- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 16, 2003

There are a lot of ways to deal with adversity, a lot of ways to get back on track and a lot of mind tricks people play to get themselves motivated. Something that I learned from hunting a lot in the woods, where you have to know how to get somewhere without much direction, is the idea of “true north.”

There are two types of north. When you look on a compass, that’s magnetic north. But as we all know, the world’s not flat. There’s what they call “declination,” or how many degrees off true north the magnetic north is.

So when you’re trying to get somewhere in the woods, you have to know what the declination is. You have to adjust your compass to get to where you want to go. That amount varies in every part of the country.

I look at a game like Sunday’s 33-31 win at Atlanta. We started out and didn’t play very well. We got down 7-0, we got down 10-0, we got down 17-0. As a team, we got off track.

But going into a game, we always know what we want to accomplish. We set a landmark. In the woods, that landmark is, “I want to go to that mountain over there.” In football, you know at the end of the game you want to get that win. So you need to set your compass to any variance that is called for in that game.

When we get down 17-0, it’s like getting off the path. You know you’ve got to go toward this mountain, but now you’ve got to go around this lake. When I’m in the woods, as long as I know what true north is for me, I’ve always got something to go by.

On Sunday, we lost sight in the first half. But halftime comes. You set down the map. You sit down and say, “OK, this is where I want to go. I can’t see it right now, but I know it’s still there.” We had to figure out how to get from Point A to Point B. And there may be more obstacles, but you just continue to refocus.

The variances Sunday were the Falcons’ 3-4 defense and some blitzes that we hadn’t seen on film. At halftime, we changed some of our protections, changed our plan of attack a little bit and refocused what we needed to do. First of all, we just needed to get back to 0-0. And we did. Then we got ahead, and then we stayed ahead.

Now we’re building something. Last year we might have looked back and said, “Gosh, if we had only made a few plays, we could be in the playoffs.” These two wins are important. All the close games you can win along the way, they all add up at the end.

You guys might think that all my analogies are hunting-related. I know, I know. That’s just how I deal with things. That’s how I relate to the rest of the world. That’s how I bring myself back. Heh, heh. Sometimes I’d rather stay on my trek to the mountain.

All right, a couple questions from you all out there. First, a reader wants to know, “Who do you hate more, Dallas or Ohio State?”

Good one. As a Michigan man, I’d have to say I “dislike” Ohio State more. In college the rivalries are so much more fierce. And you only get one shot a year. In the pros you get two, and sometimes three in the playoffs. But in college, it’s a one-and-done deal.

Someone else wants to know whether, as a line, we prefer run-blocking or pass-blocking.

We prefer to put points on the board. Whether a team allows us to pass or run, it doesn’t really matter. Atlanta really allowed us to pass once we picked up its blitzes. As long we’re moving the ball, and as long as Patrick is standing, whatever works is what we prefer to do.

Now, I’ve kind of changed on that point. I used to prefer run-blocking. But as I get older, I would hope I get a little wiser. You have to adapt to the situation around you. The NFL itself is changing, with different athletes and guys who can get things done a certain way. You have to be able to change over time.

By the way, since I’ve got this forum here, I’d like to take a little exception with Jody’s grades following the first two games. I felt that I played, in the first two games, up to everybody’s expectations. In the first game I gave up a sack, but at least four or five times after that play, that same defender was squirming on his back. It’s OK, though. Everybody sees things his own way.

And I’d like to make a little note about facing Michael Strahan this week. I’m looking forward to it. It’s one of those games where you know there’s always going to be a camera on you. Whenever he does something good or you do something good, the whole nation’s going to see it. It’s kind of built up more and more over the years, and I think anybody who follows our division looks forward to it.

Keep sending your emails to [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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