I expect the message board community and the postgame show callers to overreact after one season-opening loss. After the Washington Redskins' loss to the New York Giants on Thursday, the knee-jerk brigade is led by the bench Campbell contingent and running close behind with torches lit and rope in hand are the fire Zorn mob, the Portis stinks gang, and the throng that wants to send the Redskins' entire O-line on a one-way retirement cruise immediately.
What astounds me is how many sky-is-falling pieces we see in today's papers. The pros are the ones who are supposed to bring some perspective to the situation.
Apparently the editors at the Washington Post believe otherwise.
Sally Jenkins believes that she can come up with "inescapable facts" about the Redskins after one game, 6.25% of the first season under a new head coach. The Skins will have to "claw mightily to be better than a .500 team", says Jenkins, who reached this conclusion by halftime, or after 3.125% of the season.
Elsewhere in the Post, Les Carpenter had this reasoned analysis of the Skins' first play. It was a sack, the Giants' only one of the game, in fact.
Still it was a harbinger of the calamity to come, one in which the Redskins only had 11 first downs, 1 touchdown and 133 passing yards with an offense that was supposed to make everyone forget previous coach Joe Gibbs and his conservative, run-first game plans that had grown stale to many Redskins fans.
Did anyone really expect the offense to hum like a well-oiled machine on the road against the Super Bowl champs? It was a "calamity"? I'm no pro writer, but I would suggest to Mr. Carpenter that he save such words for actual calamities. In 2005, 36-0 in the Meadowlands was a calamity, at least in football terms. Last night, 16-7, even though the game wasn't that close, was not cataclysmic.
And one game, 27 passes into Jason Campbell's adaption to Jim Zorn's offense, and into Zorn's real-life experience as an NFL play caller, Jason LaCanfora found a guy who said that Campbell was doomed to fail. Quoting an NFL personnel executive (someone who, by the way, has a vested interest in seeing the Redskins fail):
When I watch that team, I think something's going to have to give. Is it the scheme or the quarterback? At some point either the coach is going to have to change what he does to fit the quarterback, or they're going to need a different quarterback. . . You can trace it all back to that, and if that doesn't work then your team is in trouble. It could take four years to dig out of something like that. If the coach doesn't have the right personnel to run his system, then you're starting over again.
So we have a season's that's over, depending on which Post scribe you want to believe, after either the first game, their first half of that game or even the first play of that game.
I'd call that static analysis, but that gives it credit for being analysis.
Why do Jenkins, Carpenter, and LaCanfora have to rush to judgment? Are they afraid that the Redskins will be 1-8 and the Post will be out of ink and paper for them to blast Snyder, Cerrato, Zorn, Campbell, Justin Tryon and Durant Brooks then?
Don't get me wrong, the Redskins and Zorn deserve all the criticism they are taking for what happened on Thursday night. They were tentative, they blew a boatload of opportunities, they were whipped on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and were thoroughly outclassed by a team that is very good, but not great.
But to think that things will stay this way, that Zorn won't adjust, that Campbell won't learn, that the quality of the opposition will stay the same, is lazy journalism at best.
Unfortunately, in these days of the Post-Redskins feud, it's what I've come to expect.