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The Chat House with Michael Wilbon

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Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, October 18, 2010; 1:45 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Monday, Oct. 18 at 1:45 p.m. ET to discuss the Redskins-Colts game, college football, the latest sports news, his columns and anything else on your mind.

Submit your questions and comments before or during the discussion.

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Washington, D.C.: I didn't expect the Redskins to win against the Colts. However, I was surprised they loss by so little because I thought the Colts were going to win by at least 13 or more points.

I evaluated this loss by how these coaches really work with the players and how the players are buying into the (offense/defense/special teams) systems. What a nice turnaround I'm noticing.

Personally, a win against the Colts would've exceeded my expectations!!

Michael Wilbon: Then you need to adjust your expectations Sir/Ma'am...The Redskins aren't a Division II school playing somebody in the SEC. The Redskins are in the winning business, period. I guarantee you everybody at work today at Redskins Park had the expectation the team would beat the Colts yesterday...First, though, hi everybody! Sorry we're starting late today but I hopped on a flight about 45 seconds after the end of Redskins-Colts last night in Phoenix and flew back here to D.C. on the redeye and had to get a few hours of sleep...We'll deal with the Redskins, NFL, the MLB playoffs and maybe a question or two in anticipation of the upcoming NBA season which begins just a week from tomorrow with Celtics-Heat in Boston...Anyway, the Colts aren't the Colts of recent seasons that look unbeatable at 10-0 or 12-0 or some such. The Colts hadn't won a game on the road and this game was in Washington, not Indy. The Colts had already been beaten by Houston and Jacksonville...so this was no moral victory. The Redskins had good chances to win that game last night, starting with all those dropped interceptions (I counted three) early in the game. There was a makeable missed field goal...The Redskins played pretty well, but the defense allowed a trillion yards to Peyton Manning, hardly a disgrace given he's one of the 10 best QBs every, but not the stuff that usually leads to a win. To beat Manning, Brady, Big Ben, etc. you usually have to come up with some turnovers, and the Redskins had their hands on balls but couldn't convert...Why the Colts should win a game by 13 points or more on the road when they hadn't won on the road this season is something you'd have to explain to me...

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FedEX Field Experience: Hey Mike,

Yesterday I went to the Skins game and the entire experience was great. The staff was awesome and the lines that we were in moved fairly quickly. Getting in and out of the stadium wasn't bad either. Maybe Dan Snyder deserves a little bit of praise, because I only hear negative comments about him. Have your feelings about him changed since the early days of his ownership?

Michael Wilbon: Dan Snyder didn't build that stadium; Jack Kent Cooke built it, and it should never have been there. Local governments are as responsible for the location of the stadium as Cooke. And Snyder isn't responsible for it being there at all, and the location is the primary problem. It ought to be where the D.C. Convention Center is...or somewhere close...which is to say downtown D.C. Still, I don't talk to many people who share your enthusiasm for gameday at Fed Ex. The parking issues are Dan Snyder's responsibilities. The people who oversee parking at various stadiums throughout the country tell me Fed Ex parking is the absolute worst, in part because people take up three, four, five spaces to tailgate and it's not regulated. I've said this before and I'll say it again--and not all of this is Snyder's fault, I'll remind you--but it's the worst gameday experience I've had and I've been to every single stadium in the NFL multiple times...some of them 25, 30 times like Giants Stadium (the complex, not the new building) and Soldier Field, Philly...New England is no picnic, neither is Buffalo. But 90,000 people is too many by about 20,000 and Snyder did increase the capacity, with no regard for existing ticket holders, fromm 72,000 to 91,000...Ultimately, an owner is judged on whether his team wins and how frequently, and so far that hasn't gone particularly well...But Snyder is certainly trying to win all the time...He'll try anything within his power to win, even when the strategy isn't a sound one...It's difficult to win, but it's easier to get gameday right if you're committed to it and paying attention to the paying customers.

