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WP: Shapiro chat (11-4-05)


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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2005/10/28/DI2005102801417.html

Friday, Nov. 4, Noon ET

The Redskins

Len Shapiro

Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, November 4, 2005; 12:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Len Shapiro was online Friday, Nov. 4, at Noon ET to take your questions and comments about the team.

The transcript follows.

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Poor game planning?: I don’t hold the 36-0 loss to the Giants against the players as much as I do the coaches. How could they have been so unprepared?

Shouldn’t they have known the Giants would

focus their zone coverage on Santana Moss, as he had been the team’s only consistent threatat wide receiver?

It seems like the ‘Skins were totally unprepared for if an opponent concentrated

on keeping Moss from having a big game.

And shouldn’t they have realized after giving up long touchdown runs to

Denver and San Francisco that their defense was vulnerable to speedy backs like Tiki Barber running against the right side of their defense?

The Redskins have relied to heavily on Moss all season while rarely using the also speedy

David Patten as a deep threat. Patten may not be as quick as Moss (who is?), but he’s fast enough that opposing teams should have to respect him as a deep threat instead of only worrying about Moss. And if Gregg Williams is such a defensive wizard why can’t he make some type of adjustment about the long runs they’ve been giving up? The 49ers’ long touchdown run at the end of that game should have been a red flag.

Len Shapiro:

Look, every team the redskins play knows they have to take away with the deep pass and take away the run. Sure the redskins might have done a few things differently, but the last time I looked, coaches coach and players block, tackle, run and catch passes. Players win and lose games at this level, and the Redskins dropped passes, missed blocks, committed dumb penalties and missed tackles, and also lost the turnover war. That's why they lost, not poor game planning. And by the way, the Giants really did play with great emotion after the death of their beloved owner. Don't discount that as a factor, either.

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Atlanta, Ga.-skins fan: Yo lenny, Went to see Tiger yesterday at Eastlake. Doesn't his swing look unbelievable in person? I mean the speed he generates is almost scary. And to think he has SLOWED his swing down considerably since he came to the tour....Anyway, a redskins question-Is this almost a must win game for the skins? With the pitiful showing they displayed against the giants-they need a statement in the worst of ways....whatcha think?

Len Shapiro:

With this team at 4-3 and losing three of the last four, every game is a must-win. I doubt they'll lay a similar egg against the Eagles, who have their own internal problems at the moment involving the hate-hate relationship with owens and mcnabb. I think the Eagles are the better team, but I think the Redskins certainly have a shot to pull it out at home. As for Tiger, since this is a football discussion, right now he looks like he'd be a helluva strong safety.

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Washington, D.C.: Len, the $1 million question: was the Giants game the devastating blow to the Skins' momentum, or was it an apparation? What is your take?

Len Shapiro:

I don't know what an apparation is, but if you mean was it an aberration, I think so. It's the most lopsidsed loss of Gibbs entire career, and I think they'll bounce back to respectability this week. Their defense is too good to allow too many embarrassments, though their propensity to give up big plays in the last month has been rather alarming.

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Arlington, Va.: Len: enjoy your writing! So, almost halfway through the season, who do you think will take the NFC East? Every team seems to have its weaknesses and inconsistencies and it seems up for grabs. Thanks.

Len Shapiro:

You're exactly right--all four teams have flaws. I actually like the Giants this year. I think winning one for Mr. Mara is going to be a continuing theme for this team, and I like their chances to win the division. I also have thought from the start the Redskins are, at best, an 8-8 team.

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Columbia, Md.: I'm concerned about this week's Eagles game with all the injuries the Skins have on the O-line and D-line. Somehow the Skins are favored and can't understand why? They haven't won a big division game in years and as much as I hate the Eagles, I know they have a lot of pride after last week's game. They're giving up a lot of big plays this year on D and I think Westbrook/McNabb will have big games. Am I being too pessimistic?

I just hope they come to play, unlike last week.

Len Shapiro:

They're favored because it's a home game, McNabb is hurt and Owens is hurt and a pain in the rear end, affecting team morale. The Redskins are, indeed banged up on d-line, but I think they'll have enough healthy bodies to line up Sunday. I would think westbrook, a local kid from DeMatha, will likely have between 15-20 carries and will be a factor. McNabb, even injured, is alwayus a factor.

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Rockville, Md.: Would the Redskins have played as inspired as the Giants did if their owner passed away?

Len Shapiro:

Good question. Somehow, beloved and Snyder don't really belong in the same sentence, but maybe they would try to win one for The Danny. The good news is he's young and healthy. The bad news? Five head coaches in six years, one playoff appearance.

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McLean, Va.: How do I live down the fact that I just learned "for all intensive purposes" is actually "for all intents and purposes" and was using the incorrect phrase for some time?

