Ask Boswell about the Redskins' loss to the Patriots, the Capitals and all Washington sports

Dec 12, 2011

Washington Post Sports Columnist Tom Boswell answered your questions about the Redskins' game, the Capitals, the Nationals, the rest of D.C. sports and more.

Related: Boswell: Helu proving his worth for the long run.

Past Ask Boswell chats

When is the league going to issue a yellow no-contact practice jersey to Brady? Because now the officials are seeing hits to the head that only exist in their imaginations. The league needs to make a public formal apology to Fletcher.

At the game and watching slo-mo replays, I thought Fletcher was right to be angry. Shanahan certainly thought it was a legit hit __and he said he'd seen a replay.

However, watching the game last night again __and at full speed__ I think I'd have thrown the flag, too. Close call. Brady was starting to slide and Fletcher was certainly trying to blow him up. Yes, the NFL is trying to put a no-contact jersey on the franchise QBs. I'm not crazy about it, but understand it. That IS the INTENT of the rule now __protect at all costs, even if it looks silly sometimes.

To me, this was right on the line, not a clear cut "awful call." If the Redskins ever have a Tom Brady, I bet a lot of people on this chat would suddenly see the virtue in the flag on Fletcher! I'll add that Fletcher is as clean a "big hitter" as I've ever seen.

The skins cannot and will not be a winner if this guy is one of their Captains. Forget about throwing the flag. The lazyness and lack of heart he showed when Gronkowski was running towards the sideline was one of the worst things I have seen on a football field. As much as I want to trade him for something in the offseason I would sit him the rest of the year and then release him after the season. Thoughts?

I heard DeAngelo on 106.7 at 8:15 p.m. talking on sports radio about the game and those plays. I caught it while driving home. He alaways has a semi-sensible explanation. BUT he still cuts himself some slack on discipline issues __like throwing the flag. There is always a but-I-was-so-caught-up-in-the-moment rationalization.

Keep him for the talent, the play making and even the personality. But he's not a captain on a playoff team, I don't think.

 

A cautionary tale for the Nationals and signing Ryan Zimmerman to a long term contract?. It seems that teams always lose players when they try to resign them after the end of their contract years.

The Nats already signed Z'amn to one extension which took him through '13. That means they made sure they got the first eight years of his career as a Nat, not just the first six. You'd hope they'd do the same with Strasburg, Harper, Ramos, Espinosa, Z'mann IF they work out anything like as well as Z'man. That's expensive, but not prohibitive by any means. In my book, it's a must-do.

The SECOND decision arrives when that first extension runs out. Then the player sees the classic age-30 mega-free-agent deal on the horizon. Do you do a Tulowitszki type deal that makes him a Rockie through age 35? Seems smart. Great hitters usually last that long. But there's always risk. The Cards, two-three years ago, decided NOT to do this. They didn't say it. But inaction speaks. If they didn't want to extend Pujols out to age 35-36-37, then you sense they REALLY aren't anxious to do a deal out to age 41!

For me, if you really believe in a player, think he is a GREAT, not just a very good, then sign him to TWO extensions in his career, one to take him close to age 30 (Z'man will be 29 when his current deal runs out), then do it again __even though this one is VERY expensive__ to take him out to 35-36-37.

But don't get in a position where a Z'man is 29 at the end of '13, has a huge deal on the table and has MADE IT to the Biiiiiig money. Do it soon (this season) while you are still doing him a financial favor (hey, he could get hurt in late '12 or '13 or have an amazing Adam Dunn collapse season that changes his value) and invest in him until 2020. Or, if not that, you're admitting to your fans, and to Z'man, that he's not going to stay here after '13.

I assume the Nats want to get a Tulo type deal done and so does Ryan.

Could you talk about the baseball HOF voting ? (did you ever have a vote?) I don't understand how guys get votes 1 year but not the next, or vice versa, when their body of work doesn't change. I also thought it was sad that Santo got in after he died - what changed? Thanks and if I don't get to your chat next week, have a great holiday season!!

The HOF voting that you usually hear about is done by the Baseball Writers Association of America. You have to have covered baseball as a beat for 10 years to vote for HOF __or that's the standard I remember from when I did it. Quite a few years ago the Post decided that voting for HOF, or any awards, was a conflict of interest, or could be in theory, which is enough. I think that was a good decision. But I voted for probably 15+ years, and for A.L. Cy Young for quite a few, and took it very seriously. As you'd expect. Pretty hard to imagine somebody who'd be a baseball writer for a long time, remain a sportswriter (or stay on the beat) and think HOF was a coin flip! It's discussed plenty in press boxes __not systematically, just as a recurring debate as new candidates come up.

