Sep 27, 2010

Post columnist Tracee Hamilton takes your questions about the Redskins-Rams game and more.

Hi Tracee, A couple of followup points from Friday: 1. My husband (who says grass cutter instead of lawnmower) is from Scranton 2. Did you know that the Big Bang Theory theme song is by the Barenaked Ladies? I love this chat, thanks for always taking my posts and I think you are cool even if you don't agree with me about Floyd Little!

Your husband isn't Michael Scott, is he?

Good morning everyone! I'm on the world's slowest internet, and this chat is costing me $16.18. Donations welcome! :) Just kidding. I'm on my own this morning but we'll go the full hour and I'll type as fast as I can.

I want to say to the chatter who wrote last week that Portis seemed afraid to take a hit: Sorry. I said that was crazy and yet I saw him do it with my own little eyes yesterday. He just fell down. Someone tried to ask him about it yesterday but the questioner (Hellie?) got interrupted and he never responded. Someone was leaning on my shoulder so I was unable to figure out who it was.

Okay, let's get going.

I wrote last week about my perception that we were TERRIBLE at defending 3rd down. . .especially 3rd and long. I see you point this painful fact out in your column today. If I were an opposing coach playing the Redskins, I'd spike the ball twice because then it would be 3rd and 10 and I would be GUARANTEED to get a first down. It doesn't matter if it's a run play or a pass. . .the Redskins just can't defend 3rd and long. Why is this?

I don't know, and postgame is not the time to get those answers, unfortunately. The players parrot Shanahan, and Shanahan's answer to everything is: "We have to look at the film." So expect to see some reportage on this from the Park this week.

I am so tired of losing, but felt their hiring was a move in the right direction. Do you think they are as stunned as the rest of us at how this game went? It seems clear it's going to yake a lot more work than they originally envisioned to turn this team around.

I saw Snyder and Allen after the game, and stunned would be an appropriate word.

We've talked about this before. They were 4-12 last year and while they've made improvements, it's going to take time. That said, you have to beat the Rams. You HAVE to. Let's hope Snyder doesn't have Sherm Lewis on speed dial.

Can the Redskin fans finally admit that the Redskins are a bad team (and have been for a long time) ? At some point, you can't just expect to beat bad football teams on the road (Detroit last year also) if you yourself are a bad team.

The Redskins aren't as bad as all that, and the Rams aren't as good as they looked, but yes, the Skins are not a good team yet. And won't be until they fill a few more holes. And seeing them so inept on the road makes me wonder if they can achieve 8-8. That's going to be tough. Really tough.

If the defense can't stop a team with a rookie QB, an injury to their star RB and no WR's of note then what can be expected with Vick, Manning and Rodgers on the horizon?

Yes, and they've got road games in Chicago and Detroit, and while Cutler and Stafford are not among the league's elite, right now they can beat this defense.

Ben who?


As people pointed out in Cindy's chat, Zorn beat the Rans last year and Jason Campbell did so last week. Let's hope the 'Skins are all animal lovers who really want to get the guy who went to jail for torturing dogs, 1-3 is not a good way to start the season.

Nope, and a half-filled dome of nice Midwesterners is going to look like a cake walk compared to Lincoln Financial full of Eagles fans.

Yes, the Redskins have had a skinflint owner who didn't try to improve the team by getting good coaches or players (that was sarcastic), but finally came around and got a decent head coach and management, but for all the talk that Jim Zorn was terrible, the commentators are all - now - saying that this isn't a quick turn around; it's a long term process, three to four years. Sorry, but I think Redskins fans and followers were apparently sold a bill of goods because while Jim Zorn wasn't great (he was only really given his first season; the second was taken from him quickly, if not before the second season even began), this coaching staff and management hasn't really shown anything. All I heard yesterday, after the loss, was what a great team St. Louis had, one of the best in the NFL, and their quarterback, one of the great ones in the NFL. Did I miss the part about the Redskins playing a team that lost 27 of 28 games and playing against a rookie quarterback? Sorry, but I think Redskins fans have a right to be upset with this season so far.

Every right to be upset. Listen, the Rams are better than they were a year ago, no doubt. But they are not a good team, at least not yet.

I think part of the problem was the signing of McNabb, which made fans think they were in a "win now" situation. But with that roster, that was just an impossibility. Don't get me wrong, the acquisition of McNabb was totally the right thing to do but just because they won't use the word "rebuilding" doesn't mean that's not exactly what's happening.

