This week connects the regular season's conclusion and the start of the Washington Redskins first playoff appearance since 2012. With this intersection in mind, we tasked our Breaking Burgundy team with a dozen questions on the overall season, the key moments and what's up next. Click here for Part 1 on how Redskins won the NFC East, MVP and biggest sleeper.
5. Key moment
Chris Russell: The key moment for the Redskins this year in my opinion was Scot McCloughan not firing Jay Gruden. He could have easily, as the two had no previous relationship and it was well known that Dan Snyder and perhaps even Bruce Allen were frustrated with their young head coach. Stability and growing on the job was crucial for the Redskins success.
Peter Hailey: So many to choose from, but the comeback against Tampa Bay has to be the one for me. It gave Kirk Cousins his defining moment and showed his teammates he could lead them. If they go on to get blown out at home vs. the lowly Bucs, boy, this campaign goes down in flames and lots of people lose their jobs.
Dan Roth: The key moment came when the Redskins trailed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 24-0, in the second quarter of Week 8. Rather than quitting and heading into their bye week with their tails between their legs, the Redskins rallied to make the largest comeback in franchise history. It was an early testament to the character of this team and what it was capable of accomplishing.
Talib Babb: Kirk Cousins game-winning 90-yard drive in Week 4 against the Philadelphia Eagles sticks out to me as the key moment of the season. The Redskins had blown a sizeable lead to Philly and had only a few minutes to score a touchdown. The win gave the team an even 2-2 record in the young season, but most importantly it gave them confidence to believe in their offense and quarterback to get things done when it's crunch time. If they would have lost that game, they would have fell to 1-3 and were headed to play the then undefeated Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome, which could have led to a 1-4 start and another embarrassing season.
Frank Hanrahan: The key moment was the come from behind win over Tampa Bay that sparked Cousins to say his now infamous "You Like That" line. They lose that game, game over man, game over.
T Manuel: After the OT Pick 6 against Atlanta, the struggles against the Jets and then the 1st half against Tampa the easy thing for Jay to do would have been to pull Kirk and try to salvage his job with Colt (maybe even RG3). Timing was right with a bye coming up.Jay stuck with Kirk and that sent a strong message to Kirk and the entire team.
Ben Standig: Week 4. Coming off a 32-21 loss at the New York Giants, the Redskins were seconds away from losing a second straight NFC East game; falling to 1-3 with road games against the Falcons, Jets and Patriots coming up; hearing roars from all corners about a QB switch. Instead Cousins and Pierre Garcon hooked up for the game-winning touchdown with 26 seconds left. The score not only won the game, but showed that Cousins could indeed thrive in the mot pressure-packed moments. Plenty of other season-saving moments occurred in the following weeks, but this was the first.
6. Key move
Ben Standig: Yep, hiring that Scot McCloughan fella. He entered talking about wanting a tough team and then executed his vision by building up both sides of the line. Even if Cousins didn't develop this season, GMSM put in motion a winning plan thanks to a productive offseason. That the QB shined only helped accentuate the positives created by the new guy.
Chris Russell: The key move was obviously going to Kirk Cousins over Griffin but I'm not sure I can fully give them credit for it. They almost backed into it, because of injury. I strongly believe it would have happened early in the season, but they got a jump start. The second key move was going with Will Compton over Keenan Robinson. Again, injuries played a part but Compton was going to replace Robinson anyway.
Dan Roth: Washington's key move was sticking with Will Compton as the starter once Keenan Robinson was fully healthy. The Redskins fared much better against the run with Compton starting.
Frank Hanrahan: The key move of the year was Jay Gruden making the announcement that Cousins was your starting quarterback for the season. Looking back now that was obviously a stroke of genius by Gruden.
Peter Hailey: Scot McCloughan’s hiring as general manager. You can’t build a strong house without a skilled architect. He’s the one who put this team together and has inspired the players to be better.
Talib Babb: The key move for this organization was to hire general manager Scot McCloughan in the offseason. McCloughan then orchestrated the key roster moves and built a team that had a decent amount of depth, but also compiled a roster that was competitive for majority of the season.
T Manuel: I'll go back to the offseason. The coaching hires I think have been largely under-appreciated, outside of Callahan. Fewell and Cavanaugh both have Super Bowl experience. Fewell has been a tremendous teacher for a ragtag/makeshift DB group. Cavanaugh's skills/experience have allowed McVay to spend more time learning as OC and also Cav has been able to spend time coaching RG3 (which may not help us, but will help him). And Joe Barry has provided an energy and attitude that fits well with the culture Jay and Scot seem to want.
