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Redskins @ Eagles – Second Quarter Thoughts

Posted by Matt Terl on October 5, 2008 – 2:34 pm

  • The eerie sense that some of the problems that plagued the team early on have returned is magnified as Carlos Rogers drops what looked like a sure interception, and the subsequent punt gets downed inside the five yard line. Spoooooky.
  • The running game is gaining five yards a carry; the passing game is still having some trouble clicking. This is demonstrated clearly as Jason Campbell is sacked for a loss of nine while I’m typing.
  • Devin Thomas makes a good move and a crucial third down catch on a nice timing route. Since their rookie wideout has a couple of catches and a punt return, it’s doubly good to see Thomas getting involved.
  • I mentioned during a previous game that the I no longer got the feeling that the Redskins were out of it as soon as they got behind, that there was a much stronger sense of resiliance about this team than there seemed to have been in recent years. Similarly, I’ve become much more comfortable when Shaun Shuisham comes in for a field goal, even a 48 yarder as here – and, again, he drives it through.
  • And, of course, as soon as I type that, Suisham puts a kick out of bounds at the worst possible time. You would think, after all these years of rooting for football games, I would know better than to do something like that.
  • The best thing about that drive wasn’t even the points, I don’t think – it was the eight-plus minutes of rest it got the defense. Okay, probably not MORE important than the points, almost as important.
  • Whether I’m right in my assessment of the defense’s rest levels or not, they manage to force Philadelphia into a three and out, making that out-of-bounds kickoff seem much less important.
  • I have never been as tense for a regular season, non-game-ending kick as I was for Suisham’s fifty yarder there, rereading my idiotically jinxy comments as he lined up to put it through. Seriously, remind me never to write anything like that again.

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Redskins @ Eagles – Eagles Fans Sort of Live Up To The Hype

Posted by Matt Terl on October 5, 2008 – 2:15 pm

Yes, there were eggs. The bus ahead of me got hit – defensive coordinator Greg Blache reportedly didn’t even flinch when the window next to him got splattered – but the throws at my bus all missed. This was nice from a not-getting-hit-with-eggs perspective, but disappointing from a photo op perspective. (They were impressive throws, though: the buses were on an elevated highway, and the fans were tossing the eggs from the parking lot below with some serious velocity at a moving target.)

As promised, even the youngest of the fans helps to give the buses the finger as we drive by, whole families gathered to spend some pregame quality time flipping off a few vehicles.

And also as promised, the fans come prepared with very specific material to shout at the players during warmups. Chris Cooley, Rock Cartwright, and Colt Brennan were coming under fire as I walked by; they were doing their best to ignore it, but Chris Samuels gave back a little bit, shouting “Is this brotherly love?”

The most striking thing about the fans, though, wasn’t WHAT they were yelling, but how often they would repeat the exact same phrase, with minor alterations to syntax and word order. My notes from one guy’s taunts of Cooley:

“Hey, Cooley, keep your boxers on next time! Keep your boxers on, Cooley! Tell Cooley to keep his drawers on! Cooley! Boxers! Cooley, wear some pants! Hey, Cooley! You forgot your boxers!” And so on. At some point, it moved from menacing to annoying, and from there it was a short trip to amusing.

Just about everyone on the staff has warned me to be aware, keep my head on a swivel, pay attention, stay prepared, all that good stuff, and I certainly will. So far, though, the main danger seems to stem from having variations on the same phrase repeated at me until I get too bored to resist.

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Redskins @ Eagles – First Quarter Thoughts

Posted by Matt Terl on October 5, 2008 – 1:45 pm

  • Reed Doughty gets the start, at least technically, as the Redskins open in their three safety “Cobra” formation. It’s a nice compromise that makes everyone happy. Chris Horton looks good again, making an ankle tackle to stop a reverse to the incredibly fast DeSean Jackson.
  • The soundproofing in this press box is the most effective I’ve encountered since the Meadowlands (more effective, actually, since we’re closer to the field here), which makes it all the more impressive when the fans manage to overpower it. So far, that’s been for a replay of Rocky McIntosh defending a pass against L.J. Smith in the end zone (they seem to be of the opinion that he wasn’t actually looking at the ball), and for Brian Westbrook’s touchdown run. The Eagles certainly seemed to be doing whatever they wanted on that drive; it’ll be interesting to see what adjustments the Skins make.
  • The “Fly Eagles Fly” song sounds like it would play underneath the safety video at the start of an airplane flight.
  • A three-and-out for Washington followed by a punt return for a touchdown … not an auspicious start to this game, to say the least. This has much more of the feel of the Giants game than the three wins. Still plenty of time left, though.
  • “Fly Eagles Fly” does not improve with repetition. Just another reason I would like to not hear that song anymore.
  • The Redskins are having real trouble passing the ball, although the running game looks somewhat effective. Jason Campbell is getting knocked around solidly, and these look like the kind of hits that take their toll over the course of the game.
  • Giving up these third down conversions is disheartening; the Eagles went 4 for their first 4 on third down. A couple of nice tackles by London Fletcher and a missed pass by Donovan McNabb force the field goal attempt.
  • THAT, for the record, is what a missed field goal looks like. If the Skins can muster a drive after that, the momentum might start to swing a bit. It’s a quiet Redskins side of the press box right now, though – even quieter than usual.

