***If you are looking for a rant about the drama that is in full Lindsay Lohan-mode right now, you likely won't find what you want in this space. That doesn't mean I won't deliver one soon enough, but that just isn't where my head or heart is today. KC Clyburn is handling the rant for us today!
1. Let's lead with the positive: yesterday's tailgate was amazing. The temperature stayed right around 30 degrees, with snow being the most prominent form of precipitation throughout. Fluffy, white snowflakes gave way to sleet at times, but at our tailgate, we had a clean, dry area under a MacGyver'ed tent/tarp/hobo village type of setup. From a distance, our tailgate looked like a snow-covered cave. I can't say it more clearly than this: that is my absolute favorite weather to tailgate in, and it is more than just because I love that cold, harsh weather in the parking lot. I love the company we keep on days like these. When it is cold and freezing rain/snow/sleet is coming down, you know that anyone out in that lot is there because they absolutely need to be there. They want to be there. The game was rendered meaningless well before this storm system moved in. As I said before, I hold it against NOBODY for not getting out to FedEx yesterday. Sucking it up in conditions like that for a team that seems to be phoning it in is not even close to an obligatory situation. For my part, I live for days like yesterday in the lot. Pitting our wits against the adverse conditions to create ways to remove those adverse conditions from the equation is just fun. Even the guys who couldn't make it yesterday contributed to the solution. Ted (Liger) dropped off his tent canopy, Lance made sure his tickets and parking pass made it to fellow Redskins fans who made meaningful contributions to the structure we built in the lot, and the rest of our available regulars (Kurt, Kris and Kevin) arrived on time and ready to do battle with the snow. We weren't at full strength from a numbers perspective, but we were at full-strength from an effort and heart perspective. I can't spend enough words talking about the fun we had out there yesterday. The only way the tailgate could have been better was if the game itself meant anything. That said, we learned long ago not to ever allow our tailgate experiences in the lot to be hijacked by this team's on-field performance. Attending the tailgate was worth everything that went with it yesterday.
2. Soooooooo...the circus is COMPLETELY back in town. Before we address the drama, let's just state a fact: the St. Louis Rams are about to have an incredibly amazing opportunity in the upcoming draft. Aside from the fact that another franchise gets to benefit from our misery, I guess I am mostly just paying attention to the Rams' decisions out of curiosity. They are going to have a couple picks at the top of a draft that is simply loaded with dudes who should be able to start for them on Day One. You know I love to find the silver lining, so here goes: The NFC West is dominated by the 49ers and Seahawks right now. The Arizona Cardinals, at 8-5, are even looking good. By donating an insanely high first round pick to the Rams, we are basically helping the last place team there fight their divisional rivals. This could potentially increase the overall competitiveness in the NFC West, which in turn could impact the NFC playoff picture going forward (an extra loss or two at the hands of the upstart Rams could keep the 2nd or even 3rd place team in that division out of the wild card picture). It's there...you just have to REALLY want to see it.
3. When the wheels come off here in DC, they really fly off. At around 7 AM yesterday morning, I was standing outside the FedEx gates telling someone that I fully believed Shanahan was coming back next season and would get some kind of extension, even if Snyder felt he might have to fire Shanahan before those additional years arrived. I had not yet seen the insanity that was brewing from multiple outlets about Shanahan. Holy crap...I know this kind of stuff happens other places too, but it doesn't happen with the kind of frequency and sensational flavor the way it does here. By the time I walked through the gates to watch a team that was already down by what seemed like 75 points, it felt like we were playing the last game of the season in--oh, I don't know...pick a year from the last two decades. You couldn't have convinced me yesterday at around 3 PM that this team was the defending NFC East champion or that we HOSTED a playoff game last year. We seem about a BILLION years removed from that feeling.
4. Before any of us decides to cozy up to this shitstorm, let's all remember that THE SEASON STRETCHES ON FOR ALMOST ANOTHER MONTH!! We have to play three more games! There's more than enough time for this derailment to further derail. If anyone is capable of making a bad situation worse, it is this group.
5. The Blame Game is fully underway--and the wheel that is spinning right now is full of potential culprits. You have Mike Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan, Jim Haslettt and Keith Burns representing the coaches. You have Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen representing the front office (maybe Mike Shanahan belongs here, too). Robert Griffin III has his own space on the wheel. He is a big boy and his actions have clearly been a contributing factor here. Whether you believe that the overall lack of talent is enough to give players a pass or not, I am putting them all on the wheel as well. All of these men have hurled handfuls of feces at the shit pile that has accumulated at Redskins Park. Every single person should be held accountable for what has transpired. Nobody should be held blameless. What sucks the most is that at least some of the guilty parties named above will be back again in 2014--after all, you can't switch out all the coaches, players and owner in one offseason.
6. The Washington Redskins organization is like a ship trying desperately to sail away from a giant black hole whirlpool in the middle of the ocean. As successful as we may be proving that that we can put some measure of distance between our ship and the bottom of the ocean, every ounce of effort to that end is quickly erased when the ship is allowed to float rudderless. As fast as we are able to show progress, we seem to race back to the precipice of disaster even faster. I remain an unforgivable, unabashed optimist, but even I find it hard to see how things are going to get better in the short term. All of my pessimistic, cynical friends--people I was quick to label as "wrong"--continue to look more and more "right" as this thing drags on. How can you blame people for expecting the worst anymore? How can you fault a lifelong fan who has been nothing but passionate and supportive for losing hope in Washington, DC? These are the questions I wrestle with today--not who is getting fired or who is going have their job saved. I am past caring about that right now. Besides, I have one more cold weather tailgate to prepare for--and I intend for it to be our crowning masterpiece. There is no quit in our tailgate. Our record this season is untarnished, and it will remain that way after the season is mercifully ended.