Browsing all articles from September, 2009
Sep
21

When Fans Boo (Why, Player Perspectives, and My Opinion)

The Washington Redskins beat the St. Louis Rams today at home, 9-7.  But you wouldn’t have known it by the sounds of fans.  The Skins were booed multiple times in their win against the Rams.  There were three times in particular the booing stood out.  Once was before halftime when they were down 7-6.  Another was when Zorn called a conservative running play on third down when the team was when backed up near their own end zone.  The last and most telling time was in the closing seconds of the game as Campbell kneeled to run out the clock.  It’s not often teams get booed when they win, so what the heck is going on?

Why The Fans Booed

  • Expectations were high for today’s game. The Skins were favored by 14 by some and the Rams seemed like a perfect opponent to get into an offensive groove.  The Rams last week lost to the Seattle Seahawks 28-0.  Of course, even with Matt Hasselbeck back, the Seahawks are not an offensive juggernaut.  Surely, the Skins could put the points on the board after playing a suffocating Giants D last week, right?
    • The fans weren’t the only ones who thought this game would be different.  One of the best analysts of the NFC East, Matt Mosley with the NFC East Blog on Espn.com wrote in his NFC East: Final Word:

Santana Moss is about to go off on the Rams: There, I said it. I think Jim Zorn will take more shots downfield, in part, because Jason Campbell should have more time against the Rams’ front four…But the Redskins will roll in this game. Clinton Portis goes for 115 yards and a touchdown and Moss goes for six catches for 127 yards. Trust me on this stuff.

  • Last year’s loss to St. Louis is still fresh. The Redskins were on a roll last year before the talented but poorly executing Rams surprised the Skins at home.  Along with the Cincinnati Bengals, the Rams game was one of the “should have won games” that  could have put the Skins in the playoffs.
  • Coach Jim Zorn’s play calling has been blamed for the offensive drought.  The fans aren’t the only ones voicing concerns.  Mike Wise of the Washington Post, wrote last week that Zorn’s trick FG play was an act of desperation.  Sonny Jurgenson also supposedly called out Zorn on the 4th and short play where Portis followed Sellers to nowhere and was stopped.
  • You don’t go to FedEx Field to cheer on Shaun Suisham.  Okay, maybe there are a few of you out there.  But you go to see Moss, Portis, Campbell and Cooley score touchdowns.

What the Players Thought of Being Booed

Dan Steinberg of Washington Post’s DC Sports Bog had some great quotes in his piece, “So is it really time to boo the Skins?” Here are some highlights:

Chris Cooley: ”You take a win when you can get it. And there’s a lot of good players, and there’s a lot of good teams in this league. I think Washington prides themselves on being the best fans, and I think that they should try to be the best fans. We won. I understand they wanted us to beat the Rams by 40, but we still won, and we if we continue to win games, that’s great. Booing’s unnecessary.”

Antwaan Randle El: “We appreciate them, and everyone has freedom of choice,” Antwaan Randle El said, “but for us as a team, we play better when you don’t [boo].”

My favorite was really Fred Smoot and Steinberg’s conversation:

“They’re the fans; if they want to boo, let them boo,” Fred Smoot said. “They should have booed.”  I asked why he thought fans should boo; “because they wanted to,” Smoot said. “You can’t control them, you can just control what we did on the field.”

My least favorite: Redskins Linebacker Robert Henson from his twitter account: “The question is who are you to say you know what’s best for the team and you work 9 to 5 at Mcdonalds.”

(Agents, do you know where your clients are?  Here’s a hint to Henson: don’t try and apologize or defend yourself to everyone.  Put up a tweet or two to everyone and call it a night, let it blow over!)

