Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just Win

You do all realize how sad this is, right?

The Redskins played a piss poor game on offense against the Rams and still won, thanks to the defense and no thanks to head coach and playcaller Jim Zorn. At the end of the first half and all through the second half the fans in Redskins Stadium, all 87 thousand of them, at least four thousand short of a full house, booed regularly, culminating in the final insult, booing the Redskins as they closed the game out in victory formation thanks to a fourth down pass defense by safety Chris Horton.

Note that on that final Redskins drive the team opted to go for it on fourth down, twice in the Rams red zone, up by two points with more than two minutes left in the game. The final real Redskins offensive play was a fourth and one from the Rams two yard line, Clinton Portis took a handoff and ran wide left, straight into a herd of Rams for a two yard loss, the Rams take over at the two minute warning from their four yard line needing only a field goal to win. Coach Zorn could have opted for the gimme field goal to push the lead to five, forcing the Rams to score a touchdown to win. That is a difference of thirty or forty yards and four or five plays.

As indicated above, the Rams four and turned the ball over on downs in desperation with Chris Horton making the big play at the end.

After the game we learned that quarterback Jason Campbell is forbidden to audible or alter the play at the line inside the opponent's red zone for fear of miscommunication leading to a turnover. We also learned the players on the field saw an obvious defensive loading on the left side of the play, and with no timeouts left and no option to change the play, ran the play, which was a bad call to begin with, that far down a team's throat you run through the middle and not wide.

After the game tight end Chris Cooley said the booing was a shame, as if he were my shut in grandmother who thinks long drives and leaves falling are a shame, and that the booing was unnecessary, presumably implying he knew the offense was putrid and the booing was redundant.

Receiver Antwaan Randle El got in the act as well (op. cit.), telling the fans the team plays better when there is no booing, as if it is gauche, like talking at the opera.

That night rookie linebacker Robert Henson unleashed his now famous tirade against fans on his now defunct Twitter feed, calling Redskins fans dim wits, inviting us to stay home and projecting envy on us because he makes more than we do, which for many Washingtonians is not true. That story wound up on the front page of the Washington Post and you can almost feel Robert's testicles making a beeline up into his body when he heard that was happening.

At this point you could almost expect it would end, the team's public relations people would be brought into a team meeting and would tell the players the fans are disappointed but fickle, let's show them a better effort and this will be forgotten, do not fan the flames any higher etc etc yada yada.

But no, the players and team kept coming at the fans and the media, it seems they are as passionate about being unwilling to accept responsibility for those big salaries and that big dud of an offense as the fans are in insisting the fault lies with the team and not the fans or the media.

One side of this argument does not want to look deeper to see what the problems really may be, the other side of this argument is the paying customers. And who is always right?

Monday linebacker Rocky McIntosh wrote the team needs some slack from the fans and their support. How much slack should fans grant for a season opener against a team that has lost twelve straight? The Rams game should have been a gimme if not a slaughter, support me is not going to cut it from a starting NFL player.

Monday also the team itself tried to get ahead of the story of Robert Henson's vile tweets with a piece on about Robert's apology to the media, the team specifically says the front page Washington Post story, which was set to come out the next day, focused on Robert's transgressions and not on his recanting and apology.

I will put on my best Jerry Seinfeld deadpan and repeat that: the team was unhappy with a Washington Post story about an unknown and untested player insulting paying customers and fans and reminding them they do not make as much as an NFL player.

If I were blocking out this story I would devote exactly one line to the apology, considerably less than the Post actually devoted, which was three solid references, one in the third graf, with full notation of contrition. The team either had not read the piece as it was eventually published or simply decided to go with the old time media strategy of not complaining about what someone actually said, instead complaining about the pretend thing they said, the pretend thing that will garner the most sympathy for the aggrieved speedbump of the bad old media.

Wednesday Chris Cooley was back at it, using his outsize presence and media empire to call the whole fans being unhappy thing a bunch of bullshit, Chris even used a favorite standard excuse of underperformers everywhere, the tried and true construction known as Can't You See How Hard We're Trying.

