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No Apologies Necessary

Jan 9, 2006, 12:55 PM EST


You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
When a team scores a lot of points and gives up a lot of points and wins like, for instance, in the Bucs’ Week 10 win over the Redskins, that is generally considered to be a great victory. Their 36-35 win was viewed as a momentum builder, a win that helped propel them to the division title. Even though one side of the ball, the defense, was generally ineffective and not functioning up to snuff, the Bucs scored a lot of points so everything was OK. There’s no talk of, my gosh, they’re going to be in trouble if that defense doesn’t pick it up. In this case, the win is a great deodorant, washing away the stench of a poor defensive performance. The Bucs’ game here is just an example; it happens all the time.

Now, on the other hand, if a team wins with superb defense and not much offense, as the Redskins did on Saturday, the deodorizing effect of the victory is diminished significantly. Just like in the 36-35 game, one side of the ball is working superbly and the other one isn’t even competent, but unlike the high-scoring affair it is viewed as an ugly, even undeserved win
Let me ask you this. If a team gave up the most yardage ever by a winning playoff team, would anyone make more than a passing mention of it? No, because needing to score a lot of points to win is considered to be winning “pretty”.

Certainly, you’d rather win in a balanced fashion like the Patriots and Panthers did with good play on both sides of the ball. But the Redskins should not have to apologize for winning or feel inferior because only the defense performed well.

Further Review

One fun element of the Bucs game was the fact that they were turned down on two replay challenges and they whined about a couple of other calls. After what happened in November there, it was justice served up a bit cold.

There was zero evidence that Marcus Washington was down by contact on the fumble that Sean Taylor eventually returned for a touchdown and on the second challenge the replay confirmed what the back judge had originally called. As we found out with the “Tuck Rule” earlier this season, some rules may not make sense, but they are there nonetheless.

Generally, the Bucs were baffled about the call on the Shepherd play but they didn’t complain about it much. Chris Simms did do some related whining however. He said that while he was OK with the Shepherd call, “But the first interception that LaVar Arrington caught, that was a fumble.”

He went on further about his two interceptions, both of which came on tipped passes. “Both interceptions were going to be 20-yard completions.” Yeah, and I was going to be the Queen of England, but a few things got in the way of that.

The best comment was made by John Gruden before the game. Talking about the controversial two-point conversions, he said, “I don’t care about hurt feelings, all I care about is us.” Couldn’t agree more, John. Actually, there is one thing I do care about, John. When’s your tee time on Monday?

Close Call

This season, I haven’t been doing much reviewing of my Bold Predictions like I did last year. I just didn’t find it to be interesting most of the time, so I didn’t do it.

The reason I did it in the first place was because I didn’t like it when writers touted the predictions that they got right and buried the ones they got wrong. Having gone one game better than the Redskins this time at 12-5 with my winner predictions so far this season, I’ve certainly been right more often than I’ve been wrong, so it’s time to do just a bit of crowing

From my Bold Predictions entry last week:


Chris Simms had the day of his brief NFL career the first time the teams played. He threw for 3 touchdowns and no interceptions with a gaudy QB rating of 119.8. He wasn’t sacked; for that matter, he barely even hit.
It will be different this time around. . . He will be very fortunate if his rating is half of what it was the first time.

Simms’ rating for the game, 52.6, less than half of what it was the first time around.

Cadillac Williams won’t beat them either. Tiki and LT ran against the Redskins this year and Tatum Bell popped a couple of long ones. Nobody else, not Alexander, not Jones (Thomas or Julius), not Jordan, not Westbrook, not Tiki the second time around, ran on the Skins. Cadillac won’t either, and that will worsen Simms’ problems.

Williams gained 49 yards on 18 carries, an average of 2.7 a pop.

The bottom line:

It won’t be pretty and it won’t be for the faint of heart, but the Redskins will survive and advance.

Washington 17, Tampa Bay 13


That’s the second week in a row I got the Skins’ score on the nose, for the record. I called 31 points vs. the Eagles in that Bold Predictions piece.

Now, back to your regularly schedule pontificating.

