Friday, August 31, 2012
Washington Redskins 2012 Preview
Let me warn you, this will probably be long and painful, yet hopefully you will find entertainment in my misery. I’m mostly asking non-Redskins fans to read through and come along on this ride with me because it’s become painfully clear that Redskins fans themselves are the stupidest fucking people one earth. I bump into Redskins fans friends at the store and they are giddy about RGIII, and they say, “We’ve gotta have faith, man.” Fucking idiots, though I do understand the mentality, wherein one is constantly deceived and abused but cannot emotionally allow themselves to physically escape the situation, so they create justifications and denials to make themselves feel better. This is a common situation for the systematically abused, and is often seen in long-time sufferers of physical or sexual abuse.
I do not expect Redskins fans to start supporting what I do in the name of loving this team at Armchair Linebacker any time soon. My football metasciences are too fucking real for your average Redskin charlatan. Partially that is because of the meandering sprawl of suburbia, believe it or not, because there are few greater examples of the soulless wasteland effect of beautiful-for-business sprawl out from a city’s epicenter than northern Virginia and southern Maryland. It is a gross area for a country boy like myself who also thrives on the inner-city vibe. Suburbia is neither – it is basically a free market gone unchecked, where any means of travel is dependent upon wasteful energy practices, and as soon as there’s three summers’ worth of tarnish on a new store’s façade, a newer shinier one has opened up two miles further out. Thus the sprawl spirals out slowly from the original city itself, like the path of a turkey vulture in the grey sky. When one comes from such an environment – as many Redskins fans do – there is no need to accept the bitter reality of diminished returns. You just move further out to the newer thing. And ultimately that has been the Redskins team management approach towards success for the past 15 years – the New Thing approach.
THE OWNERSo by saying “Redskins team management approach” that of course brings us to the one and only Dan Snyder. Anybody who has read even half a paragraph of my Redskins writings over the years at this site knows how I feel about that guy. He can’t get enough cancer in my opinion. And I know that seems mean and snarky, and honestly maybe I’m being semi-dramatic to prove a point, but honestly I would be happy if he died. I can only think of like four human beings I feel that way about, and most all the other have committed some terrible personal affront upon me that caused me great physical or emotional distress in real life at some point. Of course, this should make me feel uncomfortable about my emotional attachment to a fucking football team, of which I have absolutely no control over, as the past 15 years have proven to me over and over and over and over. But I am a man, meaning human with a penis, and humans themselves are not very logical or self-protective creatures, much less those of us with the added hormonal chaos of having a penis. (By the way, I love my penis, immensely. Only mine though.)
But I don’t, so I am left to root for a football team controlled by Dan Snyder, who by all accounts is as wretched and terrible a human being in real life as he comes across to me as Random Redskin Fan from Rural Southside Virginia. But he owns the team, I do not, and he will be wealthy beyond reproach barring even horrible financial calamities, and I will probably die young due to poor genetics, bad living, and the added unnecessary stresses of shit like trying to convince myself the Redskins will win every Sunday, or at least remain competitive, or at least show promise, or whatever the next at least after that is because I’m still on the last legs of my “I hope they at least show some promise” stage of hopeless fandom.
THE BRAINTRUSTSo being I am basically a professional sports serf who has, by my birth, been forced to swear lifelong allegiance to a Redskins kingdom I have no control over whatsoever, all I can do is hope that my liege is a benevolent and wise one. That has not been the case, because my liege in Dan Snyder usually makes very quick, irrational decisions that most better-run sports teams would have hired somebody who knows what they’re doing to take care of. For the longest time we had the painful Vinny Cerrato era, where Snyder had this constant lapdog at his side, co-signing every decision with the unearned stamp of having had a hand in previous San Francisco 49ers success. And though he never made even more than a lucky handful of quality decisions in that position, Cerrato lasted forever with the Skins, until finally he was run off, so that Snyder could finally rebuild, under the guidance of Mike Shanahan and new GM Bruce Allen.
I have to say, I do not necessarily dislike Bruce Allen, at least not yet, but his NFL resume consists of stints at the Buccaneers, Raiders, and now the Redskins. You are talking about three of the more infamously inept franchises of recent memory, and in the Buccaneers case historically. Ultimately, perhaps snagging Bruce Allen away from the Raiders was Dan Snyder’s subconscious self-destructive attempt to make the Redskins as historically foolish as the Bucs are considered. Snyder has certainly laid the foundation for that to happen, and thus far Bruce Allen has not done anything that would make me think he’s some unheralded football genius. But after ugly stints with the Bucs, Raiders, and then Redskins, what’s next? Only thing I could think of is perhaps a GM job with the Jaguars as they spiral into complete irrelevancy. So for Bruce Allen really the only thing he can do is hold onto this money gig, which most likely means signing off on anything the crazy boss wants.
