The Chat House with Michael Wilbon: Wilbon on Redskins-Eagles, Cowboys-Ravens, The Lure of Monday Night Football, Woeful Wizards, Captivating Capitals, and More

Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, December 22, 2008; 1:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Monday, Dec. 22 at 1:15 p.m. ET to take your questions about the Redskins win against the Eagles, the Cowboys-Ravens thriller, whether it's time for fans to move on from the Redskins and Wizards to the Capitals, and more.

A transcript follows.

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Goldsboro, N.C.: What free agents do you see the Redskins really taking a shot at?

Michael Wilbon: Seasons Greetings everybody. Hope you're all having the beginning of a wonderful holiday season. Wow, the Redskins questions are ALL about the future, about free agents and draft picks and QB controversy. No love for beating the Eagles yesterday? Boy, you guys are tough. I thought there would be, instead, plenty of "What if we'd done this earlier" type stuff, but it's all of the look-to-the-future variety. I have zero idea about free agency. I'm sure our football writers, since they're locked in on everything football, would know that. I'm still interested in THIS season. THIS season is fascinating. Yesterday was fascinating to me...still is. I know, the Redskins are out, eliminated. And my Bears might not make it either...probably won't. But I think what's going down right now is worth my time, not free agency. But I will say this on the subject of what the Redskins ought to, in my opinion, do next. They have to improve both lines. They have to make it their draft priority and free agent priority. The cupboard isn't bare out at Redskins Park. The team has a lot of good players. But the lines need bolstering. Every person I talk to who scouts or played recently and observes closely tells me that, and I believe that assessment.


Bethesda, Md.: Can we stop talking about Tony Romo until he actually wins a big game or at least one playoff game?

Michael Wilbon: Now, that's what I'm talking about! The Cowboys in general and Romo, specifically, are dreadful after Thanksgiving. Not just bad, but awful. They haven't won a game of consequence in December or January in 11 years. I talked to Jerry Jones about this a few weeks ago and he's totally stunned about the team's inability to win late in the season. Romo, if he played for a team other than the Cowboys, would not be celebrated the way he is. He'd be called a nice QB who struggles in Big Games. But, because he plays for the Cowboys, guys like Kornheiser go ga-ga over him. He's a nice QB. He needs to be better coached, that's for sure. He makes way, way too many critical game-turning mistakes. The whole team does. But, we're not going to hear that as long as the TV networks are pushing the Cowboys.


The Road to Super Bowl: Hi Michael, just wanted to be sure folks know I go through Nashville now.

Please please please tell your "expert" friends at ESPN and elsewhere to keep picking against the Titans.

And how about a little shout-out for one of the most under-appreciated players in the game: Mr. Keith Bulluck.

Michael Wilbon: Gloating is unbecoming in the holiday season, but the Titans have earned some lovin'. They popped the Steelers pretty good yesterday and the road to the Super Bowl, in Tampa by the way, does go through Nashville. I don't think the Steelers are overly worried about that since they play as well on the road in the post-season as they do at home, at least in recent years that's been the case.


Glover Park: Hey Michael,

Did you watch the Eagle Bank Bowl on Saturday morning? What are your thoughts of having a bowl game in the District?

Michael Wilbon: I did not see the game because it was my only full day to to some Christmas shopping, so I couldn't see it. But I love having a Bowl game here. The attendance was pretty weak, but it's the very first year. Had Maryland played Navy, which should have been the case, there would have been so many more fans. But it seems Maryland, because of exams perhaps, would rather play in Boise, Idaho? Hmmmm... Makes me question whether Maryland simply didn't want any part of the Naval Academy. Regardless, I like having a bowl game here, though I don't know that the Saturday before Christmas works for many of us, in terns of viewing it. I'm told by the most reliable of sources that the players on both teams loved playing in RFK because of the rich history of pro football played there, and were totally excited about it.


Giants Fan: Okay so I'm not writing in about the game last night which was a great game (though I'm worried about the Giants run defense after the last three weeks). But the last play of the Eagles/Skins game yesterday was great football. Two teams playing for everything and three guys just fighting for the last inch. A great play to watch.

Michael Wilbon: That was a great play, the Redskins stopping the Eagles inches short, and it was a nice appetizer for the main course of Giants-Panthers, which I think is the best game of the season so far.


