Redskins-Bucs Predictions


As ever, these are our crackerjack staff’s predictions for Week 7. Make yours down in the comments. Whoever comes closest gets to make a guest post on this here weblog.

Matt Terl: Bucs, 23-21

Could go either way: The Redskins could lose big, humiliated by a rookie QB, or they could keep it respectable and lose a heartbreaker. Really, the world is their oyster. I’m betting on the latter.

Chris Mottram: Bucs, 24-16

The Panthers play Sunday Night Football here in Charlotte, so I’m going tailgating for the first time in a couple years. Really excited about it. Probably gonna smoke some encased meats to bring, but not totally sure yet — I have some other ideas swirling around. Should be about 10 of us, including a couple Eagles fans, but they’re alright guys actually.

JP Finlay: Skins, 23-21

I fear Doug Martin in this one, but think the return of Jordan Reed can help a lot. Doomsday is avoided, but take the points.

Andy Peden: Bucs, 31-18

So we get a rookie QB who hasn’t looked that good in a game that is a Code Red, which if we lose are effectively 2-6 due to the Pats game after the bye, which would officially mean the season is off the tracks. All that adds up to Winston going for 350 and 3 TDs.

Jamie Mottram: Skins, 24-23

A nailbiter, but not a heartbreaker.

Jack Kogod: 17-17 tie


Todd Davis: 13-13 tie

I like it. GameDay baby! Duuuuukkkkes!!!

Composite prediction: Bucs, 22-19

Redskins-Jets Winners & Losers

Handing out labels following Skins games, this time a 34-20 loss in New York.

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Bashaud Breeland — Two fumble recoveries and one awesome interception in the first half alone. Chris says he’s getting a Breeland jersey. He should just modify his Portis; it’s best not to commit.

Dustin Hopkins — I love this man and his touchbacks and 50-plus-yard field goals.


Kirk Cousins — Quarterbacks of mediocre teams with decent defenses and nominally run-focused offenses aren’t asked to do very much. Just “manage the game,” really, meaning don’t turn it over. But Cousins has four multi-interception games already this season, all Redskins losses. Today’s performance was so poor it won’t be much of a surprise if Jay Gruden, acting president of the Kirk Cousins Fan Club, turns to Colt McCoy next week.


Pierre Garcon — Only 25 yards, but at least he shook Revis Island to its very core.

Redskins-Jets Predictions


As ever, these are our crackerjack staff’s predictions for Week 6. Make yours down in the comments. Whoever comes closest gets to make a guest post on this here weblog.

Matt Terl: Jets, 24-22

Could I have been more wrong last week? No, I could not have. It is mathematically impossible. Anyhow, this week will be another game where the team looks generally not-bad, but ultimately proves not-good-enough. I wish I believed that this was part of a general trend toward improvement, but for the moment it just feels like mediocrity.

Jack Kogod: Jets, 23-17

Who plays quarterback for the Jets? Eh, probably doesn’t matter.

Chris Mottram: Jets, 16-13

The Jets have a really good defense according to Football Outsiders and their quarterback is Ryan Fitzpatrick according to Google. It’ll be another defensive, low-scoring game, but with DeSean back (hopefully) Good Cousins makes an appearance and the Skins win.

JP Finlay: Jets, 24-16

I thought the Falcons were overrated and Skins would keep it close. I think Jets are underrated and will win by a TD or more.

Andy Peden: Jets, 27-23

At some point the Skins will make a bad QB look good. I say it’s this week (and probably next week too).

Todd Davis: Redskins, 13-12

Why so down, everyone? We’re somewhat competent and the Jets are a mirror image (defense, turnover-prone slinger) with a better record. I’ll take Alf over Ivory though and Skins to win. Also, #GAMEDAY2JMU

Jamie Mottram: Jets, 23-16

No Trent Williams, no dice.

