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The Slippery Slope

The Slippery Slope

Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins. Get details and order at http://GutCheckBook.com


A couple of people I know related a story about what they did while sitting behind the visitor’s bench during a recent Redskins game. Emboldened by some mean “punch” consumed before the game, they heckled the visiting players about everything from their playing ability to steroids to their uniforms. It was all in good fun. One player not dressed for the game even came over and chatted with them after it was over.

This was just a somewhat amusing anecdote until we saw the outrageously ugly riot that broke out in the Detroit-Indiana NBA game Friday night. Then such behavior became the peak of the proverbial slippery slope.

Such an incident has never happened in the NFL, at least not in modern times. But it’s easy to see how it could.

My friends would never get involved in anything violent nor would they shout out obscenities, but let’s say that they’re yelling to a nearby player that his mother wears combat boots. That doesn’t draw a reaction. But another individual sitting nearby, perhaps not a level-headed at the others and who has been taking shots out of a flask all game long, moves from commenting on the apparel of the player’s mother to her ancestry or what she does in her spare time. This draws some angry words from the player. That gives others sitting near the heckler incentive to really let him have it. Things deteriorate from there and you have the scene in Detroit all over again.

Now, this is a somewhat simplified scenario, but does anyone doubt that the incident at the Palace started with some good, clean heckling? In other words, if nobody heckles, the whole thing never happens. The words created an atmosphere of hostility, one that became extreme when Artest committed the hard foul that provoked Ben Wallace’s shove. It just became a small leap for the abuse to go from verbal to physical.

I certainly am not going to defend the players going into the stands. However, had the whole thing ended with Artest getting hit in the face with that cup and beverage, it still would have been a very ugly incident.

I’ve never liked heckling. My idea of a good time when going to a sporting event is cheering on my team, not razzing the guys on the other side.

At the same time, I’m not going to play the speech police here. Just because it’s not something that I like to do doesn’t mean that I think that those who do get a kick out of it don’t have the right to do so as long as the language is appropriate.I’m concerned, however, that the bad apples, the ones that escalate the hostile atmosphere to the point of physical violence, are going to lead to a necessity to have physical barriers in between the fans and the players like a third-world soccer field has. That would diminish the experience for all involved.So, heckle if you must. Just remember that you may have to be doing it from across a moat and through a barbed wire fence some day.

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Pierre-Paul injury a big loss for Redskins' playoff rival

Pierre-Paul injury a big loss for Redskins' playoff rival

When you’re fighting for a playoff spot, it’s not only about what happens to you. It’s also about what happens to the teams you’re competing against for that playoff spot. And one of the Redskins’ main competitors got some very bad news this morning.

The Giants, who are in the No. 5 spot in the NFC, the first wild card spot, got word today that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has had sports hernia surgery. The recovery time is at least four weeks, probably more like six. The Giants’ season is likely to be over by the time six weeks elapse, barring a playoff run without one of their best defensive players.

Pierre-Paul has helped solidify what was a shaky Giants defense last year. He has seven sacks and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. He has been heating up down the stretch with 5.5 sacks in his last three games.

His loss is a big blow for the Giants. They are a game ahead of the Buccaneers, who hold the No. 6 spot, and a game and a half ahead of the Redskins, who are currently seventh.

The Redskins play New York in Week 17 so the Redskins have to pick up just one game on the Giants over the next three to have a shot at passing them in the season finale.

The chances of that happening looked pretty good with Washington playing playing three teams with losing records in the Eagles, Panthers, and Bears and the Giants going against division leaders Dallas and Detroit in addition to the Eagles. With the Giants now without Pierre-Paul, the Redskins’ probabilities got tilted in their direction a little bit more.

Just finishing ahead of the Giants wouldn’t guarantee a playoff spot but it would come close. It would mean that the Redskins would have at least nine wins and the Redskins’ tie means that two teams would have to get to 10 wins to knock them out of the playoffs. The Bucs have to win three more games to get to nine wins and the Packers and Vikings would have to run the table.

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Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked — and what didn't — against Arizona

Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked — and what didn't — against Arizona

CSN has teamed up with The Edge Systems to provide the occasional statistical review of Redskins game film. The Edge is analytical football software currently being used by coaches in the NFL, SEC, ACC and the media, providing some of the fastest and best data in football.

Below is a breakdown of the Redskins run game against Arizona - a game coach Jay Gruden admitted did not feature enough carries for Robert Kelley. 

The Redskins had a lot of success with their GAP runs early in the game.

In the first half they were successful on 75 percent of their GAP runs. 

As the game wore on the Redskins moved away from what had been successful and only ran two GAP runs in the second half.

As the Redskins power run game vanished, so did their prospects for winning the game.

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