Archives for posts with tag: Reds

Blame the Nationals playoff run.  Blame the ongoing college football season plus the start of mens’ and womens college basketball, plus the NHL opener and the NBA’s preseason.  Somehow on the way to documenting what went right and wrong in the Redskins’ 24-3 loss to the New York Giants the Skinsanity got lost in the shuffle.  Because how they fared on third down (both offensive and defensive units rank 31st in the NFL) and which penalties hurt them the most (45 flags over five weeks has the team as the third-most whistled unit in the league) is such a micro thing.  Those are fundamental flaws in a team, but those are bad fruits that are the byproduct of poor soil and worse gardening.

So over the last weeks after watching this team play that way I tried to crank out the usual analysis, but each post died amidst busy days at the ballpark and voting for All-Big Ten and Top 25 polls.  The failed flights are below; consider this a “director’s cut”…:

 

“This just in:  the Redskins are going nowhere.  The 0-4 Burgundy and Gold mess are headed to another last place finish in the NFC East, barring disasters elsewhere.  Sunday’s 24-3 loss to the New York Giants extinguished whatever remaining playoff hopes there were, and who knows how bad things will get between now and the end of the season.”

 

“For those hoping for an October surprise Sunday, you should have turned your TV off after Cam Sims’ 65-yard touchdown run. Just like you should have moved on after Vernon Davis’ 48-yard TD catch against Philadelphia and Adrian Peterson’s triumphant one-yard plunge against Dallas.  But in the NFL, they play a full 60 (sometimes more) and once again the Burgundy and Gold glass is far from half-full.  The 33-7 loss to New England results in an 0-5 start as well as a coaching change; Jay Gruden leaves having lost 11 of his last 12 games.”

 

Okay, now we’re past that.  What now?  Bill Callahan takes over on an interim basis; he’s the first to be in that post here since Terry Robiskie took over for Norv Turner.  While you could argue that the 2000 Redskins were close to contention, as all six losses were one-possession affair, this year’s team is nowhere near respectable.  Even the Eagles loss looked closer than it actually was because of a garbage-time touchdown. This team is in meltdown mode, even judged against other meltdowns this century: Jim Zorn’s 4-12 disaster started the year 2-2 and Mike Shanahan’s 3-13 farewell was 3-5 at one point.  This year’s club could have a date with 2-14 or 1-15 destiny.

Meanwhile, the failed Gruden regime gets buried under an avalanche of losses.  If one takes away his period of adustment (a 4-12 rookie season in 2014) and Gruden’s final 16 game stretch (4-12 as well-how symmetrical!), the team went 25-25-1.  And yes, I count the playoff loss to Green Bay- after all, it was the high-water mark of the era.  What was in 2016 the most stable coach-quarterback combination in the NFC East (https://wtop.com/washington-redskins/2016/09/redskins-new-identity-continuity/) didn’t take long to unravel, and the familiar coach & quarterback carousel is back.

But the quarterback & head coach are merely hood ornaments;  one wonders how long the engine of the current Redskins regime stays in Ashburn.  Bruce Allen came to the franchise almost ten years ago with promises of accountability and a rescue from the Vinny Cerrato era/error.  Just like the peasants who cheer the departure of one ruler, Redskins fans had no idea that Allen would oversee a decade where the team would get worse, as in 59-89-1.  As in currently the fourth-worst mark in the NFL this decade (during a decade dominated by Vinny, the Skins were a robust 71-92, good enough for 23rd).  As in the only franchises who have been worse this decade have been Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Cleveland.

Allen is reportedly working on getting a new stadium deal for the franchise;  as the FedEx Field fiasco is one of the factors that has turned this team from one that dominated the district into a squad that regularly plays at home in front of opposing fans-dominated stands, this is the silver bullet (Coors Light reference not intended) just like the return of Joe Gibbs in 2004 was the Burgundy and Gold bullet that undid previous miss-steps.  But he’s also in charge of the football operations, and for the last decade we’ve seen that patient suffer on the operating table.

Will they fix this mess?  The immediate road ahead is a nightmare.  After a trip to Miami their pre-bye week foes are a combined 11-3.  After the hiatus, the Skins face just a pair of teams that currently have losing records (the New York Jets and Giants).  Back to the Dolphins- this 0-4 team isn’t just bad, they’re Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1976 bad.  The team that can’t even wear the right color of aqua or position its dolphin correctly on the helmet ranks 32nd in the NFL in scoring, points and yards allowed, rushing offense and defense, offensive and defensive passing efficiency, sacks for and third down defense.  They rank 31st in total passing and total offense as well as passing defense.  A loss would tempt many to clamor for relegating the Redskins into the CFL or something.  Hail…

 

 

 

Memorial Day is the first official turn of the Major League Baseball season–most teams have played at least one-fourth of their season by now and streaky weeks become extended trends.  While the game is often a mosaic of trends in both directions, the Nationals have dominated since the calendar turned.  The team’s 16-5 mark is the best in the Majors this month (although they did win their last three games of April)…and they’ve passed the early rabbit New York Mets (consecutive 1-0 shutouts over the first weekend setting the trend).  How much of a cushion will the Nats create before they cool down?

Cutting down on the K’s– one reason for the upswing in offense has been the decline in strikeouts.  The Nats struck out the 2nd most in the Majors last month, while in May the team’s whiffed the 11th fewest times in the bigs.  A top of the order with contact guys Denard Span and Yunel Escobar gives the meat of the lineup more opportunities…and it’s paid off.

Bullpen Boost– the Nationals relievers rank 8th in ERA this year…and they’ve gotten help from veterans (Drew Storen’s 14 saves lead the NL) and rookies (Matt Grace is 2-0 this month after making his big league debut five weeks ago).  Grace’s path to the majors was nerve-wracking:  he was called up from AAA Syracuse and saw his flight get delayed twice–arriving at the ballpark less than an hour before gametime.  Now that Casey Janssen’s healthy, a strong pen gets a little mightier.

Hero of the Week– Duh.  Bryce Harper has owned this month (.386, 11HR and 26RBI) and last week was no exception.  Sunday’s opposite field hit that brought home an insurance run in a one-run game wasn’t as majestic as one of his bombs, but just as much of a game-changer (let the record show he scored on the next at-bat).  His patience at the plate has paid off;  Harper is one of two players with more walks than strikeouts this month (Dan Uggla being the other) and his 41 RBI lead the big leagues.

Zero of the Week– Stephen Strasburg is 1-3 with a 10.20 ERA this month, with Saturday’s shelling by Philadelphia sending everyone scrambling wondering what might be wrong.  He’s reached the 5th inning just once in May…and his ills have been pinpointed as “misalignment” underneath his right shoulder as well as an ankle injury that’s causing Strasburg to alter his throwing motion.  When healthy, the righthander is a 15-game winner.  He doesn’t appear to be there now– and getting  #37 in gear for the long haul will be key.

Game to Watch–  it’s not official yet, but doing rotational math would likely place Max Scherzer (5-3, 1.67 ERA) on the mound at Wrigley Field Wednesday against Jon Lester.  Two guys who proved their mettle in the American League each enjoying strong starts in new locations.  The Cubs also boast a manager that resembles Barry Goldwater in Joe Maddon.  Even if he double switches for no apparent reason, in your heart you know he’s right.

Game to Avoid– May 31st the Nationals visit Cincinnati.  The Reds are in a tailspin with eight straight losses and boast a manager that would make Tommy Lasorda rethink what he thought about Dave Kingman’s performance.  Their rotation is already somewhat shorthanded with Homer Bailey done for the year.  And it’s the end of May.  After the last few weeks, are we really ready to say goodbye to this month?