Washington Redskins Are Still In NFC East Race Despite Total Regression

By Greg Bradshaw
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins haven’t given their fans much to cheer about this season. They reside in the NFC East basement with a 3-6 record. It’s a disappointing predicament for the Redskins, considering that the division is so awful that the New York Giants have the division’s longest current winning streak at three games. That streak came after a 0-6 start, further illustrating Washington’s ineptitude.

The Redskins’ offense is slowly getting back to its prolific form from last season. Quarterback Robert Griffin III has seemed to developed a good on-field rapport with wide receiver Pierre Garcon and tight end Jordan Reed. Running back Alfred Morris is averaging 5.2 yards per carry, which reaffirms his efficiency on the ground.

Unfortunately, Washington’s offensive line has played terribly in recent weeks. Griffin has been hit constantly by defenders this season. He was even knocked out of the Redskins’ 45-21 Week 8 loss to the Denver Broncos. Even reserve quarterback Kirk Cousins, in relief of RG III, endured a few hits in the Denver game. Making matters worse, RG III suffered four sacks in the Redskins’ 34-27 Week 10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

At the risk of sounding redundant, Griffin is the Redskins’ franchise. He shouldn’t be taking these kinds of hits. The offensive line should take any defender even breathing on Washington’s franchise quarterback personal. These hits on RG III are occurring while’s he’s in the pocket. That doesn’t solidify the case that RG III should stay in the pocket more, considering the criticism he garnered for running out of the pocket too much.

The Redskins’ defense still continues to be incapable of stopping a peewee league offense. Washington surrendered a 13-point lead to a one-win Minnesota team, allowing them to score on four-consecutive possessions. If that doesn’t make Redskins’ fans sick, Washington is also allowing opponents to score almost 32 points per game. It makes me wonder how Redskins’ defensive coordinator Jim Haslett sleeps at night.

To say that the Redskins’ special teams unit stinks would be an insult to skunks everywhere. This unit has constantly put pressure on the other two units because of their inability to show efficiency covering kicks. Washington has allowed two touchdowns on punt returns, a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown and had two field goals blocked in the same game. Against Minnesota, punter Sav Rocca threw a pass to tight end Niles Paul on a fake punt. To sum up the Redskins’ special team brilliance, Paul wasn’t looking for the pass because he was sprinting downfield as if to cover a punt. Needless to say, the pass fell incomplete, just like Washington’s attempts to execute fundamental special team duties.

Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan isn’t totally blameless for his team’s plight. He is supposed to be a no-nonsense disciplinarian. However, his team routinely commits penalties at the worst possible times. As with any NFL team, offensive penalties put teams in long-yardage situations, and defensive penalties allow opponents to sustain drives. I’m not expecting the Redskins to play a perfect game. That would be impossible. However, they’re not good enough to overcome penalties, so they’ll have to play a near-perfect game considering their other shortcomings.

But I digress. Despite all of their shortcomings, Washington is still only one game behind the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles in the loss column. Someone has to win the NFC East, and the Redskins have as much a chance as any of their divisional rivals. Besides, they won their final seven games last season to win the division after a 3-6 start. Maybe they can duplicate the feat this season. Although their remaining schedule is tougher than last season’s, it’ll be interesting to see how things play out for Washington.

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