August 19, 2010

Synaptic Shotgun 8.19.10 - Carter, Cynicism, Riggo Drill, Tremendous Machine

Occasional, recurring short-form posts about
the Washington Redskins, NFL and maybe even Life.
Almost like a blog.


The offseason new Redskins' head coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen have put together has been a treat to watch. They have been confident, in command, and based on the earliest returns have the team headed in the right direction.

Which makes it even harder to wrap my brain around the Andre Carter situation.

I'm a Carter fan—he's a pro, dedicated to his craft and by all accounts a strong locker room presence. But the truth is, to my eyes he looked utterly at sea at linebacker against Buffalo. The man was, generously speaking, mechanical—seemingly running to a spot and hoping to find the play there. It wasn't—and the Bills repeatedly ran or passed to the vacant spot Carter had recently been.

Mike Shanahan saw it differently:

Shanahan disagreed that outside linebacker Andre Carter struggled during his limited time against Buffalo.

“Andre has done a great job in camp,” he said. “You need game-day experience, especially when you switch positions. … [The transition] is why you have those OTAs and summer camp – so he becomes comfortable not only rushing the quarterback, but dropping [into coverage] and playing different routes and techniques.”
I hope so.

When the Redskins take on the Baltimore Ravens this Saturday, I definitely know one thing I'll be isolating on however. I assume Shanahan and Haslett will be as well. I know Dallas offensive coordinator Jason Garrett will be. Not to get all dramatic after one preseason game, but here's hoping the new Redskins' brain trust didn't get this one really wrong.


It was inevitable, I guess, but still irritating.

Last Friday at 7:30 pm EST, the Redskins were a 4-12 team coming off two awful, embarrassing seasons. They had a new coach, new general manager, new offensive and defensive systems, new offensive and defensive coordinators, a new starting quarterback and more than 30 new players.

To say expectations were guarded would be understatement. And anyone confidently predicting a 42-17 thrashing of whatever opponent the NFL saw fit to schedule for their preseason game would have gotten laughed out of even semi-sober Redskins conversations.

Well, turns out the Redskins did precisely that, surprising everyone but themselves and outperforming even the most optimistic of forecasts.

So what happened? Within hours, inexorably and predictably, the "Yeah but's" began emerging. You've heard them. You've seen them. You may even be one of them. I find myself wondering, today, why some folks seem to think everyone else needs to be reminded that it...

- was just a preseason game
- does not guarantee success in the regular season
- was against a team no one expects much from (but finished, parenthetically, with a better record last season than the Redskins)
- left certain questions (see Andre Carter) unanswered
- etc.

We get it, oh condescending media member. We get it, oh serial cynic. With all due respect, perhaps it is you who is missing the big picture? 

Perhaps it is possible to enjoy the unexpected moment and combination of relief, surprise and heady anticipation it brought, and still keep it in perspective?

Perhaps it is possible to revel a bit and maybe even talk a little smack, and still understand that the Redskins could lose 42-17 to the Ravens on Saturday, get blown out by Dallas on Opening Day, or even (shudder) go 4-12 again?

As of today, all we know about this team is they kicked serious butt the first time they got to take their act under the lights. That's a good thing. Imagine if they had lost 42-17.

I wonder, sometimes, why so many seem so bent on solemnly showing us their but's.


Sure it was just preseason. True, Buffalo was plum out of fight (which, in a way, may be the point). Two quick thoughts however:

1) Kyle Shanahan may have a mean streak. I like it.
2) I am old enough to have heard echoes and love every boring, brutish second.

Fourth Quarter

1-10-BUF 48 (5:36)
46-R.Torain left end pushed ob at BUF 33 for 15 yards.

1-10-BUF 33 (5:06)
35-K.Williams right end to BUF 30 for 3 yards.

2-7-BUF 30 (4:26)
35-K.Williams left tackle to BUF 30 for no gain.

3-7-BUF 30 (3:48)
35-K.Williams right end to BUF 19 for 11 yards.

1-10-BUF 19 (3:05)
46-R.Torain right tackle to BUF 8 for 11 yards.

1-8-BUF 8 (2:20)
46-R.Torain right end pushed ob at BUF 7 for 1 yard.

2-7-BUF 7 (2:15)
35-K.Williams right tackle for 7 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

BUF 17, WAS 42 Plays: 7 Yards: 48 Possession: 3:27


When Bobby Thompson ("The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!") passed away a couple of days ago, I heard a sportstalk radio segment discussing the greatest sports radio/television calls of all time. Listeners called in with some wonderful examples that had me smiling ("Havlicek stole the ball!" "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!" "Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!").

One call I did not hear mentioned has been a part of my life tapestry since I was 12 years old. If you are old enough to remember the summer of 1973, you may even today mist up, like I do, when I relive this moment. If you are young enough that Secretariat is no more accessible and real to you than Man O' War or Citation were to me, try to put yourself in this moment.

There had been no Triple Crown winner in 25 years. Vietnam had drained and strained our country. And then came Big Red. Regal, proud, athletically arrogant, a legend being born before our eyes. A People's Champion.

For a few brief moments, all was right with the world.

"He is moving like a tremendous machine ..."


Bigyim said...

...guess we'll be seeing you at the movie premiere in October, then?

Unknown said...

excellent, as per usual Om. You are my #1 Skins commentator

Mark "Om" Steven said...


I'm afraid ya lost me. Help a brother out?


Too kind sir. Check's in the mail. ;)

Unknown said...

Seriously, not aware of the Disney movie coming out this fall?

Mark "Om" Steven said...

Ah. Actually, yes I am. Saw the preview at the theater in fact. Just a little denser than usual today...

Going to have to read up on the movie and see just how much artistic license they have taken with the story. Hopefully they've avoided temptation to oversell the human drama part too much, and let the real hero of the story be the magnificent animal we're still talking about almost 40 years later.