So I have wavered between being excited like any foolish NFL fan, then to all cynically beating the doldrums, expecting the worst, and now back to foolishly excited, convincing myself the Redskins are something better than the worst team in the best division in the NFL, like most football talking heads have them slotted. But I am going to preview the team, breaking it all down into organic compounds like only a solid dude like myself could do. We shall do this in three acts - offense, defense, and then the other shit (meaning special teams, coaching, ownering and officing). So let's get this nerd talk party started on the offensive tip.
I start with the line because it is common sense amongst solid dudes that a good offense starts with a good offensive line. The Redskins sport, historically, probably the best offensive line to ever have played together in the infamous Hogs, a line of big ugly dudes so great that they caused fat dudes with cop mustaches to start publicly cross-dressing habitually. The Hogs were so good that stupid fucking Mark Rypien won a Super Bowl behind them, proving the fact that if you have a great offensive line, you can put mediocre QBs back there, and with the extra time, they can overcome their limited capabilities, as the field opens up around them.
Of course, the Redskins have applied very little attention in the draft to their O-line at all in recent years. They did draft some dude out of Wisconsin last year, but he has barely been active for the most part on game day. Meanwhile, some dreadlocked dude undrafted from Maryland who looks like he might've hung out with Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell in the form of Stephon Heyer is now our starting right tackle. Don't get me wrong, I like Stephon Heyer, simply because he was undrafted and he fucking knuckle and dimed his way onto the team. But honestly, a dude like that should be a more than capable back-up at multiple spots on the O-line and not a bonafide starter in his 3rd year, unless he's some amazing undiscovered talent. Stephon Heyer, although a solid dude like myself, is not some amazing undiscovered talent.
At left tackle is the Redskins most respected player in Chris Samuels, who is a perennial Pro Bowler, and also in the Redskins Team Yearbook, he's been voted Most Likely to False Start eight years in a row. I will be honest, I do not trust Chris Samuels. He looks like a retarded guy who got stung by hornets and is allergic to their poison. And he false starts all the time. Football talking heads hype him as one of the league's best, and they know their bizness, and I'm just a regular old solid dude who sits around drinking beer and watching football. But in my many years of beers watching the Redskins (which included for two years, setting an open and undrank Old Milwaukee can on the coffee table for my dear, deceased father), quite a few times, foam ups have occured from slamming down one because Chris Samuels got another stupid fucking penalty. It could be said he is really great and is always right there at the snap, sometimes too far ahead by a split second, or it could also be said he fucking cheats and sucks on every play but he is a hyped-up former #3 overall pick in the draft so refs only call so many penalties on him a game.
As for the rest of the O-line, it is a hodgepodge mixture of old dudes who are great characters to read about, but man, I fear them breaking apart. Randy Thomas is old, but good when healthy, and an amateur competive eater, so it's hard not to root for the guy. Derrick Dockery left as a free agent but now is back because Buffalo realized he wasn't worth what they paid for him. Casey Rabach, our center, is an avid hunter and looks like he'd hate black people if he didn't play football, which of course is the makings of a great offensive lineman. But after that aging starting pack in the middle, it is shaky. We've got some guy who was a big-time draft pick, ate himself out the league a couple years ago, and now is back a hundred pounds lighter. And then some other guys who, even as a Redskins fan who reads the paper daily just for Redskins info, I don't really know shit about. That's not good.
The plus is their coach is Joe Bugel, the same guy who coached those Hogs back in the day. And about half the line trained together this offseason in Arizona with some guy who had them carrying cars and tossing tires in the desert. This all combines to an A-Team like ambiance together with Old Man Bugel as Hannibal, and I am hopeful he loves it when his plan comes together. But I also am afraid this season will be the first half of a cliffhanger and they'll all get cancelled before we see a positive finale with this bunch.
You've probably heard it already, make or break for Jason Campbell, blah blah blah. They flirted with getting stupid Jay Cutler and future Campbell Mark Sanchez, both at exorbitant draft pick prices most likely, but came up short on both because Dan Snyder does not have draft picks to blow on stupid shit like he has money to blow on stupid shit. Jason Campbell I do not mind. He's a nice guy, and he doesn't make stupid mistakes. But he also doesn't make awesome plays. The fact it's considered make-or-break is actually kinda funny, because he doesn't break nor make really. He's probably one of the most solid back-up QBs the NFL has, and it's sad he was picked in the 1st round to trick people into thinking he's something more. This of course means our starting QB is a really great back-up QB in essence.