 On the "vote changing" from year to year. Only Babe Ruth or Cal Ripken gets in the first year of eligibility. It's a long-time baseball tradition __an honor within an honor like a "varsity" within the HOF itself. I agree with that, enjoyed thinking about the distinction.

So, different writers actually wait a few years and think about a player __like Jim Rice__ to see where he finally settles out with a little more history under the bridge. I've voted for players for the first time (if I remember correctly) on, perhaps, their fifth year.

However, there are sometimes lobbying pushes for certain players __by friends, fans, anybody who cares enough to do the work. And it's helped change the perception of some players and help get them in __like Bert Blyleven. Sometimes a new "X" element, like increased respect for Sabermetrics over the years, helps the case of a player.

Also, there are other ways to get into the Hall. At various times, the Veterans Committee and other groups, some set up by MLB itself. I believe Santo got in through one of those part-MLB part-BBWAA committees. If I have that wrong, sorry.  (You can see "conflict" showing up.) I would have voted for Santo on the BBWAA vote. I only saw him on TV on the Game of the Week and such when I was growing up. But that's better than just stats. Outstanding glove. Also, he played with diabetes. That runs in one side of my family so I have some sense of how remarkable that is.

Glad he's in. Sorry he didn't live to see it.    

Where -- if at all -- does Yu Dervish fit within your "pay up for quality" construct from yesterday's column?

The Yankees, Rangers and perhaps even Red Sox will be in it for Darvish. The Nats aren't going to go THAT high for a player whose talent may not translate to a different league. In a sense, it JUST like the illustrations in that column __you look for comparables, then value the average comperable. That's only a starting point. But when the Nats look at the Dice-K and other comps from Japan, it scares them olff. If they look hard at the Oswalt comps, otoh, they'll see that those 10 guys I mentioned in the column produced an average WAR value of about $50M at 34-35-36. So, stat would say Oswalt had value, even at a three-year deal. The "but" is his back injury last year. I have no info on that. Only the docs do.

Any either of these out of bounds? 1. I removed all the letters from the back of my Cardinals' #5 jersey, after briefly considering leaving P O S. 2. I have a hard-to-fight urge to refer to Albert as "Pujol$." Figure it beats what some others are calling him using the "jols" part of his name. While the Cardinals' run was delicious indeed, I'm left now with heartburn. I foolishly thought Albert might be different from other great athletes. I mean, while money was certainly a factor for LeBron, at least his decision appeared partially driven by a desire to win championships. Not so for Albert - he's put himself in a division with the still-overwhelming Rangers, in the league where the path to the World Series leads through the Bronx, Boston, OR BOTH. And he leaves behind a Cardinals team that gave him the best 4-5 protection of any team in baseball, with 2 of the best 5 or so starting pitchers in the NL. My money says the Cardinals win more World Series without him than the Angels win with him. As many times as we heard it wasn't all about the dollars, it sure looks like it from here. Like I said, heartburn.

With baseball players, and athletes generally, when they choose Even More Money over Virtually Certain Happiness, the reason is almost always Pride, not Greed.

Pujols didn't think the Cards showed him enough love, respect, whatever. I'd say the Cards made him a very high offer __even at $198-million__ consistent with their ability to continue fielding winning teams.

My guess, he'll agea  little faster than the average supederstar in that 15-player chart that ran with my column. Look at Frank Thomas who, believe it or not, at Pujols age, was a career .320 hitter with a 169 OPS+ and over 100 RBI every year. He wasn't as great as Pujols, but it's closer than you probably think. Thomas had three more big years, but only one more pure Big Hurt year. His OPS+ fell to 136 and he played 951 more games.

Out of all the possibilities, I'd guess Pujols would play 900-1000 more games with a 150 OPS+ BUT that with hindsight he'll wish he'd taken the deal from last winter to stay a Cardinal.

I wonder if LaRussa retiring influenced him. Or visa versa. Also, Mike Scioscia as manager with the Angels probably gave him confidence that there would be a stable clubhouse for a long time.

One reason Buehrle went to Miamai was because he was comfortable with their new manager, Ozzie Guillen. Some aren't. Mark clearly is. He'll help Ozzie in the clubhouse. Anotehr reason he was worth more to Miami. Those X factors are what often adds the "extra year" that doesn't seem to make sense on the surface.

