"Next man up!"
"Injuries are just an excuse!"
"Good coaches overcome injuries!"
Sounds contagiously valiant, doesn't it? The go to phrases for fan machismo, if you will. But I'm here to say screw that, yeah right, and whatever.
When your unquestionably elite starting LT is hurt, and the backup who can fill in for him admirably is as well, you've got a problem. When the guy who's started next to him for years now is also hurt, the guy with which ample amounts of chemistry has been built through experience, that just adds to it exponentially. But wait, there's more! The Center is out, too! Oh, the stud RG you drafted 4th overall a couple years ago? Yup, he's hurting. And the guy next to him? Two ankles.
Yeah. It'd be enough to damage any positional unit's ability to succeed when its two best players are hurt. But when all the above is happening AND you even got those backups filling in getting hurt during the game on top of it... it's friggin ridiculous, suffice to say.
When your stud rookie Dlineman - who you just picked in the first round to bolster what was an absolute terrible unit the previous season - is out with a Lisfranc, and then the guy who has emerged next to him as another stud while both turning the unit around so much so that it elevated the entire defense (as is the prerogative of a good Dline) also gets hurt with a broken hand, well, that's a problem. Again, the two best players on the unit HURT.
When you lose your elite starting CB for a few games, and then also have your next best one starting on his opposite side getting hurt enough to miss at least one game (notice the trend here?), while the rookie Safety who has emerged can't stay on the field an entire game, and the vet Safety you just signed is also struggling with injuries, and one of the backups to those Safeties ends up on IR, and some of the backups to the aforementioned DBs are getting hurt during games, and... well, you get a run on sentence.
When arguably your best pass catcher on the team, who happens to play at TE, is hurting all season (granted, to no one's surprise), but then your third TE also gets hurt, while your top two outside WRs are struggling, and you're relying on your slot WR who ALSO just got hurt and isn't going to play now... welp, yay for that.
Season ending injuries. Nagging injuries that are significant enough for guys to miss games and/or playing time during games. Injuries guys can play on but are hampering their ability to perform at their best. Freak injuries. Injuries one can play on but might lead to significant future damage. It's all there. All the time. At every. Single. Unit.
It isn't just an excuse to justify poor performances anymore, by the coaches or players. It's turned into THE story of the season, and absolutely justifiably so. Those who are unwilling to point to that while being lenient to all those involved in terms of criticism simply lack a shred of empathy in my mind. Frighteningly so.
What's so frustrating about it is that this was the roster, going into the season, that was unquestionably the best one we've had in decades. This was the year we could've witnessed a significant leap, and did for a few glorious weeks. A scrappy win against a Rams team with a solid roster from top to bottom. A dominant win against a Raiders team that was as dominant themselves as any team in the league at that point, in prime time. Taking it to the Chiefs, who were arguably the best team in the league at that point, up to the last minute - also in prime time but at their place. Only to have one injury after another occur (we lost both Allen and Norman that game, with a litany of others to immediately follow as disgustingly described above) and destroy the momentum being built right before our very eyes. The bye week after did next to nothing to save us.
So this game against a Seahawks team, looking like a contender (per the norm) and at their place where they rarely lose, is in the books already, right? All is lost, no point in suiting up, go home with our tails between our legs and save ourselves some embarrassment.
But that's the beauty of it, isn't it? When human arrogance dares to call something contingent as necessary, it gets humbled real fast and often. When that same arrogance blinds one to the realism of hope, and they fool themselves into believing that being realistic excludes being hopeful, well... hope prevails much more often than they're willing to give it credit for, to put it nicely.
So that's what I'm holding on to right now. And desperately so, because all indications point to a beating here. There's so much going against the team and for the Seahawks, even with them having some key injuries like Earl Thomas, as well. It's just not remotely as bad overall for them.
But I'm hoping a team filled with guys who want to prove themselves - in what they surely know is likely an extremely small window of opportunity for them to do so - play their hearts out and shock the world. A team that has played hard for a good group of coaches more often than not. A team going through the struggle together and for each other. Those are the type that often surprise and, God willing, we get quite the pleasant, season-defining, one here today.
