Mother Nature

February 7, 2012

During his Signing Day press conference at John Paul Jones Arena officially announcing this year’s football recruiting class, Virginia HC Mike London noted that the list of players included “some height and athleticism. There are some guys where in the end Mother Nature will decide what position they will finally rest at.” 

A historical look at the references to the personification of nature by the last two Cavaliers head men reveals Mother Nature can not only think, work, and control weather, the elements, and human size, but also wreak havoc, talk, and ulatimately, “take over.”

The only question that remains is: can she run a sub-4.4 40?


  • Groh, October 2002: “As that commercial said, it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature. She’s got a mind of her own. The rehabilitation and healing were not coming along as we originally were told because Mother Nature was going to decide when that leg was ready to play football again.” 
  • Groh, November 2004: “It’s all muscle; it’s all power. Some guys can just take it. There are bigger players that are always hurt. Part of it is just Mother Nature.” 
  • Groh, September 2005: “It’s just a question of Mother Nature right now with all the modern medical help we can give to help Mother Nature along.” 
  • Groh, September 2006: “It’s the outside bone of the foot, which is the farthest away from the blood supply… [It will] be a while yet [and it was really up to] Deyon and Mother Nature to collaborate on this one.” 
  • Groh, October 2007: “Linebacker wasn’t something we were talking about [in recruiting], even though we were pretty sure that Mother Nature would take its course, as it has now.” 
  • Groh, September 2008: “He’s getting multiple treatments a day it’s just a case of how fast is Mother Nature working with him.” 
  • Groh, September 2009: “It’s pretty difficult to do. If we had an appropriate place, we’d probably go inside. But we don’t have that available to us. We have to let Mother Nature do that for us and Mother Nature is not cooperating this week, so we’ll just have to deal with it and adjust to it when we do get there.” 
  • Groh, October 2009: “Most of his high school was at wide receiver and safety, but he was a player with a lot of athletic skill and obviously a lot of height and good versatility that just the way nature usually works we could see was going to grow out of all of those things, Mother Nature lived up to her reputation and fortunately that was the case and he’s gone from being in the lower 200s when we first met him to being in the plus 250s now and obviously bringing that same level of athletic skill.” 
  • London, March 2010: “I don’t think tough at all. I think it’s something he welcomes, because Mother Nature‘s still working on him, and it’s hard sometimes to be a DB and try to keep your weight down when he’s 6-4-plus and you’re starting to lift … I think he welcomes the position. It’s more natural to him being able to run, come off the edge. He’s got safety cover skills as a linebacker, which provides us hopefully with an edge.” 
  • London, July 2010: “The 3-4, if you have the players, the personnel to do it, it is a defense that can work well for you, but in a 4-3 defense you can recruit more linemen and get that big safety in high school who Mother Nature is probably going to put some pounds on and end up being a Will linebacker.” 
  • London, August 2010: “The move with Royal was the fact that Mother Nature was going to say, ‘You know what, you’re not going to be 230 or 245 pounds.’” 
  • London, August 2010: “Mother Nature kind of took over.” 
  • London, December 2010: “If you can recruit some tall, long, athletic guys, that’s what we need. Then Mother Nature will take over. They’ll grow into whatever we need, but you know they’re athletic and can run.” 
  • London, April 2011: “He’s put on a couple of pounds from inactivity. His frame and his size and the way we are lifting [weights] dictates it. We feel that Mother Nature is going to jump on him real, real quick here.” 
  • London, August 2011: “He thought he was a basketball player coming out of Gonzaga, but Mother Nature jumped on him. You take some highlights and splice them together and you’re like, ‘Ooo, whee!’

Rock Bottom? Not Even Close

November 10, 2011

A comparison of the last 10, last 16, and all 24 games under head man Mike Shanahan with the worst stretches in Redskins’ history since 1998…


Shanahan is 4-6 in his last ten, a mark that has actually been 3-7 at several times under his watch.  Jim Zorn finished 2009 going 2-8 in his last ten, but the low point was week 5 of the 2001 season.  After losing 9-7 to the Cowboys in a Monday night battle of 0-4 teams, Washington had a record of 1-9 over its previous ten contests.

