Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Night Quarterback - Week "Heartbreak"

Not a lot of great things about being a 3-8 team heading into today's matchup with the Saints. But here's one advantage:

3-8 teams don't have to respect conventional NFL thinking. They can color outside the lines.

3-8 teams can go for it on fourth and inches on the other team's 42-yard line in the second quarter.

3-8 teams can onside kick to start the second half.

3-8 teams can run a fake field goal where the punter throws a 30-yarder to the... oh, yeah. We did that one.

And most importantly, when you're 3-8 and leading the best team in the NFL by 10 and have first and goal at the seven with 2 1/2 minutes left, you go for the knockout. You throw the ball, run a naked boot (love that play name), four-wide quarterback draw, any of that stuff.

I mean, you're 3-8. What's the point in playing for a field goal?

For the third straight week, the Skins have tightened up in the red zone. Made the conventional choice. "Hey, you never miss a chance to put points on the board." And what has the conventional thinking produced.

Three of the most heartbreaking (and frustrating) losses I can remember as a loyal supporter of this team.

Exhibit A: In Dallas, right before halftime, conventional thinking says that we don't take a shot on 3rd down from the 21-yard line, and instead try the field goal. We miss and go on to lose the game.

Exhibit B: In Philadelphia, up five midway through the fourth quarter with first and goal, conventional thinking says play for the field goal to put the lead on eight. Eagles go down, score, convert the two, and make a field goal at the end to win it.

Exhibit C: jeez, enough already.

I'm sure Landry wishes he hadn't gone for the double move twice. I'm sure Kareem Moore would love to have had that interception back. And clearly Suisham must be the sickest man in DC tonight. But I don't hold any of them responsible tonight. The fact is, Washington played more than well enough to win the game.

If the coaches had just let them finish that game...

PS - Need your help, 'cause sometimes I get a little confused. Can you walk me through the Sellers fumble?

First, when the official blows the whistle, you're supposed to stop playing. If you don't, you get all that late hit and unnecessary roughness stuff, right?

But on the Sellers play, the ref who blew the play dead is basically saying "disregard the fact that I blew the play dead. You should keep playing, because I may go under the hood and decide that the play wasn't really over when I said it was." Is that how it works?

Because if that's the case, why would a player ever respect the referee's whistle? It may not actually be the end of the play, so I might as well keep playing, right?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunday Night Quarterback - Week 9

So I basiically extended my bye another week. Daughter Maya had her birthday party yesterday. And since it was scheduled from 12:30 to 3, it kept me from watching the Skins play. I watched the score tally up on my phone (in a familiar fashion - from bad to worse), but I interestingly did not feel the same level of helpless frustration.
This is my team. Lord knows I can't start over following another team right now, even if I wanted to (which I don't). But I am married to the fact that 2-14 (or 3-13 or whatever) is a necessary evil if we're ever going to be truly great again.
The hard part is finding a way to get through the next eight weeks.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sunday Night Quarterback - Week 6

This is what grasping at straws looks like.

You know, the straws are flying all around, and they're really hard to get a hold of.... I actually don't get this analogy at all. Let's begin again.

This is what trying to drink coffee with a fork looks like.

Much better.

Let's review the state of the franchise:
  • One touchdown in three home games
  • Fourth loss to a previously winless team
  • Coach is undermined by bringing in an offensive consultant who was on his way to - wait for it - calling a bingo game when he learned he'd been hired.
  • Coach is further undermined by being stripped of his playcalling duties, so they can be given to the aforementioned consultant (Insert bingo joke here)
  • Oh, yeah. And the quarterback controversy that just began.
What can we pile on top of all this? Anyone? How about Monday Night Football? Nationally-televised home game against the Eagles, who are probably a little upset after their listless, losing performance against the Raiders. This could really get ugly.

As for the game, there's not much new to say. Any team that fails to run the ball, fails to stop the run, and fails to get off the field on 3rd down will have a hard time winning in this league, and will often look very bad on the field. The Skins are no exception to that.

As I mentioned before, I will try to liveblog (or at least tweet - @nanasinkam) during the game next week. Problem is, I'm on AT&T, and the NFL of course is Sprint Country. Danny does his part, by making it almost impossible to get a signal in his stadium. So we'll see....

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sunday Night Quarterback - Week 5

Bad Beat.

If there is not a rule that you should not be able to push a player into his teammate who is attempting a fair catch, then there ought to be. Though I can't be sure the Skins would have pulled the game out if they had retained the ball in that spot.

Their two touchdowns came on drives of 1 and 12 yards, respectively. They didn't show anything that told you they would be able to sustain a drive - again. Defensively, the second half featured so many missed tackles, none worse than the one DHall missed on the Delhomme bootleg that sealed the win.