Composite prediction: Jets, 21-17

Redskins-Falcons Winners & Losers

Handing out labels following Skins games, this time a 25-19 loss at Atlanta.

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The defense — To be without two of their top three corners and still hold Atlanta, which was averaging 34 points per game, to just 19 is damn good, especially after they were so damn bad the past couple of years. Joe Barry may be some sort of wizard.

Jamison Crowder — He was their top receiver on the day (eight catches on eight targets for 87 yards), and that first-down pickup on the third-and-10 screen was so nice. Now has 21 catches on 26 targets over the past three games.

Chris Baker — I love that this dude is emerging this season as a real factor. Two forced fumbles on the game.

Bashaud Breeland — A big INT and return, continues to be a secondary boss.

Trenton Robinson — It’s always startling when a Redskins player makes a nice catch on an interception. We’re also glad he was okay after that missed-FG celebration mishap.

Ryan Kerrigan — Two sacks, pushing his season total to 3.5.

Dustin Hopkins — Touchbacks galore, and now a 52-yarder to tie it at the end of regulation? Yessssss.

Derek Carrier — Congratulations to him on his first career TD.

Tress Way — Four punts averaging a net of 46.8 per, with two of them inside the 20.


Kirk Cousins — The game-tying drive in regulation was nice, but he was inaccurate throughout, and that pick-six at the end was a killer, even if Ryan Grant fell down on the route. Season to date, statistically speaking, he hasn’t shown improvement over his work of the past three seasons.

The run game — Making Cousins’ ineffectiveness worse is that Atlanta focused on stopping the run, and stop the run they did, holding both Alfred Morris and Matt Jones to less than two yards per carry.

Pierre Garcon — Just three catches on eight targets, with a few borderline drops strewn in.


The offensive line — Couldn’t run, but did keep Cousins off his ass.

(Pic of Kyle Shanahan and RGIII taken with love from @ScottSmithFOX5.)

Redskins-Falcons Predictions


As ever, these are our crackerjack staff’s predictions for Week 5. Make yours down in the comments. Whoever comes closest gets to make a guest post on this here weblog.

Chris Mottram: Falcons, 34-24

Now that the Skins are technically tied for first and have fans feeling a touch of optimism, they go on a 1-3 stretch through this second quarter of the season — at Atlanta, at Jets, Bucs at home, at New England. We’ll always have that 90-yard touchdown drive, though.

Matt Terl: Falcons, ∞-17

Yes, that’s an infinity symbol. Kyle Shanahan and Leonard Hankerson are forbidden by law from lighting Ashburn on fire. They’ll do this instead.

Andy Peden: Falcons, 33-24

Ryan exposes the D just like Eli did. Cousins plays fine but the Skins just don’t have the firepower on O.

JP Finlay: Falcons, 27-20

See, I just don’t think the Falcons are that good. Specifically their defense. If the Skins really commit to the run this one stays close. Even that Giants game that went so bad would’ve been close if Matt Jones held onto the ball in the end zone.

They could sneak a win, but I definitely think they cover. Especially with the hook.

Jack Kogod: Falcons, 27-13

I … uh … I’ve got nothin’ else to say.

Todd Davis: Falcons, 24-17

Like Finlay, I think the running game can shorten the game enough to keep it close. But if there’s any way of slowing down Julio, it isn’t in this secondary.

Jamie Mottram: Falcons, 27-23

Let’s see, the Falcons have a) the NFL’s best wide receiver, b) a proud Pro Bowler who wants the damn ball and c) an ex-Redskin motivated to show that they were stupid to let him go. Meanwhile, the Redskins secondary consists of Bashaud Breeland and some soggy toast that hasn’t washed down the disposal yet. Advantage: Falcons.

Composite prediction: Falcons, ∞-20

Redskins-Eagles Winners & Losers

Handing out labels following Skins games, this time a soggy, glorious 23-20 win over Philly.