Stay tuned for more coverage throughout the day from @TK and I, and Hail To The Redskins!
1st Half Notes:
- Kelley and Perine out returning kicks.
- Brian Quick out there consistently.
- Doctson and Grant starting two WRs in base formation with Sprinkle and Davis as two TEs.
- DHall starting at Safety.
- Perine doesn't open up enough for handoff, paying too much attention to the blocking. Fumbles after a great pass from Kirk to Davis.
- Lanier in on third down nickel defense. Provides a nice rush and hit on Wilson.
- Arthur Jones playing mostly at LDE.
- Defense keeping us in it big time. Dline started strong getting consistent pressure on Wilson, then Seahawks started running more with success. Hood playing better than last week early on, but regressed a bit in the 2nd quarter. Surprised to even see Hood rushing the passer well. Lanier has shown up in a big way. Pass rush after pass rush. Really impressive stuff. Holds and false starts on the Seahawks Line also a product of the front's play.
- I have no idea how this offense is going to move the ball. No Oline to either run block well or pass block well. Kirk is freaking out. TEs can't run block as usual. RBs automatically have to make moves in the backfield.a Receivers not getting open against this secondary. It's just, ugh. That drive in the 2nd quarter featured some quicker throws to Davis and nice running. Seems like that's the only way at this point.
- Seahawks are a 2nd half team. We've got to come out firing, as crazy as that sounds right now. Love the defensive performance, and the offense seemed to have found something there in the 2nd quarter, notwithstanding the final drive. Hopefully they can maintain.
2nd Half Notes:
- Lanier continues his solid play with another good pass rush on the first drive and hasn't stopped since. Just relentless. He's caused a bunch of bad throws from Wilson single-handedly. It's been super impressive.
- Seahawks clearly going back to what they were successful with in the first half, rushing the ball. Our pass rush has been unstoppable though.
- As usual, just nothing you can do about Wilson scrambling and finding receivers outside of the play. Otherwise, constant pressure on him has forced errant throws.
- Started bootlegging Cousins more. Some limited success there.
- Cousins definitely had some bad throws this game, but he is also facing consistent pressure and going against one of the best secondaries in the game. Guys are just not getting open down the field. One clear poor throw to Davis on a wheel route in the third quarter.
- Kendall Fuller displayed his closing speed a few times. One was a TD saving pass break up.
- Another bad snap from Roullier in the shotgun formation, this time high. Last week he had one low.
- They didn't score, but that 2 point conversion with Norman and Swearinger playing catch was fun to watch. So close, yet so far away.
- We had too many first downs that were losing yards, be it due to sacks, bad snaps, or TFLs. Can't recover against this defense like that. Was worried the Seahawks would take away the quick game that worked on that one drive in the first half and we wouldn't have an answer. We don't. People can claim injuries aren't an excuse, but they make you one dimensional as a play caller. It's not easy to be dynamic when your options are limited personnel-wise, and you've got guys who aren't in tune with every aspect of the offense on the field.
- It's okay to allow your defense to win you a game. It's actually allowed, last time I heard. Especially when you're in an environment like Seattle, against a team that plays consistently great defense, with an Oline ravaged by injuries. It's. OH. KAY. That won't stop many from making this some kind of treatise on Kirk or Jay, I know. Nothing will. But it needs to be said.
- Defense played valiantly. Can't complain about them, even with the final drive from the Seahawks. Seahawks only scored twice on the day, with an offense that had only one drive for a TD, and tough field position throughout. The pressure they applied on Wilson was amazing, suffice to say.
- Overall, I know this'll be an opportunity for people to pile on Jay and Kirk. But I'm not going to and I don't think anyone should. Kirk didn't play well. Yes. As is the case with so many QBs going up against this defense in their place. But that last drive was glorious. Two absolute strikes to Quick and Doctson with the Seahawks playing super aggressive. So many use phrases like "he's not a gamer" and "he's not clutch", yet, that's EXACTLY what he proved he is there.
- Huge opportunity for Dunbar to finish the game with an INT on Seahawks final drive. McClain does it for him with a huge sack on Wilson. Game over. HOPE IS ALIVE, THANK GOD!!!!