Dan Snyder has caused me to make wild claims that I would switch team allegiances, out of frustration. And yet today, like every first game of the season, I sat down to watch the Redskins and thought of my father – dead for eight years – and my grandfather – gone for five – and opened a beer, even though I am two years sober (from alcohol at least), and set it out for the spirit of my father and grandfather, as I became a Redskins fan from them both, the grandfather from my maternal side, and my father deeply polluting my bloodline and DNA for the entirety of my life. I come by this Redskins allegiance not out of choice or love for a jersey or player, but by birth. I most likely will never afford even an obstructed view season ticket, much less a box suite, and have never once sat inside the two stadiums they have called home in my life for a football game, and yet I am sworn to these Redskins, regardless of all that goes wrong.Dan Snyder has been a tough liege lord to passively stand beneath and support this team I love without question. It seems the organization works against itself for the most part, and has for the better part of my adult life. And yet a moment like today happens where all that frustration and griping and preparing for the worst but hoping for the best pays off in the sheer delirium of joy, though it was soberly tempered with The Fear that is so often mentioned around these parts. Drew Brees is a spirit slayer, and he danced with that legend again today, but in the end, regardless of Lord Goodell decapitating this Saints team in the off-season, the Redskins scored an amazing and unexpected upset. Even me, who had drank deeply of the Kool-Aid in recent days, hyping myself as is usual for an NFL fan into fits of insanity where the impossible seems probable, where the Redskins win the division and host playoff games and destroy reality, even in that fit of nonsense dreaming did I imagine I’d see 40 points on a scoreboard, much less a somewhat all-around dominant victory over a football team, that although decapitated, is considered a Super Bowl contender, and on the road no less. It was glorious.
I awoke around 8, sleeping in for me, and put a half shank of my pig named Pagan that was slaughtered by Blackburn the butcher from Buckingham County into the oven for slow roasting throughout the day, to peel from the bone and put inside in barbecue sauces at dinner. I made up some homemade close slaw, pissed I forgot to get some radishes for it, so fleshed out that missing ingredient with half a head of cauliflower, and put the slaw in the fridge to chill, and left the half shank to roast, and cut on a football game, hoping for something good, but unprepared for what would happen next. So let us do the positives/negatives metasciences thing, shall we?
8TH DEGREE POSITIVE: QB ROBERT GRIFFIN III – It is easy to get worried that nothing ever delivers as a Redskins fan, and the over-exposure to RG3 in the form of 37 commercials certainly bothers an anti-media curmudgeon like myself. And the dude does have an infectious smile and positive attitude like only a brainwashed Christian could have, but man, no way I expected what happened today. I mean, for the sake of sobriety, let’s remind ourselves that the Saints defense was not all that great even before the Goodell suspensions (which were undone late last week by the way). But still, RG3 was “made his first 9 passes” good, including an 88-yard TD pass to start their second drive. He was calm as fuck, and did not go to the run even when it was there. Seriously, there was a time he fumbled a snap in the back field, and picked it up, looked down field, and got tackled for a two-yard loss. Most QBs, that would have been a turnover, but he not only recovered but scanned for the down field strike. There were a number of plays where he performed better than anybody I’ve seen in a Redskins jersey at QB in years. And I know this will sound like grandiose hyperbole, but #10 was the best Redskins QB I’ve seen in 20 years today. That says as much about how shitty this team has been as it does make a compliment in RG3’s general direction. Still though, this was a team that didn’t hit 30 points all last season, and they put up 40 today. Regardless of how bad the Saints defense might or might not be, that’s impressive. He gives this team hope, and he gives me hope, even though I was cringing in expected tragedy at the end of the game. And sure, it might come all undone next week or the week after, but for now, I am more excited than I’ve ever been in a while, all despite our horrible liege Lord Snyder. Perhaps RG3 can be the noble spirit warrior that allows us poor Redskins common folk to better tolerate Lord Snyder’s evil reign until he dies or sells off the team.
7TH DEGREE POSITIVE: S DEJON GOMES – Even more than offensive line, my biggest concern going into this season was a lackluster secondary, at all four positions. Then even amongst the lackluster safeties, one got suspended and another got injured, and we were left with even a second-tier of lackluster, to go up against the great Drew Brees. But the secondary played big. Even more important, second year man DeJon Gomes came up huge, multiple times over, so much so that when he was shook up at one point in the game I thought to myself, “Perfect.” But after this one solidly consistent performance, I would say I prefer Gomes to LaRon Landry. Sure, there were no bone-crushing hits, but there were also no lapses in attention or blown coverages or flaunting a bone-crushing hit that was a 12-yard run for a first down. There was just solid football playing. I mean seriously, we are talking about Drew Brees and the Saints offense, and a secondary full of guys nobody’s heard of and DeAngelo Hall, and sure they gave up 32 points, but one was a TD off a blocked punt, and the Saints averaged more than that last year. If this piecemeal secondary can have a guy like Gomes step the fuck up, and them even play good enough to hold the strong offenses of the NFL to below their inflated averages.
