The Washington Redskins’ season of great promise has come undone over the past six weeks, and it remains to be seen if they can do what they did in 2012 and salvage their year. For now, however, there is a discrepancy in the Redskins’ view of themselves, as a capable team stuck in a rut of poor play, and the way in which they increasingly are being perceived outside Redskins Park, as simply a bad team.
That issue will be resolved as the season plays out, for as Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells famously used to say, in the NFL you are what your record says you are. In the meantime, as they take a 1-4 mark into Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears at FedEx Field, the question is: How did the Redskins arrive at such a lackluster early point?
The Post Sports Live crew offers bold predictions for Sunday's Bears-Redskins game at FedEx Field.
Insight on the Redskins and all the latest news from Post reporters Mike Jones and Mark Maske.
How is a team that entered the season regarding itself as a built-to-last contender struggling so badly that Coach Mike Shanahan’s job security beyond this season is being debated? How is a club coming off an NFC East title, with a franchise quarterback in the fold and a roster kept basically intact in the offseason, suddenly unable to keep pace in even the NFL’s most underwhelming division?
The answers are not simple or obvious, but some observers point to a mixture of reasons that includes the fallout from the knee injury suffered by quarterback Robert Griffin III and the manner in which the team around Griffin has been constructed and put to use. The Redskins themselves don’t assign blame and continue to maintain that a turnaround is possible. Even so, they acknowledge that they deserve to be where they are.
“We’ve played 1-4 football,” linebacker London Fletcher said at midweek. “That’s really the reality of it. We haven’t played well enough in the five ballgames. The four losses, we haven’t done enough to win those games, in all facets of the game. That’s really the bottom line whether it’s not playing fast enough, not playing good enough in the first half of the football games, not scoring enough points in the beginning of football games, not stopping them defensively, different things, losing the turnover battle, taking the ball away, stuff that we were so good at [late] last season.”
To some who watch the team closely, the issues run deeper.
“Each offseason, you either get better or you get worse,” former Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot said. “You can’t stay the same. We thought they stayed the same. They didn’t. They regressed.”
Shanahan and General Manager Bruce Allen were praised in the offseason for keeping the team together even while operating in the second year of the two-year, $36 million salary cap reduction imposed by the NFL for the manner in which the Redskins structured players’ contracts during 2010, when the league operated without a cap. The Redskins lost reserve linebacker Lorenzo Alexander in free agency but re-signed a sizable group of players that included guard Kory Lichtensteiger, right tackle Tyler Polumbus, tight end Fred Davis and cornerback DeAngelo Hall. The team retained other players such as cornerback Josh Wilson, safety Brandon Meriweather and wide receiver Santana Moss after they agreed to accept salary reductions.