NFL Chatter

Matt Bonesteel, David Larimer, Desmond Bieler and Christian Swezey
Washington Post editors and NFL Gameday page contributors
Tuesday, November 15, 2005; 12:00 PM

Craving some football banter? It's time to dish about the National Football League -- from who the best running back is to the best endzone dance by a defensive lineman.

Washington Post editors and NFL Gameday page contributors Matt Bonesteel, David Larimer and Christian Swezey were online Tuesday, Nov. 15, at noon ET to provide an irreverent look at the NFL. Desmond Bieler was unable to join today's discussion.

And if you really want to know who the Seahawks' third QB is, they can tell you. But they may make fun of you for asking.

The Starting Lineup (Post, Nov. 14)

A transcript follows.


David Larimer: Hey everybody, welcome to our little corner of the Internet. The esteemed Mr. Bieler is vacationing this week (he says Sanibel Island in Florida, we say corner booth at Hooters), but Matt, Chris and I are happy to answer your burning questions, such as, if Clinton Portis went to Eastern Motors dressed as Jerome from Southeast, would he get credit?


London, U.K.: Who's the Seahawks' third QB?

Christian Swezey: David Greene, a rookie from the University of Georgia. He is following in the footsteps of other great third-string QBs in Seattle like Kelly Stouffer and Dan McGwire, the brother of a certain steroid-taking baseball slugger.

Here's one for you--who's Chelsea's third-string goalkeeper?


16th and L, NW: I am trying to be a good girlfriend by going to this weekend's Redskins-Raiders matchup. What are some pre-game predictions? (So I can wow my boyfriend with some sort of NFL knowledge) Any pre-game rituals I should be aware of? Also, who is singing the National Anthem at the game (I'd love to see a Nick and Jessica duet, myself)?

Matt Bonesteel: Wow, you are a good girlfriend.

The Raiders have been pretty much garbage on the road this season, winning just once against the not-good Titans. I'm thinking the Redskins will roll (just as long as they let LaMont Jordan, one of my fantasy RBs, get into the end zone a few times).

As far as the scene at FedEx, expect acres of parking lots filled with the best tailgaiting $20, or whatever they charge for parking, can buy. No idea on who's singing, tho it ain't gonna be Nick and Jessica. (Are they even on speaking terms still?). The league reserves the big guns for opening weekend and the Super Bowl. Maybe it'll be Portis and LaVar. Their Eastern Motors work must have led to some sort of recording contract.


Alexandria, Va.: Now that we're seeing coaches go for it instead of playing for a tie, what'll happen the first time a coach goes for it and fails ? Will he get a pass or will he be vilified ?

David Larimer: I think the fact that the Chiefs and Bucs went for it in consecutive weeks is more of a coincidence than a trend, but I'd be happy if it was. Bold coaching decisions are great for team morale, and hey, they simply make great TV. I think that's one small advantage college ball has over pros: a more loosey-goosey play-calling style. That said, I don't expect it to happen more often, and I can't blame pro coaches who play it conservative. There's too much at stake, and it's often too big a gamble. In college, one team's line, for one example, is much more likely to overwhelm the other's in a short-yardage situation than in the pros. As for your second question, no coach would ever get a pass if he went for it and failed, and his team lost. Sports talk radio would sooner start rebroadcasting "All Things Considered."


Philly: So who is Seattle's 3rd string QB?

I think it is time for some of the media people to start agreeing w/some of what TO says about McNabb.

Granted TO shouldn't have expressed it, but McNabb practically cost the Eagles a shot at winning the Superbowl because he did get tired (remember how slow he was moving to the line during the last few minutes of the game) ... and now he chokes again against Dallas & comes up "hurt" only to throw the backup into the game w/less than 1 minute left and no time outs.

I for one would rather have TO than McNabb right now.

Matt Bonesteel: For the record, Seattle's third-string QB is David Greene, formerly of Georgia. Loser.

(I kid.)

I think it's time to face facts: McNabb seems like a nice guy, plays hurt, is good for the league, yadda yadda yadda. But that pass last night: ick. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I agree wholeheartedly with ESPN's Sean Salisbury. He said last night after the game that it's pretty much time for McNabb to call it a season. If he's that hurt, he shouldn't be playing.


