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2012 - Week 16 @ Philadelphia Eagles

Blognosticator - tshile

The Redskins and Eagles line up for an NFC East matchup, late in the season, and one team has a plethora of young players making plays while the other is writhing in misery. What a lovely surprise that our beloved Redskins are the former and the Eagles are the later. No fan base in the NFL is more deserving; in either case.

As much as we all hate Philly, I'd be remiss if I completely left out what is going on with our awful I-95 neighbors. It would appear that Andy Reid is on his way out thirteen years after becoming the head coach in Philadelphia. In those thirteen years Reid has set the franchise record with 120 wins, a .609 winning percentage, and 10 wins in the post season which lead to 6 NFC East titles, 5 NFC Championship appearances, and 1 Super Bowl appearance. Like him or not, he had a good run and the Philly fans don't deserve a coach capable of delivering such a performance; so, despite my dislike for him, I join Andy Reid in saying 'good riddance' to the worst fan base in the league.

The Eagle's season has become comical. So far this season they: outright released their biggest play maker on defense, fired two coaches, sat their star QB to evaluate a young rookie, sat other play makers for various reasons, all of which was preceded by the owner making a public statement that not making the playoffs would result in Reid losing his job. Way to set the tone. Please make sure to let us know what your expectations are with your new coach next year, I promise to be intrigued.

In the past I'd be grumbling about this matchup. “Don't underestimate them!” I'd scream to whoever was unlucky enough to be listening to me. “Don't play down to their level!” This game would classically fall into the category of Trap Game for us.

Screw that – this is a different team, different players, different mentality, and a different organization. In the words of Keven Sheehan – That was an organizational win against the Browns. This team is different. There isn't anything to underestimate here. The situation is simple. You're in first place in your division and if you win 2 games you'll be hosting a playoff game coming off a 7-0 streak which will make you either the hottest team in the league or the second hottest team (following the Broncos.) You're going on an extremely short road trip to play a team that is terrible. Go up there and step on their throats and smile while you do it. Put them out of their misery. Do it knowing you're doing it just so you can come home and do the same to an equally awful organization in the Dallas Cowboys the following week. Good teams beat bad teams. It's time to prove, once and for all, that you are a good team.

My prediction? Griffin puts up a performance worthy of the team's 9th Rooke of The Week award (10th if Kirk Cousins wins week 15.) Alfred Morris will play well, but I'd like to see him get some rest if the score gets out of control as we'll need him as weather gets colder (big cold front moving into the mid-Atlantic area, supposedly). Hankerson will have another performance that indicates he's starting to step up, and finally the defense will prove they actually are getting better – however it is they're doing it, because at this point I'm really not sure. It’ll be a blowout, similar to the first game. The only difference is we’ll be less surprised the second time around.

So this game aside, I do want to provide a little commentary on the season that goes along with my opening statement...

Mike Shanahan – I owe you an apology. In 2010 I said your hiring was business as usual, chasing someone who already has Super Bowl rings in hopes of getting more despite history telling us the odds are not favorable. Bringing in a fake GM like Allen? There's a checkbox on the 'business as usual' list for that as well, it's somewhere right below the 'hiring family members as assistants' box. The trade for Donovan McNabb? I said things on Easter Sunday no God-fearing man should ever say. The way you ran Albert Haynesworth out of town? Despise him as I may, I did not approve – you were a conceited, stuck up, arrogant prick hell-bent on getting your way and making an example of someone in the first year instead of bettering the team, or so I thought. In 2011 you trotted out Rex Grossman and John Beck – I've never been more embarrassed of calling myself a football fan than when John Beck took the field. I had just started trusting you too, and I was certain you were right about him; embarrassingly, and unfortunately loudly, I wrong about him. (I may be apologizing to you now, but you owe me an apology for that one if we're trying to be fair.)

Anyways, I was wrong. You were right. While I understood culture is important for a team, it has become clear is way more important than I ever could have imagined. Turning over the roster the way you did was important. There are only four starters on the team now that were here when you got here. Not only did you change the culture, but you rebuilt the team. Yes, you made mistakes, yes some of those mistakes were really dumb, but overall this is a team worthy of this fan base cheering for again; it’s a team worth investing hope in again. It has depth, although it's not perfect it's growing, and it has character. Our stud QB is a leader; our stud RB is humble; we have young guys making plays all over the place. Griffin, Morris, Crawford, Hankerson, Riley, Jackson, Kerrigan, Williams, Young… Surprisingly, the list goes on. We kept some savvy veterans too in Moss, Fletcher and Hall (still don't like him, but he's playing well while hurt when it matters most.) You built a team that, regardless of how this year finishes, will provide plenty to cheer about in the future. In addition Allen has changed the environment at Fed Ex Field and the team's approach to its Alumni drastically; former players are starting to like the team again and are getting involved, and stadium-goers have a much better value-for-the-price for their game day experience, regardless of the incredible turn around on the field. Business, both on and off the field, is being conducted the way it should be.

In case you've forgotten (I know I have), the following players that were on the field against the browns were drafted by Shanahan: Trent Williams, Perry Riley, Ryan Kerrigan, Jarvis Jenkins, Leonard Hankerson, Evan Royster, Niles Paul, Kirk Cousins, Alfred Morris, Richard Crawford, and Kory Lichtensteiger (drafted in 2008 by the Broncos.) There's more that just didn't see playing time, or that I’m accidently leaving out, but have made plays themselves through the course of the year.

It certainly is a new day in Washington.

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