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Random Thoughts on the Eve of Battle


Om

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No particular order here, or particularly keen insight.

Just a couple things I wanted to get off my chest.

Feel free to comment and/or add your own ...

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Interesting.

For the past few years, and up through just a few short weeks ago, I’d head in to each big game knowing the Redskins could win, but thinking deep down inside, in places I didn’t often talk about, that we were probably going to find a way to lose.

Heading into Saturday’s playoff game in Tampa, I’m quite aware that we could lose, but believing deep down inside, in places I’m finding it difficult not to talk about, that we’re going to find a way to win.

*

I seem to recall a whole lot of forehead-smacking (“but how does he help us this year?!”) among the faithful back in April, when Washington used the number 9 overall pick in the draft on CB Carlos Rogers.

Just sayin’.

*

I’ll admit it. Based on what we’ve seen over the past two years, my confidence in our defense heading into tomorrow is tied to a large degree by the presence and health status of one DT Cornelius Griffin. And I understand he’s feeling pretty good.

In fact, given his comments this week ...

"Let's say that I think I could have done a little something in that game," Griffin said. "This one is going to be a little different. We were banged up that game."

... and add to the mix the presence this time around of a certain FS Sean Taylor, and I do believe I’m feeling pretty good as well.

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There’s this little voice that keeps whispering in my ear (it’s okay, she’s cute) that Tampa QB Chris Simms, for all his pedigree, promise and poise, is about to discover first hand that playoff football is not the same thing as mid-regular season football.

The man has, I believe, all of 10 starts in the NFL. None of them in the cauldron that is playoff football. And unlike Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, he won’t have potential HOF running back Jerome Bettis to lean on —he’ll have the equally young and even more inexperienced Cadillac Williams.

Talent is fine. Experience AND talent, however, are the honey on the bread. They’ll have their moments in this game, I’m sure. But at some point, don’t be surprised if something happens that reminds everyone that experience is, in fact, the greatest teacher.

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Over/under on full-screen close ups by ABC of Tampa HC Jon Gruden snarling, sneering and vogueing to beat the band during the course of the game ... 12.

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One scary thought – Tampa’s pass rush.

If Washington regularly faces 2nd- and 3rd-and-long situations and the Bucs get to tee off, the potential for killer negative plays definitely exists. The Skins will need to run well enough early to force the Bucs to play them honestly, and at least let the game settle into a rhythm. The worst possible scenario is a big turnover deep in the Skins’ own end, that leads to an early deficit and gets the partisan pewter crowd all in a tizzy.

That could be bad.

*

Another (if somewhat less) scary thought – our banged up secondary against their quick WR’s.

Simms’ damp earbacks notwithstanding, the Skins are in fact heading into this one with (at best) a gimpy Shawn Springs, and a Carlos Rogers seeing his first action in several weeks. Yes, Tampa receivers will quite likely have their heads on a swivel looking out for The Tarantula With a Frickin’ Laser Beam on His Helmet, but if there is a concern about the defense in this game, it’s in Baby Simms having just enough time to find open guys on long-yardage situations to sustain drives and get comfortable.

Washington will need a couple of big sacks, or leveled WR’s, or a big pick, or (best of all) some combination of all the above, to put some pride in their stride and some doubt in Tampa’s collective heads.

Here’s to bringin’ it early.

*

We’ve all seen and internalized Joe Gibbs’ preposterous playoff record, right?

16-5.

I just wanted to see it in print again.

:helmet:
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I take it those five losses in that Gibbs 16-5 record in the playoffs include a Super Bowl loss and an NFC Championship game loss, yes? That means that during the eight times Gibbs' Redskins made the playoffs, they reached the NFC Championship game five times. That's a remarkable record in itself but take into account the Skins simply don't lose in the first round of the playoffs and there is all you need to be optimistic.

Ignore the nagging voices from the past dozen years and listen to the voice that says Joe Gibbs' teams get it done.

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Nice job, Mr. Handy.

I'm looking at Taylor and Griffin as the difference makers. ST needs to decleat Edell Shepard and then they can double or triple team Galloway.

And someone posted that the Pats sacked Simms 8 times? That's not going to happen and it doesn't have to. But 8 hurries might happen, and that would be your game breaker right there.

