Archive for October, 2009

Al Groh: The Man, The Myth, The Jeezy

October 23, 2009

This week alone, Virginia HC Al Groh has:

LB and team captain Denzel Burrell: “We call him ‘Jeezy’ after the rapper, ‘Young Jeezy.’ “I believe he actually does understand the reference. He references hip-hop at times. He knows Kanye West and a couple of the other guys we really like. He actually may know the reference, but that’s basically one of the main ones we call him. But we’ll probably stay away from Mr. October.”

“Normally, they put multiple hats in the locker room. One got wet, so I put on the other one.”  Burrell added: “I’ve never questioned his hat choice.”

  • Dropped “circumstance” once after the win at Maryland

That was a magnificent effort by our players,” Groh said. “They dealt with everything that we encountered today, whether it was guys having to step up [for] circumstances within the ballgame. They refused to be distracted by any issues.”

  • And ten (10) times in his weekly press conference

“we were the beneficiaries of some turnovers during the course of the game that clearly helped us out in some circumstances

“we are very comfortable with [backup QB Marc Verica] in any circumstance

“whether we change it or not, we assess just what are our circumstances

“we have a little bit of that circumstance on our hands right now”

“guys who play, they ought to be moving into more established circumstance; those guys who haven’t, hopefully they’ll move into a circumstance where they can go in the game”

“I guess there was one circumstance where they were willing walk him and to load the bases”

“there was a circumstance that characterized what was the ‘07 team”

“in circumstances where you have that collaborative attitude, or as it’s sometimes referred to as team chemistry or unity or whatever, there’s always a leadership-followership circumstance”  

  • Offered an opinion on the leg strength of 5-10 PK (field goals only) and seersucker fan Robert Randolph:

“You can look at him – there’s not a lot of muscle mass there. Let’s put it this way: They probably don’t make those yellow suits in big-man sizes.”

“The week that precedes the game, the word practice is certainly accurate, but it’s not just practice like going and practicing the piano. It’s preparation for what’s coming on Saturday. So we’re trying to do whatever has us best prepared on Saturday. That might mean scrimmage every day. That might mean go bowling. I’m not trying to be smart, but whatever… Practice and preparation is part of every week, but also obviously practice, development of skills. That’s what players are supposed to do, and that’s what coaches are supposed to do for their players.”

“If I knew [the status of injured QB Jameel Sewell], I probably wouldn’t tell you.”

  •  Said ‘fumblers get benched’ in forty-four (44) words…  [subtle dig at MJ]

“There are some players here in the past that have displayed a significant running skill but we couldn’t afford to play Russian roulette with. We just couldn’t afford to put them out there where they could do something that might cause us to lose.” 

  • Broke down Georgia Tech’s punt (yes punt, not triple-option offensive) formations

“We’ve spoken frequently with the development of really – I would say if I use the word alternative punt systems, that would be incorrect. Innovative and progressing punt systems. In other words, it’s a new era in terms of punting the ball. And it continues to grow that way, just as with many of the different offenses. Let’s say a few years ago when different elements of, A, the West Coast offense came up, it was one offense. Now there’s all sorts of things that fall into that category. We saw the spread offense; that was an offense. Everybody did the same thing that was in it. Now it’s really inaccurate to try to classify something just based on being a spread offense or a West Coast offense. It’s the same thing here now with that shield punt. It’s inaccurate just to say they’re in a shield punt. It can go so many different directions based on the personality and the philosophy of the team, and they have been very creative and progressive with what they’re doing with formations, and as a result of what they’re doing they have a very good idea how to deal with it on the other side. So it’s not just the punt team but things they’re doing with their punt return and punt block teams to combat those other teams that have it. They have some answers to those situations while other people are still searching for them.” 

  • Continued his lecture on roster math

After saying last week that “essentially 25 percent of your team is new every year anyway,” Groh offered this a week later: “In college football, 50 percent of your team is freshmen and sophomores.” 

  • Played jokester in explaining P Jimmy Howell’s -3-yard punt against Maryland

“Far be it from me to try and explain. It was our intention that he was going to punt the ball. Obviously, he saw some sort of aliens out there that none of us could see.” 

  • Revealed the layout and ‘inventory’ of a national book retailer

“You look at military leaders or industrial leaders or for that matter parents, and certainly football coaches, people who try and lead, they’ve got to believe, they’ve got to believe in a leader, they’ve got to buy in, they’ve got to see the value to them. That’s why if you go down to Barnes & Noble, you can probably spend the next three or four weeks just walking up and down the section of the stores that have books on leadership and management.” 

