The Chat House With Michael Wilbon

Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, October 5, 2009; 1:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Mon., Oct. 5 to discuss the Redskins, the NFL, the impending NBA season, World Wide Wilbon (which is Not Just Another Sorry, No-Account Sports Blog) the latest sports news, his columns and anything else on your mind.

A transcript follows


Washington DC: In your many travels, do the Redskins ever approach anyone's radar? Does anyone outside of the NFC East even know anything about the Redskins? I just think the local fans are still living off the glory years of 17 years ago, just about the time today's high school seniors were being born.

Michael Wilbon: Hi there everybody ... Good to be with you on this glorious fall afternoon in and around the Nation's Capital...Ahhh, there's so much less angst today here, because the Redskins won...Though they defeated Tampa Bay, which I think is the worst team I've seen in pro football in 25 years, it's still a win. If you beat the bad ones on your schedule you can usually get to six or seven wins just by doing that. But to address the question specifically, about the Redskins being on anybody's radar nationally. No, they aren't. Why would they be. They're dreadfully unexciting. They don't have anybody people nationally would want to see, do they? No, the Redskins, in that way, are about like the Houston Texans. There's nothing that would make you want to watch them outside the place they live...


Portland, Ore.: Michael,

Can I divert your attention briefly with a NBA question. There was an article on truehoop last week speculating whether Shaq could retire as the best player not to get his uniform retired by any team. I gotta believe that when all is said and done the lakers will retire his number, right? They freaking won three championships with him!!! Do you agree?

Michael Wilbon: Why are you wondering about Shaq and his jersey in October? Just wondering. Yes, the Lakers, I would imagine, will retire his number. Three titles almost assures that.


Rockville, Md.: Mike - What is the more appalling stat:

1) the Redskins have yet to score a rushing touchdown or 2) The Redskins have been shutout at halftime in three out of four games?

Michael Wilbon: Wow. I'd say getting shutout at the half in three of four games because it indicts the entire offense, not just the rushing game. It means the passing game stinks, too, at least before halftime. But they're both indicative of an unimaginative offense ...probably terrible execution as well.


Washington, DC: Your Bears looked real good in the second half.

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, the second half...Good thing the Lions WEREN'T PAYING CLOSE ENOUGH ATTENTION to Johnny Knox dropping the ball before he reached the end zone on that kick return for TD to open the second half? How about that? How do the Lions people in the coaches box upstairs miss that? Boy, I'm glad they did, as a Bears fan. Anyway, Jay Cutler and the passing game have looked pretty good the last three games ...


Baltimore: Hello Mike: I wonder if you watched the Ravens/Patriots game? I'd like your take on the officiating in that game. Yes, we lost due to Mark Clayton's inability to catch that ball, but even Jim Nance and Phil Simms mentioned that they'd never seen the "unsportman like" conduct called on a coach for ranting on the sidelines, which was totally appropriate. Suggs' penalty on Brady was ridiculous.

Michael Wilbon: Great question. I did watch a lot of that game and the problem I have is the NFL getting to the point where certain QB, Tom Brady at the head of the class, cannot be touched. The NFL ought to be embarassed but I'm sure isn't about creating a situation where certain QBs are so favored that it swings the balance of competition. It's shameful, really. Brady can't be touched anymore? Then why play the Patriots. Just reward them the Super Bowl trophy and let everybody go to Hawaii. It's absurd. If Tom Brady wants to have his knees protected then he should play golf. I laughed out loud when Rodney Harrison said on NBC that Brady should take off his skirt and put on some slacks. Ha! Look, I'd take Brady in a black strapless evening gown on my team anytime. He's going to the Hall of Fame as one of the dozen great QBs ever ... Maybe top seven or eight ... But you can't touch him? Are you kidding me? Please.


Hunter The Punter: I scored a rushing touchdown this season.

