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In the end, the game comes down to one thing: man against man. May the best man win.

~ Sam Huff                    



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Early Smell Test #14
by
Nov 26, 2014 -- 1:38pm

WHAT'S THE FRIDAY FOOTBALL SMELL TEST?

It's a contrarian handicapping philosophy. I look for the games where the public is convinced they are right about a point spread and I go the other way. Have fun and as always, this is for entertainment purposes only.
 
PREVIOUS YEARS
 
2006-- 60.4%
2007-- 56.6%
2008-- 63.1%
2009-- 57.5%
2010-- 48.8%
2011-- 48.7%
2012-- 54.1%
2013-- 47.4%
 
THIS YEAR
Last Week: 5-3
Overall:  47-46-2
 
SMELL TEST PICKS FOR WEEKEND OF 11-27-14
 
Thursday, November 27, 2014
 
Texas +7
49ers -1

Friday, November, 28.,

Kent State +3.5


Redskins-49ers Wrap
by Kevin Sheehan
Nov 23, 2014 -- 9:15pm
ESPN 980

The good, bad, and more from the Redskins 17-13 loss to the Niners. 

Good:

ESPN 980 Galleries 1.  Defense.  The 49ers have struggled on offense at times this year but even with that understood, the Redskin defense played well today despite all the injuries/suspension to their corners.  Keenan Robinson is arguably the best player on the team right now.  He's the defense's most athletic player and his instincts are excellent.  Almost everybody in the front 7 played well.  Hatcher, Cofield, Riley, Kerrigan, and Murphy stood out in particular.  Despite the 3-8 record and some bad defensive days, the Skins' D has tackled well all year long and it has been physical.  Today was no different.  And say what you want about Merriweather in coverage, he's usually very good in the box and he was again today forcing a fumble and helping out in the run-stopping effort.  The Skins' D allowed just 2.3 yards per rush, it stopped two 3rd and 1s, and got 3 turnovers! 

2.  Alfred Morris.  125 yards on 21 carries.....he's on a roll the last few games.  Since the Skins started tossing/pitching more on run plays, Morris has excelled.  He gets the ball deeper and quicker allowing his vision to take over.  Without him today, they would have had zero offense.

3.  Turnovers/good field position/Tress Way.   The Redskins had some of their best field position since the Jacksonville game.  They dominated field position thanks to a very good day from Tress Way (8 punts for 46.6 per w/3 inside the 20) and 3 turnovers from the defense.  They only had one drive start in 49er territory but they had two that started at their own 40.  More importantly, the 49ers started 5 of their drives inside their own 10.  Most teams would've scored a hell of a lot more than 13 points but the Skins' pass offense was on training wheels.

Bad:

1.  Pass offense.  They were a bit limited with Trent Williams out and a rookie starting at left tackle but regardless, it was an awful passing day.  Pass protection wasn't very good but Griffin wasn't very good either.  Let's not get caught up in the fact that Griffin wasn't as bad today as he was last week because that masks the fact that he wasn't very good today.  The best thing you can say about him is the thing you can always say about him.  He competes hard and he's physically tough when he competes. 

With that said, he held it too long, looked fidgety at times in the pocket, and threw the ball poorly, often off his back foot.  He missed receivers including what appeared to be an open Pierre Garcon for a touchdown when he got locked into Roy Helu on 3rd and 5 in the red zone.  I personally thought he was one drive away from being pulled in the first half.  Their first 4 drives produced two 3 & outs and 4 punts with Griffin getting sacked twice, throwing poorly, & nearly botching a handoff when he forgot D. Young was lined up as a fullback.  I thought he would get pulled if the 5th drive didn't produce something positive.  It did thanks in part to a 3rd & 5 one-handed snag by Andre Roberts. 

Bottom line, with good field position and an effective rushing attack, the Skins produced 106 yards passing and were 2-13 on 3rd down.  He got sacked 5 times and it would've been 6 if not for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Griffin on another sack.  The 49er defense is good but the Skins' offense made them look like the '85 Bears.