Dreck. Total Dreck. They could have kept Zorn and JC and gotten the exact same result, except at least our old 4-3 defense was far superior to the Haslett 3-4 disaster. I think Haynesworth is vindicated now.


Did the Redskins not have the right shoes for the field yesterday? While Portis might want to fall so as to not get clobbered, I can't see any reason why Hall would want to fall on his tuchis.

Landry fell as well, and as far as I know some others did too. It's possible the shoes were a problem. Boy, do I hate domed football.

Boswell's column mentions the Rams, Lions, and Chiefs as though the Redskins are a better team. I love Boz, but how many more loses like yesterday's will it take for fans and the local media to realize that the Redskins aren't better? Just as Redskins fans look at the schedule and circle a game against the Rams as being an winnable or even easy game, Rams fans will do the same thing when they see the Redskins coming to town.

Better than those teams, or better? If you're saying the Skins  aren't better than those teams, no, certainly not. I think they are better than they were a year ago, I really do, but that is saying SO little...

Tracee, I know the Lil' Jayhawk in you hates all things purple and and silver, but did you check out the weather in the Little Apple on Saturday? There are pictures on-line that look right out of the Old Testament. As the KSU was delayed due to biblical reasons, Comcast decided to show Air Racing on the Hudson River. It turns out that was more interesting than the football game.

I saw a photo of that cloud over the stadium. If I were the athletic department I'd use that as a promo shot. Nothing like a Kansas sky, angry or happy.

For some unknown reason, Redskins fans (but not me b/c I'm too smart) are always guilty of irrational expectations. Were we reminded yesterday, especially without Trent Williams, that the 2010 Redskins are the 2009 Redskins only this year they'll have Donovan McNabb guiding them to a 5 or 6 win year? In other words, aren't these essentially the same lousy players as last year?

Yes. I thought McNabb would be worth two more wins. I thought Shanahan would be worth two more wins. That's how I got to 8-8. I may have been overly optimistic.

I don't know...I am leaning towards giving it another chance. Or, like the Redskins, is it broken beyond repair?

Like a disgusted but loyal sports fan, I'm disappointed but giving it one more week.

I am starting to agree with a lot of your other readers. The Redskins do not seem to use their players to their strengths. The 'skins have Orakpo, Haynesworth, and Carter which is the makings of a great defensive line for a 4/3. The Redskins blitz a lot from their new 3/4 and cannot get to the quarterback leaving the corners and safeties one on one and to make it worse I have noticed that number 31 for the 'skins tends to cover no one. Just like the last 3 head coaches, when the 'skins get into the red zone, they seem to stop trying to score. They run the back into 8 to 10 defenders or they throw a short pass underneath or a screen. Not too creative and not effective. I thought the younger Shanahan was supposed to be a very creative offensive genius.

When the players say they have to get more familiar with the offense, that leads me to believe we may not be seeing all the playbook yet. Which is not good. I don't know why we didn't see the variety we saw against Houston.

Did you see Portis's long run where at the end, he just flopped to the ground without being tackled like he was the QB doing a QB slide? Even the analyst on the TV wondered what the heck happened and why Portis didn't try to fight. All to common for this overpaid/overrated RB who's been coasting since he got that contract extension. He's really had zero impact on the first 3 games and I don't expect much to change.

I wondered if that had to do with his second half disappearance, because yes, that was obvious and almost jaw-dropping to see. I thought Portis had lost a step a year ago, or maybe a half-step, and I haven't changed that assessment. I didn't think he was washed up but when the head coach declares they're going to use you in passing situations -- he is a good blocker -- then that's not good. And if they felt that way about Portis, which was a surprise to everyone, then why did they let go of Larry Johnson, who I guess is going to turn up with the Rams? I have liked Torain since camp and have no problem giving him an opportunity but the way the whole thing played out was just odd.

Hey T-Ham. I think I'm finally getting it. We're just not that good. Problems on the o-line, no depth at wide receiver, no go-to running back, a defensive system that seems to be a poor fit for the personnel, a good but aging quarterback, a defensive coach who looks like a small, but admittedly delightful bird, and a putrid defensive line. I'm not hating-- I'm simply evolving into a realist. Have I gone too far in my grave assessment?

I think that's a healthy assessment. Listen, they have some better performances in their future, some Cowboys-like games. I don't think there final 13 will look like yesterday. (Dear God, I hope not. My retinas haven't recovered from last season.) But it's going to be a long process and they ought to be actively pursuing some deals.

An aside: I see the Heat is starting training camp today because ESPN has begun its 10 hours of coverage. Ugh. Anyone going to Midnight Madness tonight?

