Washington Redskins: Beware of the Trap Game

Tom NataliCorrespondent ISeptember 12, 2012

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 12:  Jason Campbell #17 of the Washington Redskins makes a break against the St. Louis Rams during their game on October 12, 2008 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Before we go into a RGIII frenzy, let me remind of you something: October 12th, 2008, the Washington Redskins played the St. Louis Rams.

Over one month into the season, Jim Zorn looked like the hire of the century. Clinton Portis was on absolute fire and Jason Campbell was playing like an MVP; the Redskins stood at a surprising 4-1 record with consecutive victories over the Cowboys and Eagles.

On the other hand, the St. Louis Rams were in complete disarray. A week before this matchup from four years ago, they fired head coach Scott Linehan and replaced him with Jim Haslett.

This was supposed to be a tune-up game for the Redskins. They had all the momentum in the world and went out and half-assed their way to a 19-17 loss to the winless Rams.

What I’m trying to say is beware of the trap game, because that’s exactly what this game is. On paper, the 'Skins are the better team; they are flat out more talented than the Rams.

Talent alone will not bring the Redskins to victory; we’ve learned that the hard way over the years. Despite coming off one of the most memorable wins in the last two decades in New Orleans, the Burgundy and Gold are riding high.

Robert Griffin is all over the national headlines, Alfred Morris has become a fantasy football commodity, Billy Cundiff is a godsend and Mike Shanahan is ready to restore his reputation.

In all honesty, all of that doesn’t mean anything. Sure last Sunday’s 40-32 win was epic, but there are 15 more games to be played.

If this is the Redskins of old, then this has trap game written all over it. The psyche of this franchise has been pathetic for 20 years. They’ve been in over their heads, underachieving and dramatic prima donnas.

Call me negative, accuse me of having DC sports fear (something I want to trademark, by the way) or being over dramatic. The fact is nobody can predict what is going to happen this season.

Since Sunday’s victory, I have read and heard how the culture around Redskins Park has changed. That this team is “different,” the cohesion and camaraderie are at an all-time high.

That’s all well and good, however, that won’t suffice for now. Four years ago, the locker room was doing the “hip hip hooray!” chant. Here’s a reminder.

Even last year, Rex Grossman led the team to a 3-1 start and only won two games after that. There’s nothing guaranteed in this league, especially wins.

What I want to see is the fight stick with this team. That even though they aren’t going into a hostile environment and aren’t the underdogs, that they remain hungry. That they continue to play with a chip on their shoulder and Robert Griffin remains focused.

The NFL changes on a week-to-week basis; right now, the Redskins are the talk of the league. What will we say if they lose to an inferior Rams team? It’s happened before. In consistent fashion, the Redskins are notorious for playing down to the level of their opponent.

Prior to opening kickoff last week, I didn’t expect much from this Washington ballclub. Last Sunday I was simply hoping to compete with the dangerous New Orleans Saints. That all changed when we witnessed something special on the field.

But that was last week. Frankly, I don’t care about the Saints game anymore. They need to beat the Rams, and they need to beat them bad. Good teams beat inferior opponents because that’s what is expected of them. If the 'Skins believe they are a good team, then prove it.

So I guess we’ll find out just how “good” the Redskins are this Sunday afternoon.