Welcome Back, Football!

4 comments Thursday, August 7, 2014
The long wait is over. We made it through the drought...through endless weekends without our favorite pre and post-game shows, without Monday morning talk radio, without The NFL Redzone Channel (that amazing addition to our lives I'm not quite sure how we ever lived without). We made it through endless Sundays with nothing to watch but bike racing, golf and the occasional baseball game (thanks, Nats!) Granted, we had the winter Olympics to divert our attention for a little while, but come on, that was way back in the February doldrums. For me, at least, it's been a LONG time coming, this football season of ours, and I'm ready to savor every minute of it.

Tonight is going to be just like coming home again. Like going back to college after a long summer break...and those hideous summer jobs we all hated. Football is BACK! It's time! Aren't you ready? I sure am!

OK, I know it's just a preseason game, and it doesn't count. I KNOW Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson aren't even in the lineup, along with Jason Hatcher and Ryan Clark and a few other starters. I totally get it's only the first of four seemingly endless, and meaningless, preseason games. I know we still have another 2 weeks of training camp, plenty of roster cuts, and probably a preseason injury or two to get through before the real season officially kicks off in September.

I know all of that. I do. But honestly, when you see the Skins (or really, ANY of our NFL teams) suiting up to head back onto that field tonight, doesn't it just give your heart a little giddy-up? Doesn't it make you forget that long, long wait through those endless boring Sunday television weekends? Can't you just feel the excitement?

I'm not sure what's going to become of our Skins this season. I have no clue how Jay Gruden is going to coach, how Griffin is going to play, or if Santana Moss is going to make the team. I have absolutely zero feel for how this team is going to play together, or not. I don't even know who our kicker is going to be yet.

But for now, just for tonight, none of that matters. Football is back, and that's good enough for me.
Read On


0 comments Monday, October 21, 2013
Guess he finally knocked the rust off, huh? Looks like RGIII is back to form, thankfully, because it turns out that as RGIII goes, so goes the Redskins season. For real.

Yesterday, he certainly looked like the mobile, agile, quick-thinking, accurate, monster athlete we got to know well last season, didn't he? And the team definitely responded to his renewed energy and enthusiasm. It's infectious. (Just ask TE Jordan Reed...)

Gone were the wobbly throws, the sacks, and the pronounced limping (which was really starting to make me uncomfortable). In their place came record-setting rushing yards, one incredible bomb of a pass to Aldrick Robinson for a touchdown in the end zone, and lots of offense. LOTS of offense.

Yesterday's team looked ready to play. They looked intense and fired-up. They looked sharp and efficient. They looked, finally, like the team we expected to see coming off a play-off run last season. OK, there are still issues to be fixed, namely, the special teams, which I couldn't even bring myself to blog about last week after that atrocious loss to Dallas. And the defense is still pretty inconsistent. AND Brandon Merriweather has GOT to get a clue.

But compared to the team we were watching in early September, this one looks legit. Thanks to RGIII's ability to heal both his body and his mind so he isn't afraid to get hit anymore, our team might just be able to turn things around. And with Philly's season starting to unravel and the Giants in the basement of the NFC East, our chances of making the playoffs don't look quite as remote as they did a few weeks back.

The growing pains from the first few weeks were painful, but necessary. There probably wasn't any way around it - RGIII was going to have to get out on that field and test the knee at game-speed for a few weeks before he could really begin to get back into game shape. Losing a few games in the process was the price we had to pay, unfortunately, but with the way our division is shaping up, this probably wasn't the worst year for him to have to learn on the job.

Let's see what we can do against those Broncos...

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Is the Glass Half-Full, Or Just Full Of S*&#?

0 comments Monday, September 23, 2013
Close, but no cigar. Yesterday's game was marginally better, but still not good enough to win. The defense, aside from scoring a touchdown, got torched once again (I just KNEW Calvin Johnson was going to come in here and stomp all over our secondary, and that's exactly what he did). Our special teams still can't figure out when to field a punt or kick-off and when to just kneel down and give the offense the ball on the 20. And the offense? Well, it all depends on how you look at it.

From where I sit, you can look at the offensive production (let's use that term loosely here) two ways. You can believe, as I choose to, that what we saw yesterday was a more mobile RGIII behind a tightened-up offensive line with a better, more productive running game. Or, you can point to the missed opportunities, the sailed passes, the penalties and the fumbles, and say this team doesn't have a chance.

