I ran into a colleague in the elevator the other day and he asked when I was going to write about how awful the Redskins are.
(Note to self: Why wait till New Year’s? Make Thanksgiving resolution to take the stairs.)
Let’s see. I’ve written that the Redskins are officially, seriously unwatchable. I’ve given readers a list of things to do on Sundays instead of subjecting themselves to the pain of Redskins games. I’ve given those who can’t quite turn off the TV a list of alternative shows to flip to when the Redskins games become unbearable.
Clearly, I’ve been dancing around the issue long enough. Saturday night, I’ll get in the old Explorer and drive around the DMV, slicing cables and knocking satellite dishes off roofs.
So to be clear, the Redskins are awful this season. How awful are they? Easy, there, Ed McMahon. They’re awful, okay? I’m not sure we have to quantify the awfulness. What’s puzzling is the degree of difficulty in even watching them. They aren’t the visual delight that is “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,” sure, but they aren’t “Saw VI,” either.
But last year, there were two bright spots, two players who everyone looked forward to watching every week. The Redskins might not win, but Brandon Banks might break free for a touchdown on a punt or kickoff return, and Anthony Armstrong might somehow snag a long pass from the grasping arms of a taller, stronger defender.
Sure, Banks’s returns were usually called back for penalties, and Armstrong’s great catches weren’t all for touchdowns, but both made highlight-reel plays. That was important when a lot of what was replayed from Redskins games last year was Albert Haynesworth lying on the ground, Albert Haynesworth taking oxygen, Albert Haynesworth tipping the guy with the golf cart to drive him to the locker room at halftime.
Banks and Armstrong were the anti-Alberts from the beginning, signed for little money, long shots to make the roster, able to complete wind-sprint drills. They were fun and likable and small — so small that it seemed ridiculous that either could play pro ball. And maybe neither would play for another team. But they played well for the Redskins. Heck, Armstrong was third in the league in yards per catch.
However, neither has been able to catch fire this season. Banks is game on every return, and angry every time he doesn’t break one — there’s been no let-up in his determination. His numbers on both kickoff and punt returns are down a bit from last year, however, and he has fumbled four times after committing just two muffs last season. Are the lanes no longer opening for him, or is it simply a matter of the opponents no longer being surprised by him? Still, he could break one at any time.
Armstrong, however, is the bigger surprise. A hamstring injury has been part of his problem, but he also hasn’t seemed to develop the same rhythm with either of this year’s Redskins quarterbacks that he had with Donovan McNabb. In seven games, he has five catches for 47 yards and a touchdown. He may be running out of time to turn it around; injuries to other receivers may be giving him more chances than he’d normally get.
There are exciting players on the field this season. Tim Hightower was one, until he was hurt. Ditto Leonard Hankerson. Ryan Kerrigan remains one. Maybe Kerrigan and the hope that Banks and Armstrong return to form are enough reason to keep the TVs on another week.
Still, if you want that cable cut, leave your porch light on.