So George McPhee gets to keep his job, but Boudreau is fired. I know when Leonsis bought this franchise, he kept McPhee because Leonsis knew nothing about hockey. Isn't it about time to put McPhee's feet to the fire with this underachieving franchise? Given that, when is Grunfeld going to get fired? I don't want to hear about 5-10 year build via the draft methodology while other franchises are serious and aggressive about winning. When is Grunfeld going to pay for the Arenas and Jamison overpay debacles? I sure as heck don't think Leonsis is trying to sell season ticket plans for a team by trumping a 5-10 year plan. Looks like lottery for the Wizzies again after this season is over.

I try to preach "patience" in team building because the most successful teams I've followed have believed in it. The original Landry Cowboys. I remember in '88, after he snapped a 10-game losing streak in DC vs. the reigning Super Bowl champs, he knew he was probably going to be out as coach after the season. And he was. I asked him what the biggest lesson was for his 29-year success. He said, "Patience." I could give 10 more examples.

So, when you have a GM who has built a President's Cup winner and done as much in the regular season as McPhee has, he should be on a very, very long leash. You see at Maryland what happens often when you try to go from "good to great." Man, that path better be lit with flares, fires and headlights before you head down it.

OTOH, Grunfeld has been given patience. Abe might have been the only pro sports owner in history with a pattern of too much patience. The current Wiz are entirely Ernie's creation. There was some big bad luck along the way. But it's still HIS team. So I'd measure him on a different scale. But the Leonsis is incredibly patient. He hates conflict, change, and doesn't think it's helpful in business. That's usually correct.  The Wiz may test his theory.

 

Let's hear it for the patchwork unit that held and produced 400+ yards. We know the Pats D isn't great but the Skins had every excuse to lay down and they didn't.

I focused on Helu because I didn't want to right a "good try" column on the Skins. You could say "it's been done."

But that really was a fine effort. I was even more impressed the second time. They overcame a tackle going down in pre-game on top of losing the two dopes. They overcame a sack-fumble-TD by a QB who is known for that being a fatal flaw. They came back from 3-14 down to 17-14 ahead. That's nice grit. Of course, that's what they are paid to do. But it still gave a lot of people a lot of fun. And they were in it until 22 seconds were left against a 10-3 team that badly wanted that win of post-season position.

HOWEVER, that is one of the worst defenses you will ever see on a 10-3 team __or a 7-6 team. They give MOST teams they play 450 yards! What remarkable is that the Skins got that much despite so many injuries.

Gotta confess I enjoy Grossman. The team plays for him. No, no, never a 1st string QB. But if you had to start next year with him as the starter, then move him to 2nd string when a rookie was developed, it wouldn't be the worst fate in the world.

I'll be fascinated to see if the Skins change their 40-year pattern of trading away their No. 1-2-3 draft picks. Shanny usually builds through the draft __though not to the incredible build-up-the-picks way the Pats do. Will the Skins be tempted to do something crazy to get P Manning. Doubt he'd want to come to any team at a 4-12 or 5-11 rebuild juncture. But the Skins have already gone that route with Jeff George, Mark Brunell and McNabb. Can it happen to them again?

I think maybe you have been looking at your keyboard too long if you think that was a close call on roughing the passer on Brady. Clearly Brady started his slide after Fletch went into his breakdown to start the tackle. I don't think any other QB in the league would have gotten the benefit of that call!

That's what slo-mo shows. What real speed shows is a linebacker who sees a kill shot on a QB who wants to slide but hasn't quite gotten down in time. The last 75 years of football says, "Tough luck" for the QB. But the NFL in recent years has changed that mind set. Also, the "slide" position is very vulnerable. The NFL doesn't want to say, "Silde," but if a HOF QB has a career ending injury while trying to do it, say, "Well, you were a 10th of a second too late. Tough luck.

These days, it's always going to be "tough luck" for the defender who gets anywhere close to the line.

Watch it in full speed and I suspect even 30% of Sklins fans would say, "Okay, throw the flag. Not a dirty hit. But throw it anyway."

But I didn't expect anybody to agree with me on this. I was surpised at my own reaction. But that IS my reaction.

The fact that Brady was sliding and Fletcher was trying to hit him doesn't seem that relevant as he was called for a forearm hit to the head when the hit was to the midsection.

