That's right...I am predicting the unpredictable. Literally. I am betting on all that is ridiculous. Up is down. Down is up. Dogs and cats...living together. This 59-28 drubbing at the hands of Mike Vick will do the impossible--and become even more surreal when we crush the Titans in Tennessee this weekend.
Ten Yard Fight -- 10 Chances To Make One Good Point
1. As bad as the Redskins looked against the Eagles, that is how good they will look this weekend against the Titans. Maybe we won't drop 59 points on Tennessee. Scratch that. We will DEFINITELY not drop 59 points on Tennessee, but our offense will wake up. We might even have more than one healthy running back at our disposal!
2. At 4-5, we have not lost the ability to finish the season respectably. Forget about playoff talk--not that the playoffs are out of reach. Even if we squeaked into the postseason though, we just got a taste of how that might go against a team that is very much going to the playoffs. Progress under Shanahan on offense and Haslett on defense should be our main goal. If we get hot down the stretch and steal some games that boost our profile, so be it.
For more reasons to bash me in the comments section, simply make the jump...
3. I have traditionally been the one to argue that, in any given year, the Redskins could make the playoffs and contend for a title---because hey, why not? While I have made the case that this current squad was capable of advancing to the playoffs in an otherwise feeble NFC, you have not heard me compare our chances of contending with those of the consensus elite teams in the league. When we fired Vinny Cerrato and brought in Shanahan and Bruce Allen, the Redskins set upon a course that was inherently stronger than previous courses. A legit head coach paired with a seasoned general manager was all we had really asked for the last few seasons. I was (and still am) fully prepared to allow these guys to dig out from the pile of shit that Vinny Cerrato left them. The trade to acquire Donovan McNabb was--at the time--not a bad deal. I hated to lose the top picks, but the seemingly obvious upgrade at quarterback had a lot of potential. Putting a veteran quarterback with some mobility behind our questionable line had some wisdom, in my opinion. Signing him to an extension does not get us back those picks, but it could help us with the allocation of our future resources. Having McNabb in tow for another year for example, could give Bruce Allen license to address the offensive line in the 1st round of the draft again, and not the QB spot. Maybe. As long as we make progress in turning this roster over between now and next September, I will find some meager level of happiness. I will never be happy with getting blown out at home on national television, or failing to show up on multiple occasions in a single season, but this season was never about winning the Super Bowl, and we all know it. Well, almost all of us...read on.
4. I will live up to my part of the bargain and be patient with the rebuilding process. But how about the Redskins front office not sending out letters saying "The Future Is Now" for at least one or two seasons? That is insulting, don't you think? The foundation of all my positivity and high hopes for this team laid in the idea that we could scrap our way to respectability on any given Sunday. I simply chose to believe that between teams not seeing us coming and a few good breaks, we could be fun to watch for a season and then who knows? My prediction of 10-6 has been more about the weakness of the NFC than about the Redskins being very good. The Future Is NOT Now. We need at least one or two more drafts to fill holes to build a team that is capable of contending. That was true at the beginning of the season and remains true today.
5. You might say that Shanahan is not the world's greatest talent evaluator, but remember that before he left Denver, he had a quarterback playing at a high level, two young tackles, a very solid tight end, a stud wide receiver in Brandon Marshall and a rookie wide receiver in Eddie Royal that blew up (before kind of disappearing last year). That offense was very much capable of doing damage in the NFL. However much credit you want to give Shanahan for that is your choice, but that is what he is going to try and do here, and it will take at least one or two more drafts to get there. For what it's worth, I don't see McNabb as the guy the Shanahans see filling the Jay Cutler role. I think his value lies more in his ability to play better than an unknown rookie for a season or two until they can get their man out of college. More on this below...
6. Free Agency will absolutely be a component of our rebuilding process. Part of the reason is because there are simply too many holes to fill in the draft--and we find ourselves once again missing key draft picks. The other thing to remember is that last season there was not much to work with in free agency. All those 5-year guys who would have hit the market didn't. There were a few studs and then a huge dropoff. If I had to choose which side of the ball to focus on in free agency, I would choose defense. Use the draft picks to build the offensive line and find a gem that can shine at a skill position. Use free agency to find a linebacker and defensive lineman (yeah, let's go to that well again!) to try and keep Haslett on course. A 5th or 6th year guy on a 4-5 year contract could be a great addition to our club if he is the right character fit. Perhaps that will be an increased focus of Allen and Shanahan as we go forward...perhaps.
7. Bench Haynesworth for the season. Keyshawn him. I don't want to just release him because I don't want to give him the satisfaction of going somewhere else and playing well and then telling the cameras how he just needed a change of scenery and a different coach. I don't even care about the storylines that would create and the added headache or talking about it for the next two months. Just deactivate him and make up some stories about why...Shanahan has proven he can do that with the best of them.
8. As Kevin has pointed out multiple times, we have way more holes to fill than draft choices to fill them. I am not arguing that. In fact, that is why I am saying it will take multiple drafts to get it done. What we need to do better is find guys who can give us a year here and there while we bring in the reinforcements. Joey Galloway ain't cutting that cheese. Hell, McNabb is not exactly getting it done either. The holes we can't fill with young players primed to make it big in this league must be manned by more capable dudes next season than Joey Galloway.
9. Since Kevin continues to claim that I think Anthony Armstrong and Ryan Torain are "Our Future", I once again need to set him straight. Kevin, if you are going to rightfully argue that we have more holes on this team than draft choices, you can't then come back and rain down crap on guys like Torain and Armstrong. We can't get a new offensive line, new wide receivers, a new young stud running back, a quarterback of the future, a stud rookie defensive lineman, an heir at middle linebacker and a new athlete in the secondary all in one offseason. That is where the true value of players like Armstrong and Torain manifests itself. With guys like them (and even McNabb) in tow, we can better prioritize the use of our resources over the next 2-3 offseasons. They are not the cornerstone kind of players you want to build your team around, and I am not saying they are. But right now, they are the guys who will be (hopefully) manning some key spots while we build the roster. They are not ancient (like Galloway), and they are not completely useless to our coaching staff (like Devin Thomas or Larry Johnson). They are not "Our Future"...they are "Our Present" and we are lucky to have them right now. They allow us to not only have a warm body who understands his job on Sundays, but it also gives us at least some stability heading into next year. These are good things for a rebuilding team to have.
10. Final thoughts:
a. The real reason why we will perform so well against Tennessee this weekend is because this squad has no real sense of who it is and probably won't all season. That makes it so much easier to shake off a loss like the Monday Night Massacre. It's not like we were a Super Bowl contender that got exposed. Hell, as shocking at it was, was it really the most surprising thing you have seen at FedEx over the last few years? Let's not just let them off the hook, but let's also call this one fairly: this team is a work in progress that has not yet established the kind of esteem that can be destroyed by a game like that. They are just as likely to come out firing on all cylinders as they are to allow another 28 points in the 1st Quarter. I will bet on the unpredictable here and throw my chips on a Redskins rout. Keep in mind that following said victory, we will be in the same head-scratching mode as we are in now. We'll just be doing it after a win this time.
b. I think Shanahan is a good coach who had a bad (awful, horrendous) night. We are not saddled with a guy who has lost his feel for the game. He will prove his worth. I could be wrong of course...there's a third time for everything.
c. Billy, great call on the Skins rout over the Titans.