I’ve had it.
I’m tired of the “organization.” I’m tired of the excuses. I’m tired of the so-called name controversy. I’m tired of the D.C. media gossip, the leaks from who-knows-where, and all the idiot “fans” who think that
Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, Joe Shmoe would do better than RGIII behind an NFL-Europe-quality offensive line. Above all, I am tired of the drama.
Sports are supposed to be fun. This isn’t fun anymore.
It’s not just the Redskins. It’s the NFL as a whole. A greedy handful of billionaires pay a slightly larger handful of multi-millionaires and a whole lot of cannon fodder to crash into each other on TV. They only started caring about concussions, or domestic abuse, or a supposedly offensive name when it threatened their bottom line.
I put up with it far longer than I should of. I tried to recapture the innocent fandom of my youth—given one last gasp in 2012—but I was fooling myself. That NFL had its own problems, but I didn’t know then. This NFL has even bigger problems now and I can’t turn a blind eye anymore.
I also can’t twist myself in knots over a team I have no control over.
The difference between a “good” NFL owner and a “bad” NFL owner is simple. The “good” owner is a greedy billionaire who hires the right people to run his front office and hire talented coaches and draft and scout talented players. The “bad” owner is a greedy billionaire who thinks he knows better than everyone else.
Dan Synder, who bought the Redskins in 1999, is a “bad” owner. He has taken the great NFL franchise of the first quarter-century of my life and turned it into a laughing stock.
In 2012, the Washington Redskins entered their bye week at 3-6, following a demoralizing loss at home to the Carolina Panthers. They’d dropped three straight games and it looked like their season was over. After the bye, the Redskins hosted Philadelphia and blew them out 31-6. Four days later, on Thanksgiving, they beat the Cowboys in Dallas. A week-and-a half later, on Monday Night Football, they edged the New York Giants by one and were back to .500.
Three wins in a row and four more to go. By the time they finished off the Cowboys in the rematch at Fed Ex field, the Redskins had completed an improbable seven-game win streak and were NFC East Champions.
In 2013, the Washington Redskins lost a game they should have won against the Minnesota Vikings. The loss dropped them to 3-6. They had a ten-day break (Thursday to the following Sunday) to get it together before traveling to Philadelphia to face the Eagles. Fans hoped against hope for a repeat of recent history and another improbable run, but instead the team fell apart and lost seven more to finish the season 3-13.
A year later, the Redskins find themselves in a familiar spot. In an odd mix of 2012 and 2013, they are 3-6, coming off a loss that should have been a win against the Vikings, and are heading into a bye week.
So which is it? Will we see another improbable run? A nightmare collapse? Or a mediocre middle between the two extremes?
Why they could win them all.
On offense, Robert Griffin III is healthy again, Alfred Morris is back to his usual self, and DeSean Jackson is uncoverable on the long ball. On defense, Ryan Kerrigan has come into his own as a pass rusher, Keenan Robinson is a force to be reckoned with from sideline to sideline, and Bashaud Breeland and David Amerson are developing into a strong, young cornerback duo. On special teams, Kai Forbath is reliable as ever, Tress Way is the best punter we’ve had in years, and Andre Roberts has finally solved the team’s returner dilemma. And all of the games are winnable. Even the Niners and the Colts have weaknesses that can be exploited by the right game plan.
Why they could lose them all.
On offense, Pierre Garçon disappears for whole games, four-fifths of the offensive line is still subpar, and Jay Gruden’s play-calling is unproven. On defense, the line can’t get consistent pressure, the safeties are still among the worst in the league, and Jim Haslett is the defensive coordinator for a fifth season in spite of logic and common sense. On special teams … well just because they’re not the catastrophe they were last season doesn’t mean they’re more than average. And all of the games are losable. The Niners and the Colts are on a different level, even when they struggle, the Rams and the Bucs could easily catch fire at the wrong time, and while the Eagles, Giants, and Cowboys aren’t perfect, they can all beat the Redskins on the right day.
Why neither extreme is likely.
