1. You know that moment when you see that it is a Redskins player injured on the ground, but you don't yet know who it is? I always feel rather guilty in those moments, because I am definitely hoping it is not certain players, and I am sometimes relieved upon discovering it is an unknown guy or second/third tier guy. Don't get me wrong, I am never happy to see a man leave his dreams on the field while being helped to the sideline--that goes for a man wearing any jersey. That said, when the sea of trainers and players cleared to reveal the number 98 on Saturday night, my heart dropped into my shoes. During the second preseason game on the schedule, one injury is not likely to produce a "There goes the season" thought, but in the room I was sitting in during the game this weekend, the silence was dripping with desperation. Employing the disgust and surrender that have accompanied so many Augusts over the last ten years, my friend turned to me on Saturday night as Brian Orakpo was removed from the field of play and said, "Put a positive spin on that!" Without missing a beat, I turned to him and said, "You know...there are some who would suggest that Rob Jackson is a better fit at the outside linebacker spot on this defense." It was as if my mouth was moving and my brain was spectating. Surely I don't believe Rob Jackson is better than Brian Orakpo, but there I was, trying to replace that hopeless feeling in the room with something...anything. Yet another example of how fragile this fanbase remains...it's almost as if we are just waiting for (expecting) that season-ravaging moment to hit us. We could be an entire season of episodes for Dr. Phil.
2. Thankfully, it was reported yesterday that no significant damage was evident in Orakpo's shoulder or Brandon Meriweather's knee. Losing Chris Neild hurts, but dodging the bullet on two starters like this was the kind of great news that--if we're being honest--we probably did not expect. I am still VERY concerned about Trent Williams being a little banged up at this point. He certainly did not look 100% on Saturday night, and the chances of him getting to 100% before next March are very low. This could be a...problem.
3. I better dust off my "There is no quarterback controversy because Robert Griffin III is eminently qualified to be our starter and I remain VERY excited about the season he is about to have" disclaimer. Whew...I need to laminate that and carry it in my wallet, because I LOVE talking about Kirk Cousins but some people (ahem...ih8...cough) don't enjoy that about me. For me, watching Kirk Cousins in the second half of that game was what I imagine it feels like for my five year-old son to watch a never-before-seen episode of Monster Bug Wars. Listen, I know who was on the field in the second half of that game. I know what little significance can be associated with stats during that portion of a preseason game. And...I DON'T CARE! The quarterback situation in Washington for the last twenty years has been the equivalent of having a rubber band snapped on the ol' beanbag...repeatedly. Even when we had a guy that we liked, there was almost never anyone behind him we could count on (no disrespect to Todd Collins). What has Mike Shanahan preached since his arrival? Depth! Competition at every spot on the roster! I continue to love the investment we made in the quarterback position, because without quality depth there, your team is held hostage by the ability for one guy to stay healthy. Nothing about what a backup does against other backups means a guy should be declared ready to be a bonafide stud in the league, but there were things that Kirk did that should make us happy. It seemed like he had approximately 1.4 seconds to get rid of the ball most plays...and he did so on target. The Aldrick Robinson touchdown was mostly Aldrick Robinson, but Cousins generally put the ball in the right spot while processing things very speedily. I like the way he commands things on the field and I like the way he seems to have won over his teammates--this is what he has traditionally done in his recent football career (going back to his time at Michigan State). Backup quarterbacks are always popular in D.C. and Kirk Cousins will do nothing to buck that trend. Don't look at his success as the harbinger for a quarterback controversy. Instead, I think we need to get excited about the prospect of potentially being very strong at the most important position on the field.
4. I went back and forth with a friend during the second half of the game debating the selection of Kirk Cousins (again). This topic is not going to go away any time soon--especially as long as it looks like a team of pre-schoolers could penetrate our offensive line. Going with a backup quarterback instead of whatever the best offensive lineman or defensive back available at that point in the draft is absolutely controversial. I won't ever deny that. I do think that a draft that netted Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis and Tom Compton is a step up from years where a certain GM with a mobster-sounding name chose not to select ANY offensive linemen. We still don't know how effective these guys will be or how soon they will be ready to contribute in a division jammed with elite defensive linemen. For my part, I fully support the commitment to quality quarterback depth. In this election year, candidates select their vice presidential running mates (hopefully) based on how well they would perform if they had to step into the role of President. I like to think that Mike Shanahan has selected a backup quarterback that he believes will be able to--at some point--perform at a high level as the starter. This makes our team better. If you want a slightly backwards argument, how about, "We will likely need as many starting caliber quarterbacks as we can find, because the life expectancy of whomever we put behind that offensive line is decreasing by the second."
5. They say that teams actively game-plan for the third preseason game. Offensively, we should fare better against Indianapolis' defense than we did against the Bears. (Is it too early to throw around "should" here?) Defensively, we will once again have our hands full. Andrew Luck looks like the real deal and our secondary is already starting to resemble a blanket that covers only 28% of your body. It could be a cold winter. The biggest boost our defense can get--both this week and into the regular season--is for our offense to sustain drives and work the clock. We have to limit our defense's exposure to...the other team's offense.
6. If you have a question or topic you would like addressed or debated, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will post as many or all of them in a separate weekly post. Thanks in advance for participating in this guys.