Over 4,000 yards in consecutive seasons.
That's how I'm going to start this article.
Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins became the first man in team history to not only post two 4,000 yard seasons, but he also did that consecutively. That's quite the feat. Cousins only needs 122 yards to best his franchise record 4,155 yards on a season, and he's just 955 yards short of a 5,000 yard season. Obviously, that would be the first in team history. In order to do so, he'd need to average just shy of 320 yards per game. Daunting, but possible.
To be clear, Kirk couldn't do it without his weapons. Pierre Garcon has quietly turned in a pretty good season. He's posted 64 receptions and leads the team. Crowder leads the team in yards with just over 800 and possesses a team high 7 touchdowns. And that's not been mentioning the third down prowess of Jordan Reed and the deep ball threat of Desean Jackson.
So where's the controversy? Why am I coining this team escape artists?
Because as good as this offense has been, the defense has been quite the opposite. The team lacks a true anchor to hold opposing offensive linemen at the line of scrimmage. The linebackers seem to be in a conflict. They don't want to get beat by anything crossing behind them, so they gain depth quickly, but that also leaves them much less aggressive in filling their running lanes. And I'm not sure this franchise has covered the flats much, if at all, this season.
So who is to blame? The easy target is Barry. McCloughan is probably the next target. Gruden comes to mind.
But I'm not sure we can really be sure that any of them are to blame...
Barry is easy to blame, especially given the lack of flats coverage. But Joe Barry doesn't coach guys to break contain or let an opposing quarterback who is completely wrapped up escape the clutches of a defender. My question, though, is what say has he had over personnel? Has he had a ton? Some? None? To what level is he to blame, or not to blame, for the defensive maneuvers.
McCloughan is another guy that's not all that easy to pin down. Can we really chastise a guy who has shored up the offense to the point that he has and not believe he's got the same plan for the defense coming down the road? Is he doing all the grocery shopping, or do the coaches have any say?
I am not sure. I'm not in the film room breaking down countless hours of film and watching it ad nauseum. I'm not the one scouting the free agent wire and grading guys and pouring over every inch of game film I can get my hands on for hundreds of free agents. It would be irresponsible for me to blame anyone.
But that doesn't change the feeling I get when watching this Washington Redskin team.
We won yesterday. We all should have been elated. We're alive in the playoff race. But for some reason, it didn't feel like a win. It felt like an escape. It felt like we were beaten but somehow grasped victory from the jaws of defeat. And let's be honest, there's something to say for a team that does that as consistently as the Redskins do. They play with heart. Very rarely do they find themselves in a situation that they can't win the game in the waning moments. That is a testament to the team the guys mentioned above have put together.
But it's also a sign that improvements need to be made. I'm quite sure the front office brass knows that. There is a lack of talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball. But there is certainly no shortage of heart. That's where I hang my hat. The Redskins show up to play, and play with a sense of pride. That's not a hallmark of the recent tradition in regards to the franchise.
There is an upward trend in many ways. So while there are holes, and heart palpitations, and frustration, there is also hope. There are good people leading the charge.
But for the love of all that is good... Fix the defense. Please.