  1. Anonymous - Jan 9, 2006 at 4:28 PM

    Great entry Rich. I couldn’t agree more. A few thought… One thing that may be particularly beneficial about the way the Redskisn won is that the Seahawks may be lulled into underestimating them. Meanwhile, the Redskins will be working their butts off to tune up their offense. The combination of these two factors may result in an unexpected outcome for those who are going along with the 9 point line. This is very similar to the way that the Ravens went to the Super Bowl. One concern I have is the loss of Wynn who is very good against the run. If there ever were a day when we needed to be good against the run, it’s this Saturday. This worries me a little. Lastly, (back to the Bucs), one little thing that nobody is talking about is just how painfully cocky Chrissy Simms is. Do you see him taunt Carlos Rogers when Carlos was chasing him out of bounds? That was uncalled for. My guess is that Carlos will be looking to exact a little pay-back when the Skins play the Bucs again next year. Someone needs to tell Simms that it wasn’t officiating that lost the Bucs the game, but instead, it was mistake-ridden quarterbacking. Of course, he’s so cocky that he would never consider this possibility.

  2. Rich Tandler - Jan 9, 2006 at 4:41 PM

    The Skins didn’t give much away that the ‘Hawks can get much from on film, that’s for sure.

  3. Joshua Brown - Jan 9, 2006 at 5:15 PM

    Great post as always. I was thinking about your prediction during the game. If the Bucs had been smart and gone for the field goal, you would have been right on.

    I don’t understand why tough defensive battles don’t get the same glory as shootouts. The talking heads always pay lip service to defense, but if two teams actually do stop one another, it’s always about the ineptitude of the offenses.

    Gibbs threw out 75% of his playbook once he had a 14-point lead. With the way the Bucs and Skins were playing defense, it was the only option he had. He’s won 17 playoff games for a reason. He doesn’t care how he wins. Ugly, pretty, lucky — it’s all about the win.

    I’d like to see what Steve Young would have done against that Tampa defense. I’m sure he’d risk a concussion or knee injury just so he could say, “Man, we lost, but I got 250 yards.”

  4. Anonymous - Jan 10, 2006 at 12:09 AM

    Hi Rich, Congrats on your record,
    Here is something interesting that you and your readers may enjoy. Looking at the Sagarin rankings on this page,
    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/sagarin/nfl05.htm
    one can see that the Skins are ranked about 7th if I remember correctly of all teams in the NFL. More interesting is the strength of schedule. Only 4 teams played a tougher schedule than the Skins this year. Looking at the Seahawks strength of schedule rating. . . drumroll please. . . dead last in the NFL. They played the weekest schedule being ranked at 32nd.
    Playoff wins come from digging deep into experience of being in tough, hardfought games, and from the looks of this, we have a decided advantage.
    Landuin

  5. mbarnes202 - Jan 10, 2006 at 10:56 AM

    Rich,
    Well, I’d like your thoughts please. I was alone in my surprise among my ‘Skins fanatic friends that the line was 9 points. 9??? The ‘Skins defense is on a roll, and I think (and pray) the ‘Skins can hold Seattle to 21 points. Perhaps even fewer– my hope is that Seattle will be surprised by Washington’s intensity– we’ve been playing intense for weeks, and Seattle has not. If one looks at what Seattle has done against good defenses (Washington, Dallas, Jacksonville), it’s encouraging if your a ‘Skins fan.
    Go ‘Skins. Here’s hoping the Seahwaks are just shut down.

  6. Seattlite - Jan 10, 2006 at 11:25 AM

    The Seahawks Offense is the most consistent in the NFL. We played our worst game of the season against the Redskins in Week 4 and still only lost that game because of two plays. A bogus pass interference call in the 4th quarter and a missed FG to win at the end of regulation. We are not the same team you saw in Week 4, and I’m sure the Skins are not the same either.

    About the Schedule, we played the 49ers twice and the Texans once. Eliminated those two teams and our strangth of schedule is top ten. Our defense is only 24th, but the 6th ranked red zone defense.

    I agree that a 9 point spread is too high for ANY second round playoff game. These teams are too good to make that kinda spread. BUT the one thing you guys have no idea about is Qwest Field.

    NY Giants guard David Diehl says, “This is the loudest it’s been [on the road],”. From a player that plays in your stadium every year, that’s a big compliment.

    Its been a while since Mark Brunell won a big game in Seattle. It think it will be a while longer.

  7. Rich Tandler - Jan 10, 2006 at 11:29 AM

    I’ll have my predictions piece up here on Thursday, but my preliminary thoughts are that the layoff won’t hurt Seattle. History shows that since there have been playoff byes only three teams coming off a bye have lost to teams who played the week before. Professionals can pick up their intensity pretty quickly.

    Still, the Redskins do have a major size advantage along their offensive line vs. Seattle’s front four. If the ‘Hawks get off to a slow start and the Redskins can get a lead, look for this to be exploited constantly.

