ESPN the Magazine Beats the Panthers
So, this ESPN the Mag story? Big doings. Anonymous Redskins Defender goes on and on and on about how terrible everything is. Players rally around a dislike of, what, anonymous sourcing in bi-weekly, mostly fluffy sports magazines? Then Chris Cooley breaks a bunch of tackles on a normal-looking reception. Then Carolina inexplicably runs strange draws to end one drive, and Jake Delhomme throws a sort of inexplicable pass to end the next drive. Then the Redskins, after a fairly boring, thoroughly non-dominant win at home, claim that they were motivated by a desire to, what, get back at anonymous sourcing in bi-weekly, mostly fluffy sports magazines? Take that, ESPN! We might not like our coaches, but at least we can eke out a narrow win at home thanks to some strange Carolina play-calling and an inexplicable Jake Delhomme pass!
Some highlights from Anonymous Redskins Defender, the guessing of whose name ought to become the next Who is Deep Throat game, if there's any justice in the world.
"Why are we the 30th defense in the league? I think coaches got arrogant, I think Gregg got arrogant," the player said Tuesday, asking not to be identified. "They thought they figured it all out. They thought, 'We can win with scheme, we don't need players.' Don't be mistaken, this is a player-driven game, and so you need players. Any time in life when somebody thinks they've got it all figured out, it's going to come and get you. It's going to come and get you ... the sentiment is a lot of guys are mad because the coaches think it's all about them. They think they're f------ geniuses, thinking they can just let guys go and get away with handling people badly."
"I think guys are fed up, man," the Redskins player said. "This is what I heard. Guys are talking. They're saying that's why Gregg started losing the team in Buffalo. Because guys got sick of it, sick of getting disrespected. There's a difference between being hard and coaching and disrespecting people all the time and calling people out. He started calling three or four guys out in the team meeting the Saturday night before the Philadelphia game. Just calling certain guys out for certain behavior and this and that. We're talking about 12 hours before the game, and you're calling different guys out for stuff? On- and off-the-field stuff? Just talking mess, going through your rant or whatever. Man, look, guys are getting fed up. And they're saying, a lot of guys in Buffalo, his last year in Buffalo, a lot of guys started popping back to him, popping off to him. Because you can't be a Buddy Ryan anymore in this league. You can't do it.
"And Gregg Williams says all the time, it's not my money. If Gregg was the one writing the checks, I don't know if he'd handle it that way. But he says it in meetings. He gives us speeches about, 'If you don't know what to do, you're going to be standing next to me on the sideline, I don't give a f---. That's where you're going to be. I need to be able to trust you. Hey, it's not my money. I don't care how much you make, I don't care who you are, I'm not the one writing the check, you need to know your assignments, know what to do.' That's what Gregg says. I wonder how Snyder would feel if he heard that one."
(Incidentally, arrogant or not, Gregg Williams looks ridiculous in his black dress slacks and bright white and red Reeboks. I realize all the coaches pop that look, but he seems the most middle-school-science-teacher-at-the-pep-rally to me.)
The response? Williams refused to comment. Players said he never mentioned the article in their Saturday meeting. Phillip Daniels said the quotes might have come from someone claiming to be a player, that we don't know for sure. (Someone claiming to be a player? Who, Archuleta?) Cornelius Griffin said the ARD "should get out of here." Renaldo Wynn said it served as motivation:
"I just can't believe that a player would do something like that," Wynn said. "Regardless of whatever issues you might have, you don't break the football code of ethics. Never. You never do it. We're family. We get it straight in the locker room. It stays inside. That type of stuff has no place out in the public eye. ... We felt the only way to resolve this was to get a win. It played a part."
Frankly, I wonder if Rich Tandler isn't correct when he writes this:
It's as simple as this, really: This is the kind of stuff that's going to get written about you when you are falling as short of expectations as the Washington Redskins are. When the Redskins were winning five straight to get into the playoffs last year Gibbs was calm and unflappable. Now they're 3-7 and he's detached and burned out. When I talk to him he seems like the same guy to me. If the Redskins win three in a row, Williams will be a hard-nosed innovator who demands the best out of his players. Now, he's stubborn, arrogant, and mean.
It's true; NFL folks get so agitated over one loss, however fluky. Yesterday, everyone in press box land was buzzing about how Washington "found its identity." Because the Skins scored 17 points and averted fourth-quarter disaster when Delhomme made a bad decision? On a day when a Charlotte columnist came close to calling for Chris Weinke? And when the Charlotte beat writer said the Panthers "offense was dismal?" Maybe the Panthers just needed an ESPN the Mag story to fire them up.
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