1st Down: What do you make of the Redskins’ start to the season?
When coming off the back of a very forgettable 3-13 season, having the Texans and Jaguars up first can only be seen as a bonus. Except of course, being a 3-13 franchise in 2013 doesn’t really equal any given victories on any given Sunday.
Houston game was troubling, RGIII continued to get hit, special teams went a step further in embarrassment by JJ Watt blocking the TD conversion and Rambo still looked decidedly non-Stallone heroic.
There were, however, some pointers to improvements, even on a poor first display – Morris was having his workload shared out a tad more with Helu Jr, meaning that every running play the Skins went hard. Under Shanahan, only Alfred seemed to carry the ball for Washington, with Griffin III the most likely to run with the ball (and get sacked/beaten up/nearly career ended every week).
At FedEx on Sunday, the Skins, well… skinned, the Jaguars. RGIII went off hurt of course in the first quarter with what is now diagnosed as an ankle dislocation, meaning Kirk Cousins stepped up….and on his second play throws a TD. I like Cousins a lot, he’s a more traditional pocket passer, less flash than Robert and I feel the less “risky” QB in Kirk spreads a feeling of calm to the O-Line, who immediately offered far better protection than to RGIII.
It was relentless, including a career high 4 sacks for Kerrigan. It is, of course, only the Jags, so not getting carried away just yet. Well, maybe a little bit carried away after this being the first win in 9.
2nd Down: Who or what has been the most pleasant surprise?
After years of the more dogmatic Shanahan it’s refreshing to see the Gruden calls being played out, and for the running duties to be shared between Helu Jr and the outstanding Morris. Watching Helu Jr do that crazy bear crawl dash was a particular highlight. There are signs that the Redskins may be a potentially thrilling offensive team, coupled with a powerful sack hunting pack of Hatcher, Baker and Orakpo.
So, overall, the surprise is seeing the Skins mix it up a bit and actually looking like an exciting team.
3rd Down: and the biggest disappointment?
Well, the Texans game can’t be erased from the memory just yet, and so the high potential to be early season 2-0 hasn’t been met. The injuries to Griffin III, DeSean Jackson et al are not to be easily dismissed despite the more than capable Cousins and Andre Roberts. It seems, however, that the Redskins have some depth to the squad to cancel out these losses.
4th Down: Redskins MVP so far?
Bit tricky this one when on the back of one pretty damn negative game and one very positive victory. Although not headline grabbing, Ryan Clark is a calming influence at Safety and offers coverage that wasn’t there in 2013. It’ll be interesting to see how his influence extends to Brandon Merriweather and his, er, less than calm plays when he returns from his latest suspension.
The Skins don’t lack stars though and Alfred Morris continues to shine and is perhaps the MVP in the Nation’s Capital. I really like Alfred Morris, both on and off the field, he comes across as a humble dude and goes hard every single play. Early signs are that Jay Gruden may look after him as I refer again to the shared workload at running back.
The Extra Point: Predictions for the season?
Predicting the Redskins isn’t easy, well, unless you decide to downplay their chances and you’ll be more than likely to guess right with a negative 6-10.
But I’m going for a more upbeat 8-8 season for Washington, with the potential there for a 9-7 if the Jags didn’t prove to just be the dismantling of the weakest team in the NFL. A 9-7 in a weak NFC East , could mean a divisional title akin to 2012, and I’d take that with both hands thank you very much.