Is there any chance that the Redskins will be able to beat the Saints on Sunday?Adam Schein, writing on NFL.com, makes a case that thatthere is no hope for the Redskins.I feel terrible for RobertGriffin III. He will never forget his NFL debut. The New Orleans Saints are going to crush Griffin and the Washington Redskins. This game was over months ago.. . .No team in the NFLneedsthe season to start as much as theSaints. They are hot. They are angry. Every single player, every single resident of the state believes they were wronged by Roger Goodell and the NFL with the "Bountygate" suspensions.. . .New Orleans is good and vastly superior to theRedskins.At the end, Schein says that Griffin is already 0-1.Before the game even starts? Really?I say, not so fast. Lets deal with this anger issue. Is the bounty punishment really going to make them play harder than they would otherwise in their season opener? And if it does, how far into the game can the anger motivation last? And will they get so mad that they will miss tackles trying to blow a runner up, jump offside because they are so keyed up, and make other errors of commission and omission because they want to stick it to Roger Goodell?It seems that the Vegas oddsmakers think that the Redskins have a chance. The Saints are favored by only seven points. If you count in three points for home field advantage that means that New Orleans would be favored by four points at a neutral site and by just one point in Washington. That hardly points to a vastly superior team.This doesnt mean Im going to go all crazy here and predict that the Redskins will win. But I do think that they have a chance to be competitive.The key will be their ability to survive the first quarter. If the Saints put up a couple of quick touchdowns and force the Redskins to become one-dimensionalin other words, if Griffin has to become a one-man showthe game could get ugly in the manner the Schein envisions. If they can come out and hang with the Saints for the first 20 to 30 minutes of play, the Superdome crowd will go from boisterous to nervous. Perhaps those silent counts wont be needed all game long.But even if everyone leaves the Superdome at halftime it is going to be tough for the Redskins to pull this one out. Maybe one day RG3 will be good enough to be mentioned alongside Drew Brees but that day wont be Sunday. At some point Griffin might communicate as well with his receivers as well as Brees does with his, but that will be some day months or a year or two from now.On Sunday, the Redskins will hang with the Saints for most of the game, Griffin will have his moments as the throws for 300 yards, and starting running back Alfred Morris will power his way for about 100 yards. But it wont be enough.Saints 31, Redskins 21
When the Redskins won the NFC East in 2015 with a 9-7 record, most critics dismissed the division as weak. That theory was largely proved right when the Redskins got stomped at home in the first round of the playoffs by the Wild Card Green Bay Packers.
In 2016, however, the NFC East largely looked like the best division in football, or at least among the best divisions. Dallas won 13 games and took the NFC East title, the Giants won 11 and took the NFC's top Wild Card spot. The Redskins had a chance to make the playoffs in Week 17, but unceremoniously lost and fell short.
Still, Washington won eight games and Philadelphia won seven. In fact, the NFC East was the only division in the NFL without a team that lost 10 or more games. The AFC West - a division that some would argue was tougher than the NFC East - still had the Chargers and their 5-11 record.
What does it mean for 2017? If anything the only team expected to regress would be the Cowboys, and their regression could easily still have them looking to win around 10 games.
The Eagles have improved with young, star QB Carson Wentz. New York will be interesting, as they have some age at various spots on their roster but still feature a two-time Super Bowl winning QB in Eli Manning and one of the best defenses in the NFL.
As for Washington? The defense should be much improved. It almost has to be as the 2016 version struggled significantly. If the defense can just be average (and I'd argue it could push for Top 15) the offense should continue to move the ball well. Producing in the red zone needs to look different than last season too.
The NFC East looks like a beast yet again. It would be no surprise if both NFC Wild Cards come from the division.
Let us know what you think in the comments.
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Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 28, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.
—Training camp starts (7/27) 60
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 74
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 105
Note: I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks. Need to Know will be a mix of new content and some of the most popular posts of 2017.
Redskins faced one of NFL’s toughest slates in 2016
(originally posted January 28)
As the Redskins came off their 2015 playoff season and looked towards 2016, one thing jumped out. Even before any games were played it looked like their path to a repeat playoff appearance would be difficult, more so than it was when they went 9-7 and took the NFC East title.
The 2015 schedule looked fairly easy when applying the eyeball test. They played just two games against teams that made the playoffs and those teams, the Patriots and Panthers, plus the Jets were the only teams they faced that finished the season with winning records.
The eyeball test was borne out by the numbers. According to the stat gurus at Football Outsiders the Redskins faced the 28th toughest schedule in terms of the DVOA of opposing defenses and the opposing offenses added up to the 24th most difficult.
The going was considerably tougher in 2016. The Redskins played seven games against teams that were in the playoff field. The defenses they faced stacked up as the toughest group of any NFL team. They played nine games against teams that finished in the top 11 in defensive DVOA. The offenses they faced were a little better than average, ranking 13th as a group.
While the Redskins’ season was widely regarded as a disappointment, it would be reasonable to say that given vastly improved quality of the competition that they did well in only having their record drop by half a game.
Of course, the goal is to be good enough to prosper and make the playoffs no matter what mix of teams the luck of the draw happens to put on the schedule. They will need to get there in a hurry. Awaiting the Redskins on their 2017 schedule are seven 2016 playoff teams plus one more that finished the year with a winning record.
The fortunes of NFL teams can’t always be predicted in advance, especially more than seven months before the season kicks off. But it’s safe to say that the 2017 slate will be challenging. If they are going to improve their record they are going to have to improve their level of play dramatically.