We’re only seven weeks into the NFL season, but is there anyone inside the Beltway who doesn’t understand that the season is effectively over for the hometown Washington Redskins after a 33-20 road loss to the Carolina Panthers?
A little more than a week ago, the Redskins were 3-1 and about to play a Philadelphia Eagles team that seemed to be on the verge of disintegrating. Now, just eight days later, Washington is 3-3 and now seems to be the team that’s ready to disintegrate. Beset by a raft of injuries on offense and unsettled at quarterback — I doubt John Beck convinced many folks that he’s the answer after turning in a performance where he failed to move the team consistently before the start of garbage time — Washington faces an uphill battle if it wants to make the playoffs.
Then again, the 10 games remaining in the season offer little solace to the Washington faithful. In general, it usually takes 10 wins to make the NFL playoffs (I know Seattle made it with just seven wins last season, but that scenario is unlikely in the NFC East), meaning the Redskins would have to go on a 7-3 run to secure a place in the postseason. Take a look at what’s left and tell me how anyone outside of a deluded true believer could see the Redskins playing in the first round on the weekend of January 7-8, 2012:
October 30, at Buffalo (Toronto)
November 6, San Francisco
November 13, at Miami
November 20, Dallas
November 27, at Seattle
December 4, New York Jets
December 11, New England
December 18, at New York Giants
December 24, Minnesota
January 1, at Philadelphia
Being at my most charitable, I see the Redskins winning at least three of those games (Miami, Seattle and Minnesota). Making the playoffs would mean beating four of the following teams: Buffalo, San Francisco, Dallas, New York Jets, New England, New York Giants or Philadelphia. When you look at it that way, even getting to 8-8 would have to be considered a minor miracle.
That, of course, begs yet another question: With the team looking to finish no better than two games higher than last year, what exactly was the point of the first two years of the Mike Shanahan regime? The Redskins clearly aren’t good enough to make the playoffs, but at this point, they are also not nearly bad enough to get themselves in position to draft the one college player who might offer a chance to help turn things around. Of course, I’m talking about Stanford University senior Andrew Luck, a player who could very well wind up as Peyton Manning’s backup in Indianapolis come next fall.
According to a recent Washington Post poll, only 48 percent of local fans say the Redskins are their favorite NFL team — something that I’m sure burns Redskins owner Dan Snyder to the core. Then again, I’m at a loss to suggest what Snyder, Shanahan or General Manager Bruce Allen can do about it at this point either.
Eric McErlain blogs at Off Wing Opinion, a Forbes “Best of the Web” winner. In 2006 he wrote a “bloggers bill of rights” to help integrate bloggers into the Washington Capitals’ press box. Eric has also written for Deadspin, NBC Sports and the Sporting News, and covers sports television for The TV News. Follow Eric on Twitter.