2.  Dropback passing/playcalling.  This is usually the dumbest thing to do because there's just too much we don't know but I hated some of the 3rd-down "dropback" throws.  The only time Griffin throws well from the pocket is when there is effective early-down playaction (often using read-option looks).  Other than that, I'm not sure why they call dropback throws.  I understand that it's hard on 3rd and long to not call dropback plays but on 2nd or 3rd and 7 or less, do something else.  He's just not comfortable as a dropback passer without effective playaction. 

On a positive playcalling note, there were some nice 3rd and long QB draw calls by Gruden the last of which set up the go-ahead field goal in the 4th quarter.  BTW, that was a signal that Gruden not only didn't trust Griffin as a dropback passer on 3rd and 13, but that he didn't trust him to throw the ball away to avoid a sack which could've knocked them out of field goal range.  I loved that call and Griffin nearly got the first-down as a runner.

3.  Return units.   Andre Roberts is giving them nothing so Gruden was forced to put Jackson back on punts in the 2nd half.

4.  Special teams penalties.  3 penalties on the Sp teams including an offensive facemask by Roberts on a punt return and the final block in the back by Davis which forced the Skins to start their final drive at their own 8.

More:

1.  DeSean Jackson was back on punts in the 2nd half.  Roberts is giving them Randel-El performances.

2.  The Ryan Clark penalty on the 49er go-ahead drive was the right call but it hurt both literally and figuratively.

3.  The clock mgt by both the Skins and the Niners at the end of the first half was well-done.  Once S.Fran got the ball near their 40, it would've been counter-productive for the Skins to use timeouts on defense knowing that if they did get the ball back, they'd get it back in poor field position with an offense that couldn't throw the ball well.  Perhaps he could've anticipated a 4th and 2 49er "go for it" situation and called a timeout which would've likely forced Harbaugh to punt but overall with the score tied, I thought Gruden played it the right way.  Harbaugh meantime did the right thing by allowing the clock to wind down to 11 seconds before the 4th and 2.  That allowed him to take one shot to get in field goal range knowing that even if they threw an incomplete pass, the Skins would be left with one Hail Mary play only.  I thought he played it perfectly....they got the completion (although I wish they'd reviewed it) and the field goal.

4.  I thought the catch by Crabtree with :05 left in the first half should've been reviewed.  It wasn't totally clear if he completed the catch after falling out of bounds.

5.  How bout Haz and Boldin jawing at each other on the sideline.

6.  The injuries to Biggers and Porter combined with the suspension of Amerson forced the Skins to play 5-6 safeties today.

7.  The false start on the Skins' final drive called on Morgan Moses was induced by Aldon Smith.  Missed call by the ref.

 



Redskins-Niners Preview and Pick
by
Nov 23, 2014 -- 3:14pm

The Redskins will beat the Niners if...

1.  they punt well.  After what we saw last week against the Bucs, Tress Way figures to be one of the busiest guys on the field today.  I'd guess 8 punts minimum for Way.  If he can flip the field with his punts and force Kapernick and that struggling San Francisco offense to go the distance for points, the Skins could hang around.

2.  the Niners kick field goals.  They are the 2nd-worst red zone touchdown offense in the league...the Skins must hold them to 3 when they get there.

3. the Skins win the turnover battle by a +3 margin.  No chance they can beat the Niners on the road without a lot of help.

Prediction:

49ers 16-7.



Quiet Time For Gruden
by Kevin Sheehan
Nov 23, 2014 -- 9:23am
ESPN 980

On Monday, Jay Gruden told his quarterback to keep quiet.  It's now time for the coach to do the same.

I kind of like Jay Gruden so far.  I'm not sure I'm in love with everyone on his staff but I'm all in for seeing more of the Skins' 6th head coach in 12 years.  I'm not all in for seeing, hearing, or reading any more of Gruden's public bashing of his quarterback.  We get it Jay.  Griffin can't play and you don't want to coach him anymore.

I'm not sure I’ve ever heard a coach in such descriptive detail rip his quarterback the way Gruden did this week.  Monday's public undressing included how badly he mangled his drops, progressions, and reads.  He then not so subtly told his quarterback to critique only himself and to keep his mouth shut about anybody else.  His comment "it's not his place to talk about anyone else" had an angry edge. 