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Ft. Lauderdale, FL: How in the world can the NFL be serious about an 18 game schedule (I know its all about money)? The injuries (not just concusions) have got to be a huge concern. If I am the NFLPA I fight this very hard!

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, me, too. I agree with you 100 percent...But I'm not holding my breath. I don't hear the opposition coming for the players that I'd like to hear. They ought to be screaming bloody murder over this, but it seems like they'll accept short-term gains like a bigger roster and some increased benefits instead of holding the line on this one. We're talking about the most important health issue facing the sport today and management is ready to forge right ahead because it's a money grab and nothing will get in their way. The posters on head injuries that are now posted in our outside the locker rooms in the NFL seems like the league's way of saying, "Okay, we warned you officially; it's out of our hands now...Let's play two!" I think it stinks.

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South Milwaukee, WI: I was at the Wisconsin-Ohio St. game Saturday and when Wisconsin scored the touchdown to ice the game, the Badger band struck up "Hail to the Victors" (Michigan fight song), just to stick it to Ohio St. Talk about cold!!

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, I thought I heard that while watching the game on TV and wasn't sure. Ha! Nice touch. I don't want to hear people call that some giant upset. I called it Friday when we had Brent Musburger on PTI...Completely predictable to me. The OSU quarterback is a nice player, but not a best-player-in-the-nation kind of player...I think it's totally unfair the expectations put on that kid, Pryor...I love the Big Ten, but it's not very good this season, not close to the SEC, Pac-10 or Big 12. Not close. Fortunately, not as stinky as the ACC either. Wow, the ACC is bad. It's a joke that the league even has automatic BCS status; it shouldn't.

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Greensboro, N.C.: Mike, what is your opinion of Urban Meyer re-instating a kid kicked off the team for stalking and making death threats to his girlfriend?Where is the school president and A.D.? Is winning that important to them that they have lost all perspective?

Thanks.

Michael Wilbon: I hadn't heard that. Are you certain? I'd need to know all the details. But I will say this, there's very little perspective--some would say none--when it comes to college football in the SEC. And in Gainesville, Fla.? The SEC schools aren't the only ones, but they're probably the most glaring example as a cluster. They're not long on perspective, which is one of many reasons the football is so damn good. And they want to keep it that way...Florida ain't the only place in the country where this could happen. And don't make the mistake of thinking that the president of a school has the stature of the football coach. Not true.

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Fed Ex game day experience : That original poster who complimented the game day experience was Mr. Snyder himself. He was in the owner's suite and used a helicopter to get to/from the stadium. Of course he had a great game day experience. The rest of us DID NOT.

Michael Wilbon: Well now...that's a little more like what I'm accustomed to hearing about Redskins gamedays...

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Concussions: I still see a lot of QBs, Donovan F. included, not wearing mouthpieces. How can the owners allow their huge investments to be at risk like that?

Michael Wilbon: It's not up to the owners. It probably needs to be a rule, but owners don't know anything about mouthpieces...except the ones some of them employ! Ooops, I'm sorry, I didn't mean that...ignore that last line. I've got too many friends in the PR business who do fabulous jobs...I just couldn't resist the line...

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Randy Moss: Maybe I'm in the minority, but I think Randy Moss is way overrated. He has great regular seasons stats against teams that don't get physical, but disappears in the post-season. He doesn't like to play in cold weather, short-arms catches in the middle of the field and complains if he doesn't get the ball enough. If I had to win one game, I would take Hines Ward over Moss ANY day.

Michael Wilbon: There are probably a lot of people with you on that, but remember that Randy Moss has more catches than anybody in NFL history except Jerry Rice, the greatest receiver ever. I don't think you can just write off Moss that way. He was on perhaps the two greatest offenses of modern time, the 15-1 Vikings who lost the NFC title game to ATL by a missed field goal at home (not Moss' fault, right?) and the 18-0 Patriots who lost to the Giants defense...I have to go back and see what Moss did in that game. Those who argue with you point to him being on those two teams as proof of your claim. I'd, personally, take Randy Moss. I'd take Hines Ward, too...Which one first? Wow...that's a great, great question...I'd have to look up their post-season records. Maybe this is a question to revisit...Thanks for this...very provocative...

