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Behind Enemy Lines

The Longest Week

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It is the end of the longest short week of the year. You know the one; it follows the most frustrating long weekend of the year. Labor Day weekend. Why frustrating you ask? Well, it is September and a three day weekend and I don’t have any football, not even any of the faux pre-season football the NFL tries to pass off as the real deal.

And then we follow the 3 day weekend with a 4 day work week that feels like a month largely because we have had our appetite wetted for our favorite 3 hour fall pastime. Like a man lost in the desert without water for days that finally gets a drink only to find the water muddy, we have endured training camp and the pre-season. But through it all we have retained a memory of what the clear, cool, sparkling water that is the NFL regular season tastes like.

And now we have to wait through a football free weekend and what should be a short week at work for that deep drink.

But even that wait is coming to a close, my friends. Two more days now and we are home.
Of course, if you are like me, you have been lapping up the pre-season NFL coverage that has been ramped up to ridiculous levels this week prior to opening weekend. In these days, I live on BGO and NFL.com and SI.com and about 40 other sites, my car radio is set to ESPN on XM (for another month or so before my trial subscription ends, anyway) and my TV has spent more time on the NFL Network than on the DNC this week.

In all the coverage I have noticed a theme about my Redskins that I just don’t get. The talking heads all seem to think we have no chance.

None.

Zero.

Zilch.

And I am not just talking about the game in the Superdome this weekend, although per some that too is a forgone conclusion. I am talking for the season. No chance at beating the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants for the Division. No chance at overtaking the talent in other divisions for a Wildcard. No chance for our rookie QB to have a more successful year than some other rookie QBs.

No Chance at anything really except maybe a little improvement in record. A couple of games, max.

And while this shouldn’t surprise me, it does. A lot.

You see, while I know we are fighting years of negative inertia where our team is concerned, both on the field and in the media, these guys are supposed to be experts. They are supposed to be able to look at what they saw on the field last season, factor in the additions and subtractions of the off season, and project what a team might do this year.

Now I know what you are thinking and it likely goes something like this, “Bob, you are a homer. You watch this team through B&G colored glasses and like all good fans you think your team is a stone cold lock to win it all every year.”

But the reality is nothing could be further from the truth. Oh sure, I tune in every week hoping and praying that this is the week I see signs of life and my team utterly dominates some media darling picked to be playing for the next Lombardi. But at my core, I am a cynic. I have had my heart broken too many times to believe until I see (but I keep offering up my heart anyway).

However, last year even the cynic in me saw something in this team. Something I liked. Something that gave me hope.

I saw a team that was only a little short of being a threat. One big piece away from contending.

Namely a Quarterback.

With solid QB play this team could have won the NFC East last year for the first time since Dan Snyder’s first year of ownership.

You disagree?

Consider that the Skins lost to the Cowboys twice by a FG or less after playing better than the Cowboys in both games (and missing make-able FGs in both games) . Solid play from the QB could easily have led to clock killing drives in the 4th quarter in each game instead of turning the ball over to Romo and Co for some last minute heroics, courtesy of Deangelo Hall.

Also consider that in three winnable games against the Eagles, Dolphins and Pats, Grossman threw 7 INTs. SEVEN. Without the INTs this team has a shot at winning all three of those games, especially the game against the Pats where Rex’s INT came in scoring position.

So from my view in an admittedly cheap seat, this team was a few more first downs and few less INTs from finishing 10-6, from finishing 5-1 in the Division and from going undefeated against both the eventual Super Bowl teams. It also seems to me that these issues are all the direct result of inconsistent, sub par QB play.

Now, if this team had stood pat at the QB position in the off season, I would agree with all those talking heads in that we have “No Chance”. None on Sunday in the Big Easy and none for the season either. Let’s face it, Sexy Rexy is just good enough to get your hopes up and then break your heart. He can be the best player on the field. For both teams. In the same game.

But we didn’t stand pat. We traded a king’s ransom to get Robert Griffin III and Shanahan then handed him the reigns to the offense.
Oh, I hear what the media is saying about him. “He will be great but not this year.” “It will take time.” And my personal favorite that leaves me scratching my head, “He doesn’t have enough pieces around him yet.”

Well, Newton and Dalton both had better years as rookies, in the first year of their respective offenses, than Grossman did for us last year in his 4th year in the offense. That being the case, why can’t Griffin have a better year then Grossman? I am not asking for or looking for him to have a record year to rival Newton’s 2011, I just want him to be better than Grossman’s 2011. Is that unreasonable?

And this team had enough talent around Grossman last year to beat the Giants twice, handily I might add, and to nearly beat the Pats once and Cowboys twice. If only for better QB play.

So as we near T minus 48 hours to the official start of the RGIII era in Washington, I am left to shake my head at the experts. If nothing else, they have given me something to laugh at during this longest of short weeks.

Updated 09-07-12 at 01:21 PM by Neophyte

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Comments

  1. Om's Avatar
    This sounds incredibly self-serving, but know what I think? I think fans like us, who spend as much time and energy and passion on their team as we do, have become the new "experts."

    We're not NFL experts, or X and O experts, but we have a grasp on our own teams that exceeds what I see from most of the media. And that includes not only the national media but many local commentators.

    We know the ins, the outs, the trends, the history. They know the current news cycle and the superficial conclusions so easy to regurgitate. The media knows a little bit about a lot of teams and manages to pass it off as knowing a lot about any one.

    Bastards.
  2. Goaldeje's Avatar
    Well said, Bob (and Om). The experts, to be fair, really don't haev enough time to analyze every snap of every game of all 32 teams, so they pick and choose who will get the best audience numbers and go from there.

    We are close to being relevent again though, and I would expect those numbers to go up when we are, which will mean more exposure.

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