- Of course Atlanta lost yesterday. Of course they did. By the time the Redskins close out the 2017 season, we will all be looking back on a few sequences that cemented our non-playoff contention. The worst part (most predictable part) is that the majority of the pain inflicted on the Redskins this season has been self-inflicted. (Of course, the actual pain from the long list of injuries is its own story.) We’ll all see the Redskins listed as “In the Hunt” when we view playoff standings this week, but I am completely confused as to what it is we are actually hunting. More than anything else, the loss to the Saints is going to end up at the top of my list in terms of most egregious example of self-inflicted season killer. We knew that the teams in front of us were going to be be pounding each other over the last month of the season, and we thought that the worst part of our schedule was behind us. You won’t see me crunching playoff math on here anytime soon, because that is what legit playoff contenders do. The Redskins are not a legit playoff contender...even despite the actions of those kinds of teams directly above us in the rankings.
- Getting swept by Philadelphia and Dallas in the NFC East is always a special treat, and it should really inform our view of where this Redskins team is: completely passed by the Eagles, and still firmly behind the Cowboys. The pecking order does not show signs of changing, as Thomas Boswell pointed out over the weekend. The surest sign that this Redskins squad is entrenched below legitimately mediocre squads is the manner in which the first quarter of the Cowboys game played out. I know that it is almost required that you go into “rant mode” to talk about this kind of thing, but I will spare you—the Redskins were the perfect combination of their own worst enemy and their opponent’s best friend. Quite simply, it’s what they do best.
- When the Redskins don’t play on Sunday, it presents a golden opportunity to watch a day of NFL football without the nervous anxiety that goes with waiting for and then watching your own team play. You get a chance to see what other teams and other fanbases are dealing with and you can make comparisons. Two teams jump off the screen for me: the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants. From Cleveland’s botch of the A.J. McCarron trade to their continued pursuit of winlessness, they are an absolute pleasure to watch this season from my standpoint. Who doesn’t appreciate a reminder that our team could actually be worse? As for the Giants, their train is so far off the rails at this time, they also make the Redskins look professional. As of this publication, head coach Ben Mcaddoo and his mustache have been shown the door. I can’t believe the Giants have caused this Redskins fan to feel sorry for Eli Manning, but...wow. So, a week after seeming to hang your down season on your Hall of Fame quarterback and asking a guy who shows up for work every week for his entire career to take a seat, you THEN clean house? I mean, you had Eli freaking Manning in a clean jersey having to watch Geno Smith do his job?!?!? Now THAT is The Redskins Way!!! It was so backwards and insane...I would be lying to all of you if I told you that while watching this play out yesterday, I didn’t feel a disturbing kinship with Eli and Giants fans. The fact that they asked Eli if he wanted to play just to continue the streak tells you everything you need to know about a backwards organization. The Manning family has generally been a classy NFL family, so Eli’s response was exactly what you would have expected (classy). A classy organization doesn’t put one of their all-time greatest players on the spot with what is a rhetorical question—after all, the Giants knew as well as we know how Eli would answer that question. The good news for the Redskins is that having a dysfunctional franchise like that in our division should help us get a win or two, but the bad news is that they are cleaning house, meaning the Redskins will soon be surrounded by THREE divisional rosters that are focused on youth and have track records of getting that right.
- Without getting too political, I find it interesting that all of Washington is questioning the possibility of shutdowns and what they might look like. Capitol Hill is preparing for a different kind of shutdown than the Redskins, though both topics seem to be running on jet fuel in the city right now. Do we shut down Trent Williams? Do we shut down Jordan Reed? Do we shut down Morgan Moses (watching him leave the field—every single game—is insanity)? The million dollar question being asked is of course what to do about Kirk Cousins. I believe in giving Trent Williams and Morgan Moses time to prepare for 2018, as their health will be instrumental in any chances we have next season. Jordan Reed seems shut down to me, so not really sure what the question is there. If he only has a hit or two left in him, we are better off getting them next season and not this season, unless the team intends to use its “out” this offseason—looks to me like the team could part ways with Reed before or after June 1st without creating too much dead cap space. I sure hope that is not the offseason we are heading towards, so we might as well get Reed rested for a new campaign. This all leads to a recognition of some wisdom in the idea that sitting Kirk without Trent, Morgan and Jordan is the right thing to do. I don’t like that. My whole point about signing and keeping Cousins is that he has turned into the leader of this team, and though we all may quibble about the nature of how he puts that leadership on display, he can’t lead this team from the bench. Though I might agree that benching him for his own health could help the Redskins on the goodwill front, I would be a little more cutthroat on the matter. Kirk is getting paid plenty, and has made a mountain of money. If he gets hurt down the stretch, he will be just fine. If he is healthy, he plays. He can still learn by working with Jay for another month. Josh Doctson could still use the in-game reps to improve his timing with Kirk. The locker room could use the stability and consistency of a guy like Kirk showing up each week and doing his job. I understand how much is at stake for Kirk in the future, but his job is to be on the field with whomever can join him. For the same reason why I think Eli should be on the field with his own personal trainwreck, so too should Kirk be suiting up on Sundays to handle the burden of leading.
- Because of “the way things tend to work,” the possibility of an 8-8 or 9-7 season is pretty damn real. I can already hear myself talking about three straight winning or non-losing seasons. Maybe today’s comments can provide some thought as to what an 8-8 or 9-7 season would feel like to you? Would you feel like this team is continuing to move in the right direction or would the taste of the manner in which the Redskins failed to show up at key moments be too strong to allow any good feelings to come through?
- We don’t harp on the negative on Tuesday nights in the basement (though we might be on the loose in downtown Bethesda tomorrow night). I have a couple of ideas of how to handle things that I think will be fun even as we move toward what will be an insane offseason. We will lay all that out tomorrow night on The Audible. Just know this: my low point was after the Saints game. Once I got there, I knew it was rock bottom. Even though there have been and will be moments since that game that have sucked and will suck, I am confident that there will be at least something to get excited about in the next couple of months (like the retention of our franchise quarterback). I still won’t be rooting for losses. I still don’t care about draft pick slot, and I definitely don’t believe there is more to gain from losing than there is from winning. On that last part, let me just add this: it is continually pointed out how many losses we have piled up over the years (147 losses over the last 16 years). These losses are used to demonstrate how crappy we have been over a long period of time. Changing that narrative takes wins. It takes early season wins, midseason playoff push wins, and yes, it even takes otherwise meaningless late-season wins. The Redskins need wins. For all of you out there who feel like a few more losses this year could help us in the short term, let me remind you: we have tried that (repeatedly). In order to start being a winner, we have to start winning. On that note, bring on the Chargers!
With the Redskins all but done in 2017, there appears to be blood in the water as all the sharks show up to feast on the offseason decisions the Redskins have to make soon.