Also on Wednesday defensive end Phillip Daniels wrote a piece for, Phillip was much more diplomatic than some of the other players, still he thinks we should STFU with the win over a team that beat Washington last season, which is true and in the NFL unlike college there is not a board that determines who is ranked and where, in the NFL all that counts is winning. Which is the point of the fan anger this week, that shitty offensive performance may have eked out a win against the Rams, all the NFC South nemeses, the entire AFC West and the NFC Beast all await, the fans are angry because they can look at that win and see football of a quality that will not win many of those games.

Also, by way of defending Robert Henson Phillip also trots out Robert's father in law, the reverend TD Jakes, as someone that would know character and compassion in a man to whom he was going to give his daughter's hand in marriage. Since Phillip brought it up and not me I will go ahead and remind the readers that TD Jakes is a homophobic bigot who uses the pulpit of his thirty thousand strong congregation in Texas to rail about the sin of homosexualty and how gay people ore broken before God. In February of this year TD's son Jermaine was caught in a sex sting and it became public knowledge that Jermaine is gay. After this incident the right reverend issued a press release distancing himself from his 29 year old son so the point that Robert's father in law knows character and compassion is firmly in question. Don't trip too hard on those talking points Phillip.

Wednesday's best though was fullback Mike Sellers, he went on Dan Snyder's ESPravda 980 and let loose a screed on the Washington media, it would seem the papers, TV and I guess now that would include the alt media like yours truly, are all biased against the team and have a vested interest in tearing the team and players down and not building them up. Mike even mentions that an unnamed coach on the team talked about how the reporters in a city on a previous coaching stop were quote better cheerleaders unquote for the team than those in Washington.

In the first place if Mike actually used the term cheerleader for local reporters then he is lacking self awareness to a greater degree than I had thought. Journalists are not cheerleaders, and besides I have a job, I work too and it is a much more common occurrence to draw comments on areas for improvement than to draw comments on a job well done; we get paid to perform well so our bosses are not going to kiss our ass all the way down to nonperformance which is what I think Mike is going for here vis a vis the Washington media.

And in the second place Dan Dan the Sports Bog man rightly points out that you cannot swing a dead cat and not hit a media outlet in this town with an actual vested interest in the team, monetary agreements for time, content and access. These outlets may report on poor performance and will run questions and stories that reflect the sentiments of the moment, but hardly will you see a hit piece coming out of a business agreement.

Thursday tailback Clinton Portis wrote stick with us, we need your support, cheer us through the tough times. We kind of already have been, like through 8-8 last season, through Sean Taylor and a 52-7 thrashing by the Patriots in 2007 and through a 5-11 2006. The team is built to win and Sunday's effort is not going to earn a playoff spot there tiger.


At last we see the other edge of the sword of increased and direct contact with the fans, the NFL fans that through ticket sales, merch, TV watching, video games and all myriad other ways transfer money into the pockets of the league and its players.

The players want to reach out and establish a rapport, raise their profile and keep the conversation going and at times disintermediate the big bad media. And that's great, I love reading tweet and blog posts, even though I know most of them are ghost written by someone that we will never know or care about.

It is at times like this, when fans that make up the lifeblood of an NFL team have doubts about their team's abilities against expectations, the fans really do not care what you have to say off the field because our relationship with you is really only meaningful when you are on the field.

Hearing wealthy professional athletes try and tell me to chill out and how I do not understand and how I must be stupid is really insulting. You may think you get paid to play football games, actually you get paid to win football games. And the kind of effort we saw Sunday against the Rams is not going to win very many.

Tom Boswell in the Washington Post summarized it pretty well in an online chat this week, the Redskins players are coming at this problem from a delusional starting point, believing as they have for years that they are better than they actually are. Tom also makes reference to a social concept called the tipping point, it is the moment in which a series of loosely connected ideas come together suddenly but not unexpectedly to alter the conventional wisdom. If things do not change this season, if the Redskins do not return the performance the team has been promising for years then there may well be a wholesale rearrangement of the relationship between ownership and fans.

It is not the players' fault the team is in this position, that is the result of poor management. However the players have exacerbated the problem and accelerated condensation of the new conventional wisdom by pissing gas on a hot fire.

There is but one solution: just win and it all goes away. We will have a good laugh in a couple of seasons when we look back and see how funny it was that we took this so seriously, it's a long season, the players want to win, blah blah.

Unless we aren't laughing, so just go win and let's take it from there, ok?


Whiny ass titty baby from teh interwebs.