It would be easy to pile on Hall. In fact, what he did right there was not unlike his love tap on Mario Maningham's TD run in week 1. But things run deeper here. It seems like the Skins play to stay close, to avoid the big mistake. As a result, they make a shitload of little mistakes. None that could lose the game by itself, but they add up.

The ironic thing is this: when the NFL schedules came out in April, what would you guess I had for the Skins' record after five games?

Yup. 2-3.

I figured a loss at Giants, win versus the Rams. Win at Lions. And losses to Bucs and Panthers. Don't forget, the Panthers were 12-4 divisioon winners last year, and Bucs have always presented matchup problems for the Skins.

Now that all said, I'm still disappointed as heck at the 2-3 record, because those two teams turned out to be bad, and I feel no confidence about winning the next two games.

The bright spot? I am slowly convincing my fellow fans that this season must be sacrificed.

Sacrificed for the greater good of proving to ownership that their approach won't work.

A sacrifice that leads to our owner sitting across from an esteemed coach/GM this winter and saying "obviously I don't know what I'm doing here, so I'm, handing over the football operations to you."

I will be at the Eagles game in two weeks, with plans to liveblog from there (if I can get a signal inside FedEx, which is dicey at best). If we're 2-4 going into that game. It will be ugly. Ugly probably either way, really.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sunday Night Quarterback - Week 4

I can't say that I'm ever disappointed to see the Skins win, but I will admit that I did entertain the fantasy of what a second loss in as many weeks to a winless team would do.

It would be brutal, but if it convinced Syderrato once and for all that we are more than "one or two players away" from being a championship contender, then it would be a brutality to be endured.

As for the game, I was able to catch it in snippets. I had another engagement to attend, but I became pretty proficient at flipping between the ESPN ticker and the Slingbox iPhone app (linked to a box at my in-laws that was tuned to the game) while at the same time appreciating nature photography and breathtaking vistas of the Chesapeake. Did you know that we've so overharvested the Bay that there only exists 1% of the population of 100 years ago?

Yeah, I didn't know that either. Lay off the oysters for a little bit. Have some crackers.

So, from what I saw, I'm disappointed that despite all of the draft picks, depth chart adjustments and Keith Sweat-like "I'm gonna, we're gonna, get this riiiiight, girl," our offense still consists of: 1st down Portis, 2nd down Moss, 3rd down Cooley, 4th down punt, then commercial and I go pee.

That's not sustainable. Kelly or Thomas, or even Fred Davis! Somebody needs to step up and take the pressure off those guys.

Defensively, we rebounded nicely from getting gashed by the Lions in the run. It's just so hard to measure your progress against quarterbacks like Stafford and Josh Johnson. I mean, how many points do you expect to give up there?

Last thing. I think Raheem Morris made a mistake not going for it on 4th and goal with 5 minutes and change remaining. I know, hindsight is 20/20 and all. But what have the Skins shown you all year that tells you that they start with the ball on the 2-yard line and even get one first down? Let alone run out the clock? Even if they failed to convert, Tampa would have gotten the ball back around midfield with probably 3 minutes left.

Moreover, you have to think that the Bucs needed a touchdown to win the game. Their kicker had already missed two manageable field goals in the game (one going into that end of the stadium).

So, at the end of it, which would the Bucs rather have had? Two chances with the ball to score a touchdown and win the game? Or ask your field goal kicker to make two field goals inside of six minutes (and maybe another one in overtime), including maybe a 45-yarder to tie the game with the clock running out? After he's already missed two?

I'm glad he made the choice he did, though.

And I don't know about the Panthers. I need a couple of days.

Friday, October 2, 2009

What Happened to Sunday Night Quarterback, week 3?

Well, I completed a self-imposed Vow of Silence until noon at Wednesday. I decided not to say anything about the game, lest I say something I would later regret.

Yet after three days, where I contemplated the fact that punter Hunter Smith (#3, right) remains among the Skins' leaders in points scored, I still felt like I had nothing productive to say.

So, I will watch the Buccaneers game, in which the Skins will attack Josh Johnson in his first NFL start, on the road, in front of 90,000.
Football logic tells what this result should be (ie Johnson and the Bucs should be crushed).
But what will actually happen?

Anyone's guess, I suppose.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday Night Quarterback, Week 2


I am not going to spout venom about how you can't go into the red zone five times and come away with nine points.

I'm not going bleat about being unable to get off the field on 3rd down against a team as bad as the Rams is not excusable.

