The Washington Redskins return from their bye feeling relatively good about themselves. They had a week to rest and savor their first victory of the season. They potentially could be back in first place in the NFC East by the end of the upcoming weekend.
But should a single win and a less-than-scintillating division race be enough for the Redskins to rightfully be optimistic about where they are and where they’re headed? There are mixed views on that, and much about the big-picture direction of the team could be determined in the coming weeks.
The Post Sports Live crew debates whether the defense's impressive performance in the Redskins' win over the Oakland Raiders is a reason to be optimistic for the rest of the season.
The Post Sports Live crew discusses Robert Griffin III's improved performance in the Redskins win over Oakland.
When this season began, there were convincing reasons to believe that the Redskins had put their struggles in Mike Shanahan’s first 21
2 years as their coach behind them and emerged as a built-to-last contender. They’d won their final seven regular season games last year to secure a division title. They had a franchise quarterback in place, albeit with Robert Griffin III coming off knee surgery, and they’d managed to keep their roster basically intact in the offseason even while operating in the second year of a two-year, $36 million salary cap penalty.
But notions of building on last year’s success quickly were swept aside when the Redskins opened this season with a three-game losing streak. They kept things from unraveling any further, at least for the time being, with their pre-bye triumph in Oakland. Yet there is room to wonder at this point which is a more accurate reflection of the team’s current state, its 7-0 run at the end of last season or its 15-30 regular season record under Shanahan aside from that streak.
The view of which is closer to the truth could come into sharper focus during the remainder of this season, beginning with Sunday night’s game at Dallas. The clash will leave the Redskins either with a two-game winning streak and bolstered hopes of another turnaround, or a 1-4 record and a steep uphill climb toward playoff contention in Shanahan’s fourth season of a five-year contract.
“If I were them,” a front-office executive with another NFL team said, “I’d be thinking, ‘We’re gonna find out a lot about ourselves in this next stretch.’ ”
Some in and around the league remain willing to believe that the Redskins will recapture their winning form from the second half of last season once Griffin gets fully back in sync after missing offseason practices, the bulk of training camp work and the entire preseason.
“I believe they’re still the same team we thought they were at the beginning of the season, just waiting for the quarterback to get fully healthy,” said former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Randy Cross. “I don’t think there’s much of a reason to believe otherwise. I haven’t seen the abysmal nature of the Redskins that some other people are seeing. I think they’re one of those teams that are trying to figure out still if they’re going to be very good or just scrambling to get to .500.”
Cross said that Griffin was done a disservice by Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson’s quick bounce-back last season from major knee surgery, and no one should have expected Griffin to be the dynamic player that he was last season so quickly.