- The Tuesday after the bye is always a better spot for this particular Sixpack, as it is our one chance each season to digest the results of every game on the docket to see where the idle Redskins fit into the picture. After only three weeks of results for the burgundy and gold, our analysis is extremely incomplete, but we don’t get to choose our bye week. If we can all agree that three weeks is not a large enough sample size to make Super Bowl reservations, maybe we can all also agree that there are absolutely a few reasonable conclusions we can stab at this week. One of those conclusions comes when you look at the standings in the NFC East today...
- The Redskins are first in the NFC East after the first quarter of the season...kinda sorta (again, the three games thing is weighing us down). When we began the season, the Redskins were looking up at the reigning Super Bowl champions, a Dallas team that has had their number thanks to Ezekiel Elliott and a healthy Giants team that league experts were high on thanks to the presence of both Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. After four weeks, the Skins sit at the top of the division and the best news for us is that this team is going back on the road to put it on the line. Seriously, as much as I love a good home game, a prime-time tilt at FedEx is not the ideal scenario for us coming out of the bye. We have all seen that show, and at least a couple of episodes of that show included a “hot” Redskins team. I really like the idea of getting a shot at a conference opponent with the extra week of preparation (a great spot for Jay Gruden to show some improvement over previous seasons). The story all week long is going to be about Drew Brees and his assault on the all-time passing mark. I have heard this week already being called “Drew Brees Week” at places like ESPN. That provides a ton of cover for this Redskins team, and I think they still need it, or at least have learned how to appreciate and use it. Brees needs 201 yards to become the all-time passing king, but there is one little fact standing in his way...
- Over at nfl.com’s “Team Stats” page, where they rank things on a per game basis, the Redskins (based on three weeks of play) are third in total defense. They are third against the pass and seventh against the run. While Brees needs only 201 yards passing to pass Peyton Manning and Brett Favre, the Redskins have only allowed 187 yards passing per game. My guess is that Brees will still be favored to get his record, but let’s not just ignore the fact that the Redskins pass defense has been extremely stout, and even though the sample size is small, this is one of the most important stat lines for a defense in this pass-happy era. Greg Manusky has enjoyed being able to keep his safeties focused on the pass, but the Saints offense is not so easy to do that against. In addition to Alvin Kamara, who can pound the ball and break tackles as a runner while also being one of the best receivers in the league, the Saints are getting Mark Ingram back from suspension, who is an extremely tough runner. Everyone knows that the Saints are going to get their passing game going, but if the Redskins aren’t able to slow down the first week of the Ingram/Kamara ground game show that was so wildly successful last season, Manusky is going to have to put some secondary resources on that (which would make it hard to stop Brees through the air).
- If for no other reason than TV people grab onto all available storylines, we will definitely get to hear at least a little about the first-place Redskins (depending on how things go elsewhere in the division). The Giants travel to Carolina to face a Panthers team that hasn’t lost at home yet. The Eagles host Kirk Cousins and the Vikings, so there is at least a chance we can see two fairly solid NFC teams take down our divisional brethren. The Cowboys get the Texans, and I probably have the least amount of hope in this game, though DeShaun Watson is due for a show-stopping performance. On Sunday Night Football, the timing would be perfect for the world to watch Dallas take a loss to the likes of Watson and J.J. Watt. By the time the Redskins kick off in New Orleans, that part of the picture will come more into focus, but we all need to be real honest about where the spotlight is going to be that night—firmly on Brees. I am falling in love with that idea right now, because if the Redskins are able to make him wait another week for the record, that will really stick out in everyone’s mind. Part of our terrible history in primetime games has been the recurring nature of Washington’s “near arrival” into postseason contention leading up to these affairs. On many of these nights, our arrival was cancelled by halftime. In short, I love the focus on the Saints and their quarterback.
- The opening line for the game next Monday night is New Orleans minus a touchdown. Because they are the home team, oddsmakers are saying the Saints are about TEN points better than Washington. I want to be as respectful as possible to a Saints team that deserves the status they get from the gambling community, and I don’t want to overplay the fact that the Redskins beat down the Green Bay Packers. I know Aaron Rodgers is hurt and I know that was a factor in our win. Still, the Redskins getting a touchdown on the road is a bit of a gut-punch to a team that has quietly been one of the more efficient teams in the entire league (look for our stats article this week). Again, this works for a young team that knows it has to prove itself a few more times before people begin to look at them differently. I think it is completely fair for the average fan to not fully understand who this Redskins team is right now. Hell, many Redskins fans still view this team through the prism of the last decade, if not the last two decades. Every single person watching on Monday night—inside and outside the beltway—is going to be thinking the same thing if and when this young Redskins team pushes the Saints and grabs an upset victory: this Redskins team is for real. #QuietCompetence
- Health has still generally been our friend this season. We know that is likely to change, and we know that when it does change, the Redskins roster will be put to the test. Every team faces this threat, but I feel like the Redskins have depth that is not getting much credit. To close out the bye week debate, I thought I would ask you to help our Tuesday night show by telling us who your top reserve is and why. Contemplate an injury and tell why you think the next man up will allow the Redskins to continue playing the way they want to play, on offense and/or defense. (Feel free to move Trent Williams inside to guard—Kevin Ricca will love it!)
Looks Like Someone Has a Sixpack of the Mondays
Watching the full slate of games on Sunday makes the Redskins look even better after only three games.