September 24, 2004
Just a short addition to the blog today, it’s the wife’s birthday and I’m to be available to wait on her hand and foot all day.
It’s really amazing how people can take something and read into it what they want. When I wrote my “Get a Grip” rant yesterday, I made sure to emphasize that I was speaking of getting too high in the good moments as well as getting too low in the bad moments. Virtually every mention of overacting to a negative was matched with one of getting too joyous over positive developments.
I read my rant on the air on the Redskins Review (Sports Radio 910 in Richmond) and posted it here and I was amazed at the reaction. Despite the attempt at balance, many people saw it as a call to shut off any questioning of what Gibbs and the organization do. One said that I was saying that all Redskins fans should be “Stepford” fans. Now, I haven’t seen the movie, but from what I’ve gathered a Stepford wife is obedient and submissive. Nowhere in the blog entry was did I suggest that critical comments about the team were inappropriate or out of bounds in any way, nor did I at any point say that fans were in any way obligated to praise the organization to the hilt when things went well.
I guess that if I’d posted the piece after a big win, I would have been accused of being a wet blanket, throwing cold water on a huge, pivotal accomplishment. So, I’m not going to worry about it.
Make Eddie Do It
My quick take on how to beat the Cowboys is to make Eddie George beat you. Go with seven in the box, even six, and cover deep. Even given the Redskins’ weak DL and injuries at LB, Eddie still won’t move the chains. Let Vinnie drop short ones to Meshawn and to Witten all day. Eventually he’ll throw some picks.
September 23, 2004
Calm down out there, would you? Yeah, I’m talking to you!
I’ve heard you out there, Redskins fans. I’ve heard you on sports talk stations and I’ve read your posts on this and other Internet forums and I’ve received your emails and I’ve talked to you at work and elsewhere. And I’m now using this forum to tell all of you to get a grip.
With Redskins fans, every positive up tick in the team’s fortunes is greeted with adulation once reserved for lifting the Lombardi Trophy. And every little thing that might go wrong is a disaster akin to Super Bowl 18.
First, let me make it clear here that I’m not talking about gaining perspective in terms of the real world here. It’s absolutely fine and even healthy to get all wrapped up in the fortunes of a sports team even when there are wars going on and there’s a presidential election going on and social injustice everywhere and hurricanes wreaking havoc and all that. My wife is the poster child for football widows and my lawn begs for attention and time that goes to watching, analyzing, discussing, and writing about the Washington Redskins. So I’m not asking anyone out there to view what happens to a football team in the frame of the bigger picture of life or any of that nonsense.
That being said, many of you out there have got to step back and not get all bent out of shape over events that will soon be rendered insignificant even in the world of the NFL.
The fact that the Redskins lost to the Giants, even in the way that they did, does not mean that they are doomed to another season with a double-digit loss total. But you wouldn’t know that by talking to the Redskins “faithful” out there. We have no depth, our quarterbacks both stink, Portis is a horrible fit for Gibbs’ system, and so on.
A week ago, of course, the Redskins won a no-so-pretty game against the Bucs and the playoffs were a certainty. I’ve never see people go from making plane reservations to Jacksonville in January to having to be talked down off a ledge just a few days later.
This didn’t just start when the real games started. Even confining the discussion to the past few months there’s been the “we’re doomed” mentality that set in when Jon Jansen went down with an injury. Sean Taylor misses rookie camp, fires his agent and all of a sudden he’s the biggest buffoon in the NFL since Joe Don Looney. He makes a few nice plays against backups in the preseason opener in Canton and he’s headed straight across the street to the Hall of Fame. He doesn’t start the opener and hasn’t been heard from much lately and now he’s a wasted draft pick who should be traded or, failing that, summarily cut and run out of town. Lose to the Rams, we’re awful. Beat the Falcons, we’re going all the way.
The writers for the DC and Richmond papers don’t help much. After the week one win, terms like “Virtuoso performance”, “storming defense”, “storybook ending”, “giddy”, and “different aura” peppered the coverage in the DC sports pages. On Monday, it was “crushing”, “puzzling”, “a barrage of blunders”, “sloppy”, “ugly”.
