always so red-faced and angry, rarely so genius-y
The past week, after RG3 hit the NFL, was an immediate hit of euphoria, then being the discriminating Redskins fan I am, an almost nearly as immediate sense of psychic hangover, because I know Redskins fans. Sure enough, there they were all week long, talking playoff possibilities, saying RG3 was the best Redskins QB since Sammy Baugh (which may or may not actually be true, which is pretty sad for Redskins history), and talking up how great beating the Rams would be. And to be fair, the Rams are a broken team, although Jeff Fisher knows this, so normally, against an actual good quality football team, they should be a relatively obtainable check in the W-column.
But there has been nothing in recent memory that makes the Redskins feel any game should be an easy win. None. And that whole, “We’re better than this,” mentality we’ve heard so much over the years seems to have sunk down from ownership to players and into the fanbase, who after one win against a fairly beheaded football team in the New Orleans Saints, felt this was finally the realization of something in Redskinsland.
But even more relevant was this Rams being broken in their own fanbase’s eyes, after that devastating loss last weekend to the Lions at the end of the game, and this disgruntled fanbase is not entirely sold on Sam Bradford, who after three years in the NFL, still looks relatively mediocre, which you normally don’t throw a first overall pick after. And even with the crazy trade the Redskins made with the Rams, there were those who felt perhaps the Rams should have drafted RG3 instead, and not been tempted by all those picks. Had the Redskins came into St. Louis today, and RG3 looked awesome, and Sam Bradford looked shaky, essentially the Redskins would have made a psychic sacrifice of Sam Bradford, and the fans would have turned, and this game could have been a very ugly romp by the Redskins. It was there for the taking. But this Redskins team is not yet the type of team who puts a stake into the heart of an opponent. They didn’t do it last week against the Saints, leaving the ending up in the air until the very final minute of the 4th quarter. And they didn’t kill off the Rams this week.
To put it in perspective, this being a late game gave me time to do a dumpster dive this morning, and feed my chicken flock some fresh salad greens and cantaloupes. Most of my flock had been decimated by a fox, who we heard screeching that weird trapped fox soul yelp last night when sleeping as a family in the back yard, so I bought ten new ones from a chill ass dude down near where I grew up, and am still getting to know these new birds. But today I noticed one of my previous remaining birds, one of my Rhode Island reds, she was sickly. She had no run in her when I came in the coop, so I could snatch her without chase, and she didn’t seem to give a fuck about the bowl of bad apple sauce I set in the pen for them all. I usually check a chicken like they do in chicken fights, holding the chicken upright, so they react to your handling, then tossing them down on their feet to see how they land and how quickly they move. This red had no move in her, and it was all she could do to get stand on her legs after being tossed down. So I knew I’d have to check her after the game. My wife went out to shut them in though, as the game went until twilight, and I asked her about the red, and she said that one chicken wouldn’t go in the coop and was just sitting there. She was dying.
I went out after the game was over, grabbed my hatchet from the shed, and went to shut in the chickens. There was the one red, sitting outside the coop, no fight left in her. I carried her back in the woods where I do this type of business, back towards the east closer to my one neighbor’s land as opposed to back deep and to the west where we have a bunch of walking paths worn into the woods. There’s a spot back towards the east where three trees fell across each other, and it’s near here where I’ve tossed dead chickens before, as an offering to the foxes and coyotes that run the woods at night. I’ve crossed paths with the coyotes before, trapping one of them along a path as he came across my yard, and he turned and we faced off, about twenty feet apart, staring at each other. He did not break his stare, but I did, because in my brain I thought, “Holy fuck, that’s a coyote. I didn’t know we had coyotes in Virginia.” And I turned and started to walk back to the house, adrenaline pumping. I was afraid.
Anyways, I took my sickly chicken back in the woods, laid it out across the fallen trees, and sad to say this has gotten easier for me over the years, but I said a quick thanks to the chicken, for all the eggs she had laid, and swung the hatchet at her neck, stretched out by leaning on her head with the toe of my shoe. The blood trickled off the tree, she shook a little but not your normal chicken freak out from a healthy one, which will toss and turn like a maniac even if you make a clean cut of the head with your hatchet, and I just held the girl down until she stopped moving. Then I laid her out in the woods for the foxes or coyotes or whoever.
It’s a shitty job, but it also had to be done. This was a chicken that was dying. There was no fixing her, and you don’t take a fucking chicken to the vet. She had to die, because she was going to anyways, so my swing of the hatchet made that slow transition final. Believe me, country living is a pain in the ass sometimes, when you have to chop the head off an animal, or take a pig to the butcher, or something like that. But it has to be done.
