Monday, November 17, 2003

WEEK 11: If Wishes Were Horses…

…Redskins fans would ride. If fans of this team could stroke a magic, gold-plated football and find a solution for this season, there’d be a whole lotta rubbin’ going on in D.C. The Skins dropped another potential win, falling to the Carolina Panthers 20-17 and nose-diving their record to an unsatisfying 4-6.

Seeking solace and answers, I unearthed my 1978 Riddell kid-sized Redskin helmet. After checking that nobody was looking, I gently pulled the SIZE S over my 30-year old head. To no surprise, I immediately began to pass out from lack of blood flow. Before everything went black, I swear I saw the spirit of Coach Joe Gibbs (1981-92) appearing to me! After the usual formalities, we discussed the matter at hand.

Me: Coach, that was one heckuva loss yesterday. The Redskins played well enough to beat a 7-2 team away but couldn’t close the deal. What in the name of Jack Kent Cooke is wrong with this team?

Coach Joe: Funny you should mention him. Cooke, I mean. Ol’ Jack was a curmudgeon if ever there was one. But that man had a dedication to winning, and the right methods to doing it. We won quite a few championships under his wings. You think back to the 1980s and even early 90s and our team was always a contender, if not a champion. Doesn’t look like these current Redskins will ever get there.

Me: My point exactly. Take Sunday for example: was there any greater irony than seeing Stephen Davis—a man who Steve Spurrier deemed a poor fit for his offense—make three tremendous plays to assure his team of victory? He tripped up Fred Smoot to stop an interception for a touchdown, caught a fourth-down flank pass for twenty-something yards on the winning drive, then capped it off with a gutsy rushing touchdown. Sheesh.

Coach: Hey, I understand. Look, times have changed since Washington was a perennial power. The NFL’s free agency position is such that it’s difficult for a team to slowly stockpile high-caliber talent, then keep them there while they plug up deficiencies. Much like society, teams want instant success and make whatever microwave decisions they can to make that a reality. Back in the 80s, you could keep John Riggins, Mark May, Joe Jacoby, Don Warren, and Mark Moseley while you drafted Joe Theismann, Neil Olkewicz, and Ricky Sanders…and you still could pick up Joe Washington off waivers. The NFL allowed the foundation of dynasties to be built.

Me: Ah ha! So it’s the league’s fault that the Skins lost! We’re victims of the system!

Coach: The Redskins lost Sunday because they stink.


Coach: Ha-ha, just kidding.


Coach: Maybe not. It was pretty strange that a hard-running team like Carolina threw for 300 yards. What makes them 8-2 right now? Versatility. Just when Washington thought they had a good game plan, stopping Stephen Davis, the Panthers adjust, survive interceptions, and pass all over the Redskins secondary. That guy Muhammad-somebody had almost 200 yards alone. What was his name…Mo…Mushin…

Me: He’s John Muhammad for all I care. How revolting to see him channel Jerry Rice for one day. Something always breaks down for us.

Coach: That’s because your foundations are weak. Washington lacks the drafting and personnel savvy we used to employ way back. Snyder has to realize that some players may look good on paper, like Trung Canidate, but are dead weight acquisitions. How are the Redskins getting rushing yardage this season? In the end, it’s straight-ahead power running from Rock Cartwright. Sounds like they could’ve used one Stephen Davis this season after all. Now that’s a cold plate of crow to eat.

Hey, every season’s not going to be perfect. But Daniel Snyder must be patient, like Ol’ Jack used to be, when crafting this ship. We didn’t always break .500, but our team wasn’t detonated and rebuilt every Spring, either. Dick Vermeil and the Cheifs management knows this, and see what’s they’re doing? But the Redskins don’t have that management. That’s the bad news.

Me: So there’s good news? I hope you aren’t going to say “but I switched to Geico and saved on my car insurance.” That’s so lame, Coach.

Coach: What’s a “Geico?” Anyway, for Redskin fans, even in loss, there’s always something to hold our heads up high about.

Me: What’s that?

Coach: The Dallas Cowboys got shut out. Again.

OFFENSE: C (Too many red-zone possessions, too few points.)
DEFENSE: C (That was not a touchdown by Davis. Moreover, it was a game-ending turnover. Stupid refs. But our breakdowns on that drive gave them the ability to put the ball in scoring position.)
Sp. TEAMS: C (We can’t afford missed field goals against the upper crust of the NFC.)
COACHES: D (Even Marty Schottenheimer went 5-5. I don’t know what that means.)

Next Up: The Miami Dolphins face us in Florida on Sunday night football. Their offense has been anemic this year, but their defense much improved. All those buffalo-wing-buyin’, backup-quarterback-lovin’, Jamal-Lewis-defendin’ Ravens fans know how good the Dolphins are. The Skins will need to put together a complete game (that means you, offensive line!) to pull this one off. Skins win, 21-20.

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