Also of note is Mike Shanahan is a pretty large influence on personnel decisions as well, befitting a man of his egotistic stature. I do know how I feel about Mike Shanahan – he is useless, overrated, and a horrible horrible head coach. He was horrible in Denver, which is why he was so quickly run off after post-Elway he couldn’t accomplish shit, and he has been horrible in Washington. Could not be worse. Jim Zorn was a QB coach who had never even offensively coordinated a game who accidentally became Redskins head coach, and Zorn outcoached Shanahan through two seasons, by record and by performance.
Oh wait, Shanahan’s rebuilding what Zorn broke, perhaps you are saying, if you are a retarded fucking dumb shit abused Redskins fan trying to convince yourself shit is better. Well, in your standard NFL rebuilding affair, the second season shows promise, and the third season is where the rebuild is done to a point you know the real deal. Three years is a pretty standard roster turnover timeframe. Last year, we were worse than the first year, and going into this year, all those things that were going to be rebuilt, like the offensive line and secondary and scoring threats, they’ve barely been taped off for demolition prep, much less actually rebuilt in any way. Shanahan’s rebuilding process thus far has basically been, “I will magically make marginal or unknown players great, because I am great. That’s all we need.” His first year here, the big free agent on offense was Donovan McNabb, whom the Redskins were lucky to trade away for a token late round draft pick last year. His second year, last year, our big new acquisition on offense was Tim Hightower. He got cut today. (Granted, Hightower tore his ACL, and by all accounts was a good dude, so I’m not dissing Tim Hightower at all. But he certainly didn’t do shit to make Mike Shanahan look like a genius.)
So we are in year three with the great savior of the Redskins and perhaps NFL itself in Robert Griffin III, whom the Redskins have given up multiple first round draft picks to get, and everything will be better. By Shanahan’s record in DC though, they won’t. But next year will roll around, and either Shanahan will be finally achieving his inherent greatness through RGIII, or Shanahan will be asked to resign by Snyder. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen, Mike Shanahan will not be the coach of the Redskins next year, because the only way Dan Snyder can give us fickle stupid Redskins fans a new the New Thing next year, without saying RGIII is a sham – which he won’t with the money invested in that line – is to give him a new head coach and say, “Now, we are doing it right.”
Honestly, it would not surprise me if Snyder has flow charts in his office that suggest such things, that say, “Redskins 2012, win 5 or less games, fire Shanahan and hire hot coordinator to take over (who wouldn’t want to come coach outstanding talent like RGIII and great team like our’s?). Redskins win 6, grey area, consult fan base and gauge reaction for keeping or jettisoning Shanahan. Redskins win 7 through 9, stick to current marketing plan for 2013, say plan is coming together.” And even in Dan Snyder’s office, there should be no plan for what happens if the Redskins win 10 games, because it’s not even possible. Even if every other team befell some horrible tragedy that stunted their potential to equal out with the Redskins natural retardation, it would be amazingly unlikely speaking purely from a statistical sense for the Redskins to win 10 of those encounters.
But, here we are, after a preseason remarkably like that one where Steve Spurrier was going to be the greatest NFL head coach in the history of NFL football, only to made to look a buffoon and fool once it actually counted, entering the 2012 Redskins season, with an evil king of an owner and a self-important, anus-mouthed head coach who has never done anything without a horse QB to enable him to do so. And judging from his Subway commercials, Robert Griffin III is no horse, more of a jaguar (perhaps professionally as well in a few years, once his star is tarnished) than a horse. But let’s look at these positional categories, why don’t we…
QUARTERBACKThe funniest thing about the Redskins drafting Robert Griffin III as their all-time latest and greatest savior at QB is that they also drafted Kirk Cousins as well. Now I don’t necessarily dislike that move, as when you have a proven track record of fucking up, you might as well increase your blind-squirrel-finding-a-nut odds of actually getting a good QB. And if they can shine well enough to get Rex Grossman off the roster, then I’m all for it. Because Rex Grossman should not be on a legitimate NFL roster in 2012. Which brings me to my biggest concern with this Redskins QB situation, that the same people who drafted both Griffin and Cousins also thought that Grossman and John Beck was a justifiable QB competition last year. Actual game play proved that to be one of the more lololtastic moves in recent NFL quarterbacking history. But much like his father, Kyle Shanahan swears he a genius, and can make a marginal player great, when in all likelihood, the Shanahan plan is better designed to make a great player look marginal. Unfortunately, we have perhaps the perfect storm in DC, with the much-heralded arrival of an obviously great player in Robert Griffin III. But he is one young man, and basically at this point no better than Jason Campbell or Patrick Ramsey before him. I know Redskins fans stammer and haw at that and say, “Are you crazy? Those guys were horrible. RGIII is the real deal, finally.” But I ask you, why were they horrible? Was it they lacked an athleticism or talent that RGIII has? If that’s the case, then why were they drafted? Was it the environment they came into, where Patrick Ramsey was sacked silly almost immediately, before he could ever learn to read an NFL defense, or where Jason Campbell had something like 19 offensive coordinators in 5 years? Because if it’s the environment, that hasn’t noticeably changed, thus you are putting a can’t miss talent into a probably-miss environment, and hoping somehow the talents of one very sharp, very focused young man can somehow overpower a deeply-ingrained, dysfunctional system of hundreds of men. That’s asking a lot of anybody, so even if RGIII is the new Joe Montana, being this is not the new San Francisco 49ers, he might still could only be mediocre in a W-L sense. But expecting him to be one of the all-time greats is fairly ridiculous itself. Thus, even if RGIII does exceptionally well, by normal NFL quarterback standards, the Redskins will be lucky to go 8-8, and extremely lucky at that.
