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Blognostications 2017 - Week 10 - Vikings @ Redskins

Blognosticator - Knightingale

Being a Redskin fan in 2017 is an odd experience, unlike any other year I've followed the team.

There are two Washington Redskins teams this year.

The team we are, and the team we were meant to be. The pendulum has been swinging between those two all season. From Playoff Contenders to Number One Draft Pick Hopefuls.

Now it's true that you could say that about any year, there's always a bunch of What-Ifs that keep your fandom warm on those cold nights of losses, but this year the frustrating aspect of the season is that we've seen both of those teams.

I know it counts in the Win-Loss column, but I'm throwing that week 1 loss against the Eagles out from a statistical point of view. We weren't ready for that one, it's not a true reflection of who we were. The pendulum didn't even start swinging till Week 2… where things got interesting.

That Rams win looks as much more impressive in hindsight and the Raiders win looks less so. Still both wins showed what we were. A team that was here to play.

The Pendulum swinging wildly towards the Superbowl at this point.

In Week 4 we took it to the Chiefs, who were (if I recall, the only team that was) undefeated at the time and almost snatched a victory.
The Pendulum twitched…

On the very day you could see this team starting to coalesce into something that looked special before your very eyes… fate said no! Injuries. Lots of them.

All teams suffer them, we all know that, but to be hit so hard and so fast by so many and a lot of them at key positions… well that sucked.

We pulled out the win against the 49ers but the boat was taking on water fast, faster than we could bail it out. Over the next couple of weeks that Pendulum seemed to be inexorably moving towards the Draft as even out bailing bucket got holes.

But now with that Seahawks win… It feels like a hard reset for the season to me. Like that Pendulum is hanging down poised equally between both of its potential destinations. Last week's win was important to arrest the swing. I believe that this week's game against the Vikes is going to show us which way we're heading for the rest of the season.

I think it's going to head back up towards the Post Season Contender side… and here's why.

The Minnesota Vikings have a mighty impressive 6-2 record. But when you start poking at it, it's not as impressive as it looks in my opinion.

Their wins are against the Saints (6-1), the Buccs (2-6), the Bears (3-5), the Packers (4-3), the Ravens (4-5) and the Browns (0-8).

Eagle eyed readers may notice there's only two winning teams in that lot, and those who know football will realise that the Packers were beaten AFTER Rodgers went down for the season. Their opponents they beat are a combined 19-29.

This is not a team to be scared of. Not by a long shot. The Seahawks at home scared me… The Vikings do not.

Backup QB Case Keenum is under centre for them (after Bradford was lost to injury) and currently has a QBR of 67.9. He's ranked 25th in the League statistically, he's not a prolific passer, doesn't throw many interceptions, but then again doesn't throw many TD's either. (7 TD's and 3 Ints). With a banged up Secondary maybe I'd worry a little… but with Bree and Norman back, DJ in the middle and DHall back on the field with the clock turned back ten years, plus with Fuller looking more and more like our future at CB… I'm confident that he's not going to be having a big day at our expense. He's also not a running threat like Wilson or Wentz were either, he's got 10 rushes for 64 yards on the season, not exactly a break the pocket and sprint kinda guy. He's one dimensional and even that dimension isn't great.

Dalvin Cook is their runner and he's been up and down. This is the key to beating them… He's only played 4 games this season, 2 wins and 2 losses. In their two losses this season Cook has been held to 66 and 64 yards respectively. In their two wins he went over 100. Good news for the Redskins…. He's out for the season and they've replaced him with a kind of Running Back by committee approach.

Which brings me to our D-Line. With Jonthan Allen gone it took a massive hit. He and Ioannidis were playing so well together that when we lost first one and then both it was a huge blow. Huge. But then last night other names started to pop up playing well. Lanier in his second season started to show what he could do. At linebacker Ryan Anderson's name has started to pop up.

We're still banged up, but getting players back and having rookies start stepping up is making a difference.

In the run game we were pretty strong this week against the Seahawks. Take out the 77 yards Wilson put up (which let's face it were mostly on unscripted scrambles!) and their leading rusher was Thomas Rawls who managed 39 yards on the ground.