We beat the Cowboys! We're really good (and probably going to the Super Bowl). We lost to the Texans, but they're really good (we're still going to the playoffs, maybe). We lost to the Rams, the players suck (and fire the coach and gm too).

That's fairly accurate. The Texans didn't look terribly good yesterday, even before Johnson's injury, did they?

I bet the Eagles fans will be so confident that they will cheer Donovan when he runs on the field and when he completes passes, and then laugh at the rest of our team.

That would be humorous but I can't imagine them cheering McNabb, can you? Unless he gets hurt.

Is it me or is Shanahan, when pressed, just plain mean or confrontational with the media on top of being aloof?

Um, well, I'm going to let you be the judge. One thing I don't like from the media is complaining about certain aspects of the job -- this is hard, that person won't talk, whatever. That's our problem, not yours. He's required to talk and he fulfills his requirements.

They are about to be 1-5 after losses to the Eagles, Packers, and Colts. Do you really think they will go 7-3 after that with this defense?

Let's see, I had them 8-8 before the season and I told you my reasoning. I'm not redoing the prediction week by week. Will I be wrong? Quite likely.

I watched Hawaii Five-0. You are right about the constant shooting and the have-it-both-ways sexism, but the producers clearly don't think it matters. This show doesn't insult your intelligence so much as it encourages your intelligence to take the night off. (Also, James Marsters' body was never recovered, which in TV-world means he'll survive to threaten McGarrett again!)

Well, if that's the case, then I'm in! Seriously, I'll give it one more chance. (These questions are the sorbet between bitter rantings by all of us, FYI.)

This game is a direct result of not having early draft picks for many years. They need to spend the next 3 years rebuilding from the draft, rather than telling/lieing to their fans that actually have a good team. Any chance this will happen now?

I believe we will see responsible use of draft picks, yes. I believe they will make better choices than the previous administration. But yes, it will take time.

Ms Hamilton, Name me three teams in the MLB, NBA, NHL, or NFL that has made the playoffs when a son or brother has held a major coaching position when the father has been head coach. There aren't any.

Then I can't name any.

Why one earth is Stephon Heyer employed on this team? At best he is a 5th string lineman. I bet he couldn't even start on the Maryland Terps this season. There has to be an unrestricted FA out there who can fill in & not be a complete liability when on the field. That holding call that negated Moss's catch was a DAGGER for this team. I will start to question Bruce Allen's ability if the worthless Heyer steps foot on the playing field for the Redskins again this season. CUT HIM NOW - we can't afford to have a piece of garbage on the field costing us wins!!!!!!

It tells you a lot of this team that Heyer is regarded as a viable option on the line. He should not be playing as many snaps as he is, and maybe he shouldn't be playing any at all.

Is Bradford actually good, or can the Redskin defense make any quarterback look good?

Bradford has some talent, no doubt. He'll be a good quarterback in this league. He had some help looking good yesterday.

Did the Skins just not take the Rams seriously? I would prefer if that were the case because the alternative is that they were actually trying hard. . .and if that's them trying hard. . .we're doomed! I hope Shanahan is merciless in whatever remidial/punitive action he takes. Will he be?

I can't imagine not taking seriously a team that beat you two seasons ago and lost by only two points last year. How could you just overlook them? (Rhetorical; there are a lot of ways, of course.)

I can't imagine Shanahan not wreaking some vengeance at the Park. He looked like he'd swallowed bees after the game, as well he should.

I was in a Delaware sports bar showing the Eagles, Ravens, and Redskins games. My first thought during the Skins 4th quarter was that if anyone can bring the Skins back from a 2 touchdown deficit, McNabb can. Well he didn't . How hard can that be? My third thought was pure Eagle envy. When's the last time the Skins put a 28-3 beatdown on another team? We always seem to be on the receiving end.

What they needed yesterday was that kind of win. And then they go down 14-0 and never really recover. That doesn't bode well.

You may hate domed football (as do I) ... but I hated DOOMED football - and that is what the Redskins are ... DOOMED. I'm living in a bad nightmare. I pulled for the Patriots in the Super Bowl the year they were going undefeated & they lost. Thank goodness I wasn't around for the 1980 US Men's Hockey team.

You're right; I left out the "o".

I believe DeAngelo Hall blowing a play by falling on his tuchis is what the gods refer to as karma, and it made me smile. Two questions for you: 1) How long until the Redskins "faithful" start calling for a new defensive coordinator? 2) Could anyone have predicted that the Eagles, after trading McNabb and Westbrook, would be sitting on top of the NFC Least?

