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WT: Not in hunt -- but also not out of it


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Not in hunt -- but also not out of it

By Jon Jansen


What I'd like to start off with this week is just how good it feels to get a win. We had four games in which things didn't go right. The loss at Philadelphia raised a question here, then we got questions there, then a bye week, then a couple more games after which people were saying, "Maybe this team is lost for good this year."

When you looked at the schedule, you saw we were 3-5. Now we're 4-5. In terms of the standings, it's not that big a difference. But in terms of how you feel about your team and your chances of being successful throughout the season, it's big. I think everybody in Washington will say, "Heck, if they can beat Seattle like that, then maybe they can go down to Carolina and win that one."

If we get back to 5-5, all of a sudden things do start to look up. Then maybe you're 6-5 and people start to talk about the good things again. Are we back in the hunt? I think we saved ourselves from being out of the hunt. We still have a little ways to go before we get back in the hunt. But we're on our way.

We had a lot of questions we were able to answer. Can we play a game keeping Patrick healthy? I think we proved we can. And when we do, we can be very successful. Can we go out and run the ball? Can we have a running game with our running backs so beat up? Can we have an offense that's two-dimensional? What will be the trademark of our team when we're playing well?

I think we went out and answered those questions. We can have a balanced attack. We have running backs who can come in and play well. We have linemen who can block, which I think would be contrary to many peoples' beliefs. And we have a quarterback who is young, but when given time and the tools, may be one of the top two or three quarterbacks in the NFL.

One of the things readers noted the past week was how we were getting crushed by the media. When you come into a season with a whole lot of hype — you've made all these signings, you've got the Ball Coach with his contract and expectations, you've got Mr. Snyder with the reputation he has — and you start off 3-1, everyone is on your side. Then when you go the other way, everyone wants to know why the Washington Redskins aren't doing this or that.

When things are going good, everyone wants to be your friend. And when things are going bad, everyone wants to find out what's wrong, to be the ones who point it out and turn us around — because, oh, we hadn't thought of that yet.

The toughest part is when people take personal attacks. I had a situation last week where there was an article written in one of the Washington papers that really attacked Chris and I. If the article had been based on, "Here's the facts. Jon has been beat this many times by this guy, this guy and this guy," I can't defend that. But when an article is written in terms of, "I talked to this guy here who's kind of a guru, and he thinks Jansen and Samuels are getting beat more than last year," the perception is that we're terrible and that you ought to go out and find a couple of other guys.

Well, we're not terrible. I think we go out and prove it every week. And I try to go out every day — like I wrote about last week — and back up the pride I have in myself and my hometown and all those things.

And personally, I think I'm having a better year than I've had in the last couple of years. When I look at my one-on-one matchups, I gave up a sack in the first week against the Jets, but since then, I don't think you could say, "Look, Jansen's guy has been the one hitting Patrick." My technique is a lot better this year. I'm playing better in the fourth quarter because I'm in a lot better shape. And these are things I wanted to do because I knew people would be looking at me because I signed the new contract.

This weekend, we're going to have a lot of fun playing against our old teammate, Stephen Davis. If he plays well, a lot of people might say, "Well, the Redskins shouldn't have let him go." We didn't want to let him go. We'd like to have the 22 best football players in the league. But in terms of the offense and the money situation, we had to go in different directions. And I think Stephen understood that.

Stephen is a class guy. He's never taunted us for having a worse record this year. But I think we're going to see his best game. Stephen is a player who can rally guys around him, and I think you're going to see his offensive line block a little harder this week because they want to see Stephen do well against his former team.

And that's what makes football great: the matchups, the rivalries, the story of why this guy's no longer over there, who said what, you talked bad about my mom, and I'm going to come get you. That's why this is fun.

All right, a couple quick questions from the readers. One wants to know why we haven't been able to win division games.

Wow. That's a good one. I guess the Eagles have been pretty good for the last few years, the Giants were a Super Bowl team a few years ago, and Dallas is a rivalry in which, no matter what the records are, it's going to be a good game. But point-blank, if we want to get to where we want to go, we're going to have to win division games.

Another reader is curious how much the offensive line is responsible for picking up linebackers and safeties blitzing.

It varies on the protection. It varies on the situation. We have five guys on the offensive line, and normally we can pick up the four down lineman and one blitzing linebacker. Sometimes we'll slide left, and everybody coming from the right side is the responsibility of the quarterback or a running back or a tight end. Sometimes you just hope a guy gets caught up in the wash, and sometimes you hope a guy is able to get open and you can get rid of the ball. That's pretty much the way it is for any team.

Keep the e-mails coming at jansencolumn@cs.com. 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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