Monday, September 29, 2008

Hard Core Players

For Jim Zorn, Dan Snyder, residents of the Dead Tree portion of the FedEx Field parking lot, Jason Campbell, and most importantly, the most strident practicers of 'tism who may happen upon this blog, Sunday's convincing dubya against the 'boys, a team whose vauntedness remain(ed) unparalleled throughout the most one-sided broadcast since the Republican National Convention coverage on FoxNews, sweet vindication was in order. Not necessarily for the positively predicting folk, who just knew that this team had "special" imprinted all over its commemorative patches, but mainly for those who preach consistency, a concept that some were convinced was foreign to the braintrusting folks in the front office. Unlike the more hater-type of scribes, we here at the DC Optimist understood the manner and direction behind the team's makeup. Even when the old coach hung up his mesh curly R snap cap, we knew that this consistency concept was something the Redskins were in the throes of standing behind.

While certain columnist-types were badmouthing what they thought was the only constant in the flighty ownership's team-building philosophy being fluctuation, we saw how the Redskins sat back, utilized patience and locked in talented, hard-working players many would define as core. Guys who were rocks on successful, playoff-bound teams remained in the fold with contract extensions and restructures, and rewards were doled out to players who fit into the mold, not necessarily of some stalwart structure-er of offense, who thought his scheme would accommodate the most square of pegs into his rounded play holes (uhhh), but into the mold of possessing exceptional talent and a hard-working nature.

So when regimes sort of changed, and everyone began to freak out about whatever identity the Redskins were planning on forging with their 10 draft picks all fitting no foreseeable mold, we knew the skins would remain strong. They have had the same punishing ground attack that began back when Joe first signed on and obtained Clinton Portis for Champ Bailey's me-first attitude and a second rounder. What's lost in the constant gobs of analysis (something not seen on this seldom contributed-to blog) is the fact that, instead of genius coordinators, unprecedented talent discoverers, and slick-spending general managing, football games are oftentimes won and lost as a result of football players making successful plays. The Redskins have players.

While some Brian-Mitchell-types and Brian Mitchell continue to berate the colorfully obtuse running back for having the gall to be slightly interesting, oftentimes mistakenly taking this strive for genuine affability and character for a lack of desire, Portis is, quietly, in a strange manner, beginning to eclipse some of the records held by only the most esteemed Redskins. His 121 yard game yesterday tied C.P. with the immortal Riggo for the most 100+ yard games in Redskins history. Yep, in this case, C.P., most obviously stands for "Core Player."

What we saw in the offseason, and what is sprouting nicely into a nice little I-told-you-so is how this new coaching staff realizes how this team has players, and all they need is to find the best way to utilize them, not necessarily by forcing them into some rigid system, but by seeing what they do best, and then making sure that is planned to be done Sundays.

Zorn, along with Sherman Stewart, Stump Mitchell, and Chris Meidt, have taken this philosophy to impressive levels that become obvious with each more impressive offensive performance. Week one, the skins saw modest success when Jason Campbell went shotgun. As a result, Zorn, who had yet to fashion his variety of West Coast offense with the gun in mind, suddenly began implementing that scheme, as it fit Campbell's talents. In week three, Clinton Portis continued to be stifled at the line, charging into the teeth of the large defensive lines of the first few opponents. Does Zorn have such faith in his brilliance that he won't give Clinton the chance to take a different approach to his runs? No. That rad-ass running performance against the 'boys featured a newer wrinkle to the running game where Clinton would receive the ball, almost like a toss a few yards back of the line of scrimmage, so that Portis could visualize the holes, sprout through them and pick up close to six yards per carry.

The consistency and core of the Redskins has been forged through these mostly successful recent years. People may be surprised at these recent returns, but these guys with this talent, have been here. It's just nice to see someone at the helm that is innovative enough to let those talents shine outside of their genius box.


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