Shanahan is 5-11 in his last 16 games, the low point of his tenure in Washington.  However it’s not the nadir.  The team finished 4-12 in 2009, and was 3-13 during a stretch spanning 2003-04 – the end of Steve Spurrier’s tenure and beginning of Joe Gibb’s second stint at the helm.

Shanahan – whose Redskins bio points out was once 22-2 at his peak in Denver – is 9-15 with the Redskins.  As Spurrier once said, “not very good” but at the same time “there was some worse ‘un us.”  The venerable David Elfin has done the research, and only seven teams have a worse mark over the last 24: Carolina, Arizona, Denver, Minnesota, Cleveland, St. Louis, and Miami.  Even in DC, it can get worse, and it has been before.  In recent Redskins history, the worst 24-game stretch has been 6-18 – a mark hit during the Gibbs/Spurrier 2003-04 span, and over Jim Zorn’s final 24 games.


Even with the shutout north of the border and consecutive games under 12 – something Elfin notes Zorn never did – Shanahan’s Redskins have averaged 16.1 points over the past 10 games.   Zorn’s teams averaged less than 14 during several 10-game spans, and even Gibbs had a stretch at 12.2.  Spurrier finished at 15.9 over his final 10, the low point of his 2-year tenure.  Rock bottom was 9.2 points, hit after week 6 of 2001, just six days after the aforementioned “Gutter Bowl” in Dallas.  That 10-game run includes scores of 7, 13, 3, 20, 3, 0, 13, 9, 7, and 17.

The Redskins have averaged 17.1 and 17.9 points per game over the past 16 and 24 games.  Each mark is several full points higher than the low mark in recent team history, which game under Spurrier-Gibbs.

Rex Grossman, A Historical Perspective

October 5, 2011

Through four games in the 2011 season and eight games (seven starts) as a Redskin, there have been highlights (1,873 yards, 13 TD, 4 wins) and lowlights (9 INT, 17 sacks, 6 fumbles) for quarterback Rex Grossman.

A comparison to the starting quarterbacks during each of last 11 Redskin playoff appearances reveals the Good Rex may actually be pretty good, and the Bad Rex may not be all that bad.  Perhaps better put, the good may be good enough to win with, and the bad may not be too bad to overcome.  Four games is a little early, but nonetheless…

Grossman has thrown for 247 passing yards per game this season, more than all but two of the recent playoff seasons.  He has thrown 1.5 TD per game this year, better than or on par with seven of the past 11 playoff seasons.  In seven starts in DC, Grossman has thrown  13 TD, good for 1.9 per start – outpacing even the 14-2 offensive juggernauts of 1983 (1.8) and 1991 (1.8).

This year Grossman has already thrown five INT, and in his tenure as a Redskin has completed 3.3% of his attempts to the opposing team.  Clearly this is a poor result; the league average was 2.9% in 2010 and is 2.6% through 4 weeks in 2011.  However, it is better than five prior Redskin playoff seasons, including two that ended in Super Bowl wins – 1982 (3.6%) and 1987 (3.5%).  Grossman’s mark of 3.3% is also lower than those posted by Mark Rypien (3.4%), Jay Schroeder (3.6%), and Joe Theismann (3.8%) during their careers in Washington.

Grossman has six fumbles in his eight games as a Redskins, an astronomical mark he has reduced to two in four this year (0.5 per game).  While still high, it’s worth noting that in six of the previous 11 Redskin playoff seasons there were at least 0.5 quarterback fumbles per game.

