- Sometimes a sixpack of Mondays turns into a twelver of Tuesdays...we’ll stick with six points today and chart a course forward. Together. It’s going to be important to stay together...as much as possible anyway. Remember, staying together doesn’t mean agreeing on things—it simply means understanding that we have a lot of possible paths forward and let’s not push each other off the boat because of disagreements over that.
- First and foremost: do I regret trading for and extending Alex Smith? No. I recall the day we did the deal and I don’t second-guess the jubilation over the deal at all. At all. Honestly, it was an aggressive move by a front office that needed a win, and I thought it was a win. That is all the looking back I am going to engage in at the moment. Looking forward, the landscape is different and my mindset is changed on some things.
- Let’s talk defense first. For the first time in quite a long time, the Redskins defense is young, mean and talented. The window there is wide open. This organization can and likely will move forward with a defense-first mentality because it actually has the horses to play this kind of ball. The unfortunate part of that is the NFL is morphing right in front of our eyes into a nuclear-offensive league. I mean, it was already trending to an offensive-minded league before this season, but after watching the Rams and Chiefs put up 104 points, it is crystal clear that championships are going to be played by teams that can do that (as opposed to the old “unstoppable force versus the immovable object” matchups that have captivated us for decades). The Rams defense is gooooood. They still had to score 54 points to bring home a win (the defense was able to lend a hand in the scoring). For the Redskins to maximize their defensive prowess, they will need to figure out how to put more points on the board. That is on Jay Gruden and the quarterback—whomever that may be.
- So, a lot of debate has centered around whether or not we can and will move forward with Alex Smith if he is able to come back. I won’t pretend to understand the kind of process it would take for him to be able to return to a football field. My gut tells me that he is the kind of athlete that could make that attempt. We also see time and time again that athletes these days refuse to let go, and given he is in the first year of a huge deal, Alex Smith has millions of reasons to try and make that return. That said, he also has a $71 million injury guarantee, so I am comfortable suggesting that his motivation to get back on the field is less driven by money than it would be by passion. This is a good thing for the Redskins, even though from a salary cap standpoint, it is being seen as quite the negative.
- The problem for rebuilding an offense in the near term is going to be that salary cap space issue. Whether Smith plays for the Skins or not, he is going to take up salary cap space that will prevent the team from utilizing precious resources to reload that offense. Colt McCoy is on the books for $2.8 million in 2019, which is unbelievably fortuitous for the Redskins (assuming they won’t have to re-do that deal should he be the starter). For $2.8 million, Colt could crap on the 50-yard line and you might think you are still saving money. That said, Colt can’t be the 2019 savior. The organization needs hope in addition to competency. McCoy brings the competency—Jay Gruden TRUSTS him and believes he can execute this offense—but the hope will have to come with some youth. That means the Redskins are going to need to draft a quarterback next year—regardless of whether or not Alex Smith is on the mend (irregardless, even). Oh yeah, and we can’t afford a first round guy anyway, so the team will need to unearth a second or third round gem to play on a rookie contract and HOPEFULLY be able to contribute sooner rather than later. Yes, this plan reeks of desperation. Guess what: desperation is exactly what springs naturally from a compound fracture caused by rotational force. The team will need to be right about the next wide receiver it brings in. The team will need to be right about the next offensive lineman it brings in. The team will need to be right about the way it uses Derrius Guice...and it will need to be right about all of these things before next season. I’ll say this though: if the team is right about whatever quarterback it drafts next season, that will go the furthest in the quest to maximize the defense’s abilities. It is the most important thing, and teams in this league right now are benefiting from having young signal-callers on rookie contracts. The Redskins will need to be the next team to reap that benefit.
- Please forgive me for straying a tiny bit from the NFL field today. I had the honor and privilege of calling and broadcasting (with my brothers at 1st Amendment Sports) what some are already calling The Greatest High School Football Game ever played. In fact, many of you have likely already seen the clip I am linking to, because it has literally been shared around the world. It was the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship played between Gonzaga College High School and DeMatha Catholic High School and it was UN...REAL!! Three touchdowns scored with under 0:40 seconds to go changed the story each time. The field was littered with guys who will be playing on Saturdays next year and on Sundays a couple years down the road. It was the single reason why I didn’t fall into a depression about the Alex Smith injury. Here at Hogs Haven, we love football, and this is football in its most amazing, positive, uplifting form (even DeMatha grads will come around to that...some already are). Thanks for watching, and look for us on the podcast tonight over at 1st Amendment Sports YouTube channel (subscribe...it’s free!).
The loss to the Houston Texans stings...but the loss of the franchise quarterback changes the entire landscape of Redskins Nation.