- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 24, 2014


Washington Redskins fans may need their own ice bucket challenge just to make it to the season opener in Houston against the Texans.

It would have been a good idea for fans to have filled a bucket with ice while watching their team lose to the Baltimore Ravens 23-17 Saturday night at M&T Bank Stadium.

Here is how the Redskins fan ice bucket challenge works — you pour the bucket of ice over your head every time you watch something that makes you doubt the direction of this team in 2014.

This only works during the preseason — when nothing really counts, when you can still believe in the possibilities of “#themovement,” as the hashtag quarterback has anointed the future at Redskins Park.

So when your team looks bad in the third game of the preseason — like the Redskins did against the Ravens Saturday night — you take the bucket of ice, pour it over your head, and remember, “It’s preseason. It doesn’t mean anything. This team went 4-0 last preseason and wound up going 3-13.”

SEE ALSO: Redskins offense leaves no mark in Baltimore

When Robert “SuperBob” Griffin III — the quarterback your team traded three first-round draft picks and one second to take in the 2012 draft — looks very human, and is being compared to Tyrod Taylor by game announcers, you take the bucket of ice, pour it over your head and remember, “It’s preseason. It doesn’t mean anything. He looked better than this last season on one leg while playing for the previous coach.”

When Kirk Cousins outplays SuperBob like he did Saturday night, and Ravens announcers say, “Jay Gruden is going to come out of this game with a quarterback controversy on his hands,” you take the bucket of ice, pour it on your head and say to yourself that Cousins didn’t go against the first-teamers like SuperBob did.

When those same announcers repeat the same thing we heard from anonymous New England Patriots officials after their three days of dual practice with the Redskins — that Cousins “looks like the more polished passer” — you take the bucket of ice, pour it on your head, and remember that SuperBob is a “work in progress.”

When Redskins Super Bowl quarterback and preseason television analyst Joe Theismann says, “Let’s stop beating around the bush. Kirk Cousins has played much better at the quarterback position than Robert Griffin III has. Now, Robert is learning to work out of a pocket. He doesn’t look as smooth or as comfortable throwing the football. I mean, your eyes will tell you everything you need to know.

“It’s going to be a decision that Jay Gruden is going to have to make, Right now, Robert Griffin III is his quarterback. Now, if there was a quarterback competition, it wouldn’t be a competition. Kirk Cousins would be the man I believe he would have to go to” — you take the ice bucket, pour it on your head, and say … I don’t know what you say about this one. It’s going to require a few buckets of ice to ignore it.

This one, too, from Jay Gruden: “It’s going to be very necessary for us to play great defense early on in the season, most likely.”

When you are dumping multiple ice buckets on your head after listening to the coach, you say to yourself, “He’s got to be playing possum — DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Alfred Morris, Jordan Reed and SuperBob, and they’re not going to score points against Houston and Jacksonville in Weeks 1 and 2?”

Preseason NFL football is one of the cruelest exercises in sports. It requires a sense of disbelief about what you are watching, which isn’t easy to do.

You have to believe what people say, and not what we see.

“I think just going through that process, having a bad outing tonight, will help us in Game 1,” SuperBob told reporters after the Ravens game Saturday night. “I know people can’t see that right now. There will be overreactions all over the place. But it’s our job to make sure we stay cool, calm and collected and keep fighting on.”

“I think he’s a lot further along than people will give him credit for,” Gruden said about SuperBob. “You know, all you guys have to look at is the practice, or the game tape, and it wasn’t very good by anybody, but I’ve seen him practice and I’ve seen him come a long way and I feel confident about where he is. Obviously, today didn’t show how much he’s come forward, but hopefully, we have some time before Houston.

“There’s a lot of things that go on into a bad football play and poor execution on the offense,” Gruden said. “Everybody’s going to point to Robert, I’m sure, but it really is a total team thing. We had a couple chances for some plays, and we didn’t make them. Nobody played good enough in that first half to really talk about of note. There’s a lot of correcting to do, and we’ll do it.”

To believe that is a challenge. Keep an ice bucket handy.

Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and espn980.com.

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