The 2012 Redskins caught a lot of unlikely breaks. The 2013 Redskins fell into a spiral that no team could pull out of. Both runs were flukes and the chance of either happening again is pretty slim. This is a team that will win a couple games they’re supposed to lose, lose a couple games they’re supposed to win, and pretty much average out over the course of the season.
Prediction: 6-10, a new defensive coordinator come January, and a foundation to build on for 2015.
Football and baseball have traditionally been the two biggest sports in America, and my relationship with each was forever influenced by my childhood. I wrote about my lifelong Redskins obsession a couple of years ago, and my view of football has been shaped by my unbreakable attachment with my “home team” for better and for worse ever since. My view of baseball is fundamentally different for one reason—I never had a home team.
Okay, that’s not quite true. For a brief moment I did. They were the Washington Senators, and my earliest memory of them is the last season they played in the District. Then they moved to Arlington, Texas, and became the Texas Rangers, and a part of my childhood was taken away.
Kids in New York got to be Yankees fans, kids in Boston got to be Red Sox fans, and kids in Chicago got to be White Sox or (if they were really unlucky) Cubs fans. Even kids in Baltimore got to be Orioles fans. But I didn’t have a team to call my own.
And that’s how I became a lifelong baseball nomad.
The 2014 NFL Draft is in the books. This year, in preparation, I followed several mock draft sites and did a bunch of my own via Fanspeak’s excellent On the Clock draft simulator site. Until about the beginning of April. That’s when I burned out and stopped paying attention. A month later, the draft finally happened for real, and outside of the first round or so it was completely different from all the mocks—my own included. Here’s how it went down for my favorite team, The Washington Redskins.
Anna is a Seattle Seahawks fan, and I am coming to terms with it.
They are the “local” team, so she’s not jumping on a bandwagon. And they are going to the Super Bowl for only the second time in their history. Win or lose, their success at this early point in her life will probably make her a fan for life.
I know. My passion for my favorite team is rooted in a Super Bowl appearance. It was January 14, 1973. I was seven years old (only a year younger than Anna is now) and was living in the D.C. suburbs when the Washington Redskins faced the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VII.
Two weeks earlier, the Redskins had beaten their greatest rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, in the NFC Championship game at RFK Stadium. Even though the Redskins were the home team and the NFC East Champion that year, the Cowboys were expected to win. They were the popular bandwagon team with two Super Bowl appearances, a Super Bowl Championship, and a winning legacy behind them. That game was my first definite memory of a Redskins’ triumph and still one of my all-time favorite games.
The regular season is over and it’s time for the NFL’s second season: the playoffs.
In the AFC, I am tempted to pick the Chargers to go all the way. Like the Ravens in 2012, Giants in 2011, and Packers in 2012, the Chargers played the Eagles in Philly’s home opener and lost to the Redskins. It seems like fate. But my gut still tells me that this is Denver’s year.
Chargers (6) at Bengals (3): Chargers
Chiefs (5) at Colts (4): Colts
Colts (4) at Patriots (2): Colts
Chargers (6) at Broncos (1): Broncos
Colts (4) at Broncos (1): Broncos
In the NFC, home-field advantage for Seattle isn’t quite as lock-solid as it seemed before their home loss to Arizona in Week 16. But I don’t see them losing another home game in the playoffs. Their first game against San Francisco will be a close one, but I think they’ll pull it out and then roll from there.
Saints (6) at Eagles (3): Eagles
49ers (5) at Packers (4): 49ers
Eagles (3) at Panthers (2): Panthers
49ers (5) at Seahawks (1): Seahawks
Panthers (2) at Seahawks (1): Seahawks
Which brings us to Super Bowl XLVIII at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey.
(New … Fricking … Jersey?! I can’t get past this.)
With a rare match-up of number-one playoff seeds.
The Seattle Seahawks vs. The Denver Broncos.
And the winner is.
That’s my prediction. And since I’m always wrong, I expect the Chargers to go all the way.
San Diego SOOP-er Chargers!!!