Category Archives: Redskins/NFL

Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, not to be confursed with guest prognosticator, Brad

2016 Redskins vs. New York Football Giants prediction with my friend Brad

My friend Brad Stratton (not pictured), a sportswriter turned educator, is back for some more guest prognosticating about his beloved New Yorker Football Giants who play the Washington Redskins this weekend in our native New Jersey.

WFY: Everything was lined up for the 2015 New York Football Giants. They were 5-5 coming out of the bye in a mediocre NFC East and in position to sneak into the playoffs, run the table and win the Super Bowl like they had 4 and 8 years earlier, respectively. Yet, they failed to do so, seemingly in defiance of the social contract. The New England Patriots must have been thrown off, because they couldn’t even beat the other Manning QB to advance to the Super Bowl. What went wrong?

BMS: The Giants’ defense was bad last year. They were 32nd in yards allowed, 32nd in passing yards allowed, and 30th in points allowed. Our pass rush was as nonexistent as you can get. In fact, our “savior” on defense returned in midseason with only eight and a half fingers. Yet if their games ended 75 seconds earlier last year, they would have been 11-5. The offense was Top 10, but the defense couldn’t hold a lead.

WFY: Big Blue is undefeated having beaten Dallas and New Orleans. How have they looked so far? Might Ben McAddo not be the next Ray Handley? How is Eli Manning doing with both Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham?

BMS: The front office poured a ton of money into the defense over the offseason, bringing in DE Olivier Vernon, DT Damon Harrison, and CB Janoris Jenkins from the Dolphins, Jets, and Rams, respectively. Pierce-Paul’s hand has healed enough to wear a special glove, so they gave him $10 million in a one-year deal. And those investments have, so far, paid off. There is a legitimate pass rush. The secondary is being left out to fend for themselves. The run defense has been outstanding. The Cowboys’ offensive line might be the best in football, but highly-touted rookie Ezekiel Elliott only averaged 2.55 yards a carry. Last week, the Saints only managed 41 yards rushing.

Definitely, one of the feel good stories so far has been the return of Victor Cruz. He hadn’t played since.Week 8 of the 2013 season, when he torn his patella tendon (imagine your knee cap going into your thigh). Last season, he struggled with a persistent calf injury that kept him sidelined all year, and on top of that, he’s about to turn 30. The odds were he might be done, and when he dealt with a groin issue during training camp, it looked that way. But he had the winning touchdown catch against Dallas, and made a huge sideline catch against New Orleans that set up the winning field goal.

And no, I would not compare McAdoo to He Who Must Not Be Named. McAdoo has been running the offense for two years, and running it well. You Know Who looked like an incompetent accountant.

WFY: How much are you looking forward to Beckham vs. Josh Norman?

BMS: Beckham is interesting. He’s played fairly well, but nothing like what we’re used to. One play before Cruz’s big catch against the Saints, he dropped an easy touchdown catch. He hasn’t found the end zone yet. His yards after the catch haven’t really been there. And then he’s got Josh Norman this weekend. I don’t think they will get as animated as last year, but Norman has proved able to get inside Beckham’s head, so we’ll see.

WFY: Now onto something important, uniforms. White pants and white shoes at home? Ugh. If they are going that direction, better go all the way and drop the gray striping and gray facemask too. On the other hand, the Color Rash uniforms are basically 1980s whites (sans blue socks) and GIANTS on the helmet and you seem pretty excited about it. Do you want want them to dump the gray completely? I love the current roadies.

BMS: I am beyond elated that the color rush jerseys are essentially the 1980s uniforms. For a while, the word out of the Giants was that we would never see the old GIANTS helmets again. Instead we got the ugly red jerseys, and I was frankly worried about what the color rush jerseys would look like. For the regular uniforms, I’m indifferent about white vs. gray pants. I like both.

WFY: Have you seen the Timeline episode, Jersey Guys? Being a Jersey Guy, did you enjoy it? Have you talked to older Jersey Guys, who were around when the move happened about it? I have seen bits and pieces of it (hasn’t made it to youtube in its entirety) and enjoyed what I saw.

BMS: I have only seen a little bit of Jersey Guys. We got rid of cable back in December, so I wasn’t able to see it the first time. I did manage to see some of Jersey Guys on the net on Monday night, but it was on late and I fell asleep in the middle. It was a dick move by Ed Koch to not let the Giants go down the Canyon of Heroes in ’87 (editor’s note: Brad did finally get to a ticker tape parade in 1999 for the Yankees. Sort of). I did enjoy A Football Life: Bill Parcells.

WFY: I’m skeptical the burgundy and gold can put it together and beat a good team having been dominated by Sam’s Steelers (at home) and losing to Dallas. I’m going with Giants 24-17, what about you? I also think the Giants should take the division and I’m not saying this to jinx you.