  • Played short-memory philosopher

“As we have said, there’s a reason why God put eyes in the front of our head and not in the back. So you can make progress by looking forward.”


Al Groh Drinking Game, Revisited

October 16, 2009

It has certainly been an exciting October for all the Al Groh Drinking Game players out there.

A quick recap of the Al Groh Drinking Game rules:

  1. Take two drinks any time Coach Al drop’s his favorite word – ‘circumstance
  2. Finish said drink if the word is used multiple times in a single response
  3. Take a single drink if you hear either his second-favorite (‘resolve’) or third-favorite (‘resilient’) word
  4. Finish two drinks if ‘circumstance’  is used in the same sentence with either ‘resolve’ or ‘resilient
  5. Finish three drinks if the ‘circumstanceresolveresilient‘ verbal trifecta is hit


In Monday’s presser alone, Coach Al spurred AG/DG players to follow rule #1 six times:

  1. In breaking down the math behind college football rosters for the media: “Essentially 25 percent of your team is new every year anyway, so I think it’s a standard thing. It’s part of the life circumstance of college athletics.”
  2. In describing the current state of the offense as part-Mike Groh, part-Gregg Brandon: “I would say there is probably a good blend of the two circumstances right now.”
  3. In explaining the strategy behind PR Chase Minnifield never calling for a fair catch: “It’s not a question of Laissez-faire coaching but it’s not micromanaging the circumstance and allowing a player to use his skills.”
  4. In discussing Stafford native and Maryland standout Torrey Smith: “He’s – regardless of what the circumstance was in the past he’s a superior college football player.”
  5. In dismissing the impact of prior success against the Terps: “I think we feel positive about ourselves in those circumstances [but] I think it’s unlikely that any of us feel that previous games with Maryland have any bearing on how this game is going to go.”
  6. In spinning a yarn about the importance of completion percentage: “We’re in that circumstance and the teams that are scoring in our league are teams that either have high-talent quarterbacks or kids who have been in the system for a long time and have developed their skills and got the reads and know where to go with the ball and they’re proficient in their accuracy and that’s what produces points.”

This comes one week after Groh dropped his favorite word in last week’s presser five times:

  1. In pondering one of the thousands of what-if’s surrounding his favorite player: “You know, Vic — if it weren’t for the few – a couple of circumstances had gone a little differently, Vic would have caught a pass, thrown a pass, run the ball, had a sack and played on special teams. He was – on one of our pressures, he was the first one there, a sack eventually went to Nate Collins. He had a pass called back because of a penalty. He had his catch, I believe, and if one of the passes were thrown better he would have had two.
  2. In explaining the difference between a win and a loss in teaching football: “We now have graphic examples – the players have graphic examples just this season of how the result can be dramatically different as a result of those two circumstances. Do a real good job with it and you have a real good chance of a happy result. Don’t do such a good job with it and no matter how well you run your plays or run your coverages, you get the other result.”
  3. In discussing the psychology of booing: “The interesting thing is the psychology of that, if anybody believes that that helps anybody play any better – now if it makes thousands of people feel good, then I guess that’s good for thousands of people but what they want is for their team to play better, it doesn’t necessarily – I haven’t ever been around a circumstance where players were saying, sounds like they’re getting on us, so let’s play better!”
  4. In relaying how Brandon Woods handled being benched last year: “Very admirably… obviously that’s challenging circumstances for a player.”
  5. In using more words than necessary to avoid saying ‘academic suspension’: “We understand there might be mitigating factors in there that in some cases we would have preferred not to be there but that was the reality of it and one of the things we believe in is reality as opposed to fantasy, it was a reality with some of those circumstances.”

And four weeks after Groh dropped it nine times on the Monday after the TCU loss.  Yes, nine:

  1. In reflecting on previous seasons’ turnarounds: “We have looked back at some of those circumstances… along the way in each particular case, there’s been some circumstances where just strategically and tactically we might have said, look, we are going to reshape things a little bit here at this particular time.  So there’s been elements of all of those.  Certainly not the same percentage to each particular circumstance
  2. In relaying the background behind scheduling TCU: “We were looking at a number of circumstances to fill, because I think as we have detailed, we had made an arrangement with the MAC conference.”
  3. In a long-winded response to a question about distractions facing the team: “Sometimes if you just — in a circumstance where all of the chips get loaded in front of to you start with, you have to shuffle them around a little bit to get things back to the way you want them to be.”
  4. In breaking down the impact of time of possession: “That also resulted in more plays for their team, greater time of possession and the result that we got.  So clearly we can see how one circumstance dramatically affected the conduct of the game.”
  5. In repeating a team mantra: “We have a saying… that it’s all between the white lines.  That’s all that really counts.  Except in a few memorable circumstances, there’s not much history of anybody coming off the sidelines, much less out of the stands, to impact any particular play.”
  6. In explaining 3rd-and-long strategy in FG territory: “We had a third down and eight situation beforehand which doesn’t mean we don’t want to make the first down, but in those circumstances, a lot of times, first time down the field, it’s common for a lot of teams to say, at the very least, we want to protect the field goal.”
  7. In making an excuse (or perhaps not) for Ras-I-Dowling: ”There haven’t been very many balls up the field on him… It’s going to be difficult for any guy to get a lot of picks on that circumstance.  But there have been some plays up the field that you know, I’m sure he would like to change, and then we are working with him to try to do that.”


