The Washington Post

Redskins fan therapy: Searching for small victories in big losses

Always look on the bright side of life. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

Leonard Hankerson has emerged. Eight catches on nine targets for 106 yards. The first 100-yard performance by a Redskins receiver this year. The one target he and Rex missed turned into an interception when Hankerson slipped at the end of his route. Can Hank’s performance only be attributed to playing in front of his hometown of Miami? I don’t think so. He looked like a pro against the Dolphins. Hankerson restored a bit of my faith in our receiving corps; they might not be as far off as we thought.

Perry Riley’s performance was another small victory for the Redskins. Riley received his first dose of substantial playing time due to various linebacker injuries and took full advantage. Nine tackles — four for a loss — but most importantly he was quarterbacking the defense in Fletcher-esque fashion. Even though you can never replace a London Fletcher, it’s comforting knowing someone will at least be worthy enough to fill his position. Pretty sure we all knew it wasn’t H.B. Blades.

Ryan Kerrigan. The reason people aren’t unanimously calling for Shanahan’s ouster is that Kerrigan has been outstanding. I still think Shanahan had his eyes on Jake Locker and the Titans essentially made that draft decision easy for him by picking Locker unexpectedly early, but selecting Kerrigan, a potential NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate, might’ve saved Shanny’s neck. The only thing I’d like to see different here is alternating Kerrigan and Orakpo from left to right, like what Rob Ryan does with DeMarcus Ware in Dallas to force different matchups and keep an offense guessing, but Kerrigan is still “learning the defense.”

Albert Haynesworth getting released by New England, the last place he was ever going to play (not-so-much), is another small victory for Redskins fans. I can’t think of another player who wore the burgundy and gold that I despise more than Haynesworth. Deion Sanders doesn’t come close. Another inch loose in the noose for Shanahan for the Haynesworth amputation. If the Hoodie couldn’t get it done then Shanahan must get a pass for not letting a bad situation, linger around at Redskins park.

Maybe the most important small victory is talk of the Redskins returning to D.C. and leaving that crap shack in Landover. Fed-Ex has not been good to the Redskins. Fed-Ex has not been good to Redskins fans. Fed-Ex is Jack Kent Cooke’s greatest failure. The Redskins need to get back to D.C. where they belong. The city, fans, and franchise need it. The team is about as close to the playoffs as returning to D.C., but perhaps the two will coincide.

There’s not much to celebrate now, and there won’t be much more this year. The 2011 Redskins highlight reel will be shorter than a Beatles song, but things can turn around quickly with another solid draft. The NFL has become a youth movement with more talented and gifted college players entering the league each year. Shanahan deserves to finish what he’s started. The last thing we need is to bring in another coach, so he brings in his new staff and personnel, then they bring in their playbooks, and new system-friendly players to execute those plays, the list goes on and on and on. However, it’s hard to believe you’re moving in the right direction when you keep moving backwards.


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