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Bears v. Redskins: Next week's game brings together two fan bases who have to be feeling similar frustrations. Both franchises have been mismanaged and have let chances to be great pass by. As a Bears fan, I'm so frustrated watching this year knowing that we're basically "all-in" with Cutler and Lovie's staff. Poor drafting has left the O-line in a sorry state and there's nothing to do about it and we're wasting the twilight of Urlacher's career.

The Skins on the other hand have shuffled coaching staffs, offensive and defensive philosophies so many times and have paid, paid, paid their way to mediocrity.

Both teams represent a long fall from the teams they could have been. Maybe one or both makes the playoffs, but rebuilding through the draft should be a priority for both these teams in the coming years.

Michael Wilbon: Well done! Wow, I was thinking along these same lines for a column this week...I don't know if you just stole my thunder or not! Should I send you a check if I reiterate a couple of these themes??? You're right on the money. The Bears really ticked me off yesterday, losing at home to a Seattle team that is notoriously bad on the road in recent years. That's the worst offensive line I think I've ever seen. I mean, it's embarassing. The Bears have a record of 4-2, but that "loss" to Detroit means they're really 3-3...I think they're one loss to the Redskins from being 6-10 this season.

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West Allis , WI: "Let's play 2"--thank you "Mr Cub ".

Michael Wilbon: You're welcome.

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Three Rivers!: Michael Wilbon, these chats are terrific; glad I found it because it's a great way to launch my week. It looks like Roethlisberger is back to normal, Polamalu is a hitting machine (NFL MVP), and the Steelers are on track. Are they the AFC favorites? When we talk about best run franchises in sports, are they at the top of the conversation?

Michael Wilbon: Thanks...Where you been? These "chats" started like, what, a dozen or so years ago...Really, I think it's actually that long. Anyway, yes, the Steelers are at the top of any conversation involving the best-run sports franchises. They aren't the richest, and never will be while located in Pittsburgh. But they win. A lot. All the time. And people like working there. They have nothing but praise for the owner, Dan Rooney. The know how to scout, how to get the best out of people, how to hire (three coaches the last 40 years: Noll, Cower, Tomlin)...It's a model franchise...

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Sports and leadership: I was watching SportsCenter last night and noticed that Randy Moss gave a postgame speech in the Vikings locker room.

Really? Is it that easy to come into a new team and be that much of a leader that you're giving speeches about working harder and working together and buckling down after your second game?

Michael Wilbon: Do you know that Randy Moss played the first, what, seven years of his career there? He's not exactly new to the culture.

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Auburn, AL: Did you see Cam Newton against Arkansas? Are we seeing the next Heisiman winner?

Michael Wilbon: Maybe. I did see him and he's fabulous. I'd take him over Pryor, though not Luck at Stanford. Maybe we'll have to see how the rest of the season plays out. But he's quite an offensive threat. And Auburn, according to Mark May and Lou Holtz, doesn't do anything else great, which means it's mostly on this kid, Cam Newton...I want to see more of him, but right now he'd be in a dead heat with about a half-dozen guys (QB at Boise, QB at TCU, RB at Oregon) in the chase for the Heisman...

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San Diego, CA: Mike, What was with the Colts' play calling during the last 2:30 min? Deep in their own territory and they run 3 straight passes, burn, what, 12 secs off the clock, and then punt without making the 'Skins use a single of their 3 timeouts? They're lucky McNabb threw that INT, b/c otherwise they would have given the game away.

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, I thought the Colts playcalling was INSANE that drive, totally nuts. BUT, to be fair if you've got Peyton Manning you're thinking of putting the game away with one first down and you NEVER think he's going to throw three straight incomplete passes there...NEVER.