Michael Wilbon: Does that count, officially, as a rushing TD? I guess it does? I'm told by the one-and-only Tony Reali that it does count in the official NFL statistics. Hunter Smith, you're the only one.


Washington, D.C. area: Will young fans know who "Tony Romo" is 10 years from now? I'm not saying he's health Shuler, but you know what I mean.

Michael Wilbon: Wow, that's pretty harsh, isn't it? Romo's a pretty good QB. He's not a championship-level QB; I think we've seen enough now to know he's close but not there, but that's like a lot of QBs. Is he as good as Carson Palmer? I don't know. Who would you rather have, Cutler or Romo? I don't know. I like Romo. I thought the controversy over his dating Jessica Simpson was unnecessary. Why would you dream of growing up to be a star QB if you can't date hot actresses, singers and models? Just to hold the Super Bowl Trophy? Don't be naive, boys and girls. I think people will remember Romo, even if he comes up short of winning a championship for the Cowboys.


Arlington, Va.: Michael,

If you were the GM for the Redskins, what moves would you make to get us back on track?

Michael Wilbon: Oh goodness, do we want to go down that road already? It would take me a couple of years...I want two drafts and the power to hire a new coach but I'd keep a lot of these players...I do think the Redskins have a pretty talented group. I'd have focused more on drafting linemen and not signing them for $100 million. But I'd rather play "if-I-was-owner-of-the-Redskins." Then you know what I'd do? I'd give $50 milion to Bill Polian, the best GM in professional football over the last 20 years, and tell him to put together my team.


Brady: But its not like Brady called the penalty on himself - why is he getting criticized (implicitly by you and explicitly by Rodney Harrison)?

Michael Wilbon: Because he cried to the official...turned to the ref and complained.


Washington, D.C.: Follow-up to Ravens/Pats: What is it about this Patriots team. Touched by Fate? Will we look back on them as The Most Hated Team in sports history? Year in, year out, these things happen to them. SpyGate, the Baltimore 'timeout' during the undefeated season, SpyGate, photographers getting shot at during Brady's wedding, running up the score on teams ... I haven't even scratched the surface. And of course just being good for a number of years.

Michael Wilbon: This is a nice observation. But what are you suggesting here? There's a conspiracy? Who would want it? Wouldn't the others hate it, given how many people agree with you? Seems to me that most of the dysnatic teams have something attached to them that people in general get tired of. The Patriots do seem to have that to the extreme. But let's not ignore just how great a team the Patriots have been over the last nine years ...


Brooklyn, N.Y.: I don't know the full stats, but it seems like when Portis rushes for 100 yards (98 is close enough) the team wins about 90 percent of the time. Ok, maybe hyperbole, but this is nothing new. It's been this way since the 1980s (substitute Portis for Byner or Riggins).

What I don't understand is why they don't rush the ball at least 25 times a game no matter what. Just run run run. That's Redskins football. It's not the most exciting to watch, but watching a team win is infinitely more exciting than watching it lose.

Michael Wilbon: I'm totally with you. Totally. I think the Redskins should be handing the ball to Clinton Portis a whole lot more than they do, especially in the first half. I don't get it ...


Bethesda, Md.: More Patriots. It always irks me when the announcer's talk about Brady's 50 touchdown passes in 2007. The Patriots and Brady were totally classless running up the score, going for it on 4th down in field goal range with a lead, leaving Brady in blowout games, etc. The only consolation is that they lost the Super Bowl.

Michael Wilbon: Wow, a lot of Patriots anger out there today. Lots. This question represents quite a bit of the resentment directed at them ... Ouch!


Arlington, Va.: Michael,

Why is it that the Redskins have gone through five straight coaching "administrations" in the past 10 years (late-Turner era, Shottenheimer, Spurrier, Gibbs v. 2.0, and Zorn) and have yet, during that period, to field an explosive offense?

Year after year, the offense is predictably anemic and conservative and, for the most part, the defense keeps the team alive until Nov. or December. Is this an institutional problem with the organization or a player-personnel problem (or both)?

