Forget about introducing the offense or defense. The Vikings should have offensive coordinator Norv Turner run to midfield before Sunday’s game against the Redskins at TCF Bank Stadium.
After all, no one else wearing purple is 4-0 against Washington since being fired as head coach by Redskins owner Dan Snyder with three games left in the 2000 season.
And 15 years after Snyder bought the Redskins, Turner remains the only coach to post a winning record while drawing a paycheck from one of the league’s more impatient billionaires.
Snyder inherited Turner after buying the Redskins for $800 million, a quaint little record for a U.S. sports franchise at the time. Turner went 17-12 from 1999 until Terry Robiskie took over as interim coach with the Redskins at 7-6 in 2000. Robiskie finished that year 1-2 before Snyder began the NFC-leading parade of six non-interim head coaches in 14 seasons.
Marty Schottenheimer went 8-8 and walked after one season. Steve Spurrier arrived without an interest in defense and took his 12-20 record back to where defense is optional. Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs restored respectability, but went 30-34. Jim Zorn restored disrespectability at 12-20. Mike Shanahan looked young and vibrant when RGIII was healthy and old and grumpy when RGIII wasn’t healthy.
Shanahan’s 24-40 record gave way to Jay Gruden, a rookie head coach who is 3-5 heading into Sunday’s game vs. the Vikings. Gruden’s upset of the Cowboys in Dallas on Monday marked the franchise’s first winning streak in 25 games.
“We had high expectations going into the season,” Gruden said. “But the good thing is when we were 1-5, nobody hung their heads or felt sorry for themselves.”
But Snyder’s frustration level reportedly reached a season high when the Redskins dropped their fourth consecutive game, losing at Arizona 30-20 on Oct. 12.
According to reports from Washington, Bertrand Berry, the former Cardinals player turned Phoenix radio broadcaster, said Snyder spat on the floor of University of Phoenix Stadium in the fourth quarter while leaving before the game was over. The Redskins’ local TV crew later said Snyder didn’t leave the game before it was over.
Whatever happened, Snyder’s frustration is understandable considering where this storied franchise has been mired for most of the past 15 seasons.
In 1999, Turner led the Redskins to 10 wins, an NFC East title and one playoff victory. In the 13 ensuing full seasons without Turner, Snyder has one NFC East title and one playoff win.
Making things worse for Snyder is Turner keeps popping up on the schedule to haunt the Redskins.
In Turner’s first game after being fired, he was offensive coordinator of a Chargers team that would finish 5-11. But in the 2001 season opener at San Diego, the Chargers beat the Redskins 30-3 despite turning the ball over four times.
In 2003, Turner was offensive coordinator in Miami when the Dolphins beat the visiting Redskins 24-23 despite three turnovers. In 2005, Turner was head coach of a 4-12 Raiders team that won 16-13 in the closing minutes at Washington.
And in 2009, as head coach in San Diego, Turner’s Chargers scored the winning touchdown with 39 seconds left in the regular-season finale. The 23-20 victory made the Chargers 13-3 and the Redskins 4-12.
An eight-man blitz left Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo on the turf for an extended period before he walked gingerly to the sideline with eight minutes left in the third quarter of Monday night’s 20-17 overtime loss to the Redskins.
Perhaps the athletic trainers kept Romo down longer than normal as a precaution. Or maybe a 34-year-old quarterback needs extra time to digest the seriousness of a direct knee shot to a surgically-repaired back.
But even if the injury wasn’t serious, it still seemed odd in today’s NFL that Romo returned to the game after sitting out more than 20 minutes of game time.
When Romo left, the Cowboys trailed 10-7. Backup Brandon Weeden put up 10 points in two possessions, completing 4 of 6 with a touchdown and a 145.1 passer rating before Romo returned with the score tied late in the fourth quarter.
Romo had already been sacked four times. He was sacked a fifth time on his first pass attempt after returning.Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan was asked if he was surprised to see Romo return.
“Not really,” he said. “I wasn’t sure what the injury was. It looked bad because he was down on the field for so long. But I wasn’t sure what exactly he got hurt. So not knowing what was injured, I really wasn’t surprised.”
If Romo plays Sunday, the Cowboys could make an argument that we’ve all overreacted. But given Romo’s age, injury history, the Redskins’ pass rush and Weeden’s success, the risk still seemed to outweigh the reward.
• Redskins rookie cornerback Bashaud Breeland sure looked like a fourth-round steal matched up against Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams.
• You can rush eight defenders in a cover-zero look when you’re Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and your corners cover like Breeland did on Monday.
