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Who Says Preseason Games Don't Count?


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Had to defer to the family schedule this past weekend......it's just too early in football season to get away with pulling the Redskin game card on my wife. It's been tried before, certainly, but all you married guys know how THAT usually turns out.

So, we went camping.

Camping's great......don't get me wrong. Any opportunity to forgo shaving, showering or putting on decent clothes is okay by me. Eating nothing but red meat, chips, beer and wine for three days is right in my wheelhouse. But missing a Redskin game...well....that's tough, no matter WHAT game it is.

And so, as I crawled into my sleeping bag in my dark tent at one in the morning Saturday night, I couldn't help myself......I checked the final score off my cell phone...Tivo be damned. I just couldn't wait.

Now, I'm not one of those guys with an iPhone (although I wish i was) and I don't have a Blackberry.....it's just me and my simple Motorola with it's text-style bullsh*t web browser. And what I saw...at first...was horrifying. A 12-10 loss with Campbell, Washington and Espy down with what seemed to be major injuries. I have to tell you, I laid there in my sleeping bag....staring up into the black nothingness of my tent....wondering how it could have all gone so wrong. I was convinced, of course, that last year's defense was an anomaly...and that Gibbs would SURELY get the offense in gear after so long a wait. But instead, I read that we'd lost what seemed on the surface to be an offensively anemic game...and, in doing so, had lost our one chance at redemption in Jason Campbell...and also the heart and soul of our defense in Marcus Washington. Not only that, but on a team with a tragically unproven group of wide receivers, to lose one of the most promising of the up and comers in the group was just topping on the cake. At that moment in time, that little cellphone square of text that I read in the dark was more than just a small message...it was like the proverbial stake through my heart.

And then there was Sunday.

We packed up...drove the five hours home....and after enduring my daughter's "Little Mermaid" marathon and my wife's "So You Think You Can Dance" finale on Tivo....I finally curled up on the sofa with my anticipatory "keg 'o red wine" to watch this travesty for myself.

But then....the strangest thing happened.

As the game unfolded I realized that it wasn't all that bad. After watching JC crumple under the pile I went online - finally breaking my self imposed new blackout - and read about how he felt pretty good now and that he shouldn't be out long, if at all. I read about how Marcus Washington should only miss a couple "meaningless" preseason games...which, frankly, he would have be fine missing anyway.

I gotta say....we looked pretty good.

It's funny how last week we won the game but felt as if we'd lost.....and this week, we lost but felt as if we'd won. The offense looked, for the first time, in rhythm...even with Todd Collins. There were, regularly, throws - and most interesting - CATCHES of more than twenty yards. The passes were thrown to and again - CAUGHT BY - a number of different receivers. Cooley got into his zone again...Santana had a couple, and yes, even Lloyd caught a couple. One even for points! Imagine that!

I'm not too worried about the running game, by the way...it's too early and our stud isn't even playing. That will come once the vanilla goes away.

I'm not yet convinced about Todd Collins....I suppose he holds his own fairly well at the moment, but there is definitely a discernable drop in talent level from Campbell. And, once the regular season starts and defenses let it all hang out I'm worried that he'd be exposed. Brunell, well.....he was Brunell. Honestly, I expected more from him going into this season than I feel like we're seeing. I felt more confident in him a few weeks ago and while we could do worse for a number two, I also am now thinking we could do better. We'll have to keep an eye on that.

The defense...well....they looked awesome. Landry AND Rogers blew up lead blockers on a consistent basis...and the linebackers looked solid......every one of them. Rocky, London Fletcher.....even Blades and Dallas Sartz. And who is this guy, Sinclair? He was in on everything in the second half. The line put pressure on when it mattered and bodies were flying..swarming to the ball at every opportunity. It was actually fun to watch...all the way to the end.

Frost continues to impress...and, if Suisham can get any kind of consistency....we'll be in good shape there.

I was saddened by the loss, certainly, but buoyed by the performance overall. Again, I hold on to the concept that defenses progress at a faster rate in preseason than offense....so I'll reserve my judgements on the offense until the regular season begins. As long as they show improvement I'm happy. And, although we all want to see these guys get work, I have to think that Gibbs will be playing it safe the rest of the way - just like he's doing with Portis. I don't for one second believe, by the way, that Portis' tendinitis is REALLY keeping him sidelined.

I admit that I may at times be making more out of these preseason games in my silly little world of fanaticism than they deserve...but I'd be willing to bet that for guys like Clinton Portis (shoulder), Jason Campbell (knee), Marcus Washington (elbow), Chris Samuels (knee), Mike Espy (knee) - and others before them such as Jon Janson (achilles) and Trent Green (knee - as a Ram)......these games count a whole lot more than they do on paper and in the record books.

Let's hope we can make it the rest of the way without any more moments like I had in my tent the other night....and that we can see all these guys performing to best of their abilities on the field of play for seasons to come.

There's a lot to be excited about this year.

Let's get behind this NOW.....cause really, when you get right down to it.....ALL the games count.


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I'd be willing to bet that for guys like Clinton Portis (shoulder), Jason Campbell (knee), Marcus Washington (elbow), Chris Samuels (knee), Mike Espy (knee) - and others before them such as Jon Janson (achilles) and Trent Green (knee - as a Ram)......these games count a whole lot more than they do on paper and in the record books.

Admittedly, there was a lot of noise in there....but, the point I was trying to make in and among all the lolligagging is that these games are more important, in many ways, than they seem on paper.....particularly when we win.

Sometimes, I guess, you just have to read BETWEEN the lines.


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