The bye week really seemed to stretch out for months rather than just the two weeks since we last played an actual football game. After all that has been written, all that has been said, and all that has occurred around this team in the most recent days and weeks, I can tell you this: I am ready to watch my boys get on the field and play a football game. And I intend to reach back into my drawer and pull out my favorite shades--the rose-colored ones--to bring you this week's set of bold predictions for the Redskins-Falcons tilt.
I don't care about 2-5 anymore. I don't. I truly believe it doesn't matter. We are completely capable of knocking off this Falcons team and here is how we are going to do it:
1) Jason Campbell will throw for over 300 yards, 3 touchdowns, and will bottle up the turnover bug that has plagued him in the early goings of the season. I am hopeful that the two weeks off will have given his ankle time to heal enough for him to be just mobile enough to escape the first guy that leaks through. My prediction for the yards hinges on yards after the catch. I think this offensive line will struggle again, but I am betting on quick throws, receivers running into space, and improved decision-making from JC in the dome on Sunday.
2) Fred Davis is going to blow up. Double digit catches, triple digit yardage and at least one score. I think what will impress us the most about Sleepy on Sunday will be his lack of fumbles and his huge first downs. When the line breaks down, Davis is going to get the ball. This might very well be a theme all game long. You look at a guy like Fred Davis and his talent is undeniable. Kevin and I watched him in training camp and the preseason and he was a monster. He is capable of dominating the stats. I am going to assume that Davis understands that this is his chance to really show the Redskins organization that he was a great investment last year. He has put in extra work the last two weeks and it is going to pay off.
3) DeAngelo Hall is going to return a punt for a touchdown. Part of our biggest gripe about this coaching staff was its unwavering support of Randle-El in the return game. The reality though (and I am only speculating guys) is that a lot of capable return men simply don't want the ball in that role. It is as dangerous as it gets in this league and these guys have millions on the line. Call that the right or wrong way to see it from their perspective but I think it is honest. From here, I make the jump to theorizing DeAngelo Hall WANTS the ball in the return game. Let me take you back to the Eagles game. There was a series that the Eagles were forced to punt. Right in front of where I was sitting, I could see Randle El standing on the sideline ready to run in to return the punt. DeAngelo Hall stayed on the field though and waved him off. From my seat, it did not look like this was a coach's decision. In fact, Randle-El made repeated gestures to Hall as if he were beckoning him to leave the field so that ARE could get underneath the punt. This game is Hall's chance to show Atlanta they made a mistake by letting him go. Maybe that makes him more juiced for this one game and we go back to something else next week. Who knows? What I do know is that when he gets the ball as a punt returner, the chance he takes it to the house and dances is great. This week, the Skins will gain some major momentum on special teams when he high steps down the sidelines for a huge punt return touchdown.
4) Devin Thomas will score 2 touchdowns. We are building towards something with this player. This receiver is going to be a key component to our offensive future. He is not our biggest receiver, but he might be the most physical receiver we have. Something is starting to click with him that is helping him understand that his role is absolutely integral on our team. When he gets the ball, he can break tackles, and make guys sorry when they square up to try and tackle him.
5) Marko Mitchell sees his first significant action and makes it pay off with a touchdown. I will be heart-broken if/when he is on the list of inactives this week. Given our current state of things, a player like him simply must be given a shot on the field. His involvement will give us a real warm and fuzzy feeling on Sunday.
Our defense will hold their own--as usual. I think in the last 10 days or so, the players have had a real chance to get some work in with each other while the rest of the world (including us here at Hogs haven) focused on bigger picture issues with this franchise.
Here is what I am most impressed about with regard to this team over the last two weeks: How many stories did you read about players sniping at each other in practice or through the media? How many stories did you read about players complaining about coach's decisions? How many stories did you read about players playing the blame game or spinning the excuse wheel?
I don't think there were any really. Certainly none that were made out to be huge headlines. All the headlines and news focused on Snyder and Cerrato, right? Maybe in the end, this was the best possible thing that could have happened to this team. Maybe a team that should have been put under the microscope a lot more due to its play in the first 7 games escaped that kind of attention thanks to the debacle in the front office! (Maybe I have gone crazy.)
Maybe on Sunday, 53 men come together and beat the hell out of a Falcons team that is completely unprepared for the reinvigorated Redskins.