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Tuesday, January 26: Could You Have Rooted For Troy Aikman?

Posted by Matt Terl on January 26, 2010 – 12:39 pm

My thoughts on Brett Favre are welldocumented here and I don’t feel at all compelled to go into them again. But watching Favre on Sunday — seeing him lead the Vikings and their fans JUST to the brink of the Super Bowl before throwing one of the stupidest interceptions in a career studded with 317 of the things — I found myself wondering if Vikings fans were really surprised by how things turned out.

Not just because Favre does throw a lot of interceptions; that stat is largely overblown, and taken as a percentage of his total passes, those 317 interceptions really aren’t that bad at all.

No, the reason Vikings fans shouldn’t have been surprised is because they had been forced all season to root for a guy that they had been trained to HATE, and I can’t imagine the level of confusion and frustration that would’ve accompanied a Favre-led Vikings Super Bowl win.

Think about it from an analogous Redskins perspective. Read more »

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London Fletcher Day: Firing Up The Linebackers

Posted by Matt Terl on January 25, 2010 – 4:17 pm

I’ve written about London Fletcher’s pregame pep talks before, but this Redskins Broadcast Net video does a great job of allowing him to explain them in his own words, and away from the emotions of the moment. (The explanation starts at about 1:40. If you can make it through from there to the end and not want to run through a brick wall for Fletcher, your heart is made of wood.)


Some of the relevant excerpts, although it’s the kind of thing that really works better in the video:

  • Linebackers set the tone: “The tone will be physical, it’s gonna be intense, it’s gonna be passionate, and it’s gonna be all out organized chaos.”

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London Fletcher Day: The Brandon Jacobs Hit

Posted by Matt Terl on January 25, 2010 – 3:11 pm

One of London Fletcher‘s shining moments this year came in the first game of the regular season. He posted 18 tackles in that game — EIGHTEEN tackles — eleven of them solo, but the big one would have to be this hit on running back Brandon Jacobs.

It hasn’t been replayed as much as the big hit from the previous year’s Giants/Redskins opener, but it’s definitely worth revisiting as part of our London Fletcher Day celebration.

A good still image of the hit, after the jump. Read more »

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London Fletcher Day: Indestructible

Posted by Matt Terl on January 25, 2010 – 2:58 pm

From his Defensive Player of the Year honor given at this year’s Welcome Home Luncheon, here’s a London Fletcher 2008 highlight package set to Disturbed’s “Indestructible”. The lesson I learned from this song: putting combat noises at the beginning of your adrenalized rock song is just as annoying now as it was when Metallica did it back in 1988.

http://p.castfire.com/GVrsz/video/235329/redskins_2010-01-25-115844.flv Read more »

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Monday, January 25: Oh, Why Not. It's London Fletcher Day

Posted by Matt Terl on January 25, 2010 – 12:20 pm

London Fletcher takes the Pro Bowl seriously. No one else on Earth seems to, but to Fletcher, it’s a big deal, one that led to his most memorable meeting with the press — the “Susan Lucci of the NFL” speech.

So, what the heck: I’m declaring today London Fletcher Day, in honor of his finally shedding his Susan Lucci-dom. There’s not much else going on at Redskins Park anyhow — most of the coaching staff is in place and has traveled to Alabama for the Senior Bowl practices, very few players are around, and it’s generally the first really quiet time in a so-far tumultuous offseason.

You might think, given how seriously Fletcher takes the Pro Bowl, that he’s been furiously working out, staying ready just in case things broke right — as they did — and he was elevated from alternate to player. You might think that, but you’d be wrong, according to what Fletcher told reporters during a conference call today. “I have worked out a couple of times,” he said, “just offseason, but it’s one of those kind of things like, ‘Man, am I wastin’ my time working out?’ It’s definitely gonna be a challenge for me to get in game shape in a week’s time, but I feel like I’ll be able to do it.”

(Something to keep in mind the next time you’re wondering why the Pro Bowl isn’t a better game: even the player who cares about it more than any other hasn’t kept in shape for it.)

But it’s not like he wasn’t thinking about it. Fletcher called yesterday’s Saints/Vikings game — the game that ultimately cemented his Pro Bowl spot — “most gut-wrenching game I have ever watched.”