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Redskins @ Eagles – First Impressions of the Linc

Posted by Matt Terl on October 5, 2008 – 12:31 pm

Lincoln Financial Field is the nicest stadium I’ve traveled to so far. The previous contender was Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, but this is much more impressive. Not only is everything new, not only is the press box cafeteria stocked with local favorites (Tastykakes, pretzels, cannolis), but everything is labeled. Directions to the press box, directions to the field, the various locker rooms – even the Instant Replay Bike Rack is clearly and carefully marked.

I don’t have any particular use for the Instant Replay Bike Rack, but the people who do should have no problem identifying it. I do have use for the press box, as that’s where I’m currently sitting, and it’s nice to be able to locate it without too much wandering.

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Redskins @ Eagles – Inactives

Posted by Matt Terl on October 5, 2008 – 12:01 pm

Having an assortment of technical difficulties as the moment, but the Lincoln Field staff is being great at working to resolve them, so hopefully we’ll be up and running shortly.

Redskins inactives:
5 QB Colt Brennan (emergency third QB)
24 CB Shawn Springs
32 S Justin Hamilton
53 LB Marcus Washington
55 DE Jason Taylor
74 OT Stephon Heyer
75 OL Chad Rinehart
98 DE Rob Jackson

Smoot starts in place of Springs, H.B. Blades in place of Washington, and Jon Jansen in place of Heyer.

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Sunday, October 5: Gameday, Redskins @ Eagles – A Flashback

Posted by Matt Terl on October 5, 2008 – 8:29 am

After we got to Philadelphia yesterday, I walked over to Reading Terminal Market – not to plumb the mind of the average Philly fan, not to see what the read the buzz on the streets of the city, nothing like that at all. I just went because I was hungry, and I had heard that the Market had a bunch of different food options, and was a pretty neat place to boot. Both of these things turned out to be true, and I got to hear a whole bunch of conversations about today’s game as a special bonus.

Most of the chatter revolved around the fact that the Redskins were apparently staying in a nearby hotel (true), and that their buses had blocked traffic when they arrived (true), and that this somehow reflected some level of contempt for the average Philadelphian and his need to commute (emphatically not true). I overheard a rumor that one of the Redskins coaches had said in the elevator that they had brought body bags for the Eagles. (I cannot verify this, of course, but I can’t imagine any of our coaches doing that in this situation, and I have a suspicion that this person was muddling an eighteen year old story.) A few people opined on the differences between FedExField and RFK Stadium, which seemed irrelevant to today’s game in Philly, but was still amusing to hear.

The most interesting thing I heard, though, was a story I had never heard before. A woman waiting in line for a cheesesteak at Rick’s held forth on the game between the Redskins and Eagles on December 7, 1941, the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and I found myself scribbling down notes as she talked.

According to her rendition, the game started before the attack. Fans in the stands and players on the field were unaware that the bombing had happened, the game went on as planned, and the Redskins went into the half with a large lead. At halftime, though, the teams were notified of the attack, and many players were called to active duty on the spot, including both the first and second string quarterbacks for Washington. As a result, the Eagles rallied to win behind an enormous second half.

This, I thought, was a terrific story, and it certainly put the lie to my idea that the Eagles/Redskins rivalry was only about the fans. In fact, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t heard this story before, so I headed back to my hotel room to look it up.

