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More Questions With Vinny Cerrato

Posted by Matt Terl on December 31, 2008 – 3:19 pm

Vinny Cerrato’s office is remarkable. All the walls are whiteboard, covered with the rosters of every team in the league. Each player is color-coded, with detailed notes, and it’s all sorted by position. It’s one of those things where the scale of it all defies description, but for sensory overload, it’s sort of like the interior design version of the ESPNHD screen during NFL draft coverage.

Anyhow, I was able to stop staring at the walls for long enough to ask Cerrato just a few more questions after his address to the media today.

The New England Patriots get a lot of press for great decisions. From your perspective, why do their decisions seem so strong?

“Tom Brady.” [He laughs.]

That certainly helps. Following on Tom Brady, then, let me ask you about Jason Campbell. It’s a year to year thing with him?

“We just evaluate him as we go.”

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A Few New Year's Eve Scheduling Notes

Posted by Matt Terl on December 31, 2008 – 2:21 pm

With 2009 kicking off tomorrow, I just wanted to provide a quick update on the schedule for the blog over the next few days.

  • Tomorrow, New Year’s Day, is a genuine day off, with no updates unless something dramatic happens.
  • Friday will be a light day, probably only a post or two (again, unless something dramatic happens).
  • And then I’ll be back Monday, to properly begin the offseason incarnation of the blog.

I’d also like to wish all of you a happy, healthy, and safe New Year’s Eve. Thanks for taking the time this season to read this, to write to me, and to comment here. Here’s to a better 2009 season, and hail to the Redskins. Read more »

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Wednesday, December 31: Vinny Cerrato Addresses The Media

Posted by Matt Terl on December 31, 2008 – 12:59 pm

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone.

2008 (the year) is wrapping up right alongside 2008 (the Redskins season), so today Executive Vice President/Football Operations Vinny Cerrato took a few minutes to address the assembled media about what’s gone on. I’m hoping to catch up with him a little later on to ask a few more questions, but here’s my full transcript of his general media session. Enjoy.

On whether there will be major changes to the coaching staff and roster this offseason:

“I think the coaching staff is up to Jim [Zorn]. Right now, we are in an evaluation process of the team, how we need to improve and what we need to do to get better than 8-8. I feel bad for the fans that we finished 8-8.

“The thing that we need to look at is how do we get better at home. You’ve gotta take care of the home field. We were 4-4 at FedEx. We have outstanding fans and great fan support there, so we have go to be better at home. To get into the playoffs, usually 6-2 and home and 4-4 on the road will get you in. 4-4 at home is not good enough.”

On what he believes the team’s biggest need is:

“I don’t know until we get through everything. You have to evaluate everything and it takes a while. It’s just been a couple of days and there are a lot of things that you need to look at, evaluate and then you want to put it all together before you make assumptions.”

On whether he thinks the team needs to get younger:

“I think we’ll look at everything and address everything while going through the personnel and evaluating. Let me just tell you what the schedule is – the coaches are off next week, but the scouts will be meeting and evaluating. The following week is the East-West [Shrine Game]. The following week after that is the Senior Bowl.

“On the 15th of January we’ll get together, all the personnel people, all the scouts, the trainers, the doctors. We all sit in a room and talk about every player, what he needs to do to get better, is there anything medical-wise. Any question that there is to ask will be done at that time. Everybody will have a chance to evaluate and get a good evaluation of each guy and what we need to do with each person.”

Read more »

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Tuesday, December 30: An Interesting Point

Posted by Matt Terl on December 30, 2008 – 9:59 am

Sunday’s game was a frustrating one. At points, the Redskins looked like the team from the first half of the season. Jason Campbell was making better decisions and excellent throws (even if his receivers weren’t actually catching those throws). The defense came up with a turnover, and even Shaun Suisham seemed to have reverted to early-season form.

And then there was the other half of the game — the miscues, the defensive lapses, and the final breakdown that led to the loss. I’m not the first to observe that this game, in fact, was the season in microcosm. But Rich Tandler makes an observation that I had missed, one that may well have cost the Skins the chance to at least take the game to overtime.

I’ll let Rich explain: Read more »

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Jim Zorn Speaks Well of Colt Brennan, Not As Well As Some Would Like

Posted by Matt Terl on December 29, 2008 – 4:35 pm

Am I just shamelessly pandering at this point? Probably. But two of the major subjects Jim Zorn covered in today’s end-of-season press conference were Jason Campbell‘s development and the quality of the rookie class. And those two subjects converge in the person of Colt Brennan, rookie quarterback and presumptive backup to Campbell.

