By Jackson Grady, RZBR
Landover, Maryland - September 19th, 2021
On Sunday, September 19th - Uncertainty still looms over the Red Zone. League officials are still trying to determine an official start date to the world's greatest football league, because of uncertainty around the current scandal rocking the league's scouting departments. Uncertainty in two of the league's biggest markets in Houston and New Orleans, who as of today, have still not signed official contracts for their assumed head coaches. Uncertainty around a playerbase and fanbase who has never had to go this long without Red Zone Football.
About 15 months ago, uncertainty was at the forefront of one of the more polarizing coaches in Red Zone history. A man I've covered since he joined the Red Zone 8 years ago.
Coming off of an 8 year stretch that saw the Washington Football Team reach the Red Zone Super Bowl twice in a 3 year span and saw them set the Red Zone record for consecutive regular season victories (25), the unability for the coaching staff in Washington to seal the deal with a championship caused doubts to ring throughout the league.
That head coach, who some thought was finished after coming up short in his second stint as Washington head coach, eventually did decide to return to Red Zone, quietly inking a deal with the Indianapolis Colts.
That year would prove to be as disappointing as the rest.
The coach - the man - in question, is the Red Zone's own Ricky Chapstick. Ricky came into a tumultous Colts situation and aimed to turn it around... and turn it around he did. After a 7-9 season, Chapstick set the world on fire by trading 7 draft picks (all within the first 3 rounds) over the next 3 years to select Quarterback Kamryn Killings, arguably the greatest prospect in Red Zone history. Killings would go on to win 12 games his rookie year, earning a 1 seed.
Title hopes were dashed that year with a divisional round loss to Miami and Ricky would never come that close to that regular season success again with the Colts. This run with Indianapolis told us two things:
1. We were wrong: Ricky Chapstick was not out of gas. His will to perservere was not gone.
2. We were right: Ricky Chapstick was running on fumes.
After a mid-season victory over the very coach who had defeated him not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES in the Super Bowl, Ricky Chapstick announced his intentions to resign as the head coach of Indianapolis. The man who had given everything he had for 60 consecutive seasons, with no absenses, no breaks, and more importantly, no championships, had officially stepped away.
That was then. This is now.
The revival of Ricky Chapstick was expected, and for some, unwelcome. Ricky Chapstick, despite his contributions and consistency, has been looked at as a nuisance or a "diva". This isn't completely unwarranted, and coaches notice this behavior. That puts another target on the ball coach's back. Teams want to beat him. They want to be the next chapter in a saga that never sees a coach Chapstick Superbowl win. The league moves quickly. The league evolves. This is the very reason why the Red Zone is the greatest league in the world and the very reason why it has survived for 70 years through trials, tribulations, commissioner changes, unrest, controversy, and coaching changes.
Walking into Season 70, it only feels right that the revival will take place in the same place Ricky Chapstick has enjoyed so many of his career's highest moments. From his first winning season (Season 15) to his first playoff berth (season 16), to the many awards his players have enjoyed under his guidance and of course the aformentioned league-record 25-straight victories spanning from seasons 59 to 60. He holds another record as well due to his time in Washington.
Most Career Superbowl Appearances without a victory (0-3)
On May 27th, 2021, the Washington Football Team officially signed Ricky Chapstick to a cycle-long deal. This will be Ricky's third coaching stint in Washington. After the dust clears with all of the uncertainty surrounding the league itself, Ricky will run out onto the field 10 seasons to the season from his last Super Bowl defeat to Cory Astin's Chargers. Chapstick will jog out onto that field against those same Chargers for week 1. These Chargers are not the same group that stifled his offense in RZ Bowl 60. These Chargers are not the same ones who boasted a top-defense and the undisputed greatest head coach in RZ History.
These Chargers are new. This Football Team is new. This Ricky Chapstick is new.
Today, we're going to take a look at this new Football Team and how these piece fit with Ricky Chapstick.
This offense is manned by assistant coach Antonio Montgomery, a long-time assistant under Ricky Chapstick, and a man who played Tight End under the Season 14-20 Washington team. He will have several challenges ahead of him if he hopes to get this offense to play to their potential.
Quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Coming into Season 70, Washington will have journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. Fitz' history in the league is no secret. Nobody expects Fitzpatrick to win MVP or be responsible for highlight plays on a consistent basis, but then again, he doesn't have to be.
Fitzpatrick's accuracy and poise under pressure is a perfect fit in Washington under a system that coach Chapstick has cultivated over 60 seasons. Compare Ryan Fitzpatrick to some of the most successful quarterbacks under the Chapstick tree. Guys like Tyrod Taylor, Warren Coker, Dwayne Haskins, and Mitchell Trubisky. These are not megastars at the position, and yet Chapstick was able to make it work through disciplined play and a reliance on a lethal rushing attack.
That said, over the last 3 stints in Chicago, Washington, and Indianapolis, there has been an increased emphasis on a reliable passing game. While still far from a primary means of attack, you cannot win football games if you cannot convert passing plays. This unique balance has found success and while Fitzpatrick himself will be unable to do it alone, we have plenty of reason to believe his supporting cast will be more than enough to get the job done.
Receivers: Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown