Point-Counterpont: Does chemistry count?

Point-Counterpont: Does chemistry count?
May 24, 2013, 9:00 am
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by Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir

As anyone who has been paying attention well knows, the Redskins are returning 21 of 22 starters from last year and a projection of the 53-man roster comes up with only about a dozen new faces.

The talk surrounding the team is that the continuity and the great chemistry that the team has developed will propel them to greater heights this year. But is chemistry just a lot of talk, a nebulous cliché that means little between the white lines? Or is it something real that has an actual effect in the win column? Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir, who always have great chemistry, debate the question in this week’s edition of Point-Counterpoint.

Rich Tandler: I like going into the Redskins locker room because it seems to be a very pleasant, upbeat workplace. The players all seem to like each other. I suppose you could say there is some great chemistry there. But let me tell you that the Redskins’ locker room was pleasant and upbeat in 2009 when they were suffering through the death throes of the Zorn era. The players seemed to all like each other in 2010 and 2011 when they went a combined 11-21. Then, in 2012, Robert Griffin III joined the mix in the locker room and, suddenly, the team won the NFC East. Maybe Griffin improved the chemistry some but his arm and his legs had whole lot more to do with the Redskins’ success than did his winning smile and down-to-earth personality.

Tarik El-Bashir: Chemistry is tough to quantify. But anybody who’s around team sports long enough can identify when a locker room has it, and when it doesn’t. And let me tell you, the 2012 Redskins had it. They could have easily disintegrated after their 21-13 loss to the previously 1-6 Panthers. It was at home. It dropped their record to 3-6. And Coach Mike Shanahan made some controversial comments after the game. But instead of pointing fingers, players were accountable to themselves and to their teammates. They returned from the bye a different, more determined, more cohesive group. Some of that can be attributed to locker room leadership. Some of it was scheme tweaks. But, I suspect, much of it was guys not wanting to let down their teammates. Every time the subject of team chemistry comes up, I can’t help but think of Al Pacino’s “Inch by inch” speech in ‘Any Given Sunday.’ Sure it was a movie, but chemistry is real – just hard to explain.