- From the moment that game started yesterday, I felt thoroughly uncomfortable. Despite that, it was my belief that the Redskins were going to win the game with a strong second half performance. That is consistent with the way most of our wins have gone this season, right? Everyone knew David Johnson was going to get his, and we were all reasonably certain that Larry Fitzgerald could make some plays as well. As it turns out, those two players really did all the damage the Cardinals needed to defeat the Redskins.
- On the opening drive by Arizona, their conversion on 3rd and 11, and then on 3rd and 12 caused me an unbelievable amount of pain. In my estimation, the tone of the game was established that early. On the Redskins first offensive drive, we failed to convert on third down and we chased for most the way from that point. (I want to say we had two penalties and a sack that subverted that drive.) It was the kind of tone where even despite Kirk Cousins’ ability to find receivers and pick up first downs, it never felt like we had any rhythm until very late in the first half...when we promptly lost it.
- One of the more frustrating things for fans in general is when their team comes out flat in a game with a lot on the line. Redskins fans have their own history with this phenomenon of course, but I don’t want to make it sound like we’re the only ones. The combination of Arizona’s 15-play opening drive that went 75 yards and ate up over eight minutes of clock with the failure of our own offense to get out of the blocks changed the flavor of the day immediately. My biggest problem with watching the Redskins come out flat is that—at least on offense—they are still good enough to make you think they could break out at any second. Kirk still found Vernon Davis, Pierre Garcon and Jamison Crowder the way we have become accustomed to, but the best we achieved was flipping the field on the Cardinals.
- If the season ended today (IT DOESN’T), the Redskins would be just outside the party, watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take their 6th seed. Step One to getting our spot back is beating the Philadelphia Eagles. Secondary to that is counting on the Saints to win at least one of the two games they play against the Bucs over the next three weeks. If Tampa Bay knocks off New Orleans, and the Redskins fail to beat down the Eagles, it will be as close to draft profile time as it gets a month before the season ends. I am still primarily focusing on us, and the Redskins would be wise not to become psychologically dependent on other teams at this point. On the last of three straight road games, the Redskins can get something positive started that could carry into the postseason. Beating an NFC East rival is always a shot in the arm, and the Redskins have two chances at that shot in the final month of the campaign. With less margin for error than they would have otherwise had with a win in Arizona, the Redskins do get a team this upcoming week that is straight limping to the finish. (This is actually a cause of concern for most of us who have been paying close attention for the last 20 years.) The good news is that Tampa Bay does play Dallas in between its two divisional tilts against New Orleans, and assuming both Seattle and Dallas wins next week, the Cowboys will need their 13th win to lock up home field. Hey, it’s something.
- This is where I explain why I’m still hopeful, and I can honestly suggest I am, in fact, hopeful. The news out of the postgame locker room last night was that Jay Gruden laid into his team with a verbal tirade. I am not one that believes such things carry over a full week to the next game, but I do think it will matter in the early goings of practice this week. Anger is the appropriate response to what happened yesterday, and that anger could help right the ship. I have seen apathy. I have seen “quit.” I have witnessed the premature onset of “evaluation time.” It remains to be seen what this team looks like angry. Typically, the root of true anger in this scenario is derived from a sense that all is not quite lost, but it is slipping away. There is still enough care in the room to stoke a fire. There are few better teams to play while angry than the Philadelphia Eagles—in my humble opinion. I just don’t see Carson Wentz overcoming a fiery performance from Washington, not with the kinds of losses they have been taking lately. It would be incredibly fair to suggest that the playoff chances for the Redskins depend on getting a win against Philadelphia this week.
- It occurred to me that as Redskins fans, we have been riding inside the playoff bubble for so long this season that waking up on the outside is a huge splash of cold water. All of a sudden, we go from being comfortably in charge of our own destiny to needing other teams to assist us. I still think a nine-win team makes it into the playoffs, and the Redskins would be the best nine-win team on the strength of their tie (haha...a strong tie!). That means the Skins need to win three out of the next four (strong math skills) and the truth is that the Redskins are capable of pulling that off. Hell, we have done better than that down the stretch with worse odds and with a worse roster. In the seventh slot of the playoff rankings, I feel a little bit sick. The best remedy to this feeling and this predicament we find ourselves in is to watch the Redskins get off to a fast start against Philly. We have all week to plot it out, and we should be getting a healthy body or two back. It’s all hands on deck this week. Dare is say...Code Red?!?!?!
The Washington Redskins are still in the playoff hunt, but they officially need help to get in.