Week 15: The Expected Eagle Strike
By: Eric Johnson 
Posted: 2002-12-17
Category: Washington Redskins News
Good day, Shaolin Redskins fans. It is a crisp dawn here outside my little hut, but the fish are biting in the deep pools edged with ice. It has been some days since our army returned from battle; the loss was perhaps anticipated, but there is excitement nonetheless at the skills and leadership exhibited by our new, young field commander.

This week, the Ol' Ball Coach has found himself both tutor and tutored in the ways of Master Sun Tzu. Let us examine some of the lessons:

YOUNG ARM

Sun Tzu said:

"There are five methods of attacking with fire. The first is to
burn personnel; the second, to burn stores; the third, to burn
equipment; the fourth, to burn arsenals; and the fifth, to use
incendiary missiles."

The fifth method of attacking with fire is the one that has so many Redskins-watchers--both on the field and in the stands--abuzz this week. Against the Eagles' talented secondary, rookie quarterback Patrick Ramsey showed off the arm strength for which he is known--zipping passes through the eye of a needle in a manner that neither of the other QBs on the roster could hope to match.

In one particular play, Ramsey threw an absolute bullet past three Philadelphia defenders in the endzone, j-u-u-s-t past the fingertips of one of them, for a touchdown. And he showed a nice touch on a deep lob, hitting Rod Gardner in stride down the left sideline for another TD--a great sign of his ongoing improvement, as he had missed a throw like that out of bounds just a week before.

But his frozen ropes--they are incendiary missiles indeed!


THE SEASON OF GIVING

Sun Tzu said:

"Should one ask: 'How do I cope with a well-ordered enemy host
about to attack me?' I reply: 'Seize something he cherishes and
he will conform to your desires.'"

Alas, this lesson is one taught to the Redskins by many teams this year, including the Eagles. How have teams coped with the Redskins' attack? So often, they seize the object we most cherish--the ball--and we are forced to conform to their desire for victory.

In short, we've turned the ball over way too much. There is a clear pattern: in every game that we've lost the TO battle, we've lost the game, and in all but one game where we've been even or won the TO battle, we've won the game. It is the best predictor of our success, and a brutally obvious category for improvement in the offseason. Luckily, Spurrier-coached teams have generally been heads-up about these matters, so we can expect some changes on this front.


COMEBACK

Sun Tzu said:

"Do not press an enemy at bay."

As commentator Tu Yu relayed: "Prince Fu Ch'ai said: 'Wild beasts, when at bay, fight desperately. How much more is this true of men! If they know there is no alternative they will fight to the death.'"

This mistake almost led to a comeback for the Redskins in Philadelphia. The Eagles were up 31-7 at the end of the third quarter, and the Redskins were pressed back into the corner. And for perhaps the first time this season, they came out fighting in the fourth quarter, twice marching down the field for touchdowns while holding the Eagles to only one field goal. One gets the feeling that if the game were only a little longer, perhaps some real magic might have happened.

Steve Spurrier must have been pleased at the fight exhibited by his young players--it is a good sign for the seasons to come!
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