1. Unless there is a big name on the chopping block, or a surprise release out of nowhere, the first day of roster cuts is generally anti-climactic (unless you are the one being cut of course). The names you see are barely recognizable. I don't mean to make light of the brick wall that dreams run into this time of year, but I am reminded of my old WWF days (that's right, it was the WWF when I was a wee lad, before the World Wildlife Fund put an end to that). There were the frontline guys, like Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Rowdy Roddy Piper, etc., and then there was "the other guys" each week. Usually, you would see a headlining contest between Hulk Hogan and some other guy, typically named "Dave" or "Steve" or something vanilla like that. Dave would be wearing a baby blue speedo and he would not have the same amount of muscles or fans as his opponent. Dave never won. The first day of roster cuts is full of Dave's and Steve's. It is not that these players have or had no chance of making the team (though that is closer to the truth than the opposite), rather, they were mostly just brought in to get beaten on by the frontline guys for a month or two. I tip my hat to all the guys who find themselves out of the league today. Without them, the NFL couldn't charge full price for preseason game tickets. Wait...that can't be right.
2. While watching the Redskins face off against the Ravens on Saturday night, something kept occurring to me over and over again. Every time they would put Michael Campanaro on the screen, the song from Krusty's infamous Canyonero commercial would ring through my head. I can't be the only one, can I?
3. This Simpsons marathon on FXX is killing me from a sleep perspective, but I saw something last night that I had to share. In 1997, The Simpsons aired an episode called "The Old Man and Lisa" and in one of the freeze frame sight gags was the page of a dictionary Mr. Burns was using to find the definition of the word "recycling." As he scanned down the page, there was a millisecond where it froze on the word "redskin." It was defined as "usually taken to be offensive." I must have conveniently blocked that out at the time, or just forgotten. While I do continue to support the use of the name Redskins, two things occurred to me when I saw this last night during the marathon: 1) I can honestly say I was watching the Simpsons marathon for research purposes for the Sixpack; and 2) people who suggest this name issue is new or solely the product of the social media age are wrong. Just to combine two thoughts on the same topic: I am trying to find the appropriate analogy to illustrate how surprised I was when The Washington Post announced it was going to refrain from using the word "Redskins" in its editorial and opinion spaces. I was more surprised when:
- Danny Wuerffel didn't pan out for the Redskins under Steve Spurrier
- Sam Bradford reinjured his knee this weekend
- Michael Sam was almost undrafted
Dan Snyder went to war with the Post almost from day one it seemed. The awesomely ironic part is that the team has spent a ton of energy outlawing the use of the team name over the last decade, especially at this paper. The Post will still use 'Redskins' in news stories, making the announcement highly (though not totally) symbolic, but this whole thing struck me as the paper taking an opportunity to stick it to the franchise in a public manner. I am not suggesting that the editors wouldn't have made a similar decision if they were besties with Dan Snyder, but sans the acrimony, I might wager they wouldn't have gone this route. It is just a matter of time before the team refrains from using the name of "that newspaper" in its own editorial outlets (maybe they already do that).
4. I just can't ignore the quarterback play on Saturday night. On "The District" during halftime of the game, I was quick to lament the performance I had just witnessed from Robert Griffin III. I am still not standing near the ledge. I was disappointed in general, but I remain unconvinced there is any definitive judgement you can make after one half of a Glorified Practice. It is nowhere near as bad as it looks, though it also nowhere near as great as some true believers would have you believe. Griffin is still not there yet. He seemed to hold on to the ball for that extra tick so commonly associated with indecisiveness. There is always more than meets the eye in a preseason game, because we know they are not out there running their top stuff. I was extremely happy about not seeing Haloti Ngata nuke our franchise quarterback, and you can always point to the high completion rate if you want to be happy about a number. In short, we won't win many games if our offense performs at that level. As a 'glass is half full' guy, I will lean on the old adage that offenses are still behind defenses at this time of year. God, I hope that is all it is. You can choose to get overly worked up about a paltry performance against a perennially stout Ravens defense, and as far as I'm concerned, you are within your rights to do that. My approach to this whole issue is that we transition from the preseason to an opening pair of games against teams that were about as bad as we were last season. Can Houston and Jacksonville send us to an 0-2 start? Oh, most definitely, but it is an interesting opportunity for a few down-and-out franchises to gain momentum at the start of the regular season campaign. Beating those teams doesn't make us "good," but it could launch us into a stretch where we can begin to feel good about what we are doing. In this era, that is often good enough to help you graduate to "good."
5. Let's end on a positive note: our defense looks WAY better than last year's edition already. In the same way that we shouldn't get too down on our offense, we need to stay somewhat grounded on the defensive side of the ball. Stopping the Ravens twice on fourth down and short is huge. It is also far easier to do that in the preseason because you can almost guarantee the team is going to run the ball in that situation. No offensive coordinator is going to show his best stuff on fourth down in the preseason (except maybe Steve Spurrier). You are mostly just giving the fat guys a chance to impose their will on each other. We ran the same play later in the game with the same result. Though the Dallas is still not completely washed off of him, I was super impressed with Jason Hatcher. I loved the pursuit by Keenan Robinson on multiple plays. I thought David Amerson played well and I obviously loved what I saw from Ryan Kerrigan. Those were the players I spent the most time watching, but the unit impressed. I have spent the summer thinking our offense was going to have to outscore the opposing offense in weekly shootouts, with our defense scrapping to make a play here and there in a supporting effort. If I was going to change any beliefs I had before the Ravens game, it is that perhaps--PERHAPS--our defense could be a much bigger factor in winning games each week. This would be a huge development in Washington.
6. Long Sixpack already, I know, but...tonight is the Emmy Awards ceremony. Many of you might think less of me for caring about such things, but if you read my stuff on a regular basis, you know how important TV is to me. (Many of you already think so little of me...this probably doesn't move the needle too much.) Tonight, all of the television shows we watch on a regular basis (or at least some of them) are pitted against each other for the right to win little trophies! This is important, people! In addition to providing me something to gamble on, the Emmy telecast allows me to drunkenly declare how smart I am for watching Game of Thrones or for having watched Breaking Bad. It allows me to say things like, "His performance was so courageous," or "If I had boobs and blonde hair, I would be on that stage, too." I'm rooting for Seth Meyers tonight. Is it too late for Brandon Meriweather to be nominated for "Best Leading Head in a Drama?"***
***(That penalty on him was total crap, but for the rest of his career, he will have that called against him.)