So, as I said… with our Defense humming along like this week (and who knows who will return next!) the Vikings Offense doesn't scare me, and I don't think it'll scare Norman, Hall, Bree, Fuller, DJ, Kerrigan or Brown either.

Which brings us to the other side of the ball, at which things are far more enigmatic.

You know those shows on TV where a crazy bunch of engineers take a car and customise it in order to surprise the owner? They get rid of all the rust, respray it, reupholster it, put in a fancy sound system… and a new shiny bigger engine for more Vroom!

But then, shocker, as the shows clock is running down they realise that !DISASTER! the engine won't start!!! ARGH!

The Redskins offense feels like that this year.

We decided that the older worn out parts of our offense needed to be replaced, they were too expensive to maintain. So out came Garcon and Jackson, and in was plugged Doctson and Pryor. At first the engine wouldn't start. Then we got it started but realised that the electronic engine management mapping was all out of whack. As they tried to tune it up the exhaust fell off (Kelly and Paul got hurt), then the sparkplugs failed (Reed got dinged up) and the Cambelt broke… four times (O-Line disaster).

Turns out it's hard to tune the engine when everything else is broken and it won't even start.

Now the Cambelt has been replaced by one of the sexy stockings that Gruden was wears on game nights, and is holding together just enough to let the engine turnover. That bloody sparkplug is still misfiring and now we're wondering if it's one of the leads, and the exhaust system is still hanging by a thread. The engine is started now though and the good news is that while it's been a slow process that engine mapping looks like it's gradually working.

Factory Standard we're supposed to have 400bhp at the wheels, alas the computer says we're only turning out 137bhp in our current form.

I feel like Doctson has been gathering steam slowly over the past few weeks, and now last week against the Seahawks may have finally had his breakout game.

Kirk is playing well on the whole. Given what he's working with he's actually performing minor miracles in my opinion. Every week he's behind a different O-Line with a different running back, with different receivers and different TE's with different schemes. This Offense is held together with spit and string and for all we're maligning it, it might be the best work Gruden has done to keep it pointing in the right direction. It competes every week and honestly there is no game I can truly say we've been totally out of until the last minute. We've hung in games we had no right hanging into with the injuries we have on offense. Just think for a moment about all the players we've lost, and then think about the fact that Cousins has been saying ‘Pleased to meetcha' to members of his new O-Line sometimes only a few days before trusting them with his safety. Especially difficult when you need to trust someone to protect your blind side.

This week I think we start to hum on Offense. It'll need to because the Vikings have a top 5 Defense.

I think Scherff is back in a more substantial way, bolstering the O-line. Davis and Thompson continue to be beastly. The difference maker here though it that I think Doctson has his coming out party.

Gruden kept the game pretty balanced this week, 31 passes to 23 rushes, roughly a 60/40 split, even though the ground game was totally ineffectual.

We'll need more of that next week.

The keys for me…

We're 2-2 on the Road and 2-2 at Home so I don't think that makes much difference. But hopefully after this week's win the Skins Massive will be more encouraged to turn out and get Fedex rocking.

The Vikings face our Defense. We're energetic and opportunistic. We almost had three or four interceptions on Wilson this week mostly caused by pressure and great coverage. Next week we face Case Keenum and I'm not sure he's ready for what we can bring to bear.

But it again boils down to our Offense. We HAVE to stay on the field more regularly and at least prolong drives. They have a great Defense and we have to tire it out. Even if we don't score points early we need to keep drives alive, run the clock… those chances will come later on as they start to wear down. In the meantime our Defense will keep their offense quiet.

I'm seeing something akin to this week. A low scoring affair where we actually break the game late on the back of Josh Doctson and Vernon Davis.

I believe we need to split the next two games to get to 5-5 after ten games. If we can do that then our late season schedule is far less daunting. If we can get to 5-5 I still see a 10-6 season on the cards. Maybe even 11-5!

Anyway, baby steps first and I think that this is the one that we win… Redskins 24 – Vikings 19

Place ya bets now! :D

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