Yeah, I know. Sorry—long week.
No way I let a game day go without posting though so I boiled it down to just a couple of things.
You know it's true. Today's game against the 0-2 St. Louis Rams and wet-behind-the-ears rookie quarterback Sam Bradford feels like a "must" win. Why? Because for the past nine months Redskins fans have slowly, inexorably built up hope and expectation that the Allen-Shanahan-McNabb Redskins are not just any other 4-12 team launching a new regime.
Against our better judgment, in the privacy of our hearts and minds, many of us believe this team is at least a wild-card hopeful; a team that could well find its stride down the stretch in time to qualify for the playoffs.
And everyone knows what can happen then: you get in, you get hot...
But all that knock-on-wood thinking ends today if the Redskins lay an egg and lose to the Rams. No disrespect to the good people of St. Louis, but losing to your team today would send Redskins fans' hearts plunging into acidic stomachs and minds to places so dark M. Night Shyamalan might come calling.
It's not about the St. Louis Rams today. It's about finding out whether or not the 2010 Redskins are legit.
CLOSING IT OUT
Through the first two weeks, I have been impressed with the Redskins game-planning and play-calling. The Shanahans and Jim Haslett have shown me solid, even cutting-edge, preparation and professionalism.
Where I'm a little nervous is what happens late in games. Dallas drove the field easily as time wound down and was one play from stealing a heartbreaker. Houston got the best of the Redskins down the stretch in a big way, and to me at least part of that seemed to be a result of better in-game adjustments...
Having enjoyed the phenomenon of Gibbs (no team ever adjusted more effectively or consistently after the half and throughout the game than the Gibbs-Petitbone Redskins) I have been watching and waiting for signs of a return to that comfort zone ever since. I was hoping to find it with this group. I'm not sure I have yet, and that troubles me.
Another possible reason for the second-half slides to date could be every bit as troubling. The Redskins are not a young team. There's no way to sugarcoat it...in those final frantic minutes against Houston, the Redskins looked old and slow compared to the young Texans.
If Washington is simply going to be feeling its older legs late in games, all the adjusting and scheming and heart and passion in the world aren't going to get them over the hump in 2010. NFL games are generally won or lost in the final 10 minutes or so. You can't coach youth.
Whatever the reason for the inability to slam the door so far, unless the Redskins are up by three scores and the other team, in today's case the young St. Louis Rams, have clearly packed it in, I'm going to be a little unsettled.
Until further notice, when it comes to belief in their ability to close out games, I am going Missouri on the Redskins:
I picked the first week correctly—not the score (I had it 23-20), but I did have the Redskins beating Dallas.
Late in Week 2 against Houston I was feeling pretty smug. With 2:11 to go and the Redskins up 27-20 and the Texans facing 4th-and-10, I had already half-composed a humble, "Aw-shucks" next-day post in my head. My prediction had been Redskins, 26-20.
The gridiron gods and Andre Johnson conspired to keep my hat size consistent however. They say what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. Not sure I buy it, but it was a port in the storm this week.
This afternoon the Redskins will look great in spots, and like a work in progress in others. They will win a game some will say was closer than it should have been. What do they know? It's the NFL.
Washington 24, St. Louis 16
2010 prediction record: 1-1