There’s too many “however”s that go along with that exceptionally well scenario though, thus you might as well mark 8-8 off your Christmas wish list right now.
RECEIVERSShanahan seems to have the same intensity at proving his genius as a degenerate gambler down heavy in a game of poker, by just doing what he’s already done wrong to even more of an extent. One of the big gripes against the Skins offense was lack of a #1 receiver, somebody who could stretch the field out and break games open, as they were basically an odd collection of slot receivers and practice squad stars. So in the offseason, Shanahan goes out and doubles down on even more non-#1s, compiling one of the longest roster lists of very decent third receivers in one receiving corps that the NFL has seen. And I guess the plan is that one of them has to break out and be the #1 guy. Oddly enough, last year’s best receiving threat – TE Fred Davis – was the end result of that exact same line of thinking, used by Vinny Cerrato to draft Davis, and now-long-gone WRs Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas a few years back. So that thinking gave us Fred Davis, who we already had, and now we are using it again, with a bunch of free agent signings, and hopefully we get another Fred Davis-quality guy I guess. Again, Pierre Garcon seems like a chill dude, just like Tim Hightower, but he ain’t gonna make the Champ Baileys and Darrelle Revises of the world need an Ativan for restful sleep before Redskins games.
And Santana Moss, that old mangy dog of a receiver who just won’t go away, even though he’s not been able to do anything but that quick slant thing for 4-yards the past two seasons. I know Redskins fans like to go against their actual on-field success and pretend a guy like Santana Moss who has been with the team a long time is actually good because he’s been with the team a long time, but he’s not. Santana Moss would have been waived three years ago on a quality team.
And I guess this category is the best to speak of Chris Cooley aka Captain Chaos, who was a beloved player. Many Redskins fans expressed shock and dismay at Cooley’s release, though anyone with even half a lick of sense could see it coming. Cooley’s one of the greatest guys ever on this team, as a dude, and I will hold him dear on the same level as John Riggins and Dexter Manley, as a character. But he’s been hurt, and he’s been slow, and the NFL is not geared towards keeping around guys with little use, which is what he had become. In my heart, I wish the NFL wasn’t such a cold ass business, and there could be veteran exceptions written into the CBA for guys who had multiple years of service with the same team, so you could maybe write off half of a Chris Cooley’s salary from counting against the salary cap, and he could stay around longer. Guys like him are on every NFL team, and shockingly get cut every year, and it’s sad, and bums the fans out. It bummed me out to think Cooley was gone. Of course it also bummed me out that the only two good homegrown players of the Dan Snyder era are literally Chris Cooley and Sean Taylor, and one got murdered and the other is now essentially old and useless by NFL standards. Somehow, nobody ever thought to get more Sean Taylors and Chris Cooleys along the way. That kinda pisses me off.
RUNNING BACKSI don’t even know what to say. Shanahan is convinced he can take anybody and make them a quality RB in the NFL. And yet our best RB under him has still been the guy he ran off in Denver to prove that point in Clinton Portis. Yeah, in Shanahan’s three years, the best RB essentially has been Clinton Portis. Sure, Ryan Torain and Roy Helu and now Alfred Morris all have shown promise. But at this point, fifteen years deep into this Dan Snyder misery, I am here to tell you, fuck a promise.
