That could bring a decade of improved defense if the fast, agile, 6-foot-6, 265-pound Young, who starred at DeMatha Catholic High, becomes as stellar in the NFL as many predict.
Seldom has an honorable two-touchdown fourth-quarter comeback — that ended in defeat — had such a positive repercussion. For a day, bad was good. And good, like a win, would’ve been bad — for the Chase.
After their own overtime defeat Sunday, the 1-14 Cincinnati Bengals are guaranteed the top pick and will presumably take LSU Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow — the latest “generational passer” to come along. At the least, they would trade him for a king’s ransom in picks.
Many Redskins fans assume (and some practically pray) that Washington will then select Young, who has become a monster at Ohio State, with 16½ sacks and six forced fumbles this year. Those might be season totals for some college teams. Mock drafts have many permutations — after the No. 1 and 2 picks. But almost everybody has Burrow and Young at the top as unique difference-makers.
Now, if somebody can just figure out a way to get Washington’s players and coaches to stop working so darn hard to win.
But that is probably an impossible task. Though many fans don’t know it, much less fathom the reasons, NFL players live in a world so dangerous and competitive that, to a man, they believe that anything less than a serious professional effort is both unthinkable and an invitation to some sort of personal bad-karma disaster.
So, next Sunday, feel free to prefer a result exactly like the last two Washington games —hard-fought, narrow, brutal defeats in which the young team in general, and young quarterback Dwayne Haskins in particular, showed clear progress. But two “vital losses” were added to the record.
The Redskins, of course, were proud of their determination and, for the second straight week, had grim jaws in their locker room after a close loss to an NFC East rival.
Last week, the Philadelphia Eagles scored with 26 seconds left to turn a 27-24 deficit into a 31-27 lead. This week, Washington scored with 29 seconds left to force overtime. But the Redskins lost the coin toss — an example of wonderful “bad luck” — and never touched the ball as the Giants drove 66 yards — with minimal resistance — to score and win.
“Tough loss . . . well fought . . . really proud of our guys the way they came back through a lot of tough adversity,” said Redskins interim coach Bill Callahan, whose defense allowed 552 yards, in large part because he played three virtual strangers in his defensive backfield because of injury. If Coty Sensabaugh, Kayvon Webster and Aaron Colvin ended up in the same restaurant without their uniforms on, they wouldn’t recognize each other. That’s how they looked covering Giant pass routes, too.
High-priced, former star cornerback Josh Norman, who resides in the mongrel domain behind the Callahan doghouse, was active for this game but unused. “Active” means you’re capable of playing. Period. But he didn’t. By starting such a “Throw It Here” secondary, were the Redskins inviting a defeat? Wouldn’t Norman, just by familiarity with the team’s schemes, have been better or less awful? We’ll never know.
But Giants rookie Daniel Jones was appreciative, passing for 352 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions, while shifty Saquon Barkley, with 189 yards rushing and 90 receiving, treated the unknowns in the Washington secondary as if they were stationary traffic cones.
When this Victorious Loss is revisited, one Callahan decision may grow in interest. Because his defense was being shredded, and a lost coin toss might mean that his offense would never see the ball again, should he have gambled and gone for a two-point conversion — and the win — trailing 35-34 with those 29 seconds left?
Statistically, it’s a close call, but with kicking the PAT the percentage play. But not all Washington players agreed with passing up that chance. “I thought we were going to go for two,” said safety Landon Collins, who had to play school crossing guard in that bizarre defensive backfield. “I would have gone for the win.”
There, in a nutshell, is the wackiness of this game. Of all the bizarre sights in pro sports, few are more perverse than two giant NFL teams blasting each other for hours, every man in constant danger, risking cranium and limb, trying to win a game both teams should want to lose.
In such battles of professional honor, each player is defending his status on his team and even the viability of his future in the NFL. Coaches, right up to Callahan, feel the same way. The idea that you would play less than your best — for the sake of a higher draft pick who might be a bust — is not an idea at all. No such thought crosses any mind. At least not any mind on the field.
But you can imagine, if you want, that as Washington drove 99 yards on 14 plays for the touchdown that tied the score at 35, that team owner Daniel Snyder and team president Bruce Allen had deeply conflicting feelings about this Case Keenum-led comeback. The difference between a No. 2 pick and a No. 4 or No. 5 — distinct possibilities if the Redskins had won — matter far more than 3-12 or 4-11.
As backup quarterback Keenum — who finished 16 for 22 for 158 yards and a 107.8 quarterback rating — dived across the goal line on a one-yard scramble to cap that drive, how many in the owner’s box were clapping their hands in praise but kicking a chair with their foot?
After their defeat in Philadelphia on Sunday, the Cowboys are reeling again, their season in turmoil and their owner ready to brand some folks with a very hot “JJ.” The odds will say that, at home, the Cowboys should have no problems in such a lopsided game against a team as injured as Washington. The Redskins are a total wreck at cornerback and tight end, depleted on the offensive line and at wide receiver and safety. Haskins is hobbled and an uncertain starter.
Yet, this Redskins team, with no apparent motivation except pride, professionalism and a fear of NFL Darwinism, has given the decent Eagles and lowly Giants (4-11) all they wanted the past two weeks.
The chase for Chase should be over — with Washington the grateful winner. Why, what an Ohio State reunion we could see with Young, Haskins and young star wide receiver Terry McLaurin all on the same team. Would it all pan out? Maybe not. But it certainly might be entertaining. Would ex-OSU coach Urban Meyer, between jobs, find it all fascinating?
Don’t tell the Redskins how much good they might do for future versions of themselves with just one more lousy loss in a season full of them. They won’t listen. The future can go take a flying leap. Because, as they have shown with two dignified defeats, they just don’t care.
For more by Thomas Boswell, visit washingtonpost.com/boswell.
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