Almost every Sunday, I try and meet up with my parents to have dinner with them, especially since I have the good fortune of living close by to them. I’m an only child, and even tough I’m married and have enough things going on to keep me plenty busy, spending a few hours on a Sunday evening hanging out and catching up with my family is the absolute least thing I can do.
After all, the person I am today is almost entirely a reflection of the way I was brought up by parents. And that fact absolutely extends to Football, or more specifically, my/our love for the Redskins. Again, the fact that the blood coursing through my veins runs distinctly runs burgundy and gold is due, in large part, to my parents sharing that same passion and loyalty towards the Redskins, and teaching me those same virtues about being a fan.
My mom always felt that fans of the Dallas Cowboys are less welcome in her home than even door-to-door salesmen, uninvited houseguests, or termites. My dad always believed that the pulse of Washington DC ebbed and flowed with the success of the Redskins. He always joked how people just naturally seemed to be happier, friendlier, and in a better mood overall the Monday morning after a Redskins win.
So over dinner last night, we joked that, with the Redskins being 2-0, and the level of optimism and excitement surrounding this team, if Washington beats Dallas tonight, Redskins fans are going to start figuring out how much Super Bowl tickets will cost, and whether they’ll able to take off a few days from work sometime around the first weekend of February, 2012
As a fan – and as a passionate one, no less – it happens. You start thinking ahead. You start looking at the schedule, and start seeing W’s where you may orginally have seen L’s.Even though the leaves haven’t even started changing colors yet, you start predicting playoff matchups and figuring out the ramifications of home field advantages.
Especially when it’s coming up on four years since your team has been to the postseason.
Yes, the Redskins are 2-0. Yes, they’re the only team in the NFC East with an undefeated record. Yes, they’re one of only four teams in the NFL that are undefeated, period. But the somewhat pessimistic, but masquerading as realistic, part of me realizes that, after all, the season is only two games old. As good as we feel about the two wins this team has racked up, we have to remind ourselves, constantly, that it’s still only two games. There’s 14 games, 10 teams, and three months that this team still has to get through.
And yet, going 3-0 – even if it’s just another early season in in September – feels like it changes everything.
Whether or not we’re still giddy from the euphoria of these first two wins, things just feel different, in a special way, with this team. It’s only September, yet they’ve already beaten the Giants by two touchdowns, something they haven’t done in six years. They’ve already showed you how they’ll play with their backs against the wall, having erased an eight-point fourth quarter deficit to came back to win the game, something they haven’t done in I can’t tell you how long.
The last time we felt this way about the Redskins was probably 2005, the second year of the Gibbs II regime. The team started the first half of the season 5-3 (including 3-0 through their first three games), lost three heartbreakers, and then ran the table to get to their only double-digit win season that decade. Like that team, if the Redskins can start 3-0, we could very well be looking at a team with a 6-2 or even a 7-1 record come midseason
There’s plenty of reasons to believe the Redskins should win tonight, without being biased. They’re playing a Dallas team tonight that’s both struggling and wounded. Four of the Cowboys five best players on offense are either not playing tonight (Miles Austin) or are still struggling with injuries (Tony Romo, Felix Jones, Dez Bryant). Their offensive line has been crap, getting almost no movement along the line of scrimmage. Their defense is giving up over 25 points per game, with a secondary that’s been busy covering no one.
You just know that the Redskins will happily tell the Cowboys: “Make Tony Romo – the guy with cracked ribs and a punctured lung that we’re not really sure has completed healed yet – beat us. We dare you to.” You know Jim Haslett will bring the heat, and tell anyone who hits Romo to make sure Romo felt it. The Cowboys refuse to run the ball anyway (30th in the NFL in rushing yards per game, 32nd in yards per attempt), so there’s little reason to believe the the Redskins defense won’t spend the evening teeing off on Romo’s midsection, hoping he coughs up the football (he’s turned it over three times in two games already).
So, what if the Redskins win tonight? You never want to think ahead, but as a fan, you’re lying to yourself if you say you aren’t.
The Redskins would be 3-0, and would send Dallas to 1-2. The Philadelphia Eagles – the supposed “dream team” – are already at 1-2, with Michael Vick’s body slowly falling apart like it was a piece of IKEA furniture assembled by a bunch of drunken frat boys. The only other team with a winning record in the NFC, the Redskins already beat by two touchdowns.
Next week, the Redskins take on the St. Louis Rams, a team that’s scored a grand total of three offensive touchdowns, and is getting beaten by an average of 20 points per game this season. Steven Jackson is already dealing with a nagging leg injury, Sam Bradford’s receivers can’t catch anything, and their defense is giving up huge plays in the passing game, especially since it’s on the field for most of the game already.
Another win there would put them at 4-0 as they head into the early bye week, with a huge matchup against Philadelphia looming on the other side. The Redskins could very well be getting the Eagles without Michael Vick, who’d be just 22 days removed from an broken right (non-throwing) hand that’s projected to take “three to four weeks” to heal.
And after that? They play at Carolina, a team that’s a lot more dangerous than people gave them credit for – how many people realize Cam Newton ran third in the NFL in passing yardage, as of this morning? – but still very beatable. They’ll then play Buffalo on the road (a game that will take place in Toronto), San Francisco at home (even at 2-1, I still stay they’re one of the five worst teams in the league), and then Miami on the road (another one of the five worst teams in the league; they’re probably in the bottom three, actually).
Even if they somehow lose to a Vick-less Philadelphia, and maybe one more team (odds on favorite, right now, would be Buffalo), that’s still 6-2 by midseason. There can’t be a single fan who wouldn’t gladly take the Redskins having only two losses around the middle of November. How many people around the country believed the Redskins wouldn’t win six games all season?
It starts tonight. Tonight’s game is a fulcrum, a springboard for the rest of the season. Yes, there’s few things better than raining on yet another Cowboys home opener on Monday Night Football (just like in 2005), but it’ll mean more when you look at the bigger picture.
This one can shape the rest of this season. With the entire country watching, let’s see what happens.