- To be perfectly honest, the Derrius Guice knee injury is still crushing my football soul. Aside from missing out on the fun of unwrapping that present all season long, the rubber kind of hits the road when you realize that we are also all of a sudden missing a guy we easily could have asked to touch the ball 20 times in a game. We will of course move on, but this one hurts. For all the weirdness (not necessarily in a bad way) of working out how to feel heading into this season as a Redskins fan—we got a brand new quarterback after insane drama surrounding the old quarterback, the division is all screwy thanks to the Eagles (finally) winning it all and the roster has a lot of questions albeit with some possible great answers—the idea of Guice getting the ball on first down when the season opened was something I was hanging my hat on this summer.
- It happens and it happened. Preseason injuries are a reality in the NFL, and even if the league made substantive changes to the preseason schedule, this would happen. Rookie running backs are most certainly going to get that rep that Guice got that led to the injury—and rightfully so. If Guice took that injury late in the 4th quarter, I think we would all be gathering around Redskins Park with ill intentions, but that is not how things went down. I understand the concept of “Next Man Up” but I haven’t felt the desire to let that mantra help me recover from this. The bug bit us and it is on the Redskins organization to handle the emotional side of it as well as the logistical ramifications of replacing what promised to be a next-level skill player.
- In all fairness and respect to Chris Thompson, Guice was our best every-down running back. The plan was likely to keep CT25 in business for 10-15 touches per game, and my hope is that this plan remains in place. Assuming no other moves get made, the team will once again turn to Robert Kelley and Samaje Perine and ask them to handle a load that will keep CT25 from having to take the rock between the tackles the way he ended up doing last season. To be perfectly frank, unless a player who has proven to be dynamic in the league—and can still be—comes available, I am okay moving forward with the best running back corps the team can put together from the guys we have in camp. This isn’t me trying to sell everyone on the possibility of an unforeseen breakout season from Kelley or Perine (though Perine does still technically have the kind of upside that could make us excited). Instead, this is me trying to wrap my mind around the new reality for this team moving forward: our running game is officially on the shoulders of our offensive line. That may have already been the case—as it often is—but I thought Guice could find yards not paved for him by the line, whereas I think expectations for Kelley and Perine are more confined to what the line can do for them. I think our best chance is for this group to gain some chemistry and flow the rest of the preseason and hit the regular season as professionally as possible. It ain’t sexy, but efficient and effective running games don’t always need to be. What makes me able to swallow that thought at all is this:
- The 2018 Redskins season is all about Alex Smith. It was always going to be all about Alex Smith and it is still going to be all about Alex Smith. Having Guice in the backfield would have been a huge boost to Smith’s chances of guiding a successful and prolific offense, but Alex is a veteran capable of spreading the ball around to help keep the defense honest against us. Again, not trying to lie to myself to help get over the loss of Guice (I can lie to myself like a champ). Alex Smith’s job just got a little harder, but it has not turned into an impossible mission...yet.
- As I try and talk myself down from the football grief of losing a player I fell in fast love with, here are some things I have been saying into the mirror. As a sneaky second round pick, Guice is on the books for four years and $4.5 million, and his cap hit stays modestly at or just above $1 million per season over those four years. Assuming for a moment that Derrius can recover and be ready to go in 2019, we would still have a player capable of returning gads of value on that deal. Had he been drafted where people thought he would in the first round, you would be looking at a much more difficult value proposition. This doesn’t make the loss of him suck less for us right now, but it does provide guidance on our long view. I won’t turn this into a “Can’t Wait for 2019” party, but the point is that the Redskins aren’t bankrupt when it comes to hope...it just feels that way a little bit after watching our man hit the deck.
- As I was flipping channels last evening (and when I wasn’t watching gut-punch, bottom-of-the-ninth grand slams take down my team), I came across the best thing Redskins fans could use to self-medicate: last year’s NCAA National Championship game between Alabama and Georgia. Seeing our first-round pick Da’Ron Payne playing at an incredibly high level in the most important game on the NCAA schedule was nothing short of heart-warming. It reminded me that, no, we did NOT lose our top draft pick as so many people have been erroneously stating the last few days. Our #1 pick is still a badass beast penciled in to start week one alongside his former collegiate teammate. Our defensive line is STILL on track to be something that should absolutely blow our collective skirts up, and if you really pay close attention, it should stand out when watching them play. Payne is a monster of a player and as long as he stays healthy through camp (a little dinged up now I know), the Redskins fanbase can still have plenty to celebrate in terms of the fruits of our draft. I don’t even think I would put that in any kind of silver lining category. It sucks to lose Guice, but Payne looks every bit the part of “top draft pick” and come September, we will have to learn to get as giddy about backfield penetration and run-stuffing as we would about a nifty 20-yard gallop from a young and exciting running back. The Kevin Hogan picture below the headline does have a purpose, and it is the conversation I was hoping to kick off in the comments section below: which player that may have been previously on the cutting block has new hope about making the team now that Guice is out? Is it as simple as saying one of the running backs? Is it going to still come down to special teams? Does it free up Jay Gruden to even contemplate carrying three quarterbacks? We’ll pick up this discussion tomorrow night on The Audible, from the 1st Amendment Sports basement podcast studio!
Hopefully the Redskins will be back to fighting for jobs as opposed to fighting the Jets as we get into week two of the preseason.