OFFENSIVE LINEWell, here we go – the pinpoint example of how you do not build a successful NFL team. You do not ignore the offensive line completely through a number of drafts, only to pretend you are addressing it by drafting a highly-touted, highly-questionable talent in Trent Williams, who thus far has mostly just gotten suspended for weed and purchased a bunch of shit related to silverback gorillas, including diamond necklaces, paintings, and a giant tattoo. Essentially, Trent Williams has shown more loyalty to a shitty silverback gorilla image he probably got off a google image search than he ever will to the Redskins. When he’s out of the league at age 45 (or 35?), he’ll still be calling himself “The Silverback” but I doubt he’ll give a fuck about some Redskins. In fact, I would imagine by that point he’ll hate the Redskins, for having paid him millions to not be all that outstanding at blocking people.
The great thing about that previous paragraph is that is the lynchpin of our offensive line. He is the best part of it, allegedly. The rest is a hodgepodge of guys drafted that the team desperately hopes look good, so they can look good, and mixed and matched half-broken parts from other teams. I liked the idea of Chris Chester becoming a Redskin at first, but then the more I realize how broken and crippled and what damaged goods Jammal Brown has been, who came over in almost the exact same hyped free agent fashion, I’ve started to worry that something’s fucked up about Chris Chester.
And the even greater thing about those two previous paragraphs is that Robert Griffin III is supposed to be the great savior of our franchise, BUT THERE’S NOT SHIT IN FRONT OF HIM TO KEEP HIM FROM BEING CRIPPLED. Seriously, it pains me to say this, but you combine a shitty offensive line with a rookie QB, no matter how good, who does not have NFL eyeballs yet, and you’re asking for trouble. You are begging for it. Our football leadership on this Redskins team has basically looked to the football gods and said, “Fuck your offensive line. We are going for golden idols that sell jerseys, and we will somehow still be awesome at football.” I hate to put it into words, but I have a feeling the football gods will not take kindly to such thinking, and the RGIII era may end quickly in a terrible fit of football god karmic retribution, which is fancy talk for “they didn’t draft anybody to fucking block for the guy for the past ten years.”
DEFENSIVE LINEThe defensive line is one of the more satisfactory parts of the Redskins team, but yet there’s still reason to be like, “what the fuck?” Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen are two key ingredients in this D-line, and they are former Giants and Cowboys aka hated division rivals. Now I understand the NFL is a business and free agent talent moves all over, but usually you try to distance yourself from rivals, even in that context. Essentially the Redskins have become that guy who has such shitty luck with women that he’s just started dating some of the better girlfriends his buddies have left behind, and is trying to make good with that. Essentially, that sucks.
LINEBACKERSLondon Fletcher is a Football Hero, and fuck talking about how he should be in the Pro Bowl every year. Somebody needs to start having the conversation about him being in the Hall of Fame; and that’s coming from somebody who thinks they put too many half-assed dudes into the Hall of Fame. Fletcher deserves it, as much as Ray Lewis, and more than any other active LB in the game.
So with him, as well as Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, obviously this is our strong suit. We will have to see though in regards to Orakpo and Kerrigan. They’ve shown themselves not to be busts, that is true, but will they take that next step. Orakpo is Redskins-great, but is he NFL-great? Thus far, he’s been the most held guy in the history of the NFL it seems. Shouldn’t there be some sort of escalation of professional game though where you learn how to avoid getting held, or you become able to maneuver around the fact you are going to get held all the time? I would bet Lawrence Taylor got held a lot too, but that did not end up being what he was known for as a player. Thus far, Orakpo is known as a guy who gets held a lot. That’s not a complimentary end result; he’s got to get over that hump.
Hopefully the combo of him and Kerrigan can make that happen. Kerrigan showed flashes of being a Clay Matthews ala 2010 type defensive gamebreaker. He also showed a very Redskins penchant for being good I guess but nothing to write your grandchildren about. However, in the lowered standards of the Redskins kingdom of retardation, that can be enough to be one of our best players in recent memory. Hopefully there is some sort of inner-drive in Ryan Kerrigan that causes him to overcome that cultural impediment, and be actual NFL-great, and not just Redskins-great, which I am starting to fear is all Brian Orakpo will ever be, our defensive Chris Samuels, who is serviceable enough and has a long unstoried career, and we can pretend he was better than he really was for the next ten years.
SECONDARYIn a nutshell, our secondary is fucked. Our secondary is fucked on multiple levels. Level #1 – DeAngelo Hall. He was not so great last year to warrant being a #1 CB, and now he is a year older, a year slower, and somehow contrary to most of humankind’s natural inclinations, not a year wiser. He’s even been dabbling at safety this preseason (which led to some comically long pass plays against the Bears), which is usually not a solid sign for your secondary when your alleged top corner is also multi-tasking at safety. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. Josh Wilson is another nice guy free agent, but not necessarily going to make anybody look like a GM genius. He’d be a decent #2 if there was a great #1 to sugarcoat me swallowing him in that role, but he’d be a better nickelback. Beyond him, we have a pack of unproven dimebacks fighting to be the third corner.
