It's a "W." Yes, it's a flippin' "W."
But what a stinker of a win for this squad, squeezing past the woebegone St. Louis Rams like a tube of toothpaste, 9-7, at home (a 7-1 record in home openers for the past eight seasons).
There were a lot of positives, yet so many more negatives, most notably on the offensive side.
I'm happy that the team won, and the crowd was into the game (it booed during the end of the game AND even in between the commercial breaks!). But I could not let the team slide without comment.
Here are five positives:
1. They won. I cannot stress that enough: The Washington Redskins won. Hip. Hip. Hooray.
Could they have won by the Las Vegas 10-point spread? Of course! They didn't, unfortunately, but they got a much-needed 'W' when it counted. (Thank God that the team doesn't have the New England Patriots next week after Tom Brady's weak game vs. the New York Jets!)
2. Jason Campbell's stats were solid, if not outstanding. 23-of-35 passes for over 225 yards is really good, seeing that he played better than he did last week (one INT, two fumbles). Good, but not great.
3. The (multiple, throaty) boos from the oft-perturbed crowd. There's no protocol as to when to boo, how (loudly) to boo, whom to boo (heck, the Philadelphia Eagle fans have jeered Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, AND Michael Irvin, who lay motionless and ended his career on a bad neck injury in Philly) during any sporting event for a home crowd.
However, I think that patrons are tired of this team losing or winning by the skin of their teeth, no pun intended, against less than mediocre teams.
They have the right: They pay for some of the priciest tickets in the league (close to $80, according to the 2009 NFL Team Marketing Report), spend extra on concessions ($7-8 for beer, 10 bucks for a cheeseburger? Seriously?), and cheer for a .500 team that has averaged a meager 16.2 points a game since 2008.
Additionally, as seen last Sunday, if I have 12 plays near the opponent's 10-yard line but can only manage three field goals in the home opener, then I'm booing, too!
These are not your parents' Redskins of the 1980s, ladies and gentlemen—and we, as fans and observers, must let them know that they must play better in order to reach that consistent pinnacle.
4. Chris Cooley, Captain Chaos. Washington's tight end got Campbell going early and got his QB in a nice rhythm. Nothing to talk about ad nauseam, but seven catches for 83 yards was one reason why Campbell played a decent game and found a safety valve when the offensive line received pressure up the middle.
5. Antwaan Randle El in the slot. That has been the best move for the team, as the veteran wide receiver seems to play better and is more open with taller receivers like Malcolm Kelly or Devin Thomas at the flanker position. He had 98 yards receiving against the Giants and an awesome catch inside the 10-yard line in the Rams' territory.
1. Those stupid clichés that a "win is a win," and how it's "sooo hard to win in the NFL." Yes, we know how brutal the sport is, how tough the NFC East division is, and how parity/free agency/salary cap pretty much make different teams competitive enough to go to the Super Bowl every year.
But I swear I wanted to throw my remote control through the TV during the post-game interviews, talking about "W's" and "hard wins."
And yes, while it's a tough sports league, there's a definitive sign of teams that go to the playoffs more consistently (see Giants, New York) than others (see, Redskins, Washington).
Case in point No. 1 ('08 season): New York played those same sorry Rams in Week Two and whupped them 41-13 on the road. Case in point No. 2: Last year Washington struggled mercilessly and never could escape the inevitable loss (at home, mind you) to those same two-win, 14-loss Rams, 19-17.
When you trounce teams like the Rams and lose very close ones to the Giants, then you show promise. But if you have to limbo through the spokes of a wheel to beat the Rams and lose by halftime to the Giants, then you don't deserve any "W's"—or "X's," "Y's," and "Z's."
2. The questionable play-calling of James Arthur Zorn, head coach, main offensive signal caller, and quarterbacks coach. Fourth down and one, deep in Rams territory in the fourth quarter, and you decide to run it instead of kicking a field goal?
Hmmm...you're lucky that strong safety Chris Horton was in the right place at the right time to knock away that Hail Mary pass from Rams quarterback Marc Bulger.
You also decide earlier in the game to use a trick play—running back Clinton Portis passes to Cooley, which goes nowhere? Hmmm...
And in the red zone, why are you running more than passing? I'm not an expert, but I think that there should be a fair share of both rush and pass plays when you're inside the 20 so that you don't look so predictable. Mix it up, Z-man! Or hire a REAL offensive coordinator.
3. I am still not convinced that starting cornerback DeAngelo Hall is worth his lucrative, six-year, $55 mil. contract. (Which is why I feel Oakland was eager to cut him and keep Nnamdi Asomugha at the other corner position.)
He may indeed get up to five or more picks during the season, but he was beaten by OK receivers in New York, cannot tackle all that well, and made Rams wideout Laurent Robinson look like Jerry Rice on that second quarter touchdown pass.
He's still questionable as a quality CB (to me) so far. I'd have Carlos Rogers a smidge higher on the depth chart...
4. "Dimwit" Tweeter rookie linebacker Robert Henson. After the game, Henson berated disgruntled 'Skins fans on his Twitter page. Awww. Mad at some fans for not liking a narrow victory after being tortured by ineptitude for a solid decade and a half, huh?
Mad because you're sitting on a bench, with at least a five- to six-figure salary, and have the nerve to assume that those same booing fans "work 9-5 at McDonald's?" Ouch.
Your father-in-law Bishop T.D. Jakes would not approve of that, and neither will I. Greg Blache should give you a pillow (or Krazy Glue) to stay nice and comfy where you are, buddy.
5. The loss of stalwart right guard Randy Thomas. This is bad, real bad—Michael Jackson.
The team's front office has neglected the need to upgrade an aging offensive line. Yet against the Rams, the 11-year veteran tore his right triceps muscle in his arm after damaging his left one in 2007. When healthy, he has anchored a formidable line and assisted in Portis' setting the franchise record for most rushing yards in a season in 2005.
He will be sorely missed, with the task of Campbell's staying upright more paramount. Furthermore, there's a strong chance that No. 77 might not be seen in a Redskins uniform again. Best of luck, Randy.
So, here we go: Can the Redskins finally show some life in their West Coast offense and win big against the winless, sorry Detroit Lions? Or will this As the World Turns soap opera drama keep on unfolding, with the Redskins underestimating a desperate Lions team and losing in an unnecessarily close match?
To be continued...
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