D.C. Sports Bog Live: Redskins, Caps, Nats, MLB Playoffs, NFL and College Football
Tuesday, October 13, 2009; 11:30 AM
D.C. Sports Bogger Dan Steinberg's was online Tues., Oct. 13 to break down all your questions about the Redskins, the Caps, D.C. United, the Nats and the latest sports news and your questions and comments about his latest bog posts.
A transcript follows.
Read Dan's daily smorgasborg of the bizarre side of D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
Dan Steinberg: Hey everyone. Here's an introductory note: I feel sort of bad that I'm not writing anything about the Caps, haven't even been to one Wizards practice yet, and have completely shirked my duty to start setting up the Atlantic 11 college basketball voter pool. But there's just too much burgundy revolution in the air for me to ignore. Plus it goes well with pumpkin ale.
So, as in past weeks, 97 percent of these questions are about the Redskins, 93 percent of them I'm probably unqualified to answer but will try anyhow, and at least 50 percent of them won't be answered due to time constraints. Still, I'll try my best.
Also, if you haven't been, please make sure to read Paul Tenorio's post-game chats on this same Web site. He does an excellent job at instantly reacting to the games.
Gallery Place, Washington, D.C.: Dan, did you see the three Caps fans last night wearing Scotland jerseys and wearing kilts?
Is there a Scot on the team?
Dan Steinberg: Goodness, let's start here, and no, I didn't. I did get an e-mail of a NJ fan with a "Broder" jersey. Maybe he was related to David, I don't know.
London, U.K.: Do you have any comment on the Dan Snyder screed on Deadspin? Sure, it has NSFW language, but I think it's pretty accurate.
washingtonpost.com: The Most Hopeless Franchise In Football. Jamboroo, Week 5 (Deadspin, Oct. 8)
Dan Steinberg: Well, it's hard to separate some of that from Drew Magary's seething hatred of all things D.C., which makes me suspicious of the man, even though I consider him a friend and occasionally see him lugging his children around downtown Bethesda. But he's the best and funniest writer in the sports blogosphere, and I think his rant is a must-read for anyone who cares about the Skins and has a high tolerance for profanity.
Annapolis, Md.: In the last 10 years Snyder has owned this team, he has only fired a coach mid-season once. He has only fired two head coaches in that time (not counting the interim coach).
Since this mid-season firing, the Redskins have had records of 5-11 (twice) 6-10 and 7-9 for losing seasons and yet Snyder has not made the damning move of firing a coach mid-season since.
Why is the firing of Zorn mid-season (almost universally seen as a bad move) seen as a foregone conclusion with Snyder?
Dan Steinberg: This is actually a great question. So many of the national analysts have suggested that there's a massive history of Snyder having an itchy trigger finger. The Norv firing was awful, but it was also a decade ago, and Snyder was firing a guy he hadn't hired.
I think everyone knew that Jim Zorn was on the hot seat entering this season. No one has disputed that, and no one stepped up in Ashburn to say that was ridiculous. (At least that I can remember.) If you grant that, the opening performance has been about as putrid as could have been imagined: the loss to Detroit, the non-existent offense, the narrow home wins against two teams that are getting outscored by about 22 or 23 points in the rest of their games.
So if you grant that he was on the hot seat in August, the seat is boiling now. And without anyone from the corner office saying "Zorn is our coach through the end of the season," the speculation just keeps building. And now it infects the very air, so that players (Andre Carter) say they hope Zorn gets to finish the season when they're not even asked about that. There are only three ways to end the talk: win games (which seems unlikely), get a public endorsement (which hasn't happened) or get fired. I think that's why so many people are focusing on option 3.
S. Rockville, Md.: Any chance you'll be at Capital One Field/Byrd Stadium on Saturday for the battle of the hot seat coaches? Zorn isn't the only coach who might be gone next season around here.
Dan Steinberg: No, probably not. I haven't done college football much, and I'm not sure this is the one to start with.
Also, we don't have much of a Web audience on Saturdays, which has kept me away in the past.
Arlington, Va.: How long do the Caps have to turn themselves around before they start losing fans? Their early season woes, especially taking too many dumb penalties, are the same issues they had last year. Why do they keep repeating the same mistakes?
Dan Steinberg: Well, I don't think they're at the "losing fans" point. The truth is, the buzz for this team is a post-New Year thing to a large extent, no matter what their record. I mean, sure, the preseason buzz this year was much bigger than I ever remember, but it still was a buzz compared to the Redskins' sonic boom. But once all the football is over, and the playoffs are approaching, the Caps thing will be ramped way up again. If they're mediocre then, they'd probably have a hard time replicating the spring of '09.