7. Sleeper move, moment, player or debate
Frank Hanrahan: Sleeper move of the season and give GM Scot Mcloughan credit for bringing in veteran players like Terrance Knighton and Ricky Jean-Francois who simply get it. Their approach to the game and locker room presence alone paid dividends for the Redskins.
Ben Standig: Out went the notion of playing time or roster spot based on contract or draft slot or PR boost. The move from Robert Griffin III to Cousins is the obvious scenario, but not the only one. Chris Baker playing over Stephen Paea. Former second-rounder David Amerson waived. Andre Roberts losing snaps. Rookies Kyshoen Jarrett and Jamison Crowder playing early and often despite being drafted in the sixth and fourth round respectively. The earn-your-keep message was clear.
Peter Hailey: Because there’s been so much positivity surround the ‘Skins (for once), we’ve lost sight of just how far Alfred Morris has fallen. I think we can finally declare that the read-option was a huge reason for his success early on, and without he, he’s just an average back. GREAT guy, but average back.
Dan Roth: Bashaud Breeland is the ultimate sleeper in my mind. If you saw this type of season coming from the second-year cornerback, you belong in an NFL front office.
Talib Babb: The sleeper move of the season might have been made during the preseason when rookie Brandon Scherff was moved from the tackle position to right guard. That led to Morgan Moses becoming the starting right tackle, who eventually played well during the season. The offensive line struggled to run block, but they protected Kirk Cousins well in the passing game. Cousins was sacked only 26 times this season, the least of any quarterback to start all 16 games this season.
Chris Russell: I'm not sure if this qualifies as a sleeper move but rewarding Chris Baker with the starting spot over Stephen Paea early in the regular season was important for many reasons. It proved what coaches preach and Baker kept the momentum up all year while becoming the best defensive lineman on the team.
T Manuel: Quinton Dunbar's end zone INT against the Giants. The immediate result wasn't felt but that moment was really when I felt the division was ours for the taking. Giants were marching in their 1st drive of the 2nd half and could've cut it to a 2 score game. But our converted rookie WR stepped up to make a big play. That it was Dunbar was key, he represents the hard work/accountability of this team7. Silliest debate
8. Silliest debate
Ben Standig: So many with the quarterbacks, but let's go with that week or so where we spent so much time arguing with or over comments from ESPN's Bomani Jones about the Redskins media members fascination with Kirk Cousins. Somebody who observes the team occasionally and from 30,000 feet when he does suggested there were reasons for Cousins praise beyond the simply X's and O's even though for many of us that's exactly what it was. Several weeks it appears all have moved on, but we'll never get that time back. No, I liked none of that.
Chris Russell: The silliest debate was that the Redskins should "abandon" the run. No they shouldn't and while they are still more pass dependent than I would like them to be, the run offense is still a crucial part of the offensive success. It's just harder to quantify that impact.
Talib Babb: This organization gave way to plenty debates this season, but the silliest was the small crowd of people thinking Colt McCoy gave the Redskins the best chance to win. The best chance to win what, the top draft pick? Many thought it was time for Robert Griffin III to hit the bench and I understand, I also understand if you were skeptical of Kirk Cousins like I was, but to ever think the answer was McCoy is irresponsible.
Peter Hailey: “They wouldn’t have won it any other year in the NFC East.” Sure, the division was putrid this season, but this year’s Redskins could’ve competed against a healthy Cowboys team and better Eagles/Giants squads. I feel like people have underestimated the Burgundy and Gold because of the garbage around them.
Dan Roth: Whether there was a conspiracy to keep Robert Griffin III from the starting quarterback position. If the Redskins thought RG3 would have given them a better chance at winning, they would have played him. To me, it’s as simple as that.
Frank Hanrahan: The silliest debate was whether or not there was a conspiracy to keep Robert Griffin III off the field with the concussion protocol during the pre-season. That would have been way too devious by the Skins brass right?
T Manuel: Tie between "You only like Kirk because you hate RG3" (and vice-versa) and "Stop crowning Kirk" A) this isn't a zero sum game and B) you can recognize/appreciate Kirk's strong season while also acknowledging the jury is still out on his long term prospects
Part 3: How much do we really like Kirk Cousins, Redskins-Packers/Super Bowl predictions
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