(kicking off another season of scientifical spiritual soul-jazz[Each week, I will metaphysically speak upon the positive and negative influences on my beloved Washington Redskins team, as seen in their on-field - or television to be truthful here - performance. As the year goes on, we shall have a metascientific tabulation of who is the most valuable or biggest detriment to their future.]
about this Redskins franchise - and a
about this Redskins franchise - and a
The Redskins pulled off a victory, and pulled away in the 4th quarter, both of which were not habits of this team in the previous three seasons. They usually found ways to lose, or even if they won kept it way too close and never had that kill instinct. But today, they pulled it off, and didn't let it hang until the last possession either. That was relieving, so much so that I was actually angry at the end of the game because it felt odd and abnormal. But I feel good about this team.
I want to make it clear though, that my "feeling good about this team" means I think they can go .500. Anyone thinking playoffs, even after this win, is jumping the gun, and shifting into standard Offseason Champs Redskins fan mode, just a little later than usual. My feelings are that if this team can go 8-8, that's a successful season, because let's be honest - this is a rebuilding year, and the first legitimate rebuilding process the team has gone through in a decade really. And Snyder's various management regimes have left the Redskins infrastructure more damaged than Afghanistan. But Shanahan's in his second year, and I continue to stick to the thinking that we will judge his successes or failures by his third year. If they go 8-8 this year, we are on pace. If they somehow miraculously make the playoffs, then Shanahan truly is a genius. But he won't be.
However, enough of my jaded cynicism to temper my momentary joy at beating a massively hobbled and still overrated division rival. Let's get into the positive and negative forces on this football team on this anniversary of the terrorists hating the freedom to think either Coke or Pepsi doesn't kill you...
EIGHTH DEGREE POSITIVE: NT CHRIS NEILD - Neild was a 7th-round draft pick out of West Virginia, who had to pass up his preferred #95 roster number because a veteran player already had it. The fact he ended up sporting the old Dave Butz #65 in only solidified what I had thought upon first checking into this dude - he is going to be this team's defensive Chris Cooley - meaning a goofy-assed dude who is impossible not to love. Sure enough, not only did Neild beat out Anthony Bryant for a roster spot (and the number 95, which he wore today), but even as a back-up to highly-touted free agent Barry Cofield, Neild showed and proved today with two sacks and just generally showing himself to be a greatly disruptive influence as a true NT in Jim Haslet's 3-4 defense. And really, this speaks greatly not only of the Neild himself, but of the draft this Redskins front office had this past year, where they actually got a lot of value out of all their draft picks. If you can take a 7th round pick and get you somebody who could potentially be a legitimate starter by the end of his rookie season, well that's something that hasn't really been a habit of Dan Snyder front offices. But if this young defense can really shapeshift into a stunner on a weekly basis as the weeks/months/years progress, I can see this dude being the dirtbag NT heart and soul of that defense, while the Brian Orakpos and Ryan Kerrigans get all the Pro Bowl trips.
SEVENTH DEGREE POSITIVE: TE FRED DAVIS - With Cooley's knee all swolled up, and it seeming more and more like he might end up having another of those dreaded trips to Dr. James Andrews down in Alabama, the Redskins needed Fred Davis to show up the beginning of this season. And show up did he ever. Dude was playing like Kellen Winslow the Elder out there today, and his previous penchant for coughing up footballs wasn't there, as he held tight, even through a couple of minor concussive hits. He looked good, and like he can be that punisher on pass plays that Cooley has always been. (Before anyone gets all wacky again, like they did last offseason, and somehow thinks Cooley is expendable or too old or something, it's usually not a bad idea to have a pair of great TEs, if you can afford them.)
