Did I speak too soon on the Washington Redskins' season being over? I concluded prior to their Week 10 bye that the 'Skins were done and should focus the rest of the season on determining which players are worthy of roster spots in 2013.
Yet now all the Redskins have to do is beat the very beatable Dallas Cowboys Thursday and get some help Sunday from Green Bay, and they'll be playing the New York Giants at home with first place in the NFC East on the line in Week 13.
One win can truly change a team's outlook, but there's still a very good chance the 'Skins fall short of the postseason again, which is what we'll establish to kick off this week's progress report.
What They Should Be Thinking
We beat the Philadelphia Eagles, but so could anyone right now. The Eagles almost looked like they were pulling a 1919 White Sox against us Sunday. We we were embarrassed for them. Prior to that, we were on a three-game losing streak. Now we have to go up against real NFL teams again, so we shouldn't expect too much or get our hopes up.
Robert Griffin III played great against Philly, but we didn't really ask him to do a whole lot. He likely won't be able to limit his pass attempts to 15 against upcoming opponents like Dallas and New York, especially if Alfred Morris and the running game continue to struggle. Considering that Griffin was actually mired in a mini-slump prior to the bye, that's a concern.
It also doesn't help that we're ridiculously banged up. Everyone knows about Brian Orakpo, Adam Carriker, Fred Davis and Jammal Brown, but now we're without Brandon Meriweather again and might not have London Fletcher or Josh Wilson against the Cowboys. Fletcher is our defensive leader, and we don't know how we're going to slow down the red-hot Dallas receiving corps without our top corner.
We simply lack the necessary talent on both sides of the ball right now, and one solid performance off the bye doesn't change that. We've delayed the inevitable. Our season will end in the next couple weeks, and then we'll turn our full attention back to talent evaluation.
Yes, anyone can beat the Eagles, but not everyone can crush them by 25 points while posting a perfect passer rating on offense. I mean, what more were we supposed to do? We can't control who we played, but our depleted pass rush had four sacks, we shut down DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, Griffin was almost perfect and we won the turnover battle 3-0.
Keep in mind, please, that our Week 12 opponent, Dallas, barely survived against that awful team one week prior. If you're comparing our output versus Philly to the Cowboys', it's no contest.
And yes, it took a terrible opposing offensive line for our pass rush to wake up, but the good news is that the Cowboys' line is in nearly just as bad of shape, while Dallas still isn't expected to have DeMarco Murray back. We might not have the injured London Fletcher, but he's been struggling a lot this season anyway, so we can still dominate up front in Dallas. Thus, we'll keep gaining confidence.
Not having Wilson would hurt, but as long as we can apply lots of pressure on Tony Romo, this is a winnable game. Beyond that, we get back-to-back home games to put an exclamation mark on this turnaround, and the schedule isn't tough coming in. We have the ability to overcome injuries and make a run here.
What I'm Thinking
Stock Rising (Offense): Robert Griffin III
In his last two games before the bye, Griffin had a passer rating of just 73.6 and a completion percentage of 53.4, and he was averaging only 5.4 yards per attempt. Then he went out and totally redeemed himself by becoming the first-ever rookie quarterback to post a perfect rating.
Stock Rising (Defense): Perry Riley
The numbers don't necessarily show it, but Riley had one of his best games as a jack-of-all-trades linebacker against the Eagles, blitzing often and picking up three stops in run defense. They need him to keep saving the day with everyone else hurt.
Stock Dropping (Offense): Alfred Morris
He had his worst game as a pro with just 3.8 yards per carry against the Eagles. The rookie started the season so fast, but he's been held to 76 yards or fewer for three straight weeks now.
Stock Dropping (Defense): Stephen Bowen
One week after I had his stock rising, Bowen failed to do anything of note against Philly. On a day in which the defense played well, his stock is the only one that dropped.
It all depends on Thanksgiving Thursday. It's RG3's first big national television appearance and a chance for the Redskins to make a statement while also potentially moving to within a game of first place. This team has a special feel to it, and it controls its own destiny. That's exciting.
But ultimately, I just don't trust them to string together enough wins to make this happen. If they were healthy, it'd be a different story. Either way, they can take solace in the fact they're going to be a force in the very near future.