- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Staying focused during the football season has its ups and downs. We started out 3-1, and everybody was talking about how good this team could be if we just put a whole game together. It’s easy to come to work and do all the things you’re supposed to do when you’re 3-1. Anybody can do it. But when you’re 3-3, or a couple of years ago when we were 0-5, it’s a little harder.

Right now, there’s a lot of criticism surrounding the team. Heck, the e-mail box for this column is overflowing.

You might wonder whether we, as players, are conscious of what’s being said. As much as we try to not listen to outside sources, everybody is bombarded with opinions about the team. Anytime you turn on the radio, everyone is talking about the Redskins. Anytime you turn on the TV, they’re talking about the Redskins. You go on the computer, same thing.

It’s good and bad. It’s good that they’re talking about us. It’s bad that they’re not talking about us in a good way. It’s hard to say that I don’t know what’s going on out there, that I don’t listen to it. Everybody has something to say. Everybody has an opinion. And everybody thinks he or she knows how to fix it.

I never have the newspaper delivered to my house — never let the evil inside. But I do a radio show on Monday and Thursday mornings on WMAL-AM. On Monday mornings, everybody asks me questions about what was written in the paper. Everybody wants to know if it’s the truth, if it’s fair, if it’s not fair, whose fault it is.

When you win, there’s a lot of praise that can go around, and if you lose, everybody wants to know who’s the one person whose fault it was. But we win as a team and lose as a team.

So I get a little feedback through that, and I try to let people know through that what they can expect from us and what we thought about what happened. I try to be as honest as possible. And the other way is through what we’re doing here. You guys convey your concerns, and I try to give you my insight.

But I don’t spend a lot of time reading newspapers or watching TV or listening to the radio. The reason is that the only people who know the 100 percent truth are the people that are involved — the people in the offensive line meetings and in the offensive team meetings and in our overall team meetings.

When something’s written that’s not right or unfair, a player is tempted to take offense and say, “Well, they can’t write that.” But my preference is to block out everything, the good and the bad. Like I said, some opinion is going to seep in through outside sources. I believe that if I don’t want to hear the bad things that are written, then I don’t have the right to, when things are going good, to look in the paper and see if somebody thought I played a good game.

It doesn’t matter to me what somebody’s opinion is. It matters to me what my opinion is and what my coach’s opinion is.

For me, the hardest it ever was to come to work was last year. There were a lot of things going on besides just football. We had the contract going on. We didn’t win as many games as we should have, and that makes it tough because we’re all competitors. And after I got done answering the questions about why we weren’t winning, I had to talk about what was going on with my contract.

Professionally and personally, that was the toughest it was for me to come to work. But I’ll never say there was a day where I didn’t want to come to work. Until I die, I will hold to the truth that I have the greatest job that I could ever wish for. No matter how bad things get, tomorrow is a new day, next week’s a new game, and I believe that we’ll win.

Now it’s time for some e-mails. This week there was e-mail after e-mail after e-mail about the false starts and what we could do to solve them. People asked about going with a no-huddle, about holding hands, about getting set on the line a few seconds later, about the possibility of benchings.

I’ll respond to the one about being benched. You know, there are a lot of things that go into a football game. One of the more visible ones is jumping offside. Play stops and they call out your number and say, “Number 76 really screwed up this time.”

What they don’t do is say, “Number 76 was just one-on-one with Michael Strahan 46 times and he beat him 46 times. He didn’t give up the one sack, he didn’t give up the one pressure. He beat him every time.” Do you bench a guy because he jumps offside a couple times? No. You look at the total picture and ask, “Is this guy still producing? Is he still playing well? Is he doing more good than bad?”

I believe I’m having one of the best years of my life so far. I wish I wouldn’t have jumped offside. I don’t go out there to do it on purpose. And I don’t laugh and joke about it when I do. But benchings aren’t the solution for players jumping offside.

One reader, meanwhile, wants to know what is the toughest thing to adjust to in Coach Spurrier’s offense.

The toughest thing is just that it’s a different style of offense than I’ve been used to. When we played at Michigan, we had an NFL-style offense. And when I say that, it was similar to what Norv Turner ran here, and it was similar to what Marty Schottenheimer ran. We’d have a “counter” run, get five or six yards for Stephen Davis, then run off tackle, and we’d use that to set up the pass.

In this offense, it really responds more to what defenses are doing. We try to get into the best plays possible, so there’s more audibling. And just the fluidness of the offense, and how it can change from game to game and from situation to situation, is something that’s different.

Thanks for the e-mails, even the bad ones, at [email protected] See you next week.

Staff writer Jody Foldesy

collaborates with Redskins tackle Jon Jansen on this

column. It appears every Wednesday.

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