The nicest grade I could give this team would be a big, fat "Incomplete" in most categories, but that would be the easy way out. I am taking it easy enough by choosing not to put big, fat, failing grades all over this team's report card.
Instead, let's start the discussion today and try to get some community grades for the various facets of this team. I will compile the results and put out a final grade for the first quarter in each of these categories: offense, defense, special teams, organizational direction, coaching, offseason moves, overall grade.
I will kick off each category with a thought here in this space, and I will respond with my grades to each of these categories in the comments section, so we can really tag team this thing.
I am not sure if it is because I expected so much more or because of the deceptive manner in which our offensive output has been largely wasted, but color me disappointed. We are listed as the number four total offense after four weeks, so one would think I would be happy. One would be wrong. Feel free to base your grade on statistical performance--I have zero problem with that--but we have made too many mistakes on offense to warrant a top grade. Leave it to this team to turn an offense-starved guy like myself into a guy who is disappointed with the fourth-ranked offense (by total yards).
I have to be honest here--our defense has impressed the pants off of me. Given my disdain for pants in general, one would think this is easier than it sounds. Once again, one would be wrong. I was bracing for games that would require us to overcome 40+ point margins. Houston and Jacksonville notwithstanding, we did have to endure some high tallies (from Philly and New York) so far this season, but our offense has chipped in to put our defense in some terrible positions. I am tempted to grade our defense too high based on them looking so much better than my worst fears. I suppose it is like me giving Kevin an A+ for pooping in the toilet. Sure, it's what he is supposed to be doing, but at the end of the day, part of me is constantly watching where I step in the backyard.
I love me some Nick Sundberg. What's not to love? Tress Way is quietly building a Hall of Fame career, averaging 53.0 yards per punt! His net average of 43.1 is also impressive, although it means we are consistently giving up halfway decent returns. Kai Forbath's kicking game...vexes me. Is he single-handedly destroying me? No, but he is single-handedly responsible for my proposed legislation mandating that whenever a kicker misses a kick under 40 yards in a crucial situation against a divisional rival, the oxygen masks should be deployed from the ceiling of the plane. Had that policy been in place a couple weeks ago, Southwest Airlines could have avoided a real scene. Our special teams unit seems better...except for that kick return we gave up to Philly, and that blocked extra point against J.J. Watt, and that blocked punt for a touchdown against Houston...it's going to be hard to give this group an A for effort, no matter how much I love Andre Roberts.
I know what direction 1-3 typically means...and yet, I can't bring myself to get overly critical of a team relying on its backup quarterback.
Aside from the special teams gaffes and a few missed assignments here and there that killed drives for us or extended drives for our opponents, I am willing to give these coaches the benefit of the doubt early in the season. Jay Gruden gets a lot of leash as far as I'm concerned, but Jim Haslett...does not. I do like his aggressive style so far, and I think he is doing everything he can to cover up the deficiencies we have in the secondary, but I am not seeing anything that would make me pass up on a hot-to-trot coordinator prospect next season. For heaven's sake, this is not a tenure system. He can't be guaranteed a job for life, can he? (I am seriously asking you guys.)
As far as free agent pickups are concerned, my main considerations are Andre Roberts, DeSean Jackson and Shaun Lauvao on offense and Jason Hatcher and Ryan Clark on defense. The draft is important but somewhat muted here because of the manner in which many of our picks are slated to contribute in 2015. Ryan Grant, Trent Murphy and Bashaud Breeland have played enough to be included in the discussion. The decision not to trade Kirk Cousins matters, too. I think there will be a mixed bag of grades here.
Don't feel like this has to be some kind of average of your other grades, even if that is the way James Dorsett will surely do it! I tend to figure out how to justify a higher grade than this team deserves in this space, despite skewering them in other categories.
Feel free to offer other categories and grades below. I will do my best to compile as many as I can and post them all at the end of the week.
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