Redskins to the Playoffs and Beyond

September 8, 2013

Mike Shanahan is entering his fourth season as the Redskins’ coach. He has a 21-27 record and made his first postseason appearance with the team last year.

There may be something super about this Washington Redskins season. It looks like another NFC East crown and 10-6 mark, but this time, the Redskins won’t rely as heavily on quarterback Robert Griffin III and with a little momentum might even reach the Super Bowl. Crazy, huh?

Preseason usually shows nothing about a team, but this year, it revealed everything about the Redskins. The past month proved they have enough offensive playmakers and sound backup quarterbacks to score even without Griffin extensively running the zone read.

Washington is not the NFL’s best team, but the Redskins are among the NFC’s top four and should be quite dangerous come playoff time.

Defense no longer wins championships. Offense wins Lombardi Trophies, and if Washington stays healthy, it can beat anybody.

Sure that’s tall talk for a team that didn’t see one preseason snap from Griffin, who spent the past seven months recovering from knee surgery. The Redskins probably won’t even use the complete offense for a few weeks until Griffin is physically and mentally ready.

But this is the deepest roster Washington has had since its 1991 Super Bowl championship. Backups Kirk Cousins and Rex Grossman can carry on should Griffin falter.

Griffin shouldered the playoff run last season, but the roster is more complete now. Tight end Fred Davis is returning from injured reserve, and healthy receivers Pierre Garcon and Joshua Morgan will elevate the offense.

In 2012, Washington proved it has an effective defensive-front seven and its best special teams in years. Kicker Kai Forbath may be the top Redskins kicker since Mark Moseley left in 1986.

Linebacker Brian Orakpo will give the pass rush a huge boost after he missed 14 games last season. With fellow linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, the Redskins will have their best pass-rushing tandem since Dexter Manley and Charles Mann in the late 1980s.

Yes, the Redskins’ secondary and kick and punt return teams need work. But few squads are sound in every phase of the game.

The key for the postseason is whether Washington can win 12 games to get a first-round bye and home-field advantage. The reasons the Redskins lost a playoff game at FedEx Field last season were because of Griffin’s injury and coach Mike Shanahan’s poor response.

The regular-season schedule gets harder after a probable 3-1 start. Games against Denver, San Francisco and Atlanta, plus NFC East opponents, will probably limit Washington to 10 wins, where an easier schedule might have meant 12.

The only team Washington might fear in the NFC playoffs is Seattle, which has eliminated the Redskins three times since 2005. Otherwise, fans shouldn’t duck any opponent and bet the over in total points each week.

It’s time for a super season.

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Rick Snider | September 8, 2013