Also, what do you think of T.O.'s recent statement indicating he would welcome Favre to the Eagles?

Len Shapiro:

For all intents and purposes, you'll get over it unless you used the phrase in the writing section of the SATs. As for TO welcoming Brett Favre, No. 1, it's not going to happen. No. 2, who wouldn't want Brett Favre? And No. 3, if they ever played on the same team and TO said about Favre what he's saying about McNabb, Favre's response would be a knuckle sandwich aimed at TO's big fat mouth.

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Still in shock: Last weekend: The leagues' 31st ranked defense shuts out the leagues 2nd ranked offense.

What happened?? My head is still spinning.

Len Shapiro:

First of all, rankings can be deceiving because they're based strictly on yardage. The ranking I was impressed with involved turnovers. The Giants had forced 19 going into the Redskins game, 14 more than Washington. They create turnovers; the Redskins do not. And if yoiu think your head is spinning, how do you think Brunell/Portis et al were feeling on Sunday night.

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Helena, Mont.: If the skins activate Hall, do they cut Novak? My fear is that they will, he'll get picked up and Hall willagain get injured and skins will be up the creek.

Len Shapiro:

I do think they'll cut Novak, a great kid with a big future in this league. Hall getting hurt again is always a risk, but he says he's healthy and he's a proven performer. By the way, there are lots of kickers sitting at home just waiting for a call. They'll find someone, though probably not Novak, who should be signed the day or two after he's cut here.

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Tarboro, N.C.: Hi Len. Thanks -- What are your thoughts on Terrel Owens latest outburst against his team in saying that they would be undefeated with another QB and goes on to name the QB. Think this further implode the Eagles. Can Andy Ried play the John Gruden hand here in sitting TO him down for the remainder of the season. If the Eagles organization had any thoughts of bringing this guy back I would tend to think they're probably out the window now. Cheers and hope our Skins win this wke.

Len Shapiro:

TO is TO, and the Eagles knew what they were getting when they brought him in. He's a very talented knucklehead now trying to get more money to play. He won't be there next year, but I bet he plays on Sunday and has a big game.

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Alexandria, Va: With the competitiveness of the NFC East this year is this a game in which if the Redskins lose can kiss the playoffs goodbye.

Len Shapiro:

They can kiss the playoffs goodbye when they lose their seventh game of the season. Because the NFC East is so competitive, I think 10-6 wins the division, but no one in the East will get in at 9-7.

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Boston, Mass.: What it is with guys named 'Len' and taking pot-shots at this team? You and Pasquarelli, seem to delight, when things go wrong with this team. I take it from your comments on Dan Snyder, that you've never tried to do something new, and had some missteps along the way? Wow, go grind your axe elsewhere.

Len Shapiro:

Oh please. Bottom line is that bunder Snyder, the Redskins have made it to the playoffs only once in six years. That's just a fact. The organization, at least until Gibbs got here, has been a disaster, a revolving door for head coaches and alleged supetrstars who took his money and ran to the bank, not to the playoffs. I've done a lot of new things and had my share of mis-steps, trying to learn from my mistakes. Maybe with Gibbs, Snyder finally gets it. But trust me, I have no axe to grind. Just calling it the way I see it.

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N.Y.C., N.Y.: Mike Sellers appeared on Comcast the other night and indicated that their was a pretty significant change on the offense for this coming week that he was sure the fans "would love." Did you happend to catch this too, and also, any indication on what he is referring to?

Len Shapiro:

Maybe they've got sellers lining up at wide receiver. He does have great hands and always seems to get open in the end zone. Maybe Gibbs has some trick plays up his sleeves. I say maybe because reporters are not allowed to watch practice, so I can't say for sure. I guess we'll know by midnight Sunday.

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Washington, D.C. in Va.: Len-

Do you think the Eagles, and particularly McNabb are going too light on Owens? If Favre would serve up a knuckle sandwich, why not Donovan? It seems like the players would stand behind their leader (even if the worst fans in sports booed him when he was drafted)?

Len Shapiro:

I think the Eagles want to win the football game. One thing they do know about Owens--when he's on the field, he comes to play. It's why they put up with all the garbage.

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Boston, Mass.: If last season did prove it than last week's game did: Cornelius Griffin is the anchor of our defense. He plays and the inside run defense is unstoppable. He sits out and everything falls apart. With that in mind, what is his status for this week?

Len Shapiro:

Griffin has missed two days of practice, but may be back in Friday. I expect him to play, along with Salave'a, who has a bad foot injury. They're both tough guy run-stoppers and without them, the Eagles might actually have some success with Westbrook, though he prefers the perimeter to between the tackles.

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Ballston, Va.: Len,

Since reading a few articles today w/Lavar admitting his mistakes in the handling of him not starting; is it now possible to see him on the roster beyond 2005? Possibly for his entire carrer? Thanks!!

