1. Nous sommes avec vous, en France. My French sucks, but if I told you guys I wasn't thinking about the terrorist attacks throughout the tailgate and as I entered the stadium yesterday, I would be lying. We live in serious times, and are engaged in a serious global debate. I know we all welcome the distraction that sports gives us, and so we will get on with it, but we can't ever forget those that have suffered unconscionable losses while enjoying similar distractions.
2. Happy Victory Monday, y'all! Wow...that escalated quickly. It was a surreal feeling at FedEx Field yesterday. As the Redskins crossed the goal line to make the score 21-14, I tried to ascertain if modern NFL scoreboards went to three digits. Everything about the contest to that point suggested that the game was going to be the shootout everyone expected. The fact that New Orleans did not score another point is beyond shocking to me. I still don't get it. As a matter of fact, as the stadium emptied in the middle of the fourth quarter, I sat in my seat and pondered joining the masses so I could beat the traffic. I decided to stick it out for a couple of reasons. First, there was a part of me who refused to believe the game was over until the final whistle...not with Drew Brees still on the field. Second, I can't remember the last time we pulled our starter off the field because WE WERE BLOWING SOMEONE OUT. I haven't bothered to look up that answer, so if anyone knows, drop it on us below. We have bounced between quarterbacks so much, the fact that we pulled one by choice because the game was so far out of hand...well, I had to watch that. Since 2005, the Redskins are now 39-46 at FedEx Field (I attended most of the losses in years prior, as well). I had to be there when we guaranteed at least a .500 record at home.
3. There were a lot of people last week that were dying to claim a moral victory for holding the Patriots offense to their season-low point total. While I wasn't going out of my way to knock that, I wasn't joining in any celebratory dancing after that loss. Now, just one week later, we hold Drew Brees to 14 points? All of a sudden, that defensive performance against Tom Brady looks a little better. I mean, where did Perry Riley come from yesterday? I have been quick to point out his invisibility this season, so I have to make sure to not only say that Perry played well yesterday, but that he beasted out. That interception he made was the kind of play that exactly ZERO people would have bet he was capable of making after his recent string of performances. At the end of the day, this defense is trending UP. Two straight weeks against superior offensive firepower and the results are promising. As much as I wanted to get past the New England game, watching the game against the Saints made me keep thinking back to what we did against the Patriots. For the first time in a long time, I am seeing a team actually get better--and look "for real" good--as the season wears on. The kind of good we are right now--and I am being realistic here--is already better than the kind of good we were in 2012.
4. Listen, I know that the New Orleans defense is potentially historically bad. It had a lot to do with the way the game went. Fair enough. On the other hand, our defense faced one of the hottest offenses there is--the Saints defense wasn't on the field when our D was out there. Given that our defense has been a real weakness (going back a few years now), watching this group stand as tall as they did against Drew Brees was as entertaining as it was shocking. I don't know if I missed it before, but I know I was the first person in my section at FedEx yesterday to shout out that DeAngelo Hall was playing safety at times yesterday. God, that made me more excited than it should have...what is wrong with me? It also bears mentioning that quarterbacks have had either season- or career-best numbers against the Saints all year. Still...you CAN'T take away what the Redskins did. You can't. People have been watching the Redskins get beat 47-14 by teams for a few years now, so when we flip the script, it is a big deal. NOBODY thought the Redskins were going to win 47-14 yesterday. Therefore, NOBODY is allowed to take away from us just how amazing and special what happened was and is.
5. Looking ahead, we travel to face another undefeated team on the road this week. This time, instead of an offensive juggernaut squad, we just get a regular, old-fashioned juggernaut player named Cam Newton. Put simply, he's a monster. I love watching him tuck the ball and then make defenders pay with his physicality. I love watching that team know that they are always alive, and watching them rally around their quarterback. It means there is little time for celebration this week. It means that there is no time, actually. This I know: Carolina can and will be beaten. I don't see any 47-14 losses in their future, but they can be outscored, and the Redskins are capable of being the team that does it. It's that simple. There is no predetermination here. The Panthers would be extremely foolish to look past the Redskins. Similarly, for as good as we all feel today, we can't expect to be even remotely this successful on offense next week. There is something far more brutal about facing the Panthers offense versus facing the New Orleans offense, which means our defense is also in for a far different experience. STILL...confidence comes into play, momentum comes into play and Carolina won't be the only team on the field this week with both of those things working. (Because...you know...being undefeated means you have confidence and momentum.)
6. I know I am not the first person to say it, but this is my first official statement on the matter: This week would be a great time to extend Kirk Cousins. There is no doubt in anyone's minds right now that the #8 car is our guy at least in the near term future. If we wait until he turns into a world-beater, we will have to pay world-beater prices. When he walks off of that field in Charlotte as a winner on Sunday, his contract demands will be significantly higher. From the Redskins perspective, signing Kirk to a modest extension gives them a lot of flexibility in the offseason to dedicate resources to important areas of need. The definition of what modest is or could be is changing by the second, so the time to strike is probably now. Hey, we're ten weeks into the season, so it's not like we haven't seen enough to know we probably want to at least go with Kirk in 2016, right? Look at the kind of contract structures guys are signing right now--guys like Ryan Tannehill and Colin Kaepernick. Cousins likely won't get that same kind of money, but the structures of those deals are favorable to the teams. From Kirk's perspective, he could wait until the offseason and try to cash in somewhere else, but that might not give him the best chance for success. In Washington, he would have an organization that developed him and is prepared to make a SECOND investment in him. The Redskins would be ready and willing to build around him, with an offensive system in place in which he has shown an ability to succeed. Anywhere else he goes, he would be in Year 1--in Washington, it would be Year 2 or 3 or 4 or 5...haha...point being he wouldn't be starting over. I believe Kirk wants to be "the guy" and I believe he thinks he can hold onto a job for as long as he wants it. He has patiently waited for his chance, and he is getting it right now. It would make little sense for him to have fought so hard to be "the guy" here, only to walk away to try and do it somewhere else. I personally think he is too smart to throw away what he has built here, and at the end of the day, he will get his money no matter where he goes. If his agent is as smart as Kirk, he knows that the best chance for Kirk to get the big money in his third contract is for Kirk to stay the course with McLovin. By the time Cousins is due for his next extension, the talent level around him will be appreciably better than it is now, which means he would have the chance to chase an actual legacy in this league. Let's get it done.