For Friday’s Opening Kick, I turn it over to the collective wisdom. This week, I asked what you’d like to see out of the Redskins this Sunday at Tampa Bay. The very first e-mail I opened with perfect — succinct, humorous and the right tone after the way things have gone late against the Rams and Bengals.
“I’d like to see the ‘skins chances of winning NOT be dashed by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the waning seconds of the game.” — Walter Crain
“I’d like to see Shanahan go for it more on fourth and medium or short. RGIII can make the play, it keeps our defense off the field, and increases our chance to score points while breaking their defense’s back” — Redskirt
“I don’t even need a sentence, I just need one word: Win.” — AWWbareskinsYEA
As always, feel free to add the things you’d like to see on Sunday in the comments.
Because they’re both dedicated Insider participants with Tampa ties, I asked Noonefromtampa and MistaMoe to join me for a roundtable discussion on Sunday’s game. But they gave such detailed answers to the first question, I present them here in their entirety, and away into the final weekday morning before the game we go.
Keith: What’s buzz like on the Bucs down in Florida? Up here in the D.C. area, we have a pretty fuzzy, uninformed view of the team. Basically at this point, they are [Coach Greg] Schiano and the playing-hard-during-victory-formation thing, plus Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson. They’ve spent high draft picks on a running back and a handful of defensive linemen in recent years. Any of them impress you? Are people excited about these Bucs or ignoring them?
Noone: Outside of the hardcore fans, I’ve not seen much buzz over the team. Have not listened to the sports talk shows very much the last few weeks, but the people seemed to be taking a cautious approach to the new coach before that. People were excited over the big free agent signings in the offseason and the draft picks.
The expectations for the team were not very high considering the division they play in and the new coach coming in. Everyone is energized by the new coach’s attitude and the hard-nosed play of the team.
The area’s economic woes are playing into attendance for both the Bucs and the Rays. The game on Sunday is blacked out locally (stinks for me) and is the second non-sellout this year, and only two games sold out last year (2011).
The Bucs reached out directly to the ticket-buying public, reducing the prices on 80 percent of their tickets, introducing a half-season ticket plan and incorporating a 12-month payment option for season ticket buyers. [source TBO.com].
The have rebuilt the defense from their glory days, but have been plagued by injuries to their DL (lost starting RDE against Dallas). Gerald McCoy is finally healthy and playing up to his first-round status. The secondary is still a work in process but had Ronde Barber, Mark Barron and Aqib Talib. They do not get much of a pass rush, so the secondary gives up a lot of plays. Rumor has it they may play some 3-4 this week against us.
They added new weapons for the offense (Jackson, Martin, Nicks). They want to establish a running game and set up the play action for Freeman. They have had not a lot of success running the ball. LeGarrette Blount has been banged up also. Freeman has been only average so far this season.
MistaMoe: Life is hard for a Redskin fan in DolphinJagsBucsNolesGatorsHeatMagicPantherHurricane Land.
In a land of fish, a Redskin fan here is certainly out of water.
You wear Redskin paraphenalia out in public in Front Runner Fan Florida, and people look at you with a, “You’re kiddin’, right?” glare.
Some ask, “Why does it says REDSKINS on a Florida State hoodie?”
It hurt so much to see a panhandler use an upturned Redskin hat to collect contributions that I offered him 20 bucks for it. He declined with a way and ‘sorry.’
“That hat is my money-maker,” he said. “People here see that upside down Indian, feel sad, and dump paper money in it for me.”
Others ask me in a foreign tongue if the shelter I got the hoodie from is still loaning out burgundy and gold clothes no one else is willing to wear in public.
“In my homeland,” they utter in their best English. “You are what they call ‘him with the hope for better days.’
When you point out to arrogant fans of “The U” that the Redskins’ roster has been awash with former Hurricanes, they ask, “Which ones, the guys off probation or the ones beating a murder rap?”
When you ask, “When was the last time the Dolphins were relevant?” the response is always something about going 17-0 and beating George Allen’s Over the Hill gang in a Super Bowl game so long ago it predates the Mayans, Egyptian pyramids, and the entire cast of ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown.
Florida Gators aren’t the kind of people you want to talk to unless you want to suffer through their lying efforts of having known Tim Tebow just before he walked across calming water to save Rex Ryan from himself.
Then, there’s the small contingent who say they don’t follow the Redskins anymore after Dan Snyder fired Steve Spurrier during a cellphone call.
“How dare he ruin Steve’s golf day!” they declare.
The Heat has sapped the minds of the casual Sunshine State football fan to where The Decision, unlike LeBron’s, is to decide if football is a king sharing the throne with basketball, baseball, and that package of square grouper that washed up on the beach.
I came to Florida 27 years ago not for the weather, but to work, marry, teach, raise a football-hating family, as life in the stagnant coal mining town in Pennsylvania I lived in offered nothing but Steeler dreams and Eagles’ green-eyed envy.
It turned into a sideways move as I’m living the life of the misplaced, out-of-market fan in another place, only here, things are interrupted with storms, illiterate voters, and slippery brown bugs that are about as large as an annoying Cowboys fan.
I felt so down on my luck as a Redskin fan that I went to North Carolina and voted for Heath Shuler as a way of saying, “Yes, you let me down, but the franchise has been doing that since St. Joe moved on to NASCAR and Doug Williams, the answer to a history question that’s meaningless now in the glow of Robert Griffin the Third.”
Over the years, I’ve observed the Rise and Fall of the Niners, Patriots, Packers, Rams, Colts, Bears, Yankees, Lakers, Knicks, and the death of the great sport of boxing.
But the return of the Redskins is all I want.
Satellite TV and a small price paid allowed me to watch every Redskin game and offered the early glimmer of things getting better.
And they did, and with Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen, they have.
The casual exchange of e-mails with the former owner of this blog is what got me connected with disconnected world of The Insider.
“Don’t send me this garbage,” he e-mailed me prior to joining a major sports network’s football program.
“Share it with the Hamsters in Redskin Insider as nothing emboldens a community of the insane like the contributions of another Redskin idiot.”
And I have.
Only, in our blog-moderator-limited tongues, we don’t speak of each other as ‘idiots’ or ‘insane.’
We see ourselves as them that have hope.
No matter where we are.
Or: however we will be.