Len Shapiro:

I thought LaVar actually handled himself pretty well during his fall from grace. I also think he's now fully healthy, perhaps the major reason his coaches didn't use him for so long. I also suspect that he'll be playing elsewhere next year, barring a return to his Pro Bowl form over the second half of the season.

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Washington, D.C.: If Brunell continues to struggle down the stretch and the playoffs are still in reach, do you think Gibbs will place Ramsey into the starting lineup?

Len Shapiro:

Brunell is the guy Gibbs wanted from Day One, and as long as he can walk, throw asnd chew gum at the same time, he'll be the starter. Last week, I counted at least eight dropped passes. Hard to blame Brunell for that. He's played extremely well this year because he's healthy. As long as that lasts, he'll be the starter.

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Washington, D.C.: Who wouldn't want Brett Favre? Have you seen him play lately? He's just not good anymore. Not just compared to the old Favre, but compared to any mediocre QB.

Len Shapiro:

Excuse me, but Favre is playing in an injury depleted offense with several new linemen who can't block as well as the free agents they allowed to leave. He's still a fine player who's now forcing throws trying to make a play. I'd take him in a Green Bay minute.

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Fairfax, Va.: Should we expect to see Griffin and Salavea? Without them, we are pretty thin on D line.

Len Shapiro:

I believe both guys will start. How long they last is another story.

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Fairfax, Va.: What kind of game do you anticipate Portis will have?

Len Shapiro:

I suspect he's going to have 25 carries and 125 yards. I also wish he'd ditch the Halloween act for the rest of the season. It's really getting silly, especially after a week when he made nin e yards in four carries and really did play like Jerome from Southeast, whoever that is. Jerome ought to sue him for impersonating a running back.

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St. Mary's City, Md.: So - redskins win or lose sunday? by how much?

Len Shapiro:

I'll say Eagles, 28-21.

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Washington, D.C.: I just thoughyt I would try to sneak in a non-Skins question here. How badly do you think Priest is hurt? A running back like him, in style and size, seems like a concussion might be pretty serious...

Len Shapiro:

I can't answer that. He looked pretty damned healthy with that screen pass against the Redskins. I haven't seen him play since, but you're right, concussions are a dangerous thing, no matter how big or small you happen to be.

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Reston, Va.: Let Novak go. He's got just as much of a chance to get injured as Hall, who is a better kicker. Before this year, Hall was rarely hurt, so this isnt a history. On another note, why do people put SUCH an emphasis on run versus pass stats? I understand in the Philly case, but I hate when people say "when you run more than you pass, you win the game." That stat has everything to do with running BECAUSE you are ahead in the game, and passing BECAUSE you are behind. If you ran when you were behind, that doesnt increase your chances of winning. When, if ever, will we let this premise go? I ask this as a Redskins question because Gibbs likes the stat so much.

Len Shapiro:

Most cpoaches will tell you they'd like a balance between run and pass, perhaps 60 percent run, 40 percent pass if not 50-50. But there are lots of ways to win in this league. Look at the Ravens in 2000, who did it with defense and a mediocre offense.

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Suitland, Md: Why don't the Redskins cut Hall? Salary cap reasons?

Len Shapiro: The Redskins don't cut Hall because, when healthy, he booms kickoffs into the end zone and is an extremely accurate kicker. Novak has been good, but his kickoffs usually get to about the 10, and it's something he'll need to improve.

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Bend, Ore.: How many times did the Redskins make the playoffs under Jack Kent Cooke and his son after Gibbs left. Zero. Norv had to go. Stop counting Robinskie as a head coach. And Marty was a GM disaster. He took a shot with Spurrier, as half the NFL would have as well. He brought back Joe Gibbs. Give him credit. If the Redskins had won on Sunday, it's all because of Gibbs. Since they lost, it's all because of Snyder.

Len Shapiro:

You sound like a very bitter person. Bottom line is they won a lot with Gibbs in his first 12 years. You're right, they didn't do much after Gibbs. But I promise you, with Cooke running the show, Schottenheimer would not have been fired after one season, and Spurrier wouldn't have been hired in the first place.

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Alexandria,Va: Why do the Redskins think that Jmaes Thrash and Ladell Betts are the best options at returner what about guys like Taylor Jacobs or even bringing back Antino Brown they basically fired him just because he fumbled in the opener he was an actual threat.

Len Shapiro:

I think you may see sanatana moss handle a few more punts this week. Thrash and Betts are only as good as their blockers up front, and that's where the real problem lies.

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Alexandria,Va: Do you feel like the Redskins might need another playmaker at Wide Reciever besides Moss?

Len Shapiro:

I think they have one in Patten, but he doesn't get thrown to very often. This week he admitted to being frustrated about it. Maybe he'll be the surprise Mike Sellers was talking about.