I'm not going to rail about how Jim Zorn seems increasingly overmatched for simple game management tasks, like not realizing you should wait until the game clock runs down before calling timeout (when your team is winning and, you know, wanting to leave the other team with as little time as possible).

I'm not going to complain about those things (actually, I guess I just did) because to do so would somehow indicate that I was surprised by what I saw in this game. That I somehow expected a different result.

Watching this team as long as I have, I no longer expect them to hold onto the football when they're driving at the end of a half.

I don't expect them to leave less than a seven-yard cushion to a receiver on 3rd and four. Your kid can do that math, right?

Last week, I asked what an acceptable result would be against a Rams team that was 2-14 last year, and opened the year with a 28-0 drubbing against a non-playoff team.

Here's the answer. If you think the Skins are a playoff team, this result was unacceptable.

But what if you know that they're really a mediocre team that would overachieve to win nine games? If that's what you know, then 9-7 against the Rams sounds about right. And this week's game against Detroit (0-18 going back to last year with a rookie quarterback) will still be unresolved deep into the second half.

May not seem like it, but I'm in a better place about all this now...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Skins Parallel Universe

I am doing this for my sanity and the sanity of my fellow Skins fans.

The truth - however difficult to swallow - is this: our beloved Skins may not make the playoffs this year. So the closest you may come is in what you see below. Enjoy the temporary detachment from reality:

SPU - Week 1

Sunday Night Quarterback - Week 1

Not surprised in the least. I told me father-in-law the over/under would be 40, and I figured that if either team could score 20 points, they would win.

It's a simple formula for the Skins. If they get off the field on 3rd down, they will be in every game they play in this season. But if they don't, it's going to be a long year.

I haven't looked the the stats, but I can't imagine Portis got as many carries as he should have, especially after ripping off that 34-yarder on the first play from scrimmage. Clearly the Randle El sweep went over like a fart in church, but I applaud his effort to make up for it (he had a heck of a game).

And to allow the Giants into the red zone twice and only give up three points (in the 1st quarter) is all you can ask from that defense. Your offense has to step up in that spot. Looking back, it seems that Washington's defense spending 13 minutes on the field in the 1st quarter was devastating - they never really recovered from that. I saw Haynesworth on the sidelines for two key 3rd down conversions, and you have to hold the offense responsible for that, in part. Three-and-outs hurt you on both sides of the ball.

So now you look to next weekend's game against a Rams team that got taken to the woodshed in Seattle, and you have wonder what constitutes success in that game? It can't just be to get a W, right?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

What Are You Looking At, 1:40 p.m.

Maya goes for the longest distance on the slip-n-slide at the River House.
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Saturday, May 23, 2009

From the "No way!" dept.

I'm sitting at the pool, watching my son make new friends and perform inspired (if not well-executed) belly flops.

And yet, my mind wanders to Dave Matthews.

Not because I'm a huge fan. Because that's really the point. I've heard no more than two of his songs in my life.

So, as one of the two songs I recognize played at the pool, Meaghan and I engaged in a "can you top this" about who could name more pop culture phenomena we'd had no real exposure to.

Here's my list. I know, I know. I suck and all that:

• I've only seen one of the Star Wars movies.
• never seen or read Harry Potter
• Never watched Lost, 24, or Grey's
• I've never seen any of the Indiana Jones movies
• I know nothing about Coldplay
• never saw St. Elmo's Fire
• Who won American Idol?

There's more...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What are you looking at, 1:18pm

Kevin and I refuel at Five Guys before his soccer practice

Sunday, March 1, 2009

One Man's Garbage...

I took my wife and kids yesterday to the Delaware-James Madison basketball game. It was a fun dynamic, since Meaghan went to JMU and I went to Delaware. The Hens dominating performance, however, caused Meaghan to become somewhat disinterested midway through the first half.

Maya and Kevin enjoyed the concessions, the halftime show and the t-shirts that were thrown into the stands after every made UD three-pointer. (memo to both teams, work the ball inside, it will free up your outside shot).

It wasn't until the end of the game, though, that I got what I needed.

With UD up comfortably and about two minutes to go, Coach Ross began to empty his bench. Anyone who's ever played hoops probably refers to this affectionately as "garbage time." The bench warmers get in the game and try to squeeze off as many shots as possible before the buzzer sounds. Most fans are heading up the steps, or thinking about where to eat after the game.

I know it well, because that was the kind of playing time I got at Delaware. 

This is, of course, with the exception of a road game at William & Mary when the first string off-guard was injured and the second string off-guard picked up his third foul in the first half. I seriously think the coach contemplated asking the ref if we could compete with four players before he pointed a finger at me and waved me in the game. I did well, though.

I'm getting distracted though, because this post isn't about me. It's about Samer Madarani.

If you look at his bio on the website, you'll see that he's a 5-10 150-pound walk-on freshman point guard who went to high school locally (all-conference, not bad), but that's not why this post is about him.

If you look at the boxscore, you'll see that his line was: 1 minute, 1-2 from the line, and a turnover, but that's not why this post is about him.

If you look at his season stats, you'll quickly realize that yesterday was his first points of the season, and then you might start to get the picture.

For 36 seconds, Madarani was all over the floor. He broke the press, got fouled on the way to the hoop, and then, with about seven seconds left in the game, he dove through the legs of the tallest player on the court in an effort to steal the ball away.

Seven seconds left. 

Delaware was up by 14. 

Some people were already in the parking lot.

I don't know Samer Madarani other than his picture in the program. And it's safe to say that I'll never know him well enough to tell him what he did to inspire a 38 year-old ballplayer with aching knees, ankles, and the equivalent of a small child's weight hanging on him since his playing days.

But I saw all I needed to see in those 36 seconds to know what kind of player he probably was in every Blue Hen practice this season.

And how much his teammates appreciate him. 

And how proud that coaching staff is of him.

Now, where the hell did I put my sneakers?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What are you looking at, 2:46 pm

Kevin doing Cosmic Bowling at his classmate Will's birthday party.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

My Hoopties: Volume 1

I’m kind of nuts when it comes to automobiles.

It’s not recent thing. My mother says that I used to fall asleep in my room playing with matchbox cars, and when I wasn’t drawing pictures of sports logos (or playing Statis-Pro, which is another story for another time), I was reading about cars, drawing pictures of cars, and altogether obsessed with anything that had four wheels.

I subscribed to Motor Trend, Car & Driver and Road & Track (as well Car Craft back in the day), and I loved to make charts, comparing the specs of my favorite vehicles, or build the plastic Revell models of Chevelles, Z-28s and GTOs.

And it hasn’t stopped. I just did the “25 random things about me” post that has gone viral on Facebook, and realized that I have owned 19 cars in my lifetime, which becomes batty when you consider that I have had a driver’s license for only 21 years. (I also admitted that I drove a car for the first time at the age of 12, hoping that the statute of limitations has expired on that transgression).

So, I thought it would be interesting to document my automotive history.

Every one of these cars has a story. Some of them are very boring.

Car #1 – 1973 Fiat 128 sedan
Color: Several
What I paid for it: $36
Year bought: 1985

Imagine a box on wheels. That was the Fiat 128. I bought this car from a woman in the next neighborhood over from mine. It was sitting outside of her house, parked from the last time she had driven in (which had been about a year before). No price, just a “For Sale” sign. I asked her how much she wanted for it, and she produced a Fairfax County water bill she’d just received. “My water bill is 36 bucks, so how about that?”


Now, to get it home, I needed some help. I was 14 years old – so no license – and the car wasn’t running. Other than that, I was ready to roll.

A friend took me back over to her house in his Pinto wagon. We tied a rope to back, hooked it to the Fiat, and made the cautious 20 minute drive back to my house. Armed with a Chilton manual, a new battery and a full bottle of Carb-Start, we had the engine running by 11 he next morning.

At that point, we realized that neither of us actually knew how to drive a stick.

We lurched our way up to an empty church parking lot (bear in mind the car had no tags, no insurance, and I was 14!). We soon discovered that the car didn’t have a fourth gear (bad syncro) In about an hour, we both considered ourselves proficient manual trans drivers.

The car was originally blue, but had been painted several times. I decided to paint it Arctic Orange, since that color was on clearance at Trak Auto. We got about ¼ of the way across the car before I ran out of money for paint, so the car ended up looking like a poorly-executed homage to the Denver Broncos.

I never had the car officially titled, since by the time I turned 16, I had gotten rid of it. I’d never drive on main roads – just through the side streets in the neighborhood – to play ball at the elementary school or the church.

My buddy and I had one epic near-miss on a snow day. There was probably about five inches on the ground (and it was still falling), when we decided we’d assess the Fiat’s handling capabilities on a side street lined on both sides with parked cars.

Not sure how I lost it. It might have been the bald tires, but that’s just a theory.

Several 360s and some spiritual intervention left us about six inches from a brand new Toyota Celica, and me probably in need of a freshly laundered pair of undergarments.
The car was unceremoniously towed away to a junkyard shortly after I turned 16, to make way for volume 2 – The Beetle.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What are you looking at, Sunday 12pm

Maya and Kevin competing in the Pokemon City Championship in Claymont,