Week five was the Bye for the Redskins, which provided the perfect opportunity for our Washington writer Christian Burt to go Skin Deep on the first quarter of the 2017 regular season…
Are the Redskins where you expected them to be after four games?
The Eagles, Rams, Raiders and the currently 5-0 Kansas City Chiefs were a tough opening quartet of games; and sitting at 2-2 is probably about fair right now.
It nags a bit that Washington was so damn near to a 3-1 record with that blown opportunity near-win on the road at Kansas, but there have been plenty of signs that the burgundy & gold continue on a general upward curve. This is no longer a roster for fans of the rest of the NFL to mock, as it’s more than likely that the team from D.C will fight all the way for the next dozen match ups.
What’s been their best and worst performance?
It’s a cliché that quarterback is the hardest position in sports, but like a lot of clichés, it’s based in truth. In Kirk Cousins, Washington has likely found their guy to lead for several years to come (contract pending), but he’s a bit like Bowser in Mario Kart is our #8: a bit slow to get going before hitting his full stride.
So it’s no surprise that the worst of 2017 was the opening day 30-17 loss vs a resurgent Philadelphia, where the Redskins looked less prepared than Eddie the Eagle(s) Edwards at a winter Olympics. The bounce back road win vs the Rams was gutsy Kirk, but, without doubt, the dominant FedEx win vs. the much fancied Raiders was the best performance to date. On both sides of the ball, Washington purred like a diamante jewelled Kitty riding back seat in an E-type Jag.
Who’s been your best player?
The front office got some non-flashy FA deals done in the pre-season, and one of those, Zach Brown at ILB, was leading the NFL in tackles (42) before the Bye week. Double digits first three games and nine vs the Chiefs, make Brown a football player that Washington might well wish to tie-up contract wise ASAP (he’s currently on a one-year deal after leaving the Bills).
Crackerjack running back Chris Thompson has been delightful out the back field and #25 has made some outstanding plays registering in four visits into the end zone so far.
And, if looking at a unit, the defense has pretty much been a revelation under alligator tussling Manusky and Tomsula. Jon Allen looks like he’ll be mean along the DL for many years to come, and a steal of the 2017 Draft class. Leadership skills are in abundance with D J Swearinger, and Ryan Kerrigan continues to devour bowls of gravy. Ryan is looking a tad more explosive this season too.
And the biggest disappointment?
It may seem a bit harsh considering that heck of a touchdown catch vs. Kansas, but Terrelle Pryor Sr. does not look like a standout WR1 right now. Any team in the league would struggle after losing two 1000 yard receivers in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, and we’ve also yet to see the frenzied feeding of Jordan Reed and the slot trickery of Jamison Crowder this season.
You’d like to think that at least two of the aforementioned trio will lift themselves from their middling C grades and, with the Bye week hopefully helping full fitness opportunities for Reed and Crowder, as improvement is needed to elevate the Washington pass attack into play-off contention.
Where do they most need to improve?
Right now: in the treatment room!
Washington has so many banged up guys, and leading the casualty list is star cornerback Josh Norman. This opens up the play book for opposition coaches, as not many have anchored near Norman’s island.
Focus required then from the next guys up – it’s not actually possible to fill Josh’s boots like-for-like, but we need Bashaud Breeland and Quinton Dunbar to do a solid job (and less penalties across the DL and defensive backs is a must).
Will you make the playoffs?
Like our record so far – I’d suggest it’s about evens.
The NFC East is currently being dominated by the Eagles, as Dallas look a bit weaker than 2016 and have the Ewok looking RB potentially suspended. Eli Manning’s face is now one of permanent gormless despair – and that was made worse with the Odell Beckham Jr ankle break this weekend.
A 10-6 record is what will be required, and, as a starter, Washington absolutely must send Garcon and Kyle Shanahan away from FedEx on Sunday with another loss in the SF column.