A tough road ahead for the Redskins

A tough road ahead for the Redskins
October 14, 2013, 7:45 am
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Tarik El-Bashir gives the Redskins injury report

DALLAS - The Redskins were rested, rejuvenated and supposedly ready after a week off, arriving here Sunday night hoping to finally put it all together, upset the Cowboys on national television and salvage a season that had swerved off course.

Instead, yet another incomplete effort has left their 2013 campaign on the verge of total disintegration.

After the victory two weeks ago in Oakland – as imperfect as it was – there seemed to be a sense that a turnaround might be plausible. After all, Mike Shanahan and Co. had 14 days between games to evaluate what wasn’t working. The dinged-up players had time to get healthy. Everyone had the chance to press the rest button.

It didn’t happen. And now, after a penalty and miscue riddled 31-16 defeat at AT&T Stadium, I’m having a difficult time mapping out a route to the playoffs for Robert Griffin III and his teammates, who are now buried in a 1-4 hole.  

In fact, since 1990, only six of the 112 teams that opened the season 1-4 made the playoffs. That’s a 5.4-percent. It’s better than 0-percent, but still …

Anyway, for argument’s sake, let’s say 8-8 will be good enough to win the woeful NFC East. The Redskins must win seven of their final 11 games just to get to .500 and have a chance of defending their division crown.

Where are those wins going to come from, exactly? Grab your schedule.

At 0-2 in the division, the Redskins have four games left against the NFC East. One more game against the Eagles and Cowboys and two against the winless Giants.

They need to win all four. But even that doesn’t seem likely at this point.

A postseason berth gets even harder to picture when the out-of-division schedule gets factored in. The only way, it seems, is for the Redskins to win some games that, at least on paper, they aren’t expected to.

Let’s start with Chicago, next week’s opponent. The Bears are 4-2 and coming off a narrow victory over the Giants. They’ve got Jay Cutler, who ranks among the league leaders in several statistical categories, and a defense that ranks second-to-last in yards allowed. 

It’s exactly the kind of game the Redskins must win.

The 2-3 Chargers, in my estimation, are the only team the Redskins should beat. The Bolts will be playing 3,000 miles away from home and at 10 a.m. Pacific time. But it’s by no means a gimme. A resurgent Philip Rivers poses a major threat. In fact, he ranks only behind Peyton Manning in completion percentage and sits second in touchdown passes, too.

Speaking of Peyton, he’s on the schedule after that. In Denver. Hard time believing the Redskins are going to go into Mile High and potentially hand Peyton his first loss, even if it marks Mike Shanahan’s return to the city where he won two Super Bowls.

The Vikings are a lot like the Redskins—a 10-win team a year ago that’s mired in a 1-4 funk this season. Winnable game, for sure. Then again, that’s what we thought about the Eagles in the opener.

How about Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers? Yeah, I’m having a tough time seeing that, too.

Andy Reid and the undefeated Chiefs? Me neither.

The scuffling Falcons appear to be beatable. They’re 1-4 but it should be noted that the four losses have come by an average of four points. So they definitely have not fallen off as far as their record would indicate.

Not including division foes, the cumulative record of the Redskins’ remaining opponents is a healthy is 24-15.

“It’s a long season,” Griffin said after Sunday’s loss, asked about the mood of the Redskins’ locker room. “For me, my message to the team would be that we have to continue to push through. You always have to finish. No matter what your record says, you have to go out there and put your best foot forward every game. And if you’re not out there to win, don’t come on the field.”

He added: “There’s no quit in this team.”

Griffin, like many of his teammates, said all the right things.

But the math just doesn’t look like it’s going to work out.

Let’s say the Redskins win three of their four remaining games in the division. That gets them to four wins. They still will have to win at least four games from the Bears, Broncos, Chargers, Vikings, 49ers and Chiefs—just to get to .500.

And even then that might not be enough. 

Of course, a lot can change in a couple of months, as we saw last year. Teams come together at unexpected times.

But given the Redskins’ wretched start and their strength of schedule, the numbers don’t look good.