New Orleans: Despite the defense playing well, it seemed that the Eagles had several opportunities to take over the game. Several dropped balls and interception.

Michael Wilbon: DeSean Jackson of the Eagles had the loser game of his life. The ball Donovan McNabb threw him in the end zone was perfect. A strike. This little chump, who has all the talent in the world, jumps around like a fifth-grader screaming "Throw me the ball" after McNabb missed him deep on one play when he was open. McNabb comes right back to him, I think on a critical third down, and he can't hold onto the ball. I hate half the receivers in the NFL right now. They're such babies. L.J. Smith dropped a couple of easy balls, too. I'm not going to say the Eagles should have been in control. But they should have been ahead in a tight game.


Columbia, Md.: Was it me, or did the John Harbaugh have nerves of steel on Saturday with that fake field goal?

Related: who do you have winning the AFC East? Is it even possible that Miami wins at the Jets next week?

Michael Wilbon: I love John Harbaugh and I love the Ravens. I like their creativity, their aggression, the spirit with which they play. I LOVE the Ravens. I'm rooting like a madman for them to make a run in the AFC, though first they have to beat Jacksonville here in Baltimore to get in. The fake field goal and the naked boot were fabulous calls.


Chicago: Is there any point to Monday Night Football anymore? It was a great idea when all the games were on Sunday afternoon and sports on TV was coming into its own. But almost four decades later it's anticlimactic. Your answer about the Giants/Panthers game -- that it was the year's best and a fitting end to the day that gave us other great football -- really shows what a letdown MNF is. Sure, Bears-Packers is a big deal especially here in Chicago (where it's bitterly cold, BTW) but after watching football all weekend a game today just seems... odd.

Michael Wilbon: You must be a moderate. There will be 12 million people watching the Bears-Packers game tonight. You think any other show on TV tonght is going to draw more than Bears-Packers? No chance.


Fairfax, Va.: Mike, I volunteered at the EagleBank Bowl on Saturday, and you are correct -- the players LOVED playing there. They also loved the swag -- many of them said it was the best of any bowl they'd been to.

As for the Saturday before Christmas, the discussion that I heard from the people running it is that they're going to try to get it moved to a couple days after Christmas next year. This year was mostly just a PR move to be the first bowl game of the year. Oh, and they're hopeful of moving up a notch or even two in the ACC pecking order. The Boise bowl is likely out, and they offer enough money to go over San Fran too, I think.

But definitely a great game, great atmosphere, and a lot of fun.

Michael Wilbon: Thanks for that.


Washington, D.C.: Most important question: what did you get the baby for Christmas? What Chicago team jersey was he wearing when he had his photo taken with Santa Claus?

Best wishes for the new year!

Michael Wilbon: No jersey wearing for the Christmas photo, but he'll have every team's jersey by the beginning of March, I promise you that. He's only going to be 9 months old on Christmas Day, though, so he's not going to know what all the fuss and celebration are about so he's not going to be unwrapping a lot of presents, if any, on Thursday morn. There's plenty of time in the coming years. Sadly, his dad won't be spending Christmas Eve or Day with him anyway, since ABC and NBA Basketball duties will take me to NYC/Bristol.


Washington, D.C.: What do you think of the Eagles play calling yesterday? 48 passes, 14 runs!

Michael Wilbon: Awful. I think Andy Reid has done an absolutely awful job in this area. Close game and you call that pass-heavy game? Coming off a game when you ran the ball?


Annandale, Va.: Michael, after the last Eagles-Skins game, Donovan said they had no business losing the Redskins. Just curious how he felt after the smackdown yesterday?

Michael Wilbon: You want to call inches from a tied game a smackdown? Your definition and mine would be different.


Germantown, Md.: Didn't you think that Cowboys/Ravens game was full of excitement? Who would have expected those late-game, back-to-back, one-possession touchdown runs? Excitement of the NFL.

Michael Wilbon: As good a fourth quarter as you'll see. Fabulous. Actually, Romo played pretty darn well. But those two long runs with Baltimore ahead by 2 points... unbelievable.


Fredericksburg, Va.: I for one am getting sick of all the Mark Teixeira talk. Any chance he signs with anyone other than the Red Sox?

