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Redskins @ 49ers – Third Quarter Thoughts

Posted by Matt Terl on December 28, 2008 – 6:23 pm

  • Do you know what’s nice about the start of this third quarter? The Redskins receive the ball. It’s barely happened at all this year, because Zorn generally elects to receive if he wins the toss, and most other teams have been deferring their decision to the second half when they win the toss. In both those situations, the Skins start the game with the ball, which has rarely worked out particularly well, and start the second half on defense. I vastly prefer it this way.
  • Jason Campbell, flushed out of the pocket, actually throws the ball away rather than rolling out of bounds for a loss. Although it should be common sense, that’s very good to see. If this game isn’t going to mean anything — and it’s safe to say that it isn’t — and if it isn’t going to be a showcase for the rookies — and that’s not happening either — at least the guys who are playing can show that they’ve learned from some of the earlier missteps.
  • A Clinton Portis fumble manages to simultaneously negate any benefit of receiving the second half kickoff, kill my optimistic enthusiasm, and lead to a 49ers touchdown drive. That would pretty much be the dictionary definition of a momentum changing play.
  • As would the Jason Campbell sack for a thirteen yard loss that starts the subsequent Washington possession. If there is an exact polar opposite of “not letting them back into it,” it’s what the Skins are doing right now. I suppose that’s just “letting them back into it,” but I feel like there should be a pithier term.
  • Jason Taylor is actually making his presence felt today, hurrying Shaun Hill and generally making a nuisance of himself in the backfield. He’s not being moved around as much as he was last week, but he’s beginning to seem much more like the player he used to be (or at least a reasonable replica thereof) than he has since his fluky calf injury.
  • I have a theory: maybe the Redskins have decided that since Ryan Plackemeier was NFC Special Teams Player of the Week, they should be utilizing him more this game. So what appears to be offensive futility is actually a canny plan to use one of our best weapons. Admittedly, he’s not doing that great this week, but you’ve gotta rely on your playmakers.
  • Despite scoring that touchdown earlier, Antwaan Randle El is really not having a very good game. He’s dropped a couple of passes that looked catchable, and he continues to frustrate in punt return duty. Based on the evidence so far today, his 36 yard return late in last week’s game is looking more like a blip than a return to form.

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Redskins @ 49ers – Second Quarter Thoughts

Posted by Matt Terl on December 28, 2008 – 5:40 pm

  • The Redskins stay hot coming into the second quarter, doing exactly what you’d like to see them do from inside the 10: hand the ball to Clinton Portis until he scores a touchdown. The ballgame is tied 7-7, and if you were looking for a non-gameplay related way to express that, you might say that the Redskins’ timeout has stolen the energy imparted by San Francisco’s mustaches.
  • Poor Carlos Rogers. He makes a great interception, with a terrific return afterward, and all anyone up here in the press box wants to talk about is how surprising it is that he held on to the pass with his legendarily maligned hands. “He has great moves with the ball,” someone says, adding, “I never knew that because he never actually catches the thing.” Viewing the replay, it really does look like Rogers did nearly drop the ball, but still.

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Redskins @ 49ers – First Quarter Thoughts

Posted by Matt Terl on December 28, 2008 – 4:55 pm

  • The weather in San Francisco today is absolutely gorgeous. The locals keep saying it’s cold, but their scale is strange — it’s pleasantly cool, and downright comfortable when the sun comes out. Basically, it’s terrific football weather, which makes it even more of a pity that this game is so close to meaningless.
  • Something I’ve learned from traveling with the team this year is that fans of the visiting team ALWAYS establish a strong presence in the stadium before kickoff. Until the home fans trickle in from their tailgates and whatever else they do, it always looks like a stadium invasion, and today’s game is no exception. The Redskins get a resounding cheer when the jog out for warmups, but by the time they go back into the tunnel, they’re booed firmly.
  • That booing aside, there’s not a lot of energy at this game. The 49ers’ pregame introductions use all the usual fireworks and music and manufactured drama, but it’s not really charging the atmosphere in the stadium the way you’d like. It’s the last game of the year for both of these teams, and for the home fans, and it really feels that way.
  • It especially feels that way when the 49ers open with four straight runs, as if they just want to keep the clock moving and get the game over with as soon as possible. Which is not to say that the running game isn’t working; the Niners take their opening drive down the field like the Redskins defense isn’t even there, but they really are keeping the clock moving also. They’ve also gotten their fans (finally) into the game, which at least has the positive effect of making this feel more like a football game.
  • The Redskins, on the other hand, stop the clock with incomplete passes on two out of the three plays on their three-and-out, as they try to squeeze every last drop out of this season. Or something like that.
  • I have no idea what the Redskins did with their first timeout, but whatever it was, it worked. After that, they get a stop, the Niners miss a field goal, and suddenly the Redskins are moving the ball to get to the half.

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Redskins @ 49ers – Inactives

Posted by Matt Terl on December 28, 2008 – 2:48 pm

Looks like Coach Zorn is staying true to his plan to stick with his starters. Malcolm Kelly is down, as are Devin Clark, Rob Jackson and newly-signed linebacker Tyson Smith. So those of you holding out hope for an inactive list of old guys … sorry about that.

  • 5 Colt Brennan – emergency third QB
  • 12 Malcolm Kelly – WR
  • 62 Devin Clark – OL
  • 63 Will Montgomery – OL
  • 73 Ryan Boschetti – DT
  • 78 D’Anthony Batiste – OL
  • 97 Tyson Smith – LB
  • 98 Rob Jackson – DE

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Sunday, December 28: Gameday – Redskins @ 49ers

Posted by Matt Terl on December 28, 2008 – 1:42 pm

For the last week, the only thing I’ve heard about this roadtrip is “wait until you see what a dump Candlestick Park is,” in about nine million different variations. And, from a certain perspective, it’s true. This is an old stadium, built in 1958 or thereabouts, and it looks it. Any modern amenities have been hammered into the existing structure after the fact, so they tend to be a little cramped, a little ill-fitting.

At the same time, there’s a certain RFK vibe that trips all the nostalgia buttons in an old Redskins fan. Like RFK, it was built to accomodate baseball as well as football, and that shows as well. The dimensions are weird, the seat locations make much more sense if you picture the baseball diamond in place of the football field.

But there’s one thing that this stadium has that the newer stadiums we’ve visited don’t: it has history. Texas Stadium had history, but I hate the Cowboys too much to care. Here, though, walking out onto the field before anyone was here, I headed straight to the back corner of the north end zone, where Dwight Clark made The Catch to beat the Cowboys in 1981 and send the 49ers to Super Bowl XVI.

The “ghosts” that occupy old stadiums get a lot of talk whenever one is knocked down, and that talk tends to be massively irritating. But coming into a stadium like this, seeing spots like that, knowing that Montana and Rice and all those guys won their games here … it goes a long way toward making up for a cramped press box and aging infrastructure.

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On the Field for Practice – 12/26

Posted by Matt Terl on December 26, 2008 – 1:15 pm

Today marked the last practice at Redskins Park for the 2008 season, which means that this marks the last of these updates. The buses roll for the airport soon, but let’s try this one more time with feeling.

  • The weather today was cool and somewhat cloudy, but the fields were dry and the wind wasn’t strong enough to interfere with the passing game. The vibe — somewhat surprisingly to me — was completely businesslike, right up until the very last few plays, which were accompanied by some cheering. “I feel like it’s a workweek, Coach Zorn said afterward. “I want them to feel like this is any other week.”
  • After having everyone on the field yesterday, London Fletcher rested today, although he’s still likely to go on Sunday. Kedric Golston and Jon Jansen were limited, and may be gametime decisions on Sunday. (Although Zorn did note that if Jansen can go, he’ll start.)

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One More Vote

Posted by Matt Terl on December 26, 2008 – 10:53 am

As a few people have pointed out via email, there’s voting to be done. And just because the Pro Bowl balloting is over doesn’t mean we’re off the hook.

Jean Ramey is alive in the final round of voting for the fan video portion of Samsung’s NFL Superad competition. So head on over to the site, watch Ms. Ramey’s video — her story is legitimately funny — and throw your vote her way. Read more »

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Friday, December 26: Chris Cooley Gives, Receives Gifts

Posted by Matt Terl on December 26, 2008 – 8:50 am

Hey, happy Boxing Day, everybody!

(Yesterday, when I asked famously Canadian Redskin Shaun Suisham if he had big Boxing Day plans, he was very excited. “You know about Boxing Day?” he asked, and I allowed that I did. “You should blog about that tomorrow and tell everybody about Boxing Day.”

(I said that all I knew was that one of the possible origins of Boxing Day was that it was when the rich people boxed up their Christmas leftovers to give to the servants, and not much else, and he shrugged. “That’s supposedly where it comes from. Now it’s kind of like the day after Thanksgiving here.” A big shopping day? “Pretty much, yeah. A lot of sales and stuff.” So now you know!)

Anyhow, I didn’t notice a whole lot of intra-locker-room Christmas cheer yesterday. Most of the guys were in an understandable rush to get home and spend at least a few hours of Christmas with their actual loved ones, instead of with their co-workers.

Which is not to say that there weren’t a few gifts exchanged.

The shirt Chris Cooley is wearing in that picture is a gift from Todd Yoder — a gift that matches coincidentally well with the pants Cooley received from his in-laws. Read more »

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On the Field for Practice – 12/25

Posted by Matt Terl on December 25, 2008 – 3:23 pm

If I had to sum up this Christmas day practice in three words or less, I’d go with “warm and efficient”. That’s not necessarily “efficient” in the sense that no motions were wasted or the most was gained from every play, but more that guys were trying to do the work as quickly and effectively as possible to be allowed to wrap up and see their families. (And “warm” in the sense of, why is it 60 degrees on Christmas day?)

Given the same restrictions, Marcus Washington went with “Get it done,” and Pete Kendall suggested “Good for Christmas,” so I suspect that my sense of things was pretty much correct. Which leads to a fairly short update, I’m afraid.

  • Shaun Suisham was back at practice today, as was … well, everyone. For the first time in my memory, every single person who was at practice was able to do at least light work. Jon Jansen, London Fletcher, Kedric Golston, Clinton Portis … everyone. Just in time for the meaningless final game at San Francisco.

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Thursday, December 25: Happy Holidays

Posted by Matt Terl on December 25, 2008 – 10:24 am

If there was an official Happy Holidays day, today would be as good a choice as any. It’s Christmas Day, tonight is the fifth night of Chanukah, Kwanzaa starts tomorrow, and we’re only four days past the solstice. Here, then, is the Redskins 2008 Season’s Greetings card, wishing everybody a pleasantly non-denominational holiday greeting.

Please enjoy whatever it is you enjoy at this time of year, and enjoy it with friends and/or family, as you’d prefer.

Back later with an update from practice and anything else that seems important from a quiet day at Redskins Park. Read more »

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