While the descriptions in both cases were apt, perhaps the beat writers need to be a little more selective in their choice of words. Perhaps they don’t realize that their readership is loaded with manic depressives subject to the heights of elation upon winning the coin toss or the depths of sorrow with a case of turf toe.
It’s not like I’m accusing you people out there of holding two contradictory thoughts at once. The joy and blind optimism following a positive development such as a getting two first downs in a row is instantly replaced with wallowing in abject misery upon the commission of a false start by a Redskin lineman. The extreme negativity will not be dislodged until the next favorable event.
I have to wonder what these members of the burgundy and gold faithful do when they encounter the highs and lows of everyday life. When the steak they ordered medium rare comes out medium well, do you have to wrest the steak knife away from them for fear of injury to themselves and others? Do they jump for joy inside the convenience store when they win a free ticket on a two dollar lottery scratcher?
Have you heard those who are calling this upcoming game a “must win”? My God, there are 13 games left. Joe Gibbs started out 1-2 three times and he won at least ten games each season.
Now before everyone out there starts driving to the Key Bridge and prepares to jump after learning about being manic depressive, Dr. Rich knows the reason and has the cure. So put the car keys down and lay down on my couch here
The cause is Norv Turner. The depressive part has been called “Norvousness” and it comes from experience of watching things from bad to worse with distressing regularity. The manic half comes from the fact that good moments were few and far between and you had to celebrate and savor them or following the Redskins would become miserable.
Your prescription is to look at a picture of Joe Gibbs and say over and over again, Joe Gibbs is back.
Don’t be afraid to be passionate about the Redskins. Cheer like mad when they do well, go ahead and let an expletive fly when they screw up. But after that, let it go.
September 22, 2004
Under the Radar Shift
As the Redskins lined up for their first offensive play on Sunday, the Fox Sports graphic had Kenyatta Jones' name and picture at right tackle as the starting lineup was given. Right above the shot of Jones’ mug, Ray Brown was lining up to in that tackle spot.
Joe Buck announced that Brown was starting a few minutes later, but Brown’s name was not mentioned the rest of the day. That, of course, is a good thing for an offensive lineman, especially one going up against the estimable Michael Strahan.
I was milling around with the press corps on August 11, the last day of training camp that was fully open to the press and public, when Brown was whisked from the main building to the practice field in a golf cart about 15 minutes into the session. As most of the press corps had turned over since Brown last played for the Redskins, it took a few minutes for anyone to figure out exactly who he was. As one would expect, his participation in practice was quite limited.
When I saw him surrounded by a gaggle of reporters after practice, I saw Central Casting’s perfect fit for the Craggy Veteran—tall, fit, but with the 19 years of pounding in the interior of NFL lines showing in his face. You can’t help but root for the guy.
It’s still unclear why he started on Sunday and if he will start on Monday night. Gibbs said that Jones had a “fat” (sprained) ankle and that’s the reason he went with Brown. Jones dressed and claims that he could have played without any hindrance from the ankle.
No lineup changes on the line have been announced, but the depth chart on the Redskins’ Website lists Brown as the first-string right tackle and Jones as the backup. As this depth chart is as “official” as it gets and it’s unlikely that a short-term benching for a minor injury would lead to a shuffling on the chart (note that Brunell is still listed as the starting QB despite his questionable status for Monday), one would have to think that Brown has moved ahead of Jones based on merit and will stay there until his play dictates otherwise.
Hey, Tony K. You writing about the Bandwagon is kind of like Tom Jones on daytime TV singing “It’s Not Unusual”. It worked once, it doesn’t work any more. Yeah, Kornheiser can be funny, but so can Steve Martin and he moved away from “A wild a crazy guy” quite some time ago.
Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs' Washington Redskins. For information on this unique book, visit GutCheckBook.com
Tandler’s Redskins Blog 9/22
Tandler’s Redskins Blog 9/21