- Happy Victory Monday, y’all! As I said last week, there will be NO rooting for losses in this space. I think most Redskins fans can relate to that voice in my head that was screaming at me yesterday afternoon, “What the hell are you doing in front of the TV watching this team!?!?!” That voice has been training for years. It starts doing vocal exercises after EXACTLY the kind of loss we all watched at FedEx Field against the New York Giants a week ago. The narrative after that divisional loss was that the Redskins roster had quit, and that Jay Gruden no longer had the respect of anyone from the beer vendors all the way to the team president. I suggested on the show last week that the Alex Smith situation had distracted the team mightily. I also credited the presence of one “Mark Sanchez” with the general depression that had set in around the team. I still believe that just the news that he was starting for the Redskins against New York was worth more than a small amount of angst from every nook and cranny of the sideline. Nothing personal, Mr. Sanchez, but...you know...I mean...it’s not...come on, your history. Instead, Jay Gruden found a way to win a road game with a journeyman quarterback when the season was most assuredly on the line. To all you Jay-haters out there, this was not one you would put in your “fire him” pile. We will continue pulling for wins, and continue pulling for additional meaningful football games this winter. We will also continue pulling for an organizational change of direction. More on both of these below.
- The thing that beats me up more than anything is watching the Redskins win on the road. So many great Redskins fans still make it out to FedEx (I counted at least a few hundred of them last week). I would love for them to see these wins. At 3-4 in Landover, it hasn’t been as bad as it...has felt. Still, last week had that “season over” feeling, which made getting up for the game against Jacksonville that much more impressive for this Redskins team. Nobody is making Super Bowl plans after beating Jacksonville, but—and I use the “but” here very responsibly—the door to the postseason was moved into the “ajar” position. Maybe it is telling that the thing I woke up thinking about today was not so much that the Redskins could punch a ticket to the postseason with two more wins, but whether or not we were in control of our own destiny or in control of our own fate. It is one of my favorite debates here. Okay...that is pretty telling.
- As I said above, this win doesn’t make me change my mind on Bruce Allen. Any success the Redskins are able to achieve down the stretch should be viewed—in my humble opinion—as something the new team president can work with and build upon. A playoff appearance at this point would not be a reason to stick with Bruce Allen. For all the points made in this space last week that don’t need to be made again, the direction of the Redskins organization needs a fresh set of eyes and hands. Dan Snyder can’t be fooled into thinking a Josh Johnson-led playoff team is somehow the result of Bruce Allen’s genius. If anything, Jay Gruden is solidifying his case to be allowed to stay on as head coach irregardless of who is team president next year. I think we need someone else concocting our draft strategy. I sure as hell think we should have someone who wasn’t recently voted the “least trustworthy” decision-maker in the league dealing with the agents of players that we are going to desperately need to sign this upcoming offseason. Finally, this recent business of carrying five running backs on the 53-man roster despite never using more than three on any gameday and despite the debilitating nature of our offensive line injuries kind of blows me away. Add to that we didn’t fill our full 53-man roster two weeks ago, and let a guy like Simmie Cobbs languish when, you know...we maybe could have used a 6-7 wide receiver just makes me even more baffled. Bruce Allen is like the guy in our fantasy league that starts guys on their bye and fails to make lay-up roster moves to give him a full and legal lineup. Whether we actually lost a guy who would have or could have contributed remains to be seen, but the fact that the New Orleans Saints wanted Cobbs should tell us at least something.
- Count me among those who think the Alex Smith health debacle was a HUGE distraction for this roster. I talked about it having something to do with being down 40-0 to the lowly Giants. Seeing the news that Alex had been released from the hospital and was resting at home on the front side of a long road back was uplifting. Count me among those who think that had something to do with the effort level against the Jaguars. A lot of folks out there think professional athletes should be able to focus and concentrate no matter what. That doesn’t take into account that Alex Smith is the kind of man who pulls all corners of the locker room toward him. He is revered by his fellow players for...well for the way he does everything. He was fighting for his life and his leg and to think that had no impact on his teammates who showed up on Sundays to play for and with him is naive. I guarantee you that at some point soon, he is going to address this team and I would bet dollars to donuts that if and when he does, it is going to be worth enough points to get a victory.
- Before we talk about that potential victory, let’s give Josh Johnson some love. The 32-year old (because apparently the Redskins aren’t allowed to have quarterbacks younger than 32) played well enough to help the team get a win. What he lacks in “established success” and “pedigree,” he makes up for with effort and passion. Because of the money wrapped up in Alex Smith, and because Colt McCoy is likely to be the projected starter in September 2019, the Redskins are in need of a cheap option to consider going into camp next summer. Someone was/is going to be able to play their way into at least those plans. If Josh Johnson manages to helm this Redskins team to an unexpected playoff appearance, he will have earned the right to come back next summer and compete for a spot. While I am not saying this is the case now, he could even give the team an excuse to not draft a quarterback early in the draft. Maybe...maaaaaaaaayyyyyyybe. The Jaguars defense has not been the top-ranked unit we have seen in recent seasons, but it still has a load of talent and Johnson deserves some love for keeping the offense in the game.
- The thing about playing the Tennessee Titans this week is that it is yet again a team that the Redskins match up well against (hear me out). They like to ground and pound. Marcus Mariota, while capable of throwing a very pretty ball, is more likely to throw a game-winning block than a game-winning deep ball. The Titans defense is sound, but they only give up about 25 less yards per game than the Redskins. The Titans offense has only scored three more points than the Redskins this season. Sure, they are 5-1 at home (Nashville!!!!!), and sure, they are riding a three-game win streak, but their style of play is one that the Redskins can actually match up against. I am not saying the Redskins should be favored, but 10-point underdogs seems a bit too much to me. I think it is something where, just like us Redskins fans, nobody knows what the hell is going to happen when this Washington team takes the field. The Titans may very well be able to line up and push the Redskins around...all I’m saying is that this should be how we hope a team lines up and tries to play the Redskins.
The Redskins regained “control of their own destiny” with a win on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars.