One of our programs earlier Monday wondered if the 2-0 Commanders were frauds, based on their struggles against two lesser teams and absolute disaster of a game Sunday – and while Grant & Danny weren’t willing to go quite that far, it may be cause to sound some alarms for a team expected (hoped?) to be better than its 2022 counterpart.
“I mentioned this earlier, but 217 games in the history of FedEx Field, yesterday’s 34-point loss is the third-biggest blowout,” Grant said. “Hard to imagine with all the fiascos and massacres that only twice before yesterday have they ever lost by 34 points in a game there.”
“Not even the Monday Night Massacre was a bigger defeat by math, right?” Danny said. “I know they were down like a million to nothing seven minutes in, and Albert Haynesworth basically quit, but they still managed 28 points in that game in garbage time.”
So, then, Grant asks: how much does yesterday worry you big picture, as opposed to this being a one-off blip on the radar?
Danny, admitted weirdo, isn’t too concerned, it seems.
“I may be a weirdo on this, zagging when they're zigging, but I worried when the Nationals started 19-31 because they were a World Series-caliber team with great talent – and of course that all worked out,” Danny said. “I worry when a Capitals team built to be a President's Trophy contender has a swoon of 10 or 12 games. But, I’m not worried about this, because their ceiling is a lot lower; I knew that going in, and I don’t love getting destroyed like that, because it maybe poured a lot of cold water on some things that were kind of building momentum, but it didn't really change my eyeline for the team this year.”
Grant doesn’t think this should be a referendum for preseason expectations, though – he wants to know if this is just one game, or if it exposed some things other teams can capitalize on?
“There’s some of that certainly, the exposure part of it, but to me, they beat a couple of bad teams – eked them out, probably deserved to lose both of those games but got some breaks – and then got the doors blown off by a really good team,” Danny said. “So, I wouldn't say a ton has changed for me. I think they'll be better, but I think the fact that it was that bad as a one-off.”
So finally, what do you say, Grant?
“I really do believe that I do, too; I think that that was a kind of just the snowball game where everything that can go wrong late starts to,” Grant said. “They should probably be 1-2 right now but they’re 2-1, and it was probably a good thing in the grand scheme that early in the year, they got exposed enough that we just paused because the momentum and the energy everyone was so positive and that's good. Optimism is a healthy thing, hope is a good thing, but I think we were starting maybe to overvalue what this was; instead of looking at the Cardinals game and going, ‘man, you almost lost at home to Arizona when they flew cross country in week one in their head coaches debut,’ it was kind of viewed as a rally.”
To Grant, that happened, and then in Denver, ‘turn that game off 15 minutes in and they're a bottom three team in the NFL,’ but they won to get to 2-0.
And then, Sunday.
“I think yesterday was revealing, that they are not what we kind of hoped they were early in the year, and they're not ready for the big boys,” Grant said. “Having said that, if they play Buffalo again in two weeks, let's say, they lose 27 to 14 or something, but I don’t think that happens again. I don't think that's an authentic loss to really where they are.”
But, there’s still work to be done.
“Howell is better than he played, but I don't know how much better the line is than it played, frankly, which is the real issue, and that's where I have paused all along at being optimistic big picture,” Grant said. “Their line, their protection, and that combination with a young QB that's got to see it to believe it before the ball comes out of his hand…that’s just so dangerous. You are asking for problems when it's built that way.”