When SB Nation asked all of its team sites this week to consider the one thing they would change about their season, they didn’t realize they were hitting a nerve. Redskins fans play this game on the daily. If this was Family Feud, and we were looking for the #1 answer of this question in the final round, 100 out of 100 Redskins fans would say “Dan Snyder.” Anytime any Redskins fan is asked what they would change about the team—worded in any way you want to word it—the top answer is always Dan Snyder. I have played this game a LOT on this site over the years.
I’ll stick to the question in the spirit for which it is intended, and I will suggest that if our playbook had a quarterback sneak in it—that we called when we needed it—our season would be changed. Think about this:
“With two minutes and thirty-eight seconds to go in this one, the Redskins approach the line of scrimmage with just inches to go on third down at their own 34-yard line. A first down here would all but lock this one up against New Orleans. Tyler Catalina has checked in as eligible and it looks they are going to try and run for this first down. There’s the snap, and it’s a keeper for Cousins. He dives at the feet of his center and goes missing under the pile. The referee is already signaling first down. That should be enough to not only keep this Redskins season alive, but in a major way, with a major win over a tough NFC opponent.”
The week before against the Minnesota Vikings, the Redskins had tried to extend a drive—and the game—but ended up going backwards. There have been about three or four standout scenarios when drives were on the line and inches were all the team needed, and the team decided to hand it off to a guy standing five or more yards BEHIND the line of scrimmage.
Listen, I get the manner in which the Redskins were dispatched by the Cowboys and the Chargers. But in all fairness to my point above, we would have it those games in a different scenario had we taken a game or two that depended on end-of-game first down conversions.
The irony is that the Redskins have been decent under Jay Gruden when it comes to getting first downs and staying on offense over the last couple seasons. I very much appreciate that. I have also made the point—endlessly—that one play doesn’t lose a game. Too many other plays offer too many other chances for people to make an impact. I get it and I believe that.
When inches are all that you need, why not the keeper? Put a different guy back there for that one play if you are that afraid of getting Kirk hurt. I don’t believe that is the issue, because I don’t believe Kirk would ever make that an issue. If you are worried about signaling to the other team what your intentions are based on personnel, that is ridiculous. The other team knows you need a few inches. It is about to be a fight for those inches. Put your best fighters in, but for God’s sake...get those inches.
The one thing I will give Gruden is that you worry about fumbles in those situations, and some coaches have red lines when it comes to certain kinds of football plays. For instance, I believe it was reported that Bill Belichick forbids his players from reaching the ball out at the goal line, or for the pylon—because of the exact thing that happened to the Raiders at the end of the game last week.
Is the quarterback keeper one of those kind of “off-limits” things to Gruden? I mean, he runs Kirk on naked boots, and I have seen Kirk execute a keeper before, so not sure why it wouldn’t be called with the season on the line.
Thanks, SB Nation, for taking this Redskins fan down the millionth “What if?” rabbit hole of the season! Hahaha...now that I have knocked this one off the table, what is the one thing you would change about this season?