It had been a long time. I lit a torch and began the hunt for our long lost friend...and there it was, nestled in the corner, covered in dust: the italics key. Ahhhhhhh...
In the past, this space has been reserved for waxing poetic about the Washington Redskins and the possibilities surrounding their chances to matter in the NFL. It turns out that is what this space is reserved for still today!
Join me, won't you? Join me for the latest in a long line of heart-pounding, brain-thumping, panty-dropping entries in the series that asks you to Boldly Hope for that which is not yet impossible!
Thanks to the uber-mediocre play of our division rivals, the Redskins sit one game out of first place in the NFC East. At the top of the heap is a Philadelphia Eagles team that we sent home packing and a New York Giants team that makes the Kardashian family seem stable and even-keeled by comparison. What's more, the Redskins come home this week to host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Washington currently enjoys a WINNING record at home (2-1), which is worth mentioning despite it being so young ion the season. Are the Bucs capable of winning this game? Well sure, but only if you consider that this is the exact game where we typically build rookie quarterbacks into Hall of Famers. I don't see that happening this weekend.
We have talked stats enough. We have seen our team dominate in crucial stats this year, owning the time of possession advantage at times, owning the ground game, converting third downs at an admirable clip. We should be able to accomplish some or all of of this against the Bucs, but this is not where we need to really focus. The biggest impediment to our ability to mount a run on the division--and something that is fixable--is our halftime strategy. Something happens when this team goes in the tunnels at halftime. I feel like we hit the locker room at halftime on a real high--haven't we been winning at halftime of just about every game? Does Jay Gruden read Dr. Seuss in there? Do the players take naps? What the hell is going on? You know what they should do this week at halftime? They should watch video lowlights of the third quarters from just about every game this season.
I worry that we go in the locker room at halftime with a lead, and the coaches think, "If we just keep doing EXACTLY what we have been doing, this game is ours." Meanwhile, the opposing head coach goes into halftime thinking, "If they keep doing EXACTLY what they have been doing, I know EXACTLY how to stop it."
ADJUSTMENTS AREN'T EXCLUSIVELY FOR THE TEAM TRAILING AT HALFTIME TO MAKE. This seems like an important point to put in caps.
Here's hoping that this week, Jay Gruden has a second half strategy that deviates somewhat from what he shows the Buccaneers in the first half. Here's hoping that Jameis Winston has a difficult time finding his gargantuan receivers. Here's hoping that Carolina sticks it to the Eagles on Sunday Night Football and that the Giants/Cowboys game ends in a 0-0 tie.
We may only have two wins, and we may be the beneficiary of utter craptasticness in the NFC East, but this Redskins is NOT the same team as the ones we have watched fall off the map in the middle of most recent seasons. It IS capable of winning this game this week and staying very relevant in a division that will remain up for grabs well into December. Kirk Cousins IS capable of leading this team on meaningful and successful drives. Joe Barry IS capable of deploying his defenders in a manner that can absolutely net the kind of results that make home fans proud and excited.
Regardless of the fact we are playing the Bucs (who are favored by a handful of oddsmakers by the way), this game is exactly what this Redskins team should be praying for: a chance to get a meaningful midseason win just prior to a murderous portion of their schedule. It's evolution time in D.C. It's time to take a step toward becoming the team that doesn't bend over when the chips are down. It's time to start believing that we are capable of being the kind of team that can show up and win games that really do matter. Make no mistake about it: when the Redskins win this week, it will mark the end of an era in Redskins football. We have lost this game perpetually over the years. We have failed to show up for this game time and time again in recent seasons. It's time to turn the corner. It says here that is exactly what we are going to do.
One can Boldly Hope, right?
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an official recruiting visit scheduled at the University of Louisville.