I have been accused of being overly optimistic before, and to be fair, my preseason prediction of 10-6 remains on the high side, but this team actually resembles a very legit squad. The crimes committed in St. Louis a few weeks ago are all but forgiven in my book (it could still cost us a playoff spot, but we are a better team now than we were then). Their failure to show up that week seemed to really open their eyes to the fact that you have to fight for everything in the NFL this year (is it really any different than any other year?). Three good showings in a row have me believing in this team in a way I did not think would happen this soon in the season. Here are my latest musings on what has been a very exciting season sa far.
Ten Yard Fight - 10 Chances To Make One Good Point
1. I was trying to think of a way to say that this 3-3 record is better than the 6-2 record we had under Zorn a couple seasons ago. It sounds preposterous even in my mind. And yet, that 6-2 team was a house of cards. The meat of our schedule that season started right around our bye week, really heating up against the Steelers on a Monday Night tilt. We were exposed and we never recovered. This 3-3 team has faced some decent competition. The Colts would be the class of that group. At 6-2, we had no idea how that Zorn-led team would react when things went against them in a tough game--Jason Campbell was playing mistake-free ball and we were getting breaks. At 3-3 today, we have been in some rather serious scrapes. While we have failed to get the extra first down that we needed on more than a couple crucial drives, we have also made plays on both sides of the ball that Redskin teams have simply not made in a long time.
2. A LOT of that has to do with the even play of #5. And by even, I do mean the good and the bad. He has been consistently inaccurate at times, while also being consistently poised at times. I don't know how one would look at his body of work in 2010 and argue that the good does not outweigh the bad. In overtime against the Texans and on Sunday night on the second to last possession against the Colts, I honestly thought McNabb was going to get it done. He didn't. That is disappointing. But the fact remains that we find ourselves in those positions largely because of plays he has made throughout the game. I heard people calling for him to be benched this week again. I do not know what to say to that--without McNabb we are 1-5...maybe 2-4.
3. Mike Shanahan alluded to it in his press conference when he said we had to play better together. I think what he meant was that our offense has to do a better job of making big plays following defensive plays and vice versa. When Peyton Manning got the ball back after that 1st half turnover by the Skins, he went deep for the touchdown. Our offense (McNabb included) failed to take full advantage of the positions our defense gave us. When you play Peyton Manning, you can't let a single opportunity pass you by. It is that simple. He is scary good right?
4. There should be a law against reviewing Carlos Rogers catches. To me, it looked like Rogers caught it and fumbled. But I forgot the Golden Rule: Carlos can't catch. It seems that even the referees refused to believe their eyes. With what appeared to be ironclad visual evidence of a Carlos Rogers catch, the referee emerged and announced that Carlos had not caught the ball. I had to laugh...that dude is like the Charlie Brown of cornerbacks. Lucy is going to put that ball out there and he is going to try and get it each time, but we all know how it ends.
5. Things did not go our way, but not in the kind of way they have not gone our way. I wouldn't say we bungled our way to a loss. To be certain, the better team won on Sunday night. There can be no argument there, right? The Colts should have won by more. But there was our defense, or Brandon Banks, or Ryan Torain showing up to make a play that would cause Indy to work harder for this win. We have been witness to a real Keystone Kops kind of show over the years at FedEx. These guys are giving us something a lot better these days.
6. Count me among those who think Haynesworth did not belong on the field. I would not wish his family situation on anyone, but I don't believe he did anything to help himself in this instance, and I don't buy for a second that he was "shocked" that he didn't play. He never even communicated with Shanahan on when he was coming back (according to Shanny). I am sick of this topic too, but I won't duck it like a conditioning test. Haynesworth has been pushing Shanahan's buttons all season and Shanahan has been pushing back all season. Nobody wins here regardless of who is right and wrong. A good player was not on the field and that sucks. Shanahan's ego is absolutely a problem here, but he gets the benefit of the doubt right now. Haynesworth is a douchebag.
7. Is it time for my monthly "Should We Freak Out About McNabb Not Being Signed Yet?" article? This is slowly getting to be a bigger and bigger deal. And I am slowly freaking out...anyone care to talk me down this week?
8. Trent Williams continues to be a stud. How many times did you hear Dwight Freeney's name called? I watched him from the end zone all night long. He is dominant. It could be the perfect system for the perfect skill set, or it could be that he would be a stud no matter what system he blocked in. When he is in the game, we are a different team.
9. Meanwhile, at FedEx Field, they are doing a lot of good things but also doing a number of confusing things. I spent the entire first half banging an empty Bud Light beer can on the aluminum facade in front of the Bud Light party deck (nice promotional opportunity). I was encouraged to do so by ushers and stadium folks, as well as the signs I have been reading all season long that say "Stomp" and "Bang" and "Be Loud". I was not alone, and it was LOUD. That was on the East Party Deck. In the second half, we checked out the scene in the West Party Deck where the band is. We were quickly told by stadium authorities that if we banged on the aluminum with beer cans we would be thrown out of the stadium. So we used our hands. Then the stadium guy started acting like a real douche and told us that if we hit it with our hands we would be tossed out. And he stood there and kind of dared us to do it again, which we didn't do because we are not assholes. I could pick him out of a lineup but I did not get his name. He was a real tough guy though...way to go dude. You silenced Redskins fans. At home. Awesome.
a) Lots of Colts fans there but not even close to how many Steelers fans as there were a couple years ago. In fact, it was the most opposing team's fans we have seen in a while but not in the top 10 of opposing team contingents I have seen.
b) Did all these people travel from Indy? I don't know anyone around here from Indy. Do you? I did not know our city had enough frontrunners to cover the Yankees, Cowboys, Lakers AND Colts. I guess I was wrong.
c) The tailgate in F31 was playoff ready. I can speak for every person in that area when I say that the Diem was properly Carpe'd.
d) Congrats to Kevin Ewoldt and Matt Kund on winning the Mike Wiggins Invitational. The Beirut tournament was once again a huge success, filled with intrigue, debate, scandal and the thrills that every Beirut tournament should have.
e) Liger...you have a gift my friend. That pulled pork should be illegal it was so good.
f) Lance, you would have gotten farther in the tournament if you had Travis.