The 5 o’clock club is published several times per week during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.
Each of the contributors who gets front-page space here at Hogs Haven has a role. Scott Jennings keeps everyone up to date with breaking news and posts game threads and related items. James Dorsett does the analytics articles. Andrew York has kept us up to date with the 5 Questions with the Enemy articles all season long. Mark Tyler provides insight into players and plays, while Gabe Ward leads the offseason effort to profile every likely draftable player between mid-February and late April. Ken Meringolo, of course, shows up (nearly) every Monday with his Six Pack. Bryan Stabbe puts his name on fewer articles, but does a lot of the work that keeps the site running seamlessly. Tom Garrett looks ahead with an opponent preview each week; Jamual Forrest, weekly, discusses What We Learned with each successive loss this season; John Seago writes a great series that looks at draftable college players that we can look for weekly in a highlighted college game; Denton Day highlights the alliterative Pig Pen Podcast on a regular basis, and guys like Philip Hughes and Steve Shoup put together the Daily Slop that forms the backbone of the Hogs Haven community. I may have overlooked some people, and I hope you’ll forgive me if I did. My goal here isn’t so much to give recognition to everyone who contributes, but to frame up my own contribution.
I am tasked with providing the “filler” material. I copy and paste a few tweets into the Daily Twitter posts that publish at midnight on the East Coast, and, during the season, I am responsible for putting together a morning “conversation starter” in the form of the Five O’Clock Club that posts at 5 a.m. in DC. And, in the off-season, I’m the guy who is supposed to make sure that something is posted nearly every day (beyond the Slop & Twitter) to give members a reason to check in.
My arrangement with Ken is that, in-season (which is when, as a teacher, I am busiest), I will post 4 articles per week, plus the FanPulse articles.
This has never been difficult for me. I enjoy having the opportunity to contribute the column regularly and some articles from time to time, and I have always been able to find four things per week to write about. Over the past few seasons, I would typically go through a mental checklist of things to write about: last week’s game, next week’s game, a focus on a specific player or player group, our division rivals, injuries, the Redskins’ chances of winning the division (or, failing that, a wildcard spot), some salary cap or free agent updates, and things like that. I was often inspired by specific things that Jay Gruden said (or didn’t say) in his press conferences. If all that failed to inspire me, I would look at ideas drawn from the broader NFL — rule changes, the CBA, notable trades or injuries — there’s always something to write about.
This season has been different.
First of all, the team started off playing bad football, and, overall, has simply gotten worse. That means that a lot of what I normally have focused on in past seasons is off the table. There’s no use writing about the team’s progress towards a division title or wildcard spot — that ain’t happening. Looking back at the latest in a string of humiliating losses is no fun, and looking ahead to the next opponent is merely depressingly similar from week-to-week, as the prognostication for pretty much every game (except for Miami) since the loss to the Cowboys in Week 2 has been the same: no hope.
For a while, there was something to discuss with the quarterback situation, but that seems to be settled now.
One theme that has been easy to type and publish has been the discussion of the dual root causes of the current and ongoing travesty: Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen. But there’s a dead horse factor that comes into play there... I mean, I can’t very well write about how bad Bruce Allen sucks sixteen times per month. Well, I can, but, while it’s a fun drum to beat, the tune gets monotonous.
One problem with a lot of the usual things I would choose to write is that they seem out-of-place in a crappy season. In other words, if a player shines in a game — an example would be the strong effort by Derrius Guice this week versus the Jets — I’d often highlight that guy. Others might include Scary Terry’s grown-ass manhood that was on display on Sunday, the Matt Ioannidis story, which remains untold among NFL fans who aren’t aficionados of Redskins defensive line play, or even the strong performance from Landon Collins throughout the season, the ‘best-offensive-lineman-on-the-team’ praise for Ereck Flowers, or the fact that Kerrigan rang the bell for 2 sacks this week.
