A Beginning

SU field oversight
SU field oversight
Winchester Printers

Greetings from The Booth!

Well, almost.

It was “one and done” for The Washington Football Team on Super Wild Card Weekend, as the burgundy and gold lost to the ageless Tom Brady and the Bucs , as expected, 31-23. But the 7-9 WFT didn’t go down without a fight, and earned the respect of Tampa and a lot of the NFL who thought they didn’t earn a seat at the post-season table.

(At this point, I need to veer off-track with a few random thoughts. Why is the much-heralded Washington front four nicknamed “Maroon-4”? I get the reference to the musical group, but maroon isn’t one of the team colors. I’m reminded of former Redskins coach Jim Zorn, who in his opening press conference upon being hired, asked for “3 cheers for the old maroon and black.”

And, did you see the comparison-photos of 43 year-old Brady and 43 year-old George Blanda from back in the day? Blanda looked 70, while Brady looked 25. I’m pretty sure the reason is that in the late 60s, Blanda had no access to dieticians, massage therapists, and yoga pants. But the difference was striking.)

Anyway, on Saturday night, the WFT acquitted itself nicely, thanks to the efforts of instant folk hero Taylor Heinicke, who in his first start as Washington QB, almost single handedly willed his team to victory. The former ODU signal caller even came back out of the locker room late in the game after a shoulder injury, and in a “Willis Reed” moment, got the WFT within a TD at 28-23.

As disappointing as the loss was, it felt like more of a beginning than an end. In the last 20-plus years of the Dan Snyder regime, the playoff appearances have been few and far between, the post-season wins even more rare. And the playoff exits always felt like the end, rather than something to build on the following year. Even “Joe Gibbs 2.0″seemed like like a magic act performed with smoke and mirrors.

Saturday night’s loss felt different. Much has been written about the exciting young defensive line, led by rookie captain Chase Young. But there are some exciting young stars on the offensive side of the ball, and while this year might be the final chapter of the feel-good story of Alex Smith, and the end of Ryan Kerrigan’s time in DC, there is a lot to be hopeful about in 2021.

In a tumultuous year for the organization on many fronts, head coach Ron Rivera navigated his team through the rough waters of 2020 to a division title and playoff appearance, despite his own personal challenges. For that, he should at least be considered for Coach Of The Year honors.

We all know too well that ownership could mess things up without even trying, but Saturday night felt like the start of something big.

Until the next visit, so long from The Booth. GO WFT, GO HORNETS!

RW

Hail To The WFT!

SU field oversight
SU field oversight
Winchester Printers

Greetings from The Booth!

Welcome to 2021, hopefully a year that brings an end to the pandemic, and a return to all things “normal,” like concerts, fairs, movies, and fans at sporting events. Before we move on to this week’s topic, many thanks to all of you who told us how much you enjoyed our “This Week In Shenandoah University Football” segments over the past several months. It was great to re-live some great memories from the last 20 years in “The Booth.”

For the first time since 2015, the Washington Football Team is headed to the NFL playoffs following Sunday’s 20-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. At 7-9, the WFT is only the third team with a losing record to make the postseason in a non-strike year. After a 2-7 start, Washington finished 5-2 to get into the playoffs as the NFC East champions. Much has been written about the feel-good stories of both Coach Ron Rivera, who battled cancer during the season, and QB Alex Smith, who should easily win the NFL Comeback Player Of The Year award.

Those two things, combined with the name change of the team, the negative publicity surrounding Dan Snyder and the culture within the organization, and the continuing drama of Dwayne Haskins, made for a season that was “so 2020,” as the saying now goes. It was only fitting that the WFT won the division almost by default.

Which brings me to this past Sunday night. In a game that the Eagles basically handed to Washington, the burgundy-and-gold on several occasions tried to give it back, before finally securing the victory. Philly coach Doug Pederson made several questionable decisions, including giving up what would have been a tying chip-shot field goal late in the game, instead going for the TD on fourth-and-goal (which failed). The most questionable move (just ask Giants fans) was replacing future franchise quarterback Jalen Hurts with backup Nate Sudfeld in the fourth quarter, which also backfired.

Many have accused Pederson of “tanking” the game to improve the team’s position in the draft, and one could make that case based on “the eye test.” This was not a good look for the NFL, which flexed the game to prime time, only to see two teams playing hot potato. Surely there will be more discussion about the “integrity of the game” in the weeks to come.

To the Giants (and their livid fan base), who needed an Eagles win to secure the division title, you should have taken care of business with a few more wins during the season. When you rely on help from other teams in a playoff scenario, you seldom get it. Washington fans have been there. If a 7-9 record isn’t playoff worthy to some, 6-10 shouldn’t even get a sniff of the postseason.

Someone had to win the “NFC Least,” and this year it’s the Washington Football Team, who now have to prepare for the GOAT Tom Brady, and the Bucs. The WFT is going to be looked down upon, much like the poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks who somehow crashes the country club soiree. In the words of Judge Smails, played by the great Ted Knight in the movie Caddyshack, “some people just do not belong.”

But don’t forget, this is the 2020 season, and Washington is playing with house money.

Until next time from The Booth, HTTWFT! and GO HORNETS!

RW