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Kirk Cousins — Like most middling, inconsistent quarterbacks, there is Good Kirk and there is bad Kirk. This was Very Good Kirk, from the mistake-free football throughout to the 90-yard game-winning drive at the end. It was a tantalizing glimpse of what we hope will be the future, but we’d like to see him do it again next week. (Bonus points for the burgundy suit.)

Pierre Garcon — Continues an odd season of very short receptions (only nine yards/catch), but that touchdown at the end was so impressive. A great moment for him, and a ray of light for the franchise.

Jamison Crowder — Led the team in targets with 12 (no one else had more than eight). Seems to have supplanted Andre Roberts as the slot guy, and rightfully so.

Alfred Morris — Only 62 yards on 17 carries, but he reasserted himself a bit as the alpha back, and he was huge on that final drive.

Chris Thompson — Ninety total yards? He had 133 in all of 2013-14 plus the start of this year. Looks like he’s the third-down back.

The Hogs — One sack on 46 dropbacks, and four yards/carry against a tough run defense. That’s how you possess the ball for 41-plus minutes, and that’s generally how you win games.

Chris Baker — Two sacks for the big boy, and a nice celebration dance, which he said was the “Milly Rock.” Here’s how you too can do the Milly Rock.

Trent Murphy — A big sack and a fun lateral-interception of sorts on the final drive.

Bashaud Breeland — He really is our best corner, isn’t he?

Terrance Knighton“It’s a rivalry. I don’t want to shake hands.”

Dustin Hopkins — One hundred-percent touchback rate.

Jay Gruden — As usual, he needed this. And I thought he called a pretty good game, too.


Jordan Reed — The fumble was tough. The concussion is even tougher. Hopefully he’s able to (safely) return quickly, unlike 2013, when he missed the last six weeks of the season.

Chris CulliverShowed toughness playing through a knee injury. Still got burnt for two touchdowns.

Matt Jones — Had nowhere to run (11 yards on seven carries).

Ryan Grant — Didn’t do much, but was targeted a season-high seven times.

Tress Way — When punting from the other team’s 35-yard-line, it’s best to not put it five yards deep in their end zone.


We the fans — Let’s stay this way, despite beating a division rival to move into a three-way tie for first before a Week 5 matchup with the 4-0 Falcons.

Ryan Kerrigan — Finally sacked Sam Bradford on the final drive after whiffing on him at least twice earlier in the game. It was his first full sack of the season. Here’s to many more.

Redskins-Eagles Predictions


As ever, these are our crackerjack staff’s predictions for Week 4. Make yours down in the comments. Whoever comes closest gets to make a guest post on this here weblog.

Chris Mottram: Redskins, 13-10

The rain and sloppy conditions help Washington, which wins an ugly, low-scoring game. The Cowboys lose to the Saints on Sunday night, the Skins are tied for first, D.C. loses its damn mind before having its soul crushed by November. This is our destiny. #KeepPounding

Matt Terl: Eagles, 17-10

Root for the hurricane.

Andy Peden: Eagles, 17-12

It starts to get ugly around here. People start talking about replacing Cousins.

JP Finlay: Eagles, 20-13

I think Peden is onto something. Lotta running and sloppy, sloppy field.

Jack Kogod: Eagles, 21-14

Same here.

Todd Davis: Redskins, 24-23

Strangely enough, but for obvious reasons, I really like Washington given the Joaquin factor. Will be interesting to see how backup guard Arie Kouandjio looks if he’s forced into action. And of course, ROOT for the Dukes!

Jamie Mottram: Eagles, 27-20

If Washington wins, we’ll all go right back to wondering if Capt. Kirk can lead us to a division championship in a down year. Washington won’t win.

Composite prediction: Eagles, 19-15

Why Papelbon Should’ve Squeezed Harper’s Throat With Both Hands

Here to weigh in on Harper v. Papelbon is my real-life friend and big baseball fan/coach, Wright Way. (It’s a pen name. Get it?)

