A Burgundy and Gold Obsession
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A Burgundy and Gold Obsession

Again

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Yes. I liked that.

The 2015 Redskins season was a gift from the Gods. In 2012, Redskins fans dreamt they’d finally hit pay dirt and found a franchise QB after decades of hapless floundering under center. If that weren’t enough to bring joy to the miserable masses, the Skins had lucked into a 6th round RB gem in Alfred Morris.

If you’d tried to tell any of us what would transpire after that magical 2012 season, we literally would’ve thought you were crazy, hopped up on meth, or both.

And yet, the 2012 season was a complete mirage. We had not found our franchise QB. Alfred Morris was never to have the kind of season he had in his rookie year. And the masterminds behind it all would implode and be run out of DC, like so many saviors before them.

So the Redskins started over. Again.

Jay Gruden’s unheralded arrival in DC was no magic pill. His inaugural season only exacerbated the uncertainty and skepticism endemic to Redskins fans. Gruden’s bull-in-a-china-shop bluntness didn’t sit well with most fans. Almost immediately it was clear, he was no RG3 fan, and even workhorse good guy Alfred Morris seemed to be in the doghouse with the new head coach. An awful 2014 season ensued, highlighted by bumbling and stumbling losses and press conference drama, interrupted only occasionally by the pie-in-the-sky optimism of an increasingly hapless and ineffective Bruce Allen.

Things looked bad. Really bad. Again.

And then the Redskins did something unimaginable. They hired a real football GM. Not a Vinny Cerrato. Not a Bruce Allen. A real football GM.

And 2015 happened.

And yes, we liked it.

Still – there are doubters – lots of them. And so there should be. If 2012 showed Skins fans anything, it was that a single upstart season does not a franchise turnaround make. Many fans attributed the Skins surprising season to the weakness of the NFC East where aging QBs and coaching turmoil are the norm.

But the signs of a resurgent franchise are there. The drama of 2014 was nowhere to be seen. Gruden and company, to the displeasure of many, decisively made their QB choice clear. Their decision to move on from Griffin and put their trust in Kirk Cousins was vindicated by season’s end. Cousins wasn’t just serviceable, he was spectacular. Joe Barry kept a patchwork defense, decimated by injuries, respectable all year long. Special teams play was the best it’s been in years. And new GM Scot McCloughan has made it clear, this franchise values draft picks and will use them to rebuild the team, not throw cash at sexy free agents as in years past.

Heading into 2016, Redskins fans are nervous. Again. Was 2015 just a mirage? Will the progress witnessed last year evaporate like the morning fog? Or was last year a sign of better days ahead?

Of course, none of us knows. But color me optimistic. Scot McCloughan is not infallible. He may not even be a genius. But he is a helluva GM. I believe he’ll continue to stock this roster with tough, gritty, lunch pail players, ‘football players’ as he likes to call them. We’ll continue to value draft picks, trading down where possible to acquire more of them, and eschewing free agency. Sean McVay, one of the best young offensive coordinators in the league, will continue to improve. Kirk Cousins got the franchise tag this time out, but he’ll continue to shine and improve in 2016, and be rewarded by a long-term contract before season’s end. Joe Barry, with a healthier secondary in 2016, is going to silence skeptical Skins fans and field a solid, opportunistic defense with the help of some additional pass rushing talent acquired in the upcoming draft.

Of course there are questions. Is Jay Gruden capable of being a top tier NFL coach? Can the Redskins resurrect a respectable rushing attack? Will the Redskins ever have a dominant safety again? Can Jordan Reed replicate a dominating 2015 performance and stay healthy? Will the release of Robert Griffin and Alfred Morris prove to be savvy necessary moves, or will that decision come back to haunt us? Can the Redskins win the NFC East and make the playoffs? If so, will they prove ‘ready for prime time’ this time around?

I can’t wait to find out. Again.
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  1. Knightingale's Avatar
    Love it.

    This post echoes pretty much all of what I feel about this team at the moment. I don't think 2015 was a mirage at all.

    That being said my expectations this year are to have a season similar to last year, maybe a win or so less. I don't see that as pessimism, I see that as realism. I think to a point we did benefit a little last year from a weak division. I'd love to be proved wrong, but I think we're a team turning the corner and not quite there yet. As a team we also learnt alot of lessons last year, and I think as a team there are more still to learn. Learning to win and win consistently is something that this team needs to do, I think 2015 set them on that path. There's a difference between manufactured self belief and REAL self belief. Every team can walk into a season and say "Yeah, we're better than last year, we believe we're going to win!" and a team like New England who have had so much success that their belief is built on a foundation years in the making. Last year I think we laid a real foundation for the future, one we can build on, not just in terms of personnel, but it terms of belief that we can succeed.

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