He continued, “Watching the Saints vs. Vikings game was something that I could not get comfortable with. I just didn’t feel good all day watching the game. Once the score got tied, I turned the television off.

“So I was thinking I would just wait for somebody to call me one way or another. So I’m sitting there, kinda fiddling [around]. My stomach was bubbling.It was just crazy. I am talking to my wife about it and about 10 to 15 minutes pass, and I am like ‘nobody is calling what if this game went to overtime?’ I turned the game on and it’s in overtime. Right as overtime started that is when I saw the rest of the game. So I did watch the final drive for the Saints and when they kicked that field goal I did a little sprint around the house.”

As Brian Orakpo was already slated to play in the game, this means that two-thirds of the Redskins linebacking corps is going to be playing in the Pro Bowl. “It makes it even better to be playing not with just a teammate,” Fletcher said, “but to be playing with one of my fellow linebackers. So we’ll be out there and be able to enjoy the Pro Bowl festivities together and have him buy me dinner or something.”

(No wonder the team elected to keep former linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti on staff.)

And Fletcher doesn’t care that he’s going to be playing as an alternate, or that he got in because of the unusual scheduling this year. “Not at all,” Fletcher told the reporters. “At the end of the day when you write your article, you’re gonna call me a Pro Bowler, right? When y’all write y’all’s articles, you’re gonna say ‘Pro Bowl linebacker London Fletcher,’ you’re not gonna say anything else.”

Oh, and for everyone that’s been asking, Fletcher also had a couple of comments about the possibility of a 3-4 defense next year. The short version: he doesn’t think it’s that big a deal. In fact, he thinks the team was a lot closer to a 3-4 last year than people realize.

The longer version is after the jump.
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Sunday, January 24: A Good Day For London Fletcher

Posted by Matt Terl on January 24, 2010 – 10:55 pm

I imagine there are going to be a lot of people who are very angry with Brett Favre after that spectacular NFC Championship Game, all because he did one of the Brett Favre-iest things I’ve ever seen. (I mean, really, the chance of a completely boneheaded game-losing interception is your trade-off is for all the spectacular stuff he can do. He was picked off twice in the 2007 Redskins/Packers game pictured above — both by the late Sean Taylor — and that was in a game Favre WON.)

Not on that list of angry people, however, is Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, who will find himself finally (FINALLY!) playing in the Pro Bowl next week because Favre made absolutely sure that Saints MLB Jonathan Vilma will be ineligible due to Super Bowl prep.

“12 years and 1 Overtime later….FINALLY Pro Bowl bound. Well worth the wait! God is great!!!” Fletcher wrote on Twitter shortly after Garrett Hartley ended overtime by sending the Saints (and Fletcher) to Miami.

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Two More Coaches: Steve Jackson and Sean McVay

Posted by Matt Terl on January 22, 2010 – 3:29 pm

The Redskins announced two more coaching moves today — or, rather, one move and one staying-in-the-same place. Steve Jackson has been retained as Safties Coach and Sean McVay has been added as an Offensive Assistant.

Jackson has been the Safties coach here since 2004; he was instrumental in the development of the late Sean Taylor, and has also done wonders with unheralded young players like Reed Doughty and Chris Horton. He’s a popular coach who also has some incredibly stylish golf pants and made an interesting sartorial decision at this year’s Welcome Home Luncheon. On the whole, this is a good keep-around, for both on-field and on-blog reasons.

McVay worked as a Quality Control/Wide Receivers coach on the UFL’s Florida Tuskers (with new Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett) last year, and was an Offensive Assistant with Tampa Bay the year prior. “Sean is a young, energetic coach who comes from a great football background,” new Head Coach Mike Shanahan said in a statement. “We are excited to have him on our staff.”

Here’s how precocious McVay is: he played his college ball at Miami (Ohio), where he was a wide receiver. But he never caught a pass from noted Miami (OH) alum Ben Roethlisberger, because McVay arrived at the school in 2004, the year Roethlisberger was selected in the NFL Draft. That is today’s sign that I am catastrophically old.
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Friday, January 22: Mike Williams Discusses His College Teammate (And Offensive Coordinator)

Posted by Matt Terl on January 22, 2010 – 1:23 pm

I haven’t been able to dig up a picture of offensive lineman Mike Williams and new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan together during their playing days at Texas. I’ve done the internet searches, I’ve called the Texas media relations department, and so far no luck, which is a bummer. The picture above — the 2002 class of outgoing Longhorns — was unearthed by poster Pez over at ExtremeSkins, and gives a bit of the same vibe: that’s Derrick Dockery, fourth from the left in the top row, while Shanahan is second from the left in the middle.