Note that I disagree with him, but I think it’s important to get this view out there as it doesn’t seem to be commonly shared by Nats fans.


There is a lot to be said for respecting your team, teammates and opponents. Respect on a baseball field is shown in a number of ways, from the way you take the field to the way you play the game. Additionally, respect is earned in as many ways as it’s shown.

One common misconception is the overlap between respect and fear. Many respected players earn the respect they are shown for the way they play the game; conversely some players are feared because of the way they play the game.

Is it possible to be both? Sure. There are current and historical players who have earned and lost respect for various reasons. There are also players who are feared for their capabilities as well as their antics.

Some examples that immediately come to mind are Derek Jeter and Ty Cobb. Both were exceptional ballplayers. Both had wonderful careers that are still doted on to this day. That is where any comparison should end.

Jeter was world class on and off the field. He was respected as well as respectful. He played the game hard every pitch of every inning of every game he participated in.

Cobb was the opposite of everything Jeter stood for. Was he a great player? Absolutely! However, it was how he played the game that kept him alienated from teammates and fans alike. Cobb was most definitely a feared player (especially to anyone covering second on a steal) for reasons far beyond what he was capable of showing in a stat line.

Fast forward to modern day and there are a number of players in the bigs who follow similar paths as those two. Do they play at the same superior level as Jeter and Cobb? Well, that’s to be determined, but when playing in today’s game of constant coverage both on and off the field it’s better to be remembered as a respected player rather than a feared one.

There are quite a few players that come to mind in the modern respected-feared conversation:

Mike Trout — Respected for the the way he plays the game, going hard every play to the point of self-inflicted injury. Feared because of what he can accomplish at the plate. Simply amazing.

Manny Ramirez — Once feared by any opposing pitcher who would face him in October, yet never respected by anyone who wasn’t a teammate, and often times by those who were.

Alex Rodriguez — Typically only feared by pitchers from April through August, and once respected by everyone until the truth of his PED scandal came to light.

Jonathan Papelbon — Now this is a tricky one. Papelbon, once known to throw hard and to be as selfless as any player in Majors, has had a change of heart. After departing from Boston his attitude changed significantly. He was no longer a team guy in Philly, and he alienated teammates and opponents alike. However, he is still and should be a feared opponent, capable of high velocity and not shy about throwing it high-and-tight to anyone he feels deserves it.

Bryce Harper — Another Tricky one. Is Harper respected? Surely by some, fans and teammates alike. Is he feared? Without a doubt. He was quite possibly the best player, statistically speaking, in Major League Baseball this season. But there’s another side to Harper that isn’t shown as much now as it was prior to 2015. It’s his unwillingness to perform when it doesn’t benefit Bryce Harper.

In one recent event the last two guys on that list were intertwined in a respected-feared incident in which they both showed exactly how two players can be a little of each, yet none of either all at the same time. Harper is still a young player who, at this stage in his career, should be doing everything possible to earn the respect of teammates, opponents and fans alike. He already has the fear of the opposition, because he can do it all on a baseball field. We know he can hit baseballs to the moon, we’ve seen his speed in the outfield and on the base paths, and he shows moments of having one of the best arms in baseball. What he doesn’t do, however, is respect anyone who doesn’t worship him.

Harper has been this type of player since he was a teenager in AAU ball. I distinctly remember a 16-year-old Harper berating an umpire over a called strike during a game that, in the grand scheme of things, wasn’t a hill of beans. It’s because of actions like that that Harper has a long row to hoe before becoming a respected player in the Majors.

Papelbon is headed in the other direction. Once a force to be reckoned with in late-game situations, he has fallen from grace. He still produces flashes of brilliance, but it’s Papelbon’s well-documented loose screws and cannon of an arm that also leave him feared for the wrong reasons and respected even less. His unrelenting willingness to throw at opposing batters for little to no reason and his reluctance to bond with new teammates leave him alone and not very much appreciated.

