It’s an early forecast, but here goes: we have all the necessary conditions for a major December Redskins shitstorm forming over Ashburn, VA. Doesn’t mean it will materialize, but the long range models are all looking rather ominous.
You have the stagnant air of the Kirk Cousins Contract Standoff settling in over the coming off-season. You have the explosive energy of a potential high pick in a draft that will be chock full QB prospects with first round grades. You have the building moisture of a head coach who looks exhausted and flummoxed with every press conference.
All that’s needed now, is a sudden drop in the barometric pressure of 5 straight losses to end the season…. and kaboom. The shitstorm will be on.
Plenty of things just haven’t worked out this year for the Redskins. The main ones are these, in my opinion.
A Credible Running Game Never Materialized
Jay Gruden has always had a rep as a pass-first, pass-second, and run-when-you-can offensive guru. His passing schemes have been described as elegant and flawless in their design. Some will say that almost all of Kirk Cousins’ success has been due to learning how to paint by Jay’s numbers. But even in today’s league, you gotta run the ball. Run it when it gets sloppy and cold. Run it when you are choking out a late lead. Run it on 3rd and 4th and short to keep the ball, and move the chains. Jay expressed over-the-top faith in Fat Rob. The fan base was in love with Samaje Perine and his absurd college production from the minute he arrived in camp. Neither guy is very good. Chris Thompson carried us as part of a TE-RB screen-heavy team, until he and everyone else got hurt.
The Offensive Line Got Destroyed by Injury
There’s no way to plan for this kind of devastation. None.
The WR Plan To Replace Garcon and Jackson Flopped Like The Movie Gigli
On paper, it was entirely defensible. In fact, I may have even voiced my support for it (minus letting Garcon go, although paying WR’s significant 3rd contracts is generally a losing NFL wager). I too, penciled Pryor in for a big season. Whoops. He ran poor routes, and had worse hands when healthy. Then he got hurt, and it was over. (But hey, we’ll always have the Instagram catches!) As for Doctson, I think he’s a bust. Many people get angry when I say that. Sorry. He’s got 29 catches through two years. And yeah, he was hurt last year. Pity. But this is a production league. That he was a slow starter this season following an injury the Skins medical staff had trouble even finding last season, does not inspire confidence. To my eye, Doctson is a slow-loping, high-leaping, one-trick pony. He doesn’t seem fierce or explosive on the ground, and his hands are… underwhelming. For a first round pick, that’s a bust – even with 5 TDs this year. First rounders need to give you at least 4 solid years of production right out of the gate. They are not “stash and develop players.” You are justified in being impatient with them! Now, I’m not advocating we cut him. And he may yet make a Nelson Agholor comeback from the brink. But I’m leaving the pumpkin patch on this one. There are plenty of Skins fans who bombarded me on Twitter that will gladly wait for the “Great Pumpkin” to arrive on this kid.
The Defense Inexplicably Sunk Back To The Bottom of the NFL Lake
We had such high hopes after the first month. Then Jon Allen got hurt, along with every decent inside linebacker we had. The secondary still has plenty of very attractive parts, which is frustrating. We have an expensive blue chipper in Josh Norman who has played like a lost puppy as of late. Bashaud Breeland went from being our best cover corner last month, to being benched for some reason on Sunday. Kendall Fuller is a wonderful young slot corner, and DJ Swearinger has been a very good free agent purchase. So what gives? Maybe the blame goes to Greg Manusky, but I’m not that smart. All I know is that nobody is making any plays on defense. Nobody. Six of our last 8 opponents have scored 30+ on us. We’re back to square one.
Jay Gruden Is Indeed, Regressing
Hey, he admitted as much after the loss to the Chargers. So I’ll go with that thought, and elaborate. As good as Jay seemingly was to get his team prepared for games like Seattle – where they had no business winning, with all of those injuries, and I’ll include New Orleans where they had the Saints DEAD to rights (99% win probability in the 4th quarter) – he still doesn’t know how to squeeze out close wins with tactics and guile. His grasp of using timeouts is horrific. He won’t press his case to the refs with any zeal like a Sean Payton or Pete Carroll, even though working the refs in the NFL is absolutely effective in certain situations. He admits to maybe not knowing the rules. And “give up” decisions like not going for two on Sunday (farfetched as any comeback might have been) because he was worried about incurring more injuries (huh?) went over like a fart in an elevator. Jay has the friendly tone of an upper-midwest meat butcher, chatting you up as he wraps your sirloin at the local “Shop ‘n Save.” I’m not saying being an asshole would make the team play better. But I AM a believer in tone. And when Jay’s horky-dork tone is the soundtrack of repeated pulseless efforts when the season is on the line (last year Panthers and Giants, this year Cowboys and Chargers) it’s hard for me to think there’s ZERO correlation between the two. I’m not saying fire him, but what was a promising year in his career arc as coach, is quickly evaporating.
Injuries are always ready as an excuse, but it’s the teams that use them as such who can usually be found at the bottom of the league table. I’ll never forget when Bill Belichick sent home several high profile players who were 10 minutes late to practice – the day after a 2 foot blizzard!
Oh, it snowed? That’s your excuse? Fuck you. Time to practice.
We now head into a dangerous stretch. There are three demonstrably bad teams coming up, with two bad QBs under center (and Eli!) two games at home where another dud effort will be met with derisive boos from a half-full and mostly drunk FedEx Field fanbase. I’ll go out on a small limb and say they MUST win one of the home games before shoving off for New York to finish the season. If they don’t…. buckle up.
At that point, an oh-by-the-way win to make them 6-10 would have no effect on the dismal vibe heading into January. Cousins will be due another massive guarantee of $28 million at worst. An already bitterly divided fanbase on Kirk’s worth, will grow even more hostile. Another year of “Rent-A-Kirk” is utterly untenable, even if the league granted the Redskins a ZERO cap hit to do it. Kirk and his agent know this inherently, and as such will just stare at any pen on a long term contract Bruce pushes in front of them like it’s coated in anthrax.
All of the conditions are present for another crazy, ugly January in Redskin-land. Winning will be perhaps the only way to stop it. I said back in August that “ain’t nobody leaving an 11 win party!” That was true, even if it didn’t happen. The corollary theory, which I didn’t even bother to contemplate is similar: “Ain’t nobody STAYING for an 11-loss police raid.”