If you managed to stay up til the end of Thursday’s Redskins game, you saw what would have classified as a thrilling ending to a regular-season game. The Bucs drove down for a touchdown, took the lead on a two-point conversion, and then lost that lead when Kellen Clemens drove the Redskins down the field, culminating with a 41-yard touchdown strike to Donte Stallworth with just over a minute on the clock.
Then Clemens stood back and helicoptered his arm around and around, a celebration that could only be described as
“Terrible?” Clemens suggested. “I don’t know, it was unplanned I guess.”
Why so excited? Well, it wasn’t because of anything about his chances of catching on with the Skins, Clemens said.
“You know, you won’t find a guy in this locker room that isn’t competitive and doesn’t want to win,” he told me. “To be put in a situation like that, where you have an opportunity to go down and be a part of a winning drive, that’s pretty exciting.I’m just thinking about the game. There’s bigger stuff going on here than me, certainly. I think that what Coach Shanahan is doing, from what I’ve seen over the last 30 days that I’ve been here, is something that’s gonna be really special.”
Special? Special how, I asked.
“You can feel it,” he said. “You can feel it with the guys in the room. You can feel it at meetings, practice, the way the guys work, the way the guys care for one another. Yeah, I think everybody believes that there’s something special with this group of guys, whoever that group of guys ends up being.”
Many of the national experts, I pointed out, don’t seem to share that sentiment.
“Right, but I’m in the locker room and they’re not,” the quarterback said. “So I would believe us, if I were you, rather than the national experts who sit behind a desk.”
Then I tried to ask exactly what we should expect from this team.
“Oh, you’re trying to get me into a prediction?” he said, which I sheepishly attempted to deny. “Yes you were. Yes you were. I’m not making a prediction. Something special is optimistically vague, which you’re probably not looking for. That’s all I can say. I think it feels like there’s something special with this group of guys. I think Coach Shanahan said it, and I think we all feel the same....
“I think that we’re going to be a very competitive football team. And I think that what Rex said early in the year, although people outside the organization — “experts” — probably ripped him and called it far-fetched, there’s nobody in this room that doesn’t agree with him.”
And what, I asked, of the team’s quarterbacks, widely perceived as a roster weakness.
“I think we can play,” he said. “I think we can play. And you guys have to have something to write about and talk about, and I understand that. We don’t have a Donovan McNabb from last year, or a first-round pick, a big-name guy. We don’t have a Sam Bradford from last year, a Cam Newton this year. So we’re not hyped. But hype doesn’t win you any games.”
Of course, this was an awful lot of “we” talk from someone who’s seen on the 53-man bubble from people who forecast these things. I asked about his chances of making the cut, and he paused 10 seconds and then said “I’ll just pass on that one.” Someone else later asked about his confidence level of sticking around, and Clemens said he didn’t even know what day cuts were coming.
“I’m not probably gonna lose too much sleep about it,” he said. “I’m six years into this. What I can control is what I did on the field, this week, last week, practice games. Coaches are gonna make their decisions, and the front-office people are gonna make their decisions. And I have no say in it any more. I honestly have way bigger things on my mind. My family got into town last night; I haven’t seen them yet, they’re out in the parking lot waiting. The rest of it doesn’t matter.”