One thing must me stated, though, is at this stage in his career Papelbon is very much a veteran and should be treated as such, whether or not you like him, hate him or agree/disagree on his point of view. As a young player (e.g., Harper), when a veteran tries to teach you unwritten rules of the game, your ears should perk up a little.

It could be on how to read an opposing pitcher without stealing signs (this earns you a pitch to the ear on your next at-bat), or the appropriate actions to take when you hit a ball into the parking lot (don’t stare at it; everyone hits one there at some point, keep your head down and run the bases). And if you hit a can o’ corn, run the damn thing out. Are you going to make it to base? Probably not, but be respectful of the pitcher who just out matched you and RUN IT OUT.

And when you fail to abide by these and other rules of the game, a veteran will and very much should call you out on it. The appropriate action of a young player when being called on this type of thing is to acknowledge what was said, nod your head and correct it the next time. The absolute wrong action for a youngster is to spark an argument about it, disrespect the veteran and throw a jab of their own back. Actions like these when spoken, screamed, shouted or yelled to a veteran who is known to be a loose cannon will and should get you CHOKED.

The moral of the story is: Until you have been there for more than a cup of coffee, don’t kick back and put your feet on the desk. You haven’t earned it.

JMU’s OC Is One Of Football’s Hottest Coaches And Its QB Is On SportsCenter

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For the 10% of our already small audience that actually cares, HOW ‘BOUT THEM JMU DUKES?

They beat SMU (an actual FBS team!), at SMU, last Saturday with an incredible display of offensive firepower (729 yards!), and now they’re getting pub on the digital pages of SI:

In August 2003, Utah quarterback Brett Elliott led the Utes to a 40-20 victory over Utah State. He opened the scoring with a 12-yard touchdown pass to receiver Larry Miles on a play called Houston. The moment remains notable as it marked the first touchdown of Urban Meyer’s coaching career at Utah.

Twelve years later, Elliott mentioned the touchdown pass as a fitting mile marker on his circuitous route to becoming one of the hot coordinators in college football. Elliott, 32, is in his first season as co-offensive coordinator at FCS James Madison, which pulled off a 48-45 upset of SMU on Saturday night.

If you’ve never heard of Elliott, that’s because he got hurt a week after that victory at Utah State. An under-recruited back-up named Alex Smith took over the starting job, and in 2004 led Utah to an undefeated season and became the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. Realizing he’d have a hard time beating out Smith, Elliott transferred to Division III Linfield for the 2004 season.

[ … ]

He hooked back up with his old quarterback coach at Utah, Dan Mullen, and spent the last three years in Starkville in quality control helping with the quarterbacks. He worked closely with Dak Prescott […] “He’s a very sharp and up-and-coming coach,” Mullen said on Sunday night. “He will be a hot name in coaching soon. He paid his dues the right way, worked hard and is taking advantage of his opportunity.”

Elliott’s big break came when JMU offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer left for Houston last year. JMU head coach Everett Withers is a former defensive coordinator under Meyer at Ohio State. He wanted someone with experience in Meyer’s offense. Elliott walked into an ideal situation, as JMU quarterback Vad Lee, a Georgia Tech transfer, may be the best QB in the FCS. Lee ranks No. 5 in the FCS in passing yards and No. 5 in the FCS in rushing yards.

He reminds Elliott of the quarterback he left behind in Starkville. “There are so many similarities between Vad and Dak,” Elliott said. “From everything on the field to what they’re like off the field. They are like clones.”

[ … ]

It showed in JMU’s signature victory on Saturday, as Lee led the Dukes (4-0) on an eight-play, 75-yard drive for the winning touchdown with 27 seconds left to beat SMU. That leaves JMU as No. 1 in total offense (671.3), No. 2 in scoring offense (50.3) and No. 1 in rushing offense (356.3).

Things are going so well for the Dukes that Lee was selected as ESPN’s Big Man on Campus this week. The SportsCenter segment: