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Greetings from The Booth!
This past Sunday, NFL fans witnessed a laughingstock more pitiful than the Washington Football Team. That would be the New York Giants, who fell to the WFT in the season finale 22-7. Remember the girls in school that used to hang around with “friends” who weren’t as pretty in order to feel good about themselves? I think we can use that analogy about Sunday’s game. Washington ran the ball for 225 yards against a Giants’ defense that obviously couldn’t wait for the clock to hit zero.
You should beat a team that runs 2 consecutive QB sneaks backed up against it’s own goal line, something Giants head coach (for now) Joe Judge tried to explain this week. I get the explanation, somewhat, but the optics are really bad when you show no confidence in players who are supposed to be NFL-caliber.
And there was Judge providing bulletin-board material for Washington mid-week with a not-so-veiled reference to the WFT as a clown show and to a nationally-televised fight between 2 Washington teammates during a rout by Dallas. We know the organization is a clown show, but it’s not good for someone to say it who is on the outside-looking in. If you remember the movie “Animal House,” it was Boone who said “he can’t say that about our pledges. Only we can say that about our pledges.” Give Washington credit for sticking together as family–albeit a dysfunctional one.
A feel-good win for the Football Team to be sure, but an empty one, as the WFT finishes up at 7-10 (interestingly enough the same record as last year–the difference being that in 2020, 7-9 was good enough to win the NFC East) and out of the playoffs. As we’ve become used to over the last 20-plus seasons under owner Dan Snyder, the 2021 season derailed almost as soon as it started, with players like Chase Young and Ryan Fitzpatrick lost for the year.
After a 2-6 start, the Football Team reeled off 4 straight wins and temporarily grabbed the final NFC Wild Card spot. Then came injuries and COVID, which decimated the team. A four-game skid followed, as the WFT was eliminated with one week to go.
Now, as the team moves forward, there are lots of issues to tackle during the offseason, but 2 big ones. The WFT will unveil a new team name on February 2nd. Make no mistake–the players need to be on board, whatever the new name is. Several of the players gave good reviews to the new uniforms, which will remain burgundy and gold. Deion Sanders once said something to the effect, “look good, feel good. Feel good, play good.” And I think there’s something to that. Hopefully, the organization will be able to cleanse it’s palate with new “unis” and a new name.
Then, there’s the quarterback issue. Washington simply must find it’s franchise quarterback, whether in the draft or through free agency. DeShaun Watson has been mentioned, but he has a lot of excess baggage. In any case, Taylor Heinicke played admirably this season, but will be better suited as a solid backup. Or at least a “bridge” next season, should the WFT go the draft route.
There are some pieces that Jason Wright and Ron Rivera can build a team around. Terry McLaurin is a Pro Bowl caliber receiver, and the aforementioned Young can be a defensive force. RB Antonio Gibson is one of the top backs in the league if he learns to take care of the football.
Groundhog Day is coming, and like Bill Murray from the movie of the same name, Washington has been living the same day (season) over and over again. Like Murray, it’s time they finally get it right.
Enjoy Super Wild Card Weekend, and until the next visit from The Booth…GO HORNETS!
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!