Monday, December 22, 2008

Moving Forward: Things for a Redskin Fan To Be Excited About

This piece was written by Jeff Scott, one of my good friends for somewhere around 15 years. He's helped me out on my other blog, and he's allegedly a contributor to FU, but apparently he lost his login information. Perhaps he should've been a swifter with his additions. Anyway, here are his unedited, homeristic thoughts. Peep after the random picture...

Well, the playoff hopes are FINALLY done for the Washington Redskins (though true fans knew that they were done after the Pittsburgh game). Being a lifelong fan (and a sports journalist), I like to think I enjoy a deeper and more in depth look into the Skins than the average fan. ----Sidebar Alert---- This was written around 2 a.m. Props to my best friend Corey for getting me the History of the Redskins DVD. Knowing at 7-7 and with a myriad of other NFC teams in the Wild Card Race, I started to look for the bright spots, even before we beat the Eagles again, and came up with the top 4 things that Skins fans have to look forward to heading into next season.

The Progression of Jason Campbell
Barring some freak accident within the next week, Jason Campbell will have completed his first full season as an NFL quarterback. Now that might not sound impressive to some, but for a guy who’s been in the league for 4 years that’s equivalent to peace of mind. Staying virtually injury free this year, JC has thrown fewer interceptions than your quarterback (unless your quarterback is Jeff Garcia). Jason Candle, er, Campbell is not only throwing the ball better thanks to rookie head coach Jim Zorn, he is completing more passes, he is making quicker decisions, and he is pulling the ball down and running with it more often. All that needs to happen now is increasing his accuracy when throwing downfield. He showed flashes of brilliance in this category in his game winner versus the Saints. If the Redskins improve their offensive line, Jason could build on his breakout year.

The Maturation of Jim Zorn
Its been a whirlwind for coaches in the past decade. Dedication and loyalty to the head coach has all but disappeared in the realm of professional sports today. But the public demands a successful product. When Jim Zorn first took the helms of my favorite sports team, my first words were “Huh?”. I thought that we would be at or around .500 this year cause hey, we lost a lot of players, through free agency or through untimely death, and that seemed average. At 6-2, everyone was putting Zorn as Coach of the Year, but a smacking by the Steelers showed the Skins for what they really are; a good team but not a great team. After the crushing loss to the Bengals, radio personalities and less than intelligent fans were calling for Zorn’s job. But, even if a team loses five of six and essentially moves itself out of the playoffs, the coach is never totally to blame. Play execution is the name of the game; yet if the coach doesn’t change his game plan when defenses have decided to blitz your quarterback every other down, then something is wrong. I know Zorn will get it together and learn from this rookie season to be at least a good coach. Skins fans should remember the greatest coach in team history, Joe Gibbs, only started 8-8 his first season. He then led the Skins to three Super Bowls. So even if the Redskins lose to San Fran next week, its not the end of the world.

The Maturation of Laron Landry and the Solidity of Chris Horton
I don’t know if anybody else feels the same way I do, but watching the Skins-Eagles game last night I got chills. Why? Because watching the defense on Sunday, I momentarily thought that Sean Taylor came back in the form of LaRon Landry. The hits he laid on DeSean Jackson, and the hit on Reggie Brown to seal the deal, were very reminiscent of the way Sean used to cover from sideline to sideline. He finally seems to be settling into a smarter player, one that doesn’t just head hunt for streaking receivers and gaining as many personal fouls as he can. His coverage has improved drastically and the Redskins have rarely given up extremely long pass plays.
The very last pick in the draft is usually destined for: a.) mediocrity or b.) a short career. But Redskins Rookie Chris Horton has played above and beyond any expectations. For those of you who don’t believe in God consider this; I prayed and prayed and prayed to the Heavenly Father for a replacement for the biggest bum that I’ve seen thus far Reed Doughty (other than John Lynch I cant even remember a decent safety of the Caucasian Persuasion). And the Great One answered my prayers with a rookie from UCLA. His tackling and knack for finding the football in the air or on the ground is very promising.

In conclusion, there’s a lot to look forward to next season. So Skins fans don’t feel disappointed in an 9-7 or 8-8 season, because it always could be worse…we could be in Detroit.

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