EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 18: Josh Wilson #26 of the Washington Redskins celebrates his touchdown with Oshiomogho Atogwe #20 during their game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on December 18, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
This week's Chain Reactions checks in on whether late season wins actually carry over in the NFL, the price of being No. 1 and if Dale Hunter is a one and done in D.C.?
It used to be real easy to buy a gift for that Washington Redskins fan in your life. Sure, some like Redskins Snuggies or anything else from the Redskins store, but what they really wanted was W's, especially against division rivals like the New York Giants, who they swept for the first time since 1999. Of course, the win was somewhat costly, since it helped the Cowboys and hurt draft position.
These are different days and times. Suddenly fans are not as excited about those W's as they used to be. Instead they would rather have that unwrapped future quarterback under the tree. They do not care that drafting quarterbacks can be a 50/50 proposition or that this organization has a real bad track record of picking that guy.
The 5-9 Redskins have not won back to back games since Weeks One and Two, yet with the Minnesota Vikings coming to town this weekend, they appear poised to pick up win number six and then perhaps lose that precious draft position. So what is a Redskins fan to do? As the Hall of Fame basketball coach Bobby Knight once said, "if victories are inevitable, sit back and enjoy it." Or maybe our Redskins reporter Daniel Shiferaw said it in his column this week.
In this edition of Chain Reactions, we get a closer look at the carry-over myth, a lucky break scenario for the Redskins, a pair of dopes back with the team and if Dale Hunter is a one and done with the Capitals?
I have never been a big believer in the carry-over effect in the NFL, i.e. the idea that teams that finish the season strong when they are way out of the playoff race pick up where they left off the following season.
It makes no sense this day and age with player movement and the fact that coaching staffs and opponents change so often. Throw in the injury impact and the months between games, and it is just GM speak to me. Recently, the Charlotte Observer pulled some interesting numbers that support our suspicions.
Over the past five seasons, 31 teams made the playoffs after missing the postseason the previous season. But only 12 of those teams had winning records in December and January regular-season games the year before.
That is only 38 percent of the teams that picked up the December momentum, which really is not surprising. Teams that completely bottom out do get better draft position and better schedules the following year. It would also stand to reason they probably work a heck of a lot harder in improving their roster and approach. So Redskins fans, go back to rooting for losses or hope this team is one of the 38 percent.
Is Shanahan's Mouth on a Luck-y Break Scenario for Redskins
Ok so maybe there is still hope for the Skins to get that quarterback of the future when April's draft rolls around. At least that's what Mike Shanahan Insider Adam Schefter floated the other day. His scenario unfolds like this.
"The St. Louis Rams are in a situation where it's hard to see them winning a [third] game this season," Schefter said. "If the Colts and Rams finish tied with two wins a piece, it'll come down to their strength of schedules. But what is interesting about that is if the Rams have the pick, it becomes literally an auction for that No. 1 pick, because the Dolphins, Redskins, Seahawks and other teams all will have an interest in trading up to that spot.
The Colts wouldn't dare lose the Andrew Luck sweepstakes at the end of the season, would they? They host the AFC South Division Champion Houston Texans, who slipped up against the Panthers last week, and then play the Jaguars. The Texans still have a bye to secure and the Jags ... well they are horrible so one more win is not that insane of a scenario.
For the sake of this scenario, what would it cost to claim such a prized No. 1? Ehe Raiders gave up for a first and a second for a well used Carson Palmer recently, so here's what Schefter pontificated it might cost.
"If somehow the Colts win a game and the Rams don't, then that pick, for the Rams franchise, would be worth, roughly worth, three [first-round picks] and two [second-rounders], maybe four first-round picks. And so there's a huge amount at stake if somehow the Colts - who will continue to try to win games - win another game, the Rams lose their two games and somehow come up with that pick."
That's not a typo. Three first rounders, two second rounders and perhaps a fourth rounder. Could you imagine what Mike Ditka would give up for that pick? Ricky Williams, the wedding dress and his next four drafts probably.
Now, the question is, would the Redskins, who have been ultra careful for a whole calendar year, give up that hefty of a price to get a player that has yet to take a snap in the NFL? Would Adam Schefter bring it up if they were not thinking about it?
This is why fans have a hard time celebrating late season Ws when the season is already a lost cause. Plan B would involve Matt Barkley and Robert Griffin if they are in the draft, and of course if they fall into the Skins lap. That fall could get steeper with more wins.
Two Dopes Back
The NFL is allowing Trent Williams and Fred Davis access the Redskins facility during their season-ending suspensions. The Redskins are going along with it, probably figuring it would not be the worst thing to keep tabs on two guys that clearly have some discipline issues.
"We're going to have them come in here over the next couple of weeks, get some good workouts in," said Shanahan, whose team has only two games remaining on the schedule. "We want to make sure they're in shape. We're not going to do anything football related, relative to meetings. ... More so conditioning the next couple weeks."
This time is very important for Davis with his upcoming free agency. Certainly, he did some serious damage to his marketability, but maybe, just maybe, if shows enough professionalism during this suspension he can regain some faith the Redskins used to have in him.
Also, in a perfect sports world, it would be great if the two would have to clean the locker rooms every night and be there by 5 a.m. A daily urine test would probably be a good thing too. Certainly, the NFLPA would never allow that to happen, but we can dream.
Could Dale Hunter Be One and Done?
It seems like Dale Hunter should have an interim label on him in light of the news that the coach is just on a contract until the end of the season. So, are the Caps not that confident that he is the answer? Perhaps he's not confident he will want to coach beyond this season? All are fair questions. Of course, getting the answers will not be easy as the Capitals are playing the "we don't comment on contracts" card.
Hunter is the co-owner of the OHL's Ontario Knights with his brother, where he coached before coming to the Capitals' rescue. Much like the players, he is trying to get the most out of the situation. Hunter too is not guaranteed anything if this season comes up short.