6TH DEGREE POSITIVE: CB CEDRIC GRIFFIN – I was looking at the roster the other day, and there was like four dudes I didn’t know shit about. Griffin was one of these guys. He had a huge fumble causation in the first half though that turned around a possible gap-closing score by the Saints and gave the Skins the ball on a fumble out the end zone touchback. He also had a couple of big pass defenses as well. Basically, as I was pretty shook about the possibility of a DeAngelo Hall/Josh Wilson CB tandem, he calmed me down, and made me think, “Wow, there’s some players here, who can perhaps play some football.” Have I become a Dan Snyder, only knowing the famous names, not respecting the unknown unheralded any more? I guess we all take on the characteristics of our Lords over time.
5TH DEGREE POSITIVE: WR PIERRE GARCON – I did not like this signing, even if Garcon is my kind of a guy – played college ball at Mount Union, a Division III powerhouse. But he was still a free agent signing, perhaps at an inflated Dan Snyder rate, and I was doing the Rodney Dangerfield tugging at my collar thing about it all summer. And yet, there he was, snagging an 88-yard TD reception that was the most greatest play I remember seeing since the infamous 4th quarter Brunell to Santana Moss TD passes against the Cowboys 37 years ago. Garcon seemed to get hurted, and he disappeared from the game, and the second-year kid Aldrick Robinson made some big plays as well. But Griffin III to Garcon from preseason through today seemed to have some jazz to it, and both of these are dudes you can feel good about liking and pulling for. Fuck man, I almost feel uncomfortable glowing like this about a Redskins team, that’s how bad it’s been.
4TH DEGREE POSITIVE: RB ALFRED MORRIS – The unknown dude surpassed last year’s unknown dudes and Tim Hightower to be the opening day starter, in the same jersey number (46) as last year’s former starter in Ryan Torain. Morris was awesome. I mean he didn’t break through holes at any breakneck pace and tear off 27-yard gains. But he was a bruiser, and he churned until the defense drove him into the turf. Second effort by Morris gave the Skins at least one huge first down and a big TD as well. The kid showed the heart of a Spirit Warrior today, and it only helps feed that energy that he played on an unknown college team in Florida International or Florida Atlantic or something like that, who went 1-11 last year. It is one game, and I am no fool, I will not erect statues in his honor. But the different chemical ingredients needed to achieve Spirit Warrior status are there, so we shall see if they percolate together correctly. (Also, shut the fuck up about “Mike Shanahan drafted Terrell Davis in the 6th round one year” already. In fact, the Kenny Albert, Moose Johnston, Goose Siragusa commentating team is painful to endure.)
4TH DEGREE POSITIVE ADDENDUM: LS NICK SUNDBERG – So the Redskins blown punt where the Saints scored a TD, apparently long snapper Nick Sundberg broke his arm on the play. This is also why in the 2nd half there was that bad snap that caused Sav Rocca to flashback to his Aussie Football days and do the running side dropkick thing, because Sundberg insisted on finishing the game, and long snapped on two more punts and four kicking attempts WITH A BROKEN FUCKING ARM. That is fucking boss right there.
3RD DEGREE POSITIVE: TE LOGAN PAULSEN – Paulsen only had one big play, but it was the biggest perhaps, as it extended the running down of time in the 4th quarter. But more than that, Paulsen is the longhaired, bearded, weirdo freak dude who had been playing behind Chris Cooley and Fred Davis at TE the past two years. I love Paulsen, and have, and when a guy like Cooley gets waived, the fans get upset. But a good football team should have a new Cooley ready to go every two to three years. This is not to say that Logan Paulsen is Chris Cooley, because Cooley is a one-of-a-kind guy, but Logan Paulsen is a slow, goofy, but big and tough and try harder mentality makes him the type of dude who should fill a roster out from positions 31 to 53. Paulsen will keep us entertained, and if Fred Davis disappears like he did today throughout the season, we’re gonna need it.