    On the other side of the ball, I worry more about Hasselbeck than about Alexander, quite frankly. He’s operating that WCO at maximum efficiency which means that he’ll be hard to pressure, much less sack, and he can find holes even when there are eight back in coverage.

    More on Thursday.

  8. Rich Tandler - Jan 10, 2006 at 11:36 AM

    Welcome to the discussion, Seattleite. Way to qualify there. If the Seahawks didn’t play the Niners and Texans their schedule would have been top 10? As I said the other day, I could be queen of England if there weren’t a few things in the way. And if you’re reduced to bragging about your red-zone defense, well, I think that the Redskins’ offensive production could perk up considerably.

    As to the teams’ last meeting–scoreboard. You can whine all you want about a PI call and missed field goals (which, last I checked, were part of the game), but the two teams were even statistically and the Redskins won because they made the plays and Seattle did not.

  9. mbarnes202 - Jan 10, 2006 at 4:54 PM

    Rich,
    Ok, well, here’s how I see it. Most likely, one of two things will happen:

    (1) It will be close for a while, because the ‘Skins will make few mistakes, but slowly, the ‘Skins inconsistency on offense will give the TOP to Seattle, as well as field position. With these two advantages, the very balanced Seahawk offense will slowly begin to wear out the ‘Skins defense. Sometime in the second half, the Seahawks will begin to pull away, and might get a cheap TD late in the game. Hence the 9-point line.

    (2) The ‘Skins defense plays surprisingly tough (not unprecedentded, Dallas held Seattle to 13 points IN SEATTLE), and Seattle just cannot get much going. The ‘Skins offense is not dominant, but has a few things in its favor: IF the ‘Skins can give Brunnel time, Moss is sure to make some big plays. This begins to open up both the intermediate routes and the running game. We won’t put up 30 points on offense, but we keep pace or better against Seattle. Then it comes down to the fourth quarter. Who knows at that point.

    Can the ‘Skins make #2 happen instead of #1? Of course. Will they? No one knows; that’s why we watch and they play.

    My keys to the game:

    1. RED ZONE DEFENSE. To have any prayer, we need them to kick field goals when they get to the Red Zone. The Seahwaks will get there, probably many times during the game– their offense is just too good. This requires a better effort than usual– because Alexander is one of the few runners who can CONSISTENTLY score from the five yard-line running the ball. We simply MUST stop them from converting those.

    2. PASS PROTECTION. If we give Brunnel lots of time, he will find Moss, Cooley, Royal, Sellers, and Portis. Moss does damage to a defense, and if he gets successful, the whole offense works much better. To me, the usual way it works is reversed– a few pass plays to Moss lets Portis be dominant (rather than the run opening up play action).

    3. LAVAR. It’s the BIG GAME. He’s on the weak side, and we need a BIG, BIG game from him. He needs to deliver some real blows to Alexander, and shut down the running game to that side. He needs to just go nuts; *if* he does, with him, Taylor, Washington, and Griff, we can stop this offense.

  10. mbarnes202 - Jan 10, 2006 at 8:27 PM

    Rich, Ok, well, here’s how I see it. Most likely, one of two things will
    happen:

    (1) It will be close for a while, because the ‘Skins will make few mistakes, but
    slowly, the ‘Skins inconsistency on offense will give the TOP to Seattle, as
    well as field position. With these two advantages, the very balanced Seahawk
    offense will slowly begin to wear out the ‘Skins defense. Sometime in the
    second half, the Seahawks will begin to pull away, and might get a cheap TD late
    in the game. Hence the 9-point line.

    (2) The ‘Skins defense plays surprisingly tough (not unprecedentded, Dallas held
    Seattle to 13 points IN SEATTLE), and Seattle just cannot get much going. The
    ‘Skins offense is not dominant, but has a few things in its favor: IF the
    ‘Skins can give Brunnel time, Moss is sure to make some big plays. This begins
    to open up both the intermediate routes and the running game. We won’t put up
    30 points on offense, but we keep pace or better against Seattle. Then it comes
    down to the fourth quarter. Who knows at that point.

    Can the ‘Skins make #2 happen instead of #1? Of course. Will they? No one
    knows; that’s why we watch and they play.

    My keys to the game:

    1. RED ZONE DEFENSE. To have any prayer, we need them to kick field goals when
    they get to the Red Zone. The Seahwaks will get there, probably many times
    during the game– their offense is just too good. This requires a better effort
    than usual– because Alexander is one of the few runners who can CONSISTENTLY
    score from the five yard-line running the ball. We simply MUST stop them from
    converting those.

