For Better Or Worse, Nothing Will Be The Same Again For The Redskins

Talk of X's and O's took a backseat to truth and honesty over what's to come for the Redskins. What to come? The unknown.

LANDOVER -- Honesty is not synonymous with truth. That's a line from the movie "The Departed" and perhaps a philosophical argument, though one not for the Washington Redskins locker room Sunday night. Can also skip Monday's exit day at Redskins Park.

Yet honesty and truth met as lineman Ricky Jean Francois, free-agent-to-be Pierre Garcon and head coach Jay Gruden expressed their feelings following the season-ending 19-10 loss to the New York Giants. Forget X's and O's. The real honest talk was about the only truth all can agree on: Nothing will be the same going forward.

"It hurts," Jean Francois said after the Redskins lost a game that would have put them into the playoffs with the opposite result. "I'm trying my best to look at the good part, but there's no good part. I've heard coaches around here tell us so many times we're almost there. There's no such thing as that. Now you're not almost there. Now you're home in January. Now [Monday] we have to go inside [the locker room at Redskins Park] with a six-foot black bag and clean everything out."

He's talking about cleaning out their individual lockers. With the season abruptly over, players won't return to Ashburn until late spring or the summer. Some will never call the Loudoun County facility home again.

For those who believed Washington had the goods for an interesting postseason, who believed magic existed with a group, that's the real pain.

"This team will never be the same," Jean Francois continued. "We won't have the same pieces. People may go elsewhere. Most people may stay. The coaching staff may change. This team won't be the same. It hurts so bad knowing you had the team to go out there and do everything."

It's fair to question his analysis. This team lost four of its final six games. Yes, there were winning records in each over the last two seasons, but just 2 1/2 games over .500 in total. That's middle, not magical. As the lineman noted, "sometimes we just don't show up in that big game. ...Didn't need no help, didn't need another team [to lose], everybody did their job -- and we just let the ball fall."

Those factors make the notion of notable change fair.

Yet maybe that's the moment speaking. The Redskins offense posted gaudy numbers. Back-to-back-winning seasons, which came with Kirk Cousins at quarterback, is something not seen in these parts since the 1990's.

In some ways, it doesn't matter. Even if prominent free agents like Cousins, Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Chris Baker remain, this team will never be the same again. These 50-odd players with these coaches won't be back, not all of them. That's not just personnel. That's people in your orbit.

"It's over," Gruden said when he opened his postgame press conference. "We played a very good team today and we didn't get it done. Then just like that, your season's over. You just got to say goodbye. So, hopefully we'll see y'all here next year. ...They all did work hard, played hard. Just weren't good enough. Just didn't get it done today."

Honesty and truth meet in that Jean Francois soliloquy and Gruden's final line. Yet the Redskins' season wasn't about Sunday. Other moments this season went awry. There were other times when luck shined on the Burgundy and Gold. The net result for 2016 is 8-7-1.

The big picture result? We'll see. Maybe general manager Scot McCloughan sees value in paying Cousins, who threw for nearly 5,000 yards, lots of money over many years. Maybe not. He didn't draft the fifth-year passer. McCloughan also didn't select Gruden, making him one of three general managers in the league not to pick his coach or quarterback.

Gruden is an offensive guy first and foremost. The offense rocked more weeks than not, but could change if free agent receivers Garcon and DeSean Jackson aren't back. This defense lacked talent up front. McCloughan picked the players. Gruden, who enters a possible win-or-adios season in 2017, might remind those who question his game or defensive coordinator Joe Barry's ability with that reality. 

None of that might matter.

Garcon, a headliner among the nearly two dozen free agents, peppered his postgame comments on the team and Cousins with "We" and "Next Year."

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"I definitely want to play here, but its football. We're in January. Things are different from January to March," he said. "It's football. Now it's not the X's and O's but the business side of it, which I have no control over."

The Redskins have some control over the offseason, but not all. Free agents are free, other than perhaps Cousins if Washington uses the Franchise Tag for a second straight year.

Do the Redskins let the final loss dictate a new path? Do they view this season as another step in the rebuild? Whatever happens next, things will never be the same. Worse or better, we'll see. Anybody suggesting a different truth isn't being honest.

Ben Standig is the Publisher of Breaking Burgundy and the Huddle Report's 2012 NFL Mock Draft champion. You can find him on Twitter @benstandig and on Google+.

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