- Happy Victory Monday, y’all! I think it is a fair statement to say that when we made our week-by-week predictions before the season started, most of us put the Oakland contest as a loss. There was no shame in looking at who the Raiders were last year and what they are becoming now and ranking them higher than the Redskins. In three short weeks, however, the Redskins have changed the perception of what they are and who they are becoming. The Eagles loss in week one was a well-deserved loss by the Redskins—you can’t commit the kind of calamitous errors Washington committed that day and expect to win. The trip out west to face the Rams became a game where at the bare minimum, competence had to show its face—it did. That Rams win will look better and better as the season progresses. (Sidenote: I look forward to years of McVay vs. K. Shanahan games, and will unabashedly wear my Team Sean colors. Kyle never won me over in his time here, and he looks like a way less fun coach to play for than McVay. Twice a year should be fun for all fans for a while.) On national television—not the friendliest territory for the Washington over the years—the Redskins beat Oakland silly. The thing is, the 27-10 score doesn’t tell the tale of the tape. Football fans from around the country who tuned in for this game saw a Redskins team do something it rarely does for such large viewing audiences—beat an opponent thoroughly, handily and humiliatingly.
- For a second straight week, the Redskins dominated the ball, topping their time of possession from a week ago by holding the ball for over 38 minutes on Sunday night. The 472 total yards the Redskins put up dwarfed the 128 yards put up by the Raiders, especially when the silver and black team was held to under 100 total yards prior to a meaningless, final minute of play when the game was no longer in question. Once again, the Redskins ran about 20 more offensive plays than the Raiders and more than doubled than doubled Oakland’s first down total (18-7). Washington won the turnover battle (finishing +1), but struggled in the penalties department (Oakland usually dominates in penalties, but they couldn’t even get that part of their game going). As I sit here, I still struggle to comprehend just how convincing this win is, and I wonder if it is possible for this team to show up in Kansas City next week. Talk about a test...
- The Chiefs are next week though, and today is for celebrating Victory Monday. There would be no Victory Monday without the kind of breakthrough performances turned in by a whopping number of Redskins players. It started early with Montae Nicholson, a decidedly NON-soft safety (seriously, what is with the college scouts calling him soft?) that plays with the kind of athleticism, speed and power that we haven’t seen in the back since...well, let’s not go there today. That’s not fair to Montae. On the defensive line, Preston Smith manned up in a ridiculous way throughout the game. Jonathan Allen played like a first-round pick, but so did Matt Ioannidis—a fifth-round pick. “Ion Man” played heroically on the inside, regularly collapsing the pocket into Derek Carr’s face. Josh Doctson...wow. The Redskins are convinced that they can throw the ball up and that Doctson will come down with it, especially in traffic (until last night, that belief was driving a lot of people nuts). Kendall Fuller played a very good game again, and added his first interception when he turned and sat in the exact spot he was supposed to cover. I keep saying it, and I won’t stop: Fuller and Fabian Moreau are going to be the heart of our secondary for years to come. Junior Galette got his first half sack of the season and even Ryan Anderson registered a tackle for a loss. I could go on and on really—D.J. Swearinger played a manly game, and what can you say about Zach Brown? The linebacker was everywhere, and he was punishing guys. Since we like to make every game a referendum on something, I will call last night’s game a ringing endorsement of the McLovin Era. Scot “McLovin” McCloughan’s work was in full view, and it was glorious. Just look up and down the stat sheet. Watch that game again if you can. This roster was built to be fast, strong and physical. Every NFL team will say that, but if you have rooted for the Redskins over the last, say, 20 years, you were not always having the pleasure of watching a fast, strong, physical team. It’s one game...I get it, but the things that went right for the Redskins, and more specifically, the manner in which the younger players stepped up and contributed is a real nod to McLovin and the way he built this team through three drafts (that’s right, three—the team was incredibly faithful to his board in the most recent draft).
- Oakland Raiders on third down: 0-11...’nuff said.
- I know people were texting me from all over last night asking me about the size of the Raiders fan contingent at FedEx. They were making some noise early, and they were feeling pretty confident in the lots before the game. As always, I thanked the opposing fans for coming—I was so happy so many of them could be there to witness the ass-beating that went down. Oakland fans are generally pretty good to hang out with—they have had their fair share of adversity through the years, and they tend to stick with their team. That said, I am still not convinced that everyone wearing silver and black last night was a true Raider fan. I feel pretty qualified to make this assessment, having been a regular attendee at FedEx for the better part of this century. Let me explain to you how the DMV works: there’s lots of haters. Kevin Ewoldt and I sat behind a row of guys who had Redskins season tickets and every week they wore the jersey of the opponent. Raiders gear is considered high fashion for haters, and I get it—it’s cool...Ice Cube makes it cool. The kind of cheering that was going on early in the stands for the Raiders was the kind of mouthy, “look-at-me,” scene-creating, loud-for-the-sake-of-being-loud cheering. In other words—they were Dallas fans. I understand why so many Dallas fans would come to this game wearing silver and black. First of all, most Dallas fans aren’t from Dallas as we all know, so they don’t mind putting someone else’s jersey on (terrible). They also are a front-running, opportunistic bunch. They thought they were getting a chance to come to FedEx and watch the Redskins lose, and they thought it would be a fun time to rub our noses in it. For every one or two legit Raiders fans, rocking the spiky shoulder pads and full make-up, there was a handful of Cowboys fans perpetrating in Marshawn Lynch, Derek Carr and Khalil Mack jerseys. You could tell which ones were which for the most part, because the Dallas fans cheered for any little thing they could get boisterous about, even late in the game, when true Raiders fans knew that the game was over. I even heard a guy wearing a Mack jersey say to the guy sitting next to him, “That’s okay...when MY team comes here in a month, it will be different.” This is really nothing new, but when the Skins go on national T.V., it comes up.
- I have to go out with some Kirk Cousins love. I gave Kirk the business for the Philadelphia game, and last week, we credited #8 with a strong leadership performance against his old mentor. For the third straight week, you could argue the fate of the Redskins was very much tied up in the play of our quarterback. The passing stats certainly tell a tale, but if you watched the game, you saw the offense working because of the mastery of the signal-caller. Kirk threw some pretty amazing balls last night, and kept it out of the hands of the opponent. He didn’t take unnecessary risks, and he generally got the most of whatever the defense was giving him on any given play. The deep ball to Doctson is great for so many reasons. First, it reaffirms the belief the Redskins have in Doctson’s ability to bring down contested receptions (he’s been doing it in practice constantly). Second, the pressure on Kirk and Josh to start meaningfully connecting has been growing exponentially. Franchise quarterbacks and first-round wide receivers are supposed to be lethal combinations. Any success that Doctson can find should help Terrelle Pryor find some space (Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder are helping as well). Finally, circling back to point #3, Doctson is a big, fat, blinking neon marquis when it comes to the Redskins recent roster construction. His success can and will allow the light to shine on the whole picture. His failure would potentially block the light from shining on just about anything else—such is the case for first-round, skill player selections. He still has some work to do, but Jon Snow showed up last night. Kirk Cousins did, too. Don’t look now y’all, but this team just took a major step forward. What once looked like a scary road trip to Kansas City is all of a sudden an opportunity to measure ourselves against the best...and we have reason to think we measure up!
The Redskins dominate the Oakland Raiders to improve record to 2-1 and set up second straight primetime AFC West showdown.