Sunday, September 20, 2009

Week Two: Taboo to boo?

Rams 7, Redskins 9

I've followed these Washington Redskins for more than three decades, and I feel confident in saying that I have experienced the full range of highs and lows. But I have never, ever, ever seen the Redskins booed by the home team after a win.

Yes, the Skins have had their share of despicable home performances, such as the 1997 Monday night loss to the Giants when Gus Frerotte injured himself celebrating at touchdown and the Skins couldn't muster a field goal to break the tie. Then there was the 35-point loss in 1998 to the Steve Young 49ers at then-Jack Kent Cooke Stadium. The Redskins deserved every catcall, hiss, and boo that rained down from above.

But on Sunday, did the Redskins deserve to be jeered like the Undertaker as they left the field after outscoring another highly paid, highly trained franchise?


Here's how the rest of the media viewed the win: "Redskins edge Rams in low scoring affair" (NBC). "Redskins settle for field goals to get past Rams (ESPN)." "I think I haven't seen a win that seemed so much like a loss as Washington's 9-7 snoozer over the Rams (Sports Illustrated)."

So imagine how I, and approximately 90,000 of my Redskins-loving brethren, felt when Zorn and his West Coast "offense" produced nine points at home against a far inferior opponent. What level of frustration might we have been experiencing for three hours when we saw dropped touchdowns, Zorn fooling no one with a failed red zone 3rd down option pass, and not one but two tremendously dangerous 4th down rushes when a field goal would seal the game?

How do you express your displeasure at such gridiron impotence?

Booooooooooooooooo! (Breathe.) Boooooooooooooo!

Not only did I boo during the game, but I booed the Redskins hours later as I watched the Cowchips and the Giants display gritty, competitive, score-some-points football. (Even if they did so in the Den of Iniquity where they feature Go-Go Girls and Jerry Jones' habitual nose-picking.) I booed when I saw that the Baltimore Ravens are the second highest scoring offense in the league. Truth be told, I let a boo slip out Monday night as I watched Peyton Manning hit Dallas Clark for an 80- yard touchdown on the first play of the game and as Miami responded with the multiple Wildcats to tie the game moments later.

For the Redskins fan, we booed because we know that our team plays in the toughest division in football. We booed because we know that medicore performances might make us a contender in the pansy NFC West (apologies to the good lookin' SanFranSingletary 49ers), but it is certain to doom us to being bottom-feeding plecostomus of the East. We booed because the Redskins haven't beaten an opponent by more than eight points since Zorn arrived.

We booed because--wait a minute, there's a Tweet coming in from a Redskin player, Robert Henson. Let's see if he can shed some light on the fan reaction from Sunday:
All you fake half hearted Skins fan can .. I won't go there but I dislike you very strongly, don't come to Fed Ex to boo dim wits!! ... No I didn't play but I still made more than you in a year and you'd [gladly] switch spots with me in a second, I was talking to the fans [who] said the crazy stuff, I'm use [to] heckling but I've never been booed in my own stadium....
Well that was enlightening, Mister 186th Pick In The Draft. Henson, whose jersey can't possibly get soiled as third string middle linebacker, also added that the fans can't possibly know what the team should do since they work 9 to 5 at McDonald's.

Now, to be fair, Henson did apologize on Monday, after he was corrected by fans, veteran teammates, and on the air by a livid Comcast SportsNet's Brian Mitchell. (No one enjoys the journalistic use of expletives like Sir Mitchell, eh?) But the damage is done.

The irony of Henson's tweets is that the exact opposite is true: I have every right to call you out vocally when I use my 9 to 5 to subsidize your multi-million dollar contract. I am perfectly justified to boo from my $5000 Dream Seat when your offense can't get out of its own way. Heck, I can boo you because I wear your team's colors on my back and its symbol on my head.

I can boo you because we fans deserve much, much more than what you're giving us. Don't like it? Move to Jacksonville where they blackout telecasts because the fans don't go to the games.

What Worked

The defense played well, though it again allowed sustained drives by the opposition. "Bend but don't break" as a defensive philosophy makes me nervous. I am continually concerned that DeAngelo Hall tackles like Deion Sanders after his manicure and that LaRon Landry goes all-or-nothing on some of his hits. But I'll take those issues, especially when the team so greatly benefits from the guys up front: Orakpo, Haynesworth, Carter and Griffin. Add in team leaader London Fletcher and I suspect the D will save the offense's bacon more than a few times in 2009.

Jason Campbell helped stave off the folding of CHASM (Campbell the Hero Apologist Society of Maryland) with a "well, at least he didn't lose it for us" performance. But getting to the promised land isn't the same as going in the promised land. Just ask Moses. If he's available. Should the Redskins score just a touchdown or two on those 12 plays inside the 10 yard line, they look like they've hit a stride and are expected to win the upcoming games against the Detroit Sisters of Mercy and the Kansas City Glee Club.

What Didn't Work

Anyone seen Santana Moss? Does he still run patterns designed to make him available to catch a forward pass?

OFFENSE F (Thank Heaven there's a Cooley on our team.)
Sp. TEAMS C (Wouldn't a nice, long, highlight-making punt return be nice? Once a year too much to ask?)
COACHES F (I'm reserving the Z-minus for when Zorn really tanks a game.)

Detroit welcomes Washington, hoping to put the game out of reach by scoring 14 points. Fletcher and Company will have none of it. Redskins win, 13-7.

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