Our actual back-up is a lifelong back-up in Todd Collins. I think he actually backed up Jim Kelly at one point. Jim Kelly hasn't played in forever. This means Todd Collins is a really old clipboard holder dude, who is no real threat to be a great starter, even though he had a good run in the wake of the Sean Taylor Got Shot memorial adrenaline run of '07.
Our third QB doesn't exist, because Colt Brennan got put on injured reserve for the year. He is a brash, cocky young man who may or may not be fucking Jessica Simpson, and feels he can be a starter. His college coach June Jones once, on the AM radio while I was listening, said he'd only seen two QBs that good - Colt Brennan and I think John Elway was the other one. And then just last week, Redskins quotemaker Fred Smoot proclaimed Brennan as the real deal and like a Brett Favre with the Falcons, hoping the Skins didn't let him go. The problem with Colt Brennan is he hasn't done shit in a real game, feels pretty important, and once Colt McCoy goes pro, he won't even be the hottest young QB in the league named Colt, which is kind of his gimmick right now. Most people my age grew up watching Colt Seaver and masturbating to thoughts of Heather Thomas (way better than Heather Locklear, fuck you if you disagree), so the name Colt is pretty goddamned awesome to us. And if you check the dates, most likely Colt Brennan's dad liked that show too, just like my uncle named his firstborn Bubba after Sgt. Bubba Skinner. For-real rednecks go with the more formal Colter usually over a regular old Colt for a son's name.
So basically, we have a small collection of 2nd string QBs, both of which could be Trent Dilferesque enough if we had a strong and imposing offensive line. But we don't.
There has been talk of a running John Riggins/Clinton Portis beef. Let me be perfectly clear, John Riggins is the greatest thing this Redskin fan has ever seen, because he was a great ass player and he'd get drunk at Presidential events. His legend is large. But at the same time, Clinton Portis is the greatest thing the Redskins have had the past ten years, without a doubt. He's tough as fuck, goofy as fuck, and apt for bizarre outbursts. He's pretty much a hip hop John Riggins, so I think some of Riggins dislike is haterism. I fully support Clinton Portis.
At the same time, it is readily admitted, even by the Redskins coaching staff and front office, that for an NFL RB, Portis is getting long in the tooth, so they will rest him more this year. Fine. That makes sense. The problem with this I have though is the great back-up meant to spell him WAS DRAFTED THE SAME FUCKING YEAR CLINTON PORTIS WAS! Ladell Betts is basically as old as Portis, but with no fucking reputation. Last year when he was supposed to take over when Portis was sucking oxygen on the sideline (again, reminiscent of Riggo), Betts never once showed any pep or punch. He's basically a mid-level dude who shouldn't be more than a 3rd option at best. Most NFL teams have the wherewithal to take a shot at a young speedy RB as a good 3rd down back or change of pace to the wily veteran workhorse. This creates an added dynamic for the opposing defense to fret over. The Redskins instead back-up their wily veteran workhorse with a less wily just as veteran lesser workhorse. That is fucking stupid. As a Redskins fan, I apologize to any Ladell Betts family who might catch a link of this, because he seems like a nice enough guy, even though he looks kind of like a turtle, but he is the most unnecessary Redskin on their roster. Seriously. Take a fucking gamble on something different or somebody younger. Who's in the wings as a halfback? Rock Cartwright? Also as old as Portis and Betts, and way smaller? Or the kid who didn't make the team the past two years but did finally this year? What the fuck? Other teams are gonna beat up fucking Portis again and there's nothing behind him worth worrying over.
Fuck anybody who doesn't give Portis his props because that dude carries this team at times. He's a moody ass dude, yeah, but fuck man, look at Riggins now. He's a moody ass dude too, and he's a fucking living legend. If Portis was surrounded by players that had the same heart as him, he'd have rings on his fingers too, just like Riggins, who was surrounded by dudes with hellafied heart. If (okay... when) this offense falters this year, anyone who blames Clinton Portis is a goddamned fool, and might even be racist, if not against black people than at least against vampires named Jerome.