Level #2 – Reed Doughty. How in the fucking fuck did Reed Doughty ever outlast both Sean Taylor and LaRon Landry as a Redskin? Doughty is the deaf white dude who constantly gets schooled on the field who replaced Sean Taylor post-murdering. What was that, like four years ago? Doughty also sucked it up as a replacement whenever Hercules Schwarzenegger aka LaRon ripped his Achilles or had muscles tear into pieces from overworking during late night R&B lift sessions. And now he’s a fucking starter again, going into the season. So four years ago, he was too shitty to be the starter, and nearly waived, and now four years later, somehow, after all this rebuilding and getting better and moving in a more positive direction, he’s the starter. And he hasn’t even gotten noticeably better to suggest this might be an okay idea. I cannot yell “FUCK” enough about this, about Reed Doughty, and about this secondary. LaRon is gone, but you know what our Achilles heel is? This secondary. Any time we face a good offense, they are going to have Madden in rookie mode field days on this defense. Luckily we open the season at the Saints and Drew Brees. Oh wait… Seriously, I would not be surprised if the Saints score 60 points in that game, coming into it with all the frustration of having their team castrated by Sheriff Goodell. That will be a consistent theme with these Skins, teams being able to run up some long scores on this secondary, and then the Redskins having to play from behind, which means less rushing and more passing, which is not Shanahan’s strong play, nor is it the best thing to be throwing a rookie QB into either.
SPECIAL TEAMSYou know why I hate the Redskins? Brandon Banks. He was good and exciting there two years ago, and I like everybody else fell in love with him. The Little Assassin, running back kicks like a motherfucker. But for whatever reason, and I have to believe this comes from Snyder, the Redskins as a team fall in love with players like a fan would, and they keep them around forever. It seems to be suggested by the internet that Brandon Banks is going to make the team this year, and I have no fucking clue why. The guy is too small to play on special teams coverage, and he has shown zero ability to be a halfway decent receiver. But they are keeping him around, to eat up a roster spot for a potentially developing player, so Banks can run kicks back. I mean, on one hand I get it, because other teams will probably be kicking the ball off to us a lot this year. But goddamn man, can’t you find like seven halfway decent return men who can also do something else, anything else, in every NFL draft ever? Potential project WRs or RBs or CBs who can get their cleats wet on the field by running back kicks in potentially exciting manners, while also learning a more valuable position. But nope, not with the Skins. This guy was good for five weeks in 2010, so he’ll be here until he’s so bitterly proven how terrible he can possibly be that there’s no reason to do anything but cut him. And then blame him for the whole affair.
As for kicking, Sav Rocca is an Australian rules football punter, so I will never have any gripes with him. At kicker, it was another Redskins year at kicker, where we’ve gone through more kickers than QBs in the past years – and we are always the team that comes up in that graphic that talks about “teams with most starting QBs over past 20 years”. That means we are fairly shifty at the K-spot. Graham Gano was our guy last year, and he could beautifully nail a 56-yarder or crushingly miss a 31-yarder, often within the same quarter of a football game. The Skins brought in veteran dude Neil Rackers to have an old-fashioned kicking contest this preseason. After three preseason games, the Skins cut Rackers, giving Gano the job, until the next day when they waived him as well and picked up Billy Cundiff fresh off the NFL’s scrap pile, having been similarly discarded from the Ravens. It took them about half a day to decide that the two guys they were bringing in to compete for the job were both worse than some other guy who got dropped from another team for being too inconsistent. We truly our rebuilding, but unfortunately with recycled parts discarded from other franchises, or new materials unwanted by anyone else.
In closing, I guess it is obvious I am not too excited about this season. Honestly I don’t even know why I care about the Redskins. I guess because I love football. Once you’ve invested so much emotional energy your entire life into one team, it feels chumpy and fake to switch allegiances because you give up that lifetime of history. But there’s no reason for me to feel good about being a Redskins fan, and there’s no reason to feel excited about this season. They have a 4th-place team’s schedule, so I guess there’s reason to believe they could go 6-10 if things break right, but honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised by total collapse and a 2-14 year. That would be great too, because we’d be competing for the top pick in next year’s draft, which would then go to the Rams, because of the whole Robert Griffin III deal. It just keeps getting better and better. Welcome to fall, where Sundays suck, because I am a Redskins fan.