As a Redskins fan, we’ve gotten used to the idea of turning off a football game way earlier than expected when this team plays on Monday Night Football, because we can’t take any more of the humiliation on national television.
But last night was slightly different.
Sure, I knew the game was over with just under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, when Brandon Graham of the Philadelphia Eagles pushed Shaun Lauvao into the backfield — it’s like Déjà vu all over again — and altered Kirk Cousins pass to where it ended up making a beeline into the hands of defensive back Corey Graham. It was 31-17 at that point, the Eagles were already in field goal range, and it put an exhausted Redskins defense back right back on the field, having spent 12 of the first 19 minutes of the second half on the field already.
We had seen this movie before, and I had no interest in watching it again.
I spent the rest of the evening devoting 90% of my focus on the Washington Wizards vs. Denver Nuggets game, sporadically checking on the Redskins to ensure I don’t miss some miraculous comeback that D.C. sports teams never seem to undertake.
And yet, even after the Redskins lost by a 34-24 margin that doesn’t really reflect how badly they were outplayed last night, there wasn’t quite that same level of “what the hell were we doing out there?” that you usually feel after these types of games.
Sure, there were plenty of things you could’ve been pissed off about last night. When Ed Hochuli wasn’t turning the game into his own personal three-hour soliloquy, the perpetually terrible officiating — yet again — missed a ton of cheap shots and blatant holds by the Eagles.
The playcalling was terrible. Jay Gruden’s steadfast refusal to simply run the ball on 3rd and 1, and instead call a bunch of slow-developing pass plays against one of the best defensive plays in football, almost led me to start binge drinking. As usual, they gave up up the running game way too early again, even though Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson had a handful of nice runs.
The Eagles picked on our hobbled and undermanned secondary, and the Redskins seemed surprised by it. Under Jim Schwartz, the Eagles defense loves to bring blitzes from every angle imaginable, and despite playing them just six week ago, the Redskins seemed surprise by it.
And yet, all that being said, there’s a reason that after last night’s game, you just shrugged your shoulders and said: “we’re on to Dallas.”
And that reason was Carson Wentz.
After last night, I felt the same way about Wentz and the Eagles beating the Redskins as I do when LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Wizards. You just shrug your shoulders and say: “they had the best player on the floor on their team, and he put his team on his back and willed them to victory.”
I watch as much football as I can every Sunday — or at least as much football as I can get away with, before the wife and the “life calendar” get in the way. Having said that, the three best players in the NFL i’ve seen this year — across any position — are Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Carson Wentz.
And it might not be in that order.
The shit that we saw Wentz do on Monday night was terrifying. He was transcendent enough to where, as a Redskins fan who is so much more emotionally invested in this football team than what is healthy, I found myself — very begrudingly — acknowledging how good he is, while he’s clobbering my team; put another way, my admiration for him, and how much i’m absolutely terrified by him, overshadowed how much I despise him simply for the fact that he plays for an NFC East rival.
Wentz brought back (miserable) flashbacks of playing against Donovan McNabb, only if McNabb was about 45,721% more accurate with his throws. With Rodgers gone for virtually the entire year thanks to a broken collarbone, Wentz is the best improvisational quarterback in football. The best comparison I can make for him is a younger, more athletic version of Ben Roethlisberger.
When judging young quarterbacks, at some point you have to shut off your brain, just watch the guy, and feel in your gut if he has “it.” That “it” is the esoteric, preternatural ability to play the quarterback position at the professional level.
Carson Wentz has “it.” In fact, he has a LOT of “it.”
If you need empirical proof, check out the fact that he’s 4th in the NFL in passing yards (and on pace to throw for over 4,200 yards this season), 3rd in passer rating (104.0), and leads the league in touchdown passes (17). If you’re more of an “eyeball test” guy, you have a whole bevy of plays he made last night that ripped the hearts out of the Redskins (and their fans), like this one and this one and ESPECIALLY this one.
When you root for your team as passionately as D.C. sports fans do, every loss hurts, let alone one to a hated division rival.
But last night’s loss wasn’t a referendum on Jay Gruden’s job security, Kirk Cousins’ future with the Redskins, or whether or not this year’s defense is better than last year’s version.
It was about the simple fact that the Redskins lost to the team that not only had the best quarterback on the field and the best player on the field, but perhaps one of the very best players in the entire NFL.