It’s strange, entering a Washington Redskins bye week without feeling it’s a reprieve, like you’d just gotten strapped in and the governor called.
Last year’s bye felt that way. Plus it fell on turn-back-the-clock weekend, not the awful one that involves wearing weird old uniforms but the good kind, when you actually turn back the clock: Last year’s bye Sunday was 25 hours, not 24.
The Redskins and their fans needed every hour. They had just fallen to 4-4 with a horrible road loss to the Lions, during which Donovan McNabb was benched in the fourth quarter in favor of Rex “Two Minute” Grossman. After the game Mike Shanahan began the “McNabb doesn’t know the playbook; McNabb is out of shape; McNabb was on the grassy knoll” talk — and for two glorious weeks, everyone debated everything to do with this season, including the viability of both Shanahans.
The fortnight ended when the Redskins signed McNabb — remember they had basically called him overweight and stupid 14 days earlier — to a contract extension right before facing the Eagles in a Monday night matchup. Final score: Eagles 59, Redskins 28 — and the game wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.
So far this season has been free of that kind of crazy, so it will be interesting to see how Shanahan and Co. handle this bye. One assumes it won’t end in an extension for Grossman, who threw two fourth-quarter interceptions Sunday in a 17-10 win over St. Louis, one of the worst teams I’ve ever seen. (Poor Sam Bradford; I expected the Skins defense to pass around the helmet for him after the game, to supplement his insurance — health and life.)
In fact, there’s something “Guys, Interrupted” about the bye this year; the Redskins have a little thing called momentum. They are leading the NFC East. They are 3-1. They have no major injuries to nurse, just the usual bumps and bruises. The offense seems to be clicking, and the defense is one of the best in the league — at least by the numbers, which of course on defense can be misleading. (I swear I heard one of the announcers Sunday say that someone was focusing on “two things: statistics and stats.” I hope I’m wrong.)
I’m sure the Skins would rather play their next opponent, Philadelphia, right away, while things are clicking. The Eagles are the team that could use a week off, but two weeks from now, they might have their act together and start playing like the team that was the preseason favorite to win the NFC East, the Powerball and “The X Factor.”
But the Redskins have to wait, and so do you. At least everyone is spared two weeks of angst and quarterback controversy stories. (Although if the Redskins had blown that game Sunday? Oh my. Beck might have been a musician, a beer and a starting quarterback.)
Instead, the Skins can revel in the 3-1 record, and their fans can make fun of their Cowboy counterparts (2-2) and surreptitious make calls to Indianapolis hotels. Come on, someone out there is dialing up the 317 right now — you know it and I know it.
If only Daylight Savings Time ended Sunday. Then it would be the Best Fortnight Ever.