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The Chat House
Sports News

Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, September 24, 2007 1:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Monday, Sept. 24 at 1:15 p.m. ET to take your questions and comments about the latest sports news and his recent columns.

The transcript follows.

Discussion Archive

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Section 448, Row 24: Mike,

The offensive play calling doomed the skins. The Giants D gave up 80 points in the first two games and I think the Redskins could have done a lot better yesterday. Yet the second half offensive play calling seemed geared for a a three or four score lead, which we didn't have, or a quarterback making his first start rather than his 10th.

I could keep typing, but I'll stop hear and just ask for your thoughts.

Thanks as always for the chat.

Michael Wilbon: Well, there's only one place to begin today and that's with the Redskins' loss to the Giants yesterday...It's hard to know exactly where to start. But what's fresh is the four downs inside the 5 at the end of the game. There's so much I don't understand, and I'm not going to have the benefit of conversation with the Redskins coaches considering I'm in New Orleans for MNF. But it seems crazy to me that you wouldn't use Mike Sellers, who defenders HATE tackling, in goal line situations. He's 285 pounds of rock. I'm sitting there watching the TV yesterday screaming, "Sellers! Sellers." Okay, if you don't want to have Portis in there, fine, go with Sellers and Butts. But spread the Giants AWFUL defense out and make them defend the whole field. Instead, the Redskins use that tight, here-we-come formation which is good if you're healthy and whole along the offensive line and you don't give a damn, like it's 1984 and you're going to hand the ball to Riggins and send him behind Jacoby and Grimm...I just don't get it. And if you don't want to run Sellers on four downs, then at least on fourth down roll Campbell out and give him the option to run or pass. To me, there are still to many chefs in the kitchen as it pertains to the Redskins offense. I want one voice, one philosophy calling those plays. And no way the Redskins should be shut out in the second half by that dreadful defense. I know the Giants were in urgent mode Sunday because they'd lost their last two. But the Redskins simply should not lose that game at home. Should not.

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Columbia, Md.: I am as deflated as most Skins' fans are from this loss but the silver lining is that I think we have finally found our quarterback for the next decade. As Aikman said, Campbell is unflappable and even though there were some mistakes on that final drive, he really kept his composure and hit key passes when he had to. Can you imagine Patrick Ramsey in this situation, or Heath Shuler, or Shane Matthews.

Michael Wilbon: It's good Troy Aikman sees good things in Jason Campbell, but he still has to DO these things under pressure, and I'm talking about winning the games. It's a long process; people don't even remember the Cowboys were 1-15 and 7-9 (I'm almost sure of those records) in Aikman's first two seasons...Aikman's got an incredibly sharp eye for these things. It's Campbell's athleticism and calm that are two of the reasons I'd have rolled him out either on third or fourth down on that final sequence.

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Lexington, Va.: Isn't it ironic that all the controversy over Donovan McNabb's comments prove him right?

Michael Wilbon: Aaaaaahhhhh, yes.

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Capitol Heights, MD: Hello,

My question is a question everyone needs to know. Who is calling the offensive plays, Gibbs or Saunders? It seems to me Gibbs. If you look at Saunders offense in Kansas City or the Rams they never played that conservative and what's up with the Bunch formation plays! It's evident that the offense runs better with a more spread out offense. Also, was I the only one that saw Cooley on the line blocking Strahan. He is our best receiver and he is in blocking.

Thanks,

Throwback Joe (stuck in the 80's)

Michael Wilbon: I'd rather have Joe calling that plays than Al Saunders. I'm sorry, tell me which one of those guys is already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame! I see your point, that every offense needs to be modernized, which is the reason Gibbs brought Saunders here in the first place. Still, I'd make the argument Gibbs didn't need Saunders. The Redskins need to be a power team with finesse elements to diversify...but primarily they need to be a power team. That's their strength on offense without a doubt.

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Boston: Any truth to rumors (started here) that you're part of a potential ownership group buying the Cubs? If so, what would be the first change you would make as (part) owner?

Michael Wilbon: No. But I can dream. I'd do whatever it took to sign A-Rod, which is one of the hot topics today in New York, the report that his agent, Scott Boras, is already negotiating with the potential new owner. I'd eliminate all but a handful of night games, meaning fewer than the 16 the Cubs now play...Oh, that's two changes...Sorry.

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Harpers Ferry, WV: How big is that smile on Marty Schottenheimer's face about now?

Michael Wilbon: Oh my. If you're Marty, you're not smiling; you're laughing your fool head off. Talk about making a STUPID mistake. And this was easy to see from 100 miles away. Norv Turner simply isn't a good head coach. And what he's been worst at is confronting issues and dealing with mid-week headaches, which is what the Chargers are in up to their necks now. Poor Norv. Poor Chargers. Luckily for them they're in a bad division and might win it anyway. But I don't see them as anything more than a 9-7 team. They're poised to take one of the biggest drops in the league, to be equaled only by (sadly for me) my Bears.