BMS: While the Giants are 2-0, we don’t quite know how good they are so far. They ran effectively against Dallas, but were pretty ineffective against New Orleans. They dominated the Saints, but won with a last second field goal because they were their own worst enemy (three fumbles, a missed field goal, a failed fourth and goal, and drive killing penalties). Marshall Newhouse graded out at the best offensive lineman in the league in Week 1, but looked lost at times in Week 2 (he is out for Sunday).

As for Washington, they are a desperate team. Even at 0-2, a win on Sunday and the Browns in Week 4 could put them at a manageable 2-2. But 0-3, with two losses in the division, that’s the stuff that murders your season early. Look for who is able to get off to the quick start on Sunday. If it’s the Redskins, all the doubt could creep away and they could have a good shot in this one. But if the Giants start strong, that could be the nudge Washington needs to go from desperate to careless.

I’ll agree with your score. 24-17 Giants, but 24-17 Redskins wouldn’t surprise me.

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DC vs. Pittsburgh (football & baseball) Q&A and prediction with The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus

Myron Cope, poet laureate of Pittsburgh sportsLet’s all welcome back Sam, The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus (not pictured), to guest prognostication. The first Washington Nationals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates series has passed and we’re now into gridiron Q&A. TMBCE emeritus, is of course a straight ticket black and gold fan. Just back from last night’s Bruce Springsteen concert he’s answering a few questions about tonight’s season opener between the Redskins and the Steelers and even a few Nats and Buccos.

WFY: Let’s talk about magazine covers – I saw your (yinz?) Stillers on the cover the other day. Are they a legitimate contender or did Sports Illustrated destroy that possibility? Where is the strength, offense, defense or special teams? Also, Northern Virginia magazine has Pittsburgh on the cover as a road trip. Not a bad place to visit, but with both the Steelers and Pirates on the DC September schedules, a slap in our faces down here.

TMBCE: Did you go to the Pirates/Nats series in July? (WFY: No) I remember that Sunday game was a classic. An 18 inning classic! In terms of the SI cover, I think that was a bad prediction by SI. The Steelers have potential, but the defense is still suspect and multiple players are on suspension/injury. The Steelers offense is by far the strength of the team. However, any significant injury to Big Ben ends the season.

WFY: Who, other that Ben Roethlisberger is left from those Super Bowl teams?

TMBCE: Three Steelers remain from the 2005 team: Ben Roethlisberger, James Harrison (LB) and Greg Warren (the designated punt/extra point snapper!). Those 3 were also on the 2008 Super Bowl winning team, in addition to Lawrence Timmons (LB) and William Gay (CB). As an aside, William Gay is still a starter for the Steelers (which is a BAD thing). Of course, several others played on the 2010 Super Bowl (that lost to Green Bay in the final game). I still can’t believe we lost that game. It still gives me chills. But to quote Tony Kornheiser “That’s it…That’s the list.”

WFY: What’s the Pittsburgh perception of the opener against Skins? I mean, they are facing the defending NFC East champion on the road on Monday night. They’ll be burgundy towels given out too!

TMBCE: I think its an interesting match-up. This should be a game the Redskins need to win: Steelers #2 WR Martvaius Bryant is out for the season, TE Heath Miller is retired, and RB Le’Veon Bell is suspended. Plus, the Steelers secondary is still awful. However, Big Ben is the best player in this match-up. I expect a high scoring game. Isn’t it weird that the Pittsburgh and Washington are in two different conferences? I wish they could play more often.

WFY: You know, a number of Super Bowl winners have lost to Washington over the years, so losing might not be so bad, right?

TMBCE: A loss to the Redskins would not kill the Steelers, but I think this could be a big push for the Redskins. The Cowboys don’t have Tony Romo. The Eagles seem to be in transition. It seems to be a two-horse race with Brad Stratton’s team for the NFC East title. Most media types are already ignoring the Skins, but I think they are better than expected.

WFY: I’m going to be frank — the overt display of Pittsburgh sports fandom is not as prevalent in BeltwayLand as it was 10 years ago. What’s going on? Are more natives returning to Western Pennsylvania like you did or is it the lack of Super Bowls of late?

TMBCE: Its hard to measure. Usually, Pittsburghers growing up here either stay forever or leave and don’t come back. Doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. For example, this year is supposed to be my 20 year high school reunion (and YES, that scares me by itself!) Too many of my class have left the area and aren’t able to make it back consistently. I can only speak for myself, I really do like Maryland (although I do not approve of Ravens fans). It’s a beautiful area and very active too. You know one thing that is much better than Pittsburgh? The DC Metro. (WFY: Should I tell him?) That was well maintained and more effective to travel around. The Pittsburgh “T” needs significant improvement.

