1. Recently, we here at Hogs Haven celebrated an addition to our extended family, as contributor Jennifer Filsinger welcomed a brand new Redskins fan to the world. The good news continues for our community as I attended a wedding this weekend for Ted and Ellen, two great friends of the site (You may know Ted as "Liger99" on HH). Ted signed up a month after Kevin and I started running Hogs Haven in February 2009, and before long, we were all tailgating together in the lot at FedEx, attending Nats, Caps and Wiz games together, as well as trekking out to Congressional once a year to take in the AT&T event. As Joe Gibbs once said about his sons, Ted "outpunted the coverage" when he was lucky enough to lock up Ellen as his bride. Congratulations to you both, and together with Jennifer, thanks for the steady supply of positive stories during this slow part of the offseason.
2. Last week, I wrote about concerns we might harbor heading into the 2016 campaign--specific to defending our title. I threw that out there for a few reasons. First and foremost, I will take every opportunity to remind myself and the world that the Redskins are the defending champs of something (in fact, the Redskins have won the division now TWICE in four years). Second, I do think there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about our inexorable march to Super Bowl glory this season, and it does start in the division. Kudos to all who looked hard into that NFC East mirror and saw the prospects of Dallas rising up, of the Giants rebounding with their free agent talent and of the Eagles...okay, so there is currently no concerns related to Philly. Finally, the exercise was designed to allow at least myself the chance to weigh those prospects against the likelihood that the Redskins will be able to overcome them. I went more with the "looking inward" angle by listing positional concerns, but the truth is that our biggest concerns center around our divisional foes.
3. Finally, I embarked down the road of addressing concerns on our roster because it occurred to me that we may be on the brink of a major pivot. We have come to expect that shortcomings in our own house would conspire to suppress any realistic hopes for contention. Since he arrived, Scot McCloughan, aka McLovin, has injected talent up and down the roster. Far from what some would deem a "dominant" roster, the Redskins still boast a much more talented group than in years past, and this group is returning an incredible core of players that have grown increasingly comfortable in the way we want to play football. I am not calling our reconstruction complete by any means, as is evident by some of the glaring weaknesses we believe are present today (interior offensive line and safety, for example), but I think it is amazing that our biggest problems are transitioning from inside the fence to outside the fence. That is kind of a big deal.
4. The "national conversation" around the NFC East (I use quotation marks because it is hardly the topic of significant national debate) seems to perpetually center around the idea that Tony Romo is going to have a Hall of Fame year, which is simply nothing new...at all. The Redskins are once again given very little chance to compete against the Cowboys and Giants, but I have grown comfortable with this narrative. If you look objectively at the situation, you have to agree that Washington has done relatively little over a long period of time to inspire great confidence in the prognosticating community. To me, one of the best things to look forward to this season is simply the opportunity we have in front of us to flip the script. Putting two impressive seasons together is like putting two great golf shots together. Hear me out on this: one of the biggest differences between our friends who play very good golf and the above-average weekend warriors is the ability to hit two good shots in a row. Many people can hit a nice, long drive, but it is the ability to stand in front of that second shot and put it on the green that separates the field. The same goes for the Redskins--and the rest of the NFC East for that matter. Every team in the division has won it once in the last four years (except for the Redskins with two titles). As defending champs, it is our opportunity to hit that great second shot.
5. I think people will throw our "first-place schedule" around as a reason to downgrade our repeat chances, and when the two games in question come against Arizona and Carolina, it is a fair thing to throw out there. Both of those teams are considered Super Bowl contenders, and the class of the NFC. Setting aside for a moment the fact that the Redskins should be underdogs in both contests, I think the story worth telling here is that we get to play Arizona and Carolina this season. (Confusing, I know.) Put simply, the Redskins should be ecstatic for the chance to measure themselves against these two organizations in a season shaping up to be a statement season for us. It goes beyond, "To be the best, you have to beat the best." Competing in those games is less about proving anything grandiose to the world, and more about proving it to ourselves. Maybe the rest of the experts and talking heads are waiting to see a team clad in not just burgundy and gold, but in the belief that they can win against anyone. I think you began to see that at the end of last season. I think our confidence heading into the Green Bay playoff game was telling. I think we should expect to see that far earlier this season.
6. This week, our Tuesday night recording of The Audible is shaping up to be pretty amazing. We will be joined in studio by Robert Henson, co-host of The District and former linebacker for YOUR Washington Redskins. We will be joined also by Kevin and Darren McClinton, sons of one of the 70 Greatest Redskins, Harold McClinton. We will be filming video this week, thanks to the boys over at Riot Scene Pictures. I thank you all for listening to The Audible, and we hope you will find this week's stories both compelling and uplifting. The love of sports--and football specifically--brought us all together, but our individual journeys have been vastly different. The last thing I want to do is oversell, but there is a reason why we have saved some of these stories until we had been at it for about seven or eight months. We feel good about where we are as a group, and we look forward to sharing these stories with you. On behalf of Tim Strachan and Kevin Ricca, I thank you for sticking with us and our show!