“Livin’ on a prayer. Take my hand, and we’ll make it I swear…”
Coincidence? Or is Jon Bon Jovi a prophet for the Redskins season?
In all seriousness, it’s been a tough second quarter of the season stretch for this team. After starting out 3-1 and in first place in the division, the team has gone 0-4 and is looking up at the rest of the division.
From a team perspective, there’s nothing nice to say about four straight losses. From a goals perspective, there’s nothing nice to say about four straight losses.
But it doesn’t mean that there’s nothing nice to say. Believe it or not, there was a lot to build on from yesterday, and these are the top three reasons:
1. Youthful additions paying huge dividends.
Yesterday, the Redskins featured seven-of-12 picks from April’s Draft, starting a season-high four freshmen. Not only did those players contribute to the team’s successes, but they also carried the team at different junctions in the game.
Here’s the numbers that rookies put up on offense/out of the total:
Rushes: 10/15 attempts
Rushing yards: 41/52 yards
Receptions: 18/30 receptions
Rec. Yards: 139/254 yards
Here’s the numbers that rookies put up on defense:
For A Loss: 2
QB hits: 2
That’s awesome production out of a group of players that by in large were not expected to start this year. These are building blocks that are being turned loose early, but aren’t being exposed against pro opponents.
Helu also broke the single-game receptions record for the Redskins, hauling in 14 for 105 yards, on the day. The previous mark of 13 is shared by Art Monk (12/15/1985 against Cincinnati, 11/04/1990 against Detroit) and Kelvin Bryant (12/07/1986). He alone accounted for half of the team’s total offense yesterday, and recorded the most receptions by an NFL rookie this season. The last time a Redskins running back cracked 100-yards receiving in a day, was when Stephen Davis achieved that in 1998, 213 regular season games ago.
2. Special teams have found a special stride.
I will give all of my Sav Rocca bobble head figures to whomever can answer this question without looking it up: Who can name the four punters that the Redskins used in the 2010 season?
It was Hunter ‘The Punter’ Smith, Josh Bidwell, Sam Paulescu, and even Graham Gano got in on the action.
My Rocca bobble heads are safe for another day.
A grand total of zero of those players are still punting for a team in the National Football League. Meanwhile, noted Australian Sav Rocca is enjoying his retirement from Aussie Rules Football, by putting NFL punters on the map. Yesterday, he had one punt downed inside the 20-yard line, giving him 17 for the season. He is tied with Miami’s Brandon Fields for the NFL lead in punts downed inside the 20.
He’s been simply outstanding this year, and is well on his way to setting a new standard for punting in Washington and in the league.
His partner in crime, Graham Gano, has exorcised his kicking demons, putting it through from 49, 50, 50, and 59 yards this season. He has also provided a capable replacement for the Gano of yesteryear, by simply getting better this offseason.
Gano’s crowning moment came yesterday, when his 59-yard field goal to end the first half, set a Redskins’ record and a career long. The team record had previously been held by Steve Cox, who hit a 57-yard field goal vs. Seattle on Aug. 28, 1986. With the kick, Gano became the 14th different player in NFL history to convert on a field goal attempt of 59 yards or more.
3. At least the Redskins (will soon) have their health (hopefully):
It may be disappointing, but it’s no surprise that the Redskins have struggled without their playmakers. Members of every unit on the Redskins have missed time or played through injury this year, but the team is looking to get healthy over the next few weeks.
Without any setbacks, the Redskins anticipate the return of a fully healthy left tackle Trent Williams (who played yesterday), receiver Santana Moss, and safety Oshiomogho Atogwe in the coming weeks. These guys each have Pro Bowl ability when they’re playing healthy, and the Redskins rely on them to perform that way.
Maybe the results don’t measure up to expectations, and maybe the team has gotten off track from their 3-1 start. But this team has young playmakers that are already getting valuable playing time.
There’s no question that this team is going to be exciting to watch down the stretch. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll see the birth of a new Redskins star this year.