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A round of blame for everyone, on the house!

The truth is, when your team in winning, life is boring.  Really.  If we were 11-2 like the Giants, all we’d see on the boards are 53 threads titled ‘We’re so awesome!’.  I’m old enough to remember the ’91 season (I’m older that that, actually), and as fun as it was to know – not think, but know – that you were going to crush everyone, it also got a bit old.  Am I saying that I would prefer to be 7-6, or even 0-13, rather than 11-2?  Not at all.  Am I saying that the Redskins should continue to strive for mediocrity, just so we can have something to argue about?  Heck no.  Am I comfortable asking myself questions?  Not really, in fact it is a bit weird.

Since we’re not 11-2, the debate seems to center around who is to blame for this quickly deteriorating season.  There’s the vocal Jason Campbell camp, who is running on the platform of missed reads, a slow release, and that they can’t understand what it is he’s saying in interviews.  A small radical group also wants Colt Brennan to show what he’s got.  Then you have the folks who believe that the offensive and defensive lines are to blame, based on that whole ‘can’t seem to block anyone or apply pressure’ manifesto.  They also seem to think that age is a factor.  There’s also the group that blames the coaching staff.  How can JC throw or the line block if we’re only sending two guys out into the pattern, with 5 DBs?  And if I can predict that we’ll run on second down after an incompletion, then chances are the other team can as well.  Lastly, there’s the little-known receivers are to blame movement.  Moss isn’t a number one receiver, where’s Thomas, Kelly and Davis, no one can get any separation are their issues. 

The truth is that blame for the team’s current woes can probably be spread around to everyone – perhaps not equally, but I don’t know if any player or group has played perfectly during this eight-game slide (okay, maybe Ethan Albright).  A team that played above it’s head early, is now underachieving.  And while it’s easy to look for a single solution at a single position, I think the truth is simply that this team needs help in many different areas – help from free agents, help from the draft, help from current players just gaining experience.  And that takes time.  Madden told us on Sunday night that we’re a good team, but not an elite team.  Whatever those early-season wins made us believe, I think that’s the bottom line.  And until we get there, there’s enough blame for everyone.

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Can I Buy You a Drink?

Hi there.  I’d ask you if you come here often, to this Redskins bar at the corner of Frustration Street and Disappoinment Avenue, but I’ve seen you here before many times this year, so I know the answer to that question.  I’d prefer to go the Redskins bar at Superexcited Square, which borders Playoff Plaza, but that one seems to be closed a lot lately, and I always find myself here instead.  Here, the lights are low, the music is depressing, and most of you look like you’re drowning your sorrows in your drinks.  I leave here telling myself that I won’t come back here, and yet for the past few weeks, like a battered spouse, I keep returning.

I get paid big bucks here at to make light of Redskins games, to find the funny that gets squished in between big hits and touchdown catches – and the Redskins are not making my job very easy right now.  The first couple of poor performances had some funny in them, but this isn’t funny anymore.   There are only so many times I can comment on the poor efforts that we see week after week before it gets old (if it hasn’t already). 

The Giants game was discouraging not because of the loss, but because of the effort and execution that was lacking on the field.  A win is a win, and so a loss is just a loss, but this game does nothing to improve anyone’s confidence.  We can’t say that the Redskins played their best game, and simply were defeated by a better team – very easily the best team in the NFL.  Instead, the lackluster Redskins head up north to play a stout Baltimore team that is playing with confidence right now.

We can all agree that something needs to change if we want to leave this part of town, and make our way over to the bar in Superexcited Square.  The lack of effort, lack of confidence and lack of spirit needs to be reversed.  I don’t care of Jim Zorn, Jason Campbell or the waterboy spark the change, but if the Redskins play with this dreary, gray attitude from here to Week 17, they’ll earn a spot on the couch come January.

Before I get into the drivel, please take note that while Plaxico Buress’ situation may seem comical to some, I look at it as a serious issue, and will refrain from making light of it in this blog.  Aside from damaging his career, it also hurts the already injured NFL image, which needs another black mark like it needs another hole in the leg.inflatable camping tent

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‘A win is a win’

If you haven’t heard it enough already, it’s a phrase that you’ll continue to hear up until the game against the Giants this coming Sunday.  On the surface, it’s true.  Sunday’s game against the Seahawks netted another point in the win column for the Redskins.  But it goes a bit deeper than that. 

You can characterize the Seahawks in any manner you please.  They could be a tough team that hung in there and played above their 2-8 record, and it took all of the Redskins’ efforts and talents to beat them back while on the road.  Or they’re a sad excuse of a team, and the clumsy performance by the Redskins almost cost them what should have been an easy win against a team that deserves its 2-8 record. 

