Washington R-Words Week One Recap: Griffin Dips Beak In New Offense, Drowns

by | Sep 10, 2014 | POLITICS

[WARNING: I will continue to use the term “R-Words” throughout this article because I have no idea what’s right anymore]


[WARNING: I will continue to use the term “R-Words” throughout this article because I have no idea what’s right anymore]

“Well, he promised he would take care of me.”

Everyone in the circle nods and mhm’s.

“I don’t know. He was just so charming. There were times when he made me really happy.”

Mhm.

“I think I’m breaking free of this prison he locked me in,” says Nancy to my right. “When he tries to hurt me now, I just laugh and I walk away. I walk. away.”

Everyone stands and applauds.

“Jon, you can see this is a safe place. He can’t hear you or hurt you here. Is there anything you want to tell us?”

Everyone turns to see a hunched man in an oversized Brian Orakpo jersey.

“I just… it’s just… We’ve only been together for a week now, and I’ve been hurt so many times before. And yet I always think, maybe this time. I’m so STUPID!”

Intermittent “no’s” from all over the circle in surround sound. Nancy rests her hand on my shoulder.

“They’re all the same,” I say. “They just always find new ways to hurt you.”

Mhm.

“The zone running game was there, you know? But how do you allow a blocked extra point, a blocked punt, and then fumble the ball in the red zone?! TWICE?! Those F***ing R**skins!”

Collective gasp. Nancy’s grip grows tighter, her fingers digging into my clavicle. “We don’t allow that word here.”

“Maybe,” starts one of them I can’t identify, “if you hadn’t taken one of our best f***ing defensive linemen, we’d be more understanding.”

“Who? You mean Jason Hatcher?”

“We saw you,” says another voice.

“Laughing maniacally every time Tony Romo got picked off yesterday,” Nancy says in my ear.

“It was my only consolation!” I shout, waving my hands in front of me as everyone stands up and begins to move toward me. “Oh no, you’re a bunch of C-Words!”

I wake up with a start only to find the nightmare is all too real. The R-Words really did get an extra point and a punt blocked. They really did lose to the Houston Texans, who had arguably grown worse after going 2-14 in 2013.

If you are a villain, you have to admire how the R-Words cause their fans pain. There’s always something new and exciting in how they lose to be copycatted by some other villain later, exhibited to perfection yesterday. For R-Words fans, it’s a constant guessing game as to how he’ll strike next–like old, fat detectives trying to track down a maniacal, yet brilliant villain who the detective is secretly in love with. On Sunday, the Washington R-Words did what they do best: lose in new, creative ways, while feeding their fans hope to poison their souls*.


Photo by Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports

Reasons for Depression

Some of the ways the R-Words lost weren’t that creative or new, but they were effective.

They kicked off the game with the tried and true “injury to a critical player” on the 7th play. Rising star tight End Jordan Reed injured his hamstring and all we know, after the MRI, is that it’ll be “some time.” Gruden looked really sad in the post-game conference because they apparently had “big plans” for Reed. Then they threw in nose tackle Barry Cofield getting a high ankle sprain, which has resulted in him being put on short-term IR. Cofield’s injury hurt in two ways. He is a solid starter and he was one of NFL’s iron men, starting his 80th consecutive game. The vindictive smoke monster that is the R-Words couldn’t allow that type of respectable achievement to infect the losing atmosphere it had created in Washington.

The special teams, which was atrocious in 2013, had been apparently upgraded in the off-season. New coach. New returner in Andre Roberts. But there they were, getting an extra point blocked by defensive superhuman J.J. Watt. I don’t know about you, but there was in echo in my living room after that happened to the tune of, “You know, we’ll probably lose by one now.” But no, that was too predictable. We should have known that two drives later, a rookie running back named Blue would block a punt and scoop it up for a touchdown.

The two red zone fumbles, like a well-executed horror film, had top notch production values. The way Griffin tumbled to the ground and still tried to muster a hand-off to Morris at the Houston 11-yard line was the stuff of tragedy. The way his face mask bobbled against the ground in slow motion on the replays was as pitiful as any P.T. Anderson ending. Hope and good intentions has no power against a proper misunderstanding.

Niles Paul was running free on a 48-yard catch, sniffing the end zone. He was speeding faster than a tight end should, putting to rest all of those early-game deep sighs after learning Paul was going to be taking over for the injured Jordan Reed. “High and tight,” were the words Gruden stressed in the post-game (de)presser, “We talk about it all the time.” Paul didn’t secure the ball and was stripped from behind. In milliseconds, it was touchdown glee turned to turnover ridicule.

Both fumbles capped off productive drives to the red zone. Both were in the third quarter after R-Words fans had hoped there would be massive game plan adjustments. One is best seen in slow motion to fully appreciate, the other best experienced at full speed. Really well done.