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I have that very same inner sanctum that is hard to ignore. I can't escape the feeling that we'll go in there and lay it on them tomorrow. This scares me terribly. I felt the same way going into that first Giants game. Fortunately, we are much improved and battle tested since then. Bottom line for me: First playoff visit it six years and I'm darn sure gonna believe we'll win unless we don't. I'm gonna savor this today, cause tomorrow I'll be a nervous wreck.

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One random thought I get is how the Coaches and players, when confronted with the image of Chris Simms in print, T.V. what have you...

1. ask themselves how they lost to this baby faced kid

2. tell themselves there is no way in the world this same baby face kid is going to beat them tomorrow afternoon.

More than anyone I think this rings true with Gregg Williams, I think he is salivating about unleashing his defense on Simms and getting revenge.

If he had his best game of the year against us by making great short to medium range throws, timely scrambles, and good decisions - thats one thing. But he stood in the face of our pass rush and blitzes, took his time and beat us deep - A LOT! In my book I think that makes the Animal Trainer twice as motivated .. ..

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Interesting.

For the past few years, and up through just a few short weeks ago, I’d head in to each big game knowing the Redskins could win, but thinking deep down inside, in places I didn’t often talk about, that we were probably going to find a way to lose.

Heading into Saturday’s playoff game in Tampa, I’m quite aware that we could lose, but believing deep down inside, in places I’m finding it difficult not to talk about, that we’re going to find a way to win.

I had a similiar revelation to this, it happened during the Philadelphia game. I realized that even though we were getting out played by Philly, I expected us to find a way to win the game. First game in a long time that I expected the team to come back and not blow it like they have so many games in the past.

Even though I have respect for Tampa, I think they are playing the wrong team right now. The Redskins are clicking on both sides of the ball consistently now, and I think we have always had the talent...even last year...just didn't have that chemistry yet. We have it now and we are not going to let anything other than the other teams best performance beat us. I just don't think Tampa best is enough. Too young at QB and dependant on a rookie RB.

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One random thought I get is how the Coaches and players, when confronted with the image of Chris Simms in print, T.V. what have you...

1. ask themselves how they lost to this baby faced kid

2. tell themselves there is no way in the world this same baby face kid is going to beat them tomorrow afternoon.

More than anyone I think this rings true with Gregg Williams, I think he is salivating about unleashing his defense on Simms and getting revenge.

If he had his best game of the year against us by making great short to medium range throws, timely scrambles, and good decisions - thats one thing. But he stood in the face of our pass rush and blitzes, took his time and beat us deep - A LOT! In my book I think that makes the Animal Trainer twice as motivated .. ..

Unless I'm mistaken, we sat back a lot in that game, played coverage and dared the kid to beat us -- which he did (barely). With Griffin and Taylor back and a suddenly potent pass rush from Daniels, I think the pressure on young Simms will be much higher tomorrow.
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Om

I'm with you on what you said. I have an amazing sense of calm that we will be ahead when the gun sounds. The last time we were there 6 years ago, I felt all week and all night (even up by 13 against a rookie QB) that we would blow it. There is no such feeling this time around.

I'm looking forward with great anticipation to this game. I feel we match up wonderfully with this team. Of all the places we could be playing in the first round, I'd choose Tampa over all other destinations. This Buc team just doesn't know what they are in for. Our defense without Taylor and Griffin is like Austin Powers without his mojo. Now they get to see the real thing... "yeah baby!"

Chris Simms, Derrick Brooks, Simeon Rice: you boys better buckle your chin straps. :logo:

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Was Cooley's "absence" against Philly an aberration or a key to shutting him down.

We're liable to see "max protect" schemes again to pressure the D-backfield.

LaVar.... while he did not have many "flash" plays against Philly.... I did notice him in the backfield disrupting or "just-missing" quite often and he seemed to cover quite well. If he gets his sights correctly calibrated for the playoffs.... then "Cerberus" is unleashed.

I hear ya on Rogers..... pre injury he was starting to make plays and crunching tackles.... here's to a thin patina rather than crusty rust on his return.

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No particular order here, or particularly keen insight.

Just a couple things I wanted to get off my chest.

Feel free to comment and/or add your own ...

Interesting.

For the past few years, and up through just a few short weeks ago, I’d head in to each big game knowing the Redskins could win, but thinking deep down inside, in places I didn’t often talk about, that we were probably going to find a way to lose.

Heading into Saturday’s playoff game in Tampa, I’m quite aware that we could lose, but believing deep down inside, in places I’m finding it difficult not to talk about, that we’re going to find a way to win.

