LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 20: Head Coach Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins reacts to a play during overtime against the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field on November 20, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
The Redskins score a "moral" victory, and now should they score another veteran quarterback? Plus, the Capitals' coach goes all in -- will his superstars follow?
Losing stinks, especially for six straight weeks. The Washington Redskins' loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 11 was a gut punch after Rex Grossman -- yes Rex Grossman -- rallied the Redskins in the final minute of regulation. Unfortunately Graham Gano (as in "Ga-No Good") could not come through in the clutch. That kind of sums up the Redskins' season.
The Redskins are now 3-7, and sadly not bad enough to "Suck for Luck." They may have time to be "Bad for Barkley." or how about "Whiffin for Griffin" (from Javon in D.C.). Maybe in a few years, we will thank Gano for missing and Grossman for turning it over, because those miscues will might land you a franchise quarterback.
This Thanksgiving edition of "Chain Reactions" deals with the Redskins' latest moral victory, the Kyle Orton option, Brandon Banks' return, Bruce Bourdreau getting a vote of confidence and a pair of local college teams worth watching.
No Moral Victories in the NFL
Another Sunday and another Redskins loss, this time to the hated Cowboys. If that was not bad enough, there seems to be acceptance of the sucking among many of the faithful. There are no moral victories in the NFL, yet it sure felt like the Redskins' hung one up after Sunday's
win loss. I'm not talking about the players. No, no, I'm talking about the fans.
The Redskins went toe to toe with a team that is in first place in the division. I get it. But this is the NFL. These things happen every week in every city. The Rams beat the Saints a few weeks ago, everyone gets paid. Save the moral victory talk for the midget football league.
Imagine if Mike Shanahan would have stood up at his opening press conference and said, "In year two, we hope to play the Cowboys close on our home field." He would have been booed out of town.
There was no Cam Newton or Andy Dalton under center for the Redskins. There was no A.J. Green on the outside making plays. Instead, there were a pair of grizzled veterans -- stop-gap solutions at best. Sure, there is Fred Davis who's better years are in front of him, and rookie running back Roy Helu, who may or may not be a feature back, but the offensive line is still a huge work in progress.
Defensively, the parts, especially the front seven, are good enough, even with Jarvis Jenkins on the shelf. The secondary still needs some help even if they do cut DeAngelo Hall. Special teams are probably good enough as long as you don't ask Graham Ga-NO to hit a game-winner.
But the bottom line is there are still lots of needs on this team before we can feel like a close loss will translate into future successes. The biggest myth in the NFL is there is some great carryover of momentum year to year. Ask Tampa Bay how that is working out ... and they have the same core from a year ago. Hopefully, the Redskins will make some drastic changes at Quarterback for starters.
Kyle Orton an Option?
Kyle Orton was waived by the Denver Broncos, and the Redskins could place a claim in on him. Should they, though? He wants to go back to the Chicago Bears. There is only six games left and he is a free agent at the end of the year.
Sure, he is better than any of the Redskins' quarterbacks on the roster, but he did get benched for Tim Tebow. Not sure you can ever live that down. Plus, he has no contract beyond this season. It might be better to get him in the off-season if you are looking for a mentor for the quarterback of the future, although I'm a a believer in throwing the rookie into the fire like Carolina and Cincinnati have this season.
I would be more interested in them asking Jake Plummer to come out of retirement. Please read this juicy piece from Sports Radio Interviews.
Return of Brandon Banks
For several weeks, as the special teams struggled to break loose and make a play, some wondered if Brandon Banks days could be numbered. Think again. He broke out in a big way Sunday with four kickoff returns for 20 yards or more and a three punt returns for 97 yards, highlighted by a 55 yarder.
However, the second year pro was hardly satisfied with almost breaking one for six.
"It felt good, but at the end of the day I need to score," Banks said. "I don't think we would have been in the position that we was in at the end of the game if I had scored. So I'm not really that excited about it. I didn't make good cuts at the end of my runs."
As much as we pine for playmakers on the Redskins' roster, how could you give up on this guy right now? The answer is you can't.
Bruce Boudreau Gets a Vote of Confidence
There used to be a time in this town where the Capitals could play under the radar until the Redskins' season ended or until they hired their next coach. Those days are long gone. The Caps have the spotlight directly on them these days. You know what they say about being careful what you wish for, but with great talent comes great responsibility and elevated expectations.
The Caps are the only professional team in town that has realistic hopes for a championship, so forgive the fans and media if we seem a little antsy in the early part of season. In case you missed it, here's a quick summary of the Caps season: they won a franchise best seven straight to start the season, but have since slipped, losing eight of 12.
The season's theme of accountability has played out with a goalie controversy, Mike Knuble being demoted, Alex Ovechkin's brief benching and Alexander Semin now being a healthy scratch. Bruce Boudreau is no longer Mr. Nice Guy, which could rub some of the team's stars the wrong way. However, the coach has received what we hope won't be the "dreaded" vote of confidence from his boss George McPhee, who spoke about it with the Washington Post's John Feinstein.
"Bruce did the right thing with Ovi in the Anaheim game," he continued quietly. "He did the right thing when he didn't start [Tomas] Vokoun in the opener. He did the right thing tonight sitting Semin."
I like the way Boudreau is handling his business. He is going all in this season and hopefully his players will all follow his lead, especially the two named Alex.
Virginia is For
As Maryland suffers through a pitiful inaugural season under Randy Edsall despite being staked with enough talent to be competitive, we can focus on the success of the basketball team ... just kidding. Instead, let's focus south at a pair of ACC rivals in Virginia and Virginia Tech. They will play for all the marbles Saturday in Charlottesville, with the winner going to Charlotte to play Clemson in the ACC Championship.
The Hokies have won seven straight and 11 of 12. However, something unexpected has this year's game with added meaning. The Cavaliers are actually good thanks to second-year coach Mike London. If it seems like the Cavaliers are way ahead of schedule, well, they are.
"The thought was that if we can put ourselves in position to compete every game, put ourselves in position where we have the opportunity to win every game, there was a feeling that, for any number of different implications, that the Virginia Tech game would be an important game," Virginia AD Craig Littlepage said.
The Cavaliers are not the only team exceeding preseason expectations. The Hokies were expected to slip some this season. Instead, they're somehow fifth in the lastest BCS standings. It is nice to see the game mean more than just bragging rights and a leg up for in-state recruiting.