Monday, January 7, 2013

Redskins Fall to Seahawks

It's the same old story. The Washington Redskins go on a late, heroic run to land themselves in the playoffs. They played their hearts out for over a month. They made us all believers again. They drew the Seahawks. They fell to the Seahawks. Again.

It's the same old story. Good-to-great quarterback play highlighted the emotional run at the end of the season to land the Skins in the playoffs. Bad quarterback play broke the back of the Redskins in the playoffs. To the Seahawks. Again.

It's the same old story.

...yet it's not the same old story.

I won't be making excuses. The Redskins got beat, and got beat badly. They got outmatched physically, and it showed on the scoreboard. But these aren't your same-old Redskins. This is a team that everyone agrees is on the right track. This is a team that everyone agrees should be contending in the future, consistently. This is a team that everyone agrees has turned the corner, and looks to be every bit as fun to watch as they were not fun to watch for the better part of 20 years.

Robert Griffin III clearly wasn't as healthy as he hyped himself up to be. I think we all had an idea that was the case, but when the player tells you his body feels fine, you almost have to trust him, because you don't know what he's feeling. He could have had a point about the brace. But we saw two instances yesterday (the first where the knee was aggravated, the second when he got injured) where the brace didn't provide the support it was supposed to, and his knee gave out.

But it's not stupid. He looked to be in form early passing. He was planting and managing. Then he took to the sideline, leaped into the air to throw the football, and came down on that leg. It was eerily reminiscent of the Falcons game, almost the same spot on the sideline down in the redzone, fighting to make a play. But Robert stayed in the game and he fought, with all of his heart, to show the team, the coaches, and the fans that winning is the most important thing to him. He was still trying to prove himself when he didn't have to... and that's the kind of thing that earns respect.

Robert will learn not to do too much one of these days. Right now, he feels he has to. We can tell him he doesn't, but in his mind, and in everyone's, no rookie can do enough to prove themselves. He'll get right. He'll get better. He'll handle himself with the poise and leadership he showed all year until his body couldn't hold him up any more.

Robert had to be carried off of the football field against his will. He didn't just walk out and decide it was too much. He could have, and we wouldn't have thought less of him. At any point. We saw the limp. We know the story. It wouldn't have been a Jay Cutler thing. But he showed heart, and strength, and will, and determination.

#KnowYourWhy ... Robert's Why is to win, and be the hero. That's all he knows. That's all he can be. It's written into his DNA.

I'm not making excuses, or taking anything away from the Seahawks. However, I will say, this could have been an entirely different game if Robert was healthy. But this is football, and injuries happen. So it's not an excuse, just a "what if" of sorts.

This team played their hearts out. Jim Haslett will be criticized for the second half of the game, but the truth is, the defense played pretty well. A lot of short possessions for the offense added up and it cost the defense in the long run. Any defense would have been fatigued.

Kyle Shanahan will be criticized for abandoning the run when he did, but Seattle was getting physical and the line wasn't holding up as well.

Players made mistakes. Coaches didn't coach their best game. It happens to all of them, even in the playoffs.

This team has a franchise quarterback, and we were reminded last night of how hard it is to play football without a franchise quarterback on the field. Robert was limited, and that's not what a franchise QB is. We've been spoiled by heroic movies and a couple real situations (Leftwich's broken leg, Rivers' torn ACL) and we expect anyone to be able to have those moments. RGIII may accept it, but doesn't deserve that kind of pressure.

What Washington did this year should remain in our hearts and minds moving forward. It was no small feat to make the playoffs. It was an incredible display of will and teamwork. Mike Shanahan challenged his players to play like they wanted to be here for the future, and they answered his call. Everyone from RGIII himself, all the way down to Reed Doughty. Guys played with heart, even though they got beat in the end.

The stretch of 5 division wins, and 7 consecutive wins, was impressive. It was amazing. It captivated the football world, and solidified the belief that the Redskins have gone about business the right way finally. Our hope was answered in the form of RGIII, who is every bit what he is promised to be. A playmaker, a leader, and electrifying.

This team was down $18M in salary cap this season, and called weak, and small, and bad. People predicted 4-12 or worse before the year. Most people didn't predict much better than 8-8. At 3-6, we definitely weren't supposed to look better than 4-12. But the guys responded, they put on a show, and finished 10-6 to win the NFC East for the first time in 13 seasons and make the playoffs for only the third time in 13 seasons. The defense turned around and didn't fall to historically bad-levels. They made plays, they played with passion. The offense clicked and scored points. Special teams eliminated most of the mistakes.

This team will get better. By experience. By improvement. By return.

Robert Griffin III will heal. Trent Williams' thigh bruise will not be a problem. Alfred Morris will be rested. Roy Helu, Jr. should be healthy and back. Fred Davis will hopefully be returning. Adam Carriker will be healed and returning to bolster a D-Line that improved leaps and bounds every week in the second half of the season. Brian Orakpo will be back to add more rotation to the depth we maybe didn't know we had. Keenan Robinson will be able to help spell an older London Fletcher who appeared to find his motivation late in the year. Brandon Meriweather, if the team chooses to retain him, will be healed. The team could have a possible all-pro FS in a number of guys set to hit the market this offseason. The young guys to be drafted. Guys to be added after contracts are restructured. This team can, and will improve, because Washington is relevant again, and plays fun football, and has the most electrifying young football player in the NFL at the Quarterback position.

It was a Cinderella season, and the clock struck midnight. But this isn't the same old story. There's a future waiting ahead full of promise, hinted at in the final months of this NFL season. Redskins Nation, Redskins players... hold your heads high, even in this defeat. It's painful because we know we had a real chance, but the deck was stacked. We fell short. But we have hope.

"Our will! Our way! Our win!" - London Fletcher

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