Week 9 Preview: Steelers vs. Redskins


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How would you like those pointed at you?

Evidently those tricky Washington Redskins use their cheerleaders for more than simple team spirit. It has been reported that the Redskins have their cheerleaders bend and stretch in the visitor’s tunnel prior to the start of each home game. Obviously they think the sight of scantily clad gals in compromising positions is enough to mentally throw their opponents off their game. Okay, it’d probably work on me.

I have to give Washington credit. No other team has thought to whore out their women like this. Sure, several use them as goodwill ambassadors within the community and several produce swimsuit or lingerie calendars but this is the first time I’ve heard of them being utilized as actual on-field weapons. I’d imagine the Philadelphia squad is also used as a distraction although they confine their work to the players’ hotel rooms and money usually changes hands afterwards.


First year head coach Jim Zorn has worked miracles with third year quarterback Jason Cambell. He’s adapted very well to the Seattle Seahawks style West Coast offense his coach brought with him. This is the offense that made a mediocre QB like Matt Hasselbeck into an All-Pro so it does have its advantages. The offense leans toward dinking and dunking and when it’s firing on all cylinders even the deep ball is working. So expect the typical WCO stuff, with zone run blocking, bootlegs, quick slants, etc.

Campbell has a big arm, pretty decent pocket presence, and is tough to bring down. Last year he struggled badly with his accuracy, particularly on short and intermediate passes and pretty much got by through throwing the ball to TE Chris Cooley or going deep. In fact, the Redskins didn’t have a wide receiver catch a touchdown until week 10. Fortunately, Campbell played in a West Coast offense in Auburn his final year and had a great season so people should’ve known he’d thrive in the new system. This year he’s the only full-time NFL starter to have not thrown a single interception.

Their playmaker on offense is Santana Moss. He still scares opposing D-Coordinators to death, but teams with somewhat disciplined Cover 2 packages can negate him. He has always had problems with staying healthy or he’d be talked about in the T.O. or Randy Moss category for sure. Old friend Antwaan Randle El is a mediocre threat at receiver and is best as the #3 guy who can return punts. I miss having him on the Steelers but they’re paying him #2/borderline #1 WR money for a guy not at that level. Both guys are threats on special teams which is worth noting as this week the Steelers are going with a good Polish boy by the name of Jared Retkofsky as their new long-snapper and allowing gimpy Mitch Berger to punt with a sore hammy. Hopefully these guys won’t factor in the outcome of the game.

The left side of the O-Line is extremely strong. I like to refer to Chris Samuels as the “Jay Bell of Left Tackles” as he’s not flashy nor does he have eye popping athleticism, but’s he’s just a great left tackle. Pete Kendall continues to be excellent and is a great technician. Randy Thomas is good if he’s healthy. He just doesn’t have that unbelievable athleticism, which prevents him from being the best guard in the business.

Last week, our run defense held strong against a very good ground team. Aaron Smith was his usual dominant run-stuffing self and the return of Fatboy Hampton helped clog up the middle. They’ll need another good game as the Redskins lean heavily on the run in the form of superstar RB Clinton Portis. One reason Campbell has managed to stay out of trouble this year is support on the ground. Remove that support and let’s see if the kid can carry the team all by himself.

Of course, the danger there is our secondary will be weaker than it has been all season. CB Bryant McFadden is still nursing his broken arm and S Ryan Clark is out indefinitely with a separated shoulder. The good news is Tyrone Carter will start in place of Clark, much to the chagrin of Anthony Smith. Somebody should tell Anthony that when it comes to starting for the Steelers, there are no guarantees. *cough*


In 2004 and 2005, the Skins blitzed an absurd amount of the time and it created a defense that reeked havoc on opposing offenses. Then in 2006 the Skins had to stop blitzing as the secondary was getting torched. In 2007, Gregg Williams went to an extremely conservative Cover 2 scheme with the safeties playing 20-25 yards away from the line of scrimmage. However, it worked out quite well as the Skins actually finished 14 spots higher in overall pass defense than in the previous year.

The Skins big problem on defense is their inability to sack the QB. They only had 19 sacks in 2006 and improved to 33 sacks in 2007. To that end, they made the trade to bring in Jason “Twinkle Toes” Taylor in order to provide even more firepower to an already stacked D-line. Unfortunately, spinning the babely Julianna Hough around and around must’ve taken too much out of ‘ol Jason because he’s battled injuries all season and is currently listed as doubtful for Monday.

That’s great news for the Steelers as without him, their pass rush goes from mediocre to almost non-existent. Pass protection, as we all know, is to the Steelers what Kryptonite is to Superman. With this match-up, there appears to be a good chance Ben Roethlisberger will have the time to give the field his usual thorough look-see before he decides to part with his precious football.

The Steelers expect Pothole Willie Parker to finally take the field after setbacks the past two weeks.  He’s practiced regularly this week and looks good to go.  The team seems to be hedging a bit on his return, likely due to the excellent work turned in by backup Mewelde Moore but the time has come for FWP to get back into the swing of things.

Also helping will be the return of WR Santonio Holmes. Holmes will be back in the starting lineup after being sat for a week over a bogus pot bust. What’s amazing to me, besides the hypocrisy of the situation, is that no other team sits their players over issues like that. The Jaguars started Matt Jones the same week he was inducted on COCAINE charges. Jerry Jones was happy to have Pacman take the field days after he beat up his babysitter. Damn those Rooneys and their morality.

Washington’s corners did pretty well against the #2 and #3 WRs, but finished 20th against #1 WRs last year. The starters are Fred Smoot and Shawn Springs. Springs should be fine, but he does have an injury history and is 34 years old. I’m not a big fan of Smoot and if they change the style of defense and have Smoot play further off the line of scrimmage it will be a disaster. Carlos Rogers is supposed to come back during the middle of the season after suffering a bad knee injury. Reed Doughty is serviceable, but they lose a lot of range with him in there in place of the late Sean Taylor. Laron Landry didn’t have the greatest pass defense statistics last year but he came along well as the season progressed and should be a keeper.

They say you can’t go home again. A cliché, sure, but that statement held true of the Washington Redskins under the return of legendary head coach Joe Gibbs.  After a quick playoff exit last year, Gibbs went back to cheating at Nascar.  It was thought that Gibb’s Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams would be the replacement, but he had burned some bridges with the higher ups and went to Jacksonville to take over the same position. The reality is that owner Danny Snyder wanted former Giants head coach Jim Fassel but Skins fans were outraged by the pick. The Skins then looked towards Steve Mariucci, who was also widely rejected by the fans. With no other options and Bill Cowher not interested in working for a tool, they wound up taking the man they hired as the offensive coordinator, Jim Zorn, gave him the “young brilliant assistant coach” line and made him the head coach.

On Monday night, I guess we’ll see how brilliant he actually is. Oh, and a few shots of the cheerleaders would be nice too.