Photo: AP/Ann Heisenfelt
In 2012, the Washington Redskins entered their bye week at 3-6, following a demoralizing loss at home to the Carolina Panthers. They’d dropped three straight games and it looked like their season was over. After the bye, the Redskins hosted Philadelphia and blew them out 31-6. Four days later, on Thanksgiving, they beat the Cowboys in Dallas. A week-and-a half later, on Monday Night Football, they edged the New York Giants by one and were back to .500.
Three wins in a row and four more to go. By the time they finished off the Cowboys in the rematch at Fed Ex field, the Redskins had completed an improbable seven-game win streak and were NFC East Champions.
In 2013, the Washington Redskins lost a game they should have won against the Minnesota Vikings. The loss dropped them to 3-6. They had a ten-day break (Thursday to the following Sunday) to get it together before traveling to Philadelphia to face the Eagles. Fans hoped against hope for a repeat of recent history and another improbable run, but instead the team fell apart and lost seven more to finish the season 3-13.
A year later, the Redskins find themselves in a familiar spot. In an odd mix of 2012 and 2013, they are 3-6, coming off a loss that should have been a win against the Vikings, and are heading into a bye week.
So which is it? Will we see another improbable run? A nightmare collapse? Or a mediocre middle between the two extremes?
Why they could win them all.
On offense, Robert Griffin III is healthy again, Alfred Morris is back to his usual self, and DeSean Jackson is uncoverable on the long ball. On defense, Ryan Kerrigan has come into his own as a pass rusher, Keenan Robinson is a force to be reckoned with from sideline to sideline, and Bashaud Breeland and David Amerson are developing into a strong, young cornerback duo. On special teams, Kai Forbath is reliable as ever, Tress Way is the best punter we’ve had in years, and Andre Roberts has finally solved the team’s returner dilemma. And all of the games are winnable. Even the Niners and the Colts have weaknesses that can be exploited by the right game plan.
Why they could lose them all.
On offense, Pierre Garçon disappears for whole games, four-fifths of the offensive line is still subpar, and Jay Gruden’s play-calling is unproven. On defense, the line can’t get consistent pressure, the safeties are still among the worst in the league, and Jim Haslett is the defensive coordinator for a fifth season in spite of logic and common sense. On special teams … well just because they’re not the catastrophe they were last season doesn’t mean they’re more than average. And all of the games are losable. The Niners and the Colts are on a different level, even when they struggle, the Rams and the Bucs could easily catch fire at the wrong time, and while the Eagles, Giants, and Cowboys aren’t perfect, they can all beat the Redskins on the right day.
Why neither extreme is likely.
The 2012 Redskins caught a lot of unlikely breaks. The 2013 Redskins fell into a spiral that no team could pull out of. Both runs were flukes and the chance of either happening again is pretty slim. This is a team that will win a couple games they’re supposed to lose, lose a couple games they’re supposed to win, and pretty much average out over the course of the season.
Prediction: 6-10, a new defensive coordinator come January, and a foundation to build on for 2015.