I assume the refs were covering their butts. Yes, that's another reason to say, "Bad call." You're right, the replay clearly shows that the forearm never hit his head.

I understand the anger over losing Pujols over money, but please let's not forget that the Cardinals were getting him at a significant discount from his market value for the past 10 years (10, not one or two--TEN!). They could've stepped up and overpaid him and kept him. They didn't. They could've gotten this done before last season. They didn't. Fans can be mad at the player, but the Cardinals hold plenty of blame here.

Good points. And it was 11 full seaons, 1,705 games. (I just doubled checked.)

I think the Cards wanted to keep him if they could get him with a contract that had a lot of money in years 7-8-9-10 that might have only been worth 70-to-80 cents of a '11 dollar (due to inflation) and could also convince him there was value in marketing 'tie-ins" with the team like A-Rod has in NYC. Maybe a small piece of ownership, too, someday?

But $250-million now? I think the Cards are actually HAPPY not to have that contract.

Do you think it's really necessary for the Post to prevent it's writers from voting for the HOF. If every paper felt that way, who would vote for them? I love the Post, but it smacks of some kind of arrogance or presumption I can't put my finger on. I can't help but to roll my eyes. It's just a game. It's not politics.

When I was voting for Cy Young your vote sometimes became public. Conflicts can be very subtle. But they still matter and should be avoided. What if Strasburg is in the Cy Young running? Should the Post beat writer have a vote on that when it means so much __financially and emotionally__ to a play he/she covers?

Is is just me, or did it seem obvious the Cards didn't really want to sign Pujols? They got him for a bargain all this time, and it seems they're fine letting him go.

With hindsight, I suspect they thought they'd get him at a bigger than normal "home town discount" because St. Louis is such a great baseball home town.

Maybe they should visit L.A. and Miami more often. I'd 10 times rather live in either of those towns than St. Louis and I kinda like St. Louis.

Didn't you leave out a name? The one I would sew up for good is Clippard (and probably Storen, too).

You can't tie 'em all up for long deals at big bucks. Maybe the Yanks can. Success brings tough decisions with it for mid-market teams which, I assume, if where the Nats will end up. Maybe slightly higher in a high-disposable-income town where you can rip the fans off better. Oh, sorry, charge market-appropriate prices. I keep forgetting these distinctions. 

If the Nats develop as well as they hope, they will have tough decisions to make as young players mature in the minors and can provide 90% the value of a star at 10% the cost (or less). And that young player may become 100% of the former player within a couple of years.

I get your point on the Brady hit, but the truth is that it's the ref's job to get that call right even at game speed. They don't get to use the excuse that 'it's hard'

I'd say that the one point that probably concerns the Skins most, and is most important at this point, is that Fletcher's reputation as a clean, tough player remain in tact after this. The Skins defended his "honor" as they should have.

Do you see Ross Detwiler among the 5 starters this year?

Strasburg, Z'mann, Mr. X, Wang and Lannan is how they'd like to start the year. If they'd gotten Buehrl he'd have been the No. 3 starter. And Detwiler would be No. 6. Right now, he's No. 5. But Peacock and Milone can change things.

Look up the teams each year that get >150 starts from the five pitchers they HOPED would be in their rotation when they can to spring training. Those are the teams that will FALL the next season because those five won't stay healthy again.

One reason the Nats are optimistic is that, in theory, Z'man and Strasburg will start 58 games (33 +25), rather than 31 (26 + 5). That's off the top of my head. Those extra 27 starts by SS/Z'mann are like adding a high-quality starting pitcher. And they, in theory, get rid of the 27 starts by the worst pitchers at the bottom of your rotation from the previous year.

I love him and he has had drop issues throughout the years. His 2 drops yesterday were when we most needed him. Obviously the one at the end of the game but in the 1st quarter we are backed up at our own goal line and even though rex's pass was high he NEEDS to catch that ball. Next play is a strip sack and the skins are down 7-0. I'm tired of the so called "leaders" of this team like moss and hall being the main reasons the skins come up short.

Yes, I noticed the drop on the play before the sack-fumble-TD last night. The last Rex pass was so soft that everything got messed up and Santana was hit as the ball arrived. Nobody's fault. Fluke.

Moss is one of those player's whose full value is most obvious when he is NOT playing. When he's hurt, the offense suffers instantly. He's (almost) always where he's supposed to be. That gives a vet QB with limited ability, like Rex, more confidence. He represents stability. When he's done, he'll be harder to replace than just his numbers. Much like Fletcher. He's a "glue" player who holds things together on a whole unit.

