USA TODAY Sports
The Redskins fanbase has awakened in Week 14 to the possibility of playoff participation. Who set the alarm clock for Week 14? Fred Davis?
1. You didn't think I would fail to bring up that my courageous three week-old daughter bravely dared to stay undefeated over the course of her life on Monday night? With everything on the line, she treated the prospect of losing to the Giants the same way she treats her diapers.
2. I said I was waiting to see how that game against New York turned out before I went off the deep end with playoff talk. Deep down, I was already there, but as was evident throughout the game, there was just no way of knowing which direction this season would be pointed to until the final whistle. There were just too many teams ahead of us for a loss on Monday night to keep the fire burning brightly. Now we are the very first team in line to move into the postseason with four games left to play. Put simply: It's on.
3. Before I get nuts Michael Keaton-style, let me say what has been said already by others: the New York Giants have to absolutely be sick about that loss. Two first quarter drives of 11 plays and 13 plays and all they came up with was THREE points? Who was directing that offense--a triumvirate of Norv Turner, Steve Spurrier and Jim Zorn? The penalties they committed along with a couple of plays that came tantalizingly close to hitting have to leave an absolute rotten taste in the mouth of a defending Super Bowl champion. There was a winner in this game for sure, but some credit has to go to the team that actively lost on Monday.
4. You kind of knew it was our night when Josh Morgan caught that "pitch" from Robert Griffin III and ran it in for a touchdown to give the home team a 7-3 lead. Anyone who has been going to FedEx Field to watch games over the last decade knows that the Redskins have been on the wrong side of those plays more than our fair share of the time. It is hard to complain about that though when you are sure that your team has not been good enough recently to properly take advantage of such good fortune. This current team--led by its very young captain--CAN capitalize when balls bounce their way. You hate to rely on being the beneficiary of good bounces, but it is yet another tangible step in the right direction for a franchise that has failed miserably at turning lemons into lemonade. (Rex Grossman highlights are more like lemon-scented urinal cakes...still a step up from the lemon-flavored suppositories that comprised the brief successes throughout the tenure of Steve Spurrier. Complete The Family Guy reference in the comments section.)
5. In case anyone is reading this and wondering if I think we actually deserved to win that game based on the fact that I have already pointed out that the Giants blew it and we benefited from a quirky play--the answer is OF COURSE WE DESERVED TO WIN. Come on...you can't knock off the defending Super Bowl champs the second time they have seen you without doing some things right and without being directly responsible for putting yourself into the right position to win. I can't tip my hat enough to the job Kyle Shanahan did. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the way he called that offense. While the game lacked the fireworks of our previous 30-point explosions, it was exciting. Big plays throughout the game are one thing, but big plays in the biggest spots during a game are something else entirely. Griffin is already proving an ability to make a play in the moments of games where they are most needed and when the pressure is at its peak. His touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon that ended up being the game-winner was simply sublime. I spent all summer telling every drive-time radio show around the country when asked that RG3 was a "run-to-throw" guy, and that our offense would benefit from his unique and unprecedented ability to beat pass rushes to the outside to give receivers more time even when they are guarding against it.
6. I think John Mara was in the process of constructing a new rule to propose to the NFL Competition Committee in the wee hours following his loss. In short, he will demand that quarterbacks be forced to stay in the pocket for a "Five-Mississippi" count. Failing to do so will result in immediate suspensions, fines and lost draft picks.
7. I know we are all hearing that Kyle Shanahan is a hot name right now to depart for potential head coaching vacancies elsewhere this offseason--I don't buy it at all. I do think his name has risen to the ranks of "hot coordinator" and that an owner or two might sniff around, but I don't see him viewing a move away from this team right now as the "right thing to do." As much as you want to give him credit for working with the strengths of Griffin in this offense, you can't lose sight of how much of Kyle's success is directly the result of having Griffin in the first place. Kyle is no dummy. You think he is going to walk away from what appears to be his job as head coach of the RG3-led Redskins in 2-3 years for the chance to take over a crappy team like the Jaguars and hope like hell Blaine Gabbert and/or Chad Henne don't get him fired before they can find the next Griffinesque guy out of the draft?
8. Carolina is a popular theory on the landing spot for Shanahan and his offense, with the idea that pairing him and Cam Newton would be the best chance to recreate what he has here in Washington. Keep in mind that the owner down there is a Mike McCoy man. McCoy, the current offensive coordinator in Denver, worked as a coach in Carolina from 2000-2008 and has done well since he left. We all saw what he did with Tim Tebow last year and we all know what is going on out there in Denver now with Peyton Manning. Hell, he might get more credit for learning from Peyton than for successfully coaching him. I find it hard to believe that Kyle Shanahan would have an advantage over McCoy if both men wanted the job.
9. With Poppa Mike taking the bullets as head coach for another two years or so as the Redskins build around Griffin, Kyle could very well step into a head coaching spot in Washington at the exact moment that Vegas makes us the favorites to win it all on an annual basis. There is nothing to suggest Kyle should cash his RG3 chips in now. Assuming the Redskins succeed in adding (at least) a few quality players around him in each of the next two years, the Redskins would conceivably continue to ascend the ranks of the league. Forfeiting the opportunity to inherit a team that no coach in our recent history has even come close to inheriting would strike me as insane. Call it nepotism...call it playing favorites...it will be called worse, but keeping the ideology and philosophy intact from one head coach to the next when Mike Shanahan hangs up his whistle is absolutely essential if this team continues to win and improve between now and then. I would trade all the Morena Baccarin love scenes in Homeland for a twenty-year stretch of continuity on the sidelines for the Redskins. (Of course, I would need assurances of this in writing ahead of time from Dan Snyder to ever consider such a transaction. It wouldn't hurt to get some kind of handshake agreement with the producers of the show that they would still consider both shower scenes and naked aerobics as integral to the plot of the show.)
10. As I said above...it's on. Bring on the Ravens and their purple camouflage pants-wearing fanbase. I have tailgated a great deal with Baltimore fans over the years and they are as passionate and loyal as we are. There is nothing but fun to be had in the parking lot with these folks, and I do look forward to interacting with them in the lot on Sunday. As much as I wish this rivalry was real and in its prime, I have to just sit back and enjoy the opportunity to host our neighbors to the north so that they can witness firsthand the growing legends of Griffin and Alfred Morris. At this point, you can't keep fans of other teams out of the stadium, so you might as well relish the fact that they traveled to watch their team lose!