1. Here we are once again...the first full week of no football is under our belt. This is the moment when I get the most introspective. There won't be many times for the rest of the year where this is less distraction from our thoughts about our favorite team. In this era, I am not so sure this is that great a thing. (The general theme of today's Sixpack is somber, but don't worry--I wrap it up with a positive, so hang in there!) For some fans, the break is a welcome one, as it provides some much-needed distance from the misery of losing. For this fan, there is no distance from 4-12 that brings huge relief. Too many seasons of mediocrity--or just plain awfulness--have snowballed into what can only be described as an ever-present feeling of, "Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod."
2. Don't get me wrong--hope is here to stay for me. I won't ever give up on my team or the idea that this team can be good again...someday. I think what gets harder each year that we turn in a miserable record is trying to picture the team actually...you know, getting better. Each iteration of this losing team becomes somehow further removed from the prospect of winning, which makes it kind of like a nightmarish movie sequence from a psychological thriller. That doesn't stop us from believing, but it has infected our ability to "see it." I guess it is just difficult for the brain/heart to envision that many personnel moves all at once--and all working out in exactly the necessary and appropriate manner for this team to benefit.
3. There was a time when this franchise would annually convince us--most of us, that is--that we were one player away, or one bold "move" away. I don't need to spend many words here reminding you of those days. It was a lot of days--many, many days. (It remains to be seen if we are truly removed from those "days.") Five years ago, we would already have had the Ndamukong Suh countdown going, assuming that nobody was going to bid more than Dan Snyder. I suppose you could label it as "progress" that this is not the case today, but achieving this progress has come at a cost that most teams never have to endure. The lessons we have learned along that way have been...pricey.
4. Given what the NFL has turned into, there is still always the chance that a team can change its fortunes in the span of one offseason, but going from what we are now to a legitimate perennial contender does not happen between January and June. The most sobering thought around that fact is that we could have gotten to the REAL work of righting this ship in past seasons, but...we did not. Even short of "blowing it up" at any given point over the last decade, the team has allowed opportunities to truly rebuild pass it by, opting for ill-advised "re-load" strategies instead. The trade for Donovan McNabb, in particular, stands out here.
5. Staying on this theme, we have not just been bad, we have been old. Our poor man's version of reloading here and there has resulted in a roster full of journeymen role players over the last handful of seasons. There is no doubt that every good team has to bring in guys like these to fill out the squad. Due to salary cap restrictions and a lack of draft picks, the Redskins have had to rely way too heavily on such players. It's one thing to try and catch lightning in a bottle. It's another thing when you live on the tiny model ship in that bottle, trying to navigate around that lightning.
6. GOOD NEWS Y'ALL! Our rear view mirror is so full of costly lessons and catastrophic mistakes that one would think the Redskins are poised to steer clear of some pretty egregious shit going forward. Even better, the new guy on the job--McLovin'--has the reputation of building teams in pretty much the only way we have yet to try (successfully). We stand to boast a roster full of players under the age of 30. We have all of our draft picks, with an opportunity to pick up two players that will likely be able to contribute on day one (first and second rounders, regardless of trade back scenarios). We have salary cap room to be active participants in free agency, and there should be a healthy supply of veteran upgrades available that won't break the bank.
Now that I think about it...I guess I really am upbeat about this team right now. It just takes a stroll through the swamp of despair to remember that up might be the only direction we can go. Is it healthy to knock on wood with my face?