Oh yeah, our fullback is Mike Sellers, and he is old, but he is awesome. He dyed his beard blonde to feel like a wrestler last year, and he's just generally a wacky fucker, like your starting fullback should be. Joe Gibbs might not have won a bunch of playoff games in his second stint, but I'll give him this... he stacked this team with a bunch of crazy characters. Mike Sellers is one of the best.
Santana Moss has won me over. I think he drops too many sometimes, and is a little too cavalier about it for my tastes afterwards, but he's got the stats behind him. And fuck, honestly, that one game where the Redskins came back with two long TDs to Santana to beat the Cowboys, who had dominated them, in the 4th quarter, that makes him my man forever. (Haha, I don't even remember who the QB was though. Maybe Mark Brunell? Fuck him.)
Beyond Santana at WR, I don't know. Most high-paidly, they've got Antwaan Randle El, who, other than really exaggerated first down celebrations, hasn't really done too much to make himself worth the seven billion dollars he's probably made as a Redskin. But, to be fair, when he signed with the Skins, most NFL talking head nerds said he was a great 3rd WR at best, which is what he'll go back to this year, so perhaps he will thrive again.
The two-headed failure of 2nd round picks Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas from last year are the guys who are supposed to develop this year. Never mind the fact that DeSean Jackson for the Eagles, or that guy for the Rams, or a couple other dudes who all were drafted around the same time last year have already fucking developed and made an impact. Apparently, the Redskins are putting their PR hype machine behind Kelly this year as the guy who will make The Difference. We'll see. He seems like a lesser-productive Michael Westbrook to me though - tall, not much heart, overhyped, and underperforming. Devin Thomas, honestly, if he doesn't do shit by like halfway through the season, they should just cut his dumb ass. At least Kelly's had injuries to use an excuse. Devin Thomas just hasn't done anything. Period. I don't know why they'd expect he'd suddenly get better. Ignorant, lazy fuckers who coast by on their raw talent don't suddenly become motivated to play smarter and harder.
At tight end, I am going to admit something right now that no other Redskin fan will admit to you. Chris Cooley is considered a fan favorite, and there's more #47s in the crowd than anybody else, and rightly so... a few years ago. He was a young, goofy whiteboy who dumped one cheerleader to start hooking up with another one, even though dating any of them was strictly forbidden. He spoke his mind, even if it wasn't the right thing to say. Then he got married, had a blog, noticed the hype, and started believing it. He's not the crazy whiteboy anymore with a double dirty blonde fro. He's kind of a chump to be honest. I mean if you really look at his blog, it's not really that funny or crazy. It's a dude acting like he's crazy. Like if the wackiest shit in your life is having a set poker night where you smoke cigars, your life is pretty goddamned square. Also this dude who liked my internet writings bought me a shirt from Chris Cooley's blog, and they didn't have the black ones so they sent me a white one, but Chris Cooley signed it. First off, the design was wack as fuck, like somebody's cousin who played with photoshop like seven times made the design. And secondly, white sucks compared to black when it comes to t-shirts. But I'm not the type of dude to be like, "Oh shit, I have some other dude's signature on a t-shirt. That's dope." That's actually kinda gay. I tried to save it, more out of respect for the dude who bought it for me as a gift than for Chris Cooley love, but eventually, like all other white t-shirts that cross my housepainting path, it became a work shirt. (Sorry RussMac if you read this... I tried dude, and I really really appreciated the gesture. But the shirt they sent me sucked. I hope it didn't cost you much.)
Still, Cooley is good on the field. I hope his wife cheats on him and he comes home and finds her doing it so that maybe he can regain that crazed whiteboy fire again. I know that's fickle of me, but fuck it man, I'm a fan, not the dude's best pal. But I would imagine his best pal probably misses the old Cooley a little bit too.
So at receiver, we have Santana and Cooley, two guys who sometimes seem questionable but perform well. After them, nothing but question marks.
It is obvious from going through this all that, no matter how much I've been tricking myself the past week, our offense isn't going to be great. If we can somehow squeeze a consistently mediocre season out of this cast of misfits, overhypes, and grizzled vets, then maybe we stand a chance to sneak a wild card berth, speaking strictly offensively. But even if Jason Campbell has the most greatest year of his NFL career, we won't have to be using anything higher than a 2 on the first column of the scoreboard that often.