But I don't think anyone guesses they'll be mediocre then. A week ago, they were first or second on everyone's power ratings.
I have no explanation for the dumb penalties thing. Maybe it's a Siberian thing.
Ashburn, Va.: Not sure if you have the time to do this (maybe if I weren't so lazy I could instead) but I think it'd be hilarious if you could put together a video montage of all the press conferences of Redskins head coaches since Snyder became owner, using all their absurd statements after horrific losses and with some funny background music. Maybe some gameplay footage and big-name free agent signings thrown in. Thoughts?
Dan Steinberg: If someone else does it, I'll gladly link to it, but we don't have access or permission to use such footage on our site. Trust me, we'd love to have access to interviews, both during good times and bad.
Blackout: I critized the Junkies bags over heads thing for not being original, so I've been trying to think of a way to show dissatisifaction at the stadium. What about fans wearing black, like we're attending a funeral, or the death of a franchise (goes with Russ Thaler's eulogy for JZ). This would also be a great visual effect on TV (I loved the "Wear Caps gear" but the red vs burgundy is pretty close on TV).
Any other suggestions from you or your readers?
Dan Steinberg: I'll open it up. The black thing is one of the better ideas I've heard, since it would allow people to still enjoy their small stash of eight home games while sending a message. Or, "enjoy," I guess.
I've also read about walkouts, or picking one game and just not showing up. Any other ideas, I guess?
Seriously Peeved: So, on Saturday, the nationally-ranked Hokies beat the [tar] out of BC. Meanwhile, the no-account Terps got the [tar] beaten out of them. So who is on the FRONT PAGE of the sports section Sunday? Maryland!! What the heck?
That's inexcusable. And I don't want to hear that the Hokies are in far-away Blacksburg. A zillion people attend or graduated from Va. Tech, including a large contingent from Northern Virginia, and they are arguably a hometown team.
Dan Steinberg: A zillion? Really.
I don't remember what the front of sports looked like. I think the Hokies could be "A" hometown team without being "THE" hometown team, and as many alumni as there might be, it's still hard to compete with College Park's proximity and similar zillions of grads.
I could go either way on which of these games was more important to the Washington Post's readership. Welcome further thoughts.
Raleigh, N.C.: "And maybe each of those 32 fellas should know the whole NFL rulebook," or at least the special teams coach should know the rule and explain it to Zorn before he challenges. It seems like all the other teams are actually practicing pushing blockers into return men while we don't even know that is legal.
Dan Steinberg: I haven't heard Danny Smith yet interviewed on this topic. Would be curious to hear his thoughts. There was definitely a lot of confusion there, and the officials did absolutely nothing to help with their botched announcement. The television broadcasters (including Brian Billick, who won a Super Bowl) weren't overly helpful, either.
Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: You said: "We don't have much of a Web audience on Saturdays, which has kept me away in the past."
Don't you think this could change over time, especially with the rise of Twitter and the mobile web. If you build the Saturday content (and push it to your base), they will come?
Dan Steinberg: Yes, I think this could/would/must change in the future. And we're definitely moving to generate more and more weekend content. I just mean for myself, I have to make choices, because I can't work every day of the year, and taking Saturdays off still seems like my best bet.
Poor Jason: Introducing the starting tackles for your Washington Redskins: Mike Williams and Stephen Heyer.
Is there anyone on the planet other than Danny and Vinny who DIDN'T SEE THIS COMING?
Dan Steinberg: I think they must have seen it coming, too. I understand the frustration, but I refuse to believe that anyone in the front office didn't know that Chris Samuels would likely miss at least one game with an injury. And Heyer was the starter to begin with. So we all knew this day was coming, including the men with the cigars. It was just a question of whether the replacements would be good enough.
Takoma Park, Md.: How do you feel about the GIANT picture of Ivan Carter running in the advertisement next to your blog? Answer in Espanol, baby!
Dan Steinberg: Not just next to my blog. Next to just about all the sports content on our site. He does take a great head shot, doesn't he?
Disaster-town: Why would any real coach take over midseason? And if they won't, what's the benefit of an interim coach who has no future?
I think Zorn gets to captain the Titanic right to the bottom of the ocean -- even though Danny steered it into that iceberg for him.
Dan Steinberg: To me, the only feasible solution is putting Blache in charge. The benefit is you can get through the rest of the season without weekly dissections of Jim Zorn's corpse, and you can get a strong jump on locking up the guy you want for next year, when there figures to be a lot of competition. (Rooney Rule? What Rooney Rule?) Also, if you assume the Skins eek out an ugly one vs Kansas City and lose to Philly, they'd still be 3-4. If, somehow, a coaching change sparked something.....