I think the calls for a new defensive coordinator have already begun, at least on this chat. I wouldn't have picked the Eagles to be leading the division in week 3 because of Kolb. Vick has put a whole new slant on the NFC East. I continue to be impressed with him on and off the field -- what we see, I mean. He says all the right things. I don't know if that's Dungy or Reid or whoever but someone has coached him up pretty well.

If the Redskins were the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" team - the Russians would have won. If the Redskins were the Steelers in the 1970's - Franco Harris would have just missed picking up that ball. If the Redskins were the Chicago Bulls with Jordan - he would have missed that game winner against the Cavaliers. If the Redskins were the original Dream Team - Korea would have beaten us. If the Redskins played only the Lions & Rams for 16 games, those teams would probably be undefeated Super Bowl winners. This team is a joke. Game over Johnny!

Posted without comment because I think you needed to say that.

Tracy How many more games will Donovan last?

Physically or mentally? The one thing he's got going for him is the ability to avoid sacks better than JC. I thought he had at least one tense moment with Kyle Shanahan coming off the field yesterday. I've gotta think he'll huddle with the coaches and try to get this fixed. He's going to be proactive in a way JC couldn't be.

Over the last ten seasons before this one, the Redskins are 70-90 with 2 wildcard berths. That's across multiple coaches, systems, and player rosters. Just a history of below-average results. It's a fair point to stress that the Redskins are one of the bad teams in the NFL - when you're constantly being discussed in the same sentence as teams like Oakland and St. Louis, you need to wake up and recognize where you are.

Fair point, indeed.

Hi, Tracee: loved your column this morning (as always). Formula for defeat: Outstanding coach (Spagnuolo) plus brilliant young QB (Bradford) plus overconfidence (Redskins) equals defeat. But, let's not smoke the chrome tailpipe, Redskins fans, just yet. There is no question that this team is now in the hands of adults (Allen, Shanahan and McNab), but it's going to take time, maybe two more drafts to get the talent needed to get them back on track. I know it's hard to be patient when we've been wandering in the wilderness for so many years, but patient we must be. (Are you listening, Mr. Snyder?) Right now is the time to sit back, relax and enjoy whatever we can in the coming games, and bask in the glory that was the Dallas game. Who knows? There may even be some bright spots to come this year, but if not, there will be plenty in the next few seasons. Meanwhile, for now, one must watch the Redskins games with the proper amount of medicinal fortification.

Should the Redskins have said, "This is going to be a rebuilding process" a long time ago? The Nats bought a certain amount of patience from their fans, now thinning, with that approach. The Caps were up front about it. I just wonder why they avoid the "R" word. Would that have helped? I don't know, but perhaps.

Not only did he flop on that run, but there was a blitz from the left side (I think in the 3rd quarter -- the Redskins were going left to right on my TV screen) where it looked like he basically got out of the way of the blitzer, who then pancaked McNabb (who got rid of it but threw incomplete). Not the blitz-blocking machine I'm used to seeing out of Portis. Do you think maybe McNabb had criticized him earlier and this was payback?

Whoo boy. I don't know. If Portis gets angry about his reduced time and decides not to block, then they really would have big problems. Bigger problems. Let's hope it was just a miss.

Why would assume that it would be good. The big 3 turn out garbage. Now Covert Affairs on USA and Memphis Beat on Turner were great new shows. Memphis Beat one of the best cop shows in last 20 years.

I couldn't get into Memphis Beat for some reason, but I liked Covert Affairs and I do watch a lot of the cable shows. Frankly, the new shows on cable this summer were better than the new crop on network TV. But it's not ALL garbage on the networks. I like a few things.

But domed football makes sense in an upper-Midwestern town that gets awful weather starting in October as Minneapolis does. Oh wait, this game was in St. Louis...they don't have awful weather through most of the football season. Why are they in a dome?!?!?

I don't know. I don't get it. I lived in Detroit 10 years and I get the need for it, no question, but I really do dislike it. It just LOOKS wrong. I can't explain it. Maybe it's the lighting. It's too perfect. No shadows, no natural light, and it was louder than the devil despite the place being, at best, two-thirds full.

Have we become that team that opposing fans see on their respective schedules, and excitedly exclaim, "Yipeee, we have the Skins! Chalk up a W!"? On a related note, should the season progress as it looks that it might, Shanny's hair will, no doubt, morph from whatever it is now, to sheet-white, followed abruptly by flaxen, signaling an obvious color-job!

