1. It has been 382 days since the last regular season home victory for the Washington Redskins. When we face off against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, the total will be up to 386 days. Today's Ten Yard Fight will not drag out this depressing fact, but this has become a real sore point for me and for many of you who drag yourselves out to FedEx Field each and every home date.
2. From the "Yeah, So What?" Department: On September 18, 2011 (our last regular season home win), the Washington Nationals were 72-79, coming off a home win against the Marlins. In the time that it has taken the Redskins to win zero games at home, we have witnessed our baseball team transform into a 97-win team (the Nats have actually won over 100 games since then). I bring this up selfishly because like me, many of you are Nats fans and it is unbelievable what is happening here, but also because the Nationals serve as at least some evidence that you can elevate your standing from "nobody" to "somebody." We shouldn't spend too much time here since there are many different kinds of moving parts involved in baseball and football, but I figured it was worth mentioning that with a win tonight, the Nationals will be the best team in MLB (after the regular season.) For God's sake...let's destroy the Phillies tonight!
3. For some people, the night we drafted Robert Griffin felt like a home win. For some people, the great day in the parking lot before the Bengals felt like a home win. This is all explainable by the fact that we are beginning to forget what a real, actual home win feels like. I'll go one point further on this topic and then let it go...for now.
4. The FedEx "experience" has been affected by our lack of bringing home a win in over a calendar year. You could (and Kevin does) make the argument that we have simply not been good, and therefore the losses have added up on the road as well as at home. Still, even bad teams occasionally wield some home field advantage. In 2010, we bested the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers early in the season in an overtime thriller that still stands out in my mind as one of the greatest home game experiences in recent memory. Despite that, the feeling that I am dragging my sorry butt to Landover to go and collect a loss has begun to permeate my thoughts as this winless streak continues. After all, since that home victory on October 10, 2010, we have won only TWO regular season home games. Our tailgates are beyond fun, and provide more than enough incentive to get out to FedEx, but the walk to our seats from the scene of the party is becoming a bit of a buzzkill...as if the best part of the day is officially over. Let's see if I can put the brakes on this column being a total buzzkill.
5. Robert Griffin's fourth-quarter come-from-behind wins with less than two minutes remaining--1
I think this is going to be the stat that tells the tale of our season if we are contending in December, because it appears that wins will be determined by our ability to prevail in shootouts. In a league that has made a concerted effort to legislate out the defense's advantages, more and more it seems that games are decided by what teams can do with the ball in their hands at the very end. We have seen what Rex Grossman, John Beck, Jason Campbell and others have been able to accomplish as the game drew to a close. Mark Brunell will always have Monday Night in Dallas, but other than that, there has not been a great deal of clutch play from under center in the closing minutes of games in D.C.--certainly nothing that has led to a meaningful amount of wins with high stakes on the line.
6. As the local president of the Blind Optimists Club, I also feel it is necessary to point out that in the game against the Rams as well as the game against the Bengals, Griffin drove the Redskins into position to attempt to tie the game at the very end. In both cases, penalties moved the team out of range. The difference between good and great, as it pertains to the quarterback, can be defined by a variety of metrics and stats that are easily digestible by the fantasy football generation. Wins and losses do apply, but a great quarterback can play for a losing team (just ask Drew Brees). The difference between great and elite, however, is dominated not just by winning and losing, but by the manner in which a quarterback puts a team on his back and carries it across the goal line. Early in his career, we can say that Griffin is demonstrating to the world that he is capable of playing in the "elite" sandbox, but we need to carefully state that a lot more data is necessary before you go and call a rookie "elite."
7. I heard the Redskins are getting three points in the game against Atlanta. I don't gamble on games involving Washington (it is a subtle line drawn by someone who is generally extremely interested in all action) but I do use the lines to kind of gauge where the current perception of our team lies. Given the lines are moved to keep the money evenly split, this line seems to indicate that our offense has caught everyone's attention.
8. Atlanta makes headlines with their passing offense, but Carolina was able to put the Falcons defense in positions to get exposed. I don't know how far we want to go comparing what Carolina does on offense with what we do on offense (I do not see Cam and Bobby G as twins) but we can be sure of this: we run the ball very well and they struggle to defend the run.
9. Our defense is going to give up points--especially to Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Julio Jones. If the Redskins can get Alfred Morris going and eat up some clock as well as put points on the board, it is at least conceivable that the Falcons will be somewhat one-dimensional on offense. And yes, I know how ludicrous this sounds. It's the equivalent of forcing Kate Upton to rely on her looks. The Falcons are going to be passing anyway, but if our defense can even get the slightest ability to key on it late in the game, it could be the one thing that puts our offense on the field for a chance to win at the end.
10. There is a lot working against the Washington Redskins this week. Matt Ryan is en route to putting himself in very rarified air by the time this season ends. They have two wide receivers that most teams can't defend. Our defense is...working on it. Our inability to wield true home field advantage continues to be a major story. Yet, our offense has established an ability to keep us in games. We are becoming increasingly confident that our quarterback is not going to melt with the game on the line. We have a running back who refuses to be brought down by the first tackler. This is a weird time for the Washington Redskins. At 2-2, we are VERY much in this thing. With Robert Griffin III, we are VERY much in this thing. A victory over Atlanta adds instant legitimacy to our 2012 campaign, and transforms talk of playoff contention from insane to rational. It says here that the the entire NFL community will be buzzing about the 3-2 Washington Redskins on Columbus Day.