I'm with ya Om!

This morning as I was getting ready for work my family could tell that I was particularly amped up for this game :D . I've got my game face on a little early this week. We talked about the game a bit and how much it meant to Daddy (since my 3 kids were all born in the Norv Turner years, they've never seen the "real" Daddy).

Then my wife asked, "I know you want them to win, but do you really think they are going to win? Do they have a chance?". I simply said "I KNOW they are going to win". My wife of 15 years, and friend for 20+ years, could sense something different. She said "it's been a long time since I've seen that swagger" :)

Yes, it has been a long time.

....but going undefeated this December made it seem like the good ole days. Back in the time when you just knew Gibbs would have the Skins fully prepared to play in the postseason...and yea, he lost a handful of playoff games in his day...but you knew the Skins were going to show up and represent. It's that same old feeling coming back today.

....goose bumps...hair on the back of my neck standing up...feel like a little kid at Christmas...probably will not sleep tonight...the game just can't come soon enough...

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Griffen and Taylor will be KEY to making Simms cave on some plays.

If we can get into Simms head--a fresh QB with no playoff experience--it will be all over.

The Bucs can lose EVERYTHING if Simms can't keep his head in the game.

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*

Interesting.

For the past few years, and up through just a few short weeks ago, I’d head in to each big game knowing the Redskins could win, but thinking deep down inside, in places I didn’t often talk about, that we were probably going to find a way to lose.

Heading into Saturday’s playoff game in Tampa, I’m quite aware that we could lose, but believing deep down inside, in places I’m finding it difficult not to talk about, that we’re going to find a way to win.

[/c]

During the winning streak, this Skins team definitely provided the confidence in me that the big plays would be made. I specially discovered it during Taylor's fumble return against the Eagles. Rather than going into an emotional celebration, I found myself simply saying, in almost a whisper, an emphatic "THERE it is! Taking it to the House!" as if I expected it all along. Didn't realize it until then and expect big plays to come from both sides of the ball tomorrow afternoon. Didn't realize I hadn't had that feeling in over ten years. Gibbs football is back!

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There's no way to describe how excited I am about these Skins.

I'm 28 and I've been waiting forever for this team to turn it around.

I miss the years of the Gibbs era.

I admit that I HATED Snyder and all that he did in the years before Gibbs came back.

I hated that Deion Sanders came to us for a year. HATED IT!!

But as soon as I heard that Gibbs was coming back... a spark lit inside... and I knew this was what we needed.

The spark became a fire this year.

The team WANTS to win.

They believe in themselves more than they have in the last 10 years.

That's because of the Gibbs/Williams/Bugel way of coaching; no star players, only a TEAM.

And once again I feel like the giddy little 12 year old that watched the Skins back in the early 90's tearing up teams left and right.

This has been a long time coming and I've got BUTTERFLIES for the first time in over a decade.

Something big is going to happen tomorrow.

Born a Skins fan... Die a Skins fan.

Here we come Detroit...

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Om all good points.

For me it comes down to this. Looking who played last time down in Tampa for us I say the Bucs are in for a nasty suprize.

1st. We didn't have Griffin, and Salavea was barely able to play. With those two healthy, Daniels finding finally a pass rush no way Simms is able to step up in the pocket like he did last time for those bombs

2nd. ST. His recovery speed on long passes is amazing. I just have the feeling he picks at least one pass and levels Joey at least one time to where he has to come out for a few plays.

3rd. Our entire secondary looked confused on at least one TD last time if not two. With ST back there is not going to be any confusion.

4th. Bucs have not been able to stop Portis since he became a skin and they are not about to, especially since he and the O-line are on the same page.

5th. Cadillac, Pittman will have a very hard time runnig with Griffin and Salavea back and healthy and a motivated LB core.

6th and most important. In the past 3 games we have been great on turnovers an the only reason the Bucs were close for the go ahead TD last time was because we handed them the ball 3 times. Not this time. We have learned to protect the ball. In fact if we have a positive turnover ration against the Bucs it could be a complete blowout.

:2cents:

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Not only was Sean Taylor out during that first Tampa game, but Ryan Clark was pretty gimpy coming back from injury. Simms might make a good toss to get some long gains, but you won't be seeing guys massively out of position like in the last matchup.

