No matter who the Washington Redskins’ starting quarterback is next season — whether it is Colt McCoy, Case Keenum or someone else — his toughest games might be the first five of the year.
The NFL released its 2019 schedule Wednesday night, and Washington will have an especially arduous start, facing four of last season’s playoff teams in the first five weeks with games against the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears and the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
Overall, the Redskins have the NFL’s easiest schedule, at least according to last year’s results. Their opponents had a combined .469 winning percentage. But it’s the order of those games that could quickly crush Washington’s hopes to make the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
The Redskins begin the season with a 1 p.m. game Sept. 8 at Philadelphia; play last year’s NFC East champion, Dallas, at 1 the next week; and follow that with their only Monday night game of the year at Chicago, last season’s NFC North champion. They play the New York Giants at 1 on Sept. 29 in East Rutherford, N.J. before hosting the Patriots in another 1 p.m. game Oct. 6.
|Sept. 8||at Philadelphia Eagles||1 p.m.||FOX|
|Sept. 15||DALLAS COWBOYS||1 p.m.||FOX|
|Sept. 23 (Mon.)||CHICAGO BEARS||8:15 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sept. 29||at New York Giants||1 p.m.||FOX|
|Oct. 6||NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Oct. 13||at Miami Dolphins||1 p.m.||FOX|
|Oct. 20||SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS||1 p.m.||FOX|
|Oct. 24 (Thurs.)||at Minnesota Vikings||8:20 p.m.||FOX, NFL, AMAZON|
|Nov. 3||at Buffalo Bills||1 p.m.||FOX|
|Nov. 17||NEW YORK JETS||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Nov. 24||DETROIT LIONS||1 p.m.||FOX|
|Dec. 1||at Carolina Panthers||1 p.m.||FOX|
|Dec. 8||at Green Bay Packers||1 p.m.||FOX|
|Dec. 15||PHILADELPHIA EAGLES||1 p.m.||FOX|
|Dec. 22||NEW YORK GIANTS||1 p.m.||FOX|
|Dec. 29||at Dallas Cowboys||1 p.m.||FOX|
If there is any break for the Redskins in the early weeks, it is that three of those first five games are at home and they will catch the Patriots at a time when New England is at its most vulnerable. In each of the past two years, the Patriots have started 2-2 before going on to win the AFC championship.
As far as a real break, Washington’s players won’t get their bye week until the season’s 10th week. By then they will have played what might be their most emotionally charged game of the year when they face their former quarterback Kirk Cousins in their one other prime-time game — Thursday, Oct. 24 at Minnesota. That game comes just four days after they face San Francisco, which is coached by Kyle Shanahan, who was Cousins’s first offensive coordinator with the Redskins.
Aside from the night games against Chicago and Minnesota, Washington’s other 14 games are scheduled in the NFL’s early Sunday time slot, which might be an indication of the team’s lost prestige in recent seasons. While some of their games could be moved to a more prominent time, especially in the year’s later weeks, it is unusual for all of the Redskins’ games against division opponents Dallas, New York and Philadelphia to be initially locked in for 1 p.m. kickoffs.
After the first few weeks, Washington’s schedule gets easier. The week after they play the Patriots, the Redskins will go to Miami before coming home to face San Francisco. Ten days after they face Cousins in Minneapolis, they go to Buffalo, which is the last game before the bye.
When they return Nov. 17, they will have home games against the New York Jets and Detroit Lions before a pair of road games at Carolina and Green Bay in Week 14.
The season ends with home games against the Giants and Eagles before finishing Dec. 29 at Dallas.
By then, who knows where the Redskins will be? The challenge of the season’s first weeks could put Washington in a deep hole. Owner Daniel Snyder considered firing Coach Jay Gruden after the team recorded a 7-9 record for the second straight year. At the time, it was believed Snyder felt the Redskins’ 1-6 finish was not Gruden’s fault, after quarterback Alex Smith and his backup, McCoy, were both lost to season-ending broken legs in a 15-day period.
But with the team preparing for the possibility that Smith will never return, it will go into the season with a new quarterback. Gruden said he will let McCoy and Keenum compete for the starting job, but that’s assuming the Redskins don’t pick a quarterback early in next week’s draft or trade for one with more experience, such as Josh Rosen, Arizona’s second-year passer. Either way, that player will have to build cohesion with the offense against some of the league’s best teams in the season’s first weeks.
The Redskins also announced the dates and times for their four preseason games, all of which are on Thursday nights with 7:30 p.m. ET kickoffs. They open the preseason at on Aug. 8 at Cleveland, play Cincinnati at FedEx Field on Aug. 15, travel to Atlanta for an Aug. 22 game and finish the preseason Aug. 29 at home against Baltimore.
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