I mean, I know, I know, but it's almost impossible to imagine things turning around under the current leadership, isn't it?
Washington, D.C.: The commenter from Va Tech is peeved because they are infinitely better than Maryland but don't get respect in the big time paper. I say, live with it, and instead bask in the glory of a much superior football team. It's way better. And yes, Maryland is more hometown to Post readers than Va. Tech.
Dan Steinberg: Yeah, but people like to see their team's success validated by large, flashy, colorful coverage.
I don't think he's saying he'd trade the success for the coverage.
I do remember when I covered Maryland football in the fall of '05, the Terps leaders were constantly complaining about the insufficient coverage and play in the paper. Wonder if they're still saying that.
Despair: Poor Jim Zorn. Snyder couldn't get anyone to work for him, so he promoted Zorn. Zorn, of course, was nowhere near ready and -- unsurprisingly -- is failing. Zorn will get fired.
But how does that solve the problem? Snyder is the damn problem, and he isn't changing or going away. I think there's a chance he'll fire Vinny (to great rejoicing) but just hire another yes-man to replace him so Danny can keep playing little Napoleon.
How does this franchise ever get better?
Dan Steinberg: If you assume you're correct on everything that's wrong, I would still dispute your despair for the future. Daniel Snyder has pride, and I don't think he has any desire to run a perpetually floundering franchise. I know what's happened in the past, but if things remain ugly, I can see him putting another Marty in charge. I wasn't at the paper then, but it seems like part of the problem with Marty was a personality issue, and not JUST the struggle over power. If he finds a guy that he likes and respects, I can see him again turning over the majority of the controls.
Columbia, Md.: What's your best score on the Orbitz mini golf pop-up ad? Took me all morning, but I'm down to a 4.
Dan Steinberg: Have never played. I wish there was a way for us to make money that didn't involve pop-up ads. I also wish Orbitz could have found me a round trip flight to Vegas before the Eagles MNF game for less than $430. Seriously, $430? Lame.
Bye week is Halloween duty, and a certain toddler is going to be a ladybug, so I can't miss that. And thus, the two days before the Eagles game, I'll be in Vegas.
Pentagon City, Va.: With your insight into the players, do you think any Redskins players would be upset at being traded, like Patriots players were at the beginning of the season?
Dan Steinberg: Sure. Jason Reid and Barry Svrluga and Rick Maese probably have greater insights into the players, but I don't think they hate it here. It's a nice place to live, and a nice place to make a living, and a lot of guys definitely like the community, and I think a lot of them genuinely like most of their teammates.
Plus, they could get traded to Oakland. Who would want that? Or, hell, the Lions or Rams or Bucs. The Redskins have had many issues, but they've made the playoffs two of the past four years, and they will always, always, always invest in the product.
Loser-Skins: I thought the Redskins would go 8-8 by beating the lousy teams, losing to the good ones, and stealing a win or two in the NFC East.
Now? Isn't 5-11 optimistic? I can't imagine the Redskins will be favored in any games this season except the Chiefs and Raiders. And I'm scared of those two!
Dan Steinberg: That's something I need to look into, whether the Skins would be favored against any of their remaining post-Chiefs opponents based on current Vegas rankings.
I had them at 7-9 before the season. Because of their showing, the fact that they're not 3-2 now, and the fact that the Saints and Broncos look a lot better now than they did in August, you might be right. A lot depends on Samuels. If he's out for a significant amount of time, it's hard to see many wins. I still think they'll steal one or two against NFC East teams.
Rockville, Md.: I am not the ideal customer for the sports section, but I do buy my paper every day and would like some consideration.
I don't follow the major sports so much, but do want to see the golf news and if there is a bicycle race going on - I like to know what is going on. Now and then I want to see the track and field activities and I do want to see the stats for a few football games.
Why not a really good index for the sports section? I have asked before and they tell me it is great, but most of the time I have to hunt for it. And there are articles not in the index, or so it seems to me.
Can someone fix the sports section?
Dan Steinberg: I can pass this along. Or, better yet, just publish this question and trust that my editors are reading my every chat.
It's interesting that you say this. As we've redirected so many of our resources into exhaustive coverage of the local pro teams, I tend to forget that there are general interest readers of our print product who really do want the sports section to be a daily compendium of national sports news. That's not, at all, what I use it for any more.
Washington, D.C.: Zorn decided to shut [Samuels] down for a week, "just to quiet this thing down."
What in the world does that mean?
