The Blogger Beat: Hogs Haven

The Redskins’ season may have ended last week, but the debate is just heating up over what the team should do next. We tapped Hogs Haven’s Kevin Ewoldt and Ken Meringolo to get their predictions on what the Skins might have in store. Sports lovers, read o

By: Emily Leaman

With a disappointing Redskins season on the books—the team went 4-12 this year—we hoped Hogs Haven bloggers Kevin Ewoldt and Ken Meringolo would be able to find a silver lining. Does a 2020 Super Bowl win count? Ouch.

Hogs Haven was founded in 2006, but the duo took it over last January from their predecessor Will Allensworth. Native Washingtonians, Ewoldt and Meringolo have been lifelong Skins fans. Says Meringolo, “I think I learned how to walk, talk, and become a Redskins fan all at the same time.”

The pair try to keep their blog posts informative and accurate yet light. Ewoldt has a background in improv and stand-up comedy, so he likes to incorporate humor into his writing—and his Photoshopping. Some of his hack jobs have ended up on Sportsillustrated.com.

We pressed Ewoldt and Meringolo to make some solid predictions on the future of our hometown team. With Jim Zorn and Vinny Cerrato out, there’s lots of fun guesswork to do. Read on to see what they have to say, and be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments.

Rate your love for football on a scale of 1 to 10—with 1 being “I’d rather watch golf” and 10 being “I wear body paint under my suit”:
Kevin: “I’ve always thought it was odd for grown men to wear body and face paint to a game, so I’ll say I’m a 9. I’d go the more creative route: having a custom Eastern Motors Sean Taylor jersey made or buying a vintage Redskins ’80s sweater off eBay.”
Ken: “When I think of body paint, I think of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition, so I guess I’ll have to be a 9, too. Unlike the insanely hot models in that magazine, the combo of my chest hair and body paint would be anything but tasteful. Suffice it to say I cover up pretty good at games in a Skins jersey. In fact, I’m between jerseys right now, having just retired my Darrell Green throwback. I’m open to suggestions.”

Five words to describe the Redskins’ 2009 season:
Kevin: “Laughing stock of the country.”
Ken: “Bad teams lose like this.”

Five words to describe Dan Snyder:
Kevin: “Good salesman, yes; winner, no.”
Ken: “Has he learned a lesson yet?”

Highlight and lowlight of the 2009 season:
Kevin: “Highlight: Five seconds before opening kick-off at Giants Stadium on week one when I foolishly thought the Redskins’ season had a chance. I predicted an 8-8 year; Ken loses all credibility with his 10-6 prediction. Lowlight: Wow, where to begin? Each week brought a lower low. I could say the Detroit Lions game, but a lot of us knew the Redskins were bad enough by then to lose on the road, even to the Lions. The definite low point was when Shaun Suisham missed a 23-yard chip-shot field goal against the Saints, which would have sealed the game.”
Ken: “The highlight for me in 2009 was the tailgate. After years of hard work and trial and error, our tailgate has blossomed into an awesome party. If all the heart and soul we pour into our tailgate could somehow translate onto the field, we’d be Super Bowl-bound. Lowlight: I was prepared to make pancakes after the Saints game if we won. Pancakes! I had some Aunt Jemima syrup and sausage links to go with it. When Suisham missed that kick, it didn’t just cost us a win, it cost me my victory pancakes. I’m becoming enraged just thinking about it.”

What Jim Zorn and Vinny Cerrato might do next, career-wise:
Kevin: “Jim Zorn will be fine. It was clear he never had a fair chance given his inexperience and mismanagement of the front office. He left Redskins Park with the utmost class and I respect that. Zorn will be a quarterback coach somewhere, maybe in Cleveland under the Walrus (a.k.a. Mike Holmgren). As for Vinny Cerrato . . . that’s a tough one. He’s going to have to change his name and undergo plastic surgery if he ever wants a job in this area again.”
Ken: “I like Zorn a lot and I think he’ll get hired to coach again somewhere soon. As for Vinny, I’m not so sure. Between his maniacal laugh, his Runaway Bride eyes, and his penchant for turning once-proud franchises into jokes is not exactly a resumé that makes its way to the top of the pile. Maybe he can open a restaurant in Dallas or Philly. They should love him in those cities for what he did here over the last decade.”

Most valuable Shanahan: Mike or Kyle.
Kevin: “Mike, hands down. The Skins desperately need a disciplinary coach that players are forced to respect. They got that somewhat with Gibbs but not Zorn. Like Spurrier—did that era really last two years?—Zorn had no control and players circumvented all authority. As Bruce Allen said when he first got to Washington, ‘The status quo here is unacceptable.’ ”
Ken: “I’ll go with Kyle here, if for no other reason than we have seen how much gets put on the plate of a head coach in this town. No matter how hands-on Mike is, we need an offensive coordinator who is capable of getting it done himself if need be. This is clearly going to be a team effort between the two, but Kyle Shanahan will be tasked with—and judged on—his ability to get this offense in high gear. Mike is going to be wearing a lot of hats. Kyle is just wearing the one, though he does have the added scrutiny of being the boss’s son.”