I saw what you probably saw – a Redskins team that can’t seem to finish drives or protect the quarterback.  A team that gives up frustrating points in the closing minutes of the half.  A team that seems to lack confidence.  A team that, right now, is not playing well enough to get into the playoffs.  Assuming that we beat Cincinnati, San Francisco and a struggling Eagle team – teams with a combined record of 12-22-1 – that still leaves us at 10 wins, which may not be enough to get a wild-card spot.  We’ll need to either beat the Giants this weekend, or Baltimore next weekend. 

And in order to do that the Redskins will need to step up and win a game where  win is not just a win, but it’s a BIG win.

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Temet Nosce

For those of you too lazy to Google the meaning of this week’s title, or don’t know The Matrix by heart, it loosely means ‘Know Thyself’.  Right now, this Redskins team does not look at all like it knows which direction it is heading.  After an unexpectedly promising start, we all began counting the wins remaining in the season.  Now, several weeks later, we’re wondering where any win will come from.  Those on the positive side will say that we’re still 6-4, still in second place in the NFC East, and were the season to end today, we’d have the second wild card spot.  But that’s not the point.  The season doesn’t end today, and we’re on the wrong end of the momentum swing.

During the Pittsburgh game, it was apparent how tired this team was.  You could see it.  I had hoped that after a week off we’d see a renewed team face the Cowboys.  But we seemed to play scared, hesitant.  That’s why the pessimists are buzzing this week.  If you cant come out after a bye week and roll over a hated rival at home in a very important division game, then bad things will happen.  What’s worse is that the deficiencies that were identified by the pundits (offensive line, pressure from the defensive line, lack of experience of Jason Campbell) seems to now be materializing.

Right now, I’m trying to figure out which team the Redskins are.  Are they a good team that has just gotten in a rut, and will again begin to show some life as we enter a critical stretch of games?  Or are we simply a mediocre team that overachieved a few weeks early in the season, and will fall short of the playoffs?  While I’d like to believe the former, the latter is a very real possibility.  One thing is for sure – only the guys at Redskins Park know the truth.  The rest of us will have to wait to see what happens – which, by the way, is the worst part of being a football fan.

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The Redskins’ Anti-Discrimination Fan Policy in Action

You have to admit, the Redskins have a little something for everyone.  It’s like a buffet at your local Chinese food place. 

You’re an optimist?  Great, come on in and grab a cupcake (with happy face frosting on top!).  We’ve got a 6-2 record at the mid-way point of the season – good for second place in the best division in football, Clinton Portis is tearing up defenses, Jason Campbell hasn’t thrown a pick yet, our defense is ranked 6th in the league, and apparently we picked up another star wide receiver named ‘Santonio’.

Pessimism is more your style?  Swing by and grab a drink from our half-empty glass.  Despite our record, we’ve barely squeeked by two teams that we should have crushed, and lost to a winless team – at home, no less.  Our defense is riddled with injuries, our draft picks are invisible, and our defensive line push is more futile than that of a constipated old guy on the toilet.   

The Redskins are truly an equal opportunity team when it comes to fans, trying to offer something to everyone, to please all types.  Hopefully, when this season draws to a close in whatever fashion it’s fated for, that balance between fodder for the optimists and pessimists will still hold true:

‘I know we just won the Superbowl, but did you see how crappy the defense played?’

That which we call drivel by any other name, would still be as random and incoherent…. 

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Honey, get me the defibrillator paddles, the Redskins are on.

They never make it easy, do they?  First a dominating performance turned into a loss last week, and then another dominating performance almost turned into a potential loss this week.  They should ship a free season’s supply of heart medicine with my subscription to Sunday Ticket.  They can call it an ugly win, but hey, it’s a win nonetheless.  You know what they say about bad sex – and if you’re not old enough to know what they say about bad sex, then what they say is that you should wait until you’re married for bad sex, so don’t do it.  The rest of you know what I’m talking about. 

And let the critics critique.  Let them say that we lost to the lowly Rams (Strahan even went so far as to say that the Rams beat us ‘handily’ – what?) and barely beat the Browns.  If you watched those games from start to finish, you’d see that the Redskins – most of the time – are winning the game.  They punish the opposition on offense and defense.  The problem the past two weeks have been untimely mistakes.  As the season progresses, you would expect that those mistakes will fade, and the true talent of this team will shine through. 

Once again this week, a snooze-fest in the first half made it difficult to generate any drivel, but, alas, if you wait long enough, the drivel will come.  As Master Yoda says, ‘There is no try.  Drivel or don’t drivel.’

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You may ask yourself, ‘How did I get here?’