• Cowboys running back Demarco Murray is on pace for 2,108 yards rushing. The record is 2,105 yards.
• Murray will break the rushing record.
• The Patriots have won four in a row, six of seven and are at home. Seems odd picking them to “upset” the Broncos. But they will.
FOCUS ON FIVE STORY LINES
1 Tell the grandkids you saw it: Denver at New England
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are getting old, right? Except they have combined for more than 4,000 passing yards, 40 touchdowns and only five interceptions season.
2 Mike Vick is still around? N.Y. Jets at Kansas City
Michael Vick is starting for the Jets, who are on a seven-game losing streak and trying to work Percy Harvin into the mix. Can Rex Ryan survive much longer?
3 Calling Dr. Jones, Dr. Jerry Jones Arizona at Dallas
After playing Dallas team owner (which he is), coach and doctor (he is neither) on Monday night, Jerry Jones has determined that Tony Romo’s back injury may or may not keep him out of this game.
4 Ryan Tannehill time is now San Diego at Miami
The Dolphins can improve to 5-3 and be the surprise team of the first half if they can beat the surprise team of the first half, the Chargers. Miami QB Ryan Tannehill has been sharp the past five games (eight TD passes).
5 Iron and Steel Baltimore at Pittsburgh
The Steelers got six TD passes from Ben Roethlisberger in dispatching the Colts. Baltimore had a close loss to Cincinnati. Winner of this one improves to 6-3 and great playoff position.
Mark Craig's NFL picks
Just when you think you know the Cowboys and the Webster’s Online Dictionary version of the word “no,” along come the Washington Redskins and Tony Wyllie, their senior VP of communications.
First, Colt McCoy climbs out of his Halloween storage box in Dan Snyder’s basement and stops the Cowboys’ six-game winning streak right under Jerry Jones’ new nose. Then he tries to stop and talk about it with ESPN Deportes before being put back on the storage shelf next to the stack of insensitivity training handbooks.
But along comes Wyllie with a definition for “no” that’s 254 words shorter and a lot grouchier than the ones Webster uses to help explain the word. After breaking things up and whisking McCoy back into Robert Griffin III’s shadow, Wyllie turned and delivered his exclamation point, which became a popular Internet video clip of him yelling, “NO MEANS NO!”
Wyllie later explained that McCoy needed to attend Jay Gruden’s postgame speech. ESPN later explained that it thought “no” meant “there are no more human beings with full heads of hair left on earth to hire.”
Here are some other possible interpretations of the word “no”:
WAS +2½ at MIN
Vikings 17, Redskins 10
In Minneapolis, when it comes to stadiums, “No” means “no, no, maybe, probably,” and “OK, OK, OK. We’ll pay! Ouch, Mr. Goodell, you’re hurting my arm!”
SD +2½ at MIA
Chargers by 7
In Miami, “No” means never having to say you’re sorry after a victory. Unless it was Jacksonville.
JAX +11 at CIN
Bengals by 3
In Jacksonville, “No” is executive VP in charge of printing playoff tickets.
TB +6½ at CLE
Browns by 3
In Cleveland, “No” is what you say when asked, “Were you alive the last time Cleveland won anything?”
STL +10 at SF
49ers by 14
Here, “No” is what you say when asked, “Were you alive when this was a big game?”
PHI -2 at HOU
Texans by 3
For Philly’s O-line, “No” means squat to J.J. Watt.
NYJ +9½ at KC
Chiefs by 3
In New York, “No” means “Yes, Rex is toast and wouldn’t a Percy Harvin-Brad Childress reunion be awesome?”
ARI +4 at DAL
Cardinals by 3
In Dallas, “No” is French for “Oui, oui, you broke your surgically-repaired back. Now get back in there. We’re losing to the Redskins.”
OAK +15 at SEA
Seahawks by 10
In Seattle, “No” means “Pack your bags and have fun in New York.”
BAL -1 at PIT
Ravens by 7
In Week 2, “No” was the answer to the question, “Are the Ravens too distracted by Ray Rice’s left hook to smash the Steelers 26-9?”
IND -3½ at NYG
Giants by 7
In New York, “No” is what you say when asked if you have any idea what the Giants will do.
DEN -3 at NE
Patriots 38, Broncos 28
In New England, “No” is what you say when asked if sportswriters who write off the Patriots in September have anything but sh…aving cream for brains.
Last week/overall: 10-4/ 69-43-1
Versus spread: 10-4/ 58-55
Vikings picks: 5-3
Upset special picks: 2-6