So, after a couple of articles on the draft this summer, and then subsequently going in hiding when I found out that Bleacher Report was partnering with FOXSPORTS, I have returned. I don't agree with the Fox Network's ultraneocon agenda, but I digress. I like Bleacher Report and what it stands for. My Redskins are doing to well to pass up writing about them.
Now let's talk some football.
Needless to say, my 'Skins have been on a roll. They're 4-1 and have 2 division road wins. I don't think anyone expected them to be here. Looking at their schedule going into the season, I would have said 3-2 at this point would be optimistic. I would have expected the 'Skins to struggle w/ a rookie coach and tough division opponents on the road, but they have dominated. I would have expected this 3 game stretch of easy games in the schedule (Rams, Browns, Lions) to be a welcome relief from that struggle. Now it can be so much more.
The Redskins are jockeying for position in the NFC East, easily the toughest division in football. To keep pace with the rest of the division, they need to not only win most of their divion games, but they need to win the other games too. The NFC East has only lost to one opponent all season long (Eagles to the Bears). The 'Skins would be in great shape at 7-1 at mid season to push for the division title in the second half of the division, but that's not the only reason why they need to win.
If you take a look at any credible NFL Power Rankings list on the web you'll find the Redskins in a peculiar spot for them: near the top. They've played a tough schedule and have come out 4-1. They've earned the respect of writers, other teams, but most importantly, themselves. They're confident, but not overconfident. They're finishing off teams, rather then just squeezing by at the end. They're dominant running the football, efficient passing it, and the well-tested defense has held its' own against elite offenses.
A loss to the Rams would diminish that. Lose to a winless team, and all your credibility goes out the window. Remember the 2-3 'Skins in 06, coming off of convincing wins against the Texans and Jaguars, looking to get back to 3-3 by crushing the winless Titans? Yeah, they ended up losing that game, sinking to 2-4, and having a dismal season. But no, you say, this is different, these aren't those Redskins, this is a new era. These are the Zornskins, a surprising force to be reckoned with in the league's toughest division. But is it really? A dominant win here would go a long way toward convincing me. Yes, great teams win on the road against tough division opponents, but great teams also destroy bad teams, they don't waste time leaving games against inferior opponents in doubt at any point.
It's true, the Rams have a new interim head coach, and a bye week to work with, which gives them enough time to put together a fresh game plan. They also have a bevy of individual talent in Steven Jackson, Mark Bulger, Tory Holt and Dante Hall. They're desperate for a win and they'll want to support their new coach early. They'll be motivated, and yet, this game may mean more to the Skins.
This is a statement game. Dominate the Rams, and the Titans, Giants, and Cowboys are put on notice. A dominant win and they'll be talked about as the best in the league right now. By dominant I mean that the outcome has been decided by the end of the First Quarter. Colt Brennan comes in midway through the 3rd quarter to relieve Jason Campbell for some mop up time. FOX cuts to the Tampa-Carolina game before the start of the Fourth Quarter. In short, they need to dismantle them on a Belicheckian level.
A win like that, and the 'Skins will be 1 step closer to 7-1, and we'll all be closer to realizing that this is not the 'Skins of Joe Gibbs Part 2, Steve Spurrier, Mary Schottenheimer, Terry Robinsky, or yes, Norv Turner. This is the 'Skins of Jim Zorn, a team that beats tough opponents on the road, and manhandles inferior teams at home.