Sorry it took me so long to post about this week’s game, I must have blacked out.  The last thing I remember is Josh Brown kicking the game-winning field goal as time expired, and then the next thing I know I wake up on the floor of my living room and it’s Friday night.  The sad part is that the wife and kids didn’t even notice me lying there all week.  I had crumbs on my back, which means that I may have been used as a coffee table at some point.

To say that the Redskins lucked out this week is an understatement.  Is losing to a win-less team at home when you’ve been on a roll embarrassing?  Sure is, but it could have been worse.  All of the REAL NFC East teams also lost this week, so no damage was done in the standings.  Plus, although the Redskins seemed to play well save for a few very costly mistakes, this game will be a good reminder not to let their guard down.  With the cresting Browns in town this week, I’m sure there’ll be no lack of fire on the Redskins bench.

So, if it’s not too late, I do have a few pieces of drivel that I need to get out of my brain, lest they drive me crazy…..

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It Never Felt So Good to be Wrong

One of the dangers of writing stuff down is that sometimes people actually pay attention.  And when people pay attention, they remember things – things you said, even if those things were said a long, long time ago, like three weeks.  And perhaps those things you said may have been ever-so-slightly ‘wrong’.  Now, in many cases, this is a bad thing, unless you work for ESPN, in which case you just ignore what you said previously, and ESPN wipes all evidence of it from the face of the earth, problem solved.  I don’t have that luxury.

So some weeks ago when I seemed to imply that the Redskins would most likely lose on the road to the Cowboys and the Eagles, I was wrong.  But here’s the weird thing – I was so wrong, that I came back full-circle to being right again.  This type of circular relationship between being right and being wrong doesn’t happen all the time – for example, with my wife, I’m either wrong, or even more wrong.  There’s no getting back to right.  It’s like a long, steep one-way decline into the dark hole of wrongness, slicked with grease and with a bleacher full of wives cheering your descent.

Anyway, let me explain my new-found rightness.  I claimed that after a difficult first five games, we’d find out what kind of character this Redskins team has.  Could they climb out of the hole they would supposedly be in?  Or would they fall apart, shaken by their early losses?  Well, I got the losses wrong, but the part about the importance of how this team will react after their first five games is dead on.  The Redskins are flying high right now, and face some dangerously bad teams in the next few weeks.  If they can maintain their focus and energy, we’re looking at a very good football team, perhaps as good as the media now seems to think they are.  However, if they fall into the trap, we’ll sink into the mediocrity that our opponent’s fans are predicting.  Time will tell.

Tough putting together drivel this week, by the way.  The Eagles just aren’t that funny.  No wonder they don’t have any Lombardis (zing!).

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‘Big D’ stands for ‘Dominated’

Okay, before we get started here, I need to complain a bit.  I tune into Fox on Sunday at about 4 p.m., expecting to have to watch a few minutes of the early game before they send us out to Joe and Troy in Texas.  Instead, I am forced to watch waaaay too much of a meaningless game between the Jets and Cardinals.  It’s 56-35 Jets with two minutes to play – the game is over, why not switch to the late game?  Just to add to my frustration, Boldin goes down (Warner’s fault, he led him right into the safety), and with all due respect to Boldin’s well-being, it just prolonged my frustration.  Fox should have switched to the Redskins-Cowboys at 4:15, given that the Jets-Cards game was completely out of hand, so I wouldn’t have to miss half of the first quarter.  End rant.

So I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong.  And when I wrote last week that the Redskins would drop off the radar until later in the season, I could not have been more wrong.  The words ‘Redskins’, ‘Cowboys’, ‘T.O.’ and ‘hot pants’ have been spoken more over the past few days more than the word ‘bailout’ (or is that two words?).  So much for flying under the radar.  We’ll just have to get used to being media darlings.  *sigh*  Tough work, but I think the Redskins are up for it.

Finally, and update on the lucky underwear – wore them again, and another win.  That’s 2-0 for the lucky underwear.  I’ll probably wear them again this week for the Eagles game, but then I’ll save them for a worthy opponent.  I wouldn’t want to use up all our underwear-luck on the Rams or Bengals.

And now, for some oh-so-sweet, beaten-Cowboy drivel….

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The Next Two, Whoop-dee-doo

ESPN’s John Clayton writes in his latest ‘First and 10’:

Now, the Skins embark on their most important two-game road trip of the season. It starts Sunday in Dallas and concludes in Week 5 in Philadelphia. If they win at least one of those games, the Redskins will establish themselves as contenders for the NFC East title. Losing both will make them 0-3 in the division and extreme long shots.

I understand what he’s saying here, and while I agree that losing both of the next two games would make winning the division difficult for the Redskins, I don’t agree with the tone of Clayton’s article, which seems to imply that the next two games will determine the Redskins playoff hopes. 

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