Camp Springs, Md.: I understand that we could've put the game away against Tampa if the defense played a little better. But c'mon! How is it possible for the ball to cross the goal line when your elbow holding the ball does not?

Christian Swezey: I am so sick of Joe Gibbs whining about the refs. Apparently Alstott scored because the scoreboard changed Tampa Bay's total from "34" to "36" after the play.

Answer me this: Why did LaVar go flying through the air trying to make SportsCenter highlight-type tackle on that play? Had he just kept his feet and committed the blocking back (Jameel Cook), Lemar Marshall could come in and make the tackle...and then you would be free to complain about something else...the high price of going to a game at FedEx, for instance...


Columbia, S.C.: Will someone please explain the play where Robert Royal just stands there, while Simeon Rice runs past him and sacks Brunel. What was Royal thinking?

Christian Swezey: I think it was a clever change on the earlier play where Chris Samuels stood still while Simeon Rice sacked Brunell.


Hyattsville, Md.: When is the last time that the Skins got a call that went their way?

If bad calls were just an accident, they would balance out. But the bad calls, since about 1999, have all been against the Skins. The NFL has always given the Cowboys and the Giants the benefit against us, but made it up to us in other games. Now every game we get the screw.

I am really happy Gibbs, unlike Spurrier, is calling the NFL out on it. Tampa Bay had two gift TDs from the refs on Sunday. Do you think the national perception of DC as a "government" city- or the low ratings for Super Bowl 26 -- plays into the NFL or networks thinking that they don't want a winner in D.C.?

Matt Bonesteel: First off, I agree with the aggrieved Redskins fans chatting today: Alstott did not get in.


Let's all take a deep breath. Put down the Lyndon LaRouche conspiracy pamphlets. Back away from the sports-talk radio and the Redskins message board. Bad calls happen, even with replay. So you're saying the referees were responsible for 10 losses last season?!? For 11 losses the season before?!? That, say, the Redskins complete inability to move the football had absolutely nothing to do with that?!? Please.


Rockville, Md.: Are you allowed to be a NY Giants fan if you were born and grew up in the Washington area? I've been a Giants fan for the 17 years of my life and now my friends say I can't like them. Is this because they're having a decent year?

Christian Swezey: You'd be surprised how many Redskins fans (and coaches and owners) are truly oblivious to their surroundings. Your friends probably thought you bought your first Giants T-shirt soon after the Skins fumbled the second-half kickoff in the Meadowlands a couple weeks ago, and did so just to spite them.

That said, I'm from DC and am a Skins fan so I think if you like the Giants so much you should move to New York. Or New Jersey, really.


Foggy Bottom, Washington, D.C.: Redskins National Anthem: The national anthem will be sung by the Colgate 13, an all male a capella group from Colgate University.

Matt Bonesteel: Wow. Thankya, FoBo.

According to the Colgate 13's Web site, they're "America's most widely heard all-male collegiate a cappella group." So we got that going for us, which is nice.


Lorton, Va.: Think the NFC east is gonna be crazy the rest of the season? ESPN analysts said last night that they expect the skins to fall off with the eagles, and have a 2 horse race for the east crown. I just can't see it that way...As inconsistent as the skins are, they do get the giants and boys at home, and I think can win 3 out of the next 4, with the lone hump coming at St. Louis or vs. San Diego. Regardless, this division will be decided in the last 3 weeks of the season? Who do each of you have as the winners/Wild cards in the NFC at this point in time?

David Larimer: I honestly can't pretend to have a clue about who's gonna win it at this point. A month ago the Giants had arguably the worst defense in the league; now it's playing better than any in the division. The Redskins' and Eagles' Ds are doing the opposite. The Eagles get one more week--if they lose to the Giants, I'm ready to write them off. I would say the Giants should take the division, but check out their remaining schedule: four division games, plus at Seattle, vs. KC and at Oakland. Neither Dallas nor Washington has anything that tough. My speculative NFC playoff field: Carolina as the #1 seed, Seattle next, Chicago from the North, Atlanta as one wild card, and Dallas and the G-Men from the East (I abstain from picking a division winner).