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Washington, DC: Has America given up on the Saints -- and on New Orleans?

It's not like the city still isn't in need of the morale boost provided by a playoff-caliber football team...

Michael Wilbon: We always knew America was going to go back to its individual interests; I'm not surprised at that. But the Saints are still a morale booster here and yes, New Orleans still needs them to win. It's a mission. You can feel it just walking around town. They'd better win tonight. Their division is so bad that 1-2 is hardly a problem. It's one game behind Tampa Bay and Carolina and Atlanta's dreadful...A win tonight makes everything okay...until Sunday.

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Fairfax, Va.: I think the stupid throwback uniforms were a jinx.

Michael Wilbon: I LOVED the throwback uniforms. LOVED them. Well, I hated the Eagles throwbacks. Do we need to go THAT far back, to 1933? Most teams, Redskins included, had better uniforms 25 years ago than they do now. The Packers, Giants, Jets, Bears, Cowboys, Browns, Raiders and a couple of others are essentially the same. But the Redskins looked like the team I watched when I was growing up. What they wear now is so boring compared to what they wore yesterday, or those deep burgundy throwbacks they wore back in the early 1990s when this stuff became the craze. The Chargers and Redskins, more than perhaps any other teams, should simply go back to what they used to do. Remember, the Redskins didn't start wearing what they're wearing not until 1980, give or take a season.

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Washington, DC: A couple weeks ago, Ron Rivera of the San Diego Chargers coaching staff referred to Rex Grossman as a "mental midget". Do you believe that exact same description could be made about a black QB today without a racial brouhaha erupting?

Michael Wilbon: No. But there's not hundreds of years of ridiculing white quarterbacks for being stupid. There's no stereotype. If it hadn't been so easy for so many decades there wouldn't be any taboo.

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Let's go Oakland!: How did you like the Raiders' reuse of Shanahan's timeout trick to survive a last minute FG attempt? Raiders are not a great team but that was fun to watch.

Michael Wilbon: THAT was fabulous. To see the Raiders win in EXACTLY the same way they lost to the Broncos last week was incredible. Talk about the height of irony. That rule should be changed, plain and simple. If you don't call the timeout before the team is lined up, too bad...the play stands.

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Re: Marty: Hey Wilbon, remind me why Marty was fired anyway?

Michael Wilbon: Because the GM hates him. Essentially, that's it.

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Naperville, IL: If you were Lovie Smith, would you start Griese next week?

Michael Wilbon: Yep. And if Lovie Smith doesn't bench Rex and start Griese the Bears' season is effectively over. Rex Grossman can't play quarterback at the elite level. He just can't. He doesn't seem to have the instincts. I've talked to defensive players who've told me how they do simple things to overwhelm and distract him that other QBs would exploit...It's sad. I thought Rex was going to be a lot better this year, but he's a lot worse. And you can't keep asking the Bears to shut high-powered teams out for a half (which they did to the Chargers and Cowboys). It's too hard. The defensive players get too tired. There's too much pressure on them to be perfect. The defense and special teams (Devin Hester) made big mistakes in the second half because they started making gambling plays to score instead of simply doing what they're supposed to do. Rex has to sit. It's over for him in Chicago and everybody needs to accept that. Nobody in that locker room wants to trash the kid; there's no reason to do that. But the coach has to do his job first. And it's Lovie's job to make the change. Now.

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Dallas: I thought the Cowboys were doomed when Parcells retired. How does a team replace a hall of fame coach with Wade Phillips and seemingly improve so much??

Michael Wilbon: Let's not award the Cowboys the Lombardi trophy just yet. I think they're the best team in the NFC right now, no question. But we're 3 games into a 16 game season. These guys like playing for Phillips, who remember, had a record better than .500 (about 10 games over if memory serves me correctly) in stops at Buffalo and Denver. The offensive play-caller, Garrett, seems totally in synch with Romo and T.O. The Cowboys, as John Madden pointed out several times in the NBC telecast last night, don't have a championship defense. There's a long, long, long way to go, but they're off to the best possible start.

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RE: Marty and SD: It wasn't just the firing that was idiotic, it was the death-by-1000-cuts manner in which it occurred, which allowed their capable coordinators Wade Philips and Cam Cameron to take head coaching jobs else where. Whoo boy...

Michael Wilbon: Wade would have been a pretty good choice there, don't you think?

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Chicago: Me and some buddies were trying to figure out the correct answer to a question; maybe you can help. If one of these scenarios could come true, which one would you pick? Kobe to the Bulls, A-Rod to the Cubs, or McNabb to the Bears.

