LANDOVER – The Redskins win in dominant fashion over a bad Broncos team. It’s the kind of game that makes you wonder about this season. What if they had some of these games earlier instead of starting with a nearly reprieve free 12-week murder’s row? What if they had just a normal amount of injuries? Oh well. Three thoughts from 2017’s final game at FedEx.
1. The defense found itself last week and continued its stellar play again this week. Yes, the two quarterbacks they have played have been absolutely dreadful. That said, the defense has also cleaned up the mistakes that killed them against Dallas and Los Angeles. Jay Gruden said communication was a big key. His players agreed.
“Our communication has been really good,” linebacker Zach Vigil said. “Our chaches have made our game plan simple enough for us to communicate it efficiently and we have been able to play good. That’s the basis of it.”
Fellow linebacker Martrell Spaight told me sometimes it’s a simple volume issues. Players weren’t communicating loud enough and missing calls. They’ve made a point of ensuring not just that they’re talking, but that everything gets heard. Sounds simple. Not always in the midst of an NFL game.
2. I’ve spent much time in this column touting the competitive character of this football team. It has been on display the past two weeks. Dallas was disappointing, though it was much more about execution than anything else. Los Angeles was demoralizing and even though it was also about execution and communication, being wholly non-competitive was a bad look for a team clinging to their playoff lives.
This team has refused to pack up and go home. They kept preparing. They kept playing. They’ve done both with pride.
“Everybody wrote us off and questioned the character and quitting and I knew it wouldn’t happen,” Jay Gruden said. “The guys stepped up and played their tails off and there’s still a lot to play for.”
“We have a lot of competitors on this team,” added Preston Smith. “Guys don’t give up regardless of our record or regardless of the circumstance knowing we aren’t going to the playoffs. Guys are still out there competing and putting their best foot forward still showing that we are not giving up no matter what.”
As the people in charge of this team decide who is coming back, that matters.
3. And finally, the elephant in the room. The Broncos need a quarterback. They reportedly like Kirk Cousins. As you may have heard, Cousins is a free agent. Everybody was asked about it.
Gruden, when asked if the last two games are less meaningful because of the uncertainty at quarterback: “We set a standard here with the veteran guys we’re going to have next year, and that’s how it’s going to be, week in and week out, no matter what the circumstances are. Happy these guys have followed through with us so far, we still have one more game to go, but as for Kirk, we’ll worry about that when the season is over and we’re going to coach him one more game here, and when the season is over we’ll deal with all that stuff when the time is right.”
Redskins wide receiver Jamison Crowder: “I think it would be great to get him back. I feel like he has a great connection with all the receivers in the room as well as a lot of guys on the team. I feel like it would definitely be great to get him back. I’ve never been in a situation where a new quarterback has come in, so I think that would definitely cause… it would kind of be like starting over. So if he could come back, that would be awesome.”
Broncos linebacker Von Miller: “Kirk’s a great quarterback; I’ll say that every day of the week. A lot of teams would kill to have a quarterback like that. He just came out and he was playing great. At first, he was a little shaky but back to typical Kirk Cousins in the second half.”
“I’m with everybody else. Like I said before, a lot of teams would literally kill to have a quarterback like that. The list is long, but we’ll cross that bridge if we ever get to it.”
Broncos cornerback Chris Harris, Jr.: “I don’t want to say anything right now, but he’s a ball player. He definitely can make some plays and he can make all the throws, but I can’t say anything about next year.”
And finally there was the man himself, who earlier in the press conference had made some big picture statements about the franchise as if he were going to continue to be a member of it. Earlier in the week, he said he doesn’t really think about the future when he says such things, but after being so definitive, he was asked directly if these statements reflected a desire to do more in a Redskins uniform.
“Who knows,” Cousins said, being very careful and deliberate with his words. “We’re going to see how this whole thing goes. My job was to play 16 football games this season and I still have another game to play. That’s where my focus is and when the season is over, we’ll go from there. Right now, I have to play football well and do the best I can.”
Quote of the day: The Redskins came up 1:18 short of going two straight games without giving up a touchdown. Ryan Kerrigan on giving up the late TD: “That was frustrating too, because we really were kicking their butt the whole game.”
Kerrigan saying they were kicking their butts? Spicy! Well, by Ryan Kerrigan standards.
Stat of the day: Cousins first half TD pass to Crowder was the team’s 25th passing TD of the year. It’s the first time in team history that the Redskins have tallied 25+ passing TD’s in three straight years. Kirk Cousins has thrown every single one of them.
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