Commercials: Is it me, or were there commercials after almost every change of possession last night? It's bad enough the games last past midnight, but it's getting ridiculous like MLB's playoff commercial time. And they wonder why ratings for sports are in decline....

Matt Bonesteel: Totally agree. It's maddening when games go touchdown, extra point, commercials, kickoff, commercials. But the networks plop down megabucks to get the rights to these games, and they gotta pay the bills somehow.


Tuck Rule, USA: Follow up on the tuck rule discussion from last week. Is it correct that if a QB pump-fakes immediately, then as long as he does not tuck the ball to his body, he is protected from fumbling (unless he cocks to throw)? Shouldn't bumbling, fumbling prone QB's take advantage of this loophole rule?

David Larimer: QBs should pump-fake constantly, sort of like the St. Joseph's Hawk macost is always flapping its wings.


Arlington, Va.: Are the Panthers again back on their perch as legitimate super bowl contenders?

Christian Swezey: It sure looks like they have evaded the cover of Sports Illustrated jinx, which really is a no-lose situation that covers up some rather poor picks on the mag's part (the Indians in '86?? Arizona to win the football national title in '98?? The Cubs in '04??).

The Panthers are well-coached, the QB is good, they can run the ball, the defense is great. A really nice team.


Alexandria, Va.: Who will deal the Colts their first defeat of the season? Right now they are clicking on both offense and defense.

Matt Bonesteel: The Colts will lose twice in the regular season: At Jacksonville on Dec. 11 and at Seattle on Christmas Eve in a game that will be completely meaningless for both teams.

Or not. I'm notoriously bad at picking games. That's why I'm here, chatting with you all, and not on some cheaply produced television show shouting, "IT'S MY LEAD-PIPE, GIANT SHOE-IN LOCK OF THE WEEK."


Washington, D.C.: The above discussion about McNabb is odd. Football fans, especially those of the male persuasion, usually regard "playing hurt" as the ultimate example of team loyalty, manliness, etc. McNabb is playing hurt, but not necessarily playing well, so people are turning on him. But, we all know the Philly fans would have turned on him big time had he said, "ouch, my ribs are sore, my sports hernia is bothering me, I'm not going to play." Funny. Fans did the same thing with Culpepper in Minnesota, when he was playing with obviously limited mobility with his earlier knee injury (before the massive blowout). What's a player to do?

Matt Bonesteel: Excellent point. McNabb's in a lose-lose situation at the moment, which is why I think he should just shut it down, get healthy and wait until next year.


Lenny Pidgeley: That's the third-string keeper for CFC. Who like many players that have a huge game playing for a small team against a big squad sees his fortunes change overnight. doesn't happen in the NFL.

Wishing RFK was still football only, not of the mediocre redskins variety.

Christian Swezey: Hey Lenny nice to get a Chelsea reference on here. You think your third-string keeper could have saved Darren Fletcher's header back at Old Trafford a couple weeks ago? (Just kidding.)

I like RFK for anything, really, but DC United games there are a great time. We snuck a bottle of wine in for a game against New England once. And the french fries totally rock.


Washington, D.C.: How about some love for the NFC North? They are so atrocious that they went 4-0 on Sunday. Granted, two wins came against the 49ers and the Cards, but still. Are the Bears a lock to win the division, or might my Vikings have a shot? Oh, and how about a little extra love for Mike Tice and his knee.

David Larimer: NFC North, I give you love.

Not a bad point about that laughingstock going 4-0. Nice win for the Packers--the Falcons never lose at home. And as wacky as the Vikings' win was, it was huge for them. Seemed like that one win made them a bit of a hip pick to stay in contention for the division. And why not? They're still the most talented team in the North, and it's hard to believe Kyle Orton is a playoff QB at this point.

I can't help but like that giant, befuddled lug Mike Tice. He says things like. "Stats are for losers," then immediately cites how his team ranks in net punting average. He put himself on the injury report during yesterday's news conference. Granted, he might be a lousy coach, and he does things like scalp Super Bowl tickets, but he's a big goof who makes me laugh. I wouldn't be surprised if while on his way to work he sings the theme to "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" out loud to himself.


