I’m a diehard Redskins fan. I always have been and I always will be. Two of my earliest sports memories involve the Redskins; my dad taking me to my first pro sports event, a Redskins game at RFK Stadium and me crying after a Redskins loss to the Cardinals in a meaningless regular season game when I was around 8 years old. As big of a Nationals fan, Capitals fan, and Wizards fan as I am, the Redskins always come first. Yes, I am one of those kids that has stupid superstitions involving lucky jerseys, watching the game alone, and the fact that I can’t leave the house during a game or they WILL lose. It is unfortunate, however, that I have never experienced them as a winning franchise. During their last Superbowl win in 1991, I was still shitting myself. I hadn’t even discovered that I had a penis yet.
Unlike all of the fake-ass Cowboy fans in the area who only liked the Cowgirls because they won Superbowls in their formative years, I have suffered through the absolute worst period of Redskins fandom. Every year I get my hopes up for something special to happen. Steve Spurrier is coming to town!? Well we have to win at least 9 games! Holy shit, Albert Haynesworth is going to be anchoring our defensive line for the next 8 years!? Superbowl, here we come! Trung Candidate is our starting RB!? TITS! The Redskins have an uncanny ability to be the offseason champs and then stomp all over their fans hearts with disappointing season after disappointing season. But things can’t always be this bad, right? Eventually they have to turn it around, right? Well this year feels different. There actually are things to get my hopes up about. Without further ado, and now with more Po Life bloggers than ever on the Redskins bandwagon (Rudy welcome aboard!), I give you the 5 reasons to be excited about being a Redskins fan this year.
5. The Defense: One of the few bright spots in my lifetime as a Redskins fan has been the defense. Under Gregg Williams, we were perennially ranked in the Top 10 in terms of total defense. Now that might have to do with the fact that he was paying his players to eviscerate opposing quarterbacks Khal Drogo style, but we had a swarming defense that was hardnosed and tough. In the past few years that has all gone to shit while transitioning from the 4-3 to the 3-4. But fear not! All data suggests that it takes a full three years to make the transition to the 3-4 defense successfully. And guess what? It’s the Redskins third year in the 3-4 defense! The Steelers ranked 25th, 13th, and 3rd in their transition to the 3-4. The Redskins were 31st and then 13th in their first two years. Following that logic, top five defense here we come! With one of the strongest front sevens in football, anchored by the LB core of Orakpo, Kerrigan, Fletcher, and Riley, the Skins D has the potential to be one of the best in football. We just have to hope that no team realizes we have the worst secondary in football.
4. Shanahan’s 3rd Year: Its common knowledge that it usually takes a coach three years to get the correct personnel in place, get everybody caught up to speed with their system, and get his culture ingrained in the organization in order to be successful. This being Shanahan’s third year means potentially big things for this team. If my memory serves correctly, only Joe Gibbs has lasted a full three years under big, bad Dan Snyder without a significant threat of being fired at any moment. Here is hoping Shanahan is on the right path.
3. Legitimate Skill Position Players: It has been a long, long time since the Redskins have had multiple legitimate offensive weapons to get the ball to that could actually make plays. Clinton Portis was very good during his time here, but he was only one player. The Skins have been meddling in the muck and the mire with the likes of Laveranues Coles, Trung Candidate, Rod Gardner, Ryan Torrain, Devin Thomas, and Malcolm Kelly trying to make plays. But this year? The Skins have legitimate threats in Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss (back at his natural position in the slot), Anthony Armstrong, Chris Cooley, Fred Davis, and three solid running backs in Roy Helu, Tim Hightower, and Evan Royster. They even have a couple of high upside guys that we don’t really know much about, but could make a huge impact on the team (I am looking at you Niles Paul and Leonard Hankerson). Granted, they don’t have a Calvin or Andre Johnson type threat, but they have several legitimate threats able to make plays.
2. A Hands Off Snyder: You still hear rumblings every now and again about Snyder interfering with the team management in terms of football decisions, but for the most part the much maligned owner has done what he promised and left the football decisions up to the football experts. He has stopped speaking to the media, stopped trying to enforce his will from the owners box, and seems to have finally relinquished control of football decisions over to Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen. This is a good thing. No more Bruce Smith/Deon Sanders/Adam Archuleta/Jason Taylor/Albert Haynesworth signings. No more Steve Spurrier or Jim Zorn hiring’s. No more plays considered the worst in the history of the sport as a big “fuck you” to the boss. Again, this can only be a good thing.
1. Robert Griffin III: Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 6 months, Robert Griffin III, aka RG3 aka R Jesus aka Da Third aka Griff, is the biggest thing to happen to DC sports since the Redskins won the Superbowl in 1991. You may think of that as hyperbole, but it’s the absolute truth. The town of Washington has exactly 0 major championships from that Superbowl victory to right now. Not only that, but the Redskins have only made the playoffs a few times, the Wizards have gone in between the Rod Strickland/Mitch Richmond Bullet teams that stunk it up to the Andre Blatch/Javale McGee/Nick Young Wizards teams that have been the laughing stock of the NBA. And despite the Nationals awesome year right now, they have widely been considered one of the worst teams in baseball since moving back to Washington. RGIII has brought more hype, more national attention, and more positive press to this town than any one person or event in the past two decades. Yes Ovechkin is a huge star and Strasburg is a phenom in the MLB, but Washington, and to a larger extent the USA, is football crazed. It still is hard for me to believe that RGIII is actually on the Redskins. He was drafted four months ago and it is still registering in my head that we actually have a legitimate threat at QB. Just look at some of the QBs that have come through Washington recently: John Beck, Rex Grossman, Donavan McNabb, Jason Campbell, Patrick Ramsey, Danny Wuerffel, Shane Matthews, Mark Brunell, Tony Banks. That is basically a slew of shit sandwiches seeped in semen stew (POW!). I watched every game Mark Brunell ever played as a Redskin, and I honestly forgot he was even ever on the team. But R Jesus is something special. Not only is he a physical specimen, but he also has all of the leadership qualities you want in somebody who is the face of a franchise. If nothing else, Griff will be exciting to watch and fun to have around. The Redskins may finally put a respectable product on the field.
After writing this post I have almost worked myself up into a lather over the possibilities of a Superbowl team, and maybe you have too. But we all know that isn’t going to happen; this team isn’t talented enough yet. I have predicted this team to be somewhere in the 7 to 9 win range. But it looks like they are finally moving in the right direction after two decades of poor performances, let downs, and disappointment. This may very well be your last chance to fully embrace the Redskins as your team. There is plenty of room left on the bandwagon right now, but you may have trouble finding a spot in a few years.