Sep 18, 2005, 10:53 PM EDT
This just in: Many members of the media are lazy. They establish a template based on what has happened in the past. Everything that fits into the template is embraced and “reported”. Whatever doesn’t fit is rejected and goes untold. This takes the place of having to take the time to actually watch the teams they are “covering”.
The template for the Redskins was established in 2004. Actually, it goes back a bit further than that with the “Dan Snyder is a meddling, clueless owner” element. That started in 2000 when he was a meddling, clueless owner. But even though he has handed the keys over to Joe Gibbs, everything the Redskins do has Snyder’s fingerprints on it, according to the template.
The rest of it consists of the game having passed Gibbs by, Mark Brunell being totally washed up, Clinton Portis being unable to handle the load as back in a Gibbs offense, the offensive line being weak and, as a corollary to that last one, they can’t pick up the blitz. There are other elements thrown in here and there, most of them negative, but those are the main ones.
A quick point-by-point refutation here. If the game ever did pass Gibbs by, he made up for lost time by working about 27 hours a day during the offseason to get back up to speed. Brunell is not threat to Peyton Manning as the NFL’s premiere QB, but he has shown that whatever ailed him last year is healed. Nobody at all paid any attention to the Portis’ press conference after Sunday’s game. He said that he and Ladell Betts will share the load at running back. Portis will not get worn down. Last year, the offensive line was mediocre at best. Nobody noticed the Jon Jansen was back and that Casey Rabach replaces the weakest link the line.
But apparently it’s too much work for those who write for ESPN, for CBS Sportsline, for papers around the country and the like to actually observe what’s going on with the team and shape their stories accordingly. The Redskins aren’t among the NFL’s elite, they’re not even among the league’s very good. But they’re better than the template has them make out to be.
The members of the mass media pack have taken the opportunity, however, to reshape the Dallas Cowboy template. All that they had to know is that Jerry and Bill dropped some $50 million in signing bonuses to upgrade their team, particularly defensively. Of course, when Snyder and the Redskins did something like this it was called folly (and rightfully so, for the most part). According to the “experts”, throwing money after their problem (16th-ranked defense in 2004, same 6-10 record as the Skins) has made them into a reincarnation of the ’85 Bears. Their front seven is fierce and impenetrable and that “fact” makes up for some minor shortcomings in their secondary, like safeties that can’t cover.
And then there’s Julius Jones. The guy is out half the season injured, gains a shade over 800 and now all of a sudden he’s Jim Brown.
Of course, in predicting the outcome of the game, it’s that monster defense that’s going to lay waste to that girly O-line of the Redskins and destroy to that shell of his former self Brunell, stuff the overworked Portis and Dallas will cruise to an easy win. Dallas will win in a walk.
In reality, the game is a tossup. The Cowboys have the edge in that it’s a home game, but that’s about it. Both teams are in the middle of the NFL pack, a large bunch that includes about 20 teams. Also among them are the Chargers, Dallas’ “quality” opponent last week who fell to 0-2 with a loss to a Broncos team that was routed by Miami last week. And the Redskins’ 9-7 win over Chicago became more impressive after the Bears hung 38 on Detroit on Sunday.
So we will see what happens on Monday night. On the record here is a prediction of a close Redskins win. But Dallas could well win and the “experts” would be right, but, more than likely, it will be for all the wrong reasons.
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