What follows is an answer to the chorus of complaints from the legions of fans tired of being distracted by "sensible" analysis, backed by "facts" and "knowledge." If you seek shelter from the twin storms that are "reality" and "logic," then this is your port of call.
- I was standing in line at a Target (buying a new iron -- the old one spit rust-colored water onto a white dress shirt, which sort of defeats the purpose) when the cashier and a customer behind me in line started asking me about the Redskins. They noticed I was wearing a Redskins hat, asked me who the next opponent was, that sort of thing. It was all friendly enough but something about the conversation struck me as odd. It wasn't the subject matter, it was the tone of the conversation. It dawned on me, as I walked out with my new iron (and like 4 other things I hadn't planned on buying, I'm a sucker) that they were PITYING me. They FELT SORRY for me. That sucked. I'd much rather have people mutter the team's name with barely disguised contempt and give serious consideration to slashing my tires. Anger I can deal with, anger has a source which, while not always logical, is at least comprehensible. But sympathy? Have things disintegrated to that point?
-The whole Target scenario got me thinking about some larger issues. Who is buying long-sleeve dress shirts with dragons printed on the front of them? "I want to be taken seriously but I don't want to lose that edge that says I am a virgin who lives at home. I really want to bring those two worlds into harmonious balance." And I like dragons, I want a dragon tattoo but we have to draw a line somewhere. For the record, it's totally cool if Jason Campbell wears shirts like that ... or anyone on the team for that matter. Everyone else*, it's lame.
- The other, and probably more germane, issue I pondered was the state of the Redskins. I don't mean the 1-1 record (more on that later) but the franchise itself, how it is perceived. There's been a great deal of attention paid to the booing at the end of the too-close-for-comfort win over the Rams. I can't condone the booing during the victory formation (kind of a silly name in this case but whatever) but I don't consider it to be entirely without merit. However, I don't understand the depths of the negativity in some portions of the fan base. There is a segment which seems to not only be convinced of pending doom but to relish in any chance to see that prediction come to fruition. My question to those people is why stick around? Why immerse yourself in something that causes you such angst? That's not healthy, it's not productive, in fact, it's stupid. If the team is such a lost cause, let it go man.
- Let's look at the facts for the Redskins. Two weeks into the season the team is 1-1, so are 13 other teams -- including 2 of the other 3 teams in the NFC East. The offense's red zone struggles have been discussed ad nauseum but the team is ranked 15th in yards per play. They were ranked 23rd last year. The offense is currently ranked 8th in terms of third down conversions. Last year? TWENTY SIXTH ... yuck. Now pay attention: the offense, without question, indisputably and unequivocally needs to improve. Losing Randy Thomas is a blow (though, to be frank, the prospect of his playing 16 games was remote) but it is not insurmountable. I'm not for a minute suggesting this team is going to roll to the playoffs but it's not out of the question either.
- When's the last time you saw a Redskins defensive line do what they did against the Rams? I honestly can't recall having seen a stand like that. Albert Haynesworth is just a force of nature, I love watching him line up with that massive paw in the air. It looks like he is going to club someone to death with that thing. Brian Orakpo is a freak of nature. I echo the sentiment others have expressed about wanting to see him play more DE but ... wow.
- Look, the Redskins world is not without some significant flaws, it would be foolish to pretend otherwise. But it is equally foolish, if not more so, to assume the team will wallow in abject failure. That's both a needless exercise in frustration and factually unsupportable. Again, that's not a prediction that the team will cruise to a division title, it's not to say the season will provide no further frustration. But, TWO games in, I just can't fathom why you wouldn't have some reasons for optimism. Otherwise, why watch?