Michael Wilbon: Amen! I could hug you. Wake me when he signs with somebody. How did the Rangers do with him? He's a nice player; I'd like to have him on my club. But please, stop with the breathless anticipation over this guy. He's Carlos Delgado. He's good. Really nice player. But he's not Barry Bonds at are 28. Or even Frank Thomas at 28.


New York, N.Y.: As an NBA guy, did you ever get to the bottom of the Isiah overdose story?

Michael Wilbon: No. I don't think anybody has. I hope to talk to Isiah soon, since I owe him a phone call anyway. I'm sure there will be 20 things we talk about but I don't want to talk about that...don't want to even think about it. What answer to that question would be an okay answer? It's such an awful subject. If I was writing a long piece or a column about him, I'd have to ask. But I'm not...not anytime soon that I know of.


Washington, D.C.: Can you get John Madden as a guest on PTI?

Michael Wilbon: I don't think we've ever had him. But I love John Madden. I mean, really love listening to every word that comes out of his mouth. But his travel schedule, in a bus, is crazier than Tony's. He's on some highway all the time. Don't know if we've tried to get him. I've been fortunate to have several conversations with him, but never on our show.


Babies and Christmas: Just a few words of warning, my little ones (I have twin boys) were five months old for their first Christmas and did a great job tearing open the wrapping paper. I think it is something instinctual; believe me, they know exactly what's going on.

Though I do have to gripe about the lack of jerseys and other stuff for little tykes. As a born-and-bred Washingtonian, I want nothing more than to get my dudes Nats hats. No dice. What gives?

Michael Wilbon: Why wouldn't you get them Nats hats? Of course you should. No dice? Why not? Matthew sure as heck has Cubs gear and Bears gear already. Are you kidding? And Bertrand Berry, my good friend who plays for the Cardinals, sent his own Cardinals kid-sized jersey, which was so great of him. I hate those frilly little gowns his mother dresses him in. Jerseys, baby. That's what I'm putting him in whenever I dress him. There's a fight on Saturdays and Sundays I simply must win.


Anonymous: Personal feeling aside, is Jason Campbell the answer for the Skins?

(I say why start another QB project when you have a decent NFL caliber guy.)

Michael Wilbon: I don't know. I don't think he's NOT the answer. You got a better answer? You got Matt Ryan sitting in your pocket? I think Campbell's been okay. Next season needs to be better, and why wouldn't it be, as long as his coach and coordinator don't change?


Spotsylvania, Va.: "You think any other show on TV tonght is going to draw more than Bears-Packers? No chance."

What about PTI?

Michael Wilbon: Like I said, no chance.


Baltimore, Md.: On the flip side of whining wide receivers, how about some love for Derrick Mason. He is a classy guy who had one of the gutsiest performances of the year on Saturday night.

Michael Wilbon: You said it. Mason made a great catch, including perhaps the biggest one of the game. What don't the Ravens have? Okay, big offensive superstar divas, that's what...


Brooklyn, NYC: Mike,

Any chance you'll be at this year's Winter Classic at Wrigley? As a native Chicagoan, your take on having two original six teams in the friendly confines would be great.

Michael Wilbon: I love the whole idea of it. I wish the game was at Soldier Field instead of Wrigley. Soldier Field would be a MUCH better venue, to me. There's no Ivy on the walls of Wrigley in Janaury. And the shape of the field makes it less attractive, to me, than Soldier Field would have been. Still, I'm glad they're playing it and it will give a lot of attention to the NHL. I just hope it's zero and snowing when they play.


Alexandria, Va.: Isn't it time for Washington media to get over the Wizards and Redskins and start focusing more on the Capitals? We have the best hockey player on the planet and barely a media ripple.

Michael Wilbon: Ah, yes. Yes, yes, yes. Now, keep in mind, you can't MAKE people care about a sport they don't care about. But the Redskins are done and the only question that matters about the Wizards is when is Gilbert Arenas coming back and what will he look like. At 4-21 their season is over. Suppose they win 13 straight games, which is highly unlikely? They'd still be four games under .500. Gil is the only issue.


