It’s the most wonderful time of the year...allegedly. Christmas is a celebration of religion, family, tradition, imagination and hope. All are wonderful ideals on their own, but like all good things, too much can be toxic. “Hope” can be especially prone to turn to despair when that is all one has to hold on to.
For example, let’s say your favorite professional football team was ravaged by injury for consecutive years, but impossibly and improbably were mathematically alive for the playoffs. Throw in a 10-minute, 93-yard first half TD drive conducted by a 32-year old journeyman QB and a 33-year old running back playing for the veteran minimum. Add on a 1st & 10 from midfield, with over two minutes left in the contest and trailing by only three points. Your hope tachometer begins revving to red-line readings and then...you blink and find your team has thrown two interceptions and your season is over. Bah Humbug.
In a game where the process was pleasantly surprising, but the result was morbidly predictable, Jay Gruden’s band of not-so-merry men were Titan’d up in Tennessee, falling 25-16. So, who was naughty and who was nice? Welcome to the penultimate of sixteen #SundaySlices; your favorite columnist's favorite column, where we cut up the game to assign fame and blame, based on the outcome, into delicious pie chart form. Try not to make a mess.
(These are the players/coaches/etc. who are not in the pie, because they did not contribute to the loss).
I’m not sure how we’re going to explain the Josh Johnson era to our grandchildren, but regardless of how long it lasts or how this season ends, we should probably mention that it was actually kind of fun.— The D.C. Universe (@dcuniverse) December 23, 2018
-Josh Johnson. It’s not often that I’m willing to sing the praises of a signal-caller who threw two interceptions in the 4th quarter of a close game. However, QB4 showed assertiveness and poise at a position that has long been the Achilles heel of the organization.
-Adrian Peterson. I have officially run out of superlatives to bestow upon AP at this point. Just know, future Hall of Fame or not, 33-year olds are not supposed to have the combination of burst, elusiveness and power that he continues to bring to the field. At my age, I find myself struggling to write with a combination of pensiveness, satire and sobriety for this column – and no one’s trying to tackle me.
-Jay Gruden. The second-most polarizing figure in Washington cannot be blamed for the loss Saturday. Whether he faces the firing squad following this week or is forced into lame duck status before his inevitable demise, his obit will not mention this L.
Man im proud of the adversity this team has overcome this year... we are on our 4th quarterback... have 20+ guys on IR starting with me.. they still have heart— 2️⃣9️⃣ (@DhaSickest) December 22, 2018
Derrius is right; the team had heart Saturday. It’s the other body parts like legs, arms and ACLs that were missing.
Ha’Sean Treshon Clinton-Dix: 5%
Can we call Haha by his real name? Feel like he doesn't deserve the cool nickname— Skins Squad (@SkinsSquad) December 22, 2018
Sure, the Hindenburg and Titanic were monumental disasters, but Washington “hold my beer’d” their way into the convo with their October trade for Clinton-Dix. Ha’Sean has shown a rare inability to tackle, catch, or make any impactful plays…ever. Money well spent.
Although the offense was essentially the cast from the movie “The Replacements,” the defense had no excuse for not showing out against a pedestrian Titans attack led by its backup QB. Instead, the defense gave up double-digits to said backup and constantly missed key tackles on third down. Certain members of the secondary had a lot of words, but remember, there’s always receipts:
Greg Manusky: 30%
Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger just ripped into defensive coordinator Greg Manusky for not playing mote zone coverage. He said a "kindergarten QB" could make plays vs. man. Swearinger was incensed they were in man on the Fabian Moreau play that resulted in a penalty.— John Keim (@john_keim) December 23, 2018
When I first read this tweet Saturday night, I thought it might be noteworthy. I also thought it was strange to read this later in the night:
Greg manuski coached a great game— Jonathan Allen (@jonallen93_) December 23, 2018
Our second-year monster’s spelling aside, the schism in the locker room on that side of the ball is equal parts compelling and confusing. Mostly I want to know: A-do we have the right players and wrong coaching or B-wrong players and right coaching? I suppose there’s also C-wrong players AND wrong coaching. Given the status of the rest of the organization, that seems the likeliest outcome.
Still, Greg Manusky absolutely cannot keep his current position as defensive coordinator. Too many lapses in play-calling. Too many non-adjustments. Too many points given up to scrubs. It’s a wrap.
Defensive coordinators don’t lose to Blaine Gabbert and keep their jobs.— Redskins Realm (@SkinsRealm) December 23, 2018
Every week before the game, Washington lead play-by-play commentator and Dan Snyder sycophant extraordinaire, Larry Michael, “breaks down” the matchup and gives his view on different categories. The most hilarious of these is a play on the word “intangibles,” named “Skintangibles,” which I think is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but I’m honestly not sure.
Predictably, he always has a squiggled check mark in the Washington column next to this box. Tough to beat a team in a category named for them, I suppose.
It’s absurd. “Skintangibles” is less a description of hard-to-define excellence shown by the team, and more a motto for the inept nation of Ashburnistan. “We can’t define the incompetency properly, so let’s just make up words.”
You can read this column, but I’ll save you a click and just give you this gem:
HAHA (and like making a big play on third down, there’s no Clinton-Dix necessary). So a possibly unscrupulous business wanted to engage in business with...another unscrupulous business? You don’t say. Maybe Skintangibles are being shown off the field in a better way?
If Greg Manusky was a fan and D.J. Swearinger bad-mouthed him, it would have been fine. But because he’s a subpar defensive coordinator, one of the best players on the roster was shown the door. Um ... okay. #Redskinslogic pic.twitter.com/xjYUoVLnyf— Homer McFanboy (@HomerMcFanboy) December 24, 2018
Hmmm. Maybe not. Well surely the Skintangibles apply to a larger, overall success, right?
Interesting. So the journey to truly define Skintangibles has hit an impasse. While I cannot tell you what it should mean, I can tell you what I hope it should not mean:
-it should not mean engaging in business practices with shady organizations—even if you allegedly have “soft” actual football practices and are, in fact, a shady organization yourself.
-it should not mean you cut one of your best players because he’s outspoken. Discipline them? Absolutely. Although Swearinger was spot on in his criticism, he 100% needed to be punished. But let go for nothing in return AND at a position of need? Can’t let that happen. Also...
-it should not mean this:
So the rules in ashburn are:— Matt Terl (@matt_terl) December 24, 2018
Beating a kid with a stick? Okay!
Accusations of domestic violence? Come onboard!
Publicly criticizing coaches? GTFO.
-it should not mean year after year, fans of a once proud franchise are sold “hope,” and team and family. Only to constantly find their team on the naughty list. We yearn for a season of great blessings, yet continually wake up Christmas morning to a stocking full of coal.
I wonder if the Redskins will have the edge in Skintangibles before Sunday's game. Probably.— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) December 24, 2018
#SundaySlices will return following Sunday’s merciful finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. Send your slice suggestions, critiques, complaints or questions to @slimceeVA on Twitter. Should you feel the need to add snarky commentary about pop culture, sports or politics into your life, you can also follow @slimceeVA—and you should.