I've seen a handful of his games. He plays as ugly as can be in the first three quarters; he's as bad as they say. And when the game is on the line he's still plays ugly but it get very, very effective. Hard to watch but it's working somehow for them.

I'm just enjoying it. Looking forward to his NEXT game! Now that's must-watch TV.

I've explained that I think stats/turnovers explain a lot of it. (But Tebow had an INT and a lost fumble on Sunday. Not good.) But teams and players catch fire and have a kind of magic for a while. Look at the St. Louis Cardinals! It lasted __if you lived in St. Louis__ from Agust 21st until the end of the Series on (I think) Oct. 21! They were pulling out 2 or 3 Teebow wins a week, b ut in baseball.

My 2 cents: He's much better than his critics thought. It's not magic. It's a good clutch/leadership personality combined with a hot run (which includes luck) and a defense that's really the core of most of the wins. I think he's a long-term starting QB in the NFL. When/if he starts losing, it'll be interesting to see if people flip-flop or resent him. I enjoy him now and plan to enjoy him later. And I certainly don't plan to get any of my philosophiocal or religious beliefs from NFL QBs. I've got a library full of religious (and agnostic and anti-religious) thinkers. They'll hold me for this lifetime. And, since I went to St. Stephens, I find it amusing to see people get worked up about football and prayers. We prayed before every football game I was in from 6th thru 12th grades __on one knee, head down. (Let us play hard and well. Protect everybody on both teams from injury. But, of course, you don't pray to win! And Teebow says he doesn't either. I do remember that the "Saints" would yell "Beat Georgetown Prep" right after "Amen." Now, back then, when Prep was in the Top 10 in the area, that WAS the equivalent of praying for a win because that's the only chance we had!) 

I'm no conspiracy theorist but I can't imagine that call going the same way if the Patriots needed a late score to tie it. BTW, that turned out to be the play of the game and they can't work in a single replay. Tough way to lose it in a game that had no right to be in.

Teams with long winning traditions in NFL, NBA an d MLB all have a tendency to get more calls that go their way and visa versa. It is not a conspiracy. It is human nature. When the Pats, Lakers or Yanks are involved, and other great teams, there is a long-time subliminal message in everybody's mind __everybody in the stands, on both teams and the refs__ that THEY are the "winners."

That's yet another reason that you want to become known as a "winner." Or at least not a "losers." Nats wanted badly to get to .500 so that subliminal "loser" cloud wasn't always over their heads. Rizzo went nuts in NYC at umps after a game and got a big fine. Change The Perception isn't just talk.

Of course, few teams are surrounded by worse "loser" perception than the Redskins. Partly because they have the 6th-worst losing % in the NFL over the last 20 years (including the expansion teams since '91) and partly because of the WAY they loss DESPITE being incredibly wealthy and willing to spend. In a sense, the Redskins are the biggest "payroll-adjusted-losers" in the NFL. That can't help.

(But Moss really did push off on the TD catch that was nullified. Not even close. He just ran into the defender and shoved him __even ended up with his arms stuck out in front of him after he pushed off. Maybe not the best call to choose to make your case.)

Hi Tom, I've been away from the computer lately, but was there a baseball meeting or something last week in Dallas? I figured I must be confused since the only Nats transaction as trading Colin Balester. Surely, that can be "the plan" for this offseason. Once again, I am back to wondering if the Lerners are willing to spend any money to win. As it stands now, I think the rotation is a little iffy and the lineup has a ton of question marks. I just don't see any overall improvement in wins if the same group comes back. I'm getting tired of waiting for next year. The Rangers are a perfect example - two months ago they were likely to head back to the Series for a third time and maybe finally win it. Now they aren't even the best team in their division. You have to be aggressive when you can be. Oh well. Here's to another mediocre year (at best). Disappointed in Pittsburgh

Well, the Nats payroll is WAAAY beneath what they can afford to spend, even when you project the contracts that they'll have to do with Z'man, etc., in future.

They have no money excuse not to imporve. They seem to be saying that they are having trouble finding a "fit."

That's why I say just go ahead and give Oswalt the third year. Get it done. Everybody knows the gun, and the eye, say he lost a foot off his fastball (about 1.4 mph). But he may get it back. And he may not need it to be a 15-game winner. I really think he'll pan out. I did a long "comment" on the comments section of my Sunday column on Pujols/Oswalt explaining why. 

