1. In the NFL, windows open and close depending on a variety of factors. Chief among those factors tends to be the quarterback position. There are ways to be a legitimate contender without having an elite quarterback, but there is almost no way to be a legitimate contender when you have a guy under center that is either too green or just plain sub-par. It stands to reason that in a year where there could be as many as five rookie starting quarterbacks, and perhaps as many as ten other starting quarterbacks in their second or third years (Peter King gives a nice snapshot of it over at MMQB), teams with established, veteran signal-callers would hold a sizable advantage on their march to the postseason. Further, with roughly 50% of the league going the younger route at the quarterback spot, even teams among that 50% could luck out and find themselves competing in a division full of raw quarterbacks. For example, the AFC South is trotting out Andrew Luck, Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert. The Texans are clearly the greatest beneficiaries, but they also have to play the first place schedule from that division. I bring this up because the Redskins have no such luck--we play against Eli Manning, Michael Vick and Tony Romo. For my money, there isn't a single other division in the NFL that goes three deep at quarterback the same way the East does. It certainly underscores the aggressive way the team went after who they hope will soon be in that same class.
2. Where are all the quarterback controversy lovers? I could have sworn I saw a guy wearing a Redskins jersey go 8-for-8 with two touchdowns and a perfect quarterback rating! Haha...good ol' Rex. If a guy who has played in a Super Bowl can't mop up against backups on the worst team from last season, there would be bigger problems. Even so, my chorus over the last few months continues to ring true--we are better and deeper at the quarterback position than we have been in a LONG time. This team continues to need Rex Grossman...for now.
3. I know UK already touched on the Santana Moss touchdown, but I thought I would hit on it quickly as well, because to me it was a very telling play. The first thing I saw when I watched the play live was that Robert Griffin got a little anxious and started running to his right without the ball (he took off to his right just a split second or two before the ball got to him). I think nerves had something to do with that, but it really wasn't the main reason I think he had some quick feet there, because you know what? Griffin knew that the play would work. Haven't we all found ourselves in a situation where we were so confident of what was about to happen, we almost blew it at the start? Some of you have an actual athletic reference in mind from your past--a play where you surveyed the field in front of you and knew that all you had to do was execute your job routinely and the desired results would be achieved. Some of you might be thinking to that night when you realized that as long as you didn't completely ruin things, you were going home with the girl or guy (yes, girls do read this site...at least this column). This realization is very capable of derailing your efforts. To me, Griffin saw the touchdown before the ball was snapped. Why am I making a big deal about this? The Washington Redskins have lacked confidence in the red zone for YEARS. We have also lacked red zone talent and red zone imagination. The play was not some amazing, transcendent idea that resulted in a score. It was speed from the receiver to the outside combined with speed from the quarterback to the outside and an accurate pass from the resulting angle that was created. It's a vanilla idea that good teams can run all season long whenever the hell they want. The play has options that spring from it as the defense decides who they will allow to beat them on any given down, but none of it matters if your red zone offense has trouble believing it can score. More than the perfect throw to the open receiver, the happy feet at the beginning of the play told me that Robert Griffin is a man that sees the touchdown before the snap. Maybe I am reading too much into it, but I found it refreshing and extremely encouraging.
4. Fred Davis has been largely hidden/protected this preseason. For a variety of reasons, the Redskins have pushed the ball to other receivers because, well, we pretty much know what we have in Fred Davis. It doesn't hurt to be reminded of it every now and again as we were on Saturday. I doubt opposing teams are going to forget what Fred Davis is capable of, but I think he should be one of a few players that doesn't step on the field this Thursday night against Tampa Bay. Outside of Trent Williams, I don't think there is a more important player on our offense than Fred Davis. I think he'll post great stats in wins and losses, but I have a hard time seeing us winning very often without him asserting himself.
5. As much as I want to talk about Alfred Morris and Tim Hightower, not much really needs to be said. Morris looks like a real gem and Hightower appears to look a lot healthier than he's been. If Roy Helu can join this party, you might wonder about Evan Royster's role on this team. I would much rather talk about our return game. The Redskins trotted out a real parade of returners on Saturday, with Santana Moss even getting a shot to field a punt. It would appear that Shanahan is once again searching for a reason or two to release Brandon Banks. It doesn't look like Banks is factoring into the wide receiver position battle, and if that is true, his chances of making this team would seem extremely remote. Given that I have already predicted that Moss will score on a punt return touchdown this season, I am not going to get too broken up over Banks being released. Is there any reason to believe we could get even a seventh rounder for him prior to cuts? My gut says no, but I always think there are teams--closer to the Super Bowl than us--that would exchange a super late pick for a guy who has proven he can be dangerous.
6. The other thought from Saturday's game that keeps bouncing around in my head has to do with Griffin's deep ball. His arm is impressive. He can clearly throw as far as he needs to, and on the deep ball to Hankerson during the first half of the Colts contest, it looked like Hank could have maybe helped himself out on the play by running a little harder in the middle of the pattern. From my seat at the game, it didn't look like Griffin put a whole lot of air under that ball, and sure enough, one of the announcers (not sure if it was NFL Network or Comcast) picked up on it as well. I am just not sure yet what this all means, other than we just aren't 100% "there yet" on the deep ball. It takes time, and we are all anxious. The fact that our missed opportunities with the bomb have not resulted in a string of interceptions is encouraging. After all, Rex's deep ball was as much punt as it was deep ball. PROGRESS!