- Happy Victory Monday, y’all! Even more importantly, Happy Veteran’s Day! Never Forget! It was great to see the attention paid to the armed forces and all those families who sacrifice so much for this nation. On behalf of Hogs Haven and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your service to this amazing country! Programming note: we will be on YouTube tomorrow night instead of Facebook. We will put out a reminder on Facebook (looking your way Kevin!) and we apologize in advance for any confusion during our transition over to YouTube.
- The Washington Redskins are in first place in the NFC East and in control of their playoff destiny...after NINE games. Leave it to the Redskins to create a scenario where I have to put on my turd-polishing gear to celebrate this fact. I mean, the Redskins have six conference wins (6-2, next closest win total outside of the Rams/Saints is four wins). There are TWO teams with ties (Minnesota and Green Bay) that have pretty difficult stretches to come, and both of those teams are chasing the Bears...a team we are in a virtual tie with in the NFC (they win tiebreaker today because their 4-1 conference win percentage edges out our 6-2 conference win percentage). The landscape in the NFC favors the Redskins a variety of ways, and yet folks are grasping for reasons to justify cynicism and pessimism. Those reasons are there...I’ll grant you...but it is simply insane to manufacture negativity on the fan side of the fence around a team that has done enough to put themselves squarely inside the postseason picture. We can talk about our realistic chances of beating whomever we may or may not face in the first round of the playoffs, but that will be at the point in which we would be talking about an ACTUAL PLAYOFF TEAM. In the meantime, don’t make me start yelling “Scoreboard!!” to fellow Redskins fans. For God’s sake, I have had to hear about it enough from fellow Redskins fans when we were 3-6, or 4-5 or even 2-7...this is a 6-3 team that has shown the ability to win close games. People seem to think that this Redskins team has gotten to the point where we ONLY accept a team that is a favorite to make it to the Super Bowl. Come on...we are missing out on at least some fun. I will be sure not to skip over the deficiencies this team has put out there for the world to see, but some people need to be sure to look at the standings—and not just this year’s standings, either. Make sure you really look at how rare it is to be 6-3—it has been a decade. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills here! Hahaha...it’s football! We are winning! That could change in a heartbeat (that movie has been stuck in our DVD player for a looooooooooong time). Let’s enjoy what there is to enjoy. Anyone out there who dismisses this team as “unwatchable,” or harps on only those things that are clearly wrong with this team right now needs to take at least one week off from that (don’t worry, there’s always Cowboys and Eagles fans picking up the slack for a week).
- The Redskins are a flawed team, but they are flawed in a way that still allows them to match up with some teams. The special teams prowess of this Washington squad, the manner in which Alex Smith is able to protect the ball and a formidable defense gives the Redskins a chance to win coming off the bus. High-powered passing offenses and extremely mobile/physical quarterbacks have given us trouble, but the NFC is going to send a team or two to the playoffs that the Redskins can match up well against (again, you won’t hear me predicting any playoff wins here...yet). Tampa Bay is listed right now as the TOP offense in the league in terms of yards per game. They are also listed right this second as the TOP passing offense in terms of yards per game with a tough, mobile quarterback (wait...I thought we weren’t supposed to be able to beat teams like that). Ryan Fitzpatrick just threw for 406 of the total 501 yards his team gained. I am looking at a box score that shows we won 16-3...in other words, the Redskins just imposed their ugliness on a team that had the ability to win this game. It’s kind of a big deal as we transition to postseason contention and the run-up to some important divisional games.
- Playoff worthiness isn’t a resolved matter after Week 10, or Week 11, or Week 12...but you earn the right at different points of the season to enter (and potentially just as quickly exit) the conversation. The Redskins had a chance to kick off that conversation in earnest against Atlanta, and they punted that chance. I think that they have a similar opportunity against the Houston Texans. Reasonable folks will likely look at this game and see a pretty tall order for the Washington Redskins. DeShaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins could easily DeStroy the Redskins through the air on Sunday. If they can do what the Buccaneers couldn’t—punch it over the goal line inside the red zone—the Redskins will need to score points against a Texans defense that ranks inside the top ten in terms of total yards against. That’s real enough, right? And yet, that wasn’t a magic trick against the Bucs. It was Ryan Anderson’s punch. It was Stroman’s quick jump. It was Josh Norman’s unreal interception at the goal line. This defense proved something on Sunday, but they did it with help from the Bucs. I don’t see the Texans giving us the same kind of help, if we’re being honest. Still, at 6-3 and coming off a win that easily could have been a loss, the Redskins absolutely have a chance to make a November statement. I won’t call that “all we could hope for,” because I am pretty good at hoping, and my hoping game goes past “just happy to be here.” I just think it is worth dedicating some positive energy to the fact that the Redskins have a chance to beat a pretty good team this week. By the way, that “good” Houston Texans team is...you guessed it: 6-3 with a loss to the NEW YORK GIANTS. Ahem...
- The game wasn’t without some positives (aside from the many, many gifts given to us by a Buccaneers team that seemed unsure of whether they wanted to win or not). Don’t look now, but Josh Doctson and Alex Smith continue to connect. Doc caught all four of his targets, one for a touchdown. This isn’t me saying he is playing like a first round stud, but this Redskins team very much needs Doc to get into some kind of groove, and we got a little closer to that on Sunday. Maurice Harris continues to make the most of his opportunity. With Mo on the field, the Redskins offense all of a sudden has a lot of size. He caught all five of his targets and seems to also have the trust of Alex Smith and Jay Gruden.
- We’ll kick these thoughts around and more tomorrow night on The Audible, on our in-season programming of “After the Whistle.” I thought it was cool that we played Ryan Fitzpatrick for the sixth time, on his sixth team (he is now 4-2 against us). It was yet another trend that has gone against us that didn’t go against us yesterday. I think we should talk about the weird feeling of liking it when Dallas wins. I hope you will also give us a minute or two to talk about something that gave us a TON of positive DC sports energy this weekend: Kevin, Tim and I called a high school football playoff game played between St John’s and Gonzaga—two nationally ranked football programs this year. We were joined by Carol Maloney (formerly of NBC Sports) who ran the sidelines for us. It was an amazing day and we look forward to broadcasting the championship this weekend. It came down to a crazy play at the end—here is a link to the game—and we had replay of it and a crazy post-game coach interview (over 3,200 watched live!!). See you guys tomorrow night (on YouTube).
The Redskins remain in first place in the NFC East and in control of their playoff destiny. Why doesn’t it feel like that?