Monday, September 19, 2011
Redskins 2-0 Positives/Negatives Metasciences Week 1 Recap
[Each and almost every week, I will metaphysically testify upon the positive and negative influences on my beloved Washington Redskins team, who I've known since childhood, as seen in their on-field - or television more realistically here - performance. As the year goes on, we shall have a metascientifical tabulation of who is the most valuable or biggest detriment to the future of this franchise.]
Well, the Redskins are 2-0, and the delusions will continue to gain steam, as they did this past week. I understood that though, as the win over the Giants was a game we usually lost in years past, and not only did we not lose it, but we went away with it in the end, so that we weren't biting our nails as Eli tossed a hail mary downfield as the clock expired. This week was more like last year's Redskins - when the offense dominates for the most part, field goals are the end result instead of touchdowns, and even some of those are botched or blocked. This was classic Redskins under Snyder on offense - should've won by a bunch but instead were less stuck with less than 4 points separation in either direction deep into the 4th quarter. Clock mismanagement at the end of the game allowed for a game-ending punt instead of literally running the clock out like you would've thought was happening when they were in kneel-down mode.
On defense though, this team is a pleasure to watch, even with a somewhat shoddy secondary at this point. I know with a 2-0 start, even though it was a pair of home games with a solid win over an injury-depleted division rival and a barely win against a fairly not-so-great cross-continent team, that PLAYOFFS talk is going to pipe up with Skins fans, especially when the last two times this team started 2-0, they went to the playoffs (both times during Gibbs 2.0 era). But let's remain focused here - if this team even sniffs the playoffs in December, that's a plus, because we shouldn't really be thinking such lofty things until next season. Sorry to be realistic here, but in the new NFL, this 2-0 start is not quite dynasty foundation material.
But enough with my caveats to my fellow Redskins fans who tend to be a quickly delusional bunch due to past successes (let's not forget that underneath all that evil, Dan Snyder is basically just a Redskins fan). Let's get into the positive and negative metaphysical effects felt on this franchise from individual entities this Arizona Cardinals game...
EIGHTH DEGREE POSITIVE: LB LONDON FLETCHER - There is no doubting the fact the defense is the strong side of this franchise at this point, the one closer to a finished product instead of a work in progress. And there is no fucking doubt when you watch any series with any notable momentum changing play that London Fletcher is the spark plug of this defense, an on-field coach who not only gets everything moving in the right direction physically, but spiritually as well. The dude is a monster, and a couple decades from now, when it is common NFL fan perspective to respect defensive MLBs in a similar vein as offensive QBs, Fletcher will be looked at as the prototypical type who helped start this trend. He may have just made his first Pro Bowl last year, by default, after 19 other guys dropped out, but if you watch football, you know he's a one-of-a-kind guy, and if the Hall of Fame puts stat-accumulators like Bruce Smith in there but overlooks a guy like London, then fuck a Hall of Fame. The Urlachers and Ray Lewises and hyped up HGHed dudes like that might get all the mainstream press, but if I'm looking at needing a big stop on a 3rd or 4th down, I want #59 spark plugging the middle of the field. And I was glad to see the old man get that INT to shut down that one drive, all jumping up and high-stepping like a 23-year-old. Fuck yeah.
SEVENTH DEGREE POSITIVE: LB BRIAN ORAKPO - I didn't really mention Rak last week, because at this point, his job is mostly to get held while someone else makes a sack. After Ryan Kerrigan's big rookie debut last week, looks like the Cardinals eased up on concentrating specifically on holding Orakpo, to spread their attention around, and even with a sprained ankle, Orakpo looked like the monster we all know and love, getting a couple of neck-snapping, soul-crushing hits on Kolb. Them other dudes might get through and make sacks, but if you've got somebody you want crushed because you are filled with an irrational inter-divisional hatred for them (like say, Tony Romo), there is nobody else you want keying in on them with about three free steps to build momentum than Brian Orakpo. And another great aspect about this dude is his ego-less play. He understands that if he's held every other play, that allows someone else to make a play, and he can do that without bitching. Just another reason to have a guy like London Fletcher on the team, because when you get a young beast like Orakpo on your roster and he's got a guy like that to help him steer him the right way. Orakpo seems like a good dude regardless, so I'm not taking anything away from him, but it's nice to have a demon beast defensive monster salivating adrenaline to kill QBs understand that he is a cog in a larger machine as well.
SIXTH DEGREE POSITIVE: TE FRED DAVIS - Big Fred made some weird Arizona Cardinals gonna lose song on his smart phone using some app, wore Peter Pan tights with his crazy ass whiteboy counterparts at TE, and then went out and had another big game on the field. He's quickly showing he can be the open field beast Chris Cooley is, but with an even more athletic grace. But most of all, he hasn't been dropping the ball like he did in previous years. He seems to be a more focused player this year thus far, and finally, after three years, Vinny Cerrato can feel good about one of his draft picks from that one draft he kept trying to convince us was going to be awesome.
