1.Happy Victory Monday! It wasn't pretty, but the job...got...done. The Redskins beat a team most people would say we "should" have beaten. I know sometimes people don't get up for these kinds of wins, but let me help you out: GET UP!! Winning in the NFL is a big deal, and every win should be celebrated. Besides, one of the hallmarks of competent teams that have a chance to become a contender is beating teams they are supposed to beat. The again, here's Trent Murphy's take (he is turning into a "guy" on this team):
(Before we go any further, I want to make sure I hit upon a point I have been making since the preseason: our 2016 campaign could very well hinge on the Baltimore game. At 2-2, we have a chance to plant our foot and cut back toward the division title. Big job ahead.)
2. I understand the Kirk Cousins interception was a disaster. I understand you could sneak a freight train through our defensive line. I understand that the game shouldn't have been as close at it was (the Redskins should have been up by three scores as the end of the game drew near). As I said above, there was some ugliness on display, but Victory Goggles makes everything look a LOT better. Before I bring up a few individual efforts, let's take a second to salute the team effort it took to right this ship. The patchwork offensive line stood up to the challenge of getting our ground game going. Our secondary--featuring a young Kendall Fuller--managed to put a lid on any real passing threats. I don't think any receiver for the Browns had a catch that went longer than 13 or 14 yards. As we know, Cleveland depended on a very reliable ground game. We made them look good sometimes, but let's not take anything away from the league's #1 rushing offense. Cleveland is a very good running team--but maybe they shouldn't be giving the ball to anyone other than Isaiah Crowell.
3. The Washington defense has some real issues to address, and to be frank, I am not sure how successful they can be in fixing some of its core problems. Assuming that our defensive scheme isn't currently designed to open dump truck-sized holes for our opponents, the fix comes down to which bodies are put in position to fix it. I am sure we will be spending a lot of time on this over the coming weeks, but just to kick off the discussion here: tell me what you think the #1 option for fixing our rushing defense is, and why. Despite these problems, our defense has shown an uncanny ability to win the turnover game. At +3 on the season, the Redskins were +2 against the Browns in the turnover department, forcing three second-half miscues out of Cleveland. More than just about anything else that happened yesterday, these turnovers decided the game in Washington's favor. Any coach worth his salt will tell you that if you stay on the right side of that differential, you will win more plenty games than you lose (and Lance Hayden can also very easily identify the story of the game from his perch in section 217). We need to be able to count on getting off the field more on defense, but if the turnovers continue to be a feather in our cap, that is a winning formula. Props to Josh Norman--again--for proving just how dominant he can be in clutch time. This show is slowly beginning to revolve around him...and I like it.
4. How excited were we all to see Matt Jones get over 20 carries in this game? At 5.3 yards per carry, Jones and the offensive line in front of him deserve the lion's share of the credit for this win. The play-calling was far more balanced than it has been, and the results look like what we all think they should when you run the ball well. People have been questioning Jones since the first week, despite the paltry amount of touches he was getting. Yesterday's showing should give everyone a good feeling going into Baltimore, where you know running the ball is going to take stubbornness. I thought that Arie Kouandjio played a great game--if he turns into an offensive lineman that we can count on, watch out. The man is 6'5" and weighs in at 315, which puts some serious beef into the interior of our line. The other offensive player that deserves to have his name called in this spot is none other than Jordan Reed. It turns out that when you throw it his way, good things happen. He needs to be the most-targeted receiver in our offense. He was yesterday. He needs to be the guy we look for in the red zone. He was yesterday. We won yesterday. Cousins was decent, but needs to perform better:
5. Despite being defending NFC East champions, the Washington Redskins have not yet become a team that is so solid, it just goes out and overcomes every problem it faces for the win. That is the reality of where this team is--nobody is confusing us with the New England Patriots just yet. We are a team, however, that can ride momentum. Looking back into our recent past, you can see that has been our best friend. In 2012, we got hot and rode that to the playoffs. Even last season, the team heated up around week six or seven and capitalized on that momentum for a division title. In both of those cases, the momentum didn't swing our way until later in the season. Don't look now, but the Redskins have just won two games in a row after losing two games in a row. We won by making a play on the road in New York, and then we won by getting physical on offense at home against a team that we were picked to put away. Yes, there are things we should be quite nervous about, but you just can't sleep on momentum in this league. For a Redskins team that has managed to use momentum so successfully in the not-so-distant past, two in a row is a shot in the arm.
6. I will leave you with two things today. One is a lightning round segment we did with Fred Smoot on The Audible. If you don't listen to anything else, check out this audio of Fred stright-up delivering. We had a blast talking with him, and after a win, these Sean Taylor stories are sure to hit you in the exact right place.
I do intend to put this segment into another post this week, because it was that fun to do. The second thing I will leave you with today is a question. As we move forward with our aftershow (we are in Season 83 and on Episode 4), this Redskins drama is starting to take shape from a character perspective. As we suspected, this show is becoming less and less about Kirk Cousins--and that is shaping up to be a good thing (for him and for us). If you would be so kind as to help us out with your emerging storylines, we would be very appreciative. Given I know you guys well, I know you can help me out with some classic television references for what is happening on the field. Compare and contrast our players with the characters of your favorite shows and I will be sure to include your answers on "After the Whistle" tomorrow night.