*Social networking note: The above apply Groh’s actual Twitter feed (“what you can do for our team is react to every circumstance in the game with positive energy”), but not that of any imposter (“This afternoon we’re pracitcing the tip drill. We go to Applebees and I show them how to never leave more than 10% under any circumstances”).

It’s the O-Line, Stupid

October 15, 2009

Through Sunday, the Redskins have allowed 14 sacks, good for 25th fewest in the NFL.  This comes after finishing 22nd last year while allowing 38 sacks.  A far cry from the days of the Hogs in the 1980s and even 1991, when QB Mark Rypien was only sacked seven times (the team allowed nine sacks during the regular season) en route to a Lomardi Trophy.  Consider that line:

-LT Jim Lachey: 3 Pro Bowls

-LG Raleigh McKenzie: 70 Greatest Redskins

-C Jeff Bostic: 70 Greatest Redskins

-RG Mark Schlereth: 2 Pro Bowls

-RT Joe Jacoby: 70 Greatest Redskins, NFL 1980s All-Decade Team, 4 Pro Bowls

-Reserve Russ Grimm: 70 Greatest Redskins, NFL 1980s All- Decade Team, 4 Pro Bowls

-Reserve Ray Brown: 1 Pro Bowl

-Reserve Ed Simmons: 70 Greatest Redskins

Because of these men and other Hogs among the 70 Greatest Redskins like Mark May & George Starke, the importance of talent along the offensive line is understood among the Washington faithful and those who cover the team.  Understood within the front office?  Perhaps not.  In January the WP Jasons documented that while ‘the team up the road in Baltimore’ has “invested six picks (all in the fifth round or higher, including Gaither) on offensive linemen between 2005 and 2007” who all went on to start games, the Redskins picked zero during that span.  In fact, the Dan/Vin braintrust has sleected just one O-linemen since 2004 (G Chad Rinehart in 2008) and just two in the top four rounds (Rinehart & G Derrick Dockery in 2003) since taking over

After standing out as the team’s the biggest concern over the second half of 2008, fans & media clamored for improvements, upgrades, or simply additioanl experiecned warm bodies for this year’s O-line all offseason.  The result…

-LT: 6-time Pro Bowl selection Chris Samuels (32 years old) played seemingly well before going down with an injury last week; replaced by D’Anthony Batiste (27, 4 carer starts); undrafted Stephone Heyer (25, 17 starts) will start going forward

-LG: Pete Kendall (36) is out of the league; Dockery (29) is back & overpaid after two years in Buffalo and appears to be playing well

-C: Casey Rabach (32) remains steady, although slightly overpaid

-RG: Randy Thomas (33) went down in Week 2; replaced by Will Montgomery (27, 6 previous starts), Reinhart (24, 0 previous snaps), and Mike Williams (29, three years out of the league)

-RT: 33-year-old former Pro Bowler John Jansen is in Detroit; Heyer played marginally through the first five games; Williams will start here going forward

The story is clear and the strugles of this unit have been well-documented, but stats paint an even clear picture:

-Since 2001, Washington has finished higher than 15th in fewest sacks allowed just three times – in consecutive seasons during Gibbs II from 2005-2007.  In two of those seasons the team had a winning record and made the playoffs.

-From 1982-present, the franchise has finished above 15th in this stat 17 times.  In 13 of those 17 seasons (76%) the end result was a winning record, including 10 playoff appearances and two Super Bowl, three NFC, and five NFC East championships.

-Only twice since 1982 has Washington finished with a winning record when not in the top 14 in fewest sacks allowed.

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Bored? Clearly. Broke? Maybe. Back? Trying Hard To Be.

October 14, 2009

Is John Riggins bitter after is unceremonious departure from Red Zebra Radio?  Is he angling for a gig, now that he has no voice on local radio (or TV, with no Redskins Report this season)?