Dan Steinberg: It sounds more like they want to see what the tests say, which is perfectly understandable.
Alexandria, Va.: How will Blache manage to avoid talking to the Media if he becomes interim head coach?
Dan Steinberg: If he does get that job, he will talk.
Kensington, Md.: Snyratto have fiddled while the Redskins have burned for years now ... poor drafts, ignored totally the offensive line, selected largely insufficient coaches, and generally spent their time star-gazing. The team is now close to bottom, not a team with reparable problems, but a bad team.
Why not follow the Leonsis path and blow it up, bring in a solid coach and give him time to rebuild, and stop the mind games with the fans? Easy answer I guess -- Snyratto's still in charge.
Dan Steinberg: I thought it was Snyderatto.
And maybe they will. If things go the way a lot of you expect--offensive line disaster, brutal schedule, total meltdown--I wouldn't be shocked to see the Leonsis path taken.
The problem with this, as I keep saying, is the Leonsis path got a major repaving when they wound up with Alex Ovechkin. Building a foundation through youth and the draft remains pretty solid, in general, but a lot less solid when you don't happen to get your hands on the best player in the world.
Arlington, Va.: Not really excusing Zorn, but I think your expectations that head coaches have a strong grasp of the rule book are out of line with reality. I can't count the number of times I've seen a coach -- and not just the bad ones -- try to challenge a play that is not subject to challenge. And listening to coaches in the booth, it's clear that they don't always know the rules (as you mentioned with Billick).
The NFL rulebook is complicated, and coaches get it wrong all the time.
Dan Steinberg: You're right. I thought about that when posting. You do see coaches regularly unsure of what they can challenge.
But the fair catch thing, I think it's fair to expect him to know, especially if DeAngelo Hall and B Mitch knew it. Asking whether you can challenge something is fine, but had he known this not-arcane rule, he wouldn't have even needed to ask about the challenge. Actively engaged players can be pushed into the fair catcher, and Zorn said he knew the ball hit Westbrook's leg first. Case closed. No challenge.
U Street via Winston-Salem: The number of times that I've heard poor, little Wake Forest...Seriously Virginia Tech fan, we were the team that trounced U-Md. this weekend and didn't get much love from the Post; however, considering that all of Wake's living alumni would barely fill up Nationals Park, I don't expect much coverage from the Post.
When I want to get some loving for my Deacons, I go online.
Just a thought.
Dan Steinberg: Since you didn't ask a question, I'll answer you with not an answer.
I hung around with a few of the Wake Forest players during last year's Eagle Bank Bowl, and found both the players and coaching staff to be smart, funny, engaging, grateful and generally just a pleasure to deal with.
Leesburg, Va.: " if you assume the Skins eek out an ugly one vs Kansas City"
Why would anyone assume that?
I'm assuming we're going to give a 4th team its first win next week.
Dan Steinberg: Funny, we just taped the amazingly awesome Redskins Insider podcast, and not to give anything away, but I was the panelist most confident in a Skins' win, while one of my fellow panelists was EXTREMELY pessimistic.
And cmon, giving the Giants their first win in the season's first game doesn't really count.
Sure, this isn't a gimme, but if Vegas says the Skins are favored by 6 or 6.5, I think it's save to say chances are better than 50-50 they win.
Barno, MD: Does John Feinstein seriously not realize that 100 percent of stadium parking passes and 99 percent of tickets that are sold for home games are sold well in advance of the game (generally only club level seats are available the week of a game and very few of those sell the week of).
Boycotting the Redskins six days before their next game will do next to nothing financially other than selling a few less sodas, hot dogs, etc. I think Dan Snyder will live. The real loser when there are more empty seats are the players, who would be playing with less of a home field advantage with less folks in the stands to yell and make it difficult for the opposing team while we're on defense.
So if you want to hurt the team's chances of winning while simultaneously doing nothing to hurt Snyder's wallet, by all means don't come to the game on Sunday. That'll show 'em!
washingtonpost.com: John Feinstein: Everyone Answers for Mistakes -- Except Officials (Washington Post, Oct. 13)
Dan Steinberg: I guess you'd have to ask him that, not me.
Hey Barno, by the way, good to hear from you. Been hoping you're well. Whatever you want to say about Barno--and lots of fans have said lots of uncomplimentary things--he says what he believes, and he doesn't back away no matter how dire things look. When a similar (though much less intense) despair was afflicting Terps basketball last winter, he repeatedly said that the Terps would be fine and that everyone would love Gary Williams again by April. I think he was right. When national analysts were predicting doom and gloom for the Strasburg negotiations, he repeatedly said that Strasburg would sign for a reasonable number and there was no need for even the slightest nerves, even into the last few hours. He was right there, too.