Anyway, feel free to make all the sarcastic Balester cracks you want. The Nats haven't gotten past the point where they need to have their feet held to the fire. Werth was abig contract. But they have NEVER had anything except a small payroll in total. And that included '12 as it noiw stands. More than last year, but still small.

Tom, what do you think of the idea of Shanahan cutting D. Hall to send a message about accountability? Picking up and throwing a penalty flag is bad enough, but to just stand around on multiple plays rather than running to help with the tackle? This is not a Shanahan-type player, so why not just send the message to the rest of the team now?

If Shanahan restricts himself to only "Shanahan Players" the Skins will go 2-14 every year he's the coach. You bring in enough character (scared?) players to set a tone. But you don't get rid of every big-ego, big-talent player. You "contain" them by the ethos that surrounds them. (Yeah, that good old NFL ethos.)

Maybe a better question: Is Hall actually talented enough to put up with the act and the actions?

So Davey Johnson is quoted as liking the Marlins big moves but I'm wondering how sincere that is. Any idea whether the Nats ever made Burhle an offer or whether there really was any interest in Reyes? Do you think the Nats will make a move on Darvish or the Cuban CF Cepedes (sp?)?

As I understand it, made Buehrl a three-year offer. Never planned to go to four years and didn't. No interest in Reyes. (Have lots of SSs.) Saw Cepedes 19 times but they can't imagine going to $40-50M and that's where it seems headed. Not going to Dice-K numbers for Darvish. (Though I wish they would at least consider it.) They are serious with Oswalt. But is what THEY consider serious REALLY serious enough to get it done? I doubt it. They need to step up if they are really serious.

How likely are the Nats to make a serious bid. There are obviously risks, but a top 3 of Strasburg, Zimmermann, and Darvish has amazing potential.

I suspect I'd be more interested in a $100M super gamble on him than the Nats are. Maybe that has something to do with it being THEIR money. But I think Darvish has the size to make the jump to MLB and be at least as good as Z'mann. What would they pay for Z'mann on the open market? That's how high I'd go.

Interesting that, after losing eight of nine games, the Redskins are not holding their own with Nats and others sports this a.m. on questions. It seems like they are now a "totally known" subject for this year. They try hard. They are what they are __for now. But, as presently constituted, they almost always lose. "Should" beat Minny, but not by much. Hard to get psyched for a team when what serves them best is to finish 4-12 and NOT let those other FIVE teams currently tied with them at 4-9 end up with a better draft pick in the 1st round.   

Do you expect the Nats to try and bid on him next year? It seemed they were going for a Dela Rosa/Greinke combo last year. Could the Nats be looking at an Oswalt/ Greinke combo in 2013? How about Darvish/Greinke, or is that too much money?

I hope the Nats won't kick the can down the road to next off-season just because that a "a good class." There are a TON of valuable free agent players on the market. Just not $25-to-$50M free agents. If they don't start the season with a rebuilt bench, an even deeper bullpen and an improvement in CF, you have to wonder why.  But I assume they will. For now.

Tom, Did the Marlin's offer too much or did the Nationals not offer enough?

The Marlins went high.

Nobody knows. But my opinion is that Oswalt will provide more over the rest of his career than Buehrle. He was a more cominant pitcher. True, Buehrle stays healthy. But he's gone from soft-tosser almost to Livan-speed last year. We'll see. Gimme Oswalt. Call it gut. 

Another point: the Nats much prefer a LH starter w all the LH hitters in Philly and Atl. They shouldn't make that too big a factor.

Braun's steroid test showed twice the level of any other sample. Ever. That has to be a false positive... or some other such type of error. What does that mean medically? Did they take the blood sample from the same cheek and 5 minutes after Braun shot up?

Interesting. I haven't studied up on Braun yet. We'll chat about that next week, I bet.

Boz, are you available for the rest of the season to play corner or safety for the Pats? We desperately need bodies and anyone will do. We even have a wide receiver and running back play back there. Our secondary can't look much worse than it did yesterday (no insult to the Skins offense but I wouldn't conclude too much about yesterday). So, are you up for it?

Sleepy put me at safety in a scrimmage at Coolidge High one day. He never put me back. Must have been a message in there. But the Pats could use ALMOST anybody. They may have left receivers open by wider margins than any team I can remember in FedEx.

Hey, or maybe it was those amazing schemes!