A better measure of fumbling rate may be a comparison of fumbles to combined passing & rushing attempts.  In this metric, Grossman’s result as a Redskin is 2.1%.  He’s lowered that to 1.3% this year – a mark bettered in just three of the recent playoff seasons, and lower than the Redskins career numbers for Doug Williams (1.4%), Schroeder (1.7%), Brad Johnson (1.8%), Rypien (1.8%), Jason Campbell (1.9%), and Mark Brunell (2.1%).  Not to mention Patrick Ramsey (2.8%) and Todd Collins (4.4%). 















Campbell/Collins 2007







Ramsey/Brunell 2005







Johnson 1999







Rypien 1992








Rypien 1991

























Schroeder 1986







Theismann 1984







Theismann 1983







Theismann 1982







Baseball Recruiting, 8-Month Update

February 14, 2011

Of the nine recruits who committed to HC Brian O’Connor and staff (according to – list below), only seven are on the current roster

 Name Pos Ht Wt B-T High School Hometown State
Ryan Ashooh  LHP 6-2 175 R-L Centreville Clifton VA
Kyle Crockett  LHP 6-0 150 L-L Poquoson Poquoson VA
Derek Justice  LHP 5-10 169 R-L Orange Unionville VA
Artie Lewicki  RHP 6-1 190 R-R St. Joseph Regional Wyckoff NJ
Justin Nicolino  LHP 6-2 155 L-L University Orlando FL
Mark Podlas  OF 6-2 190 L-L Westhampton Beach Remsenburg NY
Mitchell Shifflett  OF 6-1 170 R-R Cosby Midlothian VA
Tyler Skulina  RHP 6-6 235 R-R Walsh Jesuit Strongsville OH
Austin Young  RHP 6-4 240 R-R Atlee Mechanicsville VA

Nicolino’s path is relatively well-known.  He was selected in the second round of the MLB amateur draft, and reportedly received a signing bonus of $615,000 from the Toronto Blue Jays.  He was “actually at a car shop getting my engine looked at” when he got the call.  Slated to debut in the Gulf Coast League in 2011.

As for Skulina, he took the path less-traveled.  He spent the fall in Charlottesville, and started Games 2 and 7 of October’s “Orange & Blue  World Series,” earning a win in both outings.  In Game 2, he threw five scoreless innings, yielding only two hits while striking out 5.  In Game 7, he went 2 1/3 innings, allowing two hits and 2 runs (1 earned) in Orange’s 9-8 series-winning victory.

Three months later, he was at Kent State, looking forward to “a fresh start,” according to his high school coach:

Former Walsh Jesuit standout pitcher Tyler Skulina is returning to Northeast Ohio.

And, presumably, Kent State couldn’t be happier about it.

After spending the fall at the University of Virginia on a baseball scholarship, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound right-hander has transferred to KSU for the second half of the school year and the foreseeable future.

”It’s absolutely true,” Walsh Jesuit baseball coach Chris Kaczmar confirmed to the Beacon Journal. ”He is now enrolled at Kent State and is on the team, all moved in and looking forward to a fresh start at Kent.”

Skulina, who was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the 46th round (1,385 overall) of the 2010 major-league draft, will sit out this season, but will have four years of eligibility intact, Kaczmar said.

Virginia did provide him with a release, he said.

Calls to Skulina were not immediately returned.

The right-hander never lost in his high school career and struck out 221 batters with a blazing fastball that often reached 95 mph.

With a firm commitment to Virginia, Skulina fell in the major-league draft.

Once on campus, Skulina realized Virginia was not the right fit for him in the long term, Kaczmar said.

He will now be eligible to get drafted again as a redshirt sophomore in 2013.

At Kent State, Skulina will be reunited with left-handed pitcher David Starn. The two combined to help lead Walsh Jesuit to a Division II state championship in 2008.

”A lot of his teammates have had a lot of success at Kent State and he felt comfortable there,” Kaczmar said.  