    2. PASS PROTECTION. If we give Brunnel lots of time, he will find Moss, Cooley,
    Royal, Sellers, and Portis. Moss does damage to a defense, and if he gets
    successful, the whole offense works much better. To me, the usual way it works
    is reversed– a few pass plays to Moss lets Portis be dominant (rather than the
    run opening up play action).

    3. LAVAR. It’s the BIG GAME. He’s on the weak side, and we need a BIG, BIG
    game from him. He needs to deliver some real blows to Alexander, and shut down
    the running game to that side. He needs to just go nuts; *if* he does, with
    him, Taylor, Washington, and Griff, we can stop this offense.

  11. Rich Tandler - Jan 10, 2006 at 11:45 PM

    As to #3–I was just watching my recording of the Seattle game last night and that was the first game of LaVar’s benching. So, Seattle accomlished what they did with Warrick Holdman, the human trash can, in at weakside LB.

  12. Joshua Brown - Jan 11, 2006 at 12:02 AM

    Qwest is getting a lot of pub as being one of the loudest stadiums in the league, but let’s be honest: this team had a hard time selling out that stadium when it opened. Seahawks fans are fair-weather, to say the least. The decibels levels are more a product of architecture than Seattle having great fans.

    Redzone defense is important. Just ask the Cowboys about their week 2 game against the Skins. They allowed no touchdowns from 20 yards or less. Great stat. Here’s another: Gibbs is 17-5 in the playoffs (which,coincidentally includes games away from DC).

    If the Skins’ defense hadn’t gift wrapped 14 points for the offense, then Gibbs would have called a much different game. It’s amazing that everyone is ripping the offense when they’ve scored 30+ in 3 of their last 4 games.

    One more note on Qwest. I’m sure the Redskins will walk out of the tunnel and be mesmerized by the majesty of that stadium. I just hope Gibbs is smart enough to bring his measuring tape to prove to our little-ole team that your field is 100 yards long and has hash marks and everything. Gosh, I hope they don’t faint.

  13. oneampoet - Jan 11, 2006 at 4:29 PM

    Well, I am back again this week…it feels so strange to be back in the post season, like losing my virginity for the second time.

    I will stick with my bold prediction that the Redskins are going to lose, I have been 0 for 6 since we played the cardinals about making the playoffs and playing Tampa so there is no reason to Jinx it now.

    I do have a couple of comments for Seattlittle, however.

    1) You forgot Arizona in you list of sissy teams that you got to play twice to get to 13-3 and have the easiest schedule. So you would have to remove them as well. In fact why don’t just exclude all you divisional foes from your schedule to determine your ranking, since the Lambs aren’t exactly a tier one team, then you would be in the top ten.

    I have a few interesting stats for Seatle fan. 1)The Redskins have won 2 superbowls since the last time Seattle won a playoff game. 2) The Redskins have gone to more superbowls that the Seahawks have won playoff games.

    Seriously though, I can’t wait for this game, I think the Seahawks are going to be ripe for the picking after all that rain.

  14. Anonymous - Jan 11, 2006 at 6:07 PM

    Here is a funny tidbit:

    To avoid insulting native American heritage, the Seattle Times decided to limit severely the use of the term Redskins in the paper — even if a team with that name will dominate news coverage this week. The Times will not use the moniker in headlines or captions. Reporters can use it only once, as a first reference, in all stories. The Redskins will be referred to almost exclusively as Washington — which could get a little confusing for local readers who also live in that state.

  15. Anonymous - Jan 12, 2006 at 7:26 PM

    About Seattle’s schedule: looking beyond their opponents’ winning percentage, the bottom line is that they’ve only beaten ONE playoff team in a legitimate game this year. Yes, I’m talking about the game where the Giants outgained the Seahawks by 135 yards, but Jay Feely missed THREE late FGs and Seattle squeaked out a win in OT. That’s the only game against a playoff team the ‘Hawks won all season! (The Week 16 win over the Jim Sorgi Colts doesn’t count, Seattle fans).

    I told all my friends last week that Jacksonville was a 9-7 team hiding inside a 12-4 record. The Seahawks are good — they have a balanced, powerful offense and a decent defense — but let’s face it: they’re an 11-5 team hiding inside that 13-3 record. Better than the Skins, probably, but not much better. Unless Brunell is still hurting bad and shows up as his 2004 self, this should be a very close game.

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