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WP: Kornheiser sez the Skins stink on Purpose


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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A16942-2003Aug19.html

washingtonpost.com

This Preseason Is a Plot Device: It's Red Herrings, Not Redskins

By Tony Kornheiser

Wednesday, August 20, 2003; Page D01

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: The Redskins can't be this bad. They can't be as bad as they've looked so far.

Because no team can be this bad.

Right?

Especially a team that thought it had a great offseason in the sense it filled all the holes it had. (Ah, but remember what the Beatles said: "Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.")

Unfortunately, as bad as the Redskins look now, they couldn't beat the Atlanta Falcons without Michael Vick. Tell you what -- right now they probably couldn't beat the Falcons with Michael Vick. On his crutches.

Excuse me, but if I read this correctly, Tony, what you're saying is that you think the Redskins stink. And they may not win many games at all, right?

No. Not at all.

I'm saying that they can't be this bad. I'm saying there's something underfoot here, something calculated; a charade, a clever ruse, a MacGuffin, if you will.

I'm saying the Redskins are loaded!

Are you nuts? Maybe you're loaded.

Don't you see? Of course the Redskins are loaded. How else could you explain them bringing back Danny Wuerffel? That's beautiful, isn't it? (What? Heath Shuler already had a day job?)

Don't worry, the Redskins are a lock to beat the Jets in the NFL opener in two weeks. How can the Redskins lose to the Jets? They already are the Jets. The only Jets the Redskins didn't buy in the offseason were Tony and Riff.

I see the Jets game as Wuerffel's ultimate revenge. I see Patrick Ramsey coming down with a stomach flu. And Rob Johnson running around so much in the warm-up, practicing being chased out of the pocket, that he becomes dizzy and disoriented, and pulls a Gus and knocks himself senseless. And then, to the rescue. I see Danny Wuerffel getting wheeled onto the field in a chariot drawn by Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Aretha Franklin! (Then, of course, Aretha suits up and plays nose tackle.) By the way, they aren't the only big name pop stars who'll be in Washington for the game. Aerosmith is booked; after the game Steven Tyler has agreed to donate his lips to the Smithsonian.

My feeling is Steve Spurrier learned a valuable lesson last year from the preseason. Remember how he poured it on in those games? All through August, Wuerffel and Shane Matthews looked like Montana and Unitas. Coaching in college for so long, Spurrier might not have realized the first five games the Redskins played were exhibition games. That didn't happen in Gatorville. Down there, when you lined up, hoss, it was for real. Florida didn't ever play Georgia in a "friendly." When the regular season opened Spurrier was probably shocked to find out he wasn't 4-1. From September through December, Wuerffel and Matthews not only weren't Montana and Unitas; they weren't even Montana and Wyoming.

Spurrier is far too smart to be fooled like that again. I say the Redskins are looking dreadful on purpose. I say Spurrier -- and I'm still in his corner -- is deliberately underplaying his hand. Last year Spurrier showed it all during the preseason. This year we're not even getting a glimpse of stocking. If Spurrier's offense was any more covered up, the Redskins would be in the Eastern Division of the Amish Football League. So what you see as scary bad, I see as strategic. (Though I admit it's so convincingly scary bad, it does scare me a bit.)

Now I'm sure there are some of you who think the Redskins actually are this bad. But you base that opinion on minor points: Like that 98-yard kickoff return they gave up. Or the fact that any time their opponents hand the ball off, the ballcarrier goes 13 yards up the middle. Or the lack of execution on offense. Or those endless penalties the Redskins have taken.

Come on, what are we really talking about here? Offense, defense and special teams, right? I mean, it's not like we're talking about every phase of the game.

Excuse me, Tony, but that is every phase of the game

Oh.

So then I guess these things are somewhat worrisome. But you don't really believe the special teams will be bad all year, do you? Please, it's not like special teams were bad last year, or the year before that, or the year before that. Heavens to LeCharls McDaniel, no! (Okay, you've got me. But you've got to concede special teams were good when George Allen was here. So I'm only going back, what, 30 years?)

And I'm sure the defensive line will get better. It's not like Stephen Davis will run against them every game. After a while opposing coaches will grow bored with running up the middle for 13 yards at a pop; it will seem so repetitive. Eventually they'll want to pass against the Redskins. That's when the defense will shine. Why else would the Redskins be offering Champ Bailey nine years for $55 million, with a $14.75 million in bonus money? (The word is Bailey will turn it down. Champ wants more money. Well, so do I. Who do I call about that?) The Redskins must think Bailey can intercept every pass that's thrown. I sure hope so. Because the last guy who got this kind of money in this town was Jaromir Jagr.

I'm equally sure the offensive line will get better. If it doesn't, it's going to get Ramsey killed. We're not talking about Houdini here. In terms of mobility it's a tough call between Patrick Ramsey and Dr. Jack Ramsay. It's fine and dandy to have new speed at running back and wide receiver. But your quarterback has to have enough time to get rid of the ball without being chased around the field like a soccer hooligan.