And yet, think of the coyote. He does not wait for the weak or dying. The coyote goes into a pen full of vibrant, healthy chickens, and will pick off whichever one or two or more is slowest or caught sleeping, and gladly suck the blood from the bird while its heart still pumps. The coyote does not give a fuck about anything else but coyote, and kills whatever it needs to kill to keep coyote being a solid coyote.
These Redskins came into a game with a limp, dying Rams team that it could have took the hatchet to, and tossed Sam Bradford into Alex Smith pre-2011 territory, and pulled the hope out of this Rams team’s future. But they didn’t. The Rams dominated the game much more than the scoreboard would suggest, and Sam Bradford hung tough, with his sketchy ass Cherokee-eyed self, and they won their first home opener in five years.
But I will say this – normally this is a game the Redskins lose because they think too highly of themselves. They lost this game today fighting. They didn’t look very good at times, and the officiating in this game was about the best argument for getting the real NFL refs back that I think you could make, but they were still fighting all the way to the end of the game. That is somewhat unlike Redskins teams of the previous fifteen years. So that gives me hope.
Still though, both these franchise, who will be tied together in the public consciousness by the trade that brought RG3 to DC, are not coyote teams, and not even close. They both can improve, and get themselves to high mediocre land, where they can get wild card berths to the playoffs and contend for division titles in years where no better franchise is around, but neither is equipped – physically or psychologically – to be a coyote of the NFL, who stakes the heart of other teams, and takes NFL titles when they are laying there for the taking. And yet, I can’t get all negative about this team when they are 1-1 after a pair of road games to start the season, as I did not expect much from this Redskins team, recent history considered. Even in losing, they seem to be better than I expected them to be this year.
6TH DEGREE POSITIVE: LB LONDON FLETCHER – I expected there to be an interesting dynamic at LB in this game, as the Rams now have Redskins castoff Rocky McIntosh, and of course London Fletcher first made it into the NFL on the Rams team back in the late ‘90s, even winning a Super Bowl while in St. Louis. Fletcher had a relatively quiet game to start with, getting a cheap and not appropriate unnecessary roughness call. But London Fletcher will be London Fletcher, and it was nice to hear that idiot Tim Ryan, as well as Jeff Fisher, gloss Fletcher with accolades, saying that sure the league loves Brian Urlacher and Ray Lewis and both are Hall of Fame-bound, but London Fletcher is just as good, both now and in the all-time sense. And sure enough, after a cheap shot on Fletcher did not draw a flag towards the end of the game, Fletcher immediately responds by stripping a fumble loose and giving the Redskins a shot at winning this game in the 4th quarter. There is no better MLB in the NFL than London Fletcher, and I don’t give a fuck if anybody believes that or not. This team, as lackluster as it has been, would have been a couple games worse every season the past five, six, seven seasons without #59 out there.
5TH DEGREE POSITIVE: QB ROBERT GRIFFIN III – RG3 gave no reason to make the SI-cover this week, and he had some highlight reel plays, but he also looked very much like a rookie QB at times. But the thing is, he looked like a really good rookie QB, even when he looked like a rookie. You can’t rightfully expect a first-year QB to be amazing and win every week right out the gate. But RG3 gives me a lot of hope, because he doesn’t just seem good athletically, but he seems like he actually wants to be better, including mentally. Maybe I’m just selling myself on the trade that sent three first round picks to these very Rams, but even in his mistakes, I can’t find a single reason to dislike what I’ve seen in RG3, considering this was his second NFL game. He will only get better. I hope the Redskins braintrust does not fall into the self-destructive trend of running him too much. There were a lot of designed run plays mixed in today, and while I want to use RG3’s speed, I also want him to be able to throw long TD passes for years to come. He had a nice bomb to Leonard Hankerson which was a double fake handoff, then a bomb, that – no lie – I felt like was the best big play I’d seen in a decade. It brought to mind Theismann to Joe Washington, toss back to QB flea flicker big bomb to Charlie Brown. That was a long fucking time ago, but that’s what RG3 made me think of today. And he had another huge bomb to Aldrick Robinson that Robinson couldn’t hold onto. And Pierre Garcon, who has built up the best rapport with RG3, was inactive today. So all in all, not a goddamn complaint in the world could I make upon RG3’s name.
Also, Sam Bradford gave himself some leeway, because he was about to become Patrick Ramsey today if he lost. His eyes creep me the fuck out, and I have to remind myself he's like one-quarter Indian or something. I wonder if he was motivated to beat the Redskins to honor his ancestors? That would be pretty chill if he was.
