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Anger – Sadness – Hope

By Mark Solway | November 13th, 2006

An all too familiar cycle for a Redskins fan: Anger – Sadness – Hope Yes, I watched the game against Philthy. Yes, I stayed away from the board yesterday. Yes, just like all of you, I did suffer the humiliation to watch not just another game go down the toilet. I watched an NFC East rival get plays when it counted. I watched the incompetence of the Redskins to get plays on offense and defense when it counted too. Yes, just like all of you, I did suffer the humiliation to watch a lack of chemistry and leadership on our defense and offense. The paradoxical situation in this team could not be more painful. We know that the individual talent is there at least in most positions. The Skins could march down the field onto Philthy’s territory without too much trouble. But once they were there, it stopped. The game time of possession was on our side on a proportion of 2:1 and we still had seventeen points against us with a miserable field goal on our side of the score at half time. How could that happen? Very simple: They executed huge plays on offense to score and key plays on the defense to stop our team, and we didn’t. Some might argue that the Pantheon of Greek Gods aligned the stars to conspire against us. I will argue that it is not true. That fumble by Brown which was caught and run for a touchdown by Buckhalter was no accident, at least not all of it. Buckhalter hustled to assist in the play. He had the instinct to run towards the play. He had the alertness of mind to identify an opportunity and he had the physical ability to execute the catch and the run. And that lost ball by Westbrook on the 1 yard line, Was that a fumble? The call after the challenge truly could have gone either way. In the end it did not matter. They got the 3 points they were going to get anyway. The depressing part is that while we have not had a half decent offense during the last three years, we could take pride in the game of our defense during the last two seasons. No more. This is one of the most incompetent and frustrating defensive units I have ever seen as a Redskins fan over the first or second tenures of Joe Gibbs. It feels almost as if Greg Williams is playing with a half-hearted attempt to call defense sometimes. Whereas his first two years with us were characterized by courage and daring, this season has been filled with self-doubt about the personnel in the defensive unit and his ability and timing to call aggressive plays. So, now let us get started on offense … And no, I am not going to repeat the obvious. I am going to say something different; I am going to say WHY: Our offense is unable to execute because the combination of Al Saunders with his 700-page playbook and Mark Brunell simply does not and can not possibly work together. How bad can it not work? Oil and water? Nope. It does not work like the negative and positive poles of a high-tension wire. That’s how !!! Mark Brunell is not the versatile QB capable to execute the quick release, long distance down-field, accurate timed passes required by Al’s offense. Just look at the QB’s that Al Saunders had in his successful tenures and it is not difficult to arrive at the conclusion that there are tragic irreconcilable differences between his offensive style and the abilities of Mark. The receivers are running the correct routes at the right times. But Mark is unable to release the ball with the quickness necessary when there is pressure or a blitz, and he is also unable to reach accurately downfield when the first or second short options are covered. Could have things worked out differently this season if Al had not been with us??? I suspect that the answer is yes but not for the right reasons. Mark could have still played reasonably well without highlighting his weaknesses in a run-first, time control offense in the old-style tradition of Joe Gibbs. He would have executed much better last year’s playbook than the much wider range of plays incorporated in Al Saunders’s scheme. Mark Brunell is not Trent Green, as much as some of us would like to. Mark has a great mental strength. He is a very experienced leader. He is just unable to execute 600 pages of that book at this point of his career. Like all irreconcilable differences in a marriage, a divorce is urgently needed here. It is healthy. It is necessary. It is unavoidable. But who stays at home and who goes to the dog house??? It is Mark Brunell or Al Saunders but not both from now on. Al must be as frustrated against Joe and Mark, just as much as Mark must be against Joe and Al. Interesting position for Joe Gibbs to be in, isn’t it? I think it is called a sharp rock and a very hard place. There is no question in my mind about what the right answer is to the dilemma formulated above. Between the choice to stick with a QB playing during the last year of his career and the future offense of your team, anybody should choose the latter. Al stays at home and Mark goes to the doghouse. The experiment failed notwithstanding the unending patience learned by Joe from Job in the Holy Scriptures. This experiment only served to highlight the need to bring somebody who can actually execute the full offense book and not only the part about late, inaccurate less-than 10-yard passes. Yes, I stayed away from the board yesterday too. At times of anger and frustration the Redskins fans crowd can be as negative and destructive as the size of their expectations at the beginning of the season. While I respect your desire to vent and your need to experience a good deal of much-needed catharsis, I frankly can do without it. I am not your psychotherapist, nor your babysitter to take care of your rants. In your frustration and anger after the game, I find nothing to help me move forward constructively and help me find the difference between the trees and the woods. There is a sadly familiar cycle in the life of a Redskins fan: Anger, Sadness and Hope. I expressed my anger, I shared my profound sadness but I also want to convey to you my hope. No, I am not looking for playoffs anymore. I actually do not and can not believe in seven-or-no-go. I love my team but I am a realist. I am a Washington Redskins fan and I am looking forward to watch my team make the necessary adjustments to improve and play their guts every minute of every game from now until the end of the season. I am a loyal fan and I will be supporting every player and every coach. I will relish every second that I watch burgundy and gold take on the field this season. I will be on their side suffering or enjoying every play. This season is only the painful price to pay for a great future ahead. By the way, as far as the Hognostications go, I am -sure- I will predict a win for my team from now on until hell freezes over. 😉 Hail to the Redskins! Hail…

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