Week 6: The Marching of the Saints
By: Eric Johnson 
Posted: 2002-10-15
Category: Washington Redskins News
Ah, Shaolin Redskins fans, where once our spirits soared, they have come crashing again to earth. Yet there is as always hope--hope and growth. When lightning starts a fire on the mountainside and all is burned--green returns the following spring.

Master Sun Tzu has once again taught the Ball Coach some lessons. Let us visit the school.


UNDESERVED GIFTS

Sun Tzu said:

"The wise general sees to it that his troops feed on the
enemy, for one bushel of the enemy's provisions is equivalent to
twenty of his; one hundredweight of enemy fodder to twenty
hundredweight of his."

Here, Sun Tzu shows how an army living off the enemy country does double damage--or rather, twenty times the damage--of one in neutral country. For the army not only sustains itself, it robs its enemy of the use of their provisions. And the populace of the country is disheartened.

The Redskins learned this lesson painfully this week by providing the Saints with five turnovers--indeed, their first four offensive plays were turned over. Not only did the Redskins lose possession, but the Saints gained it in excellent field position which they converted into scores (though the Redskins defense was stout). The enemy was up by 20 points before the Redskins had a single completed pass. This took the crowd--the populace--out of the game early.


SELF-DISCIPLINE

Sun Tzu said:

"When his flags and banners move about constantly he is in
disarray."

This week saw far too many flags and banners moving about--penalty flags. Eleven penalties for 87 yards is not acceptable by anyone trying to mount a serious attack. Some of these were, as Spurrier pointed out, rather weak calls--what he called "phantom calls."

But even if that was the case, the Redskins players have to exercise more discipline. While it is true that the league is more stringent about taunting and the like, every player must take it upon himself to play with self-discipline and self-control. There is no call for late hits or taunting based on frustration; these things only injure the team. Fight the good fight within the rules of the game.


UPCOMING COMBAT

Sun Tzu said:

"To assemble the army and throw it into a desperate position is
the business of the general."

This is what all generals--including the Ball Coach--must do. Note that this is a two-pronged effort: the army must be assembled properly, and then thrown into a desperate position.

There is evidence--albeit occasionally hard to see--that the Redskins are starting to be assembled properly. The defense is coming together and the offense is getting enough playing time to see that its moving in a particular direction with a particular identity. All the pieces may not be--indeed, aren't--there yet, but the outline is forming.

As for the desperate position, well, that is plain to see in this first part of the season. Not only desperation born from a rookie coaching staff and rookie quarterback, but one born from the quality of our opponents. And a tough one is looming--going *to* Green Bay, against a phenomenal team, with a possibility of snow in the air--will be a great test for our general. But it is his business, and one in which he is growing!
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