SIXTH DEGREE POSITIVE: OLB RYAN KERRIGAN - Kerrigan seems to be getting this defense quickly, more so than Brian Orakpo did last year in the switch to standing up as an outside LB. Still, Orakpo is a monster, and Kerrigan seems to be more one of those stereotypical gritty players, with some good athleticism to boot. He got pushed around a good bit at the beginning of the game, but settled in, and the tip and INT for TD to start the second half really helped set the tone for that defense to puff out their feathers and feel good. It's as great a first round rookie debut as I can remember in the Snyder years.
FIFTH DEGREE POSITIVE: LB ROCKY MCINTOSH - When the Redskins passed on the retreads available to them and kept Rocky McIntosh, I have to admit I was not too excited. McIntosh never really developed into what he was supposed to be coming out of the U of Miami. But man, he was all over the place today, and actually looked a good bit like his mid-field mentor London Fletcher at times. Maybe a new contract and showing him he was still wanted here gave Rocky some comfort and confidence. Lord knows Sam Huff loves him. This was the best game I can remember McIntosh playing in a while.
FOURTH DEGREE POSITIVE: LB LONDON FLETCHER - Look, even if he doesn't have a highlight reel stop or sack or anything, Fletcher is going to be a positive for this team. There are very few on-field coaches of London Fletcher's caliber. In fact, probably the only other one was Peyton Manning, and he's out with a crookneck. Very fitting that London Fletcher now has the longest active continuous games started streak in the NFL after Peyton clocked out for the first time in a decade. About the best thing you could say for a player to show how much you think of them is to wish they finished out their career on your team; I hope London Fletcher is a fucking coach here the day he hangs up his cleats. I don't want that dude to ever leave.
THIRD DEGREE POSITIVE: WR SANTANA MOSS - I have bad-mouthed Santana and threw him under the bus when he had shady ties to that Canadian HGH doctor, but Santana just keeps proving you wrong. He's always a consistent presence on offense. He's not gonna have a gamebreaker player at his age, and he's going to over-celebrate every fucking meaningless first down he gets, which is annoying, even as a Redskins fan (probably because Art Monk is the high watermark at the position, and Art would never do vainglorious shit like that), but Moss gets his. It can't really be considered his fault the Redskins mostly ran with just him as a competent WR many seasons. This year though, looks to be different, and if Santana can continue to be Santana, it won't be as intolerable if it's part of a larger receiving corps, like it was today.
SECOND DEGREE POSITIVE: WR ANTHONY ARMSTRONG - Double A still shows some of the signs of a guy who played in arena football - dropping passes at times, making mistakes. But the dude is a blazer, and a true deep threat, and hard to not love the dude either, knowing his history as a football player. Every time they went deep to him, it got my adrenaline pumping, and I'm glad he got that TD. Oh man, that one pass that got knocked away at the 10 or so? That would've been immense had he caught that. I think that would've blown this game wide open.
FIRST DEGREE POSITIVE: CB DEANGELO HALL - Hall is never as good as he would have you believe, but I did not see him falling on his face as a Giants WR burned him down the sidelines for a TD, like sometimes can happen with #23. And he gave Manning a nice, painful shot when he got a clear line on him from a CB blitz. All in all, when the weakest part of this potentially wondrous defense is the secondary, and Hall is the leader by default of that secondary, if he can at least look competent and have a presence, then I'm gonna be happy with him.
STAY MEDIUM DEGREE: QB REX GROSSMAN - If you saw the highlight clips and stat lines, it may look like Rex Grossman has resurrected his career this weekend. But as someone who watched every down, let me tell you, there's a lot of the old Rex Grossman left inside the Rex Grossman who started at QB today. Aikman/Buck really pushed the angle of how this system limits Grossman's abilities to make mistakes, and said Grossman even said so himself. But if you have to limit the stupid mistakes your QB makes because he is stupid, well, that's not so good. My man Mavpa Van Cleef put it best when he said Grossman looks like a 15-year-old playing Madden, running backwards for 20 yards then mashing all the buttons at once. No starting NFL QB should lose 18 yards on a sack, like Grossman did today. And he flew some floaters up three or four times that are gonna make better secondaries salivate during film studies. Not to mention some of the high passes he was laying guys up with in the first half that would've gotten them knocked the fuck out, if the Giants had even half a Laron Landry lurking in their defensive backfield. That being said, he won today, so I can't outright hate the dude, though I do feel the whole John Beck/Rex Grossman QB battle was just a long con by the Shanahans to not have to admit they were going to start Grossman from the beginning, because people like me would've been like, "BOOOOOOOO!" about us ending last season with a questionable offensive line and a shitty QB, and not having done a damn thing to address that before this season.
