Buzzer beater!! This is an extension of the conversation we were having on The Audible. Get your topics/questions/fashion tips in below for tonight's show. HogHunter gets to imagine this week's alternate universe.
1. It isn't lost on me that this lull in the NFL calendar we experience every year at this time feels a lot more comfortable than it has in the past. Before hitting what I think is a pretty positive story, let's not forget where we have come from in very recent years. We got to the end of many recent campaigns as a fanbase in shambles--due to the organization being in...well, shambles. I always got the sense that the public relations factory used this time to start manufacturing whatever message Dan Snyder thought would scoop us all back into the fold. This time around, the storylines that are developing around us feel far more organically grown. The hopes that surround this fanbase and team seem far more rooted in reality than they have in a very long time.
2. How about our quarterback situation? Instead of a season that closed out with an injury that sent both our short-term and long-term situations into a tailspin; instead of another year that saw a journeyman, or unproven player, or failed free agent decision continue to keep our offense grounded; instead of games played by front office personnel, it was the game that was played by our franchise quarterback that set the table for our chances this season and for seasons to come. Again, I repeat my 5-year, $90 million prediction for Kirk Cousins, but your guesses continue to be as good as mine. I am not looking forward to the likely departure of Robert Griffin III. It is no pleasure of mine to see that era come to an end, and I wish him the best in all things (except in Dallas), but we are where we are right now, and it is thanks to the development of and hard work by Kirk.
3. Remember all those February conversations about, "Looks like it's going to be yet another head coach with yet another style of play that is going to require yet another kind of roster?" You won't hear me say that Jay Gruden is the second coming of Joe Gibbs, or anything even close to this. That said, welcome to Year Three of a head coaching regime that has succeeded in somehow making its way through some rather turbulent waters. Tip your hat to Dan Snyder here if you are the hat-tipping type. He has pulled triggers far sooner in situations we have found ourselves in that at least appear to have mirrored ones involving Jay Gruden over the last couple years. Whatever you feel about Jay Gruden, you can't deny that he made some gutsy calls, became a leader of our locker room and just navigated a weird kind of season where these exact things were the difference in a division in a "down year" for the NFC East.
4. Over the years, we have had some pretty amazing defensive talent on defense, but in recent years, it just hasn't come together in a way that has translated to true contention. I am not making any grand proclamations here, either--at least until we get a clearer picture of what our 2016 secondary is going to look like. Today, players like Preston Smith and Bashaud Breeland represent two huge bright spots, but what's not exciting about players like Quentin Dunbar, Kyshoen Jarrett, Mason Foster and Keenan Robinson? Oh yeah, Ryan Kerrigan, Chris Baker and the whole balance of the defensive roster also gives us genuine reason to hope. Are we the Denver Broncos? Hell no...but we're getting better, and we're doing it the way those great defenses do: homegrown talent. One year older, wiser and more experienced is the way we are going to get all these guys in 2016.
5. It's the general direction of this team that makes it so fun right now, isn't it? I can honestly say I am not wearing my typically red-rose tinted glasses--I am not here making any bold proclamations. I know what the difference is between the Redskins and the Broncos or the Panthers or the Patriots. It's little things and it's big things, obvious stuff and intangible stuff. The eyes tell all when it comes to the recent history of the Washington Redskins. We have been in the business of trying to define the sum of our parts on our own terms--because without marketing, the sum of our parts has been dismal and depressing...you know, like most of the parts. Now, the parts are fun to watch and add up. That's right...this team is making math fun again. It's a great time to be alive.
6. Creating those increasing sums is none other than the 2016 Redskins MVP: Scot McCloughan, who is most definitely a raging...success. It's already been so much fun watching him plug and play with this roster. After we get through free agency and the draft, this team will be more McLovin than anything. If you're wondering what it looks like when a team begins its ascent to the top of Mt. Lombardi, it's this.