- Playoff math is never a reason to snub Victory Monday. Happy Victory Monday, y’all! Though we last played—and won—last week on Thursday, today is still that most special of days during a football season. In fact, you could argue that this Victory Monday feels especially great, as the Redskins watched the Dallas Cowboys lose in the midday game right before they got to take care of their own business against the New York Giants. That is a treat that can’t be overstated. Entering the Thursday night game, the Redskins had the opportunity to pull even with Dallas before facing them on the following Thursday. Again, forget about the path to the postseason for a second. At this point of the season, wins are precious commodities. All is NOT lost, and the only way for that to stay true is to collect victories.
- I remember sitting in the stands at FedEx Field last year on New Year’s Day. We were all expecting a big season-closing/playoff clinching win against a Giants team with little to play for—in fact, New York had reason to keep players healthy for the playoff spot they had already clinched. Instead, the 19-10 loss went down as one of the more miserable days in Landover, and put a terrible taste in everyone’s mouths ahead of the offseason—which began at the final whistle of that affair. Once again, the Redskins faced the New York Giants with the season on the line, on Thanksgiving and in week 12 this time. Let’s face it, a loss on Thanksgiving would have effectively closed up shop on the 2017 campaign at Redskins Park. This time, the result was different, and the home team gets another week of hope. I get that the Giants limped into the holiday tilt, coming off what could have been a premature climax to their season. Beating Kansas City in overtime was quite the achievement for the G-men, even though beating Kansas City has become a somewhat easier task since the undefeated Chiefs took down the Skins earlier in the year. None of this seems to matter when the Redskins get the Giants lately though. All of us looked at this game (rightfully so) as a “should win” game, but all of us understood that such things rarely go smoothly. While it wasn’t a thing of beauty, the Redskins were in control of the game for the most part and Redskins Nation closed out an awesome Thanksgiving with a win and visions of Kirk Cousins and his offensive line eating turkey legs. (Did I mention Dallas lost also?)
- As someone who almost never misses a home game, I enjoyed last Thursday’s holiday atmosphere in the basement with friends and family as opposed to drinking it in from FedEx Field. It was my turn to host the extended family this year, and I actually love doing it, so the decision was not as hard as I thought it would have been. I was concerned about the home crowd, but felt confident that the Giants fanbase wasn’t going to be overwhelming. After all, what about that blue team would cause a large amount of folks to skip family gatherings and spend the day outside in Landover? The stands looked pretty empty early on, and it was clear throughout that the stadium was nowhere near full. It made me wonder about a couple things. First, it made me think about how far removed I am from being the guy in my family who says, “Sorry, won’t make turkey dinner this year because the Redskins are at home.” Secondly, it made me wonder at what point I would get back to that. It always kills me a little to miss home games, but over the last 20 years, that FOMO has lessened. It isn’t just the losing. Plenty of fanbases that fill up stadiums see their fair share of losses. Ever since the Redskins left RFK in the late 90’s, the shine has worn off a bit from the once-glossy experience of being at every home game. The “Wait List” has gone from actual list to marketing ploy. Ticket brokers reign supreme. Beer requires financing to purchase. More than all of that, it just feels...different. We have not yet recaptured that feeling that used to exist at every single home game. The only way to truly do that is to win at home, and win at home in the playoffs. Until then, tailgating is going to have to continue being the draw. Until then, I don’t expect to see games like this Thanksgiving game draw capacity crowds. I just found it noteworthy how little I was upset at the prospect of staying home for the game. Based on what I saw on television, I was not alone in that phenomenon. To all of you who repped us in the stands last Thursday however, I salute you! This will be covered on tomorrow night’s episode of “After the Whistle,” since the greatest show on television (Redskins football) often hinges on the interaction between the crowd and the field.
