1. It's a short week, so my Ten Yard Fight will attempt to mirror that brevity, at least a little bit--for you TCO!
2. I was talking to a Giants fan over the weekend (after the games had been played) and he suggested they might be in the midst of an unprecedented catastrophe. I looked at him intensely, but said nothing. He went on to claim that the PR situation in New York was on a different level than what anyone else would or could ever know. I squinted harder as I watched his lips move, barely able to maintain a straight face. He brought up Eli's instruction to not score and the two late losses as reasons that the team is under the ol' heat lamp. After a thoughtful pause, I asked him, "Did your general manager get accused of accepting blowjobs from members of the sports media...in exchange for stories...by his own wife?" Nice try New York, but until the face of your franchise is publicly accused of having a "side piece" via his wife's Twitter account, you'll always be second fiddle to us!
3. The best part of this week being short is that we barely have a chance to get too big for our britches after a big home win. Further, a divisional opponent that is reeling from gut-wrenching losses has a brief window to look at what we did on Sunday and try to come up with a plan to stop it. I bring up this second part because it was JUST last season when we started 1-1 against two opponents outside the division. In Week Three, we went on the road to Philadelphia and lost a barn-burner 37-34, followed by a Week Four blowout defeat at the hands of the New York Giants. The short week gives the Giants even less time to work on us than the Eagles had last year. Familiarity amongst NFC East teams occurs pretty fast, meaning the Eagles will be more than ready for us in two weeks, making this game that much more important to our...I'm going to say it...playoff chances.
4. Let's be clear though about one thing: it doesn't require a brain surgeon to understand what it will take to beat Washington. I would even argue that asking a brain surgeon at all would be a terrible mistake, but I digress. You are going to have to stop our running game. There you go. Sorry, everyone. The gig is up. The secret is out. Sure, we can help teams beat us by committing stupid penalties and contributing special teams gaffes. (You're welcome, Miami.) That is so played out though. We have been doing that for years. Let's try something different! Let's keep charging down this path we are on, right behind Morgan Moses and Brandon Scherff.
5. On the point about it being obvious how to stop us...that's okay. In the NFL, it is actually harder to stop a team that embraces and commits to a style of football--assuming that team can minimize mistakes. It is when an offense doesn't know who it is or what it can do that defensive coordinators feast. We know who we are and who we want to be, and we have been unwavering, even if we are only talking about two short weeks.
6. I actually think that even when we run up against a defense willing to do what it takes to stop us on the ground, Jay Gruden will stubbornly continue to hand it off to his running backs. And that is the key part of stopping the run: the will to do what it takes to stop it. There is very little about handing a ball off to a guy and him running at the defense that is "exotic" or "complex." It's a bunch of big, strong guys wearing pads beating the crap out of each other. If you want to stop a guy like Matt Jones, you have to be willing to take the hit he is going to put on you when you try. If you want to stop a rushing attack, you have to have guys willing to throw their bodies into gaps along the line of scrimmage, often resulting in bone-jarring collisions with huge offensive linemen and fullbacks like Darrel Young. There are plenty of guys in the NFL who wake up on Sunday eager for such physicality. There are plenty of guys in the NFL who don't.
7. The NFL has succeeded in wussifying much of what happens away from the line of scrimmage. (I say that from my throne as king of the wusses.) Inside the trenches however, physicality and brutality reign supreme. The running game is the safe haven for a physical team. It is a free pass for an offense to--if it possesses the ability--beat the ever-loving shit out of its opponent. Every team says it wants to be physical and every team says it wants to be the aggressor in the trenches, but in today's NFL, the trend is AWAY from being the more physical team. Smaller, faster receivers on the outside are making a huge impact on the game, thanks to the rules in place these days.
8. This is a particularly gratifying aspect to watching what the Redskins offense has done over the first two games. Not only are we embracing a style of play, we will be flat out daring defenses to accept the consequences of trying to stop it. That turns into pretty powerful stuff after a while. The only benefit to the defense is that the clock keeps running. The game last week took less than three hours (maybe 2:45ish?). The television people were scrambling to get their commercials in by the end. Our deal is this: you take the punishment and we'll have you out in time to catch the early bird special at Sizzler.
9. Even though I don't count myself as a big DeSean Jackson fan, there is probably nothing better than not having him right now. The fact we are dominating on the ground the way we are without the elite deep threat of DJax is actually pretty shocking. Last week against St. Louis, I watched the safeties walk up to the line of scrimmage constantly. We took a few shots, but we rammed the ball down their throat regardless of how many guys they put in the box. Just wait until DJax is healthy. Oh my...you think there is a defensive coordinator in the league who is going to live with single-coverage on #11 all day? Not a chance. There will be far less safety help on run defense with DeSean on the field, resulting in more running room for Alf and Matt. When defenses gamble and stack the box, watch out.
10. This all leads us to the question of what we will do when a team does crack the nut. What are our expectations for this offense if and when it must diversify? In what way can and/or will Kirk Cousins perform when a game is riding on his shoulder? The beauty of our rushing attack is that Kirk Cousins is developing into a professional quarterback in front of our eyes, without having to be the savior. Of course he faces pressure to succeed. Of course he has to make plays, but he wasn't the reason we lost to Miami, and he wasn't the reason we beat St. Louis. He was just a guy doing his job, albeit better against the Rams. As long as he keeps doing that, I think he is becoming more and more mentally prepared and capable of being "the guy"--from time to time. The truth is we won't know until we get there, but again, the path to that point is paved--literally--by our running game.
**TCO Bonus: And if you want to go even farther out, Cousins--playing like this--is the kind of player you could sign to a reasonable contract, freeing up valuable salary cap space to re-sign a guy like...Alfred Morris. These are the kinds of ludicrous thoughts that occur to you when your team is showing signs of competency and legitimacy. Imagine that...a future that is the result of a sound and reasoned present. That's...just...crazy enough to work!