Loser Talk, Version 36

February 3, 2011

As Dan Steinberg dutifully documented, Joe Gibbs recently did an interview on Sirius NFL Radio with Bob Papa, Peter King and Ross Tucker.  Below is some of the discourse: 

“I’ve got to tell you, Dan and I are good friends. I told everybody when I was there, Dan did every single thing he could to help us win,” Gibbs said. “If we lost games, it was my fault, not his, and I say that to everybody. I think this guy has a burning desire, I think he’s the right kind of owner, and I was fortunate enough to have him.

“I think with Mike, I had a chance to visit with him some….I think he’s a proven guy. Yeah, it was another year with the Redskins where you’ve got a lot going on, but I will say this: almost every first year for coaches, that’s what happens. It did for me, it did for Mike. I think they’ll get settled down now. He’s had a year with the players, I think he knows where the problems are. I think they’ll go to work. And I know Dan, it’ll be the same thing he did with me, he’ll give him whatever. And so I have really hope here as a Redskin fan that we’re gonna come bouncing back here. I got to go to a couple of the games late, I think the team fought hard all year, and I think the second go-around here we’re gonna take a step up.”

Tucker then chimed in, thanking Gibbs for his comments on Snyder and saying that other owners around the league let the bottom line cloud their football decisions, unlike Snyder.

“I played for five teams, including the Redskins twice,” Tucker said, “and the thing I always tell people is it’s the really easy thing to do to rag on Mr. Snyder. And I know that some of the signings have not panned out, there’s no question about that. But at least when you’re a player for the Redskins, you know that your owner is completely consumed by winning, and you know that all he wants to do is win, and he’ll do whatever it takes. Now sometimes that might be misguided, but he’ll do whatever he thinks it takes to win.”

“I’ve seen Dan give airplanes to players that have problems and let them travel back home, I’ve seen him send his wife Tanya to the hospital when Renaldo Wynn broke his forearm in our playoff game and stayed there with him,” Gibbs agreed. “There’s a lot of great stories about Dan. It’s just unfortunate, there’s been a lot of things that have happened with the team, and what have you, and everybody’s so passionate.

“But I really think in the end, we’re gonna see, this guy has a burning passion to win, and I think he’s matched up now with a proven guy, and I think we’ll make some steady progress here….I think we’re gonna have good days in front of us for Redskins fans. That’s my hope.”

DeAngelo Hall Continues to Channel Ahmad Hawkins

October 25, 2010

Redskins corner DeAngelo Hall was just a sophomore in high school in the fall of 1998.  Clearly he was watching when fellow 757-er Ahmad Hawkins beat Anthony Midget for a 47-yard game-winning touchdown on November 28th of that year.  Hawkins’ TD grab from Aaron Brooks with 2 minutes remaining would be enough to beat Hall’s future school in Blacksburg, capping a furious second-half comeback that started from a 29-7 intermission deficit.

After scoring, Hawkins slid to his knees and outstretched both arms.  He soaked in the feeling of victory at Lane Stadium, creating one of the most indelible images in Virginia football history-

12 years later, and Hall is still  using the celebratory move he took from the one-time arena-leaguer Hawkins, who played on both sides of the ball at Virginia…

Redskins Drinking Game: 2010 Home Edition

October 8, 2010

Take one drink any time: 

