Filing out of FedEx Field Sunday afternoon, Washington Redskins fans had to feel like they had a new lease on life after their football team edged out a gritty 45-41 win over the Chicago Bears. The big win yesterday meant that the Redskins held their heads above water in a lukewarm NFC East in which only division leader Dallas (4-3) possesses a record at or above .500. While the statement ‘a win is a win in the NFL’ rings true, outside of the fact that Robert Griffin III appears to be becoming his old self, the Skins still make fans such as myself extremely nervous. This coinciding sense of demise that goes along with the new lease on life is a feeling that is all too familiar to Redskins fans, and DC sports fans in general, as there is always something dampening the mood around the nation’s capital. Keep in mind while reading this that I am a diehard Skins fan who bleeds burgundy and gold, however I find it necessary at points to just put it all out there on the table and not gloss over the rough stuff; it’s simply the right thing to do and we are just lying to ourselves in Skins Nation otherwise.
Yes, RG III looked like his spry old self yesterday, evading tacklers and re-establishing his legs as weapons on the way to an 84 yard rushing, 298 yard passing day. By proving to the league that he can once again hurt teams with his legs, Griffin opened up aspects of the offense that we had not yet seen since this season. Alfred Morris saw more consistent touches and bigger holes while racking up 95 yards on the ground, and rookie standout tight end Jordan Reed was the beneficiary of clear passing lanes created by the threat of the run, as he caught 9 balls for 134 yards and a touchdown. Roy Helu finally got his season rolling, scoring 3 red-zone touchdowns against a bewildered Bears defense. Finally, DeAngelo Hall appeared to continue his domination over big-time receivers, blanketing Brandon Marshall all day long. So now that you are all giddy, let me snap you back to the reality of the Redskins situation.
Yes, the offense was thrilling to watch and brought back memories of the unit that led the Redskins to the 2012 NFC East title, however I think I have a few things to turn that smile upside down. What the Skins offense did yesterday was great, but keep in mind a lot of it was done without the opposition of Chicago’s All-Pro’s Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman. The defensive secondary appeared porous as it always does, missed tackles were once again an issue, and the pass rush seemed relatively non-existent for long stretches during the game. On a final defensive note, the play of safety Brandon Merriweather needs to be called into question again as he continued to target defenseless receivers downfield. While I refuse to argue against Merriweather’s style of play and personally love his intensity, the issue here is that he could very easily be suspended for next week’s game against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, leaving rookie Baccari Rambo as the starter against a future Hall of Famer. Add in the fact that Reed Doughty may be out because of the concussion he received yesterday, and next week has some scary implications.
Let’s also keep in mind that both wins this season for the Skins have come against backup quarterbacks. Granted, Josh McCown looked pretty damn good, better than Jay Cutler in fact, but it still needed to be said. And of course, we cannot forget the special teams, who allowed another return for a touchdown yesterday. Not only are the punt and kick coverage units struggling mightily, the return teams for the Redskins rarely if ever give the team favorable starting field position, which will be key down the stretch in divisional match-ups.
Well, there it is people; it’s all out on the table: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the special teams. At 2-4 headed into Week 8, the Redskins are surprisingly in a decent position within the NFC East and have begun to show signs of life reminiscent of last season. There is a long way to go, but in football things must be taken one week at a time, and Sunday’s must-win game was all-in-all a success. Now let’s see what Peyton has in store for us…..