If I highlight this kind of good performance by a player or players right now, though, the natural and not unreasonable reaction from most readers is: the team sucks, has sucked all year, will still suck next week... why are you posting Pollyana articles pumping sunshine and lollipops while you act like the team is farting cotton candy out of its ass instead of the giant pile of dung that it’s leaving on the field weekly?
In other words, it seems wrong to celebrate, or try to celebrate, individual success in the midst of such a collective shitshow.
Writing anything remotely positive about a team that is playing such bad football seems wrong, somehow. Partly, that’s because I don’t always have the writing skill to hit the right ‘note’ in an article. Last week, I wrote a 5 o’clock club article that I planned to publish on Friday. I started out with a clear idea of what I wanted to say and the tone I wanted the editorial piece to have. I spent nearly two hours writing it, and when I was finished, I read through it. It came across as whiny, argumentative, negative, and disagreeable. It didn’t really achieve what I set out to achieve, so I hit the “Cancel” button instead of the “Publish” button, and spent two days trying to think of what I wanted to write ahead of the Jets game to replace it.
In the end, I managed to put together my fourth article for the week, which went live on Sunday morning at 8:30, but, for the first time in the four or five years that I’ve been asked to do my part to keep the front page filled with content, I almost didn’t meet my commitment.
This week feels like it might be a similar struggle. It’s late Tuesday evening for me. Normally, by this time, I have a minimum of two articles ready for the week; more often, I have three complete, and another two to three ‘all purpose’ articles that can be published anytime if I’m on a deadline or out of ideas. But right now, the editorial queue is empty with regard to the four articles I am expected to contribute.
This is the first one —- at least, it will be when I finish typing it.
I really have no fresh perspective to bring to the season. The team wasn’t expected to have a good year, and they have badly underperformed those low expectations. The coach was fired after five weeks. Bill Callahan has provided mostly competent interim guidance, but he will hit his “use by” date when the final whistle blows on the Redskins’ Week 17 game. Bruce needs to be fired within hours of that final whistle, if not ((very) much) sooner. Dan is not going to magically turn into a handsome prince, even if he were to be kissed by a princess, so we will continue to have a wart-covered toad for an owner.
This week isn’t appreciably different than the one before it; and the one that follows will likely be much the same. In 1996, I rode a camel through the Australian Outback for 6 days, and — except for the notable lack of flies — this season feels a lot like that camping trip did. The camel trip was, in fact, quite fun and fascinating, but it resembles this season in that I’d never done anything quite like it before, and I never want to do it again.
So, I guess this is my way of asking for your indulgence as we move forward. We’ve got 6 games left in the season. That’s 24 articles I owe you — well, 23 after this one — before the off-season arrives and we can all turn our attention to Bruce Allen’s job status, the search for a new coach, the chances of trading Trent Williams, and what exactly we should do with the one fantastic draft pick we’ll have in the first two rounds of the April draft.
I don’t want to write 23 more articles talking about how much the Redskins suck (though I’ll undoubtedly have to write some), so I’ll probably run the risk of ridicule by discussing some of that sunshine and lollipops stuff, like how great Terry McLaurin looked vs the Jets, what a great value Matt Iaonnidis is, and how we can fill some roster holes between now and the start of the 2020 season.
I also reserve the right to publish articles born of anger, disappointment or frustration. It’s always good to have a balance.
On any given day over the coming 6 weeks, whether the article that you read praises a player for good performance in the midst of a horrible Redskins season, or it calls for a player to be cut or benched in favor of a younger guy who needs some development, remember that I’m neither a completely delusional optimist nor an unabashed pessimist — I’m the guy trying to give you a reason to click on the Hogs Haven avatar when you wake up each day.
I’m just a Redskins fan with a keyboard trying to start a conversation sixteen times per month.
Which team will win the NFC East divsional title in 2019?
This poll is closed
the 6-4 Cowboys (@NE, Buf, @Chi, Rams, @Phi, Was)
the 5-5 Eagles (Sea, @Mia, NY, @Was, Dal, @NY)