1. You know, I sense a feeling of dread--not around this team per se, but around this team's fanbase--that I am trying to combat from inside my foxhole. To be fair, I am only just visiting my foxhole, you know...to clean it up from the offseason and get it ready for possible use in the, uhhhh, near future. I don't view this as foxhole territory just quite yet, though. I understand the impulse we all have to pack up and head for Helms Deep after a primetime defeat at the hands of the New York Giants (again), but a cursory examination of the NFL landscape should help us all see that things just aren't that bad.
Chicago Puntsburgh is way worse off than us. The Ravens are 0-3 for the first time in their history. Big Ben is out for 4-6 weeks for the Steelers, Drew Brees is banged up and Tony Romo remains sidelined. You think we are worse off than the Puntington Bears? The Detroit Lions are 0-3, which might not be surprising to some, but I certainly did not see that coming. Did I mention Puntsville? I am completely fine with looking at this Redskins team as its own animal, but McLovin has done just enough to earn the right to some perspective. Relatively speaking, it could be worse, and who doesn't know that more than we do?
2. Our problem is best compared to that of a concussion victim. The more concussions you sustain, the easier it is for you to sustain future concussions. In other words, an approaching shitstorm can pack a punch even before it makes landfall. Please don't mistake my optimism for that of a fan who is penciling in the Redskins for a deep playoff run. Instead, I still see a lot of positives to hang my hat on, and they are the kinds of positives that can keep our ship floating through a dark day or two. Case in point: our offensive line. There are things that can go right for a losing team that don't mean squat to the short or long term picture, but the offensive line is not one of those things. It is turning into something special for us, and when that is true, wins are always possible. Our defensive front continues to be strong as well. The Redskins are playing very good football at the line of scrimmage, which is something we have not been able to say for a while. In 2012, the line was a great story, but the threat of Robert Griffin III taking off aided that group immensely. Coming into this campaign, I think we were all desperate to see some kind of evolution along the offensive line, and we have gotten just that. With that comes the chance to improve in other areas. I tip my hat to Bill Callahan, who has seemingly channeled his inner Joe Bugel.
3. I get that Kirk Cousins hasn't looked like the second coming of...well, name any above average quarterback. The story for me isn't his failure as our starting quarterback, but rather the emergence of what I hope aren't completely irreversible weaknesses. Some of his throws just don't look as...strong...as you would want to see. His footwork seemed a bit off and of course there have been more than a few plays he has left out there that you would expect your starting quarterback to make. No, to be sure, he has not taken the bull by the horns, but this is what it looks like when you give a team to a player that has never been "the guy" for you or anyone. There are plenty of judgments we can make after three games, but deeming Captain Kirk a lost cause is not one of them. He must be given time to work on this stuff. What's the big fuss here? The guy is on a one-year deal for us, so it isn't like we are locked in on him as our guy. Of our current stable of signal callers, there is nobody else you would even consider for the role of "potential long-term starter." Griffin is done here, and McCoy is an above average backup but nothing more. Thanks to the job of our offensive line, we actually have a chance to find out not just about Cousins, but also our head coach, some of our young receivers and a new running back. (Scouting reports--and Kurt--suggested his small hands would lead to fumbling problems, but I disregarded them. He is going to have to work on how he holds the ball if he wants to stay in this league.) In order for McLovin to properly overhaul this roster, he needs this valuable information. Finding out about Cousins--either way--is a success because of the offseason decisions McLovin will have to make next summer. Anyone who says they "know" about Cousins at this point--unless his name is either Joe Gibbs or Mike Holmgren--doesn't know jack. He's a work in progress, and that is exactly what we signed up for when this season began. Let's watch it progress. Let's hope he gives McLovin something to really think about before it's all said and done.
4. To some, that sounds maybe a bit too easy on Kirk. I get it. Shoot, watching Jay Gruden talk about Kirk after the game was like listening to Homer Simpson talk about Bart from the episode where Homer took over coaching duties for the boys' football team. He named Bart the starting quarterback and called him "Sweetie" in front of the team, despite Rex Grossman-like play from El Barto. Given Jay's tendency to scorch the earth when talking about his quarterbacks last year, this new approach is even more eyebrow-raising, but it also speaks to the franchise's desire to give Kirk every chance to grow this season. Trust me when I tell you that McLovin won't offer Cousins a penny if this is the kind of play that persists through seventeen weeks. In the meantime, I am okay with the head coach sugarcoating a few things publicly in the hopes it pulls a little pressure away from the #8 car. I guess I just want to enjoy the fun of watching a guy develop (or not)--plenty of teams in the league today would take our situation. Plenty of teams wish they had a guy they just weren't sure about yet, but had a "good feeling" about. It's a fun stepping stone for any franchise, and if we're being honest, Kirk's chances of growing into a serviceable starting NFL quarterback are likely better than most of the guys we have brought through here in recent years (though we enjoy the benefit of hindsight on that).
5. Regarding Thursday night's debacle, you can't go on the road to play a divisional opponent that is frantically searching for its first win and commit those early penalties we committed that negated big plays (ahem, Jordan Reed). You can't slip up--again--on special teams, giving up a safety in the process. That is a recipe for losing and it is as tried and true as it gets. We know this. What matters is that the Redskins have a HUGE opportunity in front of them this week. At home, with a long week to prepare, the Redskins get another divisional rival that hasn't yet found itself. In the past, this meant that our opponent was destined to find itself in our stadium. That is not necessarily the case against this Eagles team. They looked better this week against the Jets, but the truth is they aren't as unbeatable as I thought they could be when the season began. Behind a sound gameplan and a minimization of mistakes, the Redskins absolutely have a chance to win against Philadelphia. Will it be easy? No way. Philly has horses that can take over games. Darren Sproles' punt return touchdown against the Jets...hmmm...that could be...problematic. Ha...to say the least. It is no coincidence that the Eagles won by a touchdown.
6. I guess what I am getting at is this: our glass is not half empty. This can be true without the glass being necessarily half full. We have become so accustomed to a completely empty glass that we have lost a great deal of perspective. At 1-2, there are still plenty of paths forward that end with 7-9, 8-8 and even 9-7, though those paths all assume we get improved play from key positions. By "key positions," I think that means Kirk Cousins above all else. It means our running game produces fewer turnovers, and fewer holding penalties. Past iterations of this team at least seemed incapable of such progress. This group of players does not smack of the same kind of incompetence. The NFL landscape is full of stories of teams rising up. The Bills are playing amazing football. The Panthers are showing opponents they just might be for real. Don't get me started on the unbeatable Cardinals. The Washington Redskins are capable of proving they are also a positive story. This is the game where we can lay claim to our own brand of redemption. Redemption doesn't always come with Lombardi trophies. Sometimes it comes with a handful of key victories over teams that--all else being equal--should probably not lose to us. Big week this week, y'all. Get up for it.