WFY: Who made the better cameo in a disaster movie, Hines Ward in that Batman movie or the entire 1975 team in Black Sunday? In fact, what’s the best Pittsburgh sports cameo in a major motion picture?

TMBCE: Sadly, nothing special really stands out. Pittsburgh is better known for hosting/filming some excellent movies, such as Silence of the Lambs, Pretty Woman, and Dogma. Of course, there were a few bad movies filmed here as well. Lets just move on.

WFY: There is one correct answer:

NFL players and police, still getting along!

WFY: Since you were there, any commentary on the Penn State at Pitt game the other day?

TMBCE: I don’t understand the overall obsession that Pitt has with us. I don’t hate Pitt, but the Pitt fans seem to HATE us with an anger that I don’t understand. They also copy things from us. For example, the Pitt fans now chant: “We Are…..PT! We Are….PT” They also started singing the “Sweet Caroline” (WFY: a stupid tradition ripped off from the Red Sox for no good reason) after the 3rd quarter, although PSU has been doing that longer. Further, the Pitt fans BOOOOOED the Blue Band at halftime. I don’t remember any opposing team band getting booed at Happy Valley. They need to think for themselves! I would add that I had expected to see more Penn State fans at the game on Saturday.

WFY: How many Pittsburgh fans do you expect at the game? I’m guessing 10,000 to 15,000.

TMBCE: I’m going higher. 20,000 Steelers fans (of course, not all of them are from Pittsburgh).

WFY: Predictions! This game and the respective seasons of the opponents.

TMBCE: Washington 27-24. I predict the Redskins will start off with a big lead and the Steelers will come back. A late FG will win it for the Skins. Overall, I see both teams at 10-6 (WFY: 6-10 for Skins) and both finish in 2nd place in their divisions (and both make the playoffs).

WFY: Meanwhile on the other side of the Fort Duquesne Bridge, what’s going on with the Pirates? Their annual appearance in the play-in game seems in jeopardy. Has their window closed? Has anybody noticed since it’s football season?

TMBCE: It is not in jeopardy. Its done. Over. Collapse complete. I have predicted since spring training that meeting tried to put together a $et of player$ that could $upport the team win at an “affordable” price. I am extremely angry and upset about it. (Yes, I should be happy since our city has won a championship this year, but I’m not). The Pirates decided to trade productive players for “more affordable” options; all the while, the Pirates raised ticket prices. I am upset. The best thing the Pirates have done is the “Stand Up for Cancer” night, which a portion of the tickets go to cancer research (a important event that I was happy to support). Otherwise, the Pirates had a terrible off-season and made horrific trades. Are you happy with Mark Melancon? Last week I gave up on the Pirates. I don’t even know what their record is anymore, but I expect a losing season (which I predicted back in March). And yes, the fans are definitely unhappy.

WFY: Andrew McCutchen doesn’t seem to bat .550 against DC anymore. What’s going on with him? Was it cutting off his hair?

TMBCE:Cutch seems to want to obsess with the strikezone and what the umpire is calling. Its insanity. Some speculation around here includes that Cutch is trying to play his way out of Pittsburgh. At this point, I am fine with it. As long as they trade him for an ace
starting pitcher, I will be good with it. I’m sure that will never happen.

WFY: Gio for Cutch – let’s make it happen.

Oh look, bonus questions from TMBCE:

Bonus #1 Question and answer provided by Sam: What are your thoughts on the Penguins winning the Stanley Cup?

GREAT QUESTION! The highlight of the playoff run was beating the Washington Capitals in the 2nd round of the playoffs. (Sorry William, but its true). Overall, the Penguins continued their playoff dominance of the Capitals. I really didn’t think the Pens could beat the Caps in the playoffs, because the Capitals had such a dominating season. But once the Pens beat the Caps, I knew we would win the Stanley. Aren’t Capitals fans disappointed to have such a dominating regular season but lose to Pittsburgh in the playoffs?

Bonus #2: Question and answer provided by Sam: How was the Bruce Springsteen concert last night?

It was TREMENDOUS! It was my first concert to see BRRRRUUUCCE, and The Boss did not disappoint. It went 3 hours and 45 minutes! That was a bucket list item that I can cross off for me. It was very emotional, and I’m extactic that he played so many songs from The Rising album. It was such a great mix of old songs with newer albums and kept the momentum strong. THANK YOU BRUCE!

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What the L.A. Rams uniforms ought to look like

I’ve always had a soft spot for the L.A. Rams. My neighbor J.J. was a big Rams fan, having moved from Southern California to Northern Virginia the same time we arrived from New Jersey. He moved to Michigan though when I was 8 and became a straight ticket Detroit sports fan, while I eventually did the same with D.C. The move back to Los Angeles was announced on J.J.’s birthday.

