1. Happy Victory Monday, y'all! Wow...say what you will about the NFC East (and everybody has been), but the playoff representative from our division is not backing into the playoffs. Going on the road (where we have been terrible), and facing a divisional foe on national television (which has not been a comfortable spot for us) with everything at stake, we got a glimpse of the team we all have been waiting to see for...well, years. When the Eagles went down the field lightning fast and scored the game's opening touchdown, things were a bit...tense. I stared down the television, ignored my exploding cell phone and concentrated on my glass of whiskey and the next series. Our ensuing punt only hardened me to the outside world, and the thoughts going through my head grew darker by the second. Thankfully, the game pretty much turned around from there.
2. We can talk all day about Kirk Cousins and the job he did, and in fact, we have been. The joy this fanbase experienced together as he drove the team down the field time and time again on Saturday is completely different than anything we have felt...probably since Joe Theismann--which means that many fans have NEVER felt it. For everything Robert Griffin III did in 2012--on the way to winning Rookie of the Year honors by the way--he never did anything that looked like this. We felt the jubilation of winning the division (and it was awesome), but you couldn't turn around without hearing people ask if his style of play was sustainable. As much fun as the ride was, we all had that...something...in the backs of our minds. This isn't to trample on anyone's parade--and please officially count me as someone who thinks Griffin is going to start somewhere in 2016--but the manner in which Kirk Cousins is directing our offense is, above most everything, sustainable. I invoke the names of Theismann and Griffin because these are players we drafted and developed (not because every positive that you raise about Cousins has to be paired with a negative about Griffin). (**Update: SkinsLifer aptly pointed out that Theismann was drafted by Miami and the Redskins traded for his rights.) These are players who won. Think about it though: when you have that conversation with your friend about Cousins, doesn't it always eventually involve some comment about the long term chances this franchise has with a signal-caller like this?
3. Jay Gruden was brought to Washington, at least in part, to develop RG3 and "get us there" in the #10 car. Let's forget about that effort for a second and instead focus on the FAR MORE impressive story: this franchise pivoted. Far be it for me to get all wrapped up in the catchy jargon of the business world, but one thing Dan Snyder has been reticent to do in his tenure is allow his underlings to change a course he himself set. Regardless of the common sense involved, CEO's get married to their "way" all the time. We see it in the news every day. Moving away from the player that literally cost an unprecedented ransom to obtain must have been among the most gut-wrenching decisions an NFL owner has faced. As much as we have all taken turns beating up our owner, today we see evidence that Dan Snyder took his medicine. If you think that Snyder doesn't deserve some credit for the team we have today and its chances tomorrow, you haven't been paying attention to his actions since taking over this team. I would bet a fortune that the 2001 version of Dan Snyder would have forcefully blocked his coach from benching the quarterback he loved. In that respect, the sea change we have witnessed on the field has been mirrored in the owner's box. In the spirit of the holidays, credit goes where credit is deserved. I am happy to tip my hat to an owner that allows his people to make informed decisions--especially when we are staring at the successful results.
4. On a weekly basis, I am faced with concrete evidence that our GM is a difference maker. This week, it was the play of Pierre Thomas that caused me to gush over McLovin. Thomas averaged 5.5 yard per carry (to Alfred Morris' 2.9) and he added SEVEN catches for 67 yards against the Eagles. His contribution to our offensive effort on Saturday cannot be overstated. If and when I have to say goodbye to Alfred Morris, I will be incredibly sad. He is a favorite player of mine, but on this team, his skills just don't seem to fit the same way they did in the previous offensive ideology. To be honest, I am at a complete loss as to what is the true core explanation (should it be different than stating it the way I just did) of his decline. When a running back that is signed off the street comes in and performs the way Pierre Thomas did on Saturday, the picture becomes a LOT clearer. In the same way I am confident that Robert Griffin III has a place in this league, I see Alfred Morris taking his talents somewhere in 2016 and making an offense better. At this point, it seems rather obvious that McLovin is going to piece together a running back corps that doesn't include a new contract to our beloved #46 horse. They say growing up can be painful. I'll say it again: if and when I have to say good bye to Alfred Morris, I will be sad, but I know that the man making that decision knows what the hell he is doing.
5. Not sure if all of you knew this or not, but I am once again podcasting. My new show, The Audible, is recorded on Tuesday nights, and my co-hosts are Tim Strachan and Kevin Ricca. Both are diehard Redskins fans and both are accomplished athletes in the DC area. You may recognize Tim from University of Maryland football broadcasts (he teams up with Johnny Holliday on those), and you may recognize Kevin from his perennial First-Team All-Nice awards. We meet in my basement and drink whiskey and talk sports. The show will have an official launch here in the next few weeks, but in the meantime, I will continue to break out our Redskins segments for the Hogs Haven audience. By virtue of my involvement, it is the Official Hogs Haven Redskins podcast, so I wanted to include the readers in tomorrow's taping. I was hoping you guys would hit me with any questions or topics you want to hear me/us get emotional about, and we will be sure to address you. Once again, here is the show's intro (which sheds a lot of light on the atmosphere in my basement):
6. By the way...IT'S DALLAS WEEK!!!! My 8-year old son knows already that there is no such thing as a meaningless game against our rivals. With the division in hand, and a home playoff game awaiting us, visiting Texas is an ideal way to make sure the good people inside Jerry's World know who the Beasts of the East are and what we are all about...beating the Cowboys is its own reward. I will think about our playoff matchup soon enough. The issue at hand is who do we rest and for how long do we rest them (an issue we will tackle on the show tomorrow night). First thing's first: our starting offensive line and Kirk Cousins are tied together. If you sit Trent for instance, you sit Kirk. On defense, I am making sure Bashaud Breeland gets some work, but stays healthy. Same with Ryan Kerrigan and Chris Baker. I see us playing everyone into the second half, but I would definitely expect to see Colt McCoy and a variety of other backups get some quality time in this game. It's times like this I feel like the NFL should adopt expanded rosters. Teams should at least be able to play their own practice squad players in week 17, right?