Despite the headline, the NFL Network’s Contender/Pretender discussion on the Redskins was actually largely positive toward the club. Including Michael Irvin, who struggled with how to categorize the team. Still, in the end, three of the four panelists agreed that Washington belongs in the “Pretender” category.
Jim Mora Jr.: “You know what, I’m not sold on them yet but I like the direction they’re headed. They’re playing better defense.”
Warren Sapp: “They’re running the ball, play-action pass, and they’re physical inside.”
Mora: “And that’s what Mike Shanahan likes to do offensively, he likes to run the ball, play-action pass, get the edge. Jim Haslett’s got them playing good defense, and kind of believing in what they’re doing.”
Heath Evans: “There is a lot of similarities between that Chicago team that Rex led to the Super Bowl and this. There is a solid defensive core there that has struggled, but I think they struggled more because their offense couldn’t get on the field and stay on the field.”
Michael Irvin: “The one thing I will say though when I watch the Redskins, you know, I was a problem sometimes with my crazy butt in Dallas, but wow, what a difference peace will make....You can say what you want about the Redskins, all of that mess is gone, they’re on one accord, and you’re seeing the results of that.”
Then the Contender/Pretender question was raised.
“This division?” Evans said. “Pretender.”
“Pretender for me too, for me too,” Sapp agreed.
“No kidding,” Mora said. “Contender.”
“Philly’s going to be in there, so you can only pull two from the division,” Irvin said. “So if I put contender on Washington, I’m saying pretender on Dallas....I’m gonna put pretender on Washington. I’m gonna put pretender on Washington.”