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Washington, D.C.: Let's see: based on your comments, George Solomon saying the Skins fans lack class because they were too loud at the Bears game, UnWise Mike's ridiculously politically correct column about the Skins nickname, and numerous other similar examples, isn't it obvious that many at the Post are bitter at the Skins for having revoked your season tickets?

Len Shapiro:

I never had a season ticket and if the Redskins chose to take their tickets back--by the way, all bought and paid for by The Post and many purchased in an era long before the team started selling out--that's their perogative. Trust me, I'm not bitter, none of my colleagues are bitter. We're just trying to cover a football team, occasionally voicing opinions along the way. Hope you're not bitter about that.

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Washington, D.C.: Len,

First off, I enjoy your objective commentary on the Skins' and the straight shooting manner in which you address the issues. Now, on to my question, "Considering the fact that Taylor Jacobs was such a high draft pick with high expectations, after three non-productive years, do you think he has the real skills to excel as an NFL #2 or #3 reciever?" God nows the Skins could use a reliable 3rd reciever these days (no offense Thrash).

Len Shapiro:

Honest to goodness, since I've nevcer seen Taylor Jacobs practice, I can't honestly answer the question. These coaches are fairly smartr. They usually play the guys they believe give them the best chance to win. If Jacobs was that good, he'd be playing. Maybe this week.

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Dunn Loring, Va.: Thanks for doing these chats. I was wondering what is your assessment of the team's rookies? Is Rogers living up to his status as a top ten draft pick?

Len Shapiro:

I think Rogers is going to be a terrifi cornerback and probably will be starting aheadof walt Harris by the time the season is over. The Auburn quarterback is still a work in progress, but clrearly has great potential.

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Capon Bridge, W.Va.: Len,

I'm curious about what a reporter does during the week to generate stories and keep in touch with all the various elements that make up the Redskins team. What is your average day like at Redskins Park?

Len Shapiro:

Good question. We're here every day except Saturday. We have access to the players for about 45 minutes during the lunch hour Wednesday and Thursday and about the same amount of time after practice starting on Wednesday afternoon. Gibbs talks Mondays, wednesday and Fridays. Gregg Williams briefs us on Thursdays. Story ideas are gfenerated by us often based on the previous week's game, or who's the next opponent. We look for trends--no turnovers, no rushing touchdowns, too many big plays. We occasionally do personality profiles. Two of us from the Post are here almost every day. My buddy, Jason LaCanfora, generally handles the day-to-day stories, though I'll also contribute an odds and ends notebook. I spend most of the week reporting on a bigger picture story for Sunday's paper. Last week it was the resurgance of the NFC East. This week it was talking to people about how a team bounces back from a 36-0 disaster. Next week--I welcome your suggestions!!

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Confused and Lost: I honestly have no idea where all these charges of bias are coming from? I think The Post does a good job. There's very little to give Dan Snyder credit for except making tons of money. What are all these fans mad about?

Besides, word on the street is that the team has been cold to the Washington Post b/c The Post wouldn't toe the company line. Last I checked, it's a newspaper's job NOT to toe the company line.

The way Snyder & co. put pressure on The Post reminds of the our current president and the way he "handles" the media.

rant over.

Len Shapiro: We thank you for your support. Jason and I are simply trying to write about the football team, what makes it click, what makes it lose 36-0. Sometimes people believe we have an agenda; I'm here to tell you we're just a couple of hard-working stiffs looking to write interesting and informative stories about Washington's favorite football team. On that note, I think I'd better say so long for now, Joe Gibbs is about to brief us for the last time on the Eagles game. Thanks for all your terrific questions.

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Len Shapiro:

I suspect he's going to have 25 carries and 125 yards. I also wish he'd ditch the Halloween act for the rest of the season. It's really getting silly, especially after a week when he made nin e yards in four carries and really did play like Jerome from Southeast, whoever that is. Jerome ought to sue him for impersonating a running back.

i def. agree wiht that one.

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Len Shapiro:

You sound like a very bitter person. Bottom line is they won a lot with Gibbs in his first 12 years. You're right, they didn't do much after Gibbs. But I promise you, with Cooke running the show, Schottenheimer would not have been fired after one season

Ummmmmmm, Mr. Shapiro, what happened to Richie Petitbon??? He earned a second chance a hell of a lot more than Marty ever did. Or is he implying that Danny had a hand in that one as well from the stands at RFK?

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Len Shapiro:

You sound like a very bitter person. Bottom line is they won a lot with Gibbs in his first 12 years. You're right, they didn't do much after Gibbs. But I promise you, with Cooke running the show, Schottenheimer would not have been fired after one season

Here's where someone without an agenda would also mention that Marty was canned not for an 8-8 record, but for wanting to hold onto power he thought he had, but said power was never in his contract.

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