Michael Wilbon: I think most of the problems with the Redskins, like most teams that have long dry stretches, are institutional in nature...


RE: Brady: He essentially did call the penalty on himself. The ref wasn't going to make the call until Brady started pointing and protesting.

Michael Wilbon: More sack Brady sentiment...


Archie Manning's Basement: Mike,

When my two boys face each other in the Super Bowl, who should I root for?

A. Manning

Michael Wilbon: Hmmm, Gotta root for the oldest child, right? This, of course, comes from an oldest child. They've each got one. The tie has to go to the older brother ... They could both get there, couldn't there ...


Washington, D.C.: How bad is it when your No. 1 wide receiver says this:

"I was just happy he didn't -overthrow] me," Moss said of Campbell's long pass against Tampa Bay.

"I think he's getting the feel of me now. I give him those looks every day in practice when he overthrows me like, 'Man, c'mon.' Like five years, you should know me now."

Um, that's not good, is it?

Michael Wilbon: No, if I was the QB and a receiver said that I would lead him him right into Ronnie Lott (or whoever today's version of Ronnie Lott is). But yes, you identify a interesting situation. I don't know if Moss had a smile on his face when he said this, which would make it alright ... There's context to everything ...


Chicago: I don't understand -- when the Bears suffer a tough loss (week 1), you got upset and gave up on the season. But when Redskins fans do that, you always scold them for thinking too nearsightedly. I think getting crazy and frustrated is just part of being a fan. Thoughts?

Michael Wilbon: Hey, I'm nearsighted when it comes to the Bears. The difference is, I KNOW IT AND ADMIT IT. Freely, no less. I'm rational when it comes to the Bears. And I KNOW most people around here aren't rational when it comes to the Redskins; they just don't admit it, which aggravates me (obviously). But it is part of being a fan. You're absolutely right ...


Kyle Orton: Can I please get some respect as an NFL QB? Yes, I don't have the strongest arm in the world, yes my two TD passes yesterday could've been picked off (in addition to my TD pass against Cincy), and yes I have benefitted from playing on teams with good defenses, but look at my record overall as a pro!

Michael Wilbon: Great point ... Yes! Kyle Orton is 4-0 and knocked off the Dallas Cowboys yesterday, with a lot of help from his receivers, but so what! If you want stats, there are a lot of other guys. But Orton's not playing Fantasy Football; he's playing the real deal where victories count more than yards and passing TDs.


Arlington, Va.: If you could script tonight's Packers-Vikings game, how would it unfold? And how do you think the Bears stack up to those two teams?

Michael Wilbon: Well, the Bears have already lost in Green Bay and they're going to have a hard time stopping Adrian Peterson...Script: Favre goes 24-for-25 and throws four TDs in a 28-28 game, but throws a pick-six that the Packers use to win the game 35-28 with six seconds left. You like that? OR Favre goes 11-for-39 with five picks...but wins the game by going 6-for-6 on the final drive with a 37-yard touchdown with :00 left on the clock! You like that better?


Officiating: Speaking of bad officiating, did you see the celebration penalty against Georgia? I didn't see where the penalty was? Awful and it definitely had an impact on the game.

Michael Wilbon: Glad you brought it up ... Throwing a penalty flag there is unforgivable in that situation. It's probably cost Georgia a critical game ... though it preserves the big showdown between LSU and Florida this Saturday in Louisiana.


Oakton, Va.: Mike,

I'd take Cutler over Romo any day, but then I am a Vandy grad who remembers Jay getting us to 5-6 his senior year and beating Tenn. You might fault him for not having a winning record in college, but when you QB at Vandy playing with 1-AA receivers in the SEC, you do get graded on a curve.

Michael Wilbon: Good point, but no grading on the curve. I gotta look up what John Elway did at Stanford. But yeah, Cutler was pretty darn good at Vandy and I'm glad the Bears have him now ...


