- Happy Victory Monday, y’all! The Meringolo household was in celebration mode after a convincing win by the Washington Redskins. I understand that a lot of folks have checked out and lost interest in this team and this season (for a variety of reasons), but to me, these games are like the episodes in a slow season of a show you love to watch. When you are binging seasons at a time, and you know that the plot is razor-thin, and some characters that NOBODY likes are still playing way too big a role in the story, you still kind of power through to make sure you don’t miss out on a storyline that is going to matter in upcoming seasons. Even in down seasons of good shows, there are strong episodes that make the whole ride worthwhile, and yesterday’s win over the Carolina Panthers was one of those kinds of episodes. Contrary to the opinion held by some, this win did not detract from the potential goodness/upside of future seasons. Another week of Dwayne Haskins under center has not necessarily made him out to be any kind of savior, but it also hasn’t outed him as some kind of bust. I think we have every reason to believe—at this point—that the Haskins Era deserves more time to develop and at the very least should not be undercut by drafting another first round quarterback. I think putting wins under the belt of players you are hoping to lean on in subsequent seasons are valuable in that development. Given the Redskins won’t—or shouldn’t—be drafting a first round quarterback, I am unmoved by folks clamoring for the Skins to lose out for the top pick. To be fair, I wouldn’t subscribe to tanking in almost any circumstance, unless and until the organization made an honest run at rebuilding. Trading away top-paid talent, starting young players and committing to a draft-built roster is a holistic rebuilding approach this team has simply never taken under Snyder. I continue to argue that losing games in the beginning of the season is not a good enough reason to root for losses in the final months of the season. It is not a “plan.” It is not how smart professional sports organizations operate. Nobody is accusing Dan Snyder of running a smart organization, but the point is that rooting for losses mid-stream is no bueno, and would almost certainly rob you of any fun whatsoever on a day like yesterday when the Redskins rolled to a convincing victory.
- I simply can’t talk about the experience of watching the Redskins yesterday without talking about the emotions that I couldn’t bottle up for the duration of the game. Like...I was wiping away the formation of tears multiple times throughout the contest and it was INESCAPABLE. No, it wasn’t the action on the field. It was that damn Apple commercial. You know the one...where the adults keep stashing two little girls out of the way with an iPad to distract them, and in the end of the commercial those two little girls have made a tear-jerking memorial to their deceased grandmother, and the widowed grandfather waves to his wife while sobbing uncontrollably. Every single time it played (and it played at least a half dozen times), I got to the end of it and the lump in my throat was bigger than the last time it played. I can’t think of the game yesterday without thinking about the multiple times we came out of commercial break and I had to go and give St. Megan a hug.
- It wasn’t just a good news day because the Redskins won. It was also a good news day because the news over the holiday break was very, very good for Redskins fans. No, Bruce Allen was not fired, but reports are that Dan Snyder is “evaluating” Allen’s performance and will determine if the Bruce Era has, in fact, run its course. Here is why this is amazing news: until now, nobody inside the building was admitting that anyone inside the building was asking the question about whether or not Bruce Allen should be kept around. As long as people don’t ask obvious questions, they won’t ever get obvious answers. If nobody ever asks the question, “Hey, should we be keeping a refrigerator full of turd sandwiches to serve our fans week in and week out?” then nobody will ever get the opportunity to answer, “We should definitely not be serving turd sandwiches to our fans.” See? All this time, it seems that Dan Snyder was just refusing to “evaluate” Bruce Allen. I mean, it is the ONLY plausible explanation for him still having a job. If you never give an employee like Bruce Allen a performance review, you never have a chance to draw a big pile of steaming turds on said review. Now that the question is being asked...now that there is an actual evaluation taking place...now that the dust- and hay-filled personnel folder that says “Allen, B.” has been opened, we should reasonably expect that an answer will be proffered. And there is NO WAY a reasonable person can look at the decade of work that Bruce has been allowed to put in at Redskins Park and conclude that this man should be allowed to continue running this team. I’m reminded of the episode of Seinfeld where Kramer is fired from a job he was never actually hired to do. The firing manager looks across his desk and says to Kramer, “It’s almost as if you have no business training at all.” I’m...reminded...of that episode. Again, I am taking this as good news because if Dan Snyder is honestly looking at this, there is almost no other answer he can arrive at than, “Bruce, it’s almost as if you have no training to do this job at all.” If Snyder decides to keep Allen, he will have to answer the question, “What did you discover in your evaluation of Bruce that led you to...keep him employed?”
- Most fans thoroughly enjoy a pass-happy Sunday in the NFL, but those of us who have been bleeding burgundy and gold our whole lives take special enjoyment from watching a pair of running backs determine the outcome of the game on the ground. So it was for the Redskins yesterday as Adrian Peterson (13 carries, 99 yards, 1 TD) and Derrius Guice (10 rushes, 129 yards, 2 TD) did the dirty work for Washington. In addition to watching a Redskins offense identify a weakness in their opponent and successfully exploit it, all of us had to take great pleasure in seeing Guice have his best day as a Redskin. The young back out of LSU has had a rough go of it since falling to the Redskins in the draft, but in sunny Carolina yesterday, he punished those who got in his way. Both Guice and Peterson displayed a physical style, and seeing Guice succeed like that on a Sunday went a long way to allowing us to imagine what could be. In short, it was classic Redskins football, and it spoke to this fanbase in a language that we all understand. It was a meaningful reminder that somewhere lost in what has transpired this season, there exists a group of players and coaches capable of dominating an opponent. Listen, I get that the Panthers are not exactly making Super Bowl plans, but Washington deserves credit for beating down an NFL opponent in the least gimmicky way possible. If a schmuck like me can recognize that, there are young players in that locker room that can look at what they did and not just be proud, but take some inspiration from it as they further their career in burgundy and gold.
- Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon are really providing great fodder for looking forward in 2020 for the basis of a passing attack. There are other pieces, but these two rookies give us some hope that if and when the Washington passing game evolves, their usage could be rather material. This is part of what I mean when I say there is value in winning games like the one yesterday. Having a rookie quarterback learning to throw to two rookie wide receivers is invaluable. Done correctly, it absolutely has carryover value.
- All year long, we have been waiting for our defense to show up and impact the game like they did against Carolina. With Josh Norman and Ryan Kerrigan sidelined, young players had opportunities. Fabian Moreau, Chris Odom and Montez Sweat cashed in on their chances with big plays. Nate Orchard factored in and Cole Holcomb had his name called out as well. Again, they weren’t playing the 1999 St. Louis Rams, but the manner in which the Redskins defense shut down the Panthers offense after the first two drives was impressive. Any time you only allow 65 rushing yards in the NFL, you have done something right. We have been asking a lot (likely too much) of our defense this season, so watching them continuously bottle up Carolina's attack in conjunction with our own offensive prowess made for an incredibly enjoyable Sunday. Looking ahead to the next test, the weather is calling for cold and rainy in Green Bay. We will need all the help we can get from Mother Nature against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, and I look forward to seeing what successes we had against Carolina that we can replicate on the road in Wisconsin. Win or lose, we need to put the things we have been doing well to the test against a good team, and Green Bay gives us that chance. In the meantime, enjoy that win! I have to go buy some iPads and teach my kids how to make movies.
The Redskins find themselves on a winning streak thanks to a strong running game and a winning defensive effort.