1. It's a cheapie, but three-day weekends push out Mondays. I hope everyone had a good last weekend with their families and got all of their chores done...because football season starts this week. All those times when I refrained from saying it are behind us. I can safely say, "We Made It!"
2. Speaking of making it, the NFC East continues to be made easier...in theory. Two out of four starting quarterbacks in the division are no longer standing in their respective pockets. While I would never wish an injury on a guy, it does bear noting that Romo getting injured is like the sun rising in the east. He is one of those players that I think we would all have loved if he played on our team, but now his name and face are synonymous with the star. Sam Bradford was statistically likely to join him on the IR at some point, but he jetted off to Minnesota. That leaves Eli Manning and Kirk Cousins as the elder statesmen of the bunch, with Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz leading a youth movement from within the division.
3. This is where I beg all of us to be very careful about expecting that we will roll rookie signal-callers. I feel like we spent the late 90's and most of the early 2000's circling teams we thought we should beat for some reason or another. You know the saying...if you can't spot the sucker at the table, you're the sucker. We were the team that rolled in thinking we would win countless times, all the while being oblivious to the fact that our opponent had scheduled us for their homecoming festivities. Dallas' offensive line is probably good enough to mask a decent amount of Prescott's rawness, and Philadelphia will be playing some pretty carefree ball thanks to the lowered expectations that accompany a new coaching staff and green quarterback. Doug Pederson is going to have the Eagles ready to play and they always get up for us.
4. I am sure it will be mentioned more as we get closer, but I continue to press this point: the Washington Redskins have a very real opportunity this Monday night to change the perception of the franchise. All we care about is a win--I get it--but there is more to be had than just a win. On national television, and against a very talented and formidable opponent, the Redskins can begin their defense of the NFC East by sending a statement to the rest of the teams on their schedule. No matter how you slice it--and even without Le'Veon Bell--the Steelers are still one of the top dogs in the NFL. Their front office gets it right more often than not, and on the field they are almost never out of a game. Their veteran players have been tested in critical situations and their coaches don't give in when confronted with adversity. In short, the Steelers are never, ever an easy out. Should the Redskins manage to emerge as victors after the final whistle next Monday night, the conversation around the Washington Redskins will change immediately. I don't mind being the underdog, and I don't mind being doubted by talking heads, but I think I do mind when so-called experts fail to see when something has truly changed. This Redskins organization is a different one than we saw just over a year ago. It contains far more talent from top to bottom, and is considerably more stable than any of us have seen in quite some time. In fact, the Redskins are likely the most stable team in the entire division at this point, which is absolutely nuts. The Cowboys are reeling from Romo's injury, which is all a team like that needs to get knocked out of orbit. The Eagles are all-in on the clean sheet with a fresh coach and rookie quarterback. The Giants have a new coach, and they just spent a fortune to bring in a bunch of high-priced free agents (we have seen that movie before). The Redskins bring back the same system and schemes, pretty much all of their core players, and the coaching staff is settled in here. In terms of starting a season, you couldn't ask for much more than that--and we have been asking for it for a decade.
5. You might say that the root of point #4 is meaningless...a win is a win is a win. I understand and agree...to a certain extent. With both Romo and Bradford out, it isn't the defending division champ that experts are jumping on to rule the roost--it's New York!?!?!?!! I don't want to disrespect Eli Manning, because he has more than earned the right to be bet on, but I don't think you need burgundy and gold sunglasses to see that the Redskins are more than just a wild card-contender. Again, let people sleep on us. Let people doubt us...but at some point we do want the team to show the world what we already know. We do want the Redskins to put their growth on display. We do want to make that statement. Winning early games against Jacksonville and St. Louis the last couple years didn't blow anyone's skirts up. Beating the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football to start the season is just the kind of coming out party that I am looking for, and to be frank, it is precisely the kind of statement we need to make.
6. I have two annual posts that come out this week: my Ten Most Irreplaceable Redskins column and my Inexorable March to Super Bowl Glory piece. We'll be covering both in some way, shape or form on The Audible. Both topics lend themselves well to whiskey-soaked banter (we call it the "Spirit of Sonny") and both topics are open for comment starting...now! (SPOILER ALERT: Sav Rocca will not make this year's Most Irreplaceable list.)