FIFTH DEGREE POSITIVE: RB ROY HELU - Speaking of draft picks, second game of the season, and second week we have prominent performances by rookies. It's no hyperbole to say that after only two weeks, you have to say this was probably the best draft the Redskins have had in a decade. I mean, that's not saying a lot really, but it's a sign that perhaps just maybe shit is being done in a way that is synonymous with actually building a team, not putting marquee names on $180 jerseys.
Helu backed up Tim Hightower, who got a lot of hype time during the game for being a former Cardinal and running half-roughshod over his old teammates. But Helu is just a different type of runner. Whereas Hightower tends to work towards the corners, watching for a gap to open, or having the veteran presence to at least move forward to the line of scrimmage or for a minimal loss if absolutely nothing does develop, Helu has a burst that just takes off. He had a couple of nice jukes, but he also had that extra sense you always hopes for in a feature back where he instinctively wraps that second arm around the ball when he feels the presence of a defensive player in his peripheral vision. I was real hyped up on Helu in the preseason, because his dad is like a Tongan rugby hero or some shit, but also because Helu looked good, and his performance against the Cardinals did nothing to temper that excitement. I'm not one to really believe the Shanahan PR that he finds wonderful RBs in the scrap heap of other team's player evaluations, but I ain't gonna lie that Helu, as a 4th round draft pick, looks like he could help add another point in that column for Shanahan's curriculum vitae. Also, his last name is pronounced in that beneficial way that all us drunks can slowly moan his name in appreciation when he does something awesome, so it sounds like a "BOOOOOOO" but it's not at all. People love that shit.
FOURTH DEGREE POSITIVE: KR/PR BRANDON BANKS - He is a little dude that is fairly useless at this point in actual offensive packages, but when the Little Assassin is back there to catch a kick, you never count out a big return. How many years did we have Antwan Randle El or Santana Moss back there, busting off 23 yards sideways and around but only 4 yards forward returns? It's so fucking nice to have an actual Mr. Excitement on returns, who might bust it all the way, and probably will bring it back 20 yards if he finds a seam, and actually makes the special teams game special and not just an endless parade of fair catches and minimal returns.
THIRD DEGREE POSITIVE: P SAV ROCCA - Speaking of special teams, Sav Rocca is as special as they come, and the best bonafide knucklehead weird ass punter we've had since Matt Turk split town in a huff. I should just be honest and say I am always gonna love an Aussie rules player come to the NFL. Those dudes are tough as fuck. I watch them joints on my local PBS on Monday nights, and it's as concussive as the NFL, but without any pads.
That being said, beyond probably being a drunken misanthrope in real life, Sav Rocca is a pretty damn good punter, getting it inside the 20 yard line more times than not so far this season. He didn't get much action today, at least not the first half, and for whatever reason the clock was botched up at the end of the game in such a way that the Redskins may have been the first team in ever to do multiple kneel downs to run out the clock but not actually run out the clock. So Sav Rocca had to punt, and he booted it deep, and whoever that Cardinals dude was hit a gap and was off to the races, although there were Redskins closing in. But who should wrap him up, chest to chest, and take the dude down, but ol' #6 Sav Rocca. This was no pussy sideways flop to trip the dude up punter/kicker tackle. This was a straight up special teams wedgebuster special. Granted, Rocca is 6'5", 265 lbs, which puts him in LB territory anyways. But it ended the game, and gave my heart an extra patter of appreciation to see it was Rocca making the tackle, ahead of other Skins, like a special teams gunner on his own goddamned punt.
SECOND DEGREE POSITIVE: WR SANTANA MOSS - In recent years, my opinion of Santana soured because of the whole over-celebration of minimal successes thing. But with more of a cast around him, not only is Santana not so annoying, but he actually seems more beneficial to the team. That quick slant thing which last year and the year before it (and the year before that) was So Fucking Stupid because they did it too many times every game, it actually seems smart now, as he's not the only receiver on offense. It doesn't hurt my opinion of him either that he's doing his little ball spin 1st down celebration a whole lot more than what he had been doing in recent years, which was over-exaggeratedly complaining about lack of flags for pass interferences. I guess that's what happens when you have more than one receiver on a team though.