Maybe it’s appropriate that I couldn’t find a picture of Williams and Shanahan, though, because Williams seemed singularly unfazed at the idea of being coached by a former college teammate. “He was like any other teammate,” Williams said, describing the architect of the Houston Texans league-leading passing game, “cool, gets along well.”

Williams — who has already begun his offseason workouts — was actually pretty insistent that there was nothing unusual about this situation.
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Yet Another Coach Named: Chris Foerster

Posted by Matt Terl on January 21, 2010 – 4:36 pm

The Redskins today named Joe Bugel’s successor as offensive line coach, hiring Chris Foerster (pronounced FUR-ster). Foerster spent the last two years in San Francisco, where they were high enough on him to initially block the move D.C., according to the Sacramento Bee.

In fact, Singletary said today that he initially denied the Redskins’ request to interview Foerster. Forester’s family, however, is still in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area from the time that Foerster coached with the Ravens. When Foerster asked for the chance to return to the east coast, Singletary said he couldn’t deny it. “For me, family is important,” Singletary said. “I could not not do that — give him a chance to be closer to his family.”

Which was sort of a relief for me to hear, at least: whenever a guy is hired away from another team without an obvious promotion, I tend to find myself wondering in the back of my head why they let him go. In this case, at least, it seems it wasn’t without a struggle.

Full press release — including more statistics on Foerster’s career — after the jump. Read more »

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Two More Coaches Announced: Jacob Burney and Bob Slowik

Posted by Matt Terl on January 21, 2010 – 3:00 pm

The 2010 Redskins coaching staff is almost completely assembled, as the team today named Bob Slowik to the position of defensive backs coach, and Jacob Burney to the position of defensive line coach. Both of these appointments have been rumored for several days now.

I ran into Fred Smoot today and asked him if he had heard anything about Slowik, his new position coach. He grinned his Fred Smoot grin and said, “Yeah, Champ thinks he’s terrific. Champ loves him, man.” Smoot has made no secret of the fact that former Redskins (and current Broncos) cornerback Champ Bailey is one of his close friends and mentors, so this is a recommendation that carries some weight with Smoot.

And it’s not like it was a secret that Bailey quietly passed to Smoot. Here’s a snippet from a January 2008 Rocky Mountain News article about Slowik’s promotion to Broncos defensive coordinator:

Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, has called Slowik “the best coach I’ve ever had.”

It’s not just Bailey, either. Here’s another.

“The one thing as defensive backs coach ‘Slo’ did was listen to his players,” Broncos cornerback Dre Bly said. “Because if the players aren’t comfortable with the defense or are having some problems or don’t necessarily fit into some of the things you’re doing on defense, you have to listen to your players.

“And I know ‘Slo’ – if it was something as a defensive secondary we didn’t feel comfortable doing, he’d tweak some things that allowed us to be comfortable. I really think ‘Slo’ will do a good job because he’s definitely a guy that will coach you up.”

Burney isn’t as famous of a name as Slowik, but he also seems to be well-regarded by his players and (especially) by Broncos fans. Both Hogs Haven and The Om Field came across the same Mile High Report profile on Broncos defensive coaches that’s fairly complimentary of Burney’s work, as epitomized by paragraphs like this:

I really like Burney’s combination of specialization and experience. This is one coach who does his own thing, and it is ALL he does. I am impressed with some of the talent he has developed, including Martin Rucker, Pryce, and now DOOM, and I like the idea of him working with our young DEs going forward, and feel like he will be able to get the most out of them.

So that all sounds pretty good.

(Slowik doesn’t fare as well in that post, but the criticism is largely directed at his work as a defensive coordinator, not as a defensive backs coach.)

The Redskins media relations staff put together a staggeringly long press release on these two; it would be a pity to have all that biographical information go to waste, so it’s posted for your edification after the jump.

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