Throughout the offseason, which seemed to many of us to have lasted about 18 months, we have listened to and heard a number of optimistic pronouncements about the possibilities for the 2006 Redskins. Many have come from fans and a lot have come from various media outlets. On Monday, as training camp opened, we heard sunny predictions from another source—the players themselves.
To be sure, players in training camp generally are optimistic. By their very nature most players are self-assured people anyway. You almost have to be in order to go though what it takes to prepare for an NFL season.
Often, however, the players' choice of words, tone of voice,
and body language tell a different story. They can seem to be reaching for the
right words to say and trying to say them with a straight face. In August they
may be saying, "We have a good chance winning it all this year." But it's said
in the same tone of voice as he might use when saying, "I'm going to sprout a
pair of wings and fly to
With very few exceptions this has been the nature of any optimistic pronouncements on the part of the Redskins for the past dozen years or so. As they went for years at a time without achieving that minimum level of NFL competence, making the playoffs, their confidence that they would ever play in another Super Bowl was sinking lower and lower.
After last year's run to the second round of the playoffs, however, things are now different. Mark Brunell can say, "We expect big things. Anything short of going all the way would be a disappointment," as he did after Monday's practice and say it with a straight face and in a assertive tone of voice rather than in a hopeful one.
It's not like there isn't a lot of work to be done. Yesterday's practice did not have that well-oiled machine feel to it as Brunell was trying to get in synch with two new receivers in Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd and everyone was trying to learn the new offense of coach Al Saunders.
That did little to dampen the enthusiasm, although
everything that the players were wearing was quite damp due to the steamy,
humid conditions at
"It's not being braggadocios or making predictions," Brunell said of his sunny outlook on the team's near-term future. "That's just what we think."
And, for a change, it seemed as though he really does think that way.