FIRST DEGREE POSITIVE: CB JOSH WILSON - For all the hype Tim Hightower got during this game, there was not much about Josh Wilson, who was also a pretty decent free agent who came in here, and had strong local ties. Wilson is a good second CB, and after seeing the highlight of a potential interception actually bouncing off of Carlos Rogers' head in the Cowboys/49ers game, it reminded me of how Butterfingers treated us during his tenure here, and how Wilson is able to actually catch a football if it comes his way. Today though he was mostly notable for getting his spinal cord twisted the wrong way, and lying in a crumpled heap while other players did that one knee prayer thing, and the cart was called out. Except Josh Wilson got up and walked to the sidelines, stiff as fuck, grimacing as he swallowed the pain, all the way off to the locker room. I know dudes are supposed to not be too tough, and not cause further damage to themselves by ignoring what might have happened, but when you are trying to build a tough as nails defense, which is what the Skins are doing, to have a veteran player refuse the cart and hobble his half-crippled ass to the locker room, that's setting the example to follow right there. Much different than Albert Haynesworth staring at the grass while Michael Vick waited to find an open receiver last year. I do hope Wilson ain't out long though, because if there's one thing on this team that makes me really nervous that's not named Rex Grossman, it's the secondary.
STAY MEDIUM DEGREE: QB REX GROSSMAN - I don't know, as much as the Sex Cannon has been competent, it's hard for me to even really think of him as a Redskin yet. Seriously. That second INT he threw was just an errant tip gone the wrong way, so I can't hold that against him, but that first one he threw, down in the red zone to start the game, was classic stereotypical Rex Grossman - having too long to look around, wanting to force something, and squeezing it where it won't squeeze, resulting in a turnover. To his credit, he settled down and didn't repeat that, even on a 3rd and goal when he normally would have, settling for a field goal instead of a turnover. Grossman scares me because he is still Rex Grossman. Sure they've polished him up, and are telling me he's a veteran dude with a different attitude, and is working a system this is guaranteed to work (which always reminds me of those dudes that want me to send them $140 to learn how they made millions, and SO CAN I!!!), but wasn't it the same veteran dude with a different attitude who knew this system inside and out that coughed up that icon-making fumble to Ndakumong Suh last year? We will see. But nobody has really gotten at Grossman enough to rough him up and rattle him. We won't know we're really looking at with our B-level QB controversy until the Sex Cannon takes a couple of hard shots of his own.
FIRST DEGREE NEGATIVE: K GRAHAM GANO - Gano is somehow like a young Rex Grossman kicker, except there's no negative history with another team for me to fall back on. I really want to believe in Gano, and he had a great preseason, but every time he comes out to kick a field goal, regardless of how close or far it is, I am anxiously worried about whether it'll make it through the uprights. So when something gets blocked (like it did this week) or shanks left (like last week), it doesn't surprise me, and only validates my worries. Ideally, you'd like to feel good once your team crosses like the 30-yard line or something that you know you're good for 3 points. I don't have that feeling yet (though Gano did help my fantasy team out nicely with 10 points this week... stupid fantasy football).
SECOND DEGREE NEGATIVE: CB DEANGELO HALL - Hall is not the me-first dude he once had a reputation for, and he's certainly improved his open-field tackling since being with the Redskins (as the Fox commentating team said like 39 times), but he's still not as good as he thinks he is, and certainly not a shut-down corner. Shut-down corners don't give up 73-yard 4th quarter TDs to the guy they're supposed to be shutting down. I would feel much better if Hall wasn't so prominently counted on in this secondary, because much like Michael Vick with the Eagles, it feels like something that will let you down inevitably. Maybe Larry Fitzgerald's 73-yard TD got part of that out of his system, but I doubt it.
THIRD DEGREE NEGATIVE: OWNER DAN SNYDER - Stupid fucking solar panels, to brag about how green he is in press releases before this game. Dan Snyder does nothing for no reason. He can't be all over the place on purpose like he used to be, because he's supposed to be a hands-off owner now, so he does 37 interviews about a couple of token solar panels installed in the parking lot at FedEx, to try and discreetly drive home the front office talking point that he's not a meddling owner, and all he really wants to do is win. Guess what, fuckface? Every NFL owner only wants to win. They just have differing philosophies on how to achieve that, some of them slightly delusional, some of them downright wrong-minded. Thus far in his tenure as beloved Kim Jong-Il of the Washington Redskins, the verdict is out as to whether Snyder is simply often misguided or outright delusional, but as long as he is owner of this team, even more so than Graham Gano or Rex Grossman does, I will not feel comfortable about anything good that happens. Because if things start going good, Snyder's going to want to show he can play with his toy because he owns it, and he'll break something in the process.
ACCUMULATED INFLUENCES UPON THIS FRANCHISE 2011, BEST TO WORST: TE Fred Davis (+13), LB London Fletcher (+12), NT Chris Neild (+8), LB Brian Orakpo (+7), OLB Ryan Kerrigan (+6), RB Roy Helu (+5), WR Santana Moss (+5), LB Rocky McIntosh (+5), KR/PR Brandon Banks (+4), P Sav Rocca (+3), WR Anthony Armstrong (+2), CB Josh Wilson (+1), QB Rex Grossman (even), CB DeAngelo Hall (-1), K Graham Gano (-2), S Reed Doughty (-2), owner Dan Snyder (-6).