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Flashback Friday: The 1986 Redskins

Flashback Friday: The 1986 Redskins

It's one thing to climb the mountain and win the championship once. Many teams have done that.

The hard part is getting knocked down and then winning it all again.

In 1986, Joe Gibbs and the Redskins showed that they could get back to the top. No, they didn't win the Super Bowl; they had a Giant obstacle in their way. But they set the table for their Super Bowl XXII championship the following season. And that's why the 1986 squad is one of my favorite Redskins teams.

After winning the championship in 1982, the Redskins started a slow roll downhill. They lost the Super Bowl the next year, lost in the first round of the playoffs in '84 and missed the postseason in 1985.

The Redskins went into 1986 without two of the mainstays of their Super Bowl teams. John Riggins was released in March and Joe Theismann, unable to recover from the horrific broken leg he suffered the previous season against the Giants, flunked his physical.

There was some incoming talent to compensate for the losses. The United States Football League folded and the Redskins bolstered their receiving corps with USFL refugees Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders. Multitalented running back Kelvin Bryant also came on board along with quarterback Doug Williams. The acquisition of Williams would not become significant until 1987, when he finished the season as the Super Bowl MVP.

The starting quarterback was Jay Schroeder and although he had led the team to a 5-1 finish after Theismann went down the Redskins still weren't quite sure what they had in him.

As it turns out, Schroeder was pretty good, at least in 1986. He passed for 4,109 yards, a team record that still stands, and earned a Pro Bowl invitation.

The job of filling Riggins' shoes fell to George Rogers, who the Redskins had acquired from the Saints a year earlier. He turned in a solid season with 1,203 yards on the ground.

Most of the original Hogs were in place on the offensive line with Joe Jacoby, Russ Grimm, Jeff Bostic and Mark May starting most of the games. The strength of the defense was the defensive line with Dexter Manley and Charles Mann at end and Dave Butz clogging things up at tackle.

The Redskins started off 5-0 but kicker Mark Moseley was on shaky ground, hitting less than half of his field goals. Although his missed extra point in a 30-6 loss to Dallas didn't have an effect on the outcome, Moseley was waived the next day.

Two weeks later they lost to the Giants, something that would become an all-too familiar happening. The next week the Redskins rallied from 12 points down in the final seven minutes to send a thriller against the Vikings into overtime. A touchdown pass from Schroeder to Clark won it in OT.

That sparked another five-game winning streak that thudded to a halt at the hands of, you guessed it, the Giants.

Despite winding up with a 12-4 record, the Redskins were relegated to a Wild Card spot as New York won the division with a 14-2 mark.

A home playoff win against the Rams set up a trip to Soldier Field to face the defending champion Bears. Schroeder threw two touchdown passes to Art Monk and the Redskins outscored Chicago 20-0 in the second half to shuffle out of the Windy City with a 27-13 win.

The dream season ended when the Redskins faced their worst nightmare in the NFC Championship Game. The Giants were much more dominant than the 17-0 final score would indicate.

Still, the 1986 Redskins proved that they were in the class of teams that could retool rather than rebuild. They would make it all the way back in 1987.

My upcoming book The Redskins Chronicle has a detailed account of every game of the 1986 season. In fact, you can read about every game the team has played since it came to Washington in 1937 through the 2008 season. The book also has a unique scrapbook woven throughout that recalls what was happening off the field a well. For a preview and to sign up to get notified when the book comes out go to RedskinsChronicle.com.

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Need to Know: Betting on the Redskins' playoff race outcomes

Need to Know: Betting on the Redskins' playoff race outcomes

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 3, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Arizona Cardinals.

Timeline

Today's schedule: No availability

Days until: Redskins @ Eagles 8; Panthers @ Redskins 16; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), DE Anthony Lanier (leg)
Questionable: G Brandon Scherff (ankle), OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle), Bashaud Breeland (ankle), LS Nick Sundberg (back)
Final injury report

Redskins vs. Cardinals
FOX, Sunday, 4:25 p.m., Dick Stockton and Chris Spielman
Line: Cardinals -2.5

Resetting the playoff odds

The Redskins start their stretch drive to the playoffs tomorrow. The will play five games in 29 days. After that, they will have either earned the right to keep playing or will they go home.

Let’s get out the imaginary $100 in casino chips and look at the various possibilities of the finish to the season and spread out the chips based on how likely each scenario is. As always, you are welcome to jump into the comments if you agree or disagree.

Win NFC East, $0—This might be worth a buck or two but this place doesn’t have any chips smaller than $5 and it’s not worth investing even that much in the chance of this happening. The scenario would have to be the Redskins winning out, the Cowboys losing out, and the Giants losing at least two more games. I’d put something on the first scenario and a few chips on the last one but no way is Dallas going 0-4. Keeping my chips in my pocket on this one.

Wild card as No. 5 seed, $40—To do this the Redskins would have to stay ahead of the wild card contenders behind them (see next scenario) and make up a game and a half on the Giants. They play New York in Week 17 so the Redskins would have to make up one game between now and then and they could then determine their status on January 1 at FedEx Field. The Giants go to Pittsburgh on Sunday and host Dallas a week after that so we will see how that looks in a couple of weeks. As of now, the No. 6 seed would go to Detroit for the first round of the playoffs while the No. 5 would play the Falcons in Atlanta. That, of course, is subject to change.

Wild card as No. 6 seed, $35—I think getting the five seed is slightly more likely than getting the six since I think the Giants are a mirage. But even if New York keeps it going, the Redskins can clinch a spot by running the table in their last five games. That would make them 11-4-1 and no other wild card contender could catch them. If they win four of five, only the Bucs can catch them and it would take a 5-0 finish for Tampa Bay. Winning three of five still gives them a good shot at getting in although at that point you are also opening the door for the Vikings, Saints, Packers, and Eagles to catch fire and jump ahead of them.

Out of playoffs, $25—I might be putting a little too much here but it’s the NFL and it’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that the Redskins could finish 2-3 and miss out altogether. Their margin for error is slim and an injury here and a bad break there could have them on the outside looking in.

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When asked to vote for top 20 players, Pierre Garcon just wrote 'Kirk Cousins' 20 times

When asked to vote for top 20 players, Pierre Garcon just wrote 'Kirk Cousins' 20 times

Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon just filled out his ballot for the annual NFL Top 100 Players list.

Let's just say it's pretty one-dimensional. 

Straight like that

A photo posted by Pierre Garcon (@pierregarcon) on

As you can see, the form asks guys to rank who they consider the top 20 players in the league. But instead of naming 20 different players, Garcon voted for the same player 20 times. Talk about stuffing the ballot box. 

No surprise, but he's hyping his quarterback Kirk Cousins. 

Cousins is having a career year with the Redskins. His stock has soared over the last three weeks especially. Take a look at his numbers in that span: 84 completions on 116 attempts for 1,086 yards (72 percent), eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. 

Those efforts earned the Michigan State product NFC Offensive Player of the Month honors. And more importantly, Cousins has the Redskins in favorable position to make the playoffs for the second year in a row.

So far this season, Garcon has caught 52 passes from Cousins for 636 yards and two scores. 

MORE REDSKINS: Reed out, 7 other Redskins questionable