Everyone Needs to Calm Down

December 4, 2017

By Steve Thomas

I’m having a hard time trying to digest what, exactly, has gone on with this franchise over the course of the last 13 weeks.  If you think about it, this team has had to climb some fairly significant mountains this season, but has also also fallen to some pretty spectacular depths.  Now, of course, all realistic hope for the playoffs is gone, and we enter the last quarter of the season as a losing team.  Not what we wanted, but it is what some of us expected.  But all hope is not lost, people, and this season is still worth watching and paying attention for.  Stay with me on this.

This team, when fully healthy, was very capable in many ways – the original defensive front 7 was leaps and bounds ahead of the 2016 team, with players like rookie Jonathan Allen, second year man Matt Ioannidis, Mason Foster, Zach Brown – these men are highly capable and showed signs of becoming a quality unit early in the season.  In the secondary, D.J. Swearinger has been an absolute revelation: he’s the clear, undisputed leader of a defense that desperately needed it and has brought stability to a unit that has been missing a real, honest-to-goodness free safety since the passing of the late Sean Taylor (R.I.P.) a decade ago.  On offense, while things were not quite as positive in the early going, and there are some clear and obvious holes, particularly at running back and wide receiver, there was reason for hope, with players like Jordan Reed, Rob Kelley, Jamison Crowder, Chris Thompson, and the new but promising Terrelle Pryor, Sr. all on the roster.  Since those first few games, though, though, we’ve seen a significant number of these players either end up on injured reserve, be forced to play a significant portion of the season injured, or simply not perform up to the levels we had all hoped.

It’s safe to say that things went off the rails quickly, and I’m not here to rehash all of the bad that has gone on.  The primary question, to me, is why.  That is, why did the Washington Redskins end up 5 – 7?  Are they on the right path now, or is this the disaster that some fans and media members paint it to be? Is this franchise in for yet another complete rebuild, or are we just going to see some tinkering around the edges?  In my opinion, all of these injuries have prevented this team from reaching its full potential.  I don’t believe that it’s an “excuse”, in a negative sense, to admit this truth.  These first 12 games have exposed the Redskins’ depth, certainly, but what team could have survived losing, quite literally, its entire offensive line and most of the backups?  In many ways, the injury situation gives this coaching staff something of a mulligan in terms of an evaluation of their performance; if anything, they deserve at least some praise for keeping this team competitive for this long, although this past week against Dallas was inexcusable on many fronts.

The other, perhaps more immediate question is, what’s going to happen in the final quarter of the 2017 season?  I would submit to you that, despite the lack of a realistic playoff possibility, these next four games are actually of vital importance to this franchise.  You see, winning all of the upcoming contests (Chargers in Los Angeles, Cardinals at home, Denver at home, Giants in New York) means a winning record for the third year in a row.  That’s something that the Redskins haven’t done since the 1989/90/91 seasons.  Despite the current negativity, that would show, in my eyes at least, that Washington has graduated from “bad team” to “consistently competitive team”.  That’s a big deal for a franchise that has mostly been a laughing stock for an entire generation – even moreso given that the Redskins have been absolutely assaulted by the god of football injuries this year.  You should be rooting for the Redskins to overcome its awful game this past Thursday to go on a streak that results in a winning record for the year.  That’s a big deal.  Or, in the alternative, it’s surely not too much to ask for a 3 – 1 record in the fourth quarter that will put Washington at 8 – 8 on the year.  At the risk of promulgating loser talk, I’d submit to you that a .500 record isn’t too bad considering what’s gone on with this team this season and the schedule they’ve endured.

So while things look bleak at the moment, please resist the urge to go full-bore “whoa is me, things are awful” and to start rooting for yet another total rebuild of this franchise.  Yes, I get it: most of you hate Bruce Allen and Daniel Snyder, but guess what? Neither of them are going anywhere any time soon, and last I checked, neither of them wear pads on Sundays.  Also, I get that 90% of you are either Team Kirk charter members or think he’s awful and want to run him out of town, but can we please, please just leave that discussion for the offseason?  Right now, today, our mission needs to be to root for this team to do well in the final quarter of the season and finish up with a record that we can be proud of to one extent or the other.

In other words, calm down.