Re: Gibbs: Hi all,

I was surprised at Gibbs calling out the bad calls. But I don't really have a problem with it, because the team is saying all the right things. "Can't let it get to that point" "can't put the game in the refs' hands" blah blah blah. But I also think it's nice to see your coach stand up for you and say, "My guys worked hard, and the refs made it difficult for them to succeed." I think he's doing it for the guys more than anything else.....

Christian Swezey: You know, I hadn't considered that. Pretty good point. But I believe Gibbs did a lot of complaining last year, too. The complaining, like Gibbs, is starting to get old.


Arlington, Va.: So which kind of loss is worse. A total loss against the Giants where you never had a chance and the offense stunk it up. Or a one-point game where you had at least 5 chances to win and the defense stunk it up?

Matt Bonesteel: The latter, by a mile. The Redskins had no chance against a Giants team that was simply not going to lose that day.


Minneapolis, Minn.: If the Giants fan living in D.C. thinks he has it rough, try being a Packer fan growing up in Chicago and currently living in Minnesota. Especially this season...

Christian Swezey: I think your win against Atlanta was the start of something. I thought the Pack would start 1-8 and could still make the playoffs, though you need some help from the Bears that I hadn't anticipated your needing. The rest of your sked isn't too hard, especially now that TO is gone from Philly. No room for error anymore, mind.

About your living arrangements...I took the elevator at work this morning with two Cowboys fans who were cackling about the game last night. Apparently they only watched the final three minutes, because the first 57 were nothing to laugh about.

Anyway, my buddies from Minnesota are all open-minded and not bitter about all things like Super Bowl losses and boat cruises, so I'm sure you don't catch too much grief anymore...


Frivilous Question: Last week, you requested more frivolous questions. Well, here's one. The NFL has some of the craziest names in professional sports. I mean, do their mothers have access to some sort of genetic testing that says they'll be pro football players? Because I just can't imagine my lawyer/doctor/shoe salesman being named Priest Holmes, Plaxico Burress, Edgerrin James, Samkon Gado. Now, if I were on death row, I might want Peerless Price as my theory, you can't top peerless. But I can't imagine sharing a cubicle with him.

So my question is -- what is the all-time craziest NFL name?

Matt Bonesteel: Now that's frivilous! Love it.

I'll throw one out there: Taco Wallace.


Lavar's Missed Tackle: If you remember, the first two touchdowns that Alstot scored - he lept over the line both times. Hence, it was a heads-up play by Lavar to jump as well, and more than likely is what he was directed to do by the defensive staff.

David Larimer: Acutally, I believe LaVar went high with a camera in his hands in order to get this indisputable evidence Gibbs claims to have.

(Hahahaha. Acutally, count me as one who thought Alstott was short, too. But this is a longstanding beef of mine--that NFL refs seem to give the TD whenver anyone gets the ball close to the goal line or the pylon, citing "the plane of the end zone" in pseudo-scientific terms. You see guys wave the ball around the pylon as if it's a wand when their feet are at the 2. No wonder rugby or Aussie rules football fans think we're wimps. If I was running things, the ball would have to CLEARLY CROSS THE GOAL LINE.)


College Park, Md.: I certainly did not condone what T.O. did, especially in that last interview but I can understand. The Eagles failed to understand that all players are not the same. The better player you are, the more you deserve to be paid. Forget about that nonsense the Eagles said they do not negotiate contracts. There is a first time for everything. Imagine if Dan Snyder was owner of the Eagles. T.O. would have gotten his contract. There would have been 'beef', but just on field 'beef' because T.O. wants to win. T.O. is easily one of the three best receivers of ALL TIMES and he still got five more years in him. Do you think Dan Snyder should act himself, which means paying T.O. what he deserves for the next five years?

Matt Bonesteel: Thanks for checking in, T.O. How's your vacation coming along?

Your contention that T.O. is one of the three best receivers of ALL TIMES is, well, TOTALLY LUDICROUS. That's not to say that he might attain that status in a few years. But no, not now.

