#SundaySlices Week 8: Line 'Em Up

In the midst of the best start to a football season burgundy and gold fans have had in a decade, I suffered a tragedy that affects many, but is not discussed nearly enough. About two months ago, abruptly and without warning, my barber quit the shop I’ve been going to weekly for almost four years. 

The pain Adrian Peterson felt when fumbling in the third quarter Sunday, as Washington was in the red zone, aiming to add a precious second-half TD, pales in comparison to the loss of a trusted follicle confidant and commander. 

You see, a haircut is more than just a haphazard shave or clipping. It’s an art form, mastered over time by artists manipulating their razors, both electric and straight-edge. The most important aspect for some is the “line up:” the perfection of a hairline can give its recipient the confidence to face all of life’s obstacles. And sure, you can go the old school Steve Harvey or current Mike Tomlin route and have it painted on, but nothing matches a natural line shaped and manicured by your trusted barber. 

Football is no different. A “this score is closer than it really was,” 20-13 domination of the relegation-worthy New York Littles made one thing very clear: if you wanna run against Washington or stop them from running on you, you better have your line right. 

So who contributed to this glorious win? I'm glad you asked! Welcome to the seventh of sixteen #SundaySlices recaps, where we cut up the game to assign fame and blame, based on the outcome, into delicious pie chart form. Try not to make a mess.

MISSING INGREDIENTS

(These are the players/coaches/etc. who are not in the pie, because they did not contribute to the win)

-Greg Stroman. The seventh-round rookie looks like a seventh-round rookie. Two questions for Manusky: 1-can you magically heal Quinton Dunbar? 2-why not have the highest-paid cornerback in the league, Norman, shadow the opposing team’s best wide receiver?

-Chris Thompson. Gotta go easy on CT because I’m still not sure how healthy he is, but he really has not been effective in the screen game since September. 

-Alex Smith. The team is winning, which usually means fans give the QB way too much credit, but that’s a tough hill to die on in this case. The vertical passing game remains mostly horizontal and he just hasn’t been able to find big plays consistently. Again, no turnovers, but again, no home runs—or triples or doubles—either. 

THE PIE

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Tress Way: 5%

“Can I kick it?” Yes, Tress can. The defense has been outstanding and the offense has kept them fresh with long, time-consuming drives. But, they’re both helped immensely by starting field position and the way Way has continually been an asset in that area, even letting off boomers while injured. 

Adrian Peterson and The Offensive Line: 15%

To paraphrase the early 21st century poet, Ludacris: if you see the Hogs 2.0 on the highway, you would be wise to get the f**k out of their way. 

AP is now on pace for the best season a Washington running back has had since Alfred Morris’s rookie year in 2012...and he is by no means that short in the tooth. It would be natural for him to still have doubters in his ability. And then there’s this: 

These sage words, from one of D.C. radio’s resident blowhards, came exactly one minute before this:

Look, I get it. The NFL is a passing league now and the rules are set up to keep it that way. You have to take shots down the field and you have to be accurate. But, you know what else you have to do? “Say it with me.” Win. You have to win. By any means necessary. If that means a 33-year old toting the rock 20+ times a game, so be it. 

(If Peterson were to get hurt, this house of cards comes down like Kevin Spacey’s career, so happy thoughts only for our elder RB). 

Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky: 15%

Perhaps the most-impressive aspect of AP’s big day was how he got there. The first half running game was abysmal, with multiple carries resulting in minimal game. Gruden did something he’s been criticized for omitting in previous seasons: he stuck with the run game. In the second half the team mixed in more stretch run plays to allow AP to use his patience and cutback abilities to pick up big chunks. 

7 sacks. Infinite pressures. 8 passes deflected. 2 interceptions. 38 rushing yards allowed to the future rookie of the year. 1 sympathy touchdown allowed to make the score seem closer. 

Washington’s defense is nastier than year-old candy corns and just as rock solid. Manusky has dialed up the right blitzes and right coverages nearly non-stop the last three weeks of wins and that swagger is apparent all over the field. 

Mason Foster and Zach Brown: 15%

You ever try to get through a podcast a little quicker and throw it on 1.5x speed? While offenses move at a normal pace, these two have been flying around the field. Brown has been especially exceptional and more than worth his contract extension. 

The Front 7: 25%

Yes, I am including Foster and Brown again, but this is for the defensive line and edge rushers, as well. The spooky thing about this front is that there isn’t just one or two players you have to worry about blowing up your run blocks or bullrushing your pass blocks; it’s everyone

Someone reminded Preston Smith it’s a walk year and it’s time to get paid.

Kerrigan looks like Diet J.J. Watt. 

And then there’s IPA (Ioannidis/Payne/Allen...better nickname still pending. Also, you know Ioannidis has been really good because my iPhone can now properly autocorrect the spelling of his name, since I’ve used it so much. So there’s that). The best thing you can say about the defensive line is that it’s nearly impossible to say who’s the best. Everybody eats. 

Throughout the game, the Giants tattered offensive line was slapped, dragged, mushed and bullied at the point of attack. They were not the first team treated like this and they will not be the last. 

D.J. Swearinger: 25%

It cannot be understated what an incredible season #36 is having. It’s attitude, it’s swagger, it’s leadership—it’s a bunch of platitudes you only dispense when a team is winning! But, there’s no question the backbone of the defense is Swearinger Sr., both on the field and before the game. 

AFTER HOURS SLICE

 New segment alert!  

From time to time I will be adding some additional info outside of the pie. A little something extra, if you will. This week’s additional slice: 

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The best safety in the league just got paired with the second-best safety in the league. Giddy up. 

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NEXT SERVING

#SundaySlices will return following Sunday’s big test versus the Atlanta Falcons. If you have any slice suggestions, critiques, complaints or questions send them to @slimceeVA on Twitter. Should you feel the need to add snarky commentary about pop culture, sports or politics into your life, you can also follow @slimceeVA—and you should.