The Washington Redskins defeated the New York Giants rather handily on Sunday, but we shouldn't be making a run to store for any Kool-Aid quite yet. Pour me a nice responsible glass of milk instead.
The Redskins might have looked good while outplaying their opponents, but there were also plenty of things to work on. Four sacks allowed is not good enough from our offensive line and not good enough from Rex Grossman either. If can't get the ball out quickly or move laterally to avoid the sack (like Donovan McNabb and Jason Campbell were always so capable of doing), the Redskins will continue to rack up sacks, and probably fumbles as well.
Washington's defense appeared to be vastly improved from last year's disappointing squad, but also gave up a big play or two too many.
We need to give the Redskins credit where it's due though. The defense got pressure on Eli Manning while also totally shutting down the Giants' running game in the second half. Grossman and his new collection of receivers.
The Redskins were absolutely the better team on Sunday. Two teams that should have been evenly matched weren't. It wasn't a perfect performance from the Redskins, but it was solid. Solid enough for them to be considered in the upper half of the league.
But the Redskins still have a long way to go though before they can be considered one of the NFL's elite. I was more depressed than entertained when watching the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints move the ball so efficiently and beautifully on Thursday night. I was depressed because those teams didn't remind me at all of my own. When will the Redskins be able to move the ball like that? When will we have our Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees?
So if they're not elite, and they're obviously not bad, what are the 2011 Redskins? They're in the middle. And the middle is a terrible place to be.
The middle means finishing within a game of 8-8. The middle means either missing the playoffs, or just making it, but being bounced on the road in the first round. The middle means no top-10 draft pick.
I spent this whole offseason looking forward to next offseason. Mike Shanahan seems to have worked to improve every position on this team except for quarterback. The offesnse and defense both looked far better against New York than in their two losses to the Giants last season. Even the special teams unit is better with the addition of punter Sav Rocca, who nailed three punts inside the Giants' 20-yard line on Sunday. Quarterback is the one position that Shanahan hasn't spent any time improving this offseason. Its the one position he's been saving for next year.
Well the middle means no Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley. The middle means more Grossman.
Grossman turned in a perfectly fine performance against the Giants. The only obvious mistake he made was failing to tuck the ball away when getting hit from the blind side. Grossman might have a career year in 2011. But by taking one team to the Super Bowl already, he's overachieved. He won't be taking another team to the Super Bowl.
You don't drink Kool-Aid in the middle, but you don't drink shots of tequila until you pass out either. You drink milk. But at least this is some nice cold fresh milk. And at least that's still an improvement over the rotten stuff we were drinking last year.