1. To everyone who made it out to FedEx Field yesterday and tailgated your guts out, I salute you. While the parking lot was definitely a little more sparse than usual, the anchor tailgates that have surrounded us over the years were all there in all their glory. Drew and his family were all set up on the grass where they have been since I joined the lot back in 2000. Gibby, Fran, and He Who Shall Not Be Named (until the law allows) led the Dead Tree Crew in their home spot. My fellow Mustang Tony and his group of Ferguson folks (led by Carl I believe) were there bright and early with our main man Bucky. Jimmy and his group were right there next to the Hogs Haven/Regal Beagle tailgate (big thanks to Lance, Matt, Kurt, Kevin, Kris and Lauren for yesterday), and many other familiar faces filled the landscape. I know there are plenty of other tailgates that dragged their butts out of bed early for a game that promised little from a football standpoint, and if I could list you all here, I would. Perhaps that is something we should do something about next season. Hmmmm....
2. I don't have many "game-action" comments on yesterday's contest. We already knew that DeSean Jackson is a guy who gets things done when you get the ball into his hands. We already knew that Robert Griffin III has issues with his footwork, his progressions and his pocket presence. We already knew that third downs are our worst enemy. I guess I was shocked to see guys like Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray in the game as late as they were.
3. I guess I lied...I do have another comment. How does DeSean Jackson only have three targets? THREE!!!! When we all argued to the death about the prospect of trading what we all agree is our most dangerous offensive weapon, didn't we get comfy with the idea that as long as we were getting this guy the ball, our offense had a chance? I was not invited to the offensive strategy planning last week, but I just can't imagine anyone stood up and said, " Let's make DeSean our least targeted receiver in the passing game!"
4. I know that the Cowboys did things to lessen Jackson's impact, and I know that there is such a thing as forcing the ball to certain players, and I know that this can be...bad. Still...there is something else going on here. Look at the kind of athlete that DeSean Jackson is. Guys like him are capable of getting open quickly because of their ability to move into and out of cuts with inhuman ease, and because they know where they are going and the defender does not. The key is whether or not the quarterback can hit the spot where the receiver is going to end up open in...here is where I go a little bit nuts. I have watched RG3--on numerous occasions--hold the ball while a receiver cut into an open space. You could even watch Griffin's head facing the spot where the receiver was going. You could see the ball cocked in his arm. Worst of all, you could see Griffin wait for an entire second too long before either making a late throw or pumping and clutching the ball. Seeing open Redskins receivers while Griffin held the ball is not a new thing for us to discuss, but with the season behind us, he is out of chances in 2014 to show he is making progress in that area. We have all offseason to wonder if he can graduate to the kind of signal-caller who will let the ball fly to a spot before the receiver turns.
5. If you think about it, that one deficiency in Griffin's game has huge ramifications in other areas of his game...and on the team's ceiling. First of all, throwing to spots on outs and crosses--in addition to being what professional quarterbacks have to be able to do--means you are making quick decisions. It means the ball is out of the quarterback's hands quickly. This not only helps your quarterback take less hits, it decreases the pressure on the offensive line to provide protection for extended periods of time on every single play. It forces the defense to adjust and opens up deeper patterns. It moves the chains and puts the ball into the hands of guys who have the ability to take it to the house anytime they touch it. These are the kinds of throws you have to be able to make on second and long, in the hopes of avoiding third and long. They are the kinds of throws you have to be able to make in the two-minute drill where precision is key. I understand there are other issues with Griffin's game that need fixing, and likely those other issues bleed into this area. I'll say this: if Griffin enjoys watching seeing receivers run open, he can sit next to me in the stands. I have had a great view of that all year. Otherwise, he needs to let go of the ball.
6. The offseason starts today, y'all. All of these conversations like the one above will reach a fever pitch in record time, leaving us with months to chew on the prospect of a 2015 season somehow besting the 2014 campaign. Lordy, we will have plenty of topics to kick around, eh? I look forward to all of those conversations. Thanks to everyone for making this season
great enjoyable pleasant survivable.
P.S. Rex Ryan is unemployed. That gives Dan Snyder about 27 minutes to fire Haslett and hire Rex! Let's get it done!