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30 for 30 : Vlade Divac: Michael,

Have you seen the 30 for 30 following Vlade Divac to Croatia, and retelling the story of the Yugoslavia teams in the late 80s/early 90s and the eventual rupture of the friendship of Vlade Divac and Drazen Petrovic. It reminded me how good of a player Drazen Petrovic was and it is still sad to this day that his career was cut far too short.

Michael Wilbon: I didn't see it. Tivo'd it...heard it was riveting and can't wait to see it, hopefully sonner rather than later.

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Washington: Can Snyder and the Skins ever become like Steinbrenner and the Yankees? In the 80s and early 90s the Yankees were terrible, and made some terrible moves. The spent lots of money on players that did nothing for them - sound familar?

But you can't keep buying all the best players and they all keep busting. Haynesworth is a bust, but was this obvious to a lot of people when the move was made? No, he was supposed to be a monster.

At the same time, McNabb was an awesome move for this team. Maybe Snyder's luck is turning around?

Michael Wilbon: Baseball teams and football teams are so different; I don't know that there's any comparison...BUT, the Yankees did build the core of this latest championship team through the draft...The Redskins have had little use for the draft, and in this day and age that's suicidal. Look at the Patriots and Colts and Steelers...

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Chicago, IL: Before I fell asleep last night, I watched Ryan Howard at the plate against Jonathan Sanchez. After EVERY pitch, it took at least 20 seconds for Howard to get back in the box (after spitting on his batting gloves, rubbing them together, looking around for signs, enjoying the fresh air, etc.) and Sanchez to get back on the rubber (after walking around the mound doing who knows what).

This is SO ANNOYING.

Can't MLB do something to keep the batter in the box and the pitcher on the actual mound? Do they really need that much of a mental and physical rest between pitches? No wonder people get bored watching baseball games. Watch playoff games from the 1970s...they were much faster.

Michael Wilbon: Time for a clock, baby. It just takes too long, these playoff games. And I LOVE the tension of them...but it should take 3-plus hours, especially not for a NL game...

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Going Conservative: I dont know if you got to watch the Ravens vs. Pats game yesterday. But it was a classic example of a team needing to slam the door and make a play on the road. The Ravens coaching staff went conservative and then the hoodie and male model made them pay. When will NFL coaches learn you have to stay agressive, especially on the road?

Michael Wilbon: Great point. I think the Ravens' only flaw right now is that they have to realize this offense isn't the inept, impotent offense of three-six years ago. Flacco has the targets, he's accurate enough. The Ravens should have kept pounding the Patriots instead of pulling it back and going conservative. I think this is a development the Ravens have to get used to...

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Props to Wall?: Mike - I just wanted to give a shout out to John Wall in his debut (which was all but forgotten in Arenas's foolishness) and ask you of your impression of him in his first game and since. Has he shown you some of that Rose/Isiah Thomas magic we're hoping for?

Michael Wilbon: Isiah Thomas magic? No. Isiah was probably the best six-foot guard to ever play. But Wall, who is bigger by the way (6-foot-4 or a hair shorter) has some talents. He's got wow! speed...He's going to fill out and get bigger and stronger. He seems to have the demeanor you'd want out of your lead guard. He needs, like all young players, mentoring...and Gilbert Arenas isn't the answer...D. Rose is a great comparison. Wall is probably a little faster, but not quite as strong. Hey, if Wall can be that good in two years the Wizards will be onto something. I think he's looked great so far...though don't start talking "Rookie of the Year." have you seen the numbers Blake Griffin is putting up with the Clippers? man.

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DC: How big of a win was it for the Patriots this weekend after trading Randy Moss, to defeat a Ravens team that destroyed them in the playoffs last year?

Michael Wilbon: That was the playoffs, this is the regular season...Doesn't mean much yet. The Patriots, Ravens, Jets, Steelers are the four best teams in the league. I can't separate them; perhaps you can.

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Otis, D.C.: Fourth and ten, game on the line...and McNabb overthrows a receiver by ten yards...and said receiver is forty yards downfield and double-covered. Go ahead, defend your boy.

