Now lets look at the stat breakdown for McNabb in this year's 1st pre-season game as compared to his last 10 first pre-season games and get a linear regression going to project his productivity for this season. Ready?
No, I wouldn't do that you. Not until the regular season starts.
So here's the deal- the mighty, mighty Redskins faced off against the Buffalo Bills last Friday and it set the D.C. area on fire. We're all pumped up for this season, hoping to not be let down...again. As usual Redskins fans are over confident and already predicting a Super Bowl appearance.
We may not be the smartest fans...but we're loyal. We'd be Ron Weasly if this were a Harry Potter book.
Yes, I know it was a pre-season game which means its worth less than a mud pie in Georgia, and yes, I know it was against the Bills so we might as well have been playing St. Augustine's School for Blind Girls, but its not the final score that's important here (42-17 by the way). So here are a few observations I furiously jotted down in order to make your Monday afternoon a little more tolerable.
It starts at the top. Everything stands and falls on leadership. You could visibly see the difference between having McNabb under center versus having Jason Campbell. Its the difference between putting Mario Andretti behind the wheel of a car and putting my 4 year old nephew behind the wheel of a car....while blindfolded...with a sandwich in his hand.
Donovan converted 3rd downs, established steady rhythm with Chris Cooley (who will have a great fantasy year, btw), and commanded the offense with confidence. He has nothing to prove now. The opposite of Campbell's situation in D.C.
You see this in football but its largely underrated. When the quarterback is in control the rest of the team follows his lead. You have to have a guy under center who is in control.
Everything stands and falls on leadership. Guys were playing committed. Rookie left tackle Trent Williams played great, despite his nerves. London Fletcher hasn't lost a step and he tracked down and caught a guy from behind on the sideline. Clinton Portis carried the ball 6 times in a pre-season game. A pre-season game! Clinton Portis carried the ball 6 times last year. Even Big Al Haynesworth got in there and mixed things up, played with dominance and created opportunities for the rest of the team.
I'm telling you, everything stands and falls on leadership. The night before the Redskins game I was watching the Ravens take on the Panthers, for the sole reason of checking on my fantasy RB Ray Rice (He had 0 carries for 0 yards. Should be a great season for me). Prior to the start of the game, while the broadcasters are babbling on about this and that trying to create story lines for the pre-season action, I had a moment that made me laugh out loud. The cameras were scanning the players, fans, cheerleaders, and coaches. It paused on the only face on the field that could stir up such a dichotomy of emotions in me. Ravens newly acquired QB coach, and former Redskins head coach, Jim Zorn.
If you missed it you'll be glad to know he had the same dumbfounded, glazed over look on his face that he had all last season. I like the guy, but good riddance.
Mike Shanahan hasn't been in D.C. very long but there's is a colossal change afoot. You think Zorn was going to make Haynesworth sit out of practice until he passed some ridiculous (and unnecessary for a D-lineman) conditioning test? No chance. But Shanny is in charge now. He's makes the decisions.
He got Haynesworth to go back on his claim that he doesn't fit in a 3-4 defense saying, "They allow me to pass rush and everything like that, which is really important to me." Shanny has tamed the beast! Everything stands and falls on leadership.
What starts at the top trickles down. Shanahan enforces policy, McNabb leads the players, Haynesworth crumbles, and the fans respond.
Let's not forget this is a pre-season game. Yet in D.C. at FedEx field, the greatest fans in the world were so loud I heard them through my TV. They forced the Bills to use a timeout because they couldn't get the play called...in a PRE-SEASON GAME. That just doesn't happen.
As a Redskins fan you're fired up to see McNabb scramble for a first down, to see Devin Thomas catch a 44 yard bomb from Rex Grossman, to see DeAngelo Hall adjust on the spot and intercept a pass.
But if you're a D.C. sports fan, you're REALLY excited to see Brandon Banks run a punt back for a score and go straight into the John Wall dance. My only hope now is to get Strasburg to do that after he pitches his first no-hitter, and Ovie to make that his goal celebration.
Change is here in D.C. Just not the kind Obama promised.
Then again...it was the Bills.