The Late Night Nats are Worth Paying Attention To

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LaRoche being clobbered by teammates after hitting a game winning single. (C/O Patrick Smith, Getty)

LaRoche being clobbered by teammates after hitting a game winning single. (C/O Patrick Smith, Getty)

Do not take this as me telling you to not pay attention to the Wizards this week or this summer. However, do take this as a wake up call. Many people went into last year with the Nationals as their team. The team they would pay attention to, watch every night and read the articles about them every morning. But with every passing game lost by error, mistake, or inability to come back, fans slowly drifted towards looking at Robert Griffin the Third’s Sophomore year or watching their AL team. The ballpark was still full, but the Nats had made a promise and broke it, so the energy and the hope was gone.

Coming into this season, magazines and newspapers came in with the same expectations that so many called bloated, considering the fact they were the same as last year’s. But from day one, something had changed. This was a team that could come back.

After going down early on the first day of the season and losing Wilson Ramos, the Nationals came back in extra innings. Even after losing more key players, like Harper and Zimmerman, the Nats have been able to come back, showing an attitude that Matt Williams says is “In their D.N.A.”

Even after a rough start from the starters, they came back and kept the team in the game consistently. There is no official stat, the Nationals have come back 8 times out of 9 when down or tied in the seventh inning by less than two runs this year, which seems like a lot, especially compared to last year. “When you’re put in situation(s) and the game is on the line, you want to come through for your teammates” says Jayson Werth, who has been a catalyst for many rallies this year.

So I encourage you to pay attention, to not be shoved away by one bad season. Because as Werth said, the Nationals are “Taking opportunities when they’re given to us, and (continue to) win ballgames.”

Quotes from Washington Post, Adam Kilgore. 

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It’s time to Embrace your Natitude

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Terrance warms up the ol' Natitude machine. (Washington Post)

Terrance warms up the ol’ Natitude machine. (Washington Post)

If you were to pick the song that symbolized D.C. sports the most, “Hail to the Redskins” would be the answer from almost anyone. Just not me.

As D.C. counts down the days until the 2014 Draft, where the Redskins have lost their first-round pick, again to the Rams, still owing them for the R.G.3 trade, and will in all likelihood, if history repeats itself, go away from the idea they need to pick a pass defense or an offensive line. But we don’t care – who doesn’t love the Redskins in this city, and consider the Spring and Summer “The dark months”? No matter how good the Caps, Wizards and Nats are, most Washingtonians have a little thought in the back of their head,  “This is our year – this is the year the Redskins win it all”. While we’ve had that thought many times, the closest we’ve ever gotten (this century) is two first round playoff losses to Seattle.

I understand the longing for a possible championship team. However, that team is already here. That team is the Washington Nationals.

As pitchers and catchers report this thursday, the disappointment that was the 2013 season is no longer in the heads of Nats fans. The boys of summer are heading down to Viera, Florida as we read, and hope is full in our hearts. But this isn’t like saying that the Redskins are going to win the Super Bowl this year, just because of a winning record. The Nats have every single piece ready and waiting – there is no hole visible in the roster. They proved two years ago that they have the potential to go, and to win the World Series. After a humbling experience last year, I believe this year, they can have the season everybody expects of them.

But this isn’t the problem. The problem does not lie in new manager Matt Williams or in twenty one year old left fielder Bryce Harper. No, we are the problem.

Two years ago, the slogan was “Ignite your Natitude”. And oh, we ignited it, with record crowds and a division title. However, D.C.  has still yet to “Embrace their Natitude”. Embracing your Natitude does not mean going to fifty games a year or going down to Viera, F.L. for all of Spring Training, but bringing your most excited and most enthusiastic attitude to the ballpark, and cheering as loud as possible. It does not mean watching Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo each night (although I personally enjoy that). Instead, it means just talking about the Nats at school or work or wherever you spend your time, or just simply sticking a Nats bumper sticker on your car. Embracing your Natitude means believing that the Nats can win a championship, just being excited, and until November, silencing that Redskins voice inside your head.

The Nats have a great chance this year. However, with this city’s attitude, it feels like it could be wasted on the majority of us. So go ahead. It’s time to embrace your Natitude.

Should RG3 have been on the bench? The answer is no.

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It’s in, and as it looks, it’s bad. RG3 has not only a partial tear in his ACL, but also his LCL. He is badly hurt, and may not start in NFL Kickoff 2013. Which brought everybody to the million dollar question – after hurting himself, should’ve he been on the bench?

