The 3-6 Redskins are back from the bye with playoff dreams. This week's "Chain Reactions" asks whether or not that is a realistic goal.
Before I give my 2 cents on the fantasy possibility of a late-season Redskins run, let's talk about the winless Wizards. How bad is it right now? There is a joke that circulates on Twitter every night these days,"the [locked out]] Capitals have as many wins as the Wizards this season."
Sure, no one thought the Wizards were going to compete with the Heat or the Thunder this year, but being worse than Charlotte and Orlando is tough to swallow even with John Wall and Nene on the sideline. The team did finally end the Jannero Pargo era and sign fan favorite Shaun Livingston, who is a true point guard. The guy gives effort every night. Granted, that should be a given -- it is a job for goodness sake -- but if you have paid attention to the franchise in the past, you know that was not always guaranteed. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, that approach will pay off with a "W" or two. It is going to be tough for the Wizards until Wall returns and a healthy Nene would go a long way in helping them avoid those lottery places.
If that did not depress you enough, this week's "Chain Reactions" weighs in on the "reality" of a Redskins post season run.
The Redskins, at 3-6, are tied with this Sunday's opponent, the Eagles, for 3rd place in the NFC East. They are just one game back of the Cowboys, who Washington still has to play twice. They are two-and-a-half gmaes back of the Giants, who lead the NFC East (and are off this Sunday). Overall, the Redskins have 5 division games of their remaining 7. So despite a 3-game losing streak, a defense that can't stop anyone through the air, a offense that is suddenly stalling out rather than giving us spectacular highlights like they did early in the season, the Redskins remain "alive" for a post season run. Is any of that realistic?
OK, so I laid out the groundwork of optimism above, but now it's time for a dose of reality. The Redskins are the last team anyone should "expect" to make a run in the NFC East. The defense is terrible. I could bore you with the stats, but everyone knows they are not getting pressure on quarterbacks, and suddenly over the last two weeks, they are not taking the ball away like they were in the first seven games.
Offensively, they have no one that can stretch the field without Pierre Garcon. He might try to play Sunday, but I don't have to be Doogie Howser, M.D. to know he is not going to be the explosive guy we saw in the first quarter against New Orleans, even if he does play.
I think Mike Shanahan was speaking the truth when he slipped into evaluation mode two weeks ago after the loss to Carolina. Sure, he has backpedaled like Deion Sanders since, but that's because he got crushed and the rest of the division has crumbled since. In the Shanahan era, the Redskins have yet to win a home game in the months of November and December. So, that would be a good starting point this weekend against the Eagles. Sure, the roster has been flipped significantly from year one to year two to now year three. What the Redskins need is more talent and players who will not give in to the "here we go again" mentality that can ruin any cultural change that may be going on in Ashburn.
One player with plenty of talent and character is the franchise quarterback, Robert Griffin III.
"I don’t think it’s an unrealistic goal. For us, the biggest thing, like I said the whole time, it’s one game at a time. You don’t look to the future because you have to take care of what’s in front of you. What am I saying? Yeah, I think the playoffs are a realistic goal for us and I don’t think there’s a guy in that locker room that doesn’t believe that."
There has to be a belief system. I totally get that. However, two Fridays ago, I was at Redskins Park and an offensive player told me the Panthers on tape were "terrible." He then paused and said, "But we also seem to play down to our competition." He was right, but he was also missing the fact that the Redskins are the down team/franchise and they have been for a very long time. The players walk by three Lombardi trophies everyday on their way into work. That's great, but instead of being a symbol of what to strive for, many still seem to think they were a part of those championships.
Hopefully, players like RGIII and Alfred Morris and the other new, young guys can help break that down that old cultural wall. They need to be the hungry team that is trying to fight for respect, not just this Sunday but over the final 7 games. I do not expect a playoff run. There are just too many holes to still fill on the roster. However, for the future of Mike Shanahan and the franchise, they need to at least go down fighting and give the fan base a reason to believe they are headed in the right direction.