Waking up this morning was a bit odd. I was not certain how to act. It has been a long time since I as a Redskins fan, woke up, knowing damn well, that the season ended, and three cities, Philadelphia, New York, and Dallas, sit below the Nation's Capital! You have to love everything about this team. They could have caved at 3-6 and played individual games and fought for individual roster spots in 2013, as Mike Shanahan suggested. Why not? The veterans on the team have become accustomed to that. Instead, they rallied behind their rookie quarterback, made a statement of one game at a time, and then perfectly exectued that plan to run the table on the remaining seven games.
It's Mike Shanahan's roster. It was Mike Shanahan' youth movement. The Redskins won all seven remaining games behind the youth movement. Folks, just like the baseball team that resides in our city, that bodes very well for the next five years. Given the NFL week ended last night, let's take a look at what the media pundits had to say.
The Last Call, John Clayton, ESPN
What's the biggest change? What is considered the best conference for passers has become a running conference, too. Entering Week 17, the Redskins, Seahawks, Vikings and 49ers were the four top rushing teams in the NFL. The three NFC Pro Bowl running backs -- Peterson, Seattle's Marshawn Lynch and San Francisco's Frank Gore -- are in the playoffs. Plus, Washington's Alfred Morris closed the season with a 200-yard effort against the Dallas Cowboys and finished with 1,613 yards.
5. What defenses are suited to stopping the run? The 49ers and Redskins are the NFC's only top-six rushing defenses to make the playoffs. San Francisco does it with talent. Washington does it with mirrors.
Credit Jim Haslett, the Redskins' defensive coordinator, with doing a great job of patching a defense that lost three key starters for the season -- defensive end Adam Carriker, linebacker Brian Orakpo and safety Brandon Meriweather.
and on injury concerns
The Redskins' biggest concern is safety. Starting free safety Madieu Williams suffered a shoulder injury, and backup strong safety DeJon Gomes has a knee injury that kept him out Sunday night. Guard Kory Lichtensteiger suffered an ankle injury, and his status will be monitored all week. RG III took a beating Sunday night, but he'll play in the wild-card game.
Week 17 Grades, Williams Brinson, CBS Sports
Monster game from Alf, who rumbled for 200 yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries. An absolute workhorse when the Redskins needed him most, particularly with RG3 beat up. DeAngelo Hall deserves credit for shutting down Dez Bryant; the Washington defense played lights out for most of the day in one of the biggest victories this team's seen in a long time.
Clark Judge, CBS Sports
Because it wasn't RG3 who beat Dallas on Sunday night and clinched the NFC East for Washington. It was another rookie, running back Alfred Morris, and a relentless defense that prevented Dallas from launching another of those fourth-quarter comebacks that carried the Cowboys this month.
For the record, Romo had six interceptions in his last nine games -- with five of them by Washington. That should tell you something, and what it tells me is that the Redskins are more than just RG3.
it was clear from the beginning that Griffin was, as coach Mike Shanahan so carefully put it, "limited." What that meant was that RG3 wasn't RG3, and someone had to pick up the slack. That someone was Morris, with the sixth-round draft pick setting a single-season franchise record and producing four of Washington's five longest plays -- runs of 32, 22, 19 and 17 yards -- to shred a Dallas defense that held Griffin to 100 yards passing, his second-lowest total of the season.
Blame it on Alfred Morris, or blame it on a sound Redskins' defensive plan. It doesn't matter. The Redskins found the right people at the right time.
Sunday Blitz, Dan Pompei, National Football Post
Running back--Alfred Morris, Redskins. Okay, so he benefits a little from playing with RGIII. Morris still has been very productive and consistent this season. He goes into Week 17 with more rushing yards than all but three players.
NFL Sunday, Matt Bowen, National Football Post
2. Alfred Morris beats up the Cowboys: How about the rookie? This isn’t new to see Morris produce in the Redskins offense, but in a game for the division title he played like a vet. Sure, RG3 and the Redskins are going to use the Read Option looks that freeze the DE, but we have to recognize Morris’ ability to run the ball in the basic Zone schemes up front as well. That’s where I saw the cutback vision from the rookie and the quick burst to get to the second level. The RB has balance, runs with low pad level and can carry the game plan. 200-yards and 3 TDs on 33 carries. That’s impressive right there as the Redskins take home the NFC East title.
I give ‘Skins defensive coordinator Jim Haseltt a ton of credit for his game plan. He came to the stadium with multiple blitz packages. That’s smart football. But this is still on Romo and his decision making on another big stage
What We Learned, Fox Sports
Everyone is hailing the Redskins ....For the first time since 1999, the Redskins are the NFC East champions, riding into the playoffs on a seven-game win streak. They are the first team since the 1996 Jaguars to make the playoffs after starting the season 3-6. Rookie Alfred Morris, who hasn't made quite the impression on the national stage as Robert Griffin III, set the franchise mark for yards gained in a season. Once again, a late-game decision by Tony Romo leads to big consequences — this time at the hand of Redskins linebacker Rob Jackson, who intercepted Romo with three minutes left. RG3, who had only four yards rushing in Week 16, had 63 yards rushing in a game where he threw only nine completions for 100 yards. Next Sunday, two of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the league — rookies RG3 and Russell Wilson — meet in the playoffs.
Sunday Night Wrapup, Pro Football Talk
The Cowboys’ season ends with an 8-8 record. And it ended thanks in large part to the sixth-rounder from Florida Atlantic. Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was obviously ailing (and threw for only 100 yards), so it was on Morris to carry the load offensively. He did that, and then some, controlling the game from the inside out, even though the Cowboys knew what was coming. It’s the kind of performance that sets up an old school duel with Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch next week.
Between the evaluation of Mike Shanahan or the budding genius of his son Kyle drawing up plays for the offense, it’s been easy to miss to work done by Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.
Keep in mind, this is a coach that lost his best pass-rusher in Brian Orakpo along with defensive end Adam Carriker two games into the season.
He’s built the thing around London Fletcher, who has battled injuries all year and wasn’t the fastest to begin with. But Haslett dialed up pressure, and it got home enough to keep the Cowboys off-balance.
It’s not an easy thing he’s done, but the Redskins have responded on that side of the ball. They’re not great, but they’ve been good enough, long enough.
and on the Redskins offensive line
Left tackle Trent Williams has first-round pedigree. But left guard Kory Lichtensteiger, center Will Montgomery, right guard Chris Chester and right tackle Tyler Polumbus are the kind of guys you fill in the blanks with. For the Redskins, they’re a foundation.
DeAngelo Hall gave Dez Bryant the “Back up off me bro” treatment for most of the night. The Redskins cornerback, who has traditionally been more talk than walk in his career, kept the clamps on the Cowboys star wideout most of the evening.