I am trying desperately to remember a time when the Washington Redskins had this kind of quality sitting behind so many of its key starters. Joe Gibbs had the luxury of 78 rounds in the draft and a tendency to stash as many guys as he wanted on IR. In the NFL world since then, such practices have long since been abandoned. Front offices have to maximize just seven rounds in the draft, and must struggle to create space for young players that might just be a click or two away from "getting it."
Even a blind Cerrato finds a nut here and there, but what Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan have done in their tenure thus far in Washington has been inspiring. Sure, Robert Griffin III is great, and makes the team look sort of brilliant, but the roster is dominated by players that were selected to contribute both on the field and in the locker room. Take our cornerback position for example. DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson are going to likely start the season as our top two defensive backs, but did you hear Richard Crawford talking after the game? Last year's seventh round pick is quickly causing me to consider if it will be him who emerges at some point as the leader of our secondary (assuming he continues to improve his onfield performance). The way he spoke about the rookies back there with him made him sound like their father, heaping praise on them and expressing pride in the way they played the game and approached the job at hand. Maybe in other cities, fans hear their second-year players talk like that all the time. Most of the time, when I hear guys that young and inexperienced talking around here, it is about themselves. He sounded exactly like the kind of player this organization has targeted the last few years in the draft--a guy with the skills to get on the field, and the character to lead his mates. It doesn't hurt that he can contribute on special teams, either, given the leadership vacuum created by Lorenzo Alexander's departure.
I admit this is a "little thing" that would seem to have no bearing on the outcome of last night's game...or any game. It might sound trite for me to give Crawford credit for my interpretation of his postgame comments, but it was one of the things that happened last night that caused me to kind of stop what I was doing and really look hard at this player. I hate to make such a big deal out of postgame comments in early August, but I see Crawford differently today than I did yesterday. I also liked how he called Chick Hernandez "Sir" when the interview was done (much to Chick's chagrin).
This is a little thing, indeed. But hearing our players talk about each other like this and watching the action on the field paints a pretty consistent picture: we have what the experts refer to as a "TEAM." We are not 22 deep. Not anymore.
I won't pile on the Kirk Cousins heap too much (I started the pile on draft day last year if you recall), but one back-and-forth between myself and a casual fan last night was telling. He asked me how Kirk looks. My response may have been somewhat exaggerated after a few adult beverages, but I basically said #12 is capable of giving us 16 games at a playoff-caliber level. He asked why we just didn't go with Kirk full-time then.
"Because Griffin is better." Try and recall the last time we were set like this (assuming you buy into Cousins) at the quarterback spot--maybe only our own Bill Ward can recall that far back. Gibbs had stables here and there, but he seemed to be adept at capturing lightning in a bottle by playing the right guy at the right time. Sonny Jurgensen, Billy Kilmer and Joe Theismann may represent the last time we were this legit at quarterback.
Now, I am not going to suggest similar rhetoric about Roy Helu, or Leonard Hankerson, or Brandon Meriweather because that would be...irresponsible. The truth is that we have the kind of depth that won't preclude us from continuing to compete week in and week out in the face of inevitable injuries.
At our best and highest points in recent years, you could credibly suggest that the Washington Redskins were greater than the sum of their parts, getting hot and riding momentum. You could infer from this that we had some rather worthless parts...a defensible position.
What makes watching this team so much fun right now is seeing that, even if all we get out of these guys is the sum of our parts, we will be pretty damn good. After adding in other intangibles, like the character of players such as Richard Crawford and Kirk Cousins, you quickly realize that simple addition is incapable of providing us with the right answer here.
Free of any apparent division in the locker room, and with the subtraction of uncertainty at key positions, our chances to be great have been multiplied.
That wasn't too much for just one preseason game, was it?