Hype, Hope, and Victories of the Pyrrhic Variety
***Warning*** - this blog entry may result in buzzkill, irritability, and depression in some Redskins fans. Proceed with caution.
Redskins fans may be making a big mistake.
For years, we’ve eschewed and bemoaned the ‘wisdom’ of sports talking heads. The mocking disrespect heaped upon our beloved team and the organization that leads them has been continuous and almost unbearable. Bandwagon Redskins fans? No such thing. If you’re a Skins fan, you’re in it for the long haul. Only the truly committed could have survived the past 20 years of rooting for a team that’s an NFL laughing stock, the subject of derision for football ‘experts’ everywhere.
But things have changed and more quickly than any of us could’ve imagined. With the arrival of the inarguably exciting RGIII in DC, the Redskins are suddenly media darlings. Conventional wisdom has shifted. Daniel Snyder may still be the spawn of Satan, but his dazzling new talent under center will surely lead the Redskins to multiple Super Bowl wins and dynasty status. It’s all over but the ticker tape parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. Right?
Is this kind of attention and media love a bad thing, some sort of harbinger of doom? Of course not. Lord knows, fans of the burgundy and gold could use a little sunshine and optimism. Still, a nagging little voice in my head whispers to me. When Sally Jenkins and Troy Aikman are gushing over a Redskins quarterback and spreading the word that the Redskins are coming, and other teams ought to rightfully be peeing their pants, there is cause for alarm.
Fans, this one included, are buying into the hype as well. With Griffin under center, anything is possible. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter that we can’t pass protect. Worst defensive backfield in the NFL? Special Teams play that scares the bejeebus out of fans at nearly every opportunity? Inconsequential.
We’ve got RGIII.
I’m not blind. I watch the games. I see, like everyone else what we’ve found, and what we’ve been missing all these years. Griffin is dynamic. He’s quick, smart, athletic, creative, talented, instinctive. And he’s a leader. He may be enroute to the best rookie quarterbacking season the NFL has ever seen, just a year after we thought we’d witnessed that with Cam Newton. I believe, with all my heart, that Griffin is no Michael Vick. He’s not even a Cam Newton. He’s the real McCoy. A bonafide 100% sure-fire franchise quarterback. 5 years from now, he may well be the consensus ‘best quarterback on the planet’.
So what’s my beef?
Despite all of the hype, promotion, and love being thrown Griffin and the Redskins way, I am not sure it means what everyone else who’s watching thinks it means –a guaranteed destiny of multiple Super Bowl wins and an era of NFC East and NFL dominance.
What do we really know about what Griffin’s addition means for this team right now? We know we’re a lot better under center than we’ve been in a long, long time. We know that this team can score points, and score them in bunches. We know that, down late in the 4th Quarter, the Redskins still have a chance to win. But really, isn’t that ALL we know today?
There are lots of other things we know. We know that, 3 years into the Shanahan era, a point at which non-legendary and non-Super Bowl winning head coaches would be fighting for their jobs, the Redskins have a losing record. Again. We know that our defense, supposedly a relative strength for this team the past 4-5 years, is getting worse, a lot worse. Ditto our Special Teams units. And we know that we have a head coach and GM who are apparently unable or stubbornly unwilling to address those two obvious and glaring issues. We know that we have a young, promising offensive coordinator who is inconsistent and frequently puts his fledgling star quarterback in harm’s way. And we know, as evidenced as recently as last Sunday, that this version of the Washington Redskins is currently better at producing Pyrrhic victories than real ones.
And not to put too fine a point on it people, we still have Daniel Snyder as an owner. I’ve never truly believed Snyder was an evil guy. He’s not the Spawn of Satan. But he’s got enough bad karma for a posse full of heartless Republican Wall Street CEOs with plenty to spare. Somewhere in my black little heart glows an ember of fear that Snyder’s bad luck will ruin even something as certain as RGIII’s success.
I’m a homer at heart. I’ve written many a blog predicting ‘this time’ things will be different. I actually believe, at this very moment, that given a little luck and the right circumstances, the Redskins could be a playoff team this year, this season. I’m really not preaching gloom and doom. No one is happier that we finally have a real quarterback – and not just a real quarterback – but a special one. I’ll go further than many of my friends here will and say he was even worth the 3 first round draft picks we gave up to get him.
I’m just preaching a little caution. Don’t buy the hype.
It takes more than a great quarterback to become a winning franchise, a perennial contender. It takes great coaching, and a consistent high level of play on offense, defense, and special teams. It takes a culture of winning from top to bottom.
Dynasty? Gimme a break. Let’s earn a winning record first. And before we start designing Robert Griffin’s Hall of Fame bust, how about demonstrating we can beat the teams in our own division consistently.
I’m not interested in ‘being competitive’. Losers take comfort in ‘not being embarrassed’. Me?
I want to win.
For that to happen on any meaningful and long-term level, our young quarterback prodigy needs a better supporting cast around him. We have to get the talent required to protect Griffin. And on defense and special teams, we need dramatic improvement (and perhaps new leadership). We do those things, then, and only then will all this hype be deserved.
Get to work Redskins!