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It could have been worse, Part 2

It could have been worse, Part 2

The last time the Washington Redskins played the Jets in the preseason was in 2006. If you thought last night was ugly, this might put things in perceptive. The Redskins fell behind 27-7 and looked awful in doing so. Read my live game blog from FedEx Field here. Following is my blog entry dated 06.20.06 about Joe Gibbs' reaction to the debacle:

Joe Gibbs: Anger Management

At just two minutes and 52 seconds, it really wasn't much of a sound bite. It was more like a nibble--one that was delivered with very sharp teeth.

Joe Gibbs' postgame press conference after Saturday night's 27-14 loss to the Jets in a preseason game at FedEx Field was one of the shortest such sessions that anyone can remember him giving. One of the reasons that it was so brief was that it wasn't necessary for those of us there to ask any questions about what he thought of the team's performance. He was, as he made perfectly clear, concerned.

"I'm concerned all the way across the board," Gibbs said. "That's where I am right now. When we show up and do that kind of stuff at home, I take it real serious. I think our players, do, too. We have to do something about it."

"I'm really concerned -- let's put it that way," he continued. "We need to take a serious, hard look at all of this and I know I have to from my standpoint. I'm sure I haven't done my job."

Anything positive to take out it, coach?

"There will be some positives and I'm sure some guys did some good things -- you can analyze it that way," Gibbs said.

"But I'm concerned about the team," he continued, with an emphasis on the team. We have to play good and we're not."

This had virtually everyone who was observing this somewhat stunned. This wasn't the sarcastic Bill Parcells here or the blunt Tom Coughlin. This was the mild-mannered Gibbs, who generally praises in public and criticizes in private. Fretting is Gibbs' nature, anger is not. And, make no mistake about it, Gibbs was angry.

Since Gibbs doesn't tend to get mad every often, it generally has a great effect on his players when he does. Just days before his first Super Bowl appearance in January of 1983 some players and coaches were late to a pre-practice meeting because they drove to the facility rather than taking the team bus. Gibbs was livid and immediately laid down the law—taking the bus to practice was mandatory.

"He chewed us out good," said linebacker Neal Olkewicz, who was not one of the players who was late.

"It's no problem," said Dave Btuz. "It's been pointed out to us quite verbally by Coach Gibbs.

There were no tardiness issues the rest of the week and the Redskins earned their first Lombardi Trophy that Sunday.

Perhaps Gibbs' most famous tirade came at halftime of the last game of the 1986 regular season. The game had only slightly more meaning than Saturday's meeting with the Jets had. Washington was locked in to the top Wild Card playoff spot regardless of the outcome of the game against the Eagles at Veterans Stadium. After sleepwalking through the first half the Redskins went into the locker room trailing 14-0.

Chairs were flipped. The coach's arms were waving. His voice went several octaves higher than his normal, calm tone.

"Screechy," was the way linebacker Neal Olkewicz described Gibbs' voice. "Definitely screechy."

"I thought maybe Coach Gibbs had been fired, and Mike Ditka (coach of the Chicago Bears) had been hired at halftime," free safety Curtis Jordan said.

But, no, it was Gibbs, riled by his team's lack of intensity in the first half. "There were veins sticking out of his neck," said linebacker Rich Milot.

There was evidence that this was a very controlled rage. "He never used any four-letter words," said Milot.

Planned or not, controlled or not, the tirade apparently worked. The Redskins scored 21 fourth-quarter points and went into the playoffs on a winning note with a 21-14 victory.

We will see if his anger following Saturday night's events has similar benefits.

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Enemy Intel: Yes, Redskins fans, you need to root for the Cowboys again

Enemy Intel: Yes, Redskins fans, you need to root for the Cowboys again

Here is my weekly Redskins-centric spin around the NFL:

Before we get going, let’s line up the NFL wild card contenders by current seed and their remaining four games.

Giants (8-4): Cowboys, Lions, @Eagles, @Redskins
Bucs (7-5): Saints, @Cowboys, @Saints, Panthers
Redskins (6-5-1): @Eagles, Panthers, @Bears, Giants
Vikings (6-6): @Jaguars, Colts, @Packers, Bears
Packers (6-6): Seahawks, @Bears, Vikings, @Lions
Cardinals (5-6-1): @Dolphins, Saints, @Seahawks, @Rams
Saints (5-7): @Bucs, @Cardinals, Bucs, @Falcons
Eagles (5-7): Redskins, @Ravens, Giants, Cowboys

—The Redskins can knock the Eagles out of any practical chance of making the playoffs with a win on Sunday. An Eagles loss would mean they could finish no better than 8-8 and that is highly unlikely to get it done this year.