Shanny and Bill are friends. Mike probably saved the left-handed double reverse pass by Banks all season just so he could use it against his buddy! It's only going to work once. Who knew Banks could throw AT ALL, much less that he was lefthanded. Now THAT is a secret trick play! For Shanny, Sunday was his personal HOF Coaches Bowl.

That's it for this week. Thanks. Lot of fun reading these "questions." I never even get to digest them all because they arrive continuously. But it's fun/annoying afterwards to say, "Oh, that was a great one!" Thanks again.

Am I the only one that finds the Redskins current streak of 27 straight games committing one or more turnovers to be amazing? In today's offensive era where every rule is in place to help offenses light up the scoreboard, the mere fact that this team can't go one game without a turnover is ridiculous. And I beat if I researched the games further, I'd find that almost all of those games have been multi-turnover games! Am I just that spoiled by the Joe Gibbs football I grew up watching?

Yes, you were spoiled by Gibbs.

But the WHOLE story of the Skins season is the incredibly bad turnover ratio. It has always been THE NFL stat __more than any one stat in any sport, more than rebounding in basketball. Perhaps the most interesting question about the '11 Redskins: What would their record have been if they had a slightly-below-average quarterback but had limited their turnoversw so they were "0" for the season or even -2? Would they be 7-9?

That's the only perspective that puts their whole season in a different light. But we can never know. Maybe there is no such hypothetical "neutral" QB. Maybe any QB with that line, especially after injuries, would be a turnover machine. But it's the only way you can say "they are improving IN SECRET but the turnover ratio has completely diusguised it."

The rebutal is that the turnovers are a symptom of their deep-rooted problems, not the actual cause of the 4-9 record. Okay, out.

So, is Fielder completely off the table for the Nats? Seems weird that we were one of the teams linked to him all season, and now, nada. Boras power play at work here?

Conventional wisdom: It would be an illogical over-priced signing that would cause a logjam at 1st base. Everybody with the Nats leads you away from thinking there is any chance of it.

But I confess I look at potential lineups with Fielder and what long-term impact it would have. He turns 28 in May. Harper and Fielder. Hey, Ruth and Gehrig were both LH hitters. Just kidding. But there are very few players who change a team as much as Fielder would change the Nats. Not going to happen. But that's why the rumor keeps floating up. Either Scott starts it (as he should since making-a-market is part of his job) or people put the Lerner money together with the Werth signing and say, "Why not?"

Prince, with the jolly laugh and the build for the part, would make a great Santa. Somebody's going to get an amazing holiday gift.

So did the Skins leave the Army and Navy endzones as a tribute to the military or a tribute to lazy grounds keeping?

If they were 9-4, everybody would say, "tribute to the military." Since they are 4-9, the immediate reaction was, "They just messed or were trying to save a buck."

If I were the Skins, I'd have left it the way it was, saved the money, work and possibility of messing up the endzones and said, "Army-Navy played here yesterday. Why spend all night changing the logos? We're proud of the Army-Navy game. Glad FedEx could host it. It's an accidental tribute to the military. Don't give us any credit, except for having the good sense to leave it there and be proud of it."  Somehow, I doubt that the most obvious answer __the honest answer__ came to mind first.

I'm not big on religion and always thought it was silly that athletes thanked God for their victory (like God wanted the other team to lose). But why are people getting on Tebow for it now? It's not new at all. In fact, it seems athletes wear their religion on their sleeves even more than Republican presidential candidates. This smacks of more Tebow hating.

Amen.

(I couldn't resist. That really is The End.)

Joe Sheehan and Randy Jazayerli seem to like Edwin Jackson a lot as a free agent pick up (cheaper than the top guys, with more upside). There was discussion of Rizzo making him part of an Adam Dunn a couple of year ago. Have you heard of any more interest in Jackson from the Nats?

Yes, Rizzo had a deal DONE for Jackson-for-Dunn at the deadline. The Lerners and Kasten outvoted him. I thought they were right. Ooops. So definitely put Jackson's name in the pot. Averaged 202 IP, 12-10, 4.06 ERA the last four years. A healthy Oswalt is better. And a staff leader and mentor. But you better believe that, at 28, Jackson is an option to Rizzo. 

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Thomas Boswell
A Washington Post columnist since 1984, Thomas Boswell is known for the many books he has written on baseball, including "How Life Imitates the World Series" and "Why Time Begins on Opening Day."
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