Ah, but there are none so blind as those who will not see. I grant you, at the moment the glass doesn't look half empty, it looks all empty -- in fact, it looks like Ozzy Osbourne's turned it upside down and licked out every drop. But I maintain this is all part of a master plan to lull the rest of the league into thinking the Redskins have nothing this year, that they're bereft and befuddled, and easy pickings. And then when the curtain drops, boom, the real Redskins will appear, full and strong and confident, and it will be magic. At least that's my story, and until 0-4 or so I'm sticking to it.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

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Nice one, Kornheiser. Trying to play it from both angles--being so drippingly sarcastic about us "covering up," but then throwing in one or two sentences that make it sound like he actually believes Spurrier is hiding something.

This way, he can say he was right no matter what happens. We stink? Well, the column was a joke! Anyone can see that. We rock? Well, read my column. It was sincere!

Man, it must be nice to have a TV gig and be able to throw increasingly unfunny crap on a page for some extra income. Kornheiser used to be hilarious (though never a great football analyst--remember that the Bandwagon started out as a joke); now he's just irritating.

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Originally posted by airSkins96

i think he is pretty much right

I think he's right to an extent. I think that we are not gameplanning as much as other teams because we're trying to test our players skill level. But at the same time, I think that we can't be planning all these penalties and dropped passes. But I guess that goes along with testing our players skill level. My bet is that he'll do an analysis of the mistakes made in preseason and either bench those guys or make sure that they dont make those same mistakes again.

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I think he's definately right about Spurrier's change in attitude regarding this preseason. He's clearly not investing as much into these exhibition games as he did last season. For Spurrier to go 2 consecutive games with only one touchdown and no post game meltdown is a fantastic feat. It would be like Bill Parcells avoiding a buffet.

Spurrier has clearly held things back. Unfortunately, that doesn't necessarily excuse the penalties, poor run defense, and general mental errors, but you do have realize that players pick up on a coach's intensity level and that often translates onto the field.

What I can assure you is that every Gator fan to watch Spurrier's teams over the past 11 years can tell you we've all seen this before. For several seasons, the Gator football schedule would feature two non-conference teams as our first two opponents. For what ever reason (and you can get many different oppinions on this), we would usually play the likes of a Middle Tennesse State or a Georgia Southern, basically really underclassed opponents. Spurrier actually referred to them as our "preseason".

And some of those games would be quite disturbing. We always won, there was no way for us to lose really, but many of those games were very, very ugly. We'd commit double digit turnovers. The offense would look grossly out of sinc, and for some reason our defense would inexplicably give up a ton of yards. In fact, in 1996, our National Championship season, Georgia Southern (a div 2 school) rushed for 300+ yards. That's right, 300 YARDS!! We all thought the sky was falling. Our season just had to be over. Then we played Tennessee, who by all accounts had a better team than we did, and by half time we were up 35 - 0, and we looked like a machine.

I'm not saying that this is all a grand Spurrier scheme, but his Florida teams went through some god awful games in what Spurrier referred to as our "preseason", only to put it all together when in counted against Tennessee and the rest of the SEC. It wouldn't shock me to see a very disciplined, well oiled Redskin machine roll up a beat down on New York come Sept. 4.

Just don't put too much stock in these preseason games. If the bad play carries over into the regular season, you have every right to complain, but I think you'll probably see a much different team when the bullets are for real.

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Originally posted by frankbones

Why so many Tony K. Haters?

Satchmo rules, he keeps me sane during the morning.

I do agree with his story. All we did against the pats is RUN the ball. The WR's are running basic routes and the D is playing a basic D. I don't expect much more the next couple of games. Yes, I would like the penaltys to come down, but I honestly do believe by the time the season starts it will.

The old florida players were saying they had to learn a lot of new stuff hmmmmmm ....................................;)

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Originally posted by Culver00

I think he's definately right about Spurrier's change in attitude regarding this preseason. He's clearly not investing as much into these exhibition games as he did last season. For Spurrier to go 2 consecutive games with only one touchdown and no post game meltdown is a fantastic feat. It would be like Bill Parcells avoiding a buffet.

Spurrier has clearly held things back. Unfortunately, that doesn't necessarily excuse the penalties, poor run defense, and general mental errors, but you do have realize that players pick up on a coach's intensity level and that often translates onto the field.

I agree with every syllable.

I don't know about Spurrier's UF history, but I do know that generally speaking, we beat everyone we should have beat last year, and lost to the teams we should have lost to. That shows at least basic preparation of a team that last year had an entirely new coaching staff, and serious talent deficiencies.

I'm not worried just yet. The last two games are the first games that Spurrier's had his guys playing on offense, but there has been no game planning and only a limited playbook. Still, we've caught glimpses of some exciting things, such as Ramsey's improvement, Coles' separation, successful runs by our HB's, short-yardage banging by Rock, etc.

I'm going to withhold judgment for a few weeks into the season on the level of Spurrier's preparation of his team. Then we'll see.

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