Over the last couple of days a big theme in the blogosphere was the Redskins chances of going from last place to first place in the NFC East. I wrote about it here, playing off this NFL.com article. Others addressed the topic here and here. Along with most, I did not think that their chances of winning the division this year were very good.The Redskins, however, do not necessarily have to take the division title for the first time since 1999 to have their 2012 season be successful. Although winning the NFC East and getting a home playoff game would be great, the organization and most fans would be very happy with a wild card playoff spot this year.My friend Rafael on his Cowboys Nation blog looked at teams that did what the Redskins want to do. He found that since 1999 a total of 48 teams have gone from having a losing record in one season to the playoffs the next season. Thats an average of 3.7 per season.All three of the Redskins recent playoff appearances came after losing seasons. Prior to winning the division with a 10-6 mark in 1999 they were a miserable 6-10 in 1998. The followed up their 6-10 record in 2004 with a 10-6 wild card the following season. And in 2007 the Redskins got in with a 9-7 mark after going 6-10 the previous season.To qualify for one of the two wild card playoff spots, the Redskins would have to finish ahead of at least one of the other three teams in the division. Even with potential star Robert Griffin III at quarterback, it will be a tall order for them to beat out Dallas, Philadelphia, and the Giants, who have very good QBs of their own.But it would be a mistake to say that it cant be done. As Rafael says in the conclusion to his article:So take a good yard look at those seemingly down-trodden teams. The 4-12ers, the 6-10ers, the 7-9ers. Think they're all doomed to another year of disappointment? Think again. Some of them have us "experts" right where they want us.In today's NFL no team should be counted out in June. Not one.
Throughout the league, NFL teams have sold naming rights to their practice facilities.
Now the Redskins are joining that club through a partnership with Inova: Redskins Park, the team's practice facility in Ashburn, Va., will be renamed Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park, the team announced.
The partnership will go well beyond just naming rights, as the team and Inova will work together to promote health and wellness throughout the D.C. area including television (NBC4) and radio (Sportstalk 570/ESPN980) programming, as well as developing plans to improve health in the community, including breast cancer awareness and concussion testing.
The team's decision to sell naming rights to Redskins Park should come as no surprise.
The two closest geographic teams to Washington both have sold naming rights to their practice facilities: The Ravens practice at the Under Armour Performance Center and the Eagles practice at the NovaCare Complex. A host of teams have sponsors attached to their practice locales, including Pittsburgh, Houston and others.
"We are not only excited, we are honored to be working with Inova, a world class leader in healthcare," Redskins CMO/EVP Terry Bateman, Redskins said in a release. "This partnership will benefit the community and uphold our commitment to have the healthiest fans in the NFL."
Earlier this year, the Redskins announced that Dr. Robin West of Inova would take over as team physician. That move made West the first female team doctor in the NFL. Inova is a not-for-profit healthcare system based in Northern Virginia that serves more than 2 million people throughout the D.C. area and beyond.
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During the Kirk Cousins franchise tag/long-term contract debate, the question of whether or not Cousins could continue to play as well as he did in the last 10 games of 2015 was pivotal. In that stretch of games he completed 72.4 percent of his passes with an average of 8.7 yards per attempt with 23 touchdowns and three interceptions. His passer rating was 119.1.
Those who saw that run as a fluke were not inclined to want the Redskins to give Cousins a long-term deal near the top of the quarterback pay scale. Those who saw the stretch as things clicking for a quarterback in his first year as a starter were inclined to lobby the Redskins to lock him up no matter what it cost.
How realistic is it to expect Cousins to repeat that stretch over a full season? It would be difficult. His completion percentage of 72.4 would top Drew Brees’ single-season record of 71.2 percent. The passer rating of 119.1 would be the fourth best of all time, better than any season ever posted by Tom Brady, Steve Young, Breese, and others.
From the same perspective, it might be a little easier for Cousins to repeat what he did in the interception department. In the last 10 games he threw three of them in 315 pass attempts, a percentage of 1.0 percent. Eight quarterbacks have had an interception percentage of 1.0 or lower for a full season. Some of them, like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, are among the best quarterbacks ever. Others, like Damon Huard, Nick Foles and Joe Ferguson, are not.
A look at the single-season leaders list implies that some luck may be involved when it comes to interception avoidance. You see a lot of players, like Huard, Ferguson, Seneca Wallace, Brian Griese, and, yes, Robert Griffin III who have seasons ranking in the top 30 of all time and never came close to duplicating it again. Griese, for example, had 1.2 percent of his passes intercepted in 10 games in 2000. In his 10 NFL seasons before and after that he never had an interception percentage lower than 3.6; his career average was 3.5 percent. That’s about a percentage point over average.
Was Cousins just lucky towards the end of last year? Some who have looked at the latter part of his season closely think so. Matt Williamson does scouting work for ESPN and some other publications. Focusing just on the last half of the season, he said that he saw a lot of interceptions dropped.
While he only threw two interceptions during that eight-game stretch, quite a few more easily could have ended up in the other team’s hands - and probably should have. This was even truer in his uninspiring playoff game against Green Bay, the last time we saw Cousins.
I will say that I am suspicious of statements like that. How many is “quite a few”? Four? Ten? More? What is the standard for a “drop”? And all quarterbacks benefit from would-be interceptions that get dropped. How do Cousins’ dropped picks compare to those of other quarterbacks? More? Fewer? About the same?
But there it is and you can take it however you would like. The fact that he had a career 3.9 interception percentage going into that 10-game stretch lends some credence to the theory that Cousins benefitted from some good luck. But it’s also possible that he figured out how to avoid the turnover bug after 15 NFL starts prior to the game against the Bucs that got things rolling for him.
Last year the Redskins won nine games and took the NFC East title. Washington brings back largely the same team for 2016, and had a quiet, relatively drama free offseason.
But in Las Vegas, none of that matters.
Steelers are currently getting 86% of spread bets at Washington for Week 1, the most lopsided opening game: https://t.co/Ba8mkeCzyr— Sports Insights (@SportsInsights) July 22, 2016
Washington opens the year at home as underdogs against the Steelers, and considering that home field is generally worth three points toward the spread, clearly the betmakers don't expect much from the 'Skins. Or the betting public doesn't, that's for sure.
Pittsburgh is good, last year they went 10-6 and have two of the games best in QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown. Star running back Le'Veon Bell may miss the game, however, due to a suspension. It will be interesting to see if the line moves once Bell's situation becomes finalized.
Surprised by the overwhelming Steelers support? Should the spread look different? Let us know what you think in the comments.