He has said, over and over, that he'd be shocked if these Skins don't win 10 games. I'm guessing the Samuels injury has him down, but he won't back away from what he's said. Give him credit for that.
How to protest: Here's a suggestion for the Burgundy Revolutionaries with tickets on Sunday:
The fans in FedEx should simply walk out for part of the game. As a for example, immediately after the national anthem, the fans should get up and stretch their legs on the concourse and not return until after the kickoff. It's the sort of things that could catch on; once fans realize what's going on, a lot are likely to join in.
This wouldn't require season ticket holders to throw away tickets they paid good money for. It doesn't require any sartorial preparation. Danny's rent-a-pigs wouldn't be able to obstruct this.
And unlike boycotting the gift shop or wearing black, it would be immediately apparent to the TV audience what's going on.
Dan Steinberg: Ok.
Though I'm not sure it would or it wouldn't be immediately apparent. The announcers would have to make a big point of it for it to resonate with most viewers, I'd think, unless it was a near unanimous gesture.
The 400 level was like 1/3 empty at the start of the Bucs game, but that was because it takes so long for people to file in. I don't know that those empty seats resonated in any way, and they were mostly full by the end of the first quarter.
Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Did you see that Matt Swenson with Express has said he's not going to write about the Skins for a while. He said "There are far more interesting teams and story lines to talk about while the Redskins spin into oblivion."
washingtonpost.com: Matt Swenson: Wake Me When Something Changes (Express, Oct. 13)
Dan Steinberg: I did not see that. That's a fine stand for him to take, but I think a lot of people are interested in what's happening in Ashburn. And, crass as this may be, I think the continued slide toward disaster has made things even more interesting than a more ho-hum year of mediocrity.
Now, I'm not saying I hope for disaster, because I really don't, but if people want to read about it, I won't stop giving it to them.
Silver Spring, Md.: Any chance of us getting a soccer stadium built in Anocostia? Do you see D.C. United playing in Balmer in the near future? Should we expect to see fans eating crab cakes and Old Bay cheering on our Black and Red?
Dan Steinberg: I don't know the politics anywhere well enough to judge, and I like Baltimore and know that there are a lot of real soccer fans there, but I'd just hate to see this. I mean, D.C. United is the only team with D.C. right there in the name. They've done great things to make themselves a part of this community, and Baltimore is a slightly different community. Sure, tons of people from Baltimore root for the Caps and Wizards and Terps, but United has always been such a city institution....I don't like to think about this one.
Silver Spring, Md. (nee Cleveland): I'd just like to remind the Washington Metropolitan Area that the Redskins are a Jeff Suisham shank away from the same record as my Cleveland Browns.
The difference is that in July, I didn't hold the completely unsubstantiated belief that the Browns were a going to be a good team this year. Being a non-Redskins fan in Washington, D.C. is a terrible, annoying experience, but seeing the home team fall on its face every year certainly helps ease the pain.
Dan Steinberg: Well, Shaun Suisham. But I get your point.
A lot of people who don't root for the Redskins are like you. There are understandable reasons that Redskins fans get excited:
* They're used to success, even though it happened a while ago
* They usually have important pieces added during the offseason, like Haynesworth/Orakpo
* Teams in the NFL regularly get really good with no particular advanced warning.
I mean, I'm find with faulting Redskins fans for plenty of things, but excessive optimism doesn't seem like an impeachable crime to me.
Redskin Nation: Do you think the Redskins' mediocrity has anything to do with playing down to the level of lesser opponents? It seems the best game the Redskins have played all year was against the now 5-0 Giants. Maybe having such a cupcake schedule in the first 6 weeks wasn't such a blessing after all?
Dan Steinberg: Yeah, I do agree with you on this. Certainly the feeling of doom and despair would be lessened if the losses hadn't come to such dregs.
Of course, if they really turn out to be horrific, they will start getting blown out by the good teams on their schedule, and we'll look back fondly on the days of two point wins over the Rams. And at this point, with 40 percent of the offensive line down for the count, their opponents may be playing down to the level of the Skins.
How insecure do you have to be: as a Va Tech grad to need the validation of the front page of the Post Sports section? You won, everyone knows that and I'm sure there were highlights on SportsCenter that the entire country saw. You're ranked in the top 5, how much more do you want/need?
Dan Steinberg: See? You're insecure!
