Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE
This week's Monday Sixpack has a slight bitter beer taste. It is time for the Redskins to ignore what many people are calling a "freebie" year as Robert Griffin develops. The rookie quarterback is already good enough to lead this team to wins.
Prologue: I am the optimistic, feel-good, rose-colored glasses guy around here. Today, I am trying on a different hat. I am not inescapably depressed after the loss yesterday, but I am disappointed. Instead of blowing sunshine up everyone's skirts, I thought maybe we could address what seems to be this sense of acceptance when it comes to our losing ways this season. In short, many people are viewing this season as a freebie since Robert Griffin is a rookie. (Not everyone thinks this, but I do hear it a lot.) Perhaps it is time to shelve such thinking. This season is not over for us. Perhaps a healthy serving of anger would be enough to help us get this thing going in Pittsburgh.
1. As you all know, I don't subscribe to the notion that one play loses you the game. (One play can certainly FEEL like it lost you the game sometimes.) That doesn't mean that there aren't plays that are just...very, very bad. It is here that I begin today. Lost opportunities in the opening minutes of a game are just as destructive as those that occur in the closing minutes. As Redskins fans, we have developed a keen eye for identifying those lost opportunities. Unfortunately, we have also grown accustomed to the soul-crushing nature of last minute letdowns. Washington's second half turnovers against the Giants were as costly as they were untimely, and they were very much responsible for our plight by the end of the game. If you are dead set on illuminating the bright side, perhaps you will accurately point out that Eli Manning executes two minute drives in his sleep. Victor Cruz has danced his way to fame by making big plays on big stages in big moments. They can't do it by themselves though. It takes a certain kind of secondary to really make a 77-yard bomb possible when EVERYONE IN THE STADIUM KNOWS THEY HAVE TO GET THE BALL DOWN THE FIELD.
2. Say it with me everyone: "Nothing gets behind you." How about: "Nothing deep." Before digging for positives after yet another loss that actually does have positives in it, I simply can't let this go. I am no Hall of Fame-bound defensive coordinator, but with roughly one and a half minutes to go in a game you lead by three points, how do you get beat deep right away like that? Doesn't everyone and their mother know they are looking for Victor Cruz in those situations? Doesn't everyone and their mother know that you have to keep the play in front of you? If Josh Wilson was expecting deep help from Madieu Williams on that play, he appeared to be the only one who knew about it. Williams looked like he stepped up to cover an intermediate route. Wilson was already underneath Cruz (whether by design or by defeat), so conceivably we had two guys covering the shorter stuff. Was it a scheme issue? I don't know. Was it insanely awful execution? I don't know. What I do know is that even a secondary like ours should be able to defend the deep ball when you know it's coming.
3. Did it have to be the two University of Maryland guys teaming up to not cover Victor Cruz on that play? It was hard enough watching the Terps lose in the closing seconds of their game against NC State the day before, but then watching the two Redskins from UMD get burned by Eli was turrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrible.
4. Everyone wants to talk about how well Robert Griffin III played and how he has kept this team in every game so far this season. What a great story! What a great rookie! Am I the only one that is slightly afraid that we are ALREADY wasting the talents of a guy who is good enough to win games almost by himself? (Historically, we waste the primes of players' careers. ) Yesterday we saw Griffin make enough mistakes to lose the game, yet he stayed poised and made plays late. In spite of his miscues, Griffin still had enough to put this team in position to win. WE HAVE TO WIN THOSE GAMES! At some point, we have to let go of this insistence to focus on the feel-good aspect of the rookie's story. We need to realize that we are good enough to win games RIGHT NOW. Failing to do so is not okay because "Griffin is making real strides and our offense is really finding itself." It's not okay.
5. God willing, this offense will be very good for a very long time with Griffin under center. Assuming we are able to add at least some blue-chip talent to our offensive line over the next two years, it stands to reason that what we see now is no flash in the pan. It is hard to imagine our defense deteriorating much further into craptasticness. There is reason to hope, but my point today is that we can hope for the future while simultaneously hoping for the present. We are actually good enough--right now--to win these games. We are not losing them because of a rookie quarterback or because of blocked kicks or some other plague that bad teams are afflicted with and young teams struggle to overcome. To be certain, we have our deficiencies, but they are not enough to keep us out of range from snagging W's. While it is perfectly reasonable to point out where our team is already better than previous iterations, settling for that is the first step to staying bad. If we're going to lose this year, let's have no excuses about it, because when we start winning, I don't want to be "just happy to be here." We need to start expecting to win...right now.
6. My good buddy Taylor Y. (wait...that is a bit obvious...let's say T. Young) was at the game yesterday and he filed this report: "All I heard all day was how much these Giants fans think of Griffin. They would just come up to me and tell me how good they think he is and how good we will be with him. Oh, and tell everyone that this stadium is every bit as bad as FedEx." I asked him about the last part and he said, "First of all, it looks like a huge diner from the outside." He added that the size and spirit of the place reminded him very much of FedEx. Not a ringing endorsement for the new home of the Jets and G-men. New York fans have either become generally classy folks, or they have completely dismissed the Redskins as legitimate competition. You know...like how people view the Wizards. LET'S GO WIZ!!!