It happens a lot. Whenever the Redskins don't look completely terrible to start the season, fans get excited. They start talking themselves into better performances, more wins, and maybe a playoff berth. Most people tempered their expectations because the Redskins weren't able to fill all of their holes in the offseason. But the same thing still happened, when Rex Grossman looked decent, the Redskins seemingly possessed a new and improved running game, and the defense started putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The Redskins got off to a surprising 3-1 start, and some of those things continued. The defense is better than last season and has showcased the ability to generate sacks and turnovers. The offensive line is also better, and the Redskins have run the ball effectively at times. Quarterback, though, is still an issue. And, for some reason, after Grossman's four-interception game against the Eagles, fans are again expressing their disgust with the team's quarterback situation, even though there wasn't much of a chance the Redskins were going to rectify that problem during the season.
Let's step back for a moment. Whenever something embarrassing happens involving the Redskins -- this week's embarrassing performance being Grossman's awful game -- fans express their outrage. That's fine, I guess, and there will always be the crazy fans who come up with bizarre solutions or want the team to go in a completely different direction and start firing coaches left and right. But what exactly changed after the Eagles game? Obviously the injuries on the offensive line are huge concerns, but I'm talking about the quarterback issues. Did fans really need to witness Grossman's four interceptions to know that he was an average to below-average quarterback? He throws the ball well occasionally, but he's a turnover-committing machine. Wasn't that a given going into the season?
Before the season started and people started getting a little too wrapped up in how well the Redskins played at times in the preseason, I wrote a few quick notes for things to remember about this season. Here they are:
1. Nothing wrong with being excited about the team's young talent.
2. Don't up on some of those young players if they start slow.
3. Beck/Grossman doesn't mean a whole lot.
4. Going to draft a QB to develop; Beck/Grossman stepping up would help make that transition easier.
5. Getting a few wins shouldn't mean a change of direction.
6. Revamped defense and offensive weapons to eventually be aided by better quarterback and offensive line play = long-term goal.
So let's break these thoughts down:
1. The Redskins committed to the draft, and they've been rewarded for doing so. No, they didn't draft a quarterback and will have to do that next year, but they did add some much-needed, young talent to the roster. Ryan Kerrigan has been outstanding, and Roy Helu has been solid. Other rookies, such as Niles Paul, Chris Neild, Markus White, DeJon Gomes, and Leonard Hankerson, have either brought something to the table that the team lacked or have given the Redskins depth at a few positions. And that's not even counting Jarvis Jenkins, who had the best preseason of all the rookies before being lost for the season. Hopefully the Redskins embrace this strategy again in next year's draft.
2. This may really only apply to Hankerson, who has yet to play in a game yet. But it's not like the Redskins have a plethora of explosive weapons at wide receiver, so Hankerson should get his chance soon.
3. Rex Grossman is not the answer at quarterback. Neither is John Beck, regardless of what the Shanahans have said. This has not changed.
4. It's possible that the Shanahans really believed one of the quarterbacks would play adequately this season. There's still time for that to happen. But since they didn't select a quarterback in last year's draft, taking one next year is on the team's to-do list. There should be several quarterbacks to choose from then, and then the Redskins hopefully have their quarterback of the future. Still, Grossman or Beck playing better would be important to eventually bridge that gap until that young quarterback is ready, but then again, that's what happens when a team relies on quarterbacks like Grossman and Beck.
5. This is almost impossible for fans to avoid. The Redskins started 3-1, and some fans inevitably thought the team was on pace for something special. Eventually, they may be. But unless the defense transforms quickly into a shutdown, turnover-forcing unit that scores points or routinely sets the offense up with scoring chances and great field position, the Redskins will struggle to put points on the board. That's what happens when quarterbacks don't play well, receiving options aren't as skilled as they need to be, and when the offensive line doesn't block all that well or a few talented linemen get hurt. Over a full season, these things happen. That's why improving roster depth through the draft EVERY season is so important. Just ask the Packers.
6. As stated before, the Redskins still have holes. Considering how flawed the roster has been for several seasons, how could they not? But all of those problems can't be fixed with a single draft, even if every single drafted player exceeds expectations. The goal is to build a consistent winner.
It's important not to overreact to a few wins or losses here or there. Yes, the Redskins are a better team than last year. But no, Grossman or Beck probably are not good enough to lead them to the playoffs. Not much has changed besides the Redskins pulling out an unexpected win or two. It's not time to change course or overreact and make a hasty trade (like what the Raiders probably did by acquiring Carson Palmer).