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Friday Redskins Links – 10/3

Posted by Matt Terl on October 3, 2008 – 4:48 pm

  • On the bus to the airport last week, Chris Cooley was explaining to someone that the BBC had been after him for an interview. “I’m HUGE in London,” Cooley said. He delivered the line sarcastically, a riff on the good ol’ “big in Japan” and the like … but it appears to also be true. And, according to the BBC, the Redskins are Super Bowl contenders, which is nice. The picture above is Cooley during the interview, on the phone at the desk of head PR guy Zack Bolno. It also provides a chilling view of what the offices of Redskins Park will look like when Cooley completes his inevitable takeover.
  • An interesting article on the similar career paths of Jim Zorn and Andy Reid in the Philadelphia Inquirer makes me wonder why almost no one took this approach when Zorn was hired. Hm. (And a hat tip to Mark Newgent at the Redskins Examiner, who already got up a link to this.)
  • I mentioned Jim Zorn dribbling the ball before the game, and I’ll do my best to get some video of that. Until then, though, Dan Steinberg at the DC Sports Bog runs through some of Zorn’s other wacky ex-QB tricks. Zorn is just a non-stop fountain of interesting material, really – plus he’s winning, which doesn’t hurt.
  • And totally non-Redskins, but exciting news to the long-gone ten-year-old-me, the game formerly known as Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! is coming for Wii, and First Cuts has a trailer and screenshots. Shameful admission: I never, ever beat Mike Tyson. Never. Now maybe I’ll get another chance.

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Nice Work With the Voting: Zorn, Horton Win Awards

Posted by Matt Terl on October 3, 2008 – 4:38 pm

That gentleman above this paragraph? That’s the Motorola Coach of the Week for last week. Congratulations to Coach Zorn; I emphatically recommend that you celebrate by watching NFL.com’s three minute tribute to the hip-hip-hooray, to Jim Zorn, and to George Allen. You won’t regret it.

Also, Chris Horton was named the Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Week. I am going to avoid making the by-now-obvious reference to Randy Thomas telling Horton that, I dunno, he gets all the Diet Pepsi he can drink for the rest of his life as part of this. It speaks well of the rookie that he’s already won enough awards to start completely burning out jokes about them.

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Portrait of the Captains as Young Men, or Gangsters, or Maybe Deacons

Posted by Matt Terl on October 3, 2008 – 3:37 pm

These are the captains of your Washington Redskins, serious-faced and well-dressed, in a portrait by team photographer Ned Dishman that now hangs outside the locker room. From left to right, it’s Rock Cartwright and Khary Campbell (special teams), Chris Samuels and Jason Campbell (offense), and Cornelius Griffin and London Fletcher (defense).

“I think Coach Zorn’s reasoning was just to show the presence of our leadership around here,” says Fletcher. “He didn’t want us to do just a normal picture – he wanted to show our presence and our seriousness, show how seriously the captainship is taken around here, and how serious he also takes his captains.”

And did it work? “You’re gonna get your jokes from some guys,” Fletcher says, shrugging, “but I think when most guys saw the picture, they wished they were in it.”

Fletcher might be some kind of a prophet: I ask Clinton Portis what he thinks of the picture, and he laughs. “I think it’s missing me.”

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On the Field for Practice – 10/3

Posted by Matt Terl on October 3, 2008 – 12:36 pm

Friday, so lots of special teams work, lots of installing the goal line and red zone offenses for this week, and lots of Coach Zorn saying things like “It’s NOT a walkthrough! Put a little hop in your step!”

  • Game balls from last week were given at the end of practice. Clinton Portis for the offense, Shawn Springs for the defense, and Shaun Suisham for special teams. So I guess it’s safe to say they’re still counting that field goal as good.
  • London Fletcher had a fantastic day of practice, batting down multiple balls in both goal line and red zone, and stuffing the run in the backfield on at least one goal line play. Quietly, Fletcher is having a very, very good season.
  • Practice squadder Horace Gant made a one-handed grab downfield over Carlos Rogers, which led to a few plays worth of friendly jawing. Fred Smoot also made a nice one-handed interception down at the ground; coincidentally or not, the cornerbacks are catching the ball much better ever since that day of extra drills.
  • Same play as Smoot’s interception, Colt Brennan did a heckuva Donovan McNabb impersonation leading the scout team, scrambling to his right away from pressure and then turning and throwing the ball the whole way across the field to where Smoot intercepted it. I certainly hope the interception is an accurate part of the impersonation as well, not just the evasiveness.
  • Fred Davis had a couple of nice catches and looked good in the open field. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do in a game situation at some point.
  • Zorn injury updates! It’s “not looking good” for either Stephon Heyer or Jason Taylor, although he wasn’t ruling either of them completely out. He did rule out Malcolm Kelly, although more for understanding the offense than for injury. “What he has done,” Zorn said of Kelly, “he’s been able to go full speed.” Shawn Springs is a question mark, with Zorn noting that he’d consider playing him without the practice reps, and Marcus Washington is another gametime decision – one that Zorn expects to be a go.

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