  • Stephon Heyer is called for a false start
  • Santana Moss gives the first-down signal himself after a catch (example shown at right)
  • Laron Landry flexes after a tackle
  • Clinton Portis has a look of bewilderment on the sideline
  • Brian Orakpo is held and a penalty is not called
  • Clinton Portis appears disinterested on the sideline
  • Sam Huff praises London Fletcher
  • Kareem Moore flies up from his free safety spot only to whiff on a tackle
  • Sonny Jorgensen plugs his cigar, the SJ9
  • Anthony Armstrong’s semi-pro football career is not topic of conversation when he is discussed
  • Danny Smith is shown aggressively chewing gum (example shown at right)
  • Albert Haynesworth is mentioned in a sentence that does not also include the word “million”
  • Casey Rabach is manhandled
  • Dan Snyder is shown whispering in the ear of someone wealthy in his box
  • Sam Huff praises the opposing team’s middle linebacker
  • Laron Landry does the head bob
  • Clinton Portis has a dazed look on the sideline
  • Kyle Shanahan’s age is mentioned when his name comes up
  • Santana Moss spins the football after a catch
  • Dan Snyder is shown whispering in the ear of someone famous in his box (exmaple shown below)
  • Larry Michael mentions Silver Spring
  • Stephon Heyer is called for holding
  • Laron Landry smashes one fist into the other palm
  • Mike Sellers stokes his goatee
  • Kyle Shanahan is shown with a play-card in front of his mouth
  • Brian Orakpo is held and a penalty is called
  • Reed Doughty makes an impactful special teams play
  • Television announcers praise Albert Haynesworth for “taking up” or “occupying” blockers
  • Sonny Jorgensen plugs the Washington Post
  • Clinton Portis has a hood or towel over his head (example shown at right)
  • Larry Michael mentions an anecdote about chatting with a player at Redskin Park
  • Joey Galloway’s age is not mentioned when his name comes up

Finish your drink when:

  • Devin Thomas lines up on offense
  • Carlos Rogers catches an interception
  • Sam Huff correctly pronounces Kemoeatu
  • Santana Moss spins the football and makes the first-down sign after a catch
  • Announcers discuss Dan Snyder’s desire to win and/or willingness to spend
  • Larry Michael offers objective criticism of the home team
  • DeAngelo Hall injuries an opposing player
  • Clinton Portis is shown and his Denver years are mentioned
  • Mike Sellers awkwardly attempts to hurdle a defender (see examples below)


  • There is a discussion of the amount of free Papa John’s toppings available on Monday
  • Donovan McNabb’s age is compared to that of Steve Young and/or John Elway during their championships
  • Laron Landry injuries a teammate
  • Television broadcast pans to a shot of [insert national monument], nearly 10 miles from FedEx Field
  • Reed Doughty makes an impactful non-special teams play

Empty the liquor cabinet if:

  • Dan Snyder is shown in luxury box without burgundy tie, gold tie, or burgundy/gold tie
  • Mike Shanahan’s tan wears off
  • Devin Thomas makes a catch on offense
  • Bruce Allen is shown in luxury box without burgundy tie, gold tie, or burgundy/gold tie
  • Sam Huff correctly pronounces Lichtensteiger


NOTE: When the radio broadcast is thrown to Rick ‘Doc’ Walker, please refer to The ‘Doc’ Walker Drinking Game

What Kind of a Man Likes Kyle Busch?

October 8, 2010

They All Look Alike to Clinton Portis

September 29, 2010

In a radio interview on Tuesday, Redskins running back Clinton Portis recalled some fond memories of watching professional wrestling:

“Well, being that I know wrasslin’ is a lot of acting, I probably would have went out and tried to beat Jimmy Superfly Snuka or Koko B. Ware,” Portis said. “I would have loved the opportunity to fight Sting or Ric Flair back in their day. I think that would have been exciting.

“Now I think it’s too overrated. Back in the day when I was a kid, I remember crying when the Undertaker put Sting in the casket. We was all crying in the room and holding hands and thinking Sting was dead. I think Sting was my favorite wrestler, and Undertaker put him in the casket, and that was on a Saturday, and I remember wasting my whole Saturday crying and thinking Sting was dead. And then he came back on Monday. I haven’t watched wrestling since.”

Only one problem… he was actually refering to a 1991 incident during Pall Bearer’s “Funreral Parlour” that vitcimized The Ultimate Warrior, not Sting.  See the video here. 

RIP Smokey Pig

September 29, 2010

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported back in June that The Smokey Pig would cease operations at the end of August if a buyer was not found for the legendary restaurant in Ashland, Virginia. 

Sadly, the doors have closed after 32 years in business. 

The Pig will be missed…