4TH DEGREE POSITIVE: RB ALFRED MORRIS – Ditto Alfred Morris, also a rookie. I’m a little sick of hearing the “drafted in the 6th round, and perhaps you’ll remember another RB Mike Shanahan drafted in the 6th round, named Terrell Davis,” already, but Morris is tough. He’s also quick when there’s an opening. We haven’t had a runner who had both those talents in a while. We’ve had tough guys who could bruise, and we’ve had quick guys who could burst, but to do both has not been in a Redskins jersey since Clinton Portis’s prime. I haven’t seen anything that makes me think we have a secret Barry Sanders or some shit on our hands (and you don’t want some shit on your hands, trust me), but this Alfred Morris of the Florida Atlantic Owls seems to be a very serviceable NFL RB. I am good with serviceable NFL players at this point, in the hopes we may eventually have 53 of them at once.
3RD DEGREE POSITIVE: WR ALDRICK ROBINSON – We had the Devin Thomas/Malcolm Kelly failure. And then Leonard Hankerson was a guy who “fell” to us in the draft who is supposed to have a breakout year this year, perhaps. But let me tell you, Aldrick Robinson might be the gamebreaker we’ve needed for a long minute. From what I’ve seen of him thus far this year, I feel really good about this kid and Pierre Garcon working as our 1/2. Again, it’s not exactly Super Bowl material, but it’s a huge upgrade from any 1/2 at WR we’ve had for the past however many years. And it keeps Santana Moss off the field hopefully.
2ND DEGREE POSITIVE: S DEJON GOMES – I happened to switch to the Jets/Steelers game during a commercial, just in time to see LaRon Landry get a penalty. And before the game today, I had to run to the store for my wife, wearing my black Sean Taylor jersey, and the Redskins pre-game show on AM radio was reminiscing on Sean Taylor’s rookie season as part of their 20 Greatest Rookies theme for this year, and hearing the recollection of Taylor’s scooping up TDs, and getting injured and being at home that Thanksgiving weekend to try and fight off armed intruders with a samurai sword (Spirit Warrior to the fucking end was that Sean Taylor), it honestly brought a tear to my eye. And yet how fucking unfair it was for the Redskins to put upon LaRon Landry’s bulky shoulders, “He will be the next Sean Taylor.” Completely unfair, and something nobody could live up to. So we have some free agent dudes come in to play S, none of whom were world-beaters in previous locations nor this preseason. Which is what makes DeJon Gomes playing so well the first two weeks such a refreshing thing. There’s no top ten overall pick weight on his shoulders, and he’s a second-year guy with a lot of years left if good. And while the free agent acquisitions are out for injury or drug suspension, Gomes has really been a highlight. Going into last week, I was worried teams were going to pick our secondary apart for 40 points a week in ugly fashion, but they have not. They have averaged over 30 points a game, which is not good, but the secondary has seemed a lot more solid than I expected. And DeJon Gomes has been a huge part of that.
1ST DEGREE POSITIVE: LB RYAN KERRIGAN – Kerrigan’s name rarely comes up, but he makes a strong play here and there, and consistently clogs up blockers. Still though, I keep feeling like this Orakpo/Kerrigan combo should be turning a corner, and creating insane havoc on opposing QBs. That has not happened, and today was no exception, with a ton of pockets collapsing in a predictable circle from outside LB, but it never swallows said QB, not nearly as much as you’d like to see.
EVEN DEGREE: CB DEANGELO HALL – Let me be very clear, I do not necessarily like D. Hall, and think his mentality along with Santana Moss has been a big part of the problem in recent years. But to Hall’s credit I will say he has played well this season. He has accepted nickelback duties at times, and has been willing to fill in at safety if asked. He still has his same cocksure swagger, and talks a ton of shit, but it’s weird how when you surround that with guys like DeJon Gomes and Cedric Griffin, it’s far less abrasive to me as a fan as it was when he was back there with LaRon Landry. Hall is a long-time vet in the NFL, and hopefully he can put his good parts to work with these younger players, and quiet down his bad side.