With that tan, flaxen hair would be a mistake. Although if his hair turned white overnight, that would dramatic and fun. Then we could ask about it and he's say, "I won't know until I look at the film."

I thought the Skins had become "that" team last year. Their weaknesses are easy to exploit.

Tracee, can you point out to this person that there's a thing called Google and another thing called Wikipedia? Donn Nelson coached with dad Don on several playoff teams in the NBA, Brian Schottenheimer coached with Marty when the Chargers made the playoffs and Jim Mora was on his dad's staff in New Orleans in '92 when they were a wildcard team. And that took all of about two minutes to find out. I'm sure there are more. And I'm sure there are better criticisms of Shanahan than that lame one.

Thanks; I can't afford the extra $16 for Google. (Kidding.) I don't agree with this, either. Kyle Shanahan is well-regarded by other people than daddy. And blaming him for that loss yesterday is crazy, unless he's also coaching defense and special teams and picking the cleats and ... That was a team effort yesterday.

who also follows the Redskins because I live here. The biggest difference between the two franchises is continuity, especially in the front office. Ozzie Newsome is a great exec and he's been on the job forever. That means he picks the people that make sense to him and he usually picks the right ones. If you get those decisions right consistently, you win. The Skins have never had continuity under Snyder and until they do, every season or "era" will be a crap shoot.

Yes, and of course, and this will sound crazy, but continuity takes time. That's why Allen and Shanahan need some time. We'll see if they get it.

A friend of mine has a perfect record: every time he attends a Ravens game (like this Sunday), they win. Maybe the Redskins could pay him to attend some of their games?

Do you have any friends who have that affect on the Redskins? I'm not sure that's transferrable.

anyone got video of his slide? I missed that part of the game but cannot believe he slid when he usually just trips over his own feet.

It was sort of an old JC slide. Remember those?

-In college ball: UCLA (my alma mater, and seldom a football powerhouse) over Texas. -In pro: St. Louis over Washington or Dallas over Houston?

The UCLA win was big. I think the Skins loss is the bigger upset only because the Cowboys were expected to be Super Bowl contenders. They finally started playing like it yesterday.

Tracee, your Jell-O analogy showed your midwest roots. Speaking of which, did you enjoy any "soda" in St. Louis? Here's an editing question: In Sunday's paper, there were lots of college game stories and line scores, but no attendance figures. How come?

I bought some pop at the grocery store but avoided calling by any name so there would not be fisticuffs. I don't know the answer about attendance figures, but since the editors read this, I'll post it and maybe they'll tell me.

Did he play at all? Nice work if you can get it.

For awhile, he came in only on third down. Then they started using him on first and second. They they pulled him several times on third and short. I'm sure there was a plan for that, but watching him go in and out made me dizzy. I'll say this: They make the decision to take him in and out. This year, he doesn't have that right.

OK, the game plan was not to use Clinton Portis during the second half. (Why? but that's a separate question) However, by the start of the 4th quarter, it was clear that that plan was not working! Unless he was injured, which it appears he wasn't, why not put him back into the game? It's not as if the other stuff was working.

I didn't think that was a great job of making adjustments throughout the game, frankly I don't know why they didn't use him. We thought maybe he was hurt, maybe he banged his head and they were being cautious, maybe he's in the doghouse. He professed no knowledge of it yesterday. Stay tuned to the local talk shows because I'm sure we're not done with this yet and he tends to vent on air, as you know.

I guess Vinny Cerrato isn't doing his radio show on WTEM this year?

The last I heard, Vinny was moving to Baltimore because his wife got a great job at a hospital there. She's a brain surgeon.

Not a question, but I just wanted to thank you for the Washington Post ban on military analogies in the sports section.

Thanks, although I can't take the credit and all the editors agree. Just makes sense.

And now it's time for me to quit, pack, and head to the airport. Thanks, everyone, for bringing your angst to Hamiltime! Let's talk tomorrow.

In This Chat
Tracee Hamilton
Tracee Hamilton has worked at the Post since 1993, toiling in office obscurity as an editor before someone said, "Hey, you've got a lot of opinions and can write a little. Why don't you become a columnist?"

Her interests range from genealogy to Nordic combined to Kansas basketball. If ever there was a Jayhawk who once flew off a ski jump, she'd know where he was buried.

Her list of pet peeves is considerably longer, but includes Missouri basketball and poor subway etiquette. She welcomes dissenting opinions -- in the way Great Whites welcome open-water swimmers.

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