Call me a homer. I’ll admit it.
I greatly underestimated the effect that Robert Griffin III’s surgery and the second half of the $36 million cap penalty would have on the Washington Redskins.
Call it wishful thinking, but I blew it.
I wish I could call it a one-time blunder, but I made a similar mistake last year. In that case you can blame “homerism-by-association.”
Because my wife is a New Orleans Saints fan. And it was for that reason that I greatly underestimated the effect last year’s bounty scandal and suspension of head coach Sean Payton would have on the Saints.
The parallels are numerous, and yet I refused to see them. My bad.
But, in spite of that, I’m feeling okay about the Redskins this year for three reasons.
They could have gotten off to a worse start.
The Saints lost their first four games before they got back on track. By then the season was lost and they were left playing for respectability. The Redskins, however, pulled out a win Sunday against Oakland. “Yes,” you say, “but it was against Oakland.” I don’t care. A win is a win. Now they have a week off to get their “stuff” together before playing the Cowboys. There’s still time to turn the team around and salvage a respectable season.
They could be in a bigger hole.
Face it, the NFC East blows this year. The Cowboys are in first place at 2-2, the Eagles and the Redskins are tied for second at 1-3, and the Giants are in the cellar and winless so far. An 8-8 team could take the division. In comparison, Atlanta ran away with the NFC South last year and the Saints couldn’t do anything about it—sweeping their rivals gave them bragging rights, but not much else.
It gets better.
One year later, the Saints are undefeated after the first four games of the season. A complete reversal from last year. No matter how this season plays out for the Redskins, the pieces are in place for a successful team down the road. Next year, Griffin will have had a full offseason and a complete training camp on a fully-recovered right knee. The team will also have its cap space back and be able to bring in some key free agents (smart signings, please, not flashy ones) to help out in the secondary and on the offensive line.
Yes, we Redskins fans have all said “wait until next year” far too many times over the last two decades, but this is different. We have the core of a young team that’s had a taste of success and wants more. In a division where the Giants have collapsed, the Cowboys are on the road to cap hell, and the Eagles are just starting to rebuild, the Redskins are in the best position to become a serious Super Bowl contender for the first time since Joe Gibbs’ original retirement.
It’s been a long time coming, but I still have hope.
One more thing, given the struggles the Saints endured last season and the train wreck the Giants are currently experiencing, I don’t want a Super Bowl to ever be played at FedEx Field or any other stadium the Redskins call home. Ever.
In fact, if the NFL prefers, they can just move the game to Jerry World. Permanently.