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Misunderestimating

Sep 18, 2005, 10:53 PM EDT

Misunderestimating

This just in: Many members of the media are lazy. They establish a template based on what has happened in the past. Everything that fits into the template is embraced and “reported”. Whatever doesn’t fit is rejected and goes untold. This takes the place of having to take the time to actually watch the teams they are “covering”.

The template for the Redskins was established in 2004. Actually, it goes back a bit further than that with the “Dan Snyder is a meddling, clueless owner” element. That started in 2000 when he was a meddling, clueless owner. But even though he has handed the keys over to Joe Gibbs, everything the Redskins do has Snyder’s fingerprints on it, according to the template.

The rest of it consists of the game having passed Gibbs by, Mark Brunell being totally washed up, Clinton Portis being unable to handle the load as back in a Gibbs offense, the offensive line being weak and, as a corollary to that last one, they can’t pick up the blitz. There are other elements thrown in here and there, most of them negative, but those are the main ones.

A quick point-by-point refutation here. If the game ever did pass Gibbs by, he made up for lost time by working about 27 hours a day during the offseason to get back up to speed. Brunell is not threat to Peyton Manning as the NFL’s premiere QB, but he has shown that whatever ailed him last year is healed. Nobody at all paid any attention to the Portis’ press conference after Sunday’s game. He said that he and Ladell Betts will share the load at running back. Portis will not get worn down. Last year, the offensive line was mediocre at best. Nobody noticed the Jon Jansen was back and that Casey Rabach replaces the weakest link the line.

But apparently it’s too much work for those who write for ESPN, for CBS Sportsline, for papers around the country and the like to actually observe what’s going on with the team and shape their stories accordingly. The Redskins aren’t among the NFL’s elite, they’re not even among the league’s very good. But they’re better than the template has them make out to be.

The members of the mass media pack have taken the opportunity, however, to reshape the Dallas Cowboy template. All that they had to know is that Jerry and Bill dropped some $50 million in signing bonuses to upgrade their team, particularly defensively. Of course, when Snyder and the Redskins did something like this it was called folly (and rightfully so, for the most part). According to the “experts”, throwing money after their problem (16th-ranked defense in 2004, same 6-10 record as the Skins) has made them into a reincarnation of the ’85 Bears. Their front seven is fierce and impenetrable and that “fact” makes up for some minor shortcomings in their secondary, like safeties that can’t cover.

And then there’s Julius Jones. The guy is out half the season injured, gains a shade over 800 and now all of a sudden he’s Jim Brown.

Of course, in predicting the outcome of the game, it’s that monster defense that’s going to lay waste to that girly O-line of the Redskins and destroy to that shell of his former self Brunell, stuff the overworked Portis and Dallas will cruise to an easy win. Dallas will win in a walk.

In reality, the game is a tossup. The Cowboys have the edge in that it’s a home game, but that’s about it. Both teams are in the middle of the NFL pack, a large bunch that includes about 20 teams. Also among them are the Chargers, Dallas’ “quality” opponent last week who fell to 0-2 with a loss to a Broncos team that was routed by Miami last week. And the Redskins’ 9-7 win over Chicago became more impressive after the Bears hung 38 on Detroit on Sunday.

So we will see what happens on Monday night. On the record here is a prediction of a close Redskins win. But Dallas could well win and the “experts” would be right, but, more than likely, it will be for all the wrong reasons.

  1. mbarnes202 - Sep 18, 2005 at 11:31 PM

    Rich,
    I have long wondered HOW the media and the prognosticators were consistently predicting the Giants and the Cowboys to both finish ahead of the ‘skins, when in fact they all finished 6-10.
    To me, it seems they have just as many Qs as we do.
    Let’s start with the Giants– will Manning really put it together in year 2 just because his brother did? That Giant defense is yet another year older, as are their WRs, and Tiki is getting up there too.
    Then, for the Cowboys, they have a new QB who’s a statue, an offensive line in flux with a new RT, a new defense with a lot of young folks, and some Qs in the secondary.
    I will say, all that garbage about our O-line, or supposed mediocrity at a number of positions really all boils down to two points, in my mind:

    1. I guess our QB situtation really is lousy. I mean, our offense, all last year, throughout the pre-season and in week one, just cannot score points. *AND / OR*
    2. Our offensive scheme really is out of date. I mean, Spurrier’s offense scored more consistently, with TRUNG CANIDATE at RB and an even younger Ramsey or Danny Wuerfel or Shane Matthews at QB, and a much weak defense. How did he do that? You can’t argue he had better personnel. He had a better offensive scheme– the QB was put more at risk, but so was the defense.
    So, is #1 or #2 true? Are they both true? Smart money says yes (namely Vegas), but here’s hoping they’re all wrong.

