- Well that escalated quickly, didn't it? I don’t know many fanbases that are ready to really talk much about the future less than 24 hours after a soul-crushing finish to an otherwise promising season. The Redskins fanbase saw teams get insanely hot down the stretch three times in recent seasons (2005, 2007, 2012) to steal a playoff appearance after inadequate starts. Despite opening the 2016 campaign with a dismal 0-2 record, the Redskins were in control of their destiny early and often in 2016. This team wasn’t a bad team trying to steal a playoff spot. This Redskins team—on the strength of its offense—had the creds to justify its postseason existence. Instead of carrying forward the tradition of strong finishes to wrap it up, the Redskins lost four of the last six games. After defeating the Green Bay Packers at home in prime time in week 11, the Redskins went in a distinctly different direction than their Wisconsin brethren. As much fun as this season was—and I argue it was a fun ride—what happened down the stretch was unacceptable from multiple standpoints. With all respect to opponents who were partly responsible for our “flatness,” this Washington Redskins team failed to take the field a few times when it mattered. There’s a lot that goes into “not showing up” I know, and this won’t be the breakdown of that. The manner in which teams marched us up and down the field at times looked way too easy, and the failure of our offense to carry us when they were the only ones who could have gets us to this spot.
- As for me, the loss to the Giants was as shocking as it gets. I was at the game yesterday, and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that this didn’t look good from the outset. Like many of you, I expected the win. Regardless (irregardless even) of how long Eli was going to stay in the game, we knew the Giants weren’t going to subject their front-line players to 60 minutes of potential injury. We all watched a New York team actively not give a crap about winning that had no reason to give a crap about winning. If you can’t take advantage when a team runs into a wall three straight times before punting—on consecutive drives—then you deserve to lose. This wasn’t about predicting the Redskins were going to win some thrilling contest with two teams fighting tooth and nail for the last scrap of food on the table. This was about predicting the Redskins were going to be able to impose their will on a team that was mostly concerned with leaving town healthy. Not sure how else to say it: if you can’t win that game, you don’t belong in the playoffs.
- There is a lot of angst directed at Jay Gruden today and don’t look at me to be the one to try and quiet it. No, I don't think he should be fired, but he wears a ton of the accountability for the failures over the last month and a half. He has a lot of answering to do as they begin Evaluation Mode. The coaching staff is going to look different next year, and we can only hope that the new mix of coaches and coordinators is up to the challenge of preparing players to play in big games. I think Jay Gruden’s offense is worth hanging onto, and I think a slightly different chemistry in the locker room will aid the evolution of his coaching style immensely. That said, players have to play. If you told me that you thought DeSean Jackson was playing not to get hurt yesterday, you would be the hundredth person to say that to me. His sideline head-shaking bothered me, especially as I watched Maurice Harris make some pretty good blocks. On defense, I feel like ripping players has gotten a little tired...and potentially unfair. We just don’t stack up on defense at this moment. We don’t. Blame the scheme, blame the coach, blame the personnel, blame the injuries...none of it changes the fact that the only thing that could help our defense was the postseason. Well, it’s here. It’s a good news day, Jim!
- It seems there is also this issue of the quarterback hanging over our heads. Hahahaha...well, it ain’t a dollars and cents issue folks. To me, it is and always has been a binary decision. We either keep him or we don’t. I believe he will get paid exactly what he is worth and I hope it us who pays it. There is always enough room under your salary cap for a franchise quarterback, and that is what Kirk Cousins is, despite any bad thing you can think of saying about him today. I understand the frustration, and I understand where he needs to improve to be able to shake off some of these criticisms. Think about what this offense is right now before you vote to throw one of the best quarterbacks we have ever seen in burgundy and gold overboard.
- We will be drilling the Kirk Cousins topic into the ground enough, so let’s touch quickly on some other gut reactions to the onset of the offseason. Sign Chris Baker. Sign Pierre Garcon. Sign Chris Thompson. Sign Vernon Davis. As one of my fellow tailgaters said with regard to Baker, “We already have enough holes without creating more by not bringing Chris Baker back.” Well said, Kurt. As for Will Compton, he is a restricted free agent and it is hard to see us not bringing him back—I am given to understand that the locker room loves this man. Between them and Kirk, that is a lot of our salary cap space right there. I do believe that this will leave Scot “McLovin” McCloughan enough leftover cap space to find a couple of hungry souls on defense that just need an opportunity (by NOT signing DeSean Jackson). The free agent market is going to be weak relative to other years because of the relative weakness of the 2013 draft. That means it is an opportune time to spend our money in-house. I believe McLovin can find those right fits in a weak market though. Some of the people I speak to act as if only a top-of-the-line defensive free agent like Olivier Vernon could come to Washington and steal a starting spot. Ha! There are PLENTY of guys McLovin could bring in that would be an upgrade for the Redskins. Between that and the draft, I do see us with as many as four or five new starters on defense next season. Who coaches the defense still remains to be seen...
- Tomorrow is the season finale of “After the Whistle,” the official Redskins after show of Hogs Haven. As usual, I expect it to be Spirit of Sonny-filled podcast, echoing what most of us are feeling at this point. We have something fun in store for you (we hope) starting next week, and we look forward to a little more interaction with you on the show itself this offseason. Keep your heads up, y’all.
Looks Like Someone Has a Sixpack of the Mondays
The 2016 Washington Redskins season is over. Now it’s time for the Redskins fanbase to shake off a heart-wrenching finish to identify the hope for the future.