Regardless of his motives, he’s certainly telling it like it is. The Redskins have won just four of their last 13 games, a rate of futility seen during Gibbs II, but not bettered (or worsened) since the 2004 squad under Steve Spurrier. Riggo’s take on the franchise from top-to-bottom…

From a YouTube post from Tuesday:

-On the owner, Dan Snyder: “Linus, you got to lose the blanket. Oh yeah, the blanket, that’s Vinnie Cerrato.”

-On Executive VP of Football Ops Cerrato, the owner’s racquetball partner & de facto-GM: “Your real true passion is radio. So, I would say just go ahead and go radio full-time with the occasional appearance on ESPN. Maybe TV, start analyzing games… I mean, you’re a great guy, Vin’, but you’re no GM.”

-On HC Jim Zorn, the 54-year-old QB Coach who Jim Mora, Jr. didn’t want: “You too are not a head football coach in the NFL. High school? Definitely, you can coach in high school, you can coach my son in high school any time. Ankle biters for sure. My God, DeAngelo Hall? I’d have had my foot this far up his rectum after that whatever tackle you want to call it on Jake Delhomme to seal your fate. You don’t criticize that? You’re out of your league, Jim.”

-On the team’s current state: “You know what they used to say about the Washington Senators? They’re now gonna say about the Washington football team, which is first in war, first in peace, last in the NFC East. I’m afraid that’s the way it is.”

This comes just two weeks after he “tweeted” the following during the loss in Detroit:

-“as the owner alot on the line in Detroit u invite Tom Cruise to the game and he is chatting up your Coach! what does this tell us about YOU!”

-“u r Zorn..Head Detroit…alot on the line….and u r chatting up TomKat before the game…what does that tell us about YOU!!!”

-“There are team specific issues for sure and some individual issues for sure but the owner ultimately is a loser”


CP26, Directionally Speaking

October 8, 2009

On Sunday, Washington Redskins’ running back Clinton Portis passed Earl Campbell for 26th on the NFL career rushing list, while carrying the ball 25 times for 98 yards.  It was his highest total since last November, but also his ninth straight game below the century mark.

Portis’ 70 yards-per-game average is his worst since his rookie year, when he went on to finish above 1,500 yards.  His yards-per-carry average of 3.90 is his worst result through Week 4 of any of his 8 NFL seasons.  If it holds, it will be his third (out of six) Redskin season below 4.0 and his fourth below the NFL average (currently 4.19). 

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Has Portis lost it?  Is his lack of production bringing down the offense around him?  He certainly doesn’t think so, saying he thinks “on paper [Washington has] got the most talented team in the NFL,” soon “will do something special” and “from the 20 to the 20, we’re hell on wheels.”  Personally, he thinks “it’s only a matter of time before I have a 200-yard game. It’s only a matter of time before I have a 150-yard game. It’s only a matter of time before I get two or three touchdowns… I know it’s coming.”

However, those in the media haven’t exactly agreed, saying the tailback “hasn’t been himself this year,” has put up “meager running stats,” is “off to a slow start” leaving his team “seeking a spark in the running game,” and “may also be starting to show his age.”

Even John Riggins, who Portis will soon pass as the franchise’s all-time leading rusher has said the younger tailback may be on the decline.  Riggo noted (in between calling CP at “headache” and a “crybaby”) that “unless he changes the way he views himself and views his contributions to the team, then I think that that could be problematic for the Redskins.”

Portis has responded that Riggins “had a great offensive line” and “think of who else was around, you know? Really not hard to be a great running back when you’ve got all that talent and help around you. I think they just had great teams, you know?”  But despite all this research, Portis maintains “I don’t know nothing about this man, for real. I never went and watched John Riggins and studied his film, cared anything about him.”

Maybe he should have.  And maybe he should have listened to The Diesel when the latter warned that calling “his offensive line out last year — I didn’t think that was particularly wise. And I don’t think it really goes over very well in the workplace when you start criticizing people you work with and blaming them for your lack of production or because you’re not where you perceive yourself to be in the minds of everybody else.”

Despite all the public love thrown at CP by his coaches, teammates and even the team’s brass at Redskin Park, Washington may not think there’s much left in the tank.  Just this season, the Redskins have: given Ladell Betts the third-down back role, activated former practice squad-ers Marcus Mason & Anthony Aldridge, and even worked out former Titans RB and NFL substance abuse policy-violator Chris Henry.  This comes just one season after signing former Seahawk Sean Alexander off the street.

Portis received a $9.3 million bonus last March, is a $6.2 million cap charge this year, and is due to make $7.2 million in 2010, $8.3 million in 2011, and $8.5 million in 20212 and 2013.  Given the rate at which his production is going, management may want to reconsider.

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