1ST DEGREE NEGATIVE: WR JOSHUA MORGAN – Morgan is going to catch the holy wrath of hell from everybody for that stupid unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and rightfully so. But he’s also being thrown under the bus with that. Honestly, I didn’t feel good at all about Billy Cundiff making a 47-yard field goal to tie the football game, and I definitely think you pretty much were giving up the game by trying a 62-yarder. Here’s a kicker who was castoff from Baltimore because of how inconsistent he was. That guy cannot be counted on to nail a 47-yarder at the end of a game. This game today was lost by coaching, combined with poor officiating. Redskins coaching essentially gave up the game by trying a 62-yard field goal with a guy who has never even come close to that. They should have gone for 4th and long and hoped for a miracle first down or pass interference or anything other than saying, "Fuck it, let's see if this guy who kinda sucks according to his previous team at clutch kicks, try a clutch kick longer than anything he's ever successfully kicked in his career." I guess maybe Shanahan was having flashbacks to Jason Elam or something.
Morgan had a decent game – nothing great, but nothing terrible. This penalty was stupid, but it was also textbook bitch ass Cortland Finnegan, and hopefully somebody will pull aside all the receivers and say, “Sometimes you will face a bitch ass CB, much like how other teams speak of D. Hall over there, and they will try to goad you into stupid shit. Don’t get goaded into stupid shit.” So yeah it was a horrible move on his part, to throw the football at Finnegan, and take that penalty, in such a tight spot. But they were still a yard short of a first down, and looking at a 47-yard field goal, to tie. Joshua Morgan did not lose this game.
And again, this will bring me back to how stupid Redskins fans can be, because I am sure they are already calling for Morgan’s head. Shut the fuck up, and put blame across the board where it is due. Don’t think, like Redskins players and fans have always thought, that this team was somehow better than this today. We were actually much worse than a 31-28 loss, on the road, against a middling team. But we ended up right there.
2ND DEGREE NEGATIVE: KR/PR BRANDON BANKS – I am fairly done with the Brandon Banks experience. Two things happen on every Banks return. First, he might fumble, which fills me with worried dread on every special teams play. Secondly, he will run vast distances sideways, often times adding about negative-four yards to his return. I’m over it. Every football team in the NFL usually throws a late round draft pick out on a project DB/WR/RB who can also return kicks. We have to have somebody who can do what Banks does, and contribute in some other way. I can’t help but be bummed Banks is tying up a roster spot at this point, and not really delivering shit but personal stress for myself by taking up that spot.
3RD DEGREE NEGATIVE: SPECIAL TEAMS COACH DANNY SMITH – Smith is often touted as one of the great special teams coaches in the NFL. And yet we’ve had nothing but field goal kicking problems over the past few years, with a number of blocks. We’ve also had two blocked punts already this year, not to mention a couple other almost blown plays. Maybe Danny Smith is super awesome. But also maybe you should not be noticing how many blocked punts an NFL team has, or how little you can traditionally count on their kickers, or how often their punt returner runs backwards and sideways and then gets tackled. Special teams is such a silent contributor until it starts fucking up. Our special teams is starting to fuck up a lot more than it gives us those boosts of adrenaline.
4TH DEGREE NEGATIVE: HC MIKE SHANAHAN – Shanahan is so good at getting all red-faced and indignant about things. He’s not so good at coaching. There, I said it. Mike Shanahan is overrated as fuck, and he’s yet to show me he’s anything more than an overinflated ego at this point. He seems to make some decisions simply out of egotistic contrarianism, to prove how smart he is. I’m not really comfortable with how often they put RG3 into the defensive crosshairs today, and I’m not at all comfortable with the entire Shanahan experience thus far. But we are stuck with him. This year is still early, but the RG3 era seems to hold a lot of promise. I hate to see it get ruined before it can get started by Shanahan.
5TH DEGREE NEGATIVE: DC JIM HASLETT – Look, I really love Jim Haslett. He looks like an extra from the season of The Wire set on the shipping docks. He coaches with fire. But this defense has given up a ton of points already this year, and something is missing. Something needs to start making fire happen on the field as well. Honestly, I could hate on both Shanahans for the rest of my life, regardless of what happens, and I think by tomorrow morning I’ll love Haslett again. But he needs to take some of that personal fire and get it into this defense. They look okay, but flaccid. A flaccid defense ain’t no good.
2012 Positives/Negatives totals, in ascending order of accumulated awesomeness: QB Robert Griffin III (13), S DeJon Gomes (9), RB Alfred Morris (8), LB London Fletcher (6), CB Cedric Griffin (6), WR Pierre Garcon (5), LS Nick Sundberg (4), WR Aldrick Robinson (3), TE Logan Paulsen (3), LB Brian Orakpo (2), LB Ryan Kerrigan (1), K Billy Cundiff (1), WR Joshua Morgan (-1), S Madieu Williams (-1), KR Brandon Banks (-2), STC Danny Smith (-3), OC Kyle Shanahan (-3), HC Mike Shanahan (-4), DC Jim Haslett (-5).