Losing it: I am all for going 2-14 if it means Cerrato is gone and Snyder hires a competent GM. Wouldn't an abysmal record practically force high-level changes to the way things are done? Any smart, rational, intelligent person can see that the basic way the team is run is fatally flawed. And that is pretty much why I am not holding my breath that sweeping change will take place, because Snyder just doesn't get it. I guess Skins fans can look forward to a wasted high draft pick though. That's always fun.
Dan Steinberg: I feel confident saying a 2-14 record would lead to major, major, major changes.
One of the press room conversations in recent weeks has involved the really good/really bad NFL dichotomy this year. So many putrid teams (Bills, Browns, Lions, Rams, possibly Titans, Raiders) means that the Redskins could stumble badly and still not get a Top 6 pick. That would be annoying.
Loonyville: You STILL think the Redskins will win a couple games in the NFC East? Seriously? Those teams will feast on our offense. It's not going to be pretty. And they only need to score about 17 points to win, right?
Put it on the line: who do you think the Skins can actually beat?
Dan Steinberg: If Samuels is out for the season, I will run away from this prediction. But if he's ok and there are no other dramatic injuries, yeah, I can see it happening. They weren't embarrassed against the Giants in New York, and that was the best team in the NFC, at home. I can certainly see Washington beating Dallas, yes. Dallas almost lost to the Chiefs, right, and the Cowboys took a good long time to put away the Bucs.
Without Samuels, though, all is probably lost.
Houston: I feel like a pox. Every team, I mean, every team, even the ones that I don't care about (Colorado, LSU, random other college team), that I rooted for lost over the weekend and it continued into last night with the Caps. Looks like it was broken with the Miami win, but what to do to change my luck?!
Dan Steinberg: Root for DeMatha. Or read War and Peace. I'll give you a hint: root for Mother Russia.
Fed Ex Field Section 429, row 7: What do you know about the validity of reports that signs/bags, etc. were seized from disgruntled Redskins fans at last week's game. Here's the policy on the website; kind of contradicts what's been reported (unless the last sentence of the policy was overly enforced??):
Banners Banners are permitted at FedEx Field; however, guests may not display banners that advertise or mention products or services. Banners may not cover existing FedEx Field equipment or signage. Signs may not be made with metal or wood. Management reserves the right to remove any sign, including those deemed to be obscene, inappropriate or which obstructs the view of other guests. For the safety of all guests, banner poles are not permitted.
Dan Steinberg: Bags were indeed seized, but you didn't quote the part of the policies that clearly says bags are prohibited.
I have heard about signs being seized, but when I asked for specific reports, I didn't get any response. If anyone had a sign seized last week, please let me know. steinbergd-at-washpost-dot-com. I also think "inappropriate" is a pretty vague word, and I can see where the Redskins could think something's inappropriate that you might not.
Washington, D.C.: Zorn is not alone in all this --think back to Gibbs and the second timeout. It is shocking how little some coaches know about the rulebook. The ignorance of the rules, or of how and when to challenge (remember the spot he tried to challenge in the first quarter?) is troubling, but it is hardly the most troubling part of the Zorn package.
Dan Steinberg: Ok, that's fair enough.
The way I look at is is this: I'm not smart enough to call plays, or to diagram an offense, or to judge talent, and I sure couldn't lead 53 men, but I know when to call timeouts and when to challenge. It frustrates me to see an NFL coach not be able to do something that I, or many many other casual NFL fans, might theoretically be able to do.
But I understand what you're saying.
Yorktown, Va.: Is it time for the Redskins to bench Jason Campbell and start Todd Collins?
Dan Steinberg: There's been a lot less of this than I would have guessed, with most people zeroing in on either the offensive line or the decision makers and largely sparing Campbell. At this point, I sort of agree that there's not much point. Do you believe Todd Collins could have done something that Jason Campbell failed to do last weekend? Also, Collins isn't the future, and this team doesn't seem to have a future, so again, what's the point, unless you think you're making a serious playoff run. Then again, if JC's going to be gone, what's the point of any of this. Let's just cancel the dang season.
All that aside, still, it's great to have NFL weekends again, isn't it? Man, I love October.
Washington, D.C.: The problem with Jim Zorn is that he's happy with mediocre. After the game on Sunday he actually sounded annoyed with the prospect of being judged based upon his ability to get the Redskins to win games. Did you notice this as well? It's not a great quality to have in a head coach.
Dan Steinberg: No, I don't agree with you on this one. Zorn is quirky as heck, and is not a typical NFL coach in any way, and has an interesting way of talking about NFL games, but I absolutely do not believe that he's happy with being mediocre.
