Serious Business

 Honestly, I just don’t get it. Not at all… not one bit. Everywhere you look, people are doing there best to start some Redskins Ravens Rivalry, a “Battle of the Beltway”

CSN Washington has had players giving their opinions of the “Rivalry” all week long. It’s boring. I don’t care that John Harbaugh saying that the Ravens are taking over the Redskins fan base, or that Jonathan Ogden said “…It’s pretty hard to be a rivalry when only one team is any good at all”.

Can we just finally settle this? There is no “Battleof the Beltway”. There is no Baltimore – DC rivalry in sports period, it does not exist. It is more a joke than anything honestly. If you don’t believe me just watch any of the phenomenal match ups between the Nat’s and O’s. 

You will find the stands full of people wearing Orioles jerseys and Nationals hats at the same time. Just yesterday as I drove to work I came up on a car that was covered in Redskins stickers. The lady driving was wearing a Ravens Tshirt. It’s because no one cares, and for the huge number of casual fans in this mixed market, they have two teams to support. I don’t like it but it is what it is.

John Ogden was correct it’s hard to say that anything is a rivalry when it has been historically lopsided. I mean its no secret that outside of 2005 and maybe 2007 ,the Redskins have been less than impressive during the short existence of the Ravens. That said the Ravens have much history at all save the 2001 season. It’s not like these guys play every year or are in the same division. 

The point that I am making is this; REAL Rivalries (no the kind made up by ESPN) take decades to become real. Look at the greatest rivalries in sports; Yankees – Red Sox,OhioState–Michigan, ahem… Redskins – Cowboys, they all have WAY more history than a regular season game once every so often, and a yearly preseason game.

The Ravens – Steelers rivalry right now is one of the best in football, the games are phenomenal. They are intense, hard hitting, dramatic, and more importantly they carry serious weight.

They usually have play off implications or they are an actual playoff game and the two teams hate each other. It’s beautiful. 

In DC there is yearly “Dallas Week” where fans are consumed by memories of John Riggins, Darrel Green, Santana Moss, and RFK literally shaking with rabid fans screaming “WE WANT DALLAS”. All Redskin fans have two favorite teams; The Washington Redskins and whover is playing the Cowboys. Watching Dallaslose is almost as fun as a Redskins win. The hatred for Dallas is ingrained into the very DNA of a Skins fan, and honstly that is just not the case regarding the Ravens.

Rivalry has an emotional attachment, it is something that fathers pass down to there sons. It divides families, ruins friendships and causes all of us to hate the crazyDallasfan in the office. It IS NOT a preseason game…ever. So like I said there is no rivalry game tonight.

Even though there is no rivalry, there are a lot questions that will be answered in tonight’s very important, non – rivalry game. 

Who starts at QB and does that carry any weight at all?

Mike Shanahan has not said who will be starting tonight, though people in the know are heavily leaning toward it being John Beck. While Beck has been rumored by those pesky no name sources in Ashburn to be a lock as the starter week one, Mike Shanahan has continually denied that he has decided who is the starter and Kyle keeps preaching that its an open even competition. I believe them, but I also believe that this competition won’t be decided until the week of the Giants game. The Shanahans are playing this one close to the chest and want to keep the G-Men guessing, they won’t show there hand tonight.

Can the offense continue to impress in “real” game situations?

The Ravens have publicly said that they have been game planning for tonight, as have the Redskins. Meaning that for at least the first half, tonight is real, or as close as you can get for a preseason game.

I am extremely interested to see how the first offense does against a team who is actually bringing it. Can Hightower still pick up huge chunks of yards against the Ravens’ starters? Can the Offensive line, which has been a huge bright spot, push around Haloti Ngata? Does John Beck build on his first action and execute the offense as flawlessly as he did on Friday? How many picks will Rex throw? Seeing them go live on National TV should be our first legitimate look at the 2011 Skins offense, here’s to hoping we haven’t been duped so far.

 Year two of the 3-4, is this actually going to work?

Last year we obviously did not have the pieces for the 3-4. The Dline got manhandled weekly, and things got ugly. The defense looks to be largely upgraded especially along line with “The Law Office of Cofield, Bowen, and Jenkins” but can they rattle a strongBaltimoreoffense?

Can Donte Stallworth make this team?

Obviously the battle for roster spots at WR is fierce, and you can make serious arguments for any of the WR’s making the team. If there was ever a night to shine for Stallworth, tonight is that night. He didn’t do much in Baltimorelast season, but playing his former team on a national stage is going to be a great opportunity to get everyone’s attention. If he plays well and Niles Paul/Terrence Austin continue to impress at WR/KR Brandon Banks could very well be the odd man out, especially considering this will be the 2nd game he misses this preseason.

Speaking of WR’s is Terrence Austin for real?

The kid has looked awesome so far but he’s going to get tested tonight. His ability to be a consistent option, and a solid return man gives him a very good shot at surviving the cuts, like Stallworth, tonight he can make his case.  

I am also ready to hear all the nice things John Gruden has to say about the Skins. After months of being absolutely dumped on by every media outlet possible, hearing Gruden ramble on about how great we are will actually be a welcome change. 

Tonight’s game is as important as a preseason game can be. In a game considered the “dress rehearsal” you want to see your team do well so tonight is important, but don’t kid yourselves Baltimore, you are not our Rival, we save that title for the dirt bags in Dallas. So please focus on beatingPittsburgyou know when it’s most important, and we will focus on getting ready for the Giants and playing our real rivals in week 3.

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About Ray Smith

Ray Smith is the Head Writer and Senior Editor of www.sonofwashington.com as well as the Host of the SonOfWashington Podcast. Follow Ray on Twitter @SonOfWashington

Posted on August 25, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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