Any Given Sunday

So there is a fair amount of conventional wisdom floating around saying that this game against the Rams is a trap game.  This article here from the mothership is a prime example.

Anyone who has read my posts for the last year knows I’m not a big fan of conventional wisdom and at the expense of tradional hit making blog fare I like to take the nuanced view.  The truth about this game is that it will be harder than people think but we will win and if we don’t win it won’t be because it is a trap game.  Let me explain:

The traditional view of football is that it is a game of emotional intensity and that the team that comes out the most intense always wins. This is crap. First, defense requires intensity, but offense requires professionalism and execution. Jason Campbell doesn’t need to think “nobody is giving us respect” or “we’re gonna kill these guys” to make the right check downs and call the right blitz coverages. In fact, Jim Zorn has been really pushing this “medium” concept.  The goal is sustained professionalism and no panic.

And anybody watching the Redskins game would know that these Redskins don’t need phony motivation to win.  Any coach would be perfectly happy to go 1-1 with two division games in a row on the road.  The Redskins knew they were playing with house money going into the Eagles game.  No one would have blamed them once they saw those 14 pts go up quickly if they just folded the tents and said, “oh well, next week.  This just isn’t our day.” Instead, they mounted a professional, sustained, intelligent come back on both sides of the ball.  When the defense made a big play, it wasn’t because they were suddenly more intense.  it was because they had made adjustments and maintained their gap assignments much better (and a dinged Brian Westbrook didn’t hurt).

To win against the Rams on Sunday the Skins don’t need to come in all hopped up like they just drank twenty Red Bulls.  They need to play pro football.

So why will the game be harder?  Because the Rams are coming off a bye week, have had two more weeks to digest Al Saunder’s offense, and have a new, relatively successful coach. The Skins defense is banged up.  not only do we still not know if Jason Taylor, Shawn Springs, or Marcus Washington will be back, but Reed Doughty is having back issues and this whole team is dinged up from two very physical games.  No one would blame Clinton Portis if he ran a little softer this week after absorbing the punishment from the last game.  No one could forgive Carlos Rogers if he couldn’t do the same job on Tory Holt after he has spent the last two weeks doing a pretty good job against TO and DeSean Jackson.

And while this defense has practiced a lot against the Al Saunders offense, this is likely to have both a positive and negative effect.  Yes, they will recognize the general scheme and goals, but if Al Saunders is worth his salt, he’ll tinker with his plays and play calling to surprise the defense.

Finally, Jim Haslett is a very good coach.  A victim of the fall out from the lost season from the Katrina year, Haslett is a former coach of the year who turned a 3-13 Saints team into a 10-6 team in one year.  His success will be quickly turning around the losing attitude in St. Louis, and the first moves he made, restoring Marc Bulger, establishing a traditional practice routine and allowing the media into the practice facility established an atmosphere of calm and trust.  Gone instantly were the days of Linehan’s mistrust and quick trigger.

Are we going to lose to the Rams?  Heck no, all the calm in the world channeling through Jim Haslett can’t make up for a simple fact– The Rams have a roster full of bad choices.  The offensive line is a mess.  The defensive line is full of youngsters who may or may not be the right picks.  The secondary is a sieve. While these Rams are not the Rams that played Buffalo even two weeks ago, they are not good enough to win even if we have an off day.

But like I said, I don’t expect an off day unless the accumulation of injuries take their toll.  Of course, any given Sunday and all that.  But I just don’t see this as a trap game.  I see this as a chance to get well.  A chance to let Jason Taylor rest his leg and to let Shawn Springs come back slowly.  I see this as a chance to win while dinged so that when we face Pittsburgh in four weeks, we have a full deck. This is a gift from the scheduling gods, and we should play our starters just enough to win, and if thay means we don’t win in a blow out, no problem.  Just win. Hail Skins!


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Tags: Redskins Vs Rams

  • http://landryhat davedallasfan

    thank you for taking my any given sunday comment. this is what i’ve been trying to tell all my brethern cowboy fans that are screaming that we have no heart. fire wade because he’s flat and un-emotional. this is a game of professionals. they need to absorb as much info as they can about their opponent, perfect their game plan, and execute to their fullest on sunday. that brings a winner. that is being professional. that is what i was trying to say. you guys are playing great football right now. can zorn get these guys to sustain that level? this we’ll see. that will mark how good a coach he is. this modern game has to be approached in that manner. it is a game of intence emotions and adrenelin pumped athletic feats. but it must be approached with business like professionalism as well. know your skills, and talents, and execute. i believe wade phillups is a good coach for that in dallas. jimmy johnson was a great fit for a different era in cowboy history, and with this team, i believe wade is a good fit. he’s not going to overshadow any talent on the field, but stay in the background and work that talent to it’s fullest. his personallity fits. tom landry fit his teams, george allen fit his teams…….it’s finding what works on “any given sunday” thank you for the kudos…..davedallasfan

  • dwagner

    Well thanks, Dave.  I wasn’t really thinking about you or the Cowboys when I wrote it, but if you would like to think I was influenced by you on some deep-seated subconscious level, please feel free.  At any rate, I’ll never turn down a compliment from a Cowboys fan, no matter how backhanded, because they are so rare.

    I don’t personally see any reason why Zorn can’t keep the professionalism and the even keel all year.  He inherited a team of class guys and he has continued much of what was already being done from a character point of view.  The question for me is not the team’s attitude but whether such a veteran (read: old) team can stay healthy all year.  So far, the loses we’ve absorbed have been short term and have been in places we’ve had good draft picks ready to step in, but I don’t know what we’d do if Taylor stayed out and we lost another DE or if Doughty and Horton are out at the same time.  I like our offensive depth, but the defensive depth can’t be tested too much more.


  • Redskins Guy

    I think it really depends on your operational definition of the term “trap game.”  I tend to define it as “A game everyone assumes you’re going to win that might actually give you problems.”  By that definition, this is exactly what you’re describing. 

    Probably a more accurate term of a trap game is “a game the players assume they will win and thus do not work as hard to prepare for as they might normally.”  This is the definition I’m assuming you’re using. 

    I’m not sure what that has to do with fire and motivation and your theory about “the team with the most intensity wins.”  If the team doesn’t prepare itself properly it does hurt their chances both on defense AND on offense.  That is a consequence of a “trap” game no matter which definition you use.  It has nothing to do with this emotional intensity theory you’re (correctly) debunking.