Happy Victory Monday...AGAIN!
- I don’t always get to sit in the press box at FedEx Field, and I have never watched a Redskins vs. Eagles game while sitting next to Harold Carmichael. Now I’ve done both at the same time. In the press box, you're not allowed to cheer or audibly emit any kind of bias or emotion. Mr. Carmichael had a lot of difficulty with this, which made my day. The guy gave a huge crap about his team, and when an all-time great openly cheers for his former team—even Philadelphia—I find that rather awesome. (He does still work for the team, so I guess it isn’t as wholesome as I make it out.) What a treat it was to get his take on Philly receivers (Jordan Matthews could be an all-time great alongside him)...before he kicked himself out of the press box for cheering. (You might wonder what he was cheering about, but there were some pretty big first half plays by Philly.)
- The announced attendance of 78,934 felt like an old-school FedEx gathering from before when the seats were removed. The stadium felt full. This might sound like an erroneous comment, but I have been going to FedEx for a long time. In the parking lot before games, and in the walk up to the gates, there is a feel to the Redskins home stadium. On many days, that feel has been “empty.” Not yesterday. I would add that when the stadium has felt full over the years, it has been because of the opposing team’s fans. Not yesterday. Granted, the Philly fans were out in force, but not to the point where they wiped out our home field advantage. I also noticed in the parking lot that fans were tight—they were nervous about this game. All of this leads me to say that, after six games of the season, and in a season where the Redskins are the defending NFC East champions, I have begun to notice a shifting of the fanbase—in a good way. When the team looks more competent on the field, the fanbase sounds more competent in the parking lot and during the week. When the team finds ways to win and dominates the box score, the fanbase is emotionally rewarded for its passion and loyalty, which can only enhance the experience. (Contrast this with the circus-like atmosphere that generally accompanies a fanbase that is forced to watch—”Clockwork Orange”-style—a weekly disaster.) Don’t look now, but it feels like both the team and its fans are graduating to the next level. I am not sure if that means we should expect to win whenever we take the field just quite yet, but we certainly expect that the Redskins will be competitive (as long as we aren’t playing the Steelers, or any team for that matter, on prime time).
- I had the privilege of joining JP Finlay from Comcast Sportsnet from the field after the game for CSN’s production of Redskins Talk. In the studio, Sebastian Salazar captained the ship with JP Flaim of the Junkies and Santana Moss. My role is very small (rightfully so!) but I am extremely appreciative to join the discussion. Sebastian, showing the world why he is well on his way to becoming a premiere DC sports show host, got to me right away on Pierre Garcon. While I did not nail his total stats, I did have him as a major contributor to a win against the Eagles. I have been so impressed with Garcon’s tenure here in Washington. When healthy, he can be leaned on to make plays. He is physical, incredibly tough, makes catches in heavy traffic and he has a knack for feeding off of the home crowd. I continue to beat the drum for Jamison Crowder—you all know how I feel about his role in this offense and on this team—but let’s not forget about arguably our most professional wide receiver, Pierre Garcon.
- You think 230 yards on the ground isn’t getting a spot on here today? Matt Jones, Chris Thompson and Robert Kelley combined for 7.0 yards per carry. That last run by Matt Jones helped out the average, but it was not even close to a garbage time carry. His 57-yard scamper sealed the victory and allowed the Redskins to assume Victory Formation. Kirk Cousins even got involved in the rushing attack, cutting up field and running through a defender to notch a first down in the first half. Of all the ways I thought yesterday was going to go, running it down Philly’s throat was not one of them. On the flip side, holding a team to less than 100 total rushing yards is a great feeling, right? Jeez...what is happening...is our defense good? I was talking to JP Finlay about that when I kind of had a moment of realization. The default thinking thus far in the 2016 campaign is that our defense is terrible, offering up tractor trailer-sized holes for teams to run through. On one hand, we are among the worst units in the league on 3rd downs, and we do rank in the bottom handful of teams against the run. On the other hand, the Redskins are middle of the pack against the pass, and for some reason they don’t give up touchdowns in the second half (four straight weeks now). They have trended better and better over the last few games, making me wonder aloud about whether we might have something real on our hands.
- We can’t talk about yesterday without addressing the fact that the Redskins DOMINATED a team and yet still fell victim to the kinds of big plays that totally negate said domination. Return touchdowns and pick sixes are the easiest way for teams that are getting buried to dig out...in a hurry. Imagine allowing a team only 41 yards in an entire half—in the second quarter, the Eagles ran four offensive plays including one kneel-down—and clinging to a one-score lead. This is a great thing to lock in on because it underlines an extremely important and encouraging truth: the Redskins can get a LOT better. When you are 4-2 and you have the kind of room for improvement that the Redskins do, it makes you think they could actually make a pretty special run this season. Washington still has not arrived yet—no matter how dominant they looked against Philadelphia. In order to compete with some of the teams that loom large on the schedule, the Skins simply must eliminate these kinds of plays. That said, after the Duke Johnson phantom fumble recovery and the C.J. Mosely interception-fumble-touchback (henceforth referred to as a “Fruit Basket”), I fully expected to see some of these plays go against us.
- The NFC East is back to being a fairly entertaining race, featuring a few teams that look like they can sustain some winning ways. Even though the world isn’t believing too heavily in the New York Giants, their 3-3 record represents the worst in our division. Not too shabby! Here is the discussion I was hoping you guys would contribute to on this week’s episode of After the Whistle on The Audible (our official Redskins podcast, available on iTunes and Soundcloud!): what needs to change? This is not a question designed to elicit negative responses. Given our belief that this Redskins team is close, and operating under the assumption that there are a few areas where some modification could potentially result in elevated odds of beating the very good teams left on our schedule, let’s make some tweaks. We’ll incorporate your answers into our show tomorrow night in our basement studio, mixed with some Irish whiskey.
Here is the video, thanks to Kevin: