THE RAMS LOSS
I would like to remind everyone once more that there was near unanimity coming into the season that the Redskins would be an improved team but still deeply flawed, and this would probably lead to mediocre results. That doesn't mean we should feel good about the loss to the Rams, but losing games to bad teams is something that flawed teams like the Redskins do. Some perspective:
- I think most of us would have predicted the Redskins to be 1-2 at this point. We would probably have had the Dallas win as a loss and the Rams loss as a win, but the result is the same. We're right where we thought we would be.
- The Rams get paid. Seriously. They were, in fact, motivated to win and spent their entire week preparing for the Redskins. Livelihoods were at stake on their side too. This seems obvious, but often times in reactions to losses it seems as if people consider the Redskins to be operating in a vacuum. The Redskins' failures are solely the result of their own incompetence, or worse yet their lack of "heart" or "character" or "will to win" or other stuff that I have never seen adequately defined. But the Rams are made up of guys who are good enough at football that they are able to do it for a living. The Redskins played poorly, but the Rams also played well. That happens in sports.
THE ROAD AHEAD
The next games are against the Eagles, Packers, and Colts. There is a decent chance the Redskins will go 0-3 through that stretch. Not because the Redskins lack "heart" or have a "culture of losing," but because those are better teams. So start mentally preparing yourself for a dismal record in the weeks ahead, but once again think back to where your head was in August. It was well understood that the first half of the schedule was brutal and the Redskins had only managed to patch some of their many holes in the offseason. Losing these games would be fully expected. We could certainly win more than one or more of them and I hope we do, but if that doesn't happen remember that that is the Redskins meeting expectations.
THE PORTIS "DIVE"
This has been blown way out of proportion. My initial assumption was that he had simply slipped while planting his foot, and it was supported (seemingly) by DeAngelo Hall's notorious fall-on-his-ass play and another play where LaRon Landry did the exact same thing -which could have indicated something was up either with the turf or with the Redskins' cleats. It certainly looked like he went down intentionally, but I wasn't accepting that simply because it didn't make sense until the info came out about the injury.
Now even before the story about the injured wrist came out, I was having to fend off Redskins fans taking this as evidence that Portis is, in fact, a "pussy" - their word - who fears contact and generally lacks moral fiber. I asked if they had, in fact, ever seen him play .before I pointed out that on the previous play he had launched himself into yet another pass-rusher shoulder-high, and that his running style is characterized by going down several yards after first contact. They responded by repeating their original point, but louder, which these days is how you show you know a lot about sports.
What's confusing is that Portis was still heaped with disdain after he and Shanahan disclosed the injured wrist and that Portis wanted to ensure he did not lose the ball if he took a hit from his right side. Frankly, I found it to be a pretty reasonable explanation. But there were three anti-Portis arguments:
a) It was a lie, because Portis really is just a pansy who is afraid of getting hit. I'll ignore this one.
b) It was true, but he should have risked the fumble to pick up 5 extra yards after already gaining 27 yards. I think many players would have done that simply out of instinct, but if he had finally broken a long run and then coughed it up at the end he would be taking even more flak. To me, that seems like a smart football decision.
c) Portis should have disclosed to Shanahan earlier that he had an injury that could lead to ball security issues. This is a somewhat reasonable point, but athletes playing down injuries to stay on the field is well known to be extremely common in sports. It is a routine part of the elite athlete mindset. Especially for an older, declining player who knows he might not get his job back. Athletes are often lauded as "warriors" or some crap like that for playing through painful injuries, even when it makes them less effective for their team. But Portis has become the vessel into which perenially angry fans dump their frustrations, so he must be a cretin apparently.
Torain looks... decent. However, I feel obligated to point out that his 36 yard run in the second quarter was very well blocked, and Portis or any other professional-caliber running back would have had a big gain there as well. And after that he pretty much looked average - he took what the blocking gave him, which often wasn't very much. I'm not saying he's terrible. He could be great. And it is not in dispute that we need a younger solution at running back. But we just haven't seen enough of him to know if he is the answer.
MCNABB'S CONTRACT STATUS
Back in early July I wrote this post detailing why I wasn't overly concerned about the lack of progress on Donovan McNabb's contract to that point. The arguments can be summarized as follows:
- Given age, injury risk, and the fact that he is on a mediocre team, there is a significant chance he could have a less than stellar season in 2010. This would tank his value for his last big contract in the next offseason. Therefore he had every motivation to sign ahead of time to protect himself from the risk.
- It was reasonable that there would not be progress until Peyton Manning and Tom Brady signed their extensions, thus setting the market for veteran quarterbacks.
I closed the post by saying "If McNabb is unsigned once the regular season opens, then we need to worry. But I don't see that happening." Oh well.
I am not yet panicked because Manning still hasn't signed. That should be coming soon. However J.I Halsell, the salary expert at Football Outsiders, has written this distressingly persuasive article on why it could be reasonable for McNabb to play on a one year contract and hit free agency after all. I will admit a gnawing fear that after trading away multiple picks for McNabb and Jammal Brown we will still find ourselves in 2011 without a quarterback or right tackle. But it's early yet, so my concern level is only moderate. For now.
TBD LIVE CHAT
During the game today I will most likely be participating in a live chat with multiple other Redskins bloggers and hosted by TBD. I will post a link to it when one is available.
Enjoy gameday, folks.