Why I Wouldn’t Have Booed

  • We won.  Yes it was ugly.  Yes, Zorn could have called some better plays.  Sellers dropped a TD pass, as did Devin Thomas on plays called by Zorn.  But we’re tied in the NFC East after the Eagles and Cowboys lost today.
  • This is DC (or the DMV if you prefer), not Philly.  I hate to say it but who else boos their team when they win?  Philadelphia Eagles fans are known as being some of the most critical fans in sports. However, Redskins fans have a tradition of being the most loyal fans in the NFL and all of sports.  The fan base has taken a toll in recent years due to ticket prices, sparse playoff appearances and free agent acquisitions that  have only teased it.  What a drop off from the rocking days of RFK?  Let’s not pull a Philly here and boo a winning team at home.
  • There should be an advantage to being at home. Why not cheer for them and not against them?  Having one of the largest stadiums in the NFL should haunt the visiting team, not the Redskins.
  • This is a dangerous precedent. I kind of understand the booing at half time, but after the game is over when you win?  Is there a certain point differential you need to have to not get booed?  Do you boo through the third quarter if they are still losing?  Often the fans can be instrumental in shifting the momentum between teams.  It can provide the energy or optimism players can use as that “spark” to do things like this.

What Washington Sportsjam Twitter Followers think:

nunyabeeI think the final score & the fact that we didnt destroy the Rams irritated the entire fanbase 2day. I dont see any improvement

nunyabee@dcsportsjam I personally dont & didnt boo but I cant really blame the fans that did. We need 2 c a better product on the field IMO.

WithAView@dcsportsjam Maybe I’M a “blind homer”but booing like a Philly crowd doesn’t make a “12th man”. Not telling them anything they don’t know.

jbeardsley@dcsportsjam My take – fan frustration at playcalling, poor execution, owner and playing down to lesser teams. For years. Not player focused

dcborn61@dcsportsjam players, coaches are professionals. Getting public feedback goes with the territory. Fans would much rather cheer

Other follower tweets:

Hensen, who isn’t on the 53, should practice hard and keep his mouth shut. When he produces on the field, he can talk.

Maybe I’M a “blind homer”but booing like a Philly crowd doesn’t make a “12th man”. Not telling them anything they don’t know.

What Do You Think?

Do the Skins deserve to be booed?  Does it matter?  What do you think about Robert Henson’s idea that those that booed are fake fans and haters?


Sep
15

Campbell In Comparison After The Giants Loss

When the Skins lost to the Giants Sunday, there wasn’t much love for Jason Campbell or Jim Zorn. Mark is about to post another podcast with our thoughts from the game very soon.  I also thought it would be interesting to look at how Campbell did in comparison to Kyle Orton and Jay Cutler.  The Broncos wanted Orton over Campbell, Skins wanted Cutler over Campbell and the Bears are stuck with Cutler.  

Campbell had a rough day against the Giants.  He threw an interception and lost a fumble that resulted in a touchdown (The Redskins ended up losing by 6 points).  However, he compared favorably well against the other two quarterbacks.

Campbell

19 for 26        211 yards      1 TD       1 INT         73.1 Comp. %      93.6 QB Rating

Orton

17 for 28        243 yards      1 TD       0 INT         60.7 Comp. %      100.7 QB Rating

Cutler

17 for 36        277 yards      1 TD       4 INT        47.2 Comp. %      47.2 QB Rating

Cutler’s regular season debut really couldn’t have gone worse.  With the game on the line, he threw his fourth interception and ensured a win for the Green Bay Packers.  Orton only narrowly escaped an opening day loss as well.  The lone touchdown he had was an 87 yard tipped pass to Brandon Stokely to beat the Cincinatti Bengals in the closing seconds of the game.

We’ll take a look at these quarterback stats in another few weeks to get a little perspective on the matter.  Obviously we can’t fully know “what could’ve been”, if Campbell was a Bronco or Cutler was a Redskin.  But when fans decide to pour all blame upon Campbell for an offense that struggles against a dominant defense and wistfully reminisce about the time we almost had Cutler, it’s not entirely accurate.  I may be proved wrong, but as far as this year is concerned, Campbell is the best man for the starting quarterback job in Washington.  

My prediction is that Campbell will be heads and shoulders above most of the NFL quarterbacks by midseason (with help from a somewhat soft next few games, a better running effort from Portis, and hopefully better playcalling from Zorn).  

