There’s a sense in some circles of the world that the Redskins are, for lack of a better word, okay. Ish.
That sense has been furthered by this habit the Redskins have of winning a game and then losing a game and then winning another game and then losing another game, following a similar pattern until they finish either 9-7 or 7-9 or somewhere in between, which they’ve now done three seasons in a row, for a total record of 24-23-1.
That has led me, and many others, to note just how much time this team has spent around .500 over that span. CBS liked my version of this observation so much that they made a graphic out of it. Look, I will re-borrow the information that CBS borrowed from me.
And this collection of numbers proved to be so popular that Redskins Coach Jay Gruden even used it to motivate his team, marking the first time an NFL coach has ever used one of my tweets for motivational purposes. I’m sure we’re all anxious to see how that works out.
Anyhow, in this context, there have been precious few predictions that the Redskins will henceforth rattle off, say, five or six straight wins. Washington hasn’t won five straight games since the end of the 2012 season, that burn-so-bright two-month prime of Robert Griffin III’s career. Twenty-five of the NFL’s 32 teams have won at least five straight games since then, but not the Redskins. That season-closing 2012 stretch was, and remains, Washington’s only winning streak of at least six games in this century. A century which has lasted quite a while by this point. Like, almost 18 years. Depending on whether you count 2000.
So if you wanted to predict a lengthy Redskins winning streak, putting to bed all these jokes and concerns about mediocrity, it would put you pretty much by yourself, on an island of fantastical predictions. And that would be reason enough for me to transcribe your television and/or radio show that I would otherwise not watch. So congratulations to Colin Cowherd. He did it.
“In the NFL mostly we think we know who the good teams are, and we think we know who the average teams are, and we think we know who the bad teams are,” Cowherd said this week. “And you know what, I think we’re almost always right. There is one exception. And that’s Washington.”
(I’m really not trying to make fun of him here. I can’t remember the last time a national pundit just got really, really excited about the Redskins. It’s been a while. This feels so fresh.)
“The Redskins are the exception,” he went on. “They’re better than you think. They’re actually a good team, but they’ve had a series of bad breaks.”
For proof, Cowherd went through the franchise’s recent history: the 9-7 playoff season in 2015 (when the rest of the NFC East was a combined 17-31); the 8-7-1 campaign in 2016 (when the Redskins lost their absolutely pivotal finale, as more than a touchdown favorites, at home, against a Giants team resting its stars); last year’s disappointing 7-9 season.
“That’s no good; Oh no, actually, they were good,” he said of the 2017 Redskins. “They went to Los Angeles early and dominated the Rams. I was there and watched it. They pushed them around the field. . . . Then they went to Seattle and they beat Seattle, and that was early in the year, in Seattle, when the Seahawks were healthy, and they beat them, too. And then what happened to Washington? The strangest thing I’ve ever seen. Every single player on the offensive line got hurt. They had 36 different offensive line combinations last year. Look it up; I don’t know how that’s possible."
Cowherd pointed out how badly injured this whole roster was last year, which is true, and then said this year’s team is now healthy, which is debatable, but whatever.
“And they thumped Aaron Rodgers and they just thumped Cam Newton,” Cowherd said of Washington’s six-point win over the Panthers, during which Carolina had the ball inside Washington’s 20 in the final minute of regulation, which was hardly my definition of a thumping, but again, semantics.
“They’re good,” he said of the Redskins. “I’m not saying they’re great, but this is a good roster with good players, and Alex Smith doesn’t turn it over. They’re fifth in total defense. They‘ve always been good at home.”
(Washington has a .506 home winning percentage since 1997, when FedEx Field opened. That’s 28th of the 32 NFL teams. But again, he’s on a roll, please don’t let me stop him.)
“And I’ll make a prediction here,” Cowherd said, which is the whole point of this item, to the extent it has a point. “In about five to six weeks, starting this weekend, Washington’s going to start winning a bunch of games. They’re going to go to New York and beat the Giants, then they’re going to beat Atlanta at home, then they’ll go to Tampa and they’re going to beat Tampa, and then they’re going to beat the Texans at home. I think Washington’s going to go on a five-game winning streak or a six-game winning streak, or they’re going to win six of seven or five of six. And you’re going to look up and we’re going to be in late November, heading into Thanksgiving or coming out of Thanksgiving, and the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins are going to be on the top of the NFC East. This is a good football team. It’s not a great football team, it’s not New England, it’s not the Saints, it’s not a great football team. But it’s a good football team.”
Maybe! I point this out now, mostly because I’d like to be able to give Cowherd the proper credit when the Redskins rattle off five straight, or six straight, or six of seven, or five of six. At times, I think the same thing as Cowherd: That there’s no reason this team shouldn’t be well north of .500 heading into Thanksgiving. At other times, I remember that graphic above, and figure water finds its level.
For an alternate perspective, by the way, here’s Dexter Manley, appearing this week on The Team 980. Manley was asked about the Redskins losing four straight games against Dallas.
“They’ve got to get a new set of b----," he said of the Redskins, using a popular anatomical phrase. “If they want to come out and beat the Cowboys they’ve got to grow some real b---- and grow up and be good football players and be gorillas on the football field.”
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