Growing up we all hear the adage that “it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, It’s how you play the game”, someone should remind the Redskins of that mindset, because the “how” is becoming a big problem in D.C. with this team and looks far worse than their 3-8 record. The Redskins record is definitely troubling to fans, but it’s how they are losing that is just so unacceptable and demands change this offseason.
Typically when a team’s record regresses as much in one season as it has for the Redskins you can probably point to a rash of injuries that have helped sink the season. The Atlanta Falcons are a perfect example this season, as they have lost three key starters for the year in their best wide receiver, pass rusher and their left tackle. They have also lost numerous other starters and key contributors for multiple game stretches. While of course you want your team to be able to overcome injuries ( see New England Patriots), it is at least understandable to see why the team is losing. The Redskins don’t have that to fall back on. In fact they have been one of the healthiest teams in the NFL this season. They didn’t have their first starter or key contributor go on injured reserve until after their 10th game when now both Leonard Hankerson and Stephen Bowen have been placed on IR. They have missed a couple other starters for a game or two, but that is it. In fact the Redskins suffered far worse injuries last year when they went 10-6 and won the division, than this season when they are 3-8 and one of the bottom teams in the league.
If it’s not injuries then it surly has to be a tough schedule that has sunk the Redskins season. Unfortunately that isn’t the case either. The Redskins have had one of the easiest schedules in the NFL to date. The NFC East is one of the weakest divisions in the NFL and so far the Redskins are 0-3 in the division, and in last place. While the Redskins face the AFC West this year which has two of the top teams in the league, they’ve only faced one of those teams (Denver) so far. In fact they’ve feasted on the AFC West for two of their three wins. The other division the Redskins faced was the NFC North which is down this year. Washington beat the Bears but lost to the Lions, Packers and Vikings. While one of the first place games the Redskins got was the 49ers, the other one is against the Falcons so Washington can’t complain too much about a tough schedule. The Redskins schedule all along has looked easy as they had 5 games (KC, OAK, PHI x2, DET) against teams that won 4 or fewer games last season. All those teams got better in the offseason, while the Redskins regressed.
It would be one thing if the Redskins could put part of the blame for their losses on the schedule or injuries, but they just can’t. There is no external excuse the Redskins can make that justifies their record and watching their games it is even worse than the record shows. The Redskins are simply getting beat, week in week out. They do not have a single loss by fewer than 6 points, and have lost by 7 or more points in all but one game. That is embarrassing as it means you need a last second TD drive to even hope to tie the game (and sometimes that wasn’t even an option). The Redskins have a negative 86 point differential which is the worst in the NFC and the third worst in the NFL.
While many people want to blame the defense solely for that differential, the offense has fallen off as well. The defense’s points allowed per game are at 30.72 up from 24.25 = -6.47 , the offense meanwhile is sitting at 22.90 points per game down from 27.25 = -4.35. While the defensive failure is troubling, the offense is what’s supposed to carry the team so them not improving, or at least maintaining their average hurts worse. The offensive outlook is even worse considering that the defense is responsible for 5 of the Redskins touchdowns this season (they only had 4 all last season).
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Even the 86 point differential is misleading as the Redskins have simply not shown up for long stretches of just about every game. The Redskins were dominated for much of the game at least 7 times this year (Eagles x2, Dallas, Denver, SF, and Green Bay). And in another game they had 27-14 lead over the Vikings midway in the 3rd quarter and they couldn’t close it out. That is not the mark of a good football team. Maybe you can justify one or two bad games, but seven or eight bad games is completely unacceptable. Right now the Redskins have trailed for longer than any team in the NFL and for what is supposed to be a top ranked offense that can’t happen.
The Redskins losing record is bad enough for fans to endure, but the complete lack of showing up in most of these games is the most damning indication that Mike Shanahan deserves to be replaced this offseason. There is nothing you can really take from a season like this to build on for the future, and this is an indication that it’s time to rebuild.