Sep
12

NFL 2009 Season Predicitons – Playoffs and Super Bowl (Mark)

Alright. Matt and I have both given our regular season picks.  Now, time to look even further into the future and predict the playoffs!

NFC

Wild Card-Round (Seeds in parentheses winner bolded)

Packers (6) at Cardinals (3)

Playing warm weather will allow Arizona’s offense to keep rolling.

Redskins (5) at Saints (4)

The ‘Skins great D will be able to slow Drew Brees and the Saints down enough for a win.

Divisional Round

Redskins at Cowboys (1)

This will be an upset, but it should not be surprising. The ‘Boys just never get it done in the playoffs.

Cardinals at Vikings (2)

Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson will be able to put up some big numbers at home against a weak D. Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald will try to keep the Cards in the game, but it won’t be enough.

Championship Game

Redskins at Vikings

Right now the Vikings look like a more complete team than the Redskins. And Favre is going to want win. Badly. He’ll make it happen.

AFC

Wild-Card Round

Ravens (6) at Titans (3)

The Ravens have a great team but the Titans team is a beast and has the talent to go all the way. The Ravens are not quite at that level yet.

Colts (5) at Broncos (4)

The Broncos will be the weakest division winner this year. Peyton Manning will get it done on the road against a defense that is still rebuilding.

Divisional Round

Colts at Steelers (1)

Without Tony Dungy to coach him anymore I predict that Manning will find Pittsburgh D too much to take.

Titans at Patriots (2)

This  could be the most competitive game of the playoffs. Both teams have a chance of winning, but homefield advantage and a week to rest their players will give the Pats the upper hand.

Championship Game

Patriots at Steelers

This will be a close, close game.  Mike Tomlin is a great coach with a Super Bowl win but Belichick is a great coach with three.  The Pats squeak a win out here.

Super Bowl

Patriots vs. Vikings

Brett Favre will finally get another Super Bowl win and retire for keeps (okay I admit part of this pick is simply me wanting that retire for keep thing to happen).  He has all the pieces he needs with the Vikes D and all day Adrian Peterson.  The Giants proved that Brady and the Pats can be beat in the big game. I think the Vikings are just going to want it more.

Sep
12

2009 NFL Season Predictions AFC (Matt's picks)

Author Matt Trollinger    Category Articles, Football     Tags

AFC EAST

1. New England Patriots

2. Miami Dolphins

3. Buffalo Bills

4. New York Jets

There seems to be a general feeling among analysts of the league that Tom Brady has fully recovered from his knee injury.  His play this preseason tends to confirm this, he passed for 307 yards and 4 TD’s.  Skins fans saw first hand that Brady and Randy Moss are ready to get things started again (they connected for 2 TD’s that game).  If Brady really is fully recovered, there’s no doubt the Pats will win their division.  As Mark said, Leigh Bodden and a HEALTHY Shawn Springs make for a strong cornerback duo.  

The Dolphins added Jennifer Lopez apparently, so that should help them.  I don’t think the Jets will be able to go farther than the Bills with Mark Sanchez as their quarterback.  For the Bills to end up higher than 3rd in the AFC East, Terrell Owens will have to be as productive as his honeymoon days in Dallas.  

AFC South

1. Tennessee Titans

2. Indianapolis Colts

3. Houston Texans

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

No major changes from the Titans last year to expect a fall from their division champ status.  Kerry Collins can still get it done and Tennessee has a dream of a running back combination.  With Albert Haynesworth leaving through free agency, the Titans will probably need to blitz more often.  This could change things, but probably not dramatically.  The Colts may take some time to get used to life without Tony Dungy, but I don’t see Peyton Manning letting them fall too far.  

AFC North

1. Pittsburgh Steelers

2. Baltimore Ravens

3. Cleveland Browns

4. Cincinnati Bengals

The Steelers are still the team to beat in this division (and in the NFL).  Their offensive line looked dominant the other night against the Titans and the defense is still going to be one of the top units in the league.  