Washington, D.C.: Explain me this: Why do Cindy Boren, Mike Wilbon, etc. keep saying that starting Todd Collins is crazy? Wilbon said yesterday that Collins has never done anything to make you think he can be a quality starter. Really? He took the Redskins to the playoffs, and is the only QB in the last 5 years capable of getting this team to score. So, he's old. Big deal. Campbell is gone next year either way, and I'm sick of watching him wander around the football field like a lost child.
Dan Steinberg: I can go either way on this. Both moves seem essentially pointless, but since the offense obviously doesn't work right now, I think it makes some sense to experiment. Like you can say with so many things, how could it get worse? I'm positive he could have handed the ball to Portis for the last touchdown against the Panthers, and DeAngelo Williams handed the Redskins at least a field goal on their first possession, so absolutely worst case scenario, even a high school quarterback would have led Washington to 10 points last week.
Upperville, Va.: We expect you to attend two herding trial in Va. during the beginning of November. Check akc.org and ahba- herding.org for more info.
No excuses son!
washingtonpost.com: The American Herding Breed Association
Dan Steinberg: I've said it before and I'll say it again: herding's commissioner needs to find a way to keep herding's big events away from NFL football weekends. Maybe herding can hold its own against the Wizards, but it's so hard to go head to head with the Redskins.
Waiting for Spring Training: One of the few things that has gone right for the Nationals is the size of the payment they get for letting the Angelos-owned MASN televise their games. Do you think there will be any more effort by that network in the near future to be less Baltimore-centric so as to draw more eyeballs in D.C. or northern Virginia? I last watched MASN on the final day of baseball's regular season for that extra-inning thriller between the Nationals and Braves but I doubt I'll click back there until Spring Training starts because there's nothing on the network's fall/winter schedule that interests me.
Dan Steinberg: I think you posted this comment on my recent item about the Nats tv ratings, and someone else wisely posted that MASN has some great local college basketball coverage.
I think your frustration is probably shared by Baltimore viewers of Comcast SportsNet, which veers strongly toward D.C.
speaking of this, Sports Business Journal had an item today that said the Orioles still get higher ratings in D.C. than the Nats do. Gaaaaaa
Bethesda, Md.: Steinz,
If one were interested, how would they go about getting in on the Atlantic 11 voting? I've got a boatload of pent-up snark, and no adequate vehicle for its release.
Dan Steinberg: I actually need to figure out if I'm still doing it this year. It's pretty time intensive, believe it or not, and the interest in American basketball seems limited. But if I'm doing it, I'll post several invitations for voters
Washington, D.C.: Zorn said that the offensive line was so bad that hey had to significantly pare down the offensive playbook. So, if this is the case why did he not pare the "run a sweep from your own goal line play"? You know, the one play you should never do with a terrible O-line.
Dan Steinberg: I think he said he thought Portis would get the edge, or otherwise would be able to cut up. He said that he could have just snuck Campbell up the middle. Or maybe he should have just quick kicked on second down.
sec 307 row A Byrd : Hey seriously peeved, you chose to live in the DC area, with alot of others Tech fans/alumni ... Don't complain that your school, which is how many hours away, isn't on the front page of the Post sports ... It doesn't belong there anyway. It's bad enough that Comcast Sports Net features Tech over Maryland the way it does. Dan, your thoughts ...
Dan Steinberg: Just wanted to point out that college editor Matt Bonesteel sent me this note:
"Hokies were on the front for the first two editions, got bumped for U.S. soccer in the final edition."
The U.S. soccer game, of course, ended fairly late
Why Colli, N.S.: I can think of one actual, non-crazy-hope reason to go to Todd Collins: The Redskins need to learn if last year's 2 wide receiver/1 tight end draft was really as bust-tacular as it seems. The signs are bad. But on the other hand, we know that Campbell locks in his primary receivers and only seems to feel good with Cooley, Moss and Randle-El.
Swapping Campbell for Collins and telling Collins to get everyone involved would give them a better idea if any of those guys could be salvaged. In my opinion, that's what the Nats did by booting Manny Acta. Nobody thought Riggleman would set the world on fire, but he was a known competent manager. Putting in Riggleman helped answer the question, how much of this is on the manager and how much is on the talent?
Dan Steinberg: I can buy that, I guess.
The FAX, Va.: The Notorious B.O.G.
I noticed that Joe Bevenati (sp) said that the Red Wings old "Production Lines" were "notorious" for all the points they scored. This prompted me to wonder if notorious is the most mis-used word in the English language, and if the Notorious B.I.G. had an affect on this. Notorious does not mean famous, it means ill-famed, or known widely and usually unfavorably.
