Winning really is the great deodorant, isn’t it? It covers up the stench of what we thought we knew about a team and its players. It gives non-believers faith and almost instantly alters the psychological direction of a franchise.
Less than two months ago, Mike Shanahan and his players rode the empty Armageddon Express. Today, for the first time in more than a decade, the Washington Redskins churn toward the postseason on an overflowing bandwagon, the doomsayers of Nov. 4 now begging to be pulled aboard.
For the love of RGIII, Shanny, please take us with you!
Simply because of five straight victories, the entire organization — these players, this coaching staff, the front office, Tom the Security Guy Who Opens the Door to the Training Facility After Practice — has been re-imagined. We have vastly different perceptions of people we knew, heck, just six weeks ago.
Well, okay, all but one: Robert Gandhi III still walks on water. For everyone else, it has been makeover time:
Mike Shanahan at 3-6: Latest retread to take Dan Snyder’s millions and lose way too many games. Throws players under the bus after Carolina loss that he actually called a “must-win.” NFL passed him by in, like, 1998.
Shanahan at 8-6: Fearless leader whose brilliant ploy of pretending to throw in the towel rallied players to think like champions. Visionary, the only one who knew Kory Lichtensteiger was Russ Grimm-in-training, the personnel wizard who found “Amtrak” Alfred Morris in the sixth round and turned Tampa Bay’s discarded kicker into . . . Kai Foregone, Maker of Every Field Goal Ever Attempted. Genuine candidate for NFL executive and coach of the year awards.
London Fletcher at 3-6: He’s 37, all right — in dog years. Shouldn’t have been re-signed. Pro Bowler in name only, he’s now a slow, banged-up memory of a great linebacker. Sit him. Put the kids in.
Fletcher at 8-6: My man, 59! Didn’t I tell you this guy was the conscience and soul of this club? Savvy, old school, he’s just who the young bucks need to learn from.
Jim Haslett at 3-6: Oafish head of defense that gives up not just yards but entire continents. Relic. Only knows blitzing and “Bull in the Ring” drills. Schematically, he’s playing Electric Football in a Madden 2013 world.
Haslett at 8-6: Done more good with less talent on his roster than Cee Lo. Resourceful, ingenious, Haz is so advanced in defensive strategies he could camouflage a practice-squader a millisecond before he laid out Eli Manning.
Richard Crawford at 3-6: Who?
Crawford at 8-6: This Banks person you speak of? Once returned punts and kickoffs? I’m sorry; I’m not familiar with his work.
Daniel Snyder at 3-6: I don’t care what you say: It’s still his fault.
Snyder at 8-6: Damn if the owner didn’t finally get out of the way and let them all do their jobs. That’s maturity. That’s my kind of owner.
Bruce Allen at 3-6: Has anyone seen him? What does he actually do, organize alumni reunions? He’s the highest-paid cruise director since Julie from “The Love Boat.”
Allen at 8-6: See, this is the perfect behind-the-scenes buffer between the owner and the coach that was always needed. He surrenders the spotlight, gets the deals done and brings the great past of his father’s days back to life. That’s a bona fide general manager, all right.
Pierre Garcon at 3-6: Free-agent bust No. 882 in the Snyder Hall of Shame. He’s injured. He’s moody. D.C. is too big a market for his enigmatic personality.
Garcon at 8-6: Pierre — oui! Always said when this cat gets healthy, it’s lights out. He runs possessed. Swag, speed and a We-Got-This-Game knowing smile, he's the best receiver here since ’Tana.
Kyle Shanahan at 3-6: Nice numbers, but did you really call a stretch running play on fourth and goal from the 1 against Carolina? Don’t think we don’t remember you loved John Beck. Offensive guru? If you didn’t have that last name, you might have been canned last season.
Kyle at 8-6: The next person who mentions the word “nepotism” gets punched. Kyle is awesome. Who else could take a spread-offense college quarterback and blend him in an offensive scheme that made him an NFL MVP candidate less than a year later? It’s a good thing Mike is his dad because that’s the only reason he might not bolt for a head-coaching job this offseason.
DeAngelo Hall at 3-6: You mean, MeAngelo? The gum-flapping, all-talk-no-stop DB who blew a gasket in Pittsburgh and got thrown out, the overrated corner who once said this defense is his? Cut his behind. Now!
Hall at 8-6: 2-3 in da’ house! Through it all, he’s a survivor. Give it up for one of the few defensive backs on the team who hasn’t tested positive for banned substances. He don’t need no stinkin’ Adderall. D-Hall is locked-in, focused, proving all his haters wrong. Never doubted him in the cover-two for a minute.
Bill, the security gate guy at Redskins Park at 3-6: Curmudgeon. Hall monitor who got a promotion. Meanie who makes me funnel through my glovebox to find my credential.
Security gate guy at 8-6: Noble, regal, a sentry of sorts, guarding the entrance to the workplace of future Super Bowl champions. A necessary cog in a great machine.
B.J., the front-office manager at 3-6: Answering phones for eternity, counting the days to retirement. Probably can’t believe she has to put up with these bozos after the glory days of Gibbs, Green, Monk and Riggo. To think, she actually once buzzed Albert Haynesworth into the building.
B.J. at 8-6: Loyalist. Rock. The harbor needed when the seas got rough and nearly capsized the franchise. Oh, and much younger than she sounds on the phone.
As the organization keeps winning and the people who make those wins possible keep being re-imagined, there are of course lessons to be learned from this new narrative:
1. We find reasons to like people and ascribe good character to them when they win for our teams. It’s not who they are now any more than bad character was when they were losing. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
2. Jim Zorn was right about one thing: Whether the Redskins beat Philly and Dallas and win the division or lose both and wrenchingly miss the playoffs, we probably all need to stay a little more medium.
For previous columns by Mike Wise, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.
More on the Redskins: