- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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I’ve said this before, but I’ll repeat it: I’ve just never felt the same vibe in the locker room as I did a year ago -- not only during the hot streak, but before it began. I wonder if some were so caught off-guard by what happened early -- after thinking they had taken a step as an organization -- that it caused more frustration than when they were 3-6 in 2012.
That’s not a knock on the players per se; it’s more about every season has a different feel. I remember thinking they could play better a year ago (no way did I think seven straight wins). They did enough things well to give off that feel, like running the ball well and having an electric quarterback and an opportunistic defense. They didn’t just express confidence, but rather seemed confident. Just not the same now.
The NFC East is still not a good division. Dallas is banged up and playing at New Orleans while Philadelphia plays Green Bay (minus quarterback Aaron Rodgers). But I’d need more reason than that to think the Redskins could go on a 2012 type run. A lot more reason.
By the way, yes the Eagles catch a break playing the Packers without Rodgers. The Redskins caught one too playing a banged-up 1-7 Vikings team.
If you’re a fan, and my guess is if you’re reading this then you are, this has to be one of the most disappointing seasons in a long time. The town had fallen in love with the Redskins again, because of Robert Griffin III, yes, but also because of guys like Alfred Morris. The future looked bright (and, offensively, it still does). Look what’s happened; a fan base that has felt burned and misled for years probably feels that way once again. And probably will, at least until free agency when the flush-with-cash Redskins become active again.
There’s still reason to be optimistic about the future. Except now you must cross your fingers.
Running quarterbacks have hurt Washington more than I thought. Christian Ponder has now played well in consecutive games, and a large part of the reason why is his ability to extend plays. Chicago’s Josh McCown did the same thing in the second half against Washington.
If one guy gets out of his rush lane, those quarterbacks have taken advantage. And it stresses the coverage more than it can handle. You see the difference an explosive guy like Denver’s Von Miller makes when a quarterback starts to get loose in the pocket.
The Redskins were said to be built to protect a second-half lead because of the presence of Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. But in the past three games, when they had double-digit leads, the Redskins have recorded one sack and they did not apply a lot of pressure. Orakpo and Kerrigan are good pass-rushers capable of big games. But they’re not a weekly menace. Not a knock; it’s just who they are and they are good, but this is what I’ve heard from people who know a lot more football than me. It’s just another factor. Nobody’s closing.
But this is not about one player or even two players. It's not about one side of the ball, either. It's just that they can't play a complete game because one side always comes up short.
Not sure I’ve ever seen Santana Moss as speechless as he was in the locker room after the game. He had a crushed look on his face. Gave us short answers, something he never does.
You could also see on Kerrigan's face how much it bothered him that he dropped an interception. He knows that could have been the difference in the game. If he hadn’t scored, he would have put Washington deep in Vikings’ territory. Instead, the Vikings kept the ball and drove down for a touchdown and 28-27 lead. When Kerrigan says it will stick with him, you believe him.
I don’t know if Kerrigan would admit this or not, but I wonder how much his knee bothers him. His hands and strength and relentlessness are why he’s good. He can still do well. But it looked like a couple times Thursday where it might have been the case. Sometimes, though, you get an idea in your head -- that maybe it’s still an issue -- and you see things differently. That’s a long way to say: I’m not sure, but I wonder.