2ND DEGREE POSITIVE: LB BRIAN ORAKPO – Man, I love Orakpo, but there always seems to be an “almost” quality to him, where he almost got at the QB or almost intercepted a ball (like today) or almost did this or that. I was contemplating putting him in the even degree position during the game, but on that next-to-last goal line drive by the Saints, he got his hands up and knocked away two passes in a row. He’s a great talent, and hopefully will turn a corner and become dominant this year. But goddamn, those Geico commercials are terrible, and the one they were running today looked like a high school video club filmed it, in their high school locker room.
1ST DEGREE POSITIVE: K BILLY CUNDIFF – Cundiff is sketchy and unpredictable, but he was playing in a dome today, so he played as a kicker should in such consistent environments – nailed all his field goals, and consistently put kickoffs through the end zone to keep Darren Sproles from putting a dagger in our hearts. I am afraid that perhaps our kicking dilemmas will not be over with this Billy Cundiff he of Baltimore Ravens epic failure, but for this week at least, our kicking game was okay. And when you are fending off the relentlessness of Drew Brees, all those kicks became important, because they helped squeeze the life out of the Saints.
EVEN DEGREE: KR/WR BRANDON BANKS – Banks is going to break your heart, that is all there is to it. He will still show those flashes of the Little Assassin we Skins fans fell in love with a couple years back, but damn man, fumbling punts or running sideways and backwards for no gain on any return whatsoever, all of that is unacceptable, and it becomes a steady “risk/reward” conversation with regards to Banks. Is the risk he brings every play worth the reward he sometimes brings? Is the risk of carrying a guy on the roster who is questionable as a WR and doesn’t play special teams other than as a returner worth the reward of having his sometimes explosiveness as a returner? I am not sure. All through the preseason I was asking myself this question, and he has done nothing to make me confident he should still be here, nor confident I’d be content with him disappearing tomorrow. So we will have to see what happens with the Little Assassin.
1ST DEGREE NEGATIVE: S MADIEU WILLIAMS – Just as DeJon Gomes seemed to be around when good things were happening, there were a number of times when stupid crap happened, and more often than not, Madieu Williams was back there at those moments. He is part of our influx of new defensive backs that I’m not entirely sure of who they are and what they’re about at this point, but Williams certainly made himself no fans by today’s performance. Plus, his name makes me think he stars in movies where black guys dress up as fat grandmas.
2ND DEGREE NEGATIVE: WR SANTANA MOSS – Moss was surprisingly non-existent today. He did nothing terrible, but I put him here because today was also a changing of philosophy. There is no more, “We are better than this” after a crushing loss. There is only what you do during the game. And today they did it. No one needs to ask, “Are you worse than what you played today?” or “How does this reflect on this team?” It is very obvious how this reflects on this team. Santana Moss is part of a star-studded past in the Redskins locker room that always thought more of themselves than they actually were. And I bring this up because next week the lowly Rams host the Redskins. But these Skins are considered by many lowly themselves. They are no superior force that can take anything for granted. They need to have that mentality, and prove it week after week. The old ways of the Redskins need to be literally removed from this team. I am not sure Santana Moss is part of this new philosophy, as he has been a pretty solid example of that old philosophy. And the fact he is buried on the depth chart will test his ego and see if he can be a positive influence on things from that lowered position on the totem pole, or if he will be right there, mucking shit up in the weeks to come.
3RD DEGREE NEGATIVE: OC KYLE SHANAHAN – There was still some game management issues, especially at the end of the second half when the Redskins needlessly allowed the Saints a chance for an extra possession. But more than that, Kyle Shanahan still looks in over his head at times. He does not command respect on the sidelines. And his boy Rex Grossman was deemed inactive for this game, leaving the Skins with RG3 and fellow rookie Kirk Cousins as their QBs of action. If you are going to go with rookies, why even keep a Rex Grossman on the roster when you could’ve kept somebody else, at offensive line or in the secondary? It’s not like any other team is going to come gobble up Rex Grossman when you cut him; this will be his last stop, that is certain. I am not sold on these Shanahans at all, especially the younger one, and honestly I’m not sure I ever will be, even if they win Super Bowls in D.C. Ultimately, I know I do not believe at all in our evil Lord Snyder, and I doubt seriously the self-important greatness of Mike and Kyle Shanahan, though Mike at least has the resume I can allow him quiet tolerance when things go well. But RG3 has won my allegiance and my hopes as a common folk of Redskins worship by birth, and I am hopeful he can at least allow me to tolerate these devils and demented snakes, and make Sundays fun again. I am already excited about next week. Excited as fuck, in fact.