Las Cruces, N.M.: Need help!

Cowboy fan for thirty-plus years! Can't stand the way the franchise is run. Grew up in D.C. and have a secret soft spot for the skins, but can't stand the way the franchise is run.

I need a new team. I can't pick a winning team, because I'll feel like I'm jumping on the bandwagon when things are good.

Michael, pick my new NFL team. A well-run up and comer. I like Mike Singletary. What about the '49'ers. Ooops, I hate the '9'ers.

Michael Wilbon: I was going to suggest the 49ers, or the Falcons (they play each other this week) or my Bears. I really do like the Falcons. They're sorta like the Portland TrailBlazers to me, an up and comer you can really root for ... Why hate the Niners? Okay, I got it! The Saints. Gotta love the Saints with Brees and a new attacking defense coached by Gregg Williams.


Down By Verizon Centre: It's only been two games but (except for when they let up in the final period Saturday night against the Maple Leafs) the Washington Capitals looked really dominant against the Leafs and the Bruins. Does D.C. really have a pro team that's a serious championship contender? Will anybody in this football-crazed city notice?

Michael Wilbon: The Capitals looked great, offensively, didn't they? I would imagine Coach Boudreau didn't like giving up those late goals in the home opener ... but even that hints at how good the Capitals can be now, us worrying over how they're winning! But they've got talent, a coach and system they clearly believe in...This could be a special season to watch ... and then the real season begins in the playoffs because that's what matters in professional sports. But it's very cool that the Cappies are that good.


More on the Brady penalty: Sorry to beat this dead horse, but I think you are right Michael, there is a culture among refs that Brady can't get touched. After Brady turned around and made the penalty gesture to the ref, the ref then NODDED at him and THEN threw the flag, well after the "hit." The nod really rubbed me the wrong way, for some reason. Rant over.

Michael Wilbon: Just letting a few more rants slip through...


Arlington, Va.: Hi Mike,

Sounds like Marlins Manager Fredi Gonzalez may be looking for work soon. You think the Nats front office might call him?

Michael Wilbon: Maybe there are others on this staff, too ... like a terrific, terrific coach in Bo Porter. The Marlins might be a good place to look, right?


Chevy Chase, Md.: Do you still play tennis? Are you any good?

Michael Wilbon: I don't...Gave it up for golf in the spring of 1998 after playing tennis since I was 10 years old...So I just threw 30 years of playing tennis out of the window, which was probably stupid...But I'm a golf addict. I cannot control it...And I don't have time for both tennis and golf. I'm seriously thinking about getting back into tennis but it's going to take a lot of work...


Best City Ever, USA: Every week I hear someone say "that was the best play ever" or "they're the worse team ever", he's the "worst coach ever". Really? Over 100 years of professional sports and we are fortunate enough to see the greatest or worst moments EVER? Thoughts?

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, this is one of my biggest pet peeve. It's not even a pet peeve. I HATE it. Because people now, especially young reporters and media people, have no idea of what happened historically and the sports they're talking saddens me, and angers me. You're totally right...


Harrisburg, Penn.: Mike,

As Ed Lover says: "Come on Son!" The MLB playoffs start tomorrow, and not a peep on this chat?!? Any predictions? How about thoughts on the one-game playoff at the Metrodome?

Michael Wilbon: Okay, perfect way to end this week's chat ... Yankees win. Okay, I do believe the Red Sox can beat the Yankees. I really do. And I think Philly is really good, and the Dodgers can win a bunch of games 2-1 in the postseason...and the Cardinals have a great 1-2 pitching punch in Wainright and Carpenter (or maybe it's the other way around). But I'm thinking right now the Yankees just seem to have it all, including one of their best power lineups in years...Yankees. People don't want to hear that, do they? Okay, gotta run and prepare for PTI ... See you guys next week and I promise we'll talk more about baseball and the playoffs which will be in full swing...Take care, have a great week. MW


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