. . To John Hastings, the Redskins assistant strength and conditioning coach, a healthy year. If anyone has earned it, Hastings has. In May, Hastings learned he had three months to live unless he got a liver transplant. Thing is, he'd been waiting for a new liver for six years. And he's battled a liver problem most of his life, thanks to chronic autoimmune hepatitis, diagnosed when he was 12.
But, according to a story by Paul Woody in the Richmond Times Dispatch, doctors in Northern Virginia persuaded him to get checked out at the University of Pittsburgh, which has a leading transplant program. After they diagnosed him, Hastings vaulted to the top of the list for those awaiting a transplant.
The surgery lasted 10 hours. He was then placed in a medically-induced coma for several days and then spent seven more days in intensive care. For a month he lived at the hospital's family house, Woody wrote.
By July, Hastings had returned to his job. He did so because someone had become an organ donor.
It's amazing that he's been able to last all season. Maybe there's a reason the players have returned so quickly from injuries. They see Hastings every day.
. . . To the Redskins' offense, Jon Jansen's healthy return. Though Ray Brown has played well for a 42-year-old, he should be nothing more than a backup. Or, perhaps, a guard. Not only will Jansen help vary the protection schemes and allow more receivers to be in the route, he'll help immensely on the ground. Washington has no go-to side for running back Clinton Portis and it shows in the Red Zone.
Also, on the stretch runs, Jansen's athleticism will enable him to cut off blockers, something Brown at times struggles with. In a way, Jansen's return will be like adding a free agent to this offense, plugging an immediate hole.
. . . To Patrick Ramsey, continued growth. Nothing means more to the Redskins' offense than what he does. Ramsey has shown he can be more accurate, but he also still needs to show more -- with the deep ball and in the Red Zone -- to convince everyone he can beat not just bad teams or struggling teams, but good ones.
. . . To Antonio Pierce and Fred Smoot, new contracts. Pierce does his job well, making up for non-middle linebacker instincts that top players at his position have. He works hard, is smart and ultra-prepared. Smoot has proven he's a solid corner. He's not at an elite level, but he is very good.
. . . To LaVar Arrington, game films of weeks 3-14 for him to watch in the offseason. Why? Because then he could be reminded of how well the Redskins' defense did without him. Nothing could help him grow more as a football player than to see them climb to No. 2 in the rankings with him sidelined.
. . . To Laveranues Coles, good health for an entire season.
. . . To Joe Gibbs, a more qualified personnel director, thus ensuring the health of the franchise even after Gibbs leaves -- whenever that is.
. . . To the Redskins' defense, another year under Gregg Williams. He has them believing anything is possible. Wouldn't it be nice to have the same coordinator for consecutive years?
. . . To Joe Bugel, a few new parts along the line to help, particularly at center.
. . . To owner Dan Snyder, another year in the background. The busier he is with his Six Flags project, the better off this organization will be. More than most people, Snyder needs to stay busy. Side projects like Six Flags give him a place to use his energy, keeping him from obsessing about every detail with the Redskins. Of course, he'll still be involved in every decision, but limiting his role even a little is a good thing.
. . . To Mark Brunell, a pat on the back. OK, he wasn't any good. But he handled the media storm well, facing the press every Wednesday when he knew the questions would be about his poor play. Others on the Redskins should pay attention.
. . . To Matt Bowen, more writing gigs. Have you read his weekly column in The Washington Times? Pretty good.
. . . To Redskins fans, hope. Joe Gibbs provided it when he returned, but more is needed. A three-game winning streak to end the season would give you some for sure. Often times such streaks at the end of a bad season are meaningless. That's not the case with this team. They truly believe that the 2005 season already has started. A strong finish would mean a lot.
. . . To Eddie Mason, many thanks. His Xs and Os column on this site is fantastic. He's honest and smart, making his thoughts a must read.
. . .And to the fans, a blessed New Year. Our hunch is that 2005 will finally be the season you've been waiting for. You deserve it.
Warpath's Christmas List
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