The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Is this the least optimistic you’ve been for a Redskins season in recent years?

Reasons to be excited about Washington seasons often lead to disappointment by December. ( Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Remember last year, when ESPN asked its 32 NFL Nation reporters to independently predict the record of the team they cover, and 27 of them forecast seasons of .500 or better? Fourteen teams finished with losing records. ESPN repeated the excercise this preseason, and 25 picked 8-8 or above. (John Keim, for what it’s worth, picked 7-9 and 6-10 for Washington.)

Since the schedule came out back in April, 3,702 Post readers have gone game by game down Washington’s schedule and collectively predicted nine wins, down from 10 each of the two seasons prior.

Before training camps begin across the league, optimism reigns, because it’s easy to project that every key player remains healthy, every draft pick contributes immediately and as expected, and players changing teams or positions make those transitions seamlessly.

Around here, though, optimism seems surprisingly tempered. It’s not rare to hear or read a comment that suggests we might never see rookie-year Robert Griffin III again, or that Jay Gruden could be on the hot seat in only his second season, or that 7-9 would be a significant accomplishment. Even the folks who are supremely confident in new GM Scot McCloughan’s team-building skills seem willing to give him some time.

Jake Russell rounded up some national predictions for Washington this season, and they aren’t very kind. But that’s typical; what’s weird is that I haven’t heard a lot of argument.

No one could blame fans for being beaten down after years of being let down, but there’s almost always been a reason to be optimistic. And to their credit (or detriment), Washington fans usually buy in. Some general attitudes of recent preseasons:

2014: Griffin is healthy now; and he wasn’t during the 3-13 2013 season. New coach, and now DeSean Jackson is here. No way they could be that bad again. (Here are our 2014 preseason best- and worst-case scenarios.)

2013: All in for Week 1. Coming off a 10-6 division-title season, and with Griffin working his tail off to get healthy, Washington should pretty much be able to do what it did last year. (Here’s a Bog roundup of the worst media predictions of 2013.)

2012: They finally have a quarterback!

2011: They might be letting Rex Grossman and John Beck battle for the QB job, but at least Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb are gone. Plus, it’s Year 2 of the Mike Shanahan era. What could go wrong?

2010: Shanahan. McNabb. This is going to be great!

2009: Hey, they were 8-8 in Jim Zorn’s first year, and they went out and added Albert Haynesworth, the best defensive free agent in football.

2008: Joe Gibbs rebuilt the organization, and left a playoff team to his successor. Things are headed in the right direction.

You get the picture.

How optimistic are you for this Redskins season?

This is a non-scientific user poll. Results are not statistically valid and cannot be assumed to reflect the views of Washington Post users as a group or the general population.

Opening Kick playfully engages regular readers with a morning conversation starter, quick observation or poll. Click here for previous Kicks.

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