I don’t have any strong feelings about St. Louis, well maybe one (just don’t click), and it did produce one of the greatest Americans of our or anyone elses lifetimes, Yogi Berra. It always felt weird though that the Rams were there and not in L.A.

About five years ago, I got wind of the movement Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams and the real possibility that the Rams could someday play their home games in the Southern California sunshine again. Back then I blogged a lot more and when the Rams came to play D.C., I floated the idea of the Rams heading back and adopting a yellow jersey and mocked something up back then.

In what turned out to be their final game in St. Louis, the Rams wore yellow “color rush rash” uniforms. The all yellow below the helmet was excessive but a yellow jersey looks sweet, so here is what I’d like to see them go with as their primary design:

la-rams-primary-prototype-uniform-wfyurasko

The early L.A. Rams started a bit of a precedent with yellow uniforms that the Lakers and Kings later embraced. The upside of the yellow jerseys is they could probably wear them on the road most of the time too, creating some excellent color vs. color matchups even better than the 1994 throwbacks games.

For their secondary jersey, I’m advocating the blue jersey/yellow pants combination they wore for 20 years.

la-rams-secondary-prototype-uniform-wfyurasko

Lastly, for an alternate, making a white/blue combo that is reminiscent of the Fearsome Foursome era, but with the modern Ram horns on the jersey. They could theme it with the fourth game of the year or something. I don’t like the look as much as the other ones, but I gather there is an attachment to it for some Rams fans. I like it when teams in the same city have similar colors and that look works really well with a Dodgers cap too, though the others are good enough.

la-rams-alternate-prototype-uniform-wfyurasko

One common change, that I haven’t depicted as well as since I’m getting used to the poorly named free graphics program GIMP (miss you PhotoShop) is Northwestern-stripes on the socks, an homage to sleeve stripes of the past. The 50th L.A. season patch is based off of the 40th season patch and modified from a Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams graphic. Primary sources for the graphics are Gridiron Uniform Database, Sportslogos.net & the NFL.

By the way, the Rams started in Cleveland, moving after winning the 1945 NFL Championship to Los Angeles. Vince Guerrieri, a former colleague of mine, recently appeared on the Railbird’s Nest podcast to talk about their first city and departure.

As for St. Louis, they are probably done with the NFL, but should a team ever return, I have something in mind for them too. Call them the St. Louis Archers and have it similar to the early 2000 Rams uniforms and colors.

St. Louis Archers

I didn’t quite round off the sleeve arches, but you get the idea.

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UniWatch: DC is 14th best dressed sports city

Once again, Paul Lukas of UniWatch has ranked the uniforms of the big 4 sports leagues and is now organizing it by city. In the past, I’ve tabulated those rankings myself, so I’m glad he spared me the work.

Lukas broke the rankings into two tiers — 3 or more team cities and 2 team cities. He also considered the venues of the teams as part of the overall aesthetic.

D.C. (Nationals, Capitals, Redskins, Wizards) came in 14th (again) out of 20 3 or more cities. Here’s the UniWatch list:

Boston
Pittsburgh
Chicago
Philadelphia
San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose
New York/New Jersey
Toronto
Detroit
Dallas
St. Louis
Los Angeles/Anaheim
Miami
Twin Cities
DC
Phoenix
Cleveland
Houston
Denver
Tampa/St. Petersburg
Atlanta

Wait – no way are we worse than Miami, the Twin Cities, St. Louis (who won’t be on the three team list after the Rams move back to L.A. or perhaps London if that fails), Dallas or Toronto. So, at worst we’re #9. No bonus points for everybody wearing a shade of red at least some of the time either?

That isn’t to say that our teams could use some improvement. The Nats need to drop the front numbers and reinstate the interlocking DC and navy road cap. “Capitals” needs to be capitalized and some more red on the road whites is in order. The Wizards stand out despite the limited palette of a basketball jersey, but how about some block numbers? The Redskins, well that’s a whole thread of it’s own, but I’ll suggest they return to burgundy pants with the white jerseys. The ketchup and mustard look has grown on me though.

UPDATED: On DC Sports Bog (The Post), Clinton Yates defended DC’s uniforms.

While Lukas is SO VERY WRONG on D.C.’s ranking, he did get something right that too many area MSM’s don’t:

I also considered lumping Baltimore and DC into one metro area. But after consulting with several fans from both cities, I decided to treat them as separate entities. This meant that DC made the primary list of 20 big-market cities and Baltimore was relegated to the list of two-team cities.

As for other cities…Chicago would be my #1. Too many NFL teams messed up their uniforms and hold their city back. I’m looking at you Eagles and Broncos. Oh and when the Rams head back to L.A., they should add some gold jerseys.

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