The answer, in short, is no. Don’t get me wrong, Pierre Garćon, Alfred Morris, London Fletcher, DeAngelo Hall and many more made huge contributions to the Redskins in 2012. But while Alfred Morris doesn’t get enough attention, or the rest of those guys, the backbone of the team is RG3.

Here are three reasons you keep RG3 on the field.

1. RG3 is a clutch player. He can come up big in big situations. He will not be taken off the field unless you force him, or his injury is too unbearable, and with him, you never know when something amazing is about to happen.

2. When Rob Gronkowski broke his arm, Bill Belichick said that he wasn’t going to tell somebody else to go in on the play – you go break your arm! If Cousins was on the field during that snap, chances are, he might’ve torn an ACL or LCL too!

3. Redskins fans would hate it, and football would hate it. If the Redskins lost that game with RG3 on the sideline, everyone would’ve been screaming at Shanahan anyhow. The Redskins needed him on the field. He’s not only a physical booster, but he’s a morale booster.It makes the Redskins have hope.

I understand he was hurt, and he needed help. His leg had been a problem, and it should’ve been taken care of more cautiously. But think. You can’t blame Shanahan for keeping him in – of all the things to happen, a bad snap was one of the least likely.

Fate took an ugly twist with RG3. Very, very ugly.

RG3 goes down after a bad snap (Yahoo! Sports)

The unsung hero of the Redskins

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I feel stupid.

I feel stupid. (Image source of bleacherreport.com)

A week or two ago, I wrote a post about how RG3 has revolutionized the Redskins. But, being a DC native, I realized I had missed one huge key player that has contributed tons to this run.

The story starts in 2011, when the Redskins traded Donovan McNabb to the Minnesota Vikings for a sixth round draft pick in 2012, and a conditional one in 2013. After picking RG3, a guard, a linebacker and another guard, the Redskins had the 173rd pick. Now, Mike Shanahan is usually a picky one about running backs, and the Redskins hadn’t had a really good one in a while. He took Alfred Morris, and the day before the season opener, he was announced as the starting running back.

The last “elite” running back in DC was Clinton Portis, but he was easily hurt, and at times could be, a plain jerk. This rookie we have here is the complete opposite, and broke his record for single season rushing yards as a redskin in his rookie season. About himself, he says:

“I’ll never be a star. I’ll always just be Alfred,” said the 5-foot-9, 218-pound Morris, an anonymous sixth-round draft pick from Florida Atlantic. “When I came in, nobody knew who I was. I wouldn’t ever change. I couldn’t change even if I tried.” – Washington Post, Thomas Boswell. Even though he has enough money to buy a new one, he drives a 1991 Mazda 626, which he refuses to give up, and nicknamed “Bentley”, which he drove from his home in Boca Raton, FL to DC.

But on many teams, a star is what he would be. He has run for 1,613 yards, only second to Adrian Peterson. He can run far after the first hit and finished third in missed tackles, only behind elite company in Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson.

But the element he adds to the redskins offense other than his runs sets up touchdowns. Many times, RG3 will fake the handoff, and it’s nearly impossible to tell if it’s going to Morris or Griffin. That confuses defenders, giving RG3 the split second he needs to run or throw.

The Seahawks are going to focus on Morris this afternoon. But because of the fake, it completely changes “Lockdown” to “Wait – did he just run?”.

This season has been RG3 city in DC, and Morris likes it that way. Whatever he wants. But I wish he got some more attention, because without him – they almost positively wouldn’t have made the playoffs.

Easy as R, G, 3.

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The Washington Redskins just have to win out to win the NFC East. I must be wrong. Let’s try that again. The Washington Redskins just have to win out to win the NFC East. That – that can’t be right! Let’s try that one more time. The Washington Redskins… just have to… win out… to win… the NFC East.

You get my point.

But seriously, at the beginning of the season, who picks the Redskins, the team only 5 were worse than last year, to be able to win the NFC East, possibly the hardest division in football?

I don’t think anyone did – even Redskins fans weren’t extremely confident about this season, if not at all. And then he came. RG3. RG3 also attracted Pierre Garcon, and fellow rookies came too, such as Kirk Cousins and Alfred Morris, both who have proved a huge part in this season. But really, the biggest factor is the would-be senior quarterback from Baylor, Robert Griffin the Third.

RG3 has been nothing short of incredible this year. 104.2 is his Quarterback Rating, he’s thrown for 2,902 yards and counting, thrown for 18 touchdowns, run for 6, and 748 yards. But what the incredible thing is, is something else.