He kind of apologized on Tuesday but still couldn't help himself by answering the claim that Griffin didn't put in enough time in the film room by saying, "he could do more, maybe".

On Friday came Gruden's couch session with NFL.com's Albert Breer.  "Since the preseason, in the games that he's (Griffin) played, our production from an offensive standpoint has been awful." 

He then for all intents called Griffin a baby.  "His biggest thing, he's been coddled for so long."  Ouch. 

And then there was this line-in-the-sand comment from Gruden.  "He's auditioned long enough.  Clock's ticking." 

And if you thought that by Friday afternoon the coach had exhausted his long list of Griffin blunders from the Tampa game, you were wrong.  There was this little gem from his coach's show on our station.  Doc Walker asked him why Leonard Hankerson was called up when it appeared he wasn't ready to play.  Gruden addressed a play in which Hankerson lined up on the wrong side of the field by implying that the quarterback should've noticed it and fixed it.  It was less direct than the shots he took all week long but you could hear in his voice how much he wanted to lay Hankerson's poor showing on Griffin.

There it was all week long for all to see, hear, and read.  Tampa Bay 27, Robert Griffin III 7.  Add to that the implication that the team would be 5 and 5 or better if he wasn't here. 

What a week.  Unprecedented in terms of a head coach calling out a quarterback.  I'm sure that everything Gruden said about Griffin this week was accurate.  The way Gruden feels is likely justified.  With that said, I'm not thrilled with the way he handled it.

Leaders are more in control than Gruden was this week.  If you really think what we witnessed this week was some sort of calculated strategy in a war against his owner and GM then have at it.  I think it was pure frustration and emotion that Gruden just couldn't keep inside. 

Some have referred to his outbursts as an attempt to coach-up and motivate the kid.  Really?  Then why haven't other great coaches coached-em-up in the same way. 

I'm sure there were moments when Joe Gibbs would've loved to give a tell-all press conference on what a jerk Jay Schroeder was but he never did.  None of the greats did what Gruden did this week but perhaps Gruden is a coach-em-up trendsetter and we'll begin seeing more of this kind of thing in the future.  I doubt it.

Publicly embarrassing a key employee rarely results in something productive especially when that employee has an extremely sensitive soul.  I'm sure it was entertaining for many and I bet Gruden felt a little better when he got it all off his chest but the guess is that Griffin's just too sensitive for that kind of public tough-talk. 

Just go back through a year's worth of Griffin tweets and tell me you think he wasn't hurt deeply by his coach's words.  Those words were revealing for sure and Gruden may have saved the locker room for now but benching him would've been more impactful than humiliating him in the media. 

Gruden de-valued Griffin this week for all to see.  All includes other NFL teams that may have thought a draft choice or two for Griffin was worth the risk.  Not anymore.  Maybe it was a genius move and Griffin will play great from this point forward but a more likely result is that the Griffin era in D.C. is winding down.  Gruden should let it go quietly.



Smell Test #13
by
Nov 21, 2014 -- 1:36pm

WHAT'S THE FRIDAY FOOTBALL SMELL TEST?

It's a contrarian handicapping philosophy. I look for the games where the public is convinced they are right about a point spread and I go the other way. Have fun and as always, this is for entertainment purposes only.
 
PREVIOUS YEARS
 
2006-- 60.4%
2007-- 56.6%
2008-- 63.1%
2009-- 57.5%
2010-- 48.8%
2011-- 48.7%
2012-- 54.1%
2013-- 47.4%
 
THIS YEAR
Last Week: 5-3
Overall:  42-43-2
 
SMELL TEST PICKS FOR WEEKEND OF 11-22-14
 
Saturday, November 22, 2014
 
Purdue -1
Virginia +6
Tennesee -4

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Vikings +10
Lions +7
Dolphins +7
Redskins +9
Giants +3.5


Skins-Bucs Wrap
by Kevin Sheehan
Nov 16, 2014 -- 5:06pm
ESPN 980

The good, bad, and more from the Redskins' 27-7 loss to Tampa.  

Good:

ESPN 980 Galleries 1.  Alfred Morris.  Hard to say that anyone played well in such an embarrassing loss but Morris did.  His final #s were deflated because they couldn't use him in the run-game as much when they got behind but his 96 yds rushing were a season-best.

2.  Keenan Robinson.  One of the encouraging revelations from this rough season.  His speed and instincts are first-rate.  His hit on Sims for a 4-yd loss in the 3rd qtr behind the line of scrimmage was a blur.  The following bow to the crowd was unnecessary considering they were down 20-7 at the time but he’s very good.   

3.  Tampa's Mike Evans.  He torched the Skins defense for 7 catches/209 yards/2 TDs.

Bad:

1.  Self-inflicted mistakes.  3 turnovers, 5 penalties, and a missed field goal in the first-half alone.  Add to that a 2nd-half missed FG and too many sacks.  The 3rd Skins' drive of the game was dark comedy.  Shortly after recovering a muffed fumble, the following happened.  1st and goal at the Bucs' 6--illegal formation on Compton.  2nd and goal at the Bucs 10--RG3 sacked for a loss of 10.  3rd and goal from the 20--RG sacked for a loss of 9.  4th and goal from the 29--Forbath missed 47-yd FG.

2.  RG3.  A bad performance.  Of his 2 INTs, the 2nd one was more his fault than the first one as he stared down Garcon but the first one was an ugly/awkward throw too.  Sure Paul needs to hold onto it but it was a bad throw.  It was similar to the awkward throw he made on 4th and 6 at the end of the game in Minnesota.  He took too many sacks many times because he held the ball too long often when it appeared people were open.  He took a bad sack early in the 3rd qtr that forced Forbath into a 50-yd FG instead of a shorter attempt.  Pass protection wasn't good but my guess is that the majority of the culpability for 6 sacks and tons of pressures will fall at the feet of Griffin this week.  Add to that, he appeared to miss big opportunties on early read-option plays where he could've kept the ball for sizeable runs.  He just didn't have much feel for anything today.  He also missed on two deep shots to Jackson.  Deep shots have been one of his strengths but not today.

3.  ESPN's Ryan Clark.  He's terrible as a cover safety.  He just can't do it anymore.  He's not awful at the line of scrimmage but he got beat in what appeared to be a Cover-2 look on the 36-yd deep TD shot to Evans.  That was ridiculous.  How could Evans on a shorter field run by him so easily.  Granted, there's not enough pressure on the QB but he's a mess as the last line of defense.  They should bench him and get some looks at younger players who might be here next year when Clark is doing analyst work in Bristol.

4.  Special teams.  Tress Way has a very good gross punting avg. this year but when given chances near midfield to put the other team in a hole, he kicks it into the end zone.  Kai Forbath missed two field goals.  No returns of note either.

5.  3rd and 2 play-call early in the 3rd qtr.  The Skins only reasonable chance to be in the game after a poor start came on their first drive of the 3rd quarter.   Down 13-7 and driving at the Tampa 26 with a chance to take the lead, the play-call was a drop-back pass.  It's clear that pure drop-back is not Griffin's strength.  He got sacked so a 43-yd FG attempt became a 50-yd FG attempt and a chance at the lead or at worst a 13-10 deficit became good field position for Tampa and a 20 to 7 lead.

More:

1.  The 2nd TD pass to Evans was a missed A-gap blitz by the Skins' defense according to Gruden.

2.  Roy Helu lost one fumble and nearly a 2nd.

3.  Leonard Hankerson's debut included a false start penalty and a mental mistake of lining up on the wrong side of the field in the red zone.

4.  The Skins actually came out with the idea of getting the ball to Jackson more on quick screens, etc but continuing that concept got lost because of the big deficit.

5.  So much for comments like "toe-to-toe with the Seattle" and "we're close to 7 and 2".....today's performance was clear-cut…..this team stinks right now.

6.  We saw some turbo/hurry-up today.   So what.  It didn’t amount to anything good.

7.  Can we now admit that last year wasn't a "Mike/Kyle" problem?



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