witnessed from this franchise. When you’re talking about the Bullets/Wizards, that alone says a lot.

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Catching up with the Caps

So last week was a great week for the Caps. I had the pleasure, along with my lovely wife, of soaking up live the Caps 5-2 energizing victory over the Sabres. Then, on Saturday night, I kicked back with my Ryan from section 449, and watched the Caps throttle the Devils. So after I woke up yesterday licking my wounds after yet another humiliating loss at Fedex (more to come on this later in my tidbits from section 449), I woke up feeling happy about our beloved Caps being on top of the NHL again and clicking on all cylinders.

Now, ironically enough, while me and Ryan were watching the Caps overwhelm the Devils, I mentioned to him, after we heard of Semin re-signing with the Caps for another year, that I wouldn’t be surprised if the Caps got rid of Chris Clark and John Erskine next year.

I never imagined however that Clark would be gone this year. Plus Jurcina…..for some guy I have never heard of from Columbus.

Now the fact that I have never heard of Jason Chimera means nothing and I have gone on record saying that I will stop doubting anything that the Caps do in terms of player selection and strategy. However, moving our captain mid-season and a young defensemen for a 30 year-old grinder has seemed to raise some eyebrows.

Of course, these eyebrows were all raised a little higher when the Caps got blown out last night at home by the pitiful Carolina Hurricanes. This could have just been a letdown after playing very well against two excellent teams in Buffalo and New Jersey.

However, the skeptic could say that the shock of not having the team captain effected the play of the whole team. Now, from what I have read, Chimera on the whole does seem a better fit for Clark’s spot on the 3rd line since he is a left-handed shot and will play the left wing vacated by the right-handed Chris Clark. We shall see, but the loss last night certainly stings my fractured psyche and perhaps those of my fellow down-trodden, D.C. sports fans.

I know we have a lot of good young defensemen and it would surprise me if the Caps did not originally try to move Erskine in this deal, but the fact that they cleared up more cap space and also will not have to pay Jurcina next year, who will undoubtedly earn a big pay raise through free-agnecy, may mean that the Caps are trying to ensure that they have enough space to re-sign Backstrom to a long-term deal, not just the one year contract they signed with Semin.

Or, will they try to use all of their new found cap-space and try to get a front-line defense-man in anticipation of the playoffs.

Now during all of this excitement, the Caps find themselves with a disgruntled goalie in Jose Theodore who did not help his case last night against the Hurricanes. Neuvirth has been playing well and Varlamov was great before he got hurt. I really think that the Caps know what they’re doing with this though. It’s good to give Neuvirth a few games in a row because Theodore won’t be here next year and we will need Neuvirth and Varlamov to share the load for 82 games. That being said, Theodore will be needed again this year and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Boudreau play Jose both against the Sharks and the Kings this week on the road.

If we can split these games, I would be happy. My prediction, maybe because of my aforementioned fractured psyche, is that we will capture only two points before we return home to D.C. and play three very winnable games next week.

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For those of you who were interested in reading my pre and post-game assessments of the Cowboys game, I am sorry that I went missing without notice. Xmas, some nice time with the family and a sick daughter, have kept me away.

While it made lots of sense to expect that the Redskins would lose the game against the Cowboys on Sunday night, as a season-ticket holder, the prospect of going 3-5 at home, and most importantly losing all of our home division games, was a source of considerable dismay for me, my old man, my buddy Ryan and the other denizens of section 449. That being said, the Redskins put out a stronger effort on Sunday night against the Cowboys than they did against the Giants. However, considering what the effort was like against the Giants, that’s not saying much.

The result was 17-0 in rather humiliating fashion.

On offense, for every good pass that Campbell made, he made a bad throw either due to inaccuracy or more often so because of intense pressure applied by the Cowboys. The offensive game plan the last two weeks has been deeply lacking. One trend that happened in both games was every time the Redskins vacated the backfield before the snap, the Cowboys and Giants over-loaded the offensive line and blitzed. Our weak offensive line was not able to handle the extra blitzing man. The Cowboys then sent a linebacker to cover the back coming out of the backfield, thus eliminating Campbell’s primary “hot read” and thus blowing up the play.

On Sunday night, our receivers were able to get open with some consistency, but Campbell was not able to pick them up quickly enough. Our running game, as Walton astutely diagnosed, is pathetic. The offense returned to its early-season form.

The defense played hard and essentially gave up 10 points to the Cowboys. Although, the argument could have been made that we could have held the Cowboys to a field goal after the interception thrown by Campbell on the game’s opening drive.

I agree with Walton’s assessment of Haynesworth. He played very well on Sunday and frankly the greatest strength of our team is our defensive front seven. Why not let them make the plays rather than relying on our ineffective cornerbacks and undisciplined safeties? The Redskins have had a very strong defense here recently, but it seems like the schemes they run need to change with the additions of Orakpo and big #92 on the defensive line.

The way that Blache plays his safeties is maddening. On two different 3rd and 1 plays in the 3rd quarter, Blache lined up Landry and Moore 30 yards from the line of scrimmage while the Cowboys lined up and threw a quick 1-yard out which could have been stopped if the safeties were playing more aggressively. That being said, Kareem Moore continued to get a lot of snaps at free-safety and it wouldn’t surprise me that with all the needs this team has on offense if Kareem Moore is our starting free-safety next year and Landry our starting strong safety. With Smoot likely gone next year, Horton and Doughty will be the backups.

This year has been a perfect year for anyone who hates the Redskins and Redskins fans. So many things have gone wrong. There have been so many times where we have been crushed, kicked in the gut and, in the last two weeks, humiliated. Thus it seemed fitting that the last score we witnessed from section 449 in this terrible, terrible year was Shaun Suisham kicking a 23-yard field goal in the exact same endzone and from the exact same distance as he attempted and missed just three weeks before against the Saints – a game which I foolishly called “the final indignity”.

Now to top it all off, we will play Norv Turner this week who is coaching a Super Bowl caliber team in San Diego and who no doubt will take great joy in spitting on the grave of the 2009 Redskins season.

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