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Looks Like Someone Has a Sixpack of the Mondays

The news swirling around Redskins Nation is not necessarily all good, or all’s just all very incomplete.

NFL: Washington Redskins at New York Giants Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
  1. In the absence of anything incredibly concrete in the news department, this fanbase is beginning to show a few cracks in our collective psyche. These aren’t new cracks—they are well-worn cracks, repaired and covered over by two years of positive momentum. The pressure currently on this team to stay on its present trajectory is palpable. Mike Jones of The Washington Post summed it up best when he wrote, “...I keep catching whiffs of uneasy, nervous perspiration.” He could be referring to an inside-the-building whiff, where some uncertainty must surely be felt by every member of the organization at this moment. He is definitely referring to the whiff emanating from the fanbase (well, one of the whiffs), where there is a daily freak-out over what the hell is going to happen to this team from here. There is no denying the stakes are high at this very moment, and there is no mistaking the absence of clear answers to the biggest questions we face.
  2. First, the good news: if and when we ink Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal, this whole city will be transformed back into Happy Town. Let me be perfectly clear on this one. I am not suggesting every fan will be ecstatic about the player—we already know the fanbase is somewhat split on this matter. The player argument is both real and fair, and it won’t be leaving us any time soon, but the lack of stability that stems from not having a franchise quarterback is at the heart of the most intense frustration in Redskins Nation. I would argue that even for those fans who don’t think Kirk is “the guy,” the resolution of the quarterback position will provide some needed psychological relief. Should that get settled in a long-term fashion, it acts kind of like a dam, forcing the flow of our worry and unrest in a different direction. Without litigating the player argument here (again), I believe most of us could agree that Kirk Cousins is a player you can win with, so locking him up does keep the train on the tracks, and keeps it chugging down the line.
  3. Another key area of uncertainty—and this stretches across the entirety of Dan Snyder’s tenure as owner—is at head coach. Snyder has never extended a coach that he hired, so if and when Snyder extends Jay Gruden, it would be the first time he has renewed vows with a head coach. I have argued this is another important move to be made THIS offseason, even though Gruden is not yet on that all-important “one-year-left-on-his-deal” spot. Again, for all those fans out there who don’t believe Gruden is the second coming of Vince Lombardi, this move would still provide relief because it would be another signal of commitment to the path we are on right now. What I am not doing is suggesting we extend Jay Gruden so we can all feel good. What I am suggesting is that we extend the coach who has successfully shepherded us out of the Robert Griffin III era and into an era where the Redskins offense is as dangerous as any in the league (except, you know...inside the red zone). I do think committing to Jay has a tangible impact on our ability to lure a top-tier free agent and I do think it impacts our locker room positively right away.
  4. I don’t want to overreact to things like Bruce Allen doing all the speaking for the team right now—he is after all the chief executive. That said, to suggest uneasiness is an unfair feeling for fans to have when reading this is just wrong. Of course it is going to make us feel uneasy. Of course this is going to make us wonder, as Kevin Ewoldt does, about whether or not we really are removed from the cycle of failure we were mired in for a couple of meager decades. As has been my custom for years on this site, I will certainly remain hopeful until I am certain there is no other explanation than this worst-case scenario. What we do know about Scot “McLovin” McCloughan is that he has been at the helm of two seasons of positive results for a team in sore need of them. Regardless (irregardless, even) of fan expectations, it would be hard to label the Redskins as a “failure” over the last two years. Despite the successes of Brandon Scherff and Jamison Crowder, McLovin has to wear the uncertainty and unprovenness of Josh Doctson, Su’a Cravens and Kendall Fuller. He has to wear the less-than-stellar selections of guys like Stephen Paea and Kendall Reyes. Still, a reasonable inspection of the current roster and its results reveals a core truth: we are better today than we were two years ago—on paper and on the field. I honestly don’t believe McLovin is in jeopardy of losing his job, but I also think it is fair and right that Bruce Allen keeps the pressure on McLovin. That is, after all, his prerogative.
  5. I have chosen to focus on the quarterback, head coach and general manager in today’s Sixpack. These are the flash points in the NFL, where fault lines routinely develop. In truth, the lack of certainty today for Redskins fans in these three areas is exactly why Mike Jones is smelling uneasiness and nervousness. We should never make contractual commitments purely for appearance, but in the cases of Gruden and Cousins, I don’t believe that would be what we were doing. Both men have performed. These men—combined with McLovin—are the faces of the positive momentum this franchise has established in just over two years. In the same way that you sometimes choose to wait until the last second to ink a deal—or even put people on one-year prove-it deals—you can choose to make long-term commitments when things actually appear to be very much on the right track.
  6. We will be recording The Audible on Valentine’s Day this week (tomorrow). This only confirms what I was told not too long ago by friends and well-wishers: once you combine blogging with basement podcasting, you are doubling down on your obvious intention to never enjoy female companionship ever again. That isn’t to suggest that this Valentine’s Day won’t be special and romantic. Our good friend Kevin Ewoldt is making the trip from Charleston, South Carolina to join Kevin, T and I for this week’s recording. For those of you who have been around here long enough, you recognize the name of my close friend and former Hogs Haven editor. I am confident that we will succeed in making things uncomfortable for T (but not for Kevin Ricca...the guy has worn obscene cut-off jean shorts the last two weeks for God’s sake). I look forward to the spirited conversation, and I look forward to trying to move Ewoldt off of his belief that this Redskins organization is seconds away from completely imploding. Love is in the air.