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.
ASHBURN, VA—Here is a look at what Jay Gruden covered in his Monday news conference after the Redskins’ win over the Giants.
—We hit on some of the major injury news but there is the complete list: “DeAngelo [Hall], torn ACL, has surgery – he’ll be out for the season. [Bashaud] Breeland, he got an MRI, he has strained tendons in his ankle – he’ll be week to week. Shawn Lauvao has a moderate ankle sprain, we’re going to evaluate him on a week-to-week basis. [Kory] Lichtensteiger has a moderate calf strain, again, week-to-week. [Josh] Doctson went out to pregame warmup and could not push off the way he wanted to, his Achilles was too sore, so we’ve just got to continue to treat him and figure out the roots of the problem and try to get it fixed. DeSean Jackson aggravated his knee and ankle, came back and finished the game. And [Dashaun] Phillips has a hamstring strain. That is it.”
—Gruden said that the loss of a veteran leader like Hall was a big one. “It’s a lot. He’s a captain, you know? He’s coming along, playing a lot better and better at safety, so it’s pretty significant.”
—He tried to sell the 0-3 Browns as a big threat but he wasn’t very convincing. “It’s a tough opponent, very good coaching staff, and got a lot of work to do.”
—Kirk Cousins was pretty good according to the coach but they need to get touchdowns in the red zone. “We tried a quarterback draw one time and we missed the hole a little bit. Had a couple throws that were covered, just couldn’t get it done. Can’t put a finger on one person in that area. It’s not all on Kirk,”
—Going into it, Gruden was about as confident as a coach could be on the fake punt play in the third quarter. “We did it in practice and Tress Way has a great arm – very accurate. Coaching staff on the special teams side of it saw that it was a possibility. We practiced it. He caught it every time but the first day in the walkthrough.”
—A majority of those in the press box plus the TV broadcast crew all thought that David Bruton had made a spectacular interception when he ripped the ball away from Odell Beckham in the end zone. So did Gruden. “I’ve heard that everybody says it was an interception except for the replay guy. I don’t know what the rule is. We just have got to live by it. I thought his elbow was down, I thought his butt was down, I thought he had control of the ball.” Gruden admitted that, like most of us, he doesn’t know what a catch is.
—The Redskins aren’t thinking about cranking out another winning streak like the one late last year that got them into the playoffs. “Yeah, I think the only thing you can do is… the ultimate cliché is take it one game at a time. That’s the only thing can do. You can’t look ahead.”
Facing multiple injuries, all options on table for Redskins O-line, including Trent Williams at guard.
For the second year in a row Redskins left guard Shawn Lauvao got injured playing against the New York Giants in Week 3. Lauvao's injury, combined with an injury to center Kory Lichtensteiger, left the Washington offensive line in disrepair.
Redskins coach Jay Gruden said that both offensive linemen are now on a week to week basis, and it sounds quite possible neither player will go next week against Cleveland. The coach called both injuries "moderate" - ankle sprain for Lauvao and calf strain for Lichtensteiger.
The injuries mean the 'Skins are likely to bring in new linemen, particularly at center.
"We're going to have to," Gruden said when asked about new help for the line.
Once Lauvao and Lichtensteiger were injured in the Giants game, Gruden was forced to try an interesting combination. Veteran left tackle Trent Williams slid down to guard and Ty Nsekhe took over for Williams at tackle.
Importantly for the 'Skins, the results weren't bad.
"He's so good at tackle but he actually played pretty darn good at guard," Gruden said of Williams.
"He's a great athlete, probably be a good center too," the coach joked.
But Williams playing more guard should not be laughed at. The Redskins showed some of their best run game of the season late in the win against New York with Williams lined up next to Nsekhe.
Further, the coaching staff has repeatedly talked about how much they like Nsekhe as a tackle but that there was no spot for him with Williams and Morgan Moses healthy. As unusual as it sounds, with Williams at guard allows Nsekhe to get on the field at tackle.
The Redskins do have another option in house: Arie Kouandjio. In his second year out of Alabama, Kouandjio has the size needed to play guard, but he is yet to be active on gameday this season and has been considered more of a development project than a player that is ready to roll.
If Kouandjio is ready, he can play left guard and Williams stays in his normal spot at left tackle, protecting Kirk Cousins' blind side.
"We'll just have to evaluate that situation and see how it goes, see how Arie does at left guard," Gruden said. "Ty is an excellent player, there's no question about it, but to move your Pro Bowl left tackle out of the mix to guard is something that's a little unique and hard to do."
Scot McCloughan made some strong moves last season bringing in players as injuries impacted the Redskins. Looks like the GM will again have that opportunity, this time on the offensive line.