I don't remember the world pre-Biggie, but I was hoping you would. Was notorious used back then as frequently as it is now? Was it used correctly? Am I mis-informed on what notorious really means?
Ahh...so maybe this wasn't really a sports question...sometimes I just need your life advice.
Dan Steinberg: Other misused words:
Literally, which now means figuratively
Bemused, which people only use to mean "amused," which is not what it means.
Maligned, which is used to mean "criticized," which is not what it means
I think. Any others? Dad? (My dad's an English professor and also reads these chats.)
Pentagon City, Va.: Some people said they saw Caron Butler from the Wiz at the Pentagon City Mall the other week. Do you ever make an appearance out here? Shopping for some shoes perhaps?
Dan Steinberg: Do I, or does Caron? I can see Caron there. He's not a guy that's at all scared to be out in public, and he handles himself with fans better than just about any other athlete in D.C. To the best of my knowledge, anyhow.
As for me, I like P.G. Plaza. They have a shoe store that really works for me. Also, I now live nearish to Montgomery Mall, and they have a great toddler play area.
Washington, D.C.: Ya know the worst thing about the Redskins right now? They're not even fun to watch. There are plenty of losing teams who at least make some big plays, throw some deep passes, or get in some big runs. Even if they lose, the game is exciting and interesting.
We don't have any of that with the Redskins. They run when it's predicable, and get a few yards. They make little, short, dinking dunking passes. It's not even fun to watch. I mean, did you see the Jets/Dolphins game last night? Now -that- was a football game.
Dan Steinberg: I thought the exact same thing while watching the Jets-Dolphins game. There are just more interesting plays than you ever see in Skins games. That goes back to the 30-point thing; the Redskins have gone longer than any NFL franchise since scoring 30 points, besides the Lions. Lack of scoring is boring, and two touchdown drives covering a total of 14 yards is boring. Really really dominant defenses like the old Ravens used to sort of be entertaining, and these Redskins are good on defense, but it's not the same.
Alexandria, Va.: The last team Todd Collins came in the offensive line was in shambles too.
I've watched two games from the press box this year and everybody has been pointing out wide open receivers. It would be impossible for Kelly and Thomas to be as bad as their stats. Thing is, outside of Sonny Jurgenson, who has been screaming for Collins since week one, why isn't the local media writing about what I witnessed so many talking about? Is Jason Campbell really that nice of a guy? Why does he have the job security of a Manning brother when he's struggled in every scheme he's been in?
Dan Steinberg: I don't know. I've often thought that in, say, New York, both Zorn and Campbell would be facing daily calls for their head from the media. Here, we have people like Wise (whom I love) saying that both guys should stay. I mean, this show ain't working.
I'd say the best win since I've been involved in our Skins coverage was probably the 2007 finale, over the Cowboys, at home. The starting right side of the line for that game was Jason Fabini and Stephon Heyer. Collins threw for 244, Portis ran for 104, and the Redskins won.
Alexandria, Va.: "Of course, if they really turn out to be horrific"
See, that's what I love about the D.C. sports media. Even when they think they're being hard on the Redskins they're being wildly optimistic.
If? IF?? I got news for you. They are horrific.
But, keep thinking those good thoughts. Whatever gets you through the day.
Dan Steinberg: I don't even remember what this was in response to.
If Samuels is out, I'll sign on to the "horrific" petition.
Any others?: Enormity.
Dan Steinberg: What does that mean?
Carlos!: What'd you think of Carlos Rogers pointing the finger at the front office? How long until he gets the Lavar Arrington treatment?
Dan Steinberg: I don't think what he said was any harsher than what CLinton Portis said a few weeks ago, and he hasn't been LaVared yet. Remember, Carlos came close to demanding a trade in the offseason, and maybe he's already decided this won't be his home next year. Or maybe he was just being honest and answering the question, in which he also faulted the players and coaches.
An Editor Got It Right (Really?!?!): "Hokies were on the front for the first two editions, got bumped for U.S. soccer in the final edition."
In my opinion, that's how it should have been; the U.S. national team qualifying for the 2010 World Cup is a bigger news story than any college football game, regardless of how close or far the team is or how many alumni live in the area.
Dan Steinberg: Our editors are good people.
They should buy donuts for the writers more often, but other than that, no complaints.
Anonymous: Glad the Nats won.
Dan Steinberg: Since I have no idea what this is referring to, I'll end here. Many apologies for leaving so many good questions unanswered. If you have more for me (confiscated signs? anyone?) you can always find me at steinbergd-at-washpost-dot-com. If I don't respond, write me back. And if you see me at Dunkin Donuts, I like chocolate frosted best.
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