The only real challenger, Baltimore, had a shot to take out the Steelers in the playoffs last year but fell short.  Baltimore and Pittsburgh are two teams that pride themselves on defensive strength but have exceptionally gifted quarterbacks.  The development of Joe Flacco may catapult the Ravens to the top of the AFC North as long as their defense remains healthy.  

Cincinnati does not seem to be going anywhere.  Cleveland looks like they’ll be starting Brady Quinn as QB which will be exciting to watch.  I think Quinn will have a decent year to grow with some highlight reel plays along the way, but not enough to get the Browns to the playoffs.

AFC West

1. San Diego Chargers

2. Denver Broncos

3. Kansas City Chiefs

4. Oakland Raiders

San Diego is still star-studded and will easily claim this division this year.  Denver is a team in major transition with a new coach and a new (not so great) quarterback.  Denver will be kicking themselves all year for not being willing to take Campbell in the Cutler trade.  Kansas City will see some improvement this year with Matt Cassell bringing stability to the QB position.  That is of course if Cassell can stay upright most of the year.  

Oakland’s top pick in the draft Darrius Heyward Bey has world class speed and actually came to camp on time(unlike Michael Crabtree with the 49ers).  Heyward Bey will be fun to watch if they can figure out how to get him the ball.  On defense the Raiders are stronger than you’d think with an all pro cornerback in Nnamdi Asomugha and now with the trade for  DT Richard Seymour, the Raiders might surprise some people.

Playoff Predictions

1. New England Patriots

2. Tennessee Titans

3. New England Patriots

4. San Diego Chargers

5. Indianapolis Colts

6. Baltimore Ravens

Sep
11

2009 NFL Season Predictions – AFC (Mark)

These are my predictions for the AFC standings this year.  I have less to say analysis wise about this conference so I will simply explain the reasoning for my division winners.

AFC East

1. New England Patriots

2. Miami Dolphins

3. New York Jets

4. Buffalo Bills

Last season the Patriots managed an 11-5 record and Tom Brady only played for part of one game. This year Brady is back and the offense instantly goes from great to one of the Top 3 in the league.  The Patriots picked up Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden at cornerback and improved their passing defense.  The Patriots play a tough schedule but with Head Coach Bill Belichick, Brady at QB, and a solid defense the Pats will be competing for home field advantage in the playoffs.

AFC South

1. Tennessee Titans

2. Indianapolis Colts

3. Houston Texans

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Tennessee Titans went 13 and 3 last year.  Most of their starters return this year and they are playing an average schedule.  Their big loss was on defense as star defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth left to go to the Redskins.  They still have Javon Kearse and Kyle Van Vanden Bosch to bring the pressure up front. The defense may not be quite as fearsome as it was but it will still be great. Kerry Collins is a veteran quarterback who can easily manage a team with a great defense and a strong running game to wins.

AFC North

1. Pittsburgh Steelers

2. Baltimore Ravens

3. Cleveland Browns

4. Cincinnati Bengals

The Super Bowl champion Steelers return nearly all of their starters.  They have one of the best defenses in the NFL.  With Rashard Mendenhall returning from injury the running game gets better and more varied.  Ben Roethlisberger is no Peyton Manning, but he knows how to get the job done.  The Steelers could be even better than they were last year.

AFC West

1. Denver Broncos

2.  San Diego Chargers

3. Kansas City Chiefs

4. Oakland Raiders

This  division is the toughest to predict because none of the teams are really that much better than the others.  I think the Broncos are going to be able to take it however.  New Head Coach Josh McDaniels and new quarterback Kyle Orton will exceed expectations.  Solid defenders Brian Dawkins, Andra Davis, Renaldo Hill, and Andre’ Goodman were brought in to reinvigorate the defense.

Playoff Seeds

1. Pittsburgh Steelers

2. New England Patriots

3.  Tennessee Titans

4. Denver Broncos

5. Indianapolis Colts

6.  Baltimore Ravens