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How to beat the Saints

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How to beat the Saints

The Saints are a very good team but they are not unbeatable. They lost three times during the 2011 regular season and once in the playoffs. Can the Redskins learn anything from those games?Perhaps they can. It would help if they were playing the Saints at FedEx Field. Not that Washington has demonstrated much of an ability to defend its home turf in recent years but all four of New Orleans losses last year were on the road. They were a perfect 8-0 in the Superdome.But the schedule is what it is and the Redskins cant do anything about the venue. They also probably cant get to be as good as the Packers or 49ers, the teams that dealt the Saints their first loss of the year and their last loss, respectively. So lets focus on the Rams and Bucs, two teams that finished with worse records than the Redskins last year but still managed to beat New Orleans.On Oct. 16, the 3-2 Bucs scored 17 unanswered points in the second quarter and took a 20-10 lead into the locker room. The Saints eventually pulled to within three at 23-20 in the fourth quarter but the Bucs held on for a 26-20 win.Tampa Bay had both a 300-yard passer (Josh Freeman, 303) and a 100-yard rusher (Earnest Graham 109). Still, the Saints outgained them 453 yards to 420 but they didnt have much balance. Drew Brees passed for 383 yards but his 21 yards rushing nearly led the team (Mark Ingram rushed for 22).Brees threw three interceptions and the Saints lost a fumble. The Bucs didnt turn the ball over at all.That game was a surprise; the Saints next loss was a stunner. Two weeks after losing in Tampa the Saints visited the 0-6 Rams. Quarterback Sam Bradford was sidelined with an injury and A. J. Feeley was at the helm for the home team.The identity of the quarterback didnt matter much as the Saints were fed a steady diet of Steven Jackson. The Rams running back carried 25 times for 159 yards and two touchdowns. The Rams outgained the Saints on the ground 183 yards to 56.Turnovers again were an issue for the Saints as Brees threw two interceptions. The Rams did not commit any turnovers.One Brees interception sealed the deal for the Rams. The Saints had started to mount a comeback from a 24-0 third-quarter deficit. With the score 24-14, Brees threw a pick six to safety Darian Stewart and that was that.So what are the common themes here? Getting some turnovers, running the ball, and building a big enough lead to survive a Saints run. That sounds like a recipe for success in most games.

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Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman caused quite a stir with his comments Sunday about the atmosphere at FedEx Field, and the Redskins cornerback made it clear he plans to do his part in making sure the stadium is packed for Sunday's game against the Texans. 

Norman told reporters Thursday he's going to be giving away "40 or 50" free tickets for the Houston game, online and perhaps even in person.

"Yes, I will be giving out free tickets," he said. "I'll be doing it on my socials as well, I think I'll probably post tonight or something about it."

"Who knows, you may see me coming out and being an early Santa somewhere in the mall or something, just handing out tickets."

And if you are one of the lucky fans who gets a ticket from "Santa Norman," he has specific instructions on how you should behave at Sunday's game:

"Whoever get(s) them, we want them loud and just obnoxious. Just really obnoxious."

Norman joins several Redskins players who have promised to give away tickets to the Texans game.

It may be November, but the Christmas spirit is alive and well at Redskins Park. 

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A Madden ratings performance adjustor explains what goes into the job that everyone's jealous of

A Madden ratings performance adjustor explains what goes into the job that everyone's jealous of

Even on a field filled with NFL players, experienced coaches and a few celebrities, Clint Oldenburg stood out. 

It wasn’t because of his stature or that he used to play pro football, either.

It was due to his jacket.

A jacket, which led to a photo, which led to a tweet, which led to unexpected Internet fame, all thanks to the four words written on Oldenburg’s back: “Madden Ratings Performance Adjustor.”

Oldenburg was spending Week 9 at FedEx Field, sent by EA Sports to get more information on Adrian Peterson at that afternoon’s Redskins-Falcons game. The future Hall of Famer is in the middle of a comeback season, so Oldenburg was charged with checking in on him.

4.5 million Twitter impressions later, Oldenburg now knows that countless people are supremely jealous of his weekend vocation.

"I wasn’t really engaging on my cell phone during the game, and then when I was catching my cab to the airport after the game I looked at it and said, ‘Holy crap,’” he said in a recent phone interview.

"I was in shock as to what was happening.”

A fifth-round pick of the Patriots in 2007, Oldenburg also had brief stints with the Jets and a few others, including the Redskins. These days, he spends Monday-Friday working to make Madden’s gameplay better.

But he’s also a part of the Ratings Adjustor team, a small group of evaluators who travel to stadiums, observe players and submit their notes to a fellow employee. That primary analyst takes their notes into account and then has the final say on every player’s precious overall rating, which can fluctuate with each Madden update. 

Now, you may find the idea of sending someone to the site of a matchup to do this gig a bit preposterous. But according to Oldenburg, being there in-person does make a major difference.

"The benefits of the sideline really are for pregame,” he explained. “Just seeing how guys are working in pregame, getting a close-up view of their actual athletic skills, their footwork.”

Oldenburg also likes the “better perspective” he gets once the action kicks off. For example, while focusing on Peterson during the Burgundy and Gold’s loss to Atlanta, he felt like No. 26 missed some cutback lanes, something Oldenburg always finds himself paying attention to thanks to his days battling along the line.

Much like the thousands of social media users who shared various reactions about his job, players take an interest in him as well.

While in Landover, kicker Dustin Hopkins found Oldenburg on the sideline and passed along a request: That day, the team was planning on kicking off short as opposed to through the end zone, so Hopkins wanted to make sure his kick power wouldn't be decreased. 

"They wanna come talk about what we’re doing,” Oldenburg said about the athletes he’s tasked with grading. "Information like that is always valuable."

After his playing career wrapped up, Oldenburg jumped into an internship working on the video game that he loved growing up. “Everything took off” after that 10-week program, and he’s been enjoying it ever since.

"I always had to scratch and claw for everything I got,” he said near the end of the call. "I wanted to find a career that I knew I’d be happy doing.”

In the end, he landed in a career that makes him happy. And as one viral tweet showed, plenty of others would be happy in his role too. 

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