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Sept. 12, 2005

NFL Hits: Saints get ripped, Skins slip by

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
In the scheme of just about anything related to Hurricane Katrina, where the New Orleans Saints play their home opener might be the most irrelevant issue around. But this is a sports column, and in the NFL, putting one team on the road nine times and another at home nine is always unfair.

Now they're just rubbing it in.

Many of the Saints lost their homes or all sorts of things in this tragic hurricane. Thousands lost even more. It's not that the NFL decided to move the Saints' home opener against the New York Giants; you can't play football when there are still bodies floating in the water.

But moving the game to New York? Instead of accommodating the Saints and putting the game anywhere else, the NFL moved the game to Giants stadium.

The league could have put the game somewhere in the Gulf Coast region, allowing Saints fans ravaged by the hurricane to smile and cheer at something as fun as a football game for three hours. Instead the Saints get to play on the road again in front of, likely, almost no evacuees.

It appears that the sports media has been afraid to challenge the NFL on this decision, for fear of sounding crass or flippant, when there is so much hardship going on in the Crescent City. But the league had one job; to accommodate the Saints, not the Giants, and they failed terribly.

And it must sound even more crass to worry about how this impacts the rest of their division. The Giants now get one more home game then everyone else in the NFC East. With home field so crucial in the NFL, it makes no sense to me why the league would hand the G-Men such an advantage.

Does the NFL think that the Giants fans will root for the Saints because of what New Orleans has gone through? Give me a break.

I mean, at least the Giants' secretary saved 30 minutes making hotel arrangements in Texas somewhere.

It's a selfish way to look at it, but what the NFL did was just as inwardly focused. There's no other stadium in America where the game could have been played? The league has taken a bad situation for the Saints and made it worse for them and the rest of the league.

Maybe in Week 3, New Orleans will only be allowed to have 10 guys on the field. Or, how about making their wide receivers wear ropes with boulders attached on the end?

This is such a tough situation that the Saints are in. I just wish the NFL could have accommodated them better than this.

Speaking of the NFC East, were you as bored as I was by the Redskins game yesterday? 9-7 is a baseball score, but certainly not a football score. There has never been a good game where the winning team scores less than 10 points without a touchdown. And the Skins' win over the Chicago Bears was the very much the rule rather than the exception.

Mark Brunell was serviceable in Patrick Ramsey's stead after a Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs almost ripped off the Tulane grad's head.

Actually, that's serviceable as in he didn't fumble any snaps (and the ones he did he got back). He threw for 67 yards yesterday over three quarters. That's unbearably bad; although, to be honest, he was only as bad as his play calling.

Joe Gibbs looked frightened to throw the ball downfield at all, and the Redskins were short first downs after complete passes more than once. Why Chris Cooley could catch a pass on third and goal from the three and still be short is beyond me. Who calls a two-yard pass on third and three?

Sure, the Redskins won, but anybody at all affiliated with the defense needs to use this week to get in gear. First of all, they need to use Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts way more often. If the Pittsburgh Steelers can win 34-7 with Ben Roethlisberger throwing 11 passes, then the 'Skins should be able to get more than nine points with two solid running backs.

That said, it should be Ramsey under center Monday night at Dallas. If the Redskins are going to pass, I have more confidence in Ramsey throwing deep. He's better than Brunell, whose arm has degenerated the last two years into a glorified garden hose.

[Note: Joe Gibbs announced Monday that Brunell will start next week. Well there goes that 14-2 season...or something...]

But the season, and certainly Week 2, sits on Betts and Portis. The defensive backs for Dallas are great, so if the Redskins want to win, it will have to be on the ground. Both backs looked very sharp Sunday, and if they play like that each week, the Redskins can win every game they play.

Will they? Of course not, because Gibbs will put too much faith in his quarterbacks. But the defense was fabulous Sunday, and the running backs showed much promise as well. While the Skins run these next few weeks, they need to hope one of their QBs develops a throwing arm if they want to make the playoffs this season.

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  • BRQC on September 12, 2005 at 5:16 PM
    The Bushnell rhetorical questions count: 8
  • skins fan on September 12, 2005 at 8:46 PM
    omg, stop critisizing the redskins, show some faith in your home team
  • BRQC 2 on September 12, 2005 at 10:12 PM
    i only got 7
  • abby (View Email) on September 13, 2005 at 2:07 PM
    yea. skins fan is right. nothigns wrong with tthe redskisn offense, its mark brunell. he was looking so good in the preseason cus he was playing 2nd and 3rd stringers. gibbs needs to trust ramsey b cus i feel ramsey is poised to have a breakout season, simlilar to Drew Bress last season.
  • sage on September 16, 2005 at 10:04 AM
    mark is not the problem its ramsey he cant hold on to the ball always making big game losing mistakes out in the rookie oh and i dont like the redskins

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