Michael Wilbon: Not Kobe to the Bulls at all. Not even for a second. The Bulls are a serious threat this year to win. Having Kobe would set them back. The Cubs are also a serious contender without A-Rod. If you could give me McNabb on the Bears today, I'd take it right now. Who in Chicago wouldn't including all the guys in the locker room? The McNabb and A-Rod moves both have at least a little chance of happening.

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Bowie, MD: I'm not a Skins fan but enjoy watching the reaction when they lose. But there's definitely a pattern to the criticism. If they lose throwing, then they need to get back to smash mouth Redskins football. If they lose running, then they need to open it up. One question though, once you've got your team lined up for the snap at the 1 yard line, why take the snap and spike it? Why not sneak it or something? That was a pretty valuable down that they threw away.

Michael Wilbon: That was insane. Clock and game management, in the Gibbs II era, have been awful and I don't understand why. JUST RUN A PLAY. I think this is, in part, because they have too many chefs. One person should be running the offense. One. I think they're confused and the players are, too. That stuff should be automatic.

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Arlington, VA: Why wouldn't the Bears sign Byron Leftwich when he was available? Are they delusional regarding the skill level of Grossman or are they just too cheap?

Michael Wilbon: I think the Bears did talk to Leftwich...In some ways, it's too bad Rex didn't stink it out the previous week against the Chiefs. Had he, I bet Byron would be in a Bears jersey now, which would be a huge improvement.

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re: Redskins Play Calling: If you remember the first MNF game, the Ravens had first and goal to go for the tying TD and they threw the ball too! I see this all the time in the NFL. I think it is a problem with NFL coaches that they want to seem innovative. They don't want to win with 4 yards and a cloud of dust.

Michael Wilbon: Yes Sir. I attended that game and couldn't believe what I was seeing. The Ravens spend all that money to get Willis McGahee and let a backup QB with a history of screwups throw the ball five times in seven downs inside the 10? These coaches are bright people, but do they overthink this stuff sometimes? Yes Sir.

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Alexandria, VA: Mr. Wilbon: I know that you are a sports columnist. But you also give opinions, most of which I agree with. Care to opine on the continuing state of devastation in New Orleans?

Michael Wilbon: We don't have enough time or space for that today. But a year ago, my friend Perry Clark, former basketball coach of Tulane and a D.C. native, took me around New Orleans on a 3-hour drive to get a good look at the region one year after Katrina. I wrote about it then; it looked as if the flood waters had receded about 24 hours earlier, not a full year earlier. I'm not touring like that this year. I don't want to be that depressed again, though I'm sure the broadcast tonight will include some perspective on what New Orleans is like two years later. It depressed me then, what happened to the region and to this city in particular. I just hope the recovery is a lot further along now than it was a year ago when we were here for Saints-Falcons. The emotional recovery, as an earlier question noted, will be helped more than outsiders can possibly understand, by a Saints win tonight over the Titans.

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Re: Norv Turner: Don't you find it odd, though, that people are blaming Norv for the Chargers' offensive woes while simultaneously blaming the Niners' offensive regression on his departure?

Michael Wilbon: It's not odd at all. Norv Turner is one of the best offensive coordinators and QB tutors of the last 20 years in the NFL. He's a terrible head coach. These things are up for debate; there's way too much evidence that people are aware of. He's wonderful when running a unit, but not a team. Just because you're a great commander doesn't mean you'll be a great general.

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20817: Michael, You've said "Win first, then get good." Which of the suprise teams so far (Texans, Redskins, 49ers, Packers, Lions, Bucs) do you think will actually BE good?

Michael Wilbon: Packers, Bucs, Redskins and Texans...probably in that order.

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Gainesville, Va: Dear Mike,

It looks as if the Cubbies will be in the playoffs. Congratulations. Hail to Lou Pinella. More important; are the Bears heading for a worse season than the Redskins?

Michael Wilbon: I think the Bears are in trouble. They've got five defensive starters hurt. The QB has to be benched. The RB fumbles too much and the OL can't pick up stunts. The schedule is harder the last year, too. I think the Bears, from what we see this minute, look like an 8-8 team. I picked the Redskins to go 8-8 so they're about even. The Cowboys are miles better than both. But let's not jinx the Cubs; they finish the season with six straight road games while the Brewers (47-27 at home) finish with seven at home. As you might guess, I'm a nervous wreck!

Okay, gotta head over to the Superdome in a rain storm to meet TK and the bus boys and get started with prepping for PTI and MNF...Everybody have a great week and we'll chat next Monday with me coming to you live from Cincinnati where the Bengals and Patriots will play that night. MW

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