The 5 o’clock club is published several times per week during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.
0 - 5
After seeing what I’ve seen from the Redskins in the first 4 weeks of the season, and knowing that Bill Belichick and the Patriots are coming to town on Sunday, it would take a special kind of optimism, craziness or imagination that I do not possess to think the Redskins could possibly win this game.
Hell, we don’t even know who our starting quarterback is, but anyone betting a plugged nickel on that question who’s been listening to Jay Gruden for the past little while would put their money on Colt McCoy, who went 34-54, 372 yards, 3 TDs and 3 INTS while appearing in 3 losses in 2018. He hasn’t been healthy enough to take a hit since the last hit he took from Malcom Jenkins of the Eagles in Week 13 last year that broke his leg.
Prior to last season’s appearance in relief of the injured Alex Smith, you have to go back to 2015 to find a McCoy regular season statistic. It turns out that he threw 11 passes in a win against Dallas in a Week 17 game where Jay Gruden rested the starters for the upcoming playoff game against the Packers.
Resting the starters didn’t help.
Prior to that, Colt played in 5 games, with 4 starts in 2014, his most notable game being the win over Dallas on the road.
The Patriots, meanwhile, come to town riding a 4-game win streak to open the regular season, though, as super bowl champions, their string of victories actually dates back to Week 16 of the 2018 season.
A few statistical observations
The Patriots had a hard-fought divisional win on Sunday against Buffalo, but they opened up this 2019 season with three dominating wins:
That’s a combined score of 106 - 17!
As things stand right now, the Redskins defense is ranked 31st in points per game given up, and 28th in yards per game allowed.
Offensively, Washington is ranked 28th in both yards and points scored.
The question isn’t really who will win the game, or by how much. The question is whether the Redskins can stay competitive into the second quarter.
I’m betting the ‘under’.
New territory for me
This is a new feeling for me, this fatalistic view that the game might as well not be played.
In the past, no matter what others thought or what the conventional wisdon was, I’ve always kind of had that Han Solo mindset (“Never tell me the odds”) that whispers, “on any given Sunday....” I’ve always started every game thinking that, if we just played the best ball we were capable of and a couple of breaks came our way, we could win this thing. I felt a sense of positive excitement prior to every kickoff dating back to the 1960s.
But not this time.
There’s no Lloyd Christmas in my brain this week, grinning and refusing to give up (“so, you’re telling me there’s a chance!”).
In fact, for the first time I can ever remember, I don’t actually wanna watch this game. I wish I had a magic remote control that I could simply Click to jump forward 3 or 4 hours in my life, allowing me to just read the box score to find out how bad it got.
I feel like it’ll be another embarrassment for the burgundy and gold.
I want someone to call the Patriots and tell them that they can save some time and trouble this week. They don’t need to bother to fly to D.C. We’ll happily forfeit the game just to avoid the distress of taking a beating in our own stadium in front of a bunch of happy Patriots fans.
Belichick’s evaluation of the 2019 Redskins
I was very interested in the comments I saw on Twitter following the conference call with Bill Belichick on Tuesday.
Bill Belichick chatting up Redskins media. Sounds like this is gonna be a tough one for the Pats on Sunday. “The Redskins have great skill players at every position.”— michael phillips (@michaelpRTD) October 1, 2019
What in the world was Belichick saying?
I got a copy of the transcript to find out.
Talking about the Redskins quarterback situation, Belichick didn’t laugh out loud. Instead, he was complimentary and talked about the challenge for his defense:
All three of these quarterbacks... are pretty good. Obviously, McCoy is an outstanding player with a great deal of experience and so is Case [Keenum], and those guys have played a lot of good football and they have a very talented group of skill players with them.
Haskins is a young, talented player with good size and can move — a big strong guy in the pocket, and great arm. We’ll have to get ready for all three players and that’ll be a big challenge for us.
He also talked about the Redskins offensive skill players, and how Gruden’s offensive scheme works:
[Robert] Griffin...was the kind of guy who improvised plays and was very mobile.
With [Alex] Smith who has had a great background in the West Coast offense and then McCoy and obviously Case Keenum, those guys are very efficient at getting the ball into the hands of their very good skill players.
In fact, the Redskins have great skill players at every spot, with Peterson and Thompson and [Vernon] Davis — and Sprinkle has been playing more.
The receiver corps, you add McLaurin to that group – Quinn and Richardson — so they’ve got a very good group of skill players and they get them out a lot in the West Coast passing game. It’s up to the quarterback to make those decisions and get the ball to those open players.
I think that Coach Gruden is very good at that; he does a great job of game-planning and creating problems for the defense, and they have very good skill players to get the ball to.
Generally speaking, it’s a well balanced offense. It makes you defend everything: the running game, the play-action game, the quick throws, the screens and the vertical passing game where they’ve hit a number of big plays — and they’ve had other guys open that just didn’t connect.
Coach Gruden does a good job springing those guys free and getting them vertically into the defense for potential big plays.
Belichick finished that thought with some strong sentiment:
The Redskins run a very well-designed and thought-out offensive scheme.
Boy, you can always count on Bill Belichick for bulletin board material!
Finally, Belichick addressed the issue of the Redskins’ 0-4 record:
We were 1-2 last year.
The key is to just take it week to week. You know, every week is a one-week season in this league. Just try to go out there and match up against your opponent, and try to do the best job that you can to prepare your team and compete hard on Sunday.
Every team in this league has good players, good coaches, good talent, so you’ve got to go out and do it every single week.
I don’t really worry too much about the record, I just try to prepare the team. The records don’t really mean anything this week.
Somehow, after listening to Belichick, I feel a lot better about the Redskins and their chances against his Patriots.
How do you explain that?!
Maybe I’ll watch the game after all and see if Belichick is right:
It’ll just depend on how the two teams compete on Sunday afternoon. That’s all that really matters.
FWIW: By the end of this Belichick conference call I'm now convinced the Redskins are 3-1.— John Keim (@john_keim) October 1, 2019
Which Kobayashi Maru scenario are we facing this Sunday?
This poll is closed
The one where our character is tested by having to face a no-win situation over which we have no control and must accept our destiny
The one where we’ve refused to accept that a no-win situation exists, and have reprogrammed the test to allow us to prevail against unbeatable odds
What the hell is a "Kobayashi Maru scenario"?