Go Seahawks?

Seattle Seahawks logo (SeattleSeahawks.com via Wikipedia)

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.

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Seven Steps to a Contender

Robert Griffin III (10) is sacked by San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith (99)

Photo: Geoff Burke/USA Today (via Hogs Haven)

Last night was the low point of the Washington Redskins’ season. They embarrassed themselves and their fans on national television. That it happened on my birthday made the experience even worse for me.

The season is effectively over now and so are the excuses. A team that won seven games in a row last year to win their division has lost three in a row for the second time this season. They are guaranteed a non-winning record, and all-but assured a losing  record for the fourth time in five seasons. The talent is there, and some holes, but it’s the same talent and the same holes as last year. Yes, Robert Griffin III is recovering from a serious knee injury, but the rest of the starters have been unusually healthy. The problem is simple. The Redskins are not a team anymore, and when that happens the blame goes to the top. The Mike Shanahan Era is over in D.C. It’s time for the Redskins to move on. Last night’s debacle proved that.

But many Redskins fans, knowing Dan Snyder’s history, dread the thought of him going back to his old ways. I hope he’s learned from his mistakes and build upon solid core that Shanahan has built here and take the proven steps to build a winning team. Here are seven that I’d specifically like to see in the upcoming off-season.

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NFL Preseason Primer

Are you ready? #RedskinsRVA

Photo: Washington Redskins

I’ve never been one to actively follow the goings-on in training camp. Most of the interesting stuff happens in “closed-door” practices, and the media only gets to see what coaches want them to see—the minimum necessary to keep fans, and thus owners happy.

For me, RGIII changed all that.

Last year, there was the anticipation of him turning the franchise around. He did just that, with help from an underrated supporting cast. This year, with his injury in the Wildcard Playoff Game loss against Seattle, there’s the growing hope that he will be healed and whole in time to start the Monday Night Football opener against the Eagles.

Hope shared by the Redskins, their fan base, ESPN, and the NFL. RGIII vs. former Oregon Ducks mad-genius coach Chip Kelly is big ratings and big money.

So I’m paying attention, and if you are too—whoever your favorite team is—here is a primer for the NFL preseason.

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Building for the Future

Redskins 2013 Draft Selections

Image: Washington Redskins

What a difference a year makes. All I had a year ago was hope. After twenty years of futility, it felt good to hope again, but no one knew what the season would bring. It feels different this year. There’s still hope, but with the Redskins coming off a 10-6 season and a division title, and 21 of 22 starters returning, the hope feels like it’s being fulfilled already.

Without a first round pick in the draft this year, there wasn’t a single player for the team to set it sights on. Instead they built up depth in places it was needed—the secondary in particular—and took risks, which is something you can do when you keep a division-winninh team together in spite of an $36 million salary-cap penalty split over two seasons.

It reminds me of the last time the Redskins built a team with an eye to the next decade instead of just the next season. A time when they were on the verge of a decade of dominance. That decade began with one of the greatest drafts ever.

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Bloggerhood Etc. 4/29/13

Schuyler Rummel-Hudson

Schuyler Rummel-Hudson (Image: Schuyler and her “Daddy-O”)

First of all, a new name for my new Best Blogs of the Week feature. I will still run it every Monday (so they will still be “Monday Blogs”) but I like having a more distinctive title that corresponds to the title of my blog.

So here are some of my favorite posts from the last week.

Best Guest Post. “The Queen of Monsters” by Schuyler Rummel-Hudson on Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords. Every child deserves a voice. An iPad mini gives Schuyler her voice, and she expresses herself honestly and beautifully here.

Best List. “6 Secrets From a Special Needs Mom” by Suzanne Perryman on BlogHer (cross-posted at The Huffington Post). The blogosphere is overwhelmed with “5 ways to,” “10 examples of,” “101 Secrets to,” and 1,000,001 other varieties of list posts. Most are quickly slapped together with the sole purpose of gaining hits, but every so often this form gets put to good use. This is one of those times. Please read it.

Best Sociological Experiment. “Cheating to Learn: How a UCLA Professor Gamed a Game Theory Midterm” by Peter Nonacs on Which Way LA?
It’s not cheating if you don’t break the rules. You might even learn something.

Best Question.Why Is This Not A ‘Weapon Of Mass Destruction’?” by Andrew Sullivan on The Dish. Two different weapons, both can cause multiple fatalities. One is a terrorist tool, the other is sacrosanct. Why? A question that needs to be asked even if no one in power has the guts to answer it.

Best Repost. “Love as the Boundary” by Alise Wright on Alise . . . Write!
A beautiful post from a year ago about love and friendship. It also qualifies as the Best Use of a Finding Nemo Quote.

Marlin: I promised I’d never let anything happen to him!

Dory: Hmmm. That’s a funny thing to promise.

Marlin: What?

Dory: Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.

Most Encouraging Video. RGIII at the Redskins Draft Day Party.

And finally, moving beyond the blogosphere . . .

Best Picture with Comment.

"Taylor" truck and "Swift" truck.

Posted on Facebook by Single Dad Laughing.