FIRST DEGREE NEGATIVE: K GRAHAM GANO - Gano looked dialed in during the preaseson. First attempt today - just right, showing us that Gano is already in mid-season form. What the fuck man? Are there just no decent placekickers left in this world? Shouldn't there be a second generation of Zendejas kids coming up by now?
SECOND DEGREE NEGATIVE: S REED DOUGHTY - Reed Doughty is one of those guys who ends up coaching high school football and you read about him and they say he had a 9-year NFL career and you think to yourself, "Reed who?" Somehow, he practices well, and tries hard, and is legally deaf, and makes this team every year. And somehow, somebody gets injured (or sucks, if they are Adam Archuleta) and Reed Doughty gets on the field. And then Reed Doughty gets owned, regularly. He is quite simply not an NFL starter, not even due to injury nor illness nor having three other safeties arrested and suspended all at once. He's not an NFL starter. By all accounts, he's a chill dude, and a solid locker room presence, but he is not very good. You could make a highlight package of him having notable moments of suck (the end of the Texans game last year comes immediately to mind, where Andre Johnson and Doughty jump for the same pass, and it looks like Doughty jumped from four feet lower). Today, I was embarrassed for Doughty at times. He was manhandled at the line, and he was spun around or out of position multiple times, giving up long passes. Laron Landry is a dominator on defense, and I want him to be 100% so badly because he will fuck up some motherfuckers, but hell man, I'd be glad with him just standing around out there at half-speed than Reed Doughty playing. The dude is a straight up liability.
THIRD DEGREE NEGATIVE: OWNER DAN SNYDER - Things looked better today, and it seems Shanahan & Son are giving this team some needed direction. But make no mistake about it, Snyder lurks. As Redskins fans, we are like the poor villagers of a fairy tale kingdom, with an evil King who doesn't deserve the crown, who stole it from the previous King, with whom we'd known wonderful successes as a people. And even if our collective fortunes turn, we are still under the rein of this demented syphilitic-brained King of ours, and all it takes is one bright blast of his ridiculous incompetence, and all that had been built over the past couple of years will be unraveled. Seriously, there was a PR story in today's Washington Post about Snyder wanting to hire Shanahan that had tons of fingerprints of Snyder's PR guys all over it that really allows me to tell the full tale of what an evil and manipulative piece of shit owner Dan Snyder is - and the story was meant to be a positive one! Also, on the night before the season starts, Snyder dropped his defamation lawsuit against the Washington City Paper because various news outlets were going to report that Snyder never actually read the piece in question. A fucking first class piece of shit, self-important and delusional, and the most I can hope for is him not having a reason to start running people off and waving his little dick around to show how important he is and how much he only wants to win and what a true Redskin fan he is, not a stupid asshole businessman who has fucked up a once proud franchise with steady illogical meddling from the owner's box.
ACCUMULATED INFLUENCES UPON THIS FRANCHISE 2011, BEST TO WORST: NT Chris Neild (+8), TE Fred Davis (+7), OLB Ryan Kerrigan (+6), LB Rocky McIntosh (+5), LB London Fletcher (+4), WR Santana Moss (+3), WR Anthony Armstrong (+2), CB DeAngelo Hall (+1), QB Rex Grossman (even), K Graham Gano (-1), S Reed Doughty (-2), owner Dan Snyder (-3).