Tips for the incoming coach:
Kevin: “If you don’t hate the Dallas Cowboys, you better learn to—and quickly. Fans will love you. Also, conduct weekly phone interviews with Hogs Haven to discuss the previous and upcoming games.
Ken: “If you call a fake field goal and the other team calls a timeout, consider that when they come back on the field, they’re probably ready to handle a fake.”

Skins player who deserves a raise:
Kevin: “After a 4-12 season, there are slim pickings, but London Fletcher jumps immediately to mind. As the perennial leader on a defense that has carried the team in recent years, he may very well merit a little ‘thank you’ in his paycheck.”
Ken: “It’s hard to give some of these guys raises since Snyder shells out astronomical salaries already, but perhaps Fred Davis or Chris Wilson are deserving. Fred came on strong this season, and I really like Chris Wilson on the roster. I’m optimistic the incoming defensive coordinator will get him more involved somehow.”

Player not worth the paycheck:
Kevin: “How about Clinton Portis? He hasn’t been able to stay healthy, and right now he’s dropping bombs on our locker room.”
Ken: “For me, it’s Antwaan Randle-El. It was maddening to see him keep dropping back to field punts this season. Did he have naked pictures of Zorn? Seriously, have you ever seen a stronger commitment to a player that did less in his role than Zorn’s commitment to Randle-El?”

Prediction for the Skins first-round draft pick:  
Kevin: “The Redskins currently have only two starting offensive lineman out of five. Russell Okung, the offensive tackle from Oklahoma State, better be the number-four overall pick for the Washington Redskins.
Ken: “Kevin’s is the right answer, but if they take Eric Berry in the first round and then pick up a couple linemen in the following rounds, I could get behind that.”

Prediction for next season’s record:
Kevin: “6-10. There are too many holes for this team to fix in one off-season, and the Redskins have a tough schedule facing the Colts, Texans, Jags, Titans, Packers, and Vikings—not to mention the NFC East.”
Ken: “10-6. Ignorance is bliss.”

Free agents the team should pick up:
Kevin: “Serenity now! You had to bring up free agents, didn’t you? Bruce Allen said the Redskins are good enough where they don’t need to rebuild, so if that’s the case, then I expect them to pick up some offensive lineman. The problem is no teams let their stud offensive tackle walk via free agency, which makes it all the more imperative for the Redskins to nail all five of their 2010 draft picks. I’m not looking forward to all the chatter that the Redskins should sign McNabb if the Eagles cut him.”
Ken: “I want to see Shanahan and Allen wield their expertise to find a handful of the quality middle-tier guys that good teams always seem to find. Coachable, hard-working players that want to help build a winner. We should not be targeting names in free agency—we should be targeting games.”

Year the Skins might win the Super Bowl again:
Kevin: “2020. Who would have thought the Wizards would go 30 years without a championship? I have yet to see anything from this owner that indicates the Redskins are poised to win a championship. We’re moving in the right direction with the hiring of Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan, but they’re inheriting a mess. Bill Cowher only won one Super Bowl over 15 years, and he had arguably one of the best defensive coordinators of all time. In short, we need to stay ‘medium.’ ”
Ken: “2012. We’ll have established a quarterback and we’ll have a running back that’s shredding the league. The greatest part of that Super Bowl season will be our victory over the Dallas Cowgirls—er, Cowboys—in the playoffs.”

Name you’d give the team if “Redskins” was off the table:
Kevin: “Well, after all the Gilbert Arenas drama, it’s clear the Wizards won’t be changing their name back any time soon. So, if the Redskins had to change, maybe the ‘Washington Bullets.’ (Although this past decade, they’ve been closer to the Washington BBs . . . as in BB guns).”
Ken: “Great question. Maybe the ‘Washington Generals?’ Or the ‘Washington Marauders?’ If only my ability to think up inappropriate names for my fantasy football teams somehow translated here.”

Favorite Washington sports team other than the Skins:

Kevin: “No brainer: Washington Capitals. I had the fortune of meeting Ted Leonsis and hearing his ten-point plan on how to build a franchise. I really hope Mr. Snyder had a chance to read it because it’s extremely well thought out and encompasses many lessons learned from past mistakes, ones that the Redskins continue to make.”
Ken: “Are the DC Divas still around? The Caps are fun to watch and that organization is very well-run. Being a Caps fan is both refreshing and satisfying, like victory pancakes. Stupid Suisham . . .”

Favorite Skins blog, besides your own:
Kevin:DC Sports Bog is a must-read for any DC sports fan. The blog covers more than just the Redskins and offers amazing inside access to players. Dan Steinberg’s fantastic humor it brings was no doubt an inspiration for me joining the writing world.”
Ken: “Steinberg is great. I ran into him at Einstein Bagels recently and he totally made fun of me for going easy on Redskins COO and general counsel, David Donovan, in an interview—deservedly so. I also have gotten to know Matt Terl over at blog.redskins.com and though we disagree on a variety of issues, we’ve had some very spirited conversations. I appreciate his perspective.”

Next week, we talk to home-design diva Jenn Lore from the Department of the Interior. She gives us pointers on making a small space look bigger, good DIY design projects, and lots more. Check back on Wednesday for the interview!


Earlier:
ReadysetDC
Mango & Tomato
All Blogger Beat interviews

Have a favorite blogger you’d like to hear from? Send suggestions to eleaman@washingtonian.com.

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