- - Thursday, September 5, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Life is a circle at Redskins Park.

Not like a nice Disney “Circle of Life” circle. No, the circle at Redskins Park is more like Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell.

I’m not sure which circle this is — maybe lust, maybe heresy, perhaps fraud.

Washington quarterback Case Keenum, Sept. 3, 2019: “We got some young guys on our side of the ball, but heck, nobody is talking about us, nobody expects much from us. I think it’s a pretty good place to be in, man. I think we got a lot of fight in that locker room, especially on our side of the football. So I’m excited to go out there and show what we’re about.”

Washington quarterback Rex Grossman, to then-CSN Washington, Aug. 9, 2011: “We’re just waiting in the wings ready to take over the NFC East. Nobody’s talking about us, it’s right where we want to be. You look at us from top to bottom out here, there’s a bunch of great players. And we don’t need people saying we’re the best right now. But when it’s all said and done, I really feel like this team’s going to win the [NFC] East.”



It seemed to work for Grossman when the season opened in 2011 — a 28-14 upset win over the New York Giants at home, followed by another win, 22-21 over the Arizona Cardinals. Then, following an 18-16 loss in Dallas to the Cowboys, the Redskins came back with a 17-10 victory over the Rams in St. Louis.

Going into the bye week, Grossman looked like Nostradamus. His team was 3-1 and leading the NFC East.

Then the roof fell in. I guess people started talking about them then, because Washington won just two of their next 12 games, finishing 5-11.

I guess the answer is to keep people from talking about them, which, given the decimated Redskins fan base these days, should be easy.

Nobody is talking about us — a marketing slogan that now defines this franchise.

Somehow I don’t think Keenum is going to tap into that early Rex Grossman magic.

The schedule opens with a row of opponents, who, for the most part, might not even have to know they are playing the Redskins, let alone talk about them — the Eagles in Philadelphia Sunday; Cowboys at Ghost Town Field the following week; the Bears at home Sept. 23 for “Monday Night Football”; the Giants at MetLife Stadium and finally, the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots back at Ghost Town Field, which by then should be as quiet as a funeral home.

This is a team that will likely survive its way to maybe a 6-10 record, depending on how much of the burden a seemingly strong defense can shoulder. The defense should be better than last year’s, which began to unravel as the season went on. The addition of safety Landon Collins, the drafting of a stud like Montez Sweat and another year under the belts of defensive linemen Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Tim Settle should make a good front line better.

But more will be asked of them.

Anyone who believes that this Redskins offense, under Keenum’s direction, will be better than last year’s must believe that the Redskins were absolute idiots to trade for Alex Smith last year. If anyone argues that Keenum is better than Smith, they should do so in the cone of silence, where Redskins dreams come true.

If you were paying attention, last year’s offense struggled with Smith at quarterback, a low-scoring unit that, under Smith, kept turnovers to a minimum, and, thanks to a defense and good special teams, often found themselves in good field position.

But in their 6-3 start, their victories resulted from taking the lead first and never playing from behind. In those three losses, they found themselves playing from behind. Then came the 23-21 loss in Week 11 to Houston, when Smith suffered his gruesome broken leg, and the house of cards collapsed — Colt McCoy, Mark Sanchez, Josh Johnson and a 7-9 finish.

The collapse won’t take as long this season, particularly given a shaky offensive line, Trent Williams or not. And, despite the presence of their No. 1 pick quarterback Dwayne Haskins in the wings, the offense will follow the same script as 2018 — finishing the year with a quarterback who is not even on the roster today.

Nobody will be talking about them then, either.

⦁ Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday and Sunday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.

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