  2. Anonymous - Sep 19, 2005 at 12:27 PM

    What I love is how Peter King now has the bears higher than the Skins in his power rankings.

  3. Anonymous - Sep 19, 2005 at 1:07 PM

    “Both teams are in the middle of the NFL pack, a large bunch that includes about 20 teams.”
    You’d like to believe that wouldn’t you.
    Redskins fans can’t stand it when the Cowboys are a measurably better team.

  4. Rich Tandler - Sep 19, 2005 at 1:13 PM

    Wow, you certainly knocked down all of my logic there, didn’t you? Great retort. If you’re going to come here, fine, but don’t be a typical Cowboys fan like the ones who have sent me dozens of emails I received that say, essentially, “Boyz Rule, Skinz Drool”. Bring a little more to the table if you’re going to come here.

  5. Joe - Sep 19, 2005 at 1:21 PM

    Peter King is a fraud. His online column has become a string of evidence that portrays how little he knows about the NFL. If you care about the state of Starbucks Coffee or what his kids are doing, read the MMQB. Otherwise, there’s an internet full of better sports writers.

    Banks, Chidiha and Zimmerman are just as bad. When Nunyo joins SI in a couple weeks, he’ll be the only intelligent voice on their sorry staff.

  6. Anonymous - Sep 19, 2005 at 1:21 PM

    Okay….
    How about we discuss it tomorrow.
    I’m confident that you’ll be the one eating crow. I’ve been reading a little more of your myopic drivel. If you really believe the Redskins are going to the playoffs this year, you’re an even bigger fool than I thought at first.

  7. Rich Tandler - Sep 19, 2005 at 1:22 PM

    I’ll be here. I doubt that you will be.

  8. Anonymous - Sep 19, 2005 at 1:25 PM

    Of course you will. Where else do you have to go?

  9. MDSkinzfan - Sep 19, 2005 at 2:52 PM

    Well if the Cowboys fan had a pair he’d dazzle us with his brilliance and tell us why they are a better team.

  10. Rich Tandler - Sep 19, 2005 at 2:54 PM

    Yeah, that last retort there really put me in my place. Any moron can talk about a game after it happens. I guess that answers the question about having a pair.

  11. Anonymous - Sep 19, 2005 at 4:57 PM

    Ah, Don Banks. Guy hates the Skins as much as he loves the Ravens, who by the way have become a joke of a team. Incredibly overrated defense, an offense that can’t produce a first down in an entire half of play, a running back who looks old at 25, a “star” linebacker who does more dancing than playmaking — Banks must be crying himself to sleep a la Michael Irvin when he realized he didn’t get into the hall of fame.

    As for tonight’s game, I suspect Bledsoe will show his true colors and throw at least two picks — and they’ll be bad ones. Underrated Skins win and still get no respect.

  12. Anonymous - Sep 19, 2005 at 5:34 PM

    i love this blog

  13. Anonymous - Sep 20, 2005 at 12:57 AM

    Here I am, as promised.
    My story of the game:
    Two excellent defenses played. Two okay offenses got lucky. Ours once, yours twice.
    See you in December. Who knows, maybe the NFC East championship will be on the line.

  14. Rich Tandler - Sep 20, 2005 at 1:18 AM

    “Redskins fans can’t stand it when the Cowboys are a measurably better team.”

    Thanks for coming back, Anon. I guess what you’re saing is that the above statement is now inoperative.

  15. Anonymous - Sep 20, 2005 at 1:26 AM

    I’m not quite willing to give up that ghost just yet, but I think you’ll agree with my statement above. Both teams have great defenses. Other than that, we’ll see.

  16. Anonymous - Sep 20, 2005 at 1:28 AM

    p.s. We live in the same city. We ought to get together for the game in December.
    Maybe I’ll have a party, I got the HDTV.

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