The Burgundy and Gold Mood Around Town
Not having been sated by the previously mentioned 7,825 words of Redskins coverage in this morning's paper, I figured I'd ride the Metro around for two or three hours in random directions and try to figure out what's going on with this team. I discovered that there are several schools of thought.
1) The Bench Brunells. This is the easiest school to summarize; Mark Brunell is too old, too weak-armed, too plodding, too 20th century for this offense, and Jason Campbell deserves a shot.
"How are you going to have a high-powered offense when your quarterback specializes in screen passes?" asked Stephen Cooke at the Anacostia station. "The man crumbles under pressure, he can't see from his blind side and he throws short passes. He sucks. The way Gibbs coaches, you don't need a bench, because he doesn't use it. All he really needs is 22 men. Make it 24; give him a punter and a kicker. That's it."
"Give the young boy a chance," Calvin Truesdale agreed.
2) The Faithful. It's mid-October. The weather is marvelous. The sun is shining. The Skins have two three-point losses, all kinds of talent and a Hall of Fame coach. The Faithful have Faith.
"They've got a fantastic coach," longtime fan Joan Good said in Crystal City. "What's wrong with the team? They'll figure that out....He's the best coach they ever had, that I can remember, but he better start winning or else he's gonna go back to managing race cars."
"Everything she said I agree with 100 percent," agreed Patricia Kennedy. "Joe Gibbs, he's just about the best coach....He's a fair coach and he's from the old school, that's why I like him."
"I'm a little disappointed, a little worried, but they still have time," said Sidique Taylor en route to King Street. "The man can do no wrong. As far as I'm concerned, he can do no wrong. He's already given me one Super Bowl."
(More importantly, I used to work with Sidique at the Whole Foods P Street cheese counter. Haven't seen him in years. I helped train him in the wonderful world of cheese, and he's now in the process of being promoted to assistant specialty team leader, a stature I never reached. I'd be lying if I didn't say I was insanely jealous. Plus, he gave me a few cheese and beer recommendations to pass along to Whole Foods Old Town patrons. They have some nice Epoisses, and also Sidique's standby, the lovely Le Chevrot, which was "the first cheese that ever really made it pop for me," he said. His standard recommendation for customers who'd like something more interesting than pre-sliced cheddar remains Manchego.
On the beer side, he's been enjoying the Dogfish Head 60-minute IPA, although he's convinced it's stronger than the 6 percent alcohol-by-volume listed on the packaging.
"Write this down; I think Dogfish is lying about the percentage," he said. "I can't finish a six-pack of that stuff, and according to their percentage it shouldn't be that hard." Maybe you're getting older, Sidique.)
3) The Doubting Gibbses. These characters are slowly losing faith in the coaching staff, for a variety of reasons: too much delegation, questionable play-calling, the LaVar departure, the amorphous identity, no one else to blame for the 2-4 record, etc. And so they're contemplating the unthinkable: turning on Joe.
"They always come up with these crazy expectations, and then as soon as there's one little disappointment it all falls apart," Patrick Vailes said in Petworth. "Be more realistic about the whole situation. Gibbs is a good coach, but he's not God."
"Make Clinton Portis the focus of that offense and it'll turn the whole thing around," Darrell Mack said. "He needs at least 25-30 carries a game."
"They need to get rid of that [bleep] offensive coordinator and that [stronger bleep] defensive coordinator and let them play," C. Roach said in Anacostia. "You can't bring no passing offense to no running team. We're a running team. We ain't going to the playoffs, not with that [bleep] they're doing. Just go ahead and let them play. This ain't Kansas City; this is Skins country. This is running country."
4) The People Who Don't Care. There were a lot of this type, at Metro stops near and far, on the trains and waiting on benches, men and women of all races and ages, who either told me they weren't football fans, or that they don't follow the team close enough to comment, or that they weren't Redskins fans at all, or that they rooted for the Steelers or Vikings or Giants or Colts or Raiders. Plus some people looked the other way when I approached. Ok, a lot of people.
(Btw, I can't tell you how many people e-mail me and say they're glad I don't focus on the Redskins, because they already get too much coverage. Really? Is there a lot of this sentiment?)
I stopped outside a CVS because I saw a bike messenger wearing a Redskins cap go inside. "I didn't even know I had this on until someone told me," he said. "I don't even know who Michael Jordan is, that's how bad I am about sports."
I told another guy I was searching for Redskins fans. "Wrong year for that," he said.
No wonder our circulation is declining.
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