The Washington Times - July 30, 2008, 08:19AM

 

Pure hogwash - moving forward starts Sunday

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by

Scott Hurrey

For Washington Redskins fans, this weekend is long awaited good news, although the way training camp is gone, there is a bit of bad news, as well. The good news, quite obviously, is that there is a honest-to-goodness football game on Sunday. The bad news is that it seems half the team will not be on the field, due to what seems like an extraordinary number or injuries through the ranks. It is the pre-season though, and an extra game at that, so chances are we weren’t going to be seeing starters for very long anyway. 

 

For purists, pre-season is a chance to see some young guys fight to make the squad. The multitude of injuries will only add to the number of prospects we will be able to see. This particular pre-season is also a chance to see what type of decisions our brand new head coach will make. Perhaps most importantly, this will be our first chance to see Jason Campbell take the reigns of the West Coast offense behind the Dirtbags and really start the learning process. No matter what, Sunday’s tilt against the Indianapolis Colts in the Hall of Fame game marks the beginning of a new season; one filled with anticipation for Redskins fans.

 

Sure, every year, fans of the Burgundy and Gold look at the team on paper and predict play-off runs and lofty Super Bowl aspirations. Unfortunately, most of those years end with disappointment. Four years ago, however, a Hall of Fame coach came trotting out of Redskins’ lore and into the hearts and minds of a new generation of fans. Many of the Redskins faithful believed that Coach Gibbs would step in and pick up where he left off; the Redskins would win at least one and maybe even two more Lombardi’s during the five-year contract our beloved Coach Joe signed. Unfortunately, reality soon set in.

 

With our Burgundy-tinted glasses, we didn’t see what kind of damage had been done since Gibbs left the first time. We didn’t realize just how much work was needed to turn around the culture of mediocrity that the Redskins had spent a decade imposing. Sure, there were a few bright spots. Norv had a play-off run, Marty had his run that showed promise. But, for every season of hope, there were three seasons of under-achieving, choking and blah. And, while the Redskins didn’t hoist the shiny silver football trophy they hand out after the big game, but Coach Gibbs still had success. Two Wild Card appearances in four seasons, a play-off victory (the Cowboys sure would like one of those) and in each of those post-season runs, the Redskins could just have easily won the NFC crown as losing to the Seahawks both times. 

 

Alas, the Lombardi presentations were not meant to be. The tragedy that was Sean Taylor’s untimely demise and the battle of Joe Gibbs’s grandson with Leukemia took their toll on Joe. No one can blame him for heading back to Carolina to be with his family and help run the Championship NASCAR team he started when leaving the NFL the first time. However, that change brings us to 2008. A new sheriff is in town; a man who may lack experience as a head coach, but makes up for it with determination, conviction and charisma. Coach Jim Zorn brings a unique view to the ‘Skins that reminds some of us of a young assistant coach that once surprised the world by landing the head coaching job here in the nation’s capital. Granted, it’s a little strange to be talking about the West Coast offense in D.C. after years of debating Bill Walsh supporters to prove to them that Joe Gibbs was the better coach or the bigger innovator, or the countless battles over which offense was better between the West Coast of Walsh and the Power Running style of Gibbs. Honestly, it feels almost like selling out. 

 

That being said, there comes a time and place when a team needs to make a change in order to move forward. Coach Joe started that change during his second stint on the sidelines for the Redskins by bringing in good people, hard workers with the desire to win. Take away the transition period between the first Seattle play-off loss and the implementation of Al Saunder’s offense and who knows what would have happened. This blog may have been moot. But, Coach Gibbs’ time is over.

 

Now, a new coach is here to build upon that foundation to turn this franchise around. There is no guarantee for this season. There is a lot of talent on this team — enough to win a lot of games. The question, as always, is how will that talent implement this new offense and put it together on the field each Sunday. To be honest, the results this season are of little consequence. This is the first step in a long journey from the depths of mediocrity to the new glory days. 

 

Hang in there folks. The ride might be bumpy, but if one can draw anything from this off-season, its that the team is on the right track, and, with a little perseverance, the Super Bowl thoughts at the beginning of each season might actually start to be real.

 

News and Notes

 

The injuries are well-documented here on the Washington Times Redskins Fan Forum, as are the daily tidbits and notes from training camp, so let’s take a moment to talk about a couple of contests running right now over at theHogs.net. First, we are running a promotion for the Redskins Rides Exotic and Classic Car Show, being held at Redskins Park on Sunday, August 10. Check out the sticky at the top of the Hog Wash forum for details on the show, as well as how you can win free tickets. This will be a cool show where you can check out some of the rides your favorite Redskins cruise around in.

 

Secondly, theHogs.net is a Redskins’ fan site, first and foremost. That being said, we also cover the Washington Capitals, as well. Right now, we are looking for a Caps fan that is passionate about the team, writes well, and is willing to donate their time and energy to help us step up that coverage for the upcoming season. We are looking for someone to do post-game analysis/recaps, as well as participate in ‘THN on Ice,’ our hockey podcast. We are fully credentialed, so the beat writer will be able to attend games in theHogs.net seats in the press box, as well as attending practices and pressers at Kettler Capital IcePlex. If you are seriously interested, please submit a 300-500 word article about any Washington Capitals-related topic to me at Scott.Hurrey (at) thehogs.net Although I’d prefer a non-Ovechkin piece, because those are easy to write, I’m really looking for something that shows show Hockey IQ. I’ll review and select a winner by the start of Caps pre-season.