Personally, I'm not nervous at all about this game. Which is a pretty scary sign. In all of the Redskins blowouts (for and against) I haven't been nervous in the week leading up to the game. Giants 1, Giants 2, Cowboys 2, not in the least nervous. Cowboys1, Raiders, Eagles2, extremely nervous. Going with my gut I have a feeling that this game won't be that close come the end (11 points or so). I just hope it's the good guys on top this time.

The two things that do worry me:

- Bucs have had 2 more days of prep. They met/practiced Tuesday while the Redskins were off, and will get to have a full practice/meeting on Friday while the Redskins are going to be travelling for a good part of the day. It would seem the Bucs players would be a bit more prepared. Or they could get stale. :)

- The Redskins have come out flat in their last 2 road games in Arizona and in Philly. If this game was in DC there'd be absolutely no question who would win. But a playoff road game is scary business. If anything, coming out flat in Philly had the Eagles fans worked up into a frenzy. That should help.

In any event, my hopes for this season was for the Redskins to make the playoffs. They met that goal, so as long as the Redskins put up a good fight on Saturday, I'll consider this season a success.

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I'm a Bucs fan (born in Tampa), but actually spent a few years living in the DC area and was around in 1999 for the last playoff series -- and man did I get harassed at school that week.

Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I'm a Tulane alum and somewhat bitter towards Joe Gibbs for the way he threw Patrick Ramsey under the bus this season. I realize it's worked out well for the team, but I didn't think it was a professional act on his part at the time.

You guys have a really good board here, and I thought I'd register and post a couple of thoughts I've had from watching the Bucs the entire season (and a lot of 'Skins games).

1. Watch 3rd down closely - in games that the Bucs have lost or played poorly in, their defense has been unable to get off the field on 3rd down. It was a problem that plagued them in the middle 4 or 5 games of the season. The Bucs are at their best when they're controlling time of posession.

2. Cadillac Williams and Chris Simms owns the 4th quarter. Williams is averaging something like 5+ yards per carry in the 4th quarter this season and seems to get stronger as the game goes along. Runs that used to be 2 and 3 yards suddenly start going for 5 and 6 yards. Simms has led the team on great comeback drives in at least 4 of the games he's played this season, and the guy looks absolutely unflappable when the game is on the line (in stark contrast to his rep coming out of college).

3. Chris Cooley will be a big factor for the Redskins in this game (if he's healthy). The Bucs "Tampa 2" defensive scheme can sometimes be exploited by a tight end over the middle as the linebackers and safeties cheat one direction or the other to cover wideouts, and can be exploited underneath as the linebackers drop back into coverage or press forward to the line of scrimmage to stop the run on a play-action pass. Alge Crumpler has had some big games against the Bucs in the past, I expect the Redskins to go to school on some of that footage.

4. Clinton Portis makes me laugh during the week, but he scares the crap out of me on the weekend. If he runs for 140 yards like he did the last time, there is no way that the Redskins lose, in my opinion.

5. The single biggest factor in whether or not the Buccaneers will win or lose is the play of their offensive line. They're a complete "Jekyl & Hyde" unit: when they're good, they're very good and open nice running lanes for Cadillac and give Simms time to at least get through 2 of his progressions. When they're bad, they're absolutely horrific and Simms gets the everliving crap beat out of him. If Simms is getting thrown around and heavily pressured, the 'Skins win. If Simms has time to make his reads and Cadillac is getting running room, the Bucs win.

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Nice post OM.

Had the same feelings for years, but like you and the others, I don't have them today. Normally, I'd be a nervous wreck just waiting for the bad news to happen. I'm not crowing, but I truely feel that Tampa CANNOT beat us tomorrow. We could only beat ourselves. And for some wonderfully weird reason, I don't believe that we will beat ourselves tomorrow.

We have had the pressure on our shoulders for five weeks running and are used to it. Tampa gets its first dose of major stress tomorrow.

We are stress tested and they are not.

The key to tomorrow?

1. No mistakes.

2. Pressure Simms all day and get in his face, tip some balls and sack him.

3. Put the clamps on Caddyshack! (Like we did to Barber)

4. Hit their receivers hard upfront to disrupt timing, and make them pay for any catches they do pull in.

5. An even balance of run (Portis/Betts) and pass (Moss and Cooley) and mix it up. (Pass on 1st down and run on 3rd)

If the above happens, then I will truely pity those poor ****s.

Hail!:point2sky

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