Like . . . EVER!!!

Redskins 2013 Season: A First Look

NFC East Division Champions

The title defense begins 9/9/2013 (Photo: Washington Redskins)

The National Football League released their 2013 schedule on Thursday. Here’s my first look at the Washington Redskins’ upcoming season.

Easing into the Season (Weeks 1 – 4)

  • 9/9 Eagles (MNF)
  • 9/15 @Packers
  • 9/22 Lions
  • 9/29 @Raiders

If there was ever a team that needed a few “easy” games at the start, the Redskins are it. No one knows for sure if Robert Griffin III will be ready to go on Monday Night against Philadelphia or for the few weeks after that either. By getting three of their first four games against teams that finished 4-12 last season, the Redskins have a good shot at going at least 2-2 if not 3-1 even if Kirk Cousins has to start all four games.

And with a road trip to Lambeau Field in Week Two, the chances of going unbeaten, even with RGIII starting all four games, is pretty slim.

The Early Bye (Week 5)

Usually I don’t like early bye weeks, but this year I’ll make an exception. If RGIII can’t start right away, or worse has to go on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, an early bye gets the Redskins an extra week to start him later in the year.

Road Warriors (Weeks 6 – 11)

  • 10/13 @Cowboys (SNF)
  • 10/20 Bears
  • 10/27 @Broncos
  • 11/3 Chargers
  • 11/7 @Vikings
  • 11/17 @Eagles

Here’s the rough stretch. Four out of six road games, starting at Dallas and including two 2012 playoff teams, Denver and Minnesota, and a division rival, Philadelphia, that’s always tough at home. The Redskins will need to at least break even, if not go 4-2 through these six games to stay in contention. Hopefully,  RGIII will be 100% for these games and no other prominent starter will be lost to injury in the meantime.

The (Mostly) Home Stretch (Weeks 12 – 17)

  • 11/25 49ers (MNF)
  • 12/1 Giants (SNF)
  • 12/8 Chiefs
  • 12/15 @Falcons
  • 12/22 Cowboys
  • 12/29 @Giants

Monday Night Football, against the defending NFC Champions, on my birthday! Does it get any better than this? Well, if the Redskins can get to this point with no more than four losses, they will have a great shot at repeating. Four of their last six games are at Fed Ex, though two tough ones—Atlanta and the finale against the Giants—are on the road. If the Redskins are going to get on a late season roll like they did last year, this schedule sets them up well.

So how should they do overall. Obviously, it’s way to soon to even make a bad prediction, but looking at the schedule I see them finishing somewhere between 12-4 (With RGIII starting no later that Week Six against Dallas) and 8-8 (most likely if he is on PUP or Injured Reserve, Designated to Return).

My gut feeling? They’ll split the difference for a second straight 10-6 season, with the last game deciding the division for the third year in a row.

Note: gut feelings subject to change.

The Future On Hold

Photo: L. Todd Spencer/AP

Photo: L. Todd Spencer/AP

“If he can stay healthy.” That’s the caveat I’ve used every time I’ve written about the promising career of Robert Griffin III. In the last few days, my caveat has become a question: “Can he stay healthy?”

For his sake, and the sake of the Washington Redskins, every step must be taken to ensure that the answer will be “yes.”

I’m not going to review the events leading up to his injury in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s Wildcard playoff game against Seattle. Like every fan, I’ve done that in my head non-stop since. I’m not going to place blame. I’m not going to debate about what could be done differently. Instead, I’m going to look forward—to what can be done from here on out—based upon the diagnosis released by Dr. James Andrews after Griffin’s surgery yesterday morning:

Robert Griffin III had successful knee surgery early this morning. He had a direct repair of his LCL and a re-do of his previous ACL reconstruction. We expect a full recovery and it is everybody’s hope and belief that due to Robert’s high motivation, he will be ready for the 2013 season.

The goal of his treatment is to give him the best opportunity for a long professional career.

The last sentence should be engraved on bronze plaques and hung on every wall at Redskins Park.

The goal—the only goal—is to give him the best opportunity for a long professional career. It’s best for the team, best for the fans, and most of all best for him.

If that means he doesn’t take a single snap for the whole 2013 season, so be it.

Now I’m not saying “sit him” at this point, like some are, but I’m also not expecting him to return for Week One. What I’m saying is what so many others won’t admit. I don’t know when he’ll be ready, but I don’t want him playing until he is.

100 percent. Nothing less than that. I am willing to put the future on hold for as long as it takes to give him the best shot at a long professional career and I’m just a fan. The team has to be willing and so does he.

Will next season be the same without him? Of course not. Kirk Cousins is a young, talented quarterback, but he’s a step down and everyone knows it. But he’s still good enough to start for at least half the teams in the NFL, and the Redskins will do fine with him, whether it’s for part or all of the season.This is a good young team moving in the right direction that will only get better with another year of draft picks. Whether or not we can repeat as division champions or even make the playoffs doesn’t matter as much as much as ensuring a long professional career for the franchise quarterback, and a long run of success for the franchise.

The future is on hold, but it’s still bright.