1. Last year, one local Redskins writer, who shall remain nameless--let's call him Kevin E. (wait, that is too obvious...better make it K. Ewoldt)--claimed that the game against the Rams was a bye week. He will say he meant for fans, or for the trainers, or whatever he thinks will ease the ridicule he still deserves for such a bad call. That kind of hubris has permeated our team and fanbase for years--and with no real basis whatsoever to be so arrogant. This year, despite their 0-3 start, we all know full well that this week is no gimme. In order to beat St. Louis, we will not only have to play our best game, but we will have to minimize the kind of ridiculously stupid mistakes we made last year (I believe we kicked the opening kickoff out of bounds...and it only got worse from there.)
2. You get the sense that we have the kind of locker room this year that will not enter St. Louis feeling like it has already won. This team not only has veteran leadership, but the young players contributing already have come up in the game as leaders themselves. This is where the strategy to bring in collegiate team captains and hard working youngsters will pay off. I estimate the difference will be noticeable immediately.
3. In keeping with point #2, this game for me is the one I have had circled since the schedule came out. More than any of our first three games, this game will provide perhaps the biggest glimpse into just how far we have come since last year. The Rams and the Redskins are both franchises that are in rebuilding modes. Each team has a handful of young players in place that figure to be major contributors for a long time. I thought that we took last year's game way too lightly against the Rams. I believed we should have won handily--in fact even with the litany of errors, there was a point in that game where we still had an opportunity to win. On Sunday, I expect to see a much more...professional effort by Washington.
4. Can a Week Four game against a winless team be a must-win game? I'll say this: a team could go 2-2 and still make the playoffs. But losing this week would imply a truth about the Redskins that would/should cause everyone to view this team as less than a legitimate contender. That is fine of course, as we are a young team learning as we go. But if we win, then we would have taken care of business against a team that we probably should beat. That is what good teams do. That is what legit teams do. If we lose to teams on our schedule like the Jets or Patriots later in the year, it will mean less than if we lose to an 0-3 team on our schedule that seems to be struggling at the moment.
5. No, Kevin...it's not a bye week this year either.
6. The Rams could find their offense without Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola again this week. Those two players are absolutely the lynchpins on that offense, and without them Sam Bradford loses all kinds of confidence and effectiveness.
7. Sam Bradford is for real y'all. I don't think he is in the same class as Tony Romo, but he also does not have broken ribs or punctured lungs. If we give Bradford the opportunity, he is good enough to beat us. I do think he needs our help though--especially if he does not have Amendola in that passing game.
8. I said it earlier this week and I'll say it again now: only a handful of players in the league are capable of doing what Romo did to us on Monday Night. I hate to tip my hat to a guy who wears a star on his, but Romo beat us as single-handedly as you can in this league. Even on that crucial third down conversion late in the game, Dez Bryant only gets credit for not giving up on the play. Romo made it happen. DeAngelo Hall was left on island to cover a monster receiver for way too long with the whole field for the quarterback to use. The silver lining: we are a broken play or two away from beating a team most experts think is pretty damn good.
9. I had us at 2-2 going into the bye week. A win in St. Louis puts us ahead of pretty much everyone's predictions and sets up a huge game against the Eagles after the bye. Just writing those words brought back the memories of the Monday Night Massacre that I have fought so hard to repress. The difference this year: I think we can run the ball against that Eagles defense effectively enough to win.
10. Speaking of our running game, I am predicting the breakout game we all believe is coming for Roy Helu. I think he will go over 100 yards rushing and I am also predicting over 50 yards receiving.