- Speaking of the field, wow did it look shitty on television last Thursday. It would seem as if we were being melodramatic...if this hasn’t been a recurring topic for quite some time. I am not a professional athlete, but I have been down on that field during the season and I can tell you that it doesn’t feel much softer than a concrete floor. In some places, the field is very much painted onto what can only be described as...dirt. To avoid this point turning into the same rant we have all taken a turn screaming, let me just say that I don’t understand it from a monetary perspective. We all know that with enough money, you can grow just about anything anywhere. We all know that with the right people in charge, turf can be managed to work for you in a variety of ways. There are not many businesses making the kind of profits that professional football teams make in this country. It seems shocking that resources wouldn’t be deployed to ensure such crappy fields never see the light of day in this league. We’re talking about guys being paid TENS OF MILLIONS of dollars to play on these fields...by the very men who seem to refuse to spend the dough on the playing surface. I understand the cost would be higher in certain areas of the country than others, but it would seem to be in everyone’s best interests to ensure that ALL playing fields conformed to a standard of some kind. Part of me thinks that the mere thought of having a subpar playing surface is so absurd, the only reason why it would ever happen is because of an epic horticultural fail. The other part of me understands that the owner of the Redskins has repeatedly failed to improve on the turf at FedEx Field, even to his own detriment (RG3’s knee). I reported here back in 2012 that because the Redskins didn’t believe they would qualify for the playoffs, they didn’t take any measures to prepare for a home playoff game. Given the team sat on a 3-6 record, I understood the thought process, but even at $100k or less, the expense to prepare now seems to be dwarfed by the lost opportunity of having a franchise player go down in arguably the biggest game Dan Snyder presided over. It just seems monumentally stupid that of all the things we could be debating at this point of the season, the condition of the field CONTINUES to be an issue.
- In case you haven’t heard...IT’S DALLAS WEEK!!! In a mere three days, we will wake up on gameday again. On the road against the Cowboys, the Redskins will have a chance to even their season record against Dallas and move up one more rung on the playoff ladder. Listen, this is perfect timing for this game. It is a game that has just about everything—just short of the win-and-you’re-in action we saw in week 17 a few years back. The Redskins must win this game to stay playoff-relevant. The same goes for the Cowboys. Both teams find themselves behind a lot of traffic above them on the road to the postseason, so even winning this week hardly solidifies anything on that front. The addition of the rivalry aspect to this game, on a nationally televised stage, really gets my mind right on this one. Every game against Dallas is must-win in the hearts of Redskins fans, and with the playoffs also hanging in the balance of a late November game (it would have fit my narrative better if I could call this a December game), and with it being the only game on TV in prime time, we have ourselves a real treat. I am already hating myself for building this game up too much in my mind, but I am not sure this is at all avoidable. We will certainly call every game after it must-win if and when we pull out the victory on Thursday night, but you simply can’t underestimate the importance of playing the team sitting right above you in the standings. Today, that team is the Dallas Cowboys, and if you can’t get up for a rivalry game with the entire season on the line, you don’t deserve to go to the playoffs.
- Let’s close out on the following: nobody in the NFL has faced a harder schedule than the Redskins. Few teams (two I believe), have suffered a similar amount of season-ending injuries as the Redskins. Beyond the guys who can no longer suit up, the Redskins are putting guys on the field who are nowhere near 100% healthy. Despite gut-wrenching end-of-game losses and a handful of self-defeating mistakes, the Washington Redskins still find themselves in a position to make something out of the 2017 season. It’s not too late. I know I hung our whole season on the Minnesota/New Orleans results going all the way back to August, but we live in the age of the mini-season/mini-series. From “Band of Brothers” to “John Adams” to “Lonesome Dove” to “Agent Carter” to...you get the picture. I am calling the last five games a season unto itself. Beating the Giants earned at least that much in my humble opinion. A quasi-fresh slate with an honest chance to turn a string of wins into a postseason appearance that begins on the road in Dallas? Who’s not tuning into that mini-series?
Looks Like Someone Has a Sixpack of the Mondays
Victory Monday is still Victory Monday...even when you win on Thursday.