The R-Words helped the Texans break their 14-game losing streak. Once again, not a new way to lose, but rather a continuation of a theme in the Dan Snyder era. Someone needs to look at all the records broken in the last 14 years and see which team they have been broken against the most. My life-savings and my first-born child says it’s against the R-Words.

Then there was Robert Griffin III, on whom it all hinged. Griffin kept completing short dinkers for gains in the range of -2 to 2. He looked like Rich Gannon, now, if he had suited up at age 48. He took hurry after hurry, sack after sack. His first half looked to be a realization of all our fears: his healing had little to do with his body and everything to do with his confidence and decision-making, and he’s still very hurt.

But Griffin’s poor performance was mostly in the first half, which brings me to the real tragic brilliance of how the R-Words abuse their fans: the “bright spots.”


Photo by Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports

Reasons for Hope (Poison)

This is the part where every R-Words fan unhealthily logics out reasons why he still believes Washington can be good, because, at heart, we’re romantics.

The R-Words looked vastly improved in the second half, leaving fans to wonder if that trend could continue. The R-Words racked up 372 yards of offense, which is little more than above average, but 220 of those yards came in the second half. Both third quarter red zone fumbles occurred at the Houston 11-yard line, on drives which had originally begun at the Washington 12-yard line (If you’re still not believing there’s intelligent design behind how the R-Words lose, then I give you over to your sin). Those were good, long drives, and seemingly after half-time adjustments by new coach Jay Gruden, which is what we were praying he would do. Morris was running well and Griffin was making accurate passes and better (maybe not great yet) decisions.

Alfred Morris ran for 6.5 yards per carry, beginning his season-long treatise to quell my questioning of his abilities. As I have previously written, what if Morris is a classic Shanahan fling, to be tossed into the dustbin of the NFL after a 1,000 yard season or two? Well, 91 yards on 14 carries is nothing to sneeze at, and what’s more, he looked good. He dragged defenders for extra yards. He made strong and smart cuts. Maybe he’s the real deal, more of a Terrell Davis than an Orlandis Gary. His low number of carries was mostly due to playing from behind, and two drives being two-minute drills. Gruden lamented that he didn’t run more after the game.

The Washington defense held the Houston offense to 10 points. While true, Houston was playing their first game with journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. Fitzpatrick, a Harvard grad, may be the smartest quarterback to ever play in the NFL, and may have an incredible beard, but he has shown over the last decade that his ceiling for success is fairly low. Still, it did happen. In 2013, the R-Words defense was second to last in the league in points allowed. Holding any team to 10 points is a huge improvement.

If you haven’t yet, try playing the “what-if” game. The “what-if” is really fun to play when there are turnovers. What if Niles Paul had held on to the ball on the Houston 11-yard line or if RGIII had eaten the ball when he tripped… on the Houston 11-yard line? The R-Words might be 1-0, right?


Photo by Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle

Verdict

Alas, there’s no solace in analysis. Jay Gruden just coached his first NFL game as a head coach. RGIII is still getting used to a new offense, and to being confident in his body again. NFL analysts love to speculate that Gruden would rather be playing with Kirk Cousins at quarterback. Terry Bradshaw, like Joe Theismann and Herman Edwards before him, came out as a Captain Kirk believer after the loss. I find it hard to believe that Gruden would come to the R-Words with the hope of benching RGIII, an undeniably game-changing talent. The key, however, remains in Griffin’s talons. He has no excuse to not, by at least week 6, be lighting it up through the air. Desean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and Andre Roberts at his disposal, and a solid running game, should spell a successful offense. Luckily, Washington is playing another relatively bad team next week in the Jaguars, then another in the Giants in week 3. They have 1-2 more weeks to answer the following questions.

Will RGIII scare defenses with his legs ever again?

Will he make smart decisions and get the ball downfield to his playmakers?

Will the defense continue their above average play?

Will the special teams do what they are supposed to do, and be forgettable after the game? We shouldn’t even be talking about them.

Are the R-Words actually an evil metaphysical presence out to manipulate and hurt its fans?

So far, unfortunately, the answer to that last question continues to be a resounding yes. Which leads me to the real point of this article: If you’ve read this far, you’re an R-Words fan and you need help. Contact your local support group and begin your healing process.

*Contrary to public opinion, I didn’t get that from Bane’s speech in The Dark Knight Rises. Bane got it from Dan Snyder, who probably just mutters it a lot to himself.

Marilyn Drew Necci

Marilyn Drew Necci

GayRVA editor-in-chief, RVA Magazine editor for print and web. Anxiety expert, proud trans woman, happily married.




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