I really dislike the schedule for the Redskins and feel that the league didn’t do the Redskins any favors in putting this together. On paper it might seem like the league did help out the Redskins and the concern that Robert Griffin III might not be back yet to start the season, or at least limited. The schedule is packed with easy games and an early week 5 bye, allows the Redskins to ease Griffin back in if he’s not 100%. The easy schedule also should help the Redskins get off to a good start regardless of whether Griffin is 100%, Griffin is 80% (in which case he shouldn’t be playing), or Kirk Cousins is at the helm. Unfortunately, while the schedule may be a positive for Robert Griffin’s recovery, it is a negative for the team overall.
The Eagles and Lions at home and the Raiders on the road, are the three easiest games on the Redskins schedule and the Redskins have them all within the first four weeks. It would have been far better for the team to have those games spread out throughout the season and hopefully splitting up games between some of their toughest opponents. Another issue with starting with the Eagles, one of the Redskins easier games, is the fact that Mike Shanahan has such a great track record of success in week 1 games, it would have been nice to have the extra time to prepare for a tougher team.
The early season bye is another thing that hurts the Redskins from an overall standpoint. Just two years ago the Redskins had the same week 5 bye, and at the time they were fairly injury free, afterwards though they lost Tim Hightower, Chris Cooley, Kory Lichtensteiger, Leonard Hankerson among others for the season, and saw guys like Laron Landry, O.J. Atogwe, Santana Moss, Trent Williams, Jammal Brown miss time due to injury. If the bye occurred later in the season three things would have benefited the Redskins that year: 1. the players who eventually were put on IR would have had another week with the team before their injury. 2. Other injured players may not have missed as much time with more time to rest up while they were trying to return from injury. 3. The Redskins were forced to sign a number of street free agents and promote guys off the practice squad given the injuries, having a bye later would have allowed those guys some more developmental time instead of relying on them too soon.
The Redskins first six games coming off the bye isn’t too tough from a competition standpoint, but it’s not too favorable with how it is laid out. Four of these six games are on the road, and coming right out of the bye going to Dallas, coming back for the Bears then going out to Denver is not the most favorable schedule as those are three tough games and that is quite a bit of travel. The other concerning thing is the Thursday night contest where the Redskins have to travel to Minnesota on a short week. If you have Thursday night games you definitely prefer them at home, and if you need to go travel on a short week, it would have been nice to not have to go play a playoff team. While the benefit from the Thursday Night game is you get an extended week the next week, the Redskins go to Philly after the Vikings, which isn’t a game you’d typically think they’d need extra time for.
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The final six weeks of the season are where it gets really tricky. All six opponents could be in the playoff mix giving them added incentive. While some may scoff at the idea of the Chiefs being in the mix, they were a far more talented team than their record showed, and have added a ton of talent this season. It would have been much better to face them early in the year as they still might be all on the same page, but in early December this team could be a real threat. Also, having two of the last three games on the road could be pretty tough if the Redskins are fighting for a playoff spot.
There is one area where the Redskins did win out and that is the travel of non divisional away games. Getting to go to Green Bay in September is a big advantage as opposed to facing them in November or December. Same thing with Denver as the weather could have been a factor late in the year. Finally having their only true west coast trip isolated between a home game and their bye week is a plus as well.
Overall, this is not a favorable outcome for the Redskins schedule as they have a rough schedule down the stretch and will need to get very lucky on the injury front next year if they want to survive.