If you choose to go that route, I certainly wouldn't blame you. It's depressing to watch a team we thought was going to be great put a crappy product on the field. But hear me out on this one -- can you concede that RGIII looked at least a little more like himself yesterday?

The 2 offensive drives that really looked crisp and sharp both ended with fumbles or interceptions. OK, that's bad. But at least the offense was able to move the ball yesterday, and stay on the field for more than one offensive series in a row. In my humble, biased, homer-clouded opinion, that's progress.

Now, do I think we can fly out to Oakland and beat the Raiders? Well, I don't know about that. For one thing, our defense has now won the crown for the most yards given up over 3 games EVER, and Terrelle Pryor is a bit of a gamer, so I'm not going to be too quick to count Sunday's upcoming game as a win just yet. If our offense can put together a few drives like they did yesterday and actually come away with points, well, then we might just have a chance. We can't leave it up to our defense to win the game (or, not lose it), or we will be totally up a creek.

So, the glass is half-full, I think. At least for now.
Read On

This Game Gave Me PTSD

0 comments Monday, September 16, 2013
Seriously, I think I might still be feeling woozy after watching that disaster of a game yesterday. Did I miss something? Did someone bring Jim Zorn back and dress him up like Mike Shanahan on the sideline? WHAT the hell is going on?

Not only did this Redskin football team play another totally uninspired game against the Packers, but they didn't seem all that upset about losing! I guess I expected Mike Shanahan to be angry, irritated, and cranky during his post-game press conference, but honestly, he seemed almost jovial about the whole thing. He even had the gumption to say he thought the team "did some good things" (what those were, he didn't exactly say, probably because he couldn't lie so easily on command). But come on, at least try to LOOK like you're upset about getting your butt whipped. That's your job as the coach. Can you at least pretend to be annoyed? I could, for the amount of money he's making...but that's another story.

And RGIII wasn't much better. I'm unpleasantly surprised by the way he's playing. It's pretty hard to ignore the obvious signs of injury that seem to be still lingering, and the fact that he looks like he's absolutely refusing to run the same read-option offense that got him to the playoffs last year. But I'm even MORE annoyed by his demeanor on the sidelines during the game. He's either huddling with Kyle Shanahan, looking bewildered, or he's sitting by himself on the bench. I want to see him firing up his teammates, getting them ready to play, encouraging them to get out there and bust a move. Instead, he's sitting there looking dumbfounded.

Not good.

I don't have a clue what is happening, but I'm beginning to buy in to the conspiracy theorists out there who say there has to be more to this story. I don't know what it is, or why, but for some reason, this team looks like they aren't all playing from the same script. Did Shanahan change the offense? Or, as some have suggested, is RGII just refusing to run it? Is he still hurt? Somethin' ain't right, as my friend Kathy likes to say.

It's like the whole damn team took a hit when Griffin's knee got whacked last January. And they haven't been the same since.

Someone needs to get to the bottom of this, quickly.
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Can We Get a Do-Over?

0 comments Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Uh, OK. That wasn't exactly the start we were all hoping for last night, now was it? I have to admit I was worried all pre-season about facing the unknown Philly offense in action under the bright Monday Night Lights, and my fears were definitely realized (although our defense actually held up pretty well, all things considered.) It turned out to be our OFFENSE that was a mess last night, and that was definitely an unpleasant surprise.

RGIII needed to shake off the rust, obviously. And the fact that he sort of improved (marginally) in the second half certainly helped to allay some of my initial agony. A little. But come on! What happened to our lightening speed offense? We looked pretty crisp during the pre-season, even with Rex at the helm, so why did we look so flat and uninspired in the first half last night? And Jon Gruden's ever-present gushing over Chip Kelly's coaching, his offensive wizardry, and his overall "magic" didn't really make me feel much better either. Overall, I felt pretty nauseous by halftime, quite honestly.

I'm anxious to see what the coaches do to get this team ready to play what promises to be a pretty angry Green Bay team this Sunday. Clay Matthews doesn't like mobile quarterbacks, and he probably doesn't like all the hype surrounding OUR particular mobile quarterback, so I think we'd better all buckle our seat belts for this game. It could get ugly pretty fast.

I watched RGIII's press conference last night where he refused to concede that he wasn't totally ready to face the game in real-time, and I have to wonder why? Why couldn't he just say, "yup, not playing in the pre-season probably put me behind a little bit, but I'm OK now"? He wouldn't admit anything other than "the whole team didn't play well". OK, so, what are we going to do about that?

Since we can't get a do-over, let's hope we're going to come out swinging this Sunday.
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Looking Like a Team...A GOOD Team!

0 comments Tuesday, August 20, 2013
The offense is moving the ball. The defense is getting a pass rush. Special teams are actually covering kicks. The whole team is looking sharp. And it's only half-way through preseason, WITHOUT our star quarterback. What does it all mean? How do we read the tea leaves here? Could it be that we're actually starting to really come together as a team? Is it possible that all the hard work since Shanahan took over is starting to pay off?

I'm almost afraid to say it out loud, but I'm NOT a superstitious person by nature, so I will: The Redskins look like they're going to be a pretty good team. No, I didn't say Superbowl contenders (at least, not yet!) I didn't say they're the best, or awesome, or anything crazy like that. I just think that for once, finally, after years of missteps and miscues, draft mistakes and game day debacles, we might really be heading in the right direction. I love the solid team atmosphere Shanahan has built.

I love the camaraderie of the players, the focused attention of the coaches, and the dedicated commitment to winning he seems to finally have been able to instill here. I even dig that new "Hail To The Redskins" signage on the stadium field -- did you catch that last night? VERY classy. Whoever Snyder paid to design that stuff did a pretty good job. How cool is that Jon Gruden was getting so fired up about our pass rushers last night? I mean, he was totally gushing. That says something, at least to me (and yes, I KNOW I'm biased because of that whole "crush on Jon Gruden" thing I've got going on, but let's put that aside for a minute). National attention is national attention, and when it isn't focused on how great RGIII is (which he is, obviously, but again, let's stay on track here) and the national media pundits are going on and on about our defense, doesn't that say something?

I think Shanahan has been able to move the needle on the Skins, and finally been able to bring back legitimate respectability to the hapless teams of years' past. OK, so what, you're thinking...who cares? It's just preseason. I know. But how much more fun is it to turn on the TV and watch a team getting it done, instead of a bunch of dudes collecting a paycheck and phoning it in? I'll take this bunch any day!
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16 Days...and I'm Counting!

0 comments Tuesday, July 9, 2013
It's nearly time. You know what I'm talking about. Don't pretend you aren't as excited as I am, even if you aren't a Skins fan. Because I KNOW you are. Yeah, I said it...I just KNOW you can't wait. And neither can I. Now that school's out, camps are in session, vacations are underway and the 4th of July is behind us, it can only mean ONE thing, and one thing only. Only 16 more days until my absolute, all-time favorite summer right-of-passage arrives.

Not sure what I'm referring to? Has the summer heat fried your brain or lulled you into a false sense of sports laziness where baseball reigns supreme?

Let me help you out here. I've got two words for you: Training. Camp. Ah, yes. Training camp! I'll say it again, just to savor the sound of the words rolling off my tongue. Training camp. It really doesn't get much better than that, now does it?

Training camp - a time when "all things football" begin anew. Old wounds have healed, last season's bitterness has been wiped away. It's time for a new football storyline to be written. New players, new coaches, new enthusiasm. And in our case, a brand-spanking new training facility to watch our beloved players strap on the pads and start playing our favorite game again.

God, I love training camp. Those who follow my blog probably remember my obsession with this annual summer ritual from years past. But that won't deter me from revisiting my passions again here, so indulge me if you will. I absolutely LOVE training camp. I love the sweat, the heat, the excitement. I love rookie players suiting up for the first time (I don't really count mini-camp as the "real" thing), I love wanna-be players trying out for the practice squad, I love veteran players hitting the sleds in the sizzling summer heat. I love fans schlepping out to watch practice as the sun rises, then lining up for player autographs afterwards. I love the comraderie of communing with my fellow die-hard fans ('cause only crazy fans actually show up for this stuff in the first place). I love shelling out money for a few pieces of brand-new Skins merchandise to add to my growing collection of fan crap. I love taking my kids to see the players up close and personal (even though those traitor children of mine have moved to the dark side and become Ravens fans).

Doesn't matter - training camp is a rite of passage I simply refuse to miss, surly pre-teen Raven fan children aside. On July 25th, I'll eagerly tune in to the local sports newscasts to watch the first Skins practice of the 2013 season, which reminds me of another thing I absolutely LOVE: those local media tents where sporstcasters like Dan Hellie broadcast live from the practice facility sporting sunburns and sunvisors and sweaty hair.

Sigh. I'm getting giddy just thinking about it all. So, 16 days and football will begin and all will be right with the world. Take a deep breath, because the long stretch between Superbowl Sunday and the beginning of football season is about to come to a close.

We are ALMOST there.
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