Michael Wilbon: Bad decision to even throw it? Wasn't somebody open underneath? I've seen WAAAAY too many games this year end on fourth-and-something with a QB throwing it 30 yards down the field when 10 yards keeps the game alive. I don't get it. This "take a shot" stuff is so overrated. Joe Montana and Steve Young took the 8-yard completion more than any QBs ever. How'd that work out for them?

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Anonymous: Vlade. That show is a must see. I used to think Vlade was just some big dumb thug. He's a class act with a huge heart. I love sports programs like these. Much better than shows about rumors and infighting.

Michael Wilbon: I don't need to see the doc to know what a smart, sensitive guy Vlade is...I was around him in gyms and locker rooms for years. It was evident from the time he stepped into the league at 20 years old.

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DC: Since when do teams need a great downfield threat in the NFL to have a successful offense? The last team to win the Super Bowl with an offense that loved to throw it deep was the '99 Rams. Since then teams like the Patriots, Colts and Seeelers for the most part use screens, slants and short out routes to move the chains.

Michael Wilbon: Wait a minute now...the Giants had Plaxico Burress, who did all those things you said PLUS was a downfield threat, though not the bombs-away kind. And the Saints had downfield threats last year...Don't get carried away...

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Washington, D.C.: I was wondering...as a sportswriter, do you read other columnists frequently (other than those at the Post?)

Michael Wilbon: Everywhere, all over the place, depending on the news of the day...yes, coast-to-coast...too many to start mentioning names, but yes absolutely...and it depends on the season. I need to read Sam Smith (formerly of the Chicago Tribune) in hoops season, but not football season...

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Moss in SB: Moss scored the go ahead TD late in the 4th quarter against the Giants with just a few minutes remaining. But then Eli countered with the pass to Tyree and then the TD pass Burress to seal the win. BTW, Moss caught 23 TDs that year, a ridiculous number of TDs, and a record that will probably stand for a long time.

Michael Wilbon: Thanks for that!

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Germantown, MD: It looks like the AFC has the top 4 teams in the NFL right now (Jets, Ravens, Pats and Steelers). Who do you see coming out of the AFC this year?

Michael Wilbon: One of those 4! What, you want me to single out one now? Okay, the Ravens...

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Tucson AZ: According to the Palm Beach Post, Eddie House, when asked what the Heat must do to shut up its swelling, shrill chorus of critics, said "I think, you know what, honestly, I don't give a (expletive) about nobody else on the outside. It doesn't matter about anybody out there. ...

"So, at the end of the day, middle fingers to all the haters."

Does he understand that the chorus of critics includes those who ultimately help pay his salary? Or that even fans can be critics?

He's making it hard for me, and I assume others, to care about the team.

Michael Wilbon: So, don't like them. His point is exactly that he doesn't need you (or want you) to like the Heat. I think a villian is great for the NBA. It's been awhile since the Bad Boy Pistons were a championship-level villain. I'm not saying everybody loved Kobe and or Shaq...but they weren't villians. The Miami heat are poised to be that, and let's face it, we're all going to watch to see who can beat them. It's great for sports, great for basketball. And I think there are enough teams out there (Lakers, Celtics, Magic, Bucks, Ok City) that Miami's going to have trouble!

Okay, I've got to run and prepare for PTI...thanks everybody for chatting today...same time and place next Monday...mw

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DC: I used to love watching big hits in football, however, now knowing what I know about the long-term effects of concussions, every time I see someone get "jacked up" I just cringe. How is the NFL going to protect its workforce, in a sport where violence is the norm?

Michael Wilbon: Great question! Let's talk about this next week, please...It's a BIG topic.

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Fresno: BCS rankings are out. What would be better for those of us who want a playoff: Boise goes undefeated and gets in the BCS title game over a 1-loss SEC team, or Boise goes undefeated and gets the shaft yet again?

Michael Wilbon: Boise, I think, is going to get the shaft again. I don't trust the system or the people running it. We'll get more of them same and TCU and Boise will get the shaft...

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