And it's not like someone put a gun to his head when he signed with the Eagles. Nowhere in the contract did it say he had a right to a new deal before his old one was up.


Reston, Va.: I was about to comment about Gibb's comments/whining and get your input. But then you mentioned his whining. He's supposed to be an 'old school' coach. This should be beneath him, instead of searching for excuses.

Behind Cech and Cudicini is Lenny Pidgeley.

Christian Swezey: Thanks for clearing up the Lenny Pidgeley question. Really, I never look past Chelsea's second-string goalie (Cudicini) because a.) I get distracted by his ties to Castel Di Sangro, the team in Joe McGinnis's very good book and b.) I can't believe Chelsea had two world class keepers and my team, Man United, didn't have any last year.

The 17-year old Giants fan and anyone else are now welcome to make fun of me for rooting for Man United.


A different take on TO: I see Owens apology not as being "too little too late" but rather as the first step in making him viable to another team. Whaddya think?

David Larimer: Dude's gotta work, be it in Philly or someplace else, and you're right, he's gotta issue an apology in order to get back to work. I think Terrell was apologizing as much as he is capable of doing. I think he was genuinely shocked at the suspension. And I think both those indicate how self-centered he is.


Arlington, Va.: I appreciated that mention a couple weeks ago about the weird scheduling choices of Channel 9 (CBS). Would you care to venture why this station continues to show the now 2-7 Ravens in lieu of all other matchups? Are they getting a commission from DirectTV every time they drive another customer to the Sunday Ticket?

Matt Bonesteel: There may be some kind of league rule that states that D.C. is part of the Baltimore market, and so the Ravens have to be shown here, as well, unless they conflict with the Redskins. And I think it works the other way, too, because Redskins games often are televised in Baltimore.

The NFL's TV rules are dumb.


Silver Spring, Md.: Hey guys, I love these chats, thanks for doing them! Two questions: Losing at home like that, are the Eagles done? Second, I'm a die-hard fan for Washington, but will everyone please shut up about the bad calls?!?! If the D stopped them at ANY point that game, it would have been in the bag... My real question for you guys is this -- is the D in trouble the rest of the way, because they've stunk up the joint in recent weeks...

Matt Bonesteel: Answer one: Yes, the Eagles are kaput.

Answer two: Finally, some sanity from a Redskins fan. Thank you.


Names: Is Booger his given first name? I've heard conflicting reports...

David Larimer: His Christian name is Dried Mucus.

If Booger McFarland is who you refer to, his given name is Anthony. I remember him going by Anthony when he was at LSU and at least early in his NFL career. Anyway, he's gone public with Booger, as his official fan Web site indicates:


Baltimore, Md.: Quick and to the point: Is Brian Billick done as Ravens' coach?

Matt Bonesteel: Hopefully. He's perhaps the most overrated coach in NFL history.


New York, N.Y.: QB movement question. What do you think about the future of Philip Rivers, Harrington and Carr with their current teams? Also, I would like to point out the Arrington went high b/c Alstott scored a touchdown doing high earlier in the game.

Christian Swezey: Good question. I thought Rivers would stay in San Diego and be the starter next year because of his contract and because they could bring him along slowly; Brees, meantime, would take a big payday at someplace like Arizona (assuming Cards owner Bidwell knows how to make out big contracts).

Harrington and Carr, I'm not certain. I believe both teams will have new coaches next year, which may not bode well.

As for Arrington, I remember the play he made against Penn State (against Illinois?) when he jumped over the line and sacked the QB. I thought the goal-line thing on Sunday was similar bit of freelancing, but you make a good point.

_______________________ The Official Web Site of Booger McFarland


David Larimer: Thanks, O Invisible Cyberspace Guru, for posting Booger's Web site!


Matt Bonesteel: Has it been an hour already? Lotsa good questions this week. Sorry we couldn't get to them all, but frankly, if we didn't answer yours it was likely because it was another crybaby Redskins fan. "Boo hoo. We got a bad call." It's time to move on.

I'll be at the Redskins game this week, cheering for LaMont Jordan. Dave, Chris and Des will likely be working, because they're lame-os. Till next week.


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