Sunday, August 12, 2007

Initial Panic and a Call for Calm

In a confounding swing of the ‘tism pendulum, it would seem that admitted antagonist and optimism-hater-in-recovery Mike Wise is in the process of trading places with two-time MAO of the Week winner Tom Boswell. The telling evidence can be found in each’s assessment of the Redskins’ 14-6 preseason victory over the Titans on Saturday night.

We’ll start with Boswell’s column, written as he inexplicably continues to ignore the surging team playing in the Redskins crumbling old home (actually, we should probably say surging TEAMS; see, we still pay attention to the other footballers). This rather depressing entry into Boz’s portfolio reads like a pre-season Redskins’ surrender. It’s the kind of all-hope-is-lost-right-off-the-bat reactionism we’ve previously seen elsewhere.

Frankly, we expected more from Boz. Every time he seems to be letting a little light of ‘tism into the conversation, he shuts the door with a flood of negativity (we’ll hold back on “optimism-hating”). He says, “Yes, it’s only one meaningless preseason game” (yes it is) then follows that statement with, “…it’s probably not too early to start worrying” (yes it is). He essentially attributes the dominance of the Redskins’ starting defense solely to the absence of super-QB Vince Young. Apparently, Young alone would have shredded the ‘Skins secondary and “no-show” Sean Taylor. He would have run straight through the highly effective Laron Landry and London Fletcher.

The key omission on the not-playing topic, of course, was how a healthy Chris Samuels would have picked up some of those missed blocks Boz bemoaned, or how a playing Clinton Portis would have added the necessary flair to the running game to get Ladell Betts past those six yards on four carries our suddenly ‘tism-disliking (not quite hating) columnist seemed vexed over. Such things clearly would have led to multiple Redkins' offensive scores, taking one less arrow out of the Quiver of Knee-Jerk Panic Boz apparently has slung over his shoulder. Speaking of those injured Redskins, there is a place for them in the column as well, framed as yet another preseason disaster, even though such injuries have already been proven as unworthy of our panic.

To be completely fair, Boswell comes around a little towards the end, praising the Redskins’ “energy” and the stoic play of Todd Collins (even though early in the column he derided such late-game heroics as meaningless because of the usual “third-stringers-and rookies” circumstances). He refers to the victory as a baby step, which is kind of nice, but it’s still hard to get past the overwhelming sense of (unwarranted) dread oozing from every paragraph prior.

Mike Wise, on the other hand, presented a change of pace as refreshing as a lime popsicle (I’m eating a lime popsicle). From the man who earlier this month confessed to getting a kick out of “contributing to the insecurity of any team’s core fan base” came a column urging, of all things, patience. Patience with Jason Campbell (“let’s not be rash” he said; are you listening, Tom?). Patience with the pass protection/run blocking (putting Chris Samuels injury in the proper frame of reference, again!). Wise spent a good deal of the column’s space dealing specifically with Campbell’s past successes, and his continuing drive for self-improvement, which is balanced nicely with his refusal to get down on himself over a rough performance.

Campbell’s level head and bright-future-gazing attitude come through near the end, as he declared that some of last year’s debacles “happened for a reason” and that they were merely meant to “prepare us for something greater.” Regular DCO readers will have no trouble figuring out what something greater is.

What does all this mean? That the universe is being torn asunder because out of nowhere Mike Wise is semi-embracing ‘tism and Thomas Boswell appears to be shunning it in the same way he is suddenly shunning baseball columns, his true love? Partially, yes. But in a more important sense it means that (here it comes) for now we should mold our attitudes towards this initial preseason game after those of Mike Wise, and drop the Boswell-like panic-mongering like memories of a 5-11 record.

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