—For a second straight week, Redskins fans need to root for Cowboys to win. Or for their opponent to lose. Some wanted to make that distinction last week when Cowboys played the Vikings and the optimal outcome for the Redskins was a Dallas win. However you want to look at it, a Giants loss to Dallas could move the Redskins to within a half game of the No. 5 seed.

MORE REDSKINS: Assessing the four remainig opponents

—There should be no hesitation about pulling for the Saints to beat the Bucs. A Washington win and a Tampa Bay loss puts the Redskins back into playoff position with the No. 6 seed. The Bucs are 2.5-point favorites at home. They are the hot team, coming in with four straight wins while New Orleans has lost three of four. The Saints are on the fringe of contention but Redskins fans need to pull for the teams ahead of Washington in the standings.

—The Redskins can’t look for much help when it comes to the team immediately behind them in the standings. The Vikings visit the Jaguars, who are locked in to yet another season of double-digit losses. You might be tempted to look for the home underdog to put up a fight and they might. But Blake Bortles has thrown three pick sixes this year and the Vikings have returned two interceptions for TDs this year. Look for such a play to be decisive and for the Vikings to remain tight with Washington in the standings.

—The other team a half game behind the Redskins is the Packers. They host the Seahawks in what could be very snowy conditions in Green Bay. Seattle is a three-point favorite but if the weather gets crazy anything could happen. Redskins fans need to root for the Seahawks, for obvious reasons.

RELATED: Three Redskins out on Sunday, Reed questionable

—The Cardinals creeped back into contention with their win over the Redskins. That win and the fact that they have a tie on their ledger means that the Redskins do not want to finish with the same record as Arizona. This is one of the few situations where a tiebreaker would matter. It’s an easy call to pull for them to fall to the AFC Dolphins.

—I went 2-1 last week, winning with the Patriots over the Rams and the Seahawks over the Panthers. I have four NFL picks this week, all of them road favorites: the Redskins -1 on the road over the Eagles, the Cowboys -3 at the Giants, the Falcons -6 over the Rams in L.A., and the Seahawks giving three to the Packers.

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Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' four remaining opponents

Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' four remaining opponents

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 10, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: No media availability

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 9; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 14; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 22

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Around Redskins Park

The Redskins have four games remaining on their schedule. Three wins would give them a record of 9-6-1 and a very good shot at the playoffs. Four will almost certainly get them a ticket to keep playing; two wins or fewer will have them needing a whole lot of help to make the postseason

Let’s take a look at the Redskins’ remaining four opponents and revisit the confidence level on the Redskins’ chances of beating each one of them. (I first did this exercise a few weeks ago).

@Eagles, 5-7, weighted DVOA via Football Outsiders, 15.3% (ranked 5th)
The Eagles looked like playoff contenders for about half of the season but they have taken a tumble back to earth, losing five of their last six. Right now the Redskins are the better team, although their long injury list is an area for concern. The Eagles appear to be in some degree of disarray after their coach accused some unnamed players of giving less than full effort. Confidence that the Redskins will win: High

Panthers, 4-8, DVOA -7.5% (25th)
They won’t be able to defend their NFC championship much longer. By the time this game comes around they could be either eliminated or on the verge of being mathematically out of the playoffs. Their problems are numerous including big issues at cornerback (too bad they didn’t have a guy who could have helped franchise tagged) and an offensive line that has been injury-wracked all year. Still, Cam Newton is a scary quarterback and he still has tight end Greg Olsen and receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Ted Ginn Jr. If the Redskins get into a shootout they could be in trouble. Confidence: Moderately high

@Bears, 3-9, DVOA -3.0%, (24th)
Matt Barkley is the Bears’ third starting QB this season and in most statistical categories he’s the worst of the three. The Bears have been hit by injuries as hard as any NFL team with multiple starters on injured reserve. They probably would have struggled even with those players healthy; without them they are one of the five worst teams in the NFL. The one thing to beware of is the late December weather in Chicago, which could randomize the outcome to an extent. Confidence: Very high

Giants, 8-4, DVOA 5.0%, (12th)
The new players on the Giants’ defense were just starting to gel when end Jason Pierre-Paul’s season ended after sports hernia surgery. Their defense, with the No. 7 DVOA (-9.6%), won’t collapse but it won’t be as strong. Eli Manning’s stats are down a tick from last year but as long as he has Odell Beckham to throw to the Giants won’t be totally stymied on offense. This one is hard to get a good feel for this far out, not knowing what might be at stake for either team. Confidence: Moderate

For comparison purposes, the 6-5-1 Redskins have a DVOA of 9.8% (10th)

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