Yeah, I know. Way to be a grump to start the season, El Baldo. Look, I could blow August sunshine in your face about the team I still love and root for, but that’s Joe Theismann’s job! And I expect “Sunshine Joey” to be in his usual pre-season form once exhibition season begins.
There’s nothing wrong with optimism. In fact, the NFL does tend to be the most volatile league from year to year. There are many examples of 6-10 losers the year prior, going all the way to either an NFC/AFC championship game, or even the Super Bowl. The Jags were 3-13, and then the next year had New England dead to rights in their building before choking it all away. The Rams were 4-12 and had to fire their dumb-ass mustache of a coach, then won their division by 2 games over vaunted Seattle. The Eagles were coming off a 7-9 “meh” season, then last year ended in a parade (and horse poop eating) even without their franchise QB on the field!
So there’s nothing stopping these Alex Smith-led Redskins from surprising everybody else. The only one who won’t be suprised is themselves. Oh yeah, they really think they are “alot” better going into this year. Ummm hmmmm. The team seems convinced they are better at every position (isn’t that the usual feeling for all 32 teams!?) and won’t have that disingenuous nerd Kirk, cautiously padding his stats for a big payday.
Oh no, don’t scoff at that. There is an overwhelming vibe in that building that Kirk – his contract stalemate, and his overly cautious trigger finger that left tons and tons of exquisitely designed Jay Gruden yardage rotting like uneaten meat in the All-22 film room – WAS *THE* PROBLEM last year.
That, and well… you know…. “injuries.”
I cringe every time I hear a Redskins coach, front-office person, player, or fan/apologist talk about “all the injuries.” I mean, we’re all grown ups here, right? How long have YOU been watching this league? Injuries happen, and happen some more, and they happen in ways in which the injury demon clearly says every single year “I. Do. Not. Give. A. Fuck. About. Your. Precious. Roster.”
Some of the most injured teams, at the most important positions, have gone on to win it all. And they never talk about injuries. Yet it seems we talk about them all the time here in Redskinsland. So here’s some quick thoughts before training camp opens at the end of this week.
- Jordan Reed is not going to “stay healthy.” Period. I’m putting him down for 10 starts. And you know what, we can make a chicken sandwich out of that. Anything less is going to be trouble.
- I’m going to wait until Derrius Guice has his first 100 yard game to start proclaiming him better than Todd Gurley or Le’Veon Bell. Don’t get me wrong, he appears to be the most talent we’ve drafted high at RB in a long, long time. But show me something first.
- Ya’ll do know Alex Smith was called “checkdown charlie” derisively by Chiefs fans up until just this past season when his YPA jumped nearly a full yard over his 4 year average as a Chief? He had explosive home run threats in Tyreke Hill and Kareem Hunt. Just because Jay is saying Alex will take chances Kirk refused, doesn’t mean it’ll actually happen. Let’s see.
- The secondary is a massive gamble. Josh Norman is a full throttle guy who competes and plays hard, but is starting to get hurt more often doing it. Orlando Scandrick at the other corner, is .. well, a bad idea. It’s up to 3rd round CB Fabian Moreau and 4th round S Montae Nicholson to press up into starters to save this unit.
- Josh Doctson is out of excuses. The team sees massive upside still with this former first rounder, and I hope they are right. I’m skeptical, however, despite his odd statistical season last year. He caught a team-high 6 TDs, but only had 35 catches on 78 targets, a dismal sub-.500 catch rate.
There’s genuine excitement on defense, where on paper – assuming first round picks play like first round picks – we’ll have the best front-7 in town that we’ve had in years. It might even be enough to make up for a suspect back end. I really DO like Alex Smith, although I think he’s only a slight upgrade over Cousins. The bonus comes from Smith’s running ability, which is good enough that Gruden might actually run a lot more zone-read stuff than he ever has. And if Guice is good, and Jay decides he’s okay with running the football (I’ll have to see it to believe it), then this Redskins team can win 10 games, 11 if they catch a bounce.
The downside is probably 4-12 if certain players don’t materialize as blue-chippers (Doctson, Guice, Payne) and previously counted-upon stalwarts of this team (Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan, and Reed) have their seasons actually cut short by injury. If that happens, look out. It’ll be a long ugly year wondering why we just spent $94 million on a 34 year old QB when the team needs to be in rebuilding mode.