The NFL has never seen an offense like this, so exciting, agressive and situational. There are so many variables you can put into this offense. For instance, a normal pass play is normally a pass to the number one receiver. But, since there is no number one receiver, it could go to anyone, or RG3 could rush. It’s like that on every play – so you never really know what’s happening.

A lot of people like to compare RG3 and Luck together, but the thing is, you can’t. Not to say that one is better than the other, but their style is so different. Luck is like a miniature Tom Brady or Peyton Manning – RG3 is something nobody has ever seen –  you just can’t put them in the same category, you can’t.

If I was a Redskins fan, I would be serious about keeping RG3 healthy, because he has so much potential,  but plays so aggressively.

Alfred Morris, Pierre Garćon, Joshua Morgan, Santana Moss and many others have made huge contributions to this season, but if it weren’t for this young QB – who knows where the Redskins would be.

Luck VS RG3 – The epic battle for Rookie of the Year

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RG3 and Andrew Luck Embracing after a preseason game won’t be the last time they see each other, but next time, it may be in suits and ties.

Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin the third have taken control of two terrible franchises. And made them a contender.

So who deserves the Rookie of The Year award?

Both have pretty good cases. Let’s start with RG3. He’s definitely put up the numbers worthy of the honor. He’s averaged 67% completions, thrown for 17 touchdowns, 2660 yards, ran for 714 yards and 6 touchdowns. (pro-football-reference.com) And they had about half of these guys last year – note how they weren’t winning – or at least like now.

Also, the performance he put up against the defending champions twice, especially this week has been huge. Not only are his numbers huge, but he adds an atmosphere to this team, and boy is he fun to watch.

This team didn’t record 4 wins last year – now, a division title is in sight.

Andrew Luck might not have the same numbers, but he does have a better QB rating. But last year, the Colts had 2 wins. This year, they might be a lock for a playoff spot. And you know the funny thing? They added Andrew Luck. They lost some of the best receivers and running backs. And they have 8 wins this year so far.

Peyton, who? Peyton left a legacy behind, and nobody thought Luck could live up to the legacy left behind. Instead, he has. And he’s on pace to blow it away. In 2010, Peyton Manning had 4700 yards and 33 touchdowns. Andrew Luck has recorded roughly three quarters of that, and he might’ve brought them to a better record. In 2010, they won 10 – Andrew is in all likelihood going to lead them to more.

But who? I have to say…

Andrew Luck, only because the Colts stunk last year and lost some of their better player, and now Andrew Luck has led them to the playoffs.

Both of these guys are the future of football – and this award in the long run – may only be the start of many for both of them.

Is Starting RG3 a good move?

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To me, it seems like a PR move and a football move. A good PR move, and a bad football move. In case you might have noticed, the Skins drafted Kirk Cousins in the first round after drafting possible franchise QB RG3 in the first round. The fans were angry, thinking that they didn’t have trust in RG3. So, (like everybody thought he wouldn’t be the starter) they named him starter, right after a rookie mini camp.

So what is it? Football or PR? It’s both.

It’s a football move, a bad football move. Why, you ask? Personally, I would definitely make RG3 the starter. That is, Rex Grossman the Third. Look it up if you don’t believe me.

RG3 needs to have his work cut out for him. He needs to work, work, work to improve. Because, in all honesty? He isn’t a perfect QB. He needs to improve his arm, work with his new running backs, because, unlike Baylor, the ‘Skins weren’t built around him.

Originally, in fact, it was all about Jason Campbell. Then they hyped it up for McNabb. Then they showed it for Rex Grossman and John Beck. Now, we say the same for RG3. We say, every year, “We have the right guy! This is the year! This is our chance!”

Every time they name a new starter though, they seem to lose. Not having confidence in the QB is something they should show to RG3 until August. If you give somebody a starting position from the start, he doesn’t work as hard. And he comes not working super hard, and not playing super-well like they expected.

So, please, name Rex Grossman the starter until you are 100% RG3 is better than hm.

Also, it’s a good PR move.

Because Redskins fans are like dogs. As soon as you see something new, it becomes the focus in your life. It’s important, and they’ll say “Make him the starter!! He’s the best thing that ever happened to us!!”

Now, I like RG3, don’t get me wrong, but Redskins fans are obsessed with him. So they said, “RG3 is perfect, why would you ever draft another QB?” (In case you’ve been wondering, it’s a safety move, in case he gets hurt or is bad.) And since the Redskins worry so much about that, they named him the starter.

Which won’t make him the best he can be. Hope you’re happy now, DC. Because you may not be as happy when RG3 isn’t as great as he could be.