1. This is one of the last Sixpacks before we get into the portion of our summer dominated by actual, real-life football played by dudes in pads. This isn't the "We made it" Sixpack. Not yet. We haven't made it yet...but we're close. This is the "Enjoy the silence" Sixpack. Enjoy these last days before the circus comes to town. Don't get me wrong...we love the circus around here, but let's not take it for granted that for at least a few more days we won't be beating each other up about some fourth-stringer looking like a Hall of Famer on an August practice field. (We also love making the HOF case for guys who are more likely to be blogging in a month than playing professional football.) This also gives me a chance to offload a bunch of offseason thoughts...you know, before anything counts for real.
2. On a personal level, I am readying myself to return to the "all RG3, all the time" mentality that will be necessary to deal with the aforementioned circus. As terrible as that sounds, and as much as that contributed to everything bad for us in the past, i don't think it is going to be the negative experience so many are already dreading. This is not because I am predicting that Robert Griffin is going to have a great season. It is because I think--I hope--that we are beyond seeing our quarterback as the Taylor Swift of the NFL. We are so much more focused on the production of our signal caller, and far less mesmerized by the star power he may or may not have ever possessed. This is a good thing. Fans SHOULD be concerned about how their quarterback performs on the field. Teams SHOULD be more worried about those things that actually affect winning and losing, as opposed to press conferences, commercial deals and other distractions.
3. That said, I AM predicting Robert Griffin III will have a great season. This is not about me thinking that Griffin has worked out a lot of his issues or that he is somehow a changed man on the football field. This is about my belief in a God--any God---and the idea that no God would allow our suffering to continue endlessly. This is about my belief in a full, healthy offseason of work with Jay Gruden. This is about my belief in McLovin'...who is most certainly making all the calls now, and if he believes (at the moment) in RG3, I will follow.
4. I DO think that RG3 has worked out a lot of his issues and I do see him as a kind of changed man on the football field. I have barely heard anything out of him all summer. What once seemed like a deliberate and quasi-desperate attempt to be a part pf every storyline in town has now turned into...wait for it...just a dude trying to get better at football. This is the most positive development we could hope for--off the field, of course. After all, the business of football--for most successful football organizations--boils down to competency on the field more than the boardroom. Crazy, I know. (It doesn't hurt to be proficient in the boardroom as well, since that tends to prevent you from making disastrous "business" decisions, like paying top dollar for players who are more concerned about making top dollar than they are about playing top football.) Griffin appears to be spending his time and energy on the things that will make him a better football player this summer, and it says here that will be extremely evident when camp opens.
5. A lot of us have also been thinking a lot about Alfred Morris this offseason. He has exceeded every expectation anyone could have ever realistically had for him out of the sixth round. His high performance and low salary combine to create an ideal situation...a situation that is going to meet its doom very, very soon. He won't be paid like a guy who is a longshot to make the roster very much longer. The question is whether or not the Redskins should be the ones to pay him his market value when that day comes. We love our running backs here in D.C., which makes this topic so tough. Everyone understands how things work--running backs have relatively short careers on average. Paying top dollar for a guy on his second contract comes with a ton of risk, even when you are talking about a player who has proven what he can do in this league. You always want to retain players you draft and develop, as that is a key component of building a champion. You always want to reward players that have kept fans engaged and has been a bright spot in dark campaigns. Still...you don't want to overextend yourself at the running back position. We would all like to see Alf play for a decade here and challenge some of the rushing records held by our heroes. It is not out of the realm of possibility to see that happen, but I am preparing myself for that quintessential "Modern NFL Moment"...you know the one...when we get to watch our favorite son sign a ridiculously lucrative contract to play somewhere else. On one hand, Morris came out of the sixth round, so we should know as well as anyone that running backs can be replaced easier than some of the other skill positions. On the other hand, it is not as easy as taking the best running back available in the sixth round. You're fooling yourselves if you don't think that Matt Jones is in town to MAYBE give the Redskins a fallback option if they choose not to spend on Morris. You won't hear me root for Matt Jones to take the job away from Alfred Morris, but we should be hoping he plays well enough to give them that option. To be clear, I am not advocating for the team to let Morris walk. In fact, watching the team give a crazy contract to a top free agent who actually deserves it for a change would be beyond refreshing. I just don't know how this is going to play out, and I intend to make sure that I appreciate every play #46 gives us this season.
6. Moving over to the defensive side of the ball to wrap things up, I am over-the-top excited about our defensive line. This isn't Buddy Ryan's Philadelphia Eagles, but for us, it represents a potentially HUGE improvement over what we have become accustomed to in Washington. No offense to the workmanlike efforts of our defensive linemen over the years, but Terrance Knighton is better than anyone we have had for a while. Stephen Paea might not blow many of your skirts up out there, but when you put guys like him and Jason Hatcher on either side of Pot Roast, you will see some fireworks. With Chris Baker and Ricky Jean-Francois coming off the bench, our rotation on the defensive line will easily make for one of our strongest units. This should do wonders for Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy and Preston Smith. As you all know, I have Preston Smith going to the Hall of Fame already--maybe that is a bit strong, but I do see him as the kind of player that you look back on and laugh that he was still available in the second round. It remains to be seen what we can in our defensive backfield, but one thing is for certain: the guys up front will be making it easier for the guys in the back.