By now, we’ve all heard the jokes about how the Washington Redskins will probably win the Super Bowl this year if the NFL lockout causes teams to miss games, because the Redskins always win the Super Bowl in shortened seasons. There certainly is data to back that up. In the weeks following a players’ strike in 1982, the Redskins routed their competition in the remaining nine games, finishing with a 9-1 record and ultimately a victory over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII.
Then in 1987, the team owners hired replacement players for a few weeks due to yet another players’ strike. Jack Kent Cook just happened to hire better replacement players than the other owners. While every other team in the league had at least one player cross the picket lines, the Redskins players stood united, and that solidarity, chemistry, and team unity could have been a contributing factor to the Redskins coming from behind to destroy the Denver Broncos by a score of 42-10 in Super Bowl XXII.
In the last 30 years, the Redskins are 2-0 in shortened seasons. So, as Redskins fans, we should be rooting for a lockout? Right?
Not so fast.
The current Redskins roster bears very little resemblance to the rosters assembled for the 1982-83 and 1987-88 seasons. Those teams were stacked with talent. They had what they needed to win. They definitely weren’t rebuilding. Rex Grossman isn’t Joe Theismann, and Evan Royster probably isn’t Timmy Smith either.
A rebuilding year is a terrible year for a lockout or strike. The 2011 Redskins roster will be crowded with individuals who weren’t playing here in Washington last season. They have 12 draft picks competing for spots, and will likely have a heap of new free agents (mostly role players) ready to fill out the roster. They have a lot to learn. With established veterans like Santana Moss and Carlos Rogers set to leave via free agency, the Redskins have plenty of holes to fill and are bound to experience some growing pains. They’ll be starting from scratch at several important positions. And if Donovan McNabb couldn’t even learn Mike Shanahan’s playbook, how are we going to expect a rookie or young free agent to do it without a full offseason of preparation?
If the lockout were to extend into the season, causing games to be missed, the Redskins may be in for a world of trouble when the league does finally resume. Fortunately for all of us, the lockout seems likely to end within the next few weeks, and at this point I’d be shocked if it didn’t.
The first 2011 NFL preseason game is the Hall Of Fame Game on August 9. That’s the date when the NFL owners are really going to start missing revenue. Meanwhile, the NFL Players won’t truly be missing their game checks until September 8. This still gives the players a bit of leverage over the owners because the players would most certainly be happy to miss the preseason, while the owners would hate to miss out on the ticket revenue that preseason games generate. In the end though, both sides have the same goal in mind. If we work backwards from August 9, and consider that the teams will need to have time for a free agency period and training camp sessions, a deal must be reached in early July for the season as we know it to start on time. I think it will. There’s just too many jobs at stake, inside and outside of football, for it not to.
But all of this delay may serve to put the Redskins at a disadvantage. While it’s nice that John Beck and London Fletcher have been organizing informal practice sessions, these can’t possibly be as helpful as full practices run by the coaches or having a team with an established system and a core group of returning veterans, like the Redskins' division rivals in Philadelphia and New York.
We’re all rooting for the lockout to end soon so the season can start on time. The more football the better. We should also be rooting for the lockout to end soon so the Redskins have a chance of competing in the NFC East.