There have been commenters on this blog who have advocated elevating Brennan to the starting position, often suggesting that such a move should take place immediately. Those people, according to Zorn’s projections today, are in for a bit of a wait.
Read more »

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Next Year's Opponents

Posted by Matt Terl on December 29, 2008 – 3:14 pm

With the end of the regular season, the final two opponents for next year have been selected. The breakdown of home and away matchups for next year:

Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs

Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers

So if you missed the Saints or the Rams at FedExField this year, consider this your second chance. Hopefully not with the same result, at least in the Rams game. Read more »

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Fred Smoot Wins Cooley's Fantasy League

Posted by Matt Terl on December 29, 2008 – 2:29 pm

It’s amazing how quickly the end-of-season stuff wraps up. It’s very last-day-of-high-school, where you want to tell your friends that you’ll miss them, sign the yearbooks, BFF, 2 cool 2 be 4gotten, all that good stuff … but you also want to get away from school and into the summer as quickly as humanly possible.

Today’s schedule went something like this: a frenzied open locker room around 9:25, during which exhausted media members tried to get as much material as possible from exhausted players, while an exhausted PR staff looked on. At 10:00, there was a full team meeting, followed by individual position group meetings. Those meetings combined lasted until 10:30 or so, and then people started throwing stuff into trash bags and leaving.

Meanwhile, guys are trying to get autographs from one another for gifts, they’re catching up on last business and making plans for upcoming roadtrips, getting gear back from one another before they vanish. Stuff like that.

Perhaps the most entertaining piece of business conducted today was Chris Cooley‘s presentation to Fred Smoot of the trophy from their fantasy league.

With Colt Brennan filming the event for posterity, Cooley grudgingly gave Smoot the trophy, which Smoot accepted with characteristic exuberance.

“This is mine,” Smoot said. “I totally deserve this, and if it weren’t for me, I wouldn’t have this.”

“Hey,” Cooley asked, “what running back did you start in the championship game?”

“Doesn’t matter. We won.”

Fortunately, the video of the entire trophy presentation, along with Cooley’s post-fantasy-season reflections, is (back) up on Cooley’s website. It’s worth watching, and it gives a pretty good sense of the atmosphere around here today. Read more »

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Lucky Number 13

Posted by Matt Terl on December 29, 2008 – 12:56 pm

Start your official mock draft engines now!

The Redskins will be selecting with the 13th pick in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft, because they had the second weakest strength of schedule of the five teams tied with identical 8-8 records.

After the jump, the whole tentative first round list, subject to change based on performances in the playoffs. Playoff teams are marked with an asterisk. Read more »

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Monday, December 29: Jason Taylor Symmetry And Showtunes

Posted by Matt Terl on December 29, 2008 – 12:00 pm

A little over five months ago, I was one of three guys from the Redskins who went to pick Jason Taylor up at the airport. This was a scintillating experience that earned me an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with his luggage, a story that I’ve told before. That was my second day on this job, and the trip to the airport was the first really unusual thing I was able to do away from Redskins Park itself.

Seeing Taylor mobbed by media in front of the facility as he was leaving today to head to his offseason plans felt like a bookend to that earlier anecdote, which had ended with me sitting in my car with Taylor’s luggage, watching him push through the media throng to get inside.

Today, Taylor’s answers about his future were predictably vague. “I don’t know. I really couldn’t answer you,” he told the media. “I haven’t talked to Vinny or Dan or Coach Zorn about it. Again, the season ended twelve hours ago, and there’s questions that need to be answered at this point. I know everybody wants answers from not only myself but all the people on this team and what we’re going to do in the draft and all that crap. But nobody has answers yet; there’s a lot of time between now and then.”

Questions about dancing were kept to an absolutely minimum — none of them that I can overhear — but Taylor did manage to work some Andrew Lloyd Weber into the answer to a question about his injury, which seemed close enough. “I felt pretty good back when I got off the plane in July, and I feel pretty good now. It was a tough year, but I’m not the first person to go through this, so don’t cry for me, Argentina.”

After the jump, then, is the video of him getting off that plane and feeling pretty good, a video taken on a day long enough ago that the site I originally hosted the video on has disappeared completely. And here’s a lively cover of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, if you want to play it in the background while you watch.

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Redskins @ 49ers – Fourth Quarter Thoughts

Posted by Matt Terl on December 28, 2008 – 7:18 pm

  • As the third quarter ended, it looked like the story of that drive was going to be a very brief Chris Cooley redemption story. After dropping a pass on first down, Cooley came through on third and 10 to pick up the first down and end the half. Everything looked groovy. But with the start of the fourth quarter, the narrative changed to A Series of Inexplicable Drops, by Santana Moss. The first one, on second down, was defensible, but the third down drop was completely bizarre, and not like anything I remember seeing from Moss before.

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