When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
We shall see if the Washington Redskins can actually put the squeeze on those lemons.
We knew before the season began that the opener with the New York Giants would provide a stern test. Playing the reigning NFC East champions on the road was not exactly a gift from the league office's cornucopia of tasty treats.
The NFL's largesse shows up now. The Redskins can't do anything about the loss to the Giants but their future belongs to them. It can be bright and cheery and polished with lemon juice, if only the Redskins will squeeze.
What does lemon bring to mind? Cleo Lemon? The Lemon Pipers? Lemon chiffon? Lemon meringue? Trini Lopez and the song about the lemon tree and the fruit that is impossible to eat? The Chevy Vega you once owned?
Our friends at dictionary.com give us these definitions of lemon:
- The yellowish, acid fruit of a subtropical citrus tree.
- The tree itself
- Lemon yellow
- Informal, a person or thing that proves to be defective, imperfect or unsatisfactory; dud.
All very nice definitions, but they're not entirely applicable here as we are looking at the Redskins' upcoming opponents and none can be accurately pegged as trees, nor are any of them lemon yellow. They are, methaphorically, the yellowish, acid fruits of a subtropical citrus three. They are lemons. Defective, imperfect or unsastisfactory. Ah, you've got a dud, bud.
The St. Louis Rams come to FedExField having lost their last 11 games, 10 from last season and a 28-0 dismantling on opening day by the Seattle Seahawks. Last victory: Oct. 19, 2008. That's 11 months, if you're keeping score at home. Defective, imperfect, unsatisfactory.
The Redskins' next opponent is the Detroit Lions, on the road. The Lions have lost 18 straight. Last victory: Dec. 23, 2007. That's a year and nine months. Babies born on that day are walking, talking and, if television commercials can be believed, buying and selling stocks and mutual funds. The Lions have won one of their last 25 games. Defective, imperfect, unsatisfactory.
There are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who lost their last four last year and the opener. Defective, imperfect, whatever.
There are the Carolina Panthers, whose quarterback has turned the ball over 11 times his last seven quarters on the field? You know the drill.
And then the Kansas City Chiefs. Losers of five in a row and 12 of 13. Last victory: Nov. 30, 2008. Ten long months ago. Yadda yadda yadda.
Each of these opponents, excluding the Panthers, has a new coach. The Lions, Bucs and Chiefs start new quarterbacks. By the time the Redskins get to the Panthers, they may have to make a change there too.
There's no point in trying to play all of these games at once. Taking them in the proper order is a more reasonable approach. And just because these teams are yellowish, acid fruits does not make them automatic wins.
Quarterback Jason Campbell remembers well the Rams' previous visit.
"Last year, when we were rolling pretty good, that's the team that came in here and beat us," he says.
Yep. An 0-4 Rams team, with an interim head coach, won 19-17 on a 48-yard field goal with two seconds left. Grrr.
So we'll assume the Redskins learned not to look past any team without many (or any) recent wins to its credit.
We'll also assume they learned a lesson from the Giants' loss, though this one should have been beaten into their heads long ago.
"Put up points. That's what we need to do. Not just against the Rams but everybody," says running back Clinton Portis. "I think we're capable of being real explosive but for that to happen we need to start scoring."
He'll tell you what the problem is in that area, too.
"We don't score quick. When we score. It's a grind. We grind you, grind you, grind you," he says. He'd like to see "some 60-yard plays." He can probably tell you the Redskins managed only 200 yards in falling to the Rams last year.
The loss to the Giants left a bitter taste for the Redskins. A hint of it lingers still. Who would have imagined they'd be able to soothe their taste buds with lemons?
Larry Weisman covered professional football for USA TODAY for 25 years and now joins the Redskins Broadcast Network and Redskins.com to bring his unique viewpoint and experience to Redskins fans. Go to Redskins.com for the Redskins Blitz column and NFL Blitz on Friday. Larry also appears on The Jim Zorn Show on WRC-TV on Saturday night, on Redskins Nation, airing twice nightly on Comcast SportsNet, and on ESPN 980 AM radio, all in the Washington, D.C. area. Read his blog at redskinsrule.com and follow him on Twitter.com/LarryWeisman.