Falls Church, Va.: Do you think Santa Snyder should give Zorn an offensive coordinator and a QB coach for Christmas? Can you think of another first-year head coach without an offensive coordinator?

Michael Wilbon: Give Coach Zorn some linemen for Christmas. And his birthday. And Presidents Day...


Washington, D.C.: Mike, I think the complaint about the Nats gear for tots was really about the lack of availability. Trust me, I've looked and there are no Nats infant or toddler hats out there. I even tried at the spring training team store in Florida. Nada.

Michael Wilbon: You should call the Nats TODAY about that. How sad.


Washington, D.C.: While they obviously are looking towards the future, the Redskins did seem to play hard yesterday. In your opinion, how important is it for a team out of the playoffs to play hard in its last few games, does it make that much of a difference?

Michael Wilbon: I think it can be important, especially if the core of players and the coaches are all coming back the next season. Yes, I think it matters. And it's better than what the Cardinals are doing out in Arizona, which is looking like the same old Cardinals despite making the playoffs this season.


No Fan of NFL Network: There was a game Saturday night? Oh, that's right. It was on the monopoly owned NFL Network. Remember when Saturday NFL games were available to all? Too bad a lot of people missed what sounds like an exciting game ...

Michael Wilbon: Important point to make. I'm fortunate to be able to have a satellite dish where I don't have to worry about cable and cable tiers and which companies want to show what and who is feuding with the NFL, blah, blah, blah. I'm glad I can just by-pass all that silliness.


Rockville, Md.: Michael, the reason why we're not going ga-ga over yesterday's performance is because our offense once again was in the dumps. Take away the fumble recovery that we had on defense, and the offense really wouldn't have been responsible for more than, say, 3 points. Until the offense does its share of work, this team will never be good.

Michael Wilbon: You make a good point. Still, you WON THE GAME! The Ravens didn't have a good offense in 2001 either. How much did that hurt them when they were accepting the Super Bowl trophy.


Arlington, Va.: Happy Holidays, Michael. When my younger son was 2, my parents "bought" him an empty brown box. We cut a hole in it for him to sit and pushed him all over the place. He loved it. We had to push him all over the entire day. That's the great thing about toddlers, all they want is some attention and whatever else comes with it is gravy. I'm taking my wife to the Fiesta Bowl, any restaurant suggestions?

Michael Wilbon: Plenty of restaurant suggestions. Ocean Club in Scottsdale. Eddie Vs in D.C. Ranch. Tarbells in Phoenix. I could go on-and-on. City Hall, if you like a good steakhouse. Elements at The Sanctuary. Anything in Kierland, in addition to Ocean Club, too... That's a start.


Chicago: I'm a lifelong Bears' fan going to my first ever game and what a game to see! Bears-Packers, major playoff implications for the Bears and a negative 10 degree windchill. Doesn't get any better than this. I can't wait. So, who you got tonight? How is Tony going to handle the weather? Literally, much of the Chicago River is ice right now.

Michael Wilbon: That's so cool. Congratulations. I'm totally jealous and wish I was there. People here in D.C. keep whining about the weather, though the real temperature is 26 degrees now. Being at Soldier Field today would be such a treat. You would think Kornheiser was being asked to call the game naked; his whining has been non-stop for three days. If he gave me his game check, I'd sit next to Tirico and Jaws, happily. But...I'll just have to watch and hope the Bears can come through tonight, then get some help next week from the Giants in Minnesota, even though the G-Men have no incentive to win that game. The Bears could grab a wild-card spot, too, if the Cowboys and Bucs lose, which won't happen since Tampa Bay gets Oakland in Florida. The Bears, though, have nobody but themselves to blame since they blew last-minute leads to Carolina, Tampa and worst of all (after scoring with 11 seconds to play) to Atlanta. The Bears probably don't deserve a playoff spot, though I'm using up a Christmas wish in hopes they'll get in.

Okay everybody...Gotta run and prepare for PTI, then dash out and do some shopping since I'm only about 40 percent done. Since we're off next week this will be our last chat of 2008. I'm grateful to be able to do this, and I'm thankful so many of you engage and enjoy it and put up with me. I hope everybody has the happiest possible holiday week, and I look forward to coming back for more conversation with everybody that first Monday of 2009...Take Care. MW


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