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Will the Redskins Rule predict Tuesday's winner?

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Will the Redskins Rule predict Tuesday's winner?

Those who are pulling for the Washington Redskins against the Panthers on Sunday and backing Mitt Romney in the presidential election on Tuesday face an interesting dilemma. A Redskins win would not bode well for those who want to see the electoral maps bathed in red on Tuesday night.

It’s called the Redskins Rule. Since the Redskins moved to Washington in 1937, the result of the last Redskins home game before a presidential election has been a nearly rock-solid predictor of which political party would win the presidential election. From 1940 through 2000 things fell into line perfectly. If the Redskins won that last home game prior to Election Day, the party that held the White House won the election. If the Skins dropped that game, the other party started to measure for drapes in the West Wing.

Things went awry in 2004, when the Redskins lost their last home game prior to the election to the Packers. Two days later, incumbent president George W. Bush held on to beat John Kerry.

Four years later the phenomenon fell back into place. The Steelers beat the Redskins 23-6 on Monday. On Tuesday, Barack Obama easily carried Pennsylvania and its 23 electoral votes and won 342 more to beat John McCain and take the White House back from the GOP.

So, those who bleed Burgundy and Gold who want to see Obama remain president might be rooting extra hard for the Redskins to take down the Panthers on Sunday. It's unlikely that any Romney backers who normally are Skins fans will be changing their allegiance and pulling for Cam Newton and company. But perhaps there will be some small solace in the land of the elephants should the Redskins lose.

For the record, here are the details of the "streak" from 1940 through 2000:

1940—Frankie Filchock and Sammy Baugh teamed up to go 14 for 15 passing to lead the Redskins over the Pittsburgh Steelers 37-10. Two days later President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) easily defeated Wendell Willkie 449 electoral votes to 82.

1944—Washington was outgained by the Cleveland Rams 407 yards to 197 but the Redskins scored two TD's in a four-play span in the second quarter to pull out a 14-10 win. FDR's win was not as close as he outgained Thomas Dewey 53% to 45% in the popular vote and outscored him 432-99 in the stat that counts, the Electoral College.

1948—The game was close in the early going, but a 14-14 tie at the end of the first quarter ended in a 59-21 Redskins win over the Boston Yanks. The election was much closer and Dewey didn't defeat incumbent Harry Truman (D) much to the chagrin of the Chicago Tribune and others as the incumbent won 303-189.

1952—Washington's attempted fourth quarter rally fell a point short at the Steelers won 24-23. Adali Stevenson didn't show nearly as much game, trailing Republican Dwight Eisenhower all the way in a 442-89 loss.

1956—This was the first time that the Redskins didn't have a home game on the Sunday immediately preceding the general election. Sixteen days before election day Eddie LeBaron led the Redskins past the Browns 20-9. Ike beat Stevenson in the rematch by over 9 million popular votes and an electoral count of 457-73.

1960—The first of 17 consecutive losses over two seasons for coach Mike Nixon's Redskins came at the hands of Cleveland 31-10. The loser for the GOP was another Nixon, Richard, by a much closer margin to John F. Kennedy, 303-219. That set off something of a losing streak for Richard Nixon but he would rebound later on.

1964—Sonny Jurgensen's fourth touchdown pass of the day went to tight end Pres Carpenter with a minute left to play as the Redskin s pulled out a 27-20 win over the Bears. Lyndon Johnson didn't have to sweat out his win over Barry Goldwater nearly as much with an electoral tally of 486-52.

1968—Jurgensen had one of his worst days as a pro, going 7 for 25 passing but Washington hung close and nearly rallied before losing to the Giants 13-10. Dick Nixon's comeback, on the other hand, was a success as he beat Vice President Hubert Humphrey 301-191 in a contest that was much closer than the final score indicated.

1972—Finally, a significant game to talk about. Larry Brown had one his greatest days as a Redskin as Washington rallied to beat Dallas 24-20. Nixon, who had suggested plays to coach George Allen the previous season, rode to coattails of the Redskins win to a 520-17 trashing of George McGovern.

1976—Pete Wysocki, out of Michigan, was blocking as Eddie Brown returned a punt for Washington's only score in a 20-7 loss to Washington. Another former Wolverine football player, Gerald Ford, who finished up for Nixon after his term concluded before the end of regulation, also lost. Jimmy Carter won 297-240.

1980—The Redskins started a five-game losing streak that knocked them out of playoff contention by falling to the Vikings 39-14. The Republicans launched a three-election winning streak for the White House with the Gipper, Ronald Reagan, routing Carter 489-89.

1984—In a Monday night game that ended as Election Day was dawning, the defending NFC champion Redskins prevailed over Atlanta 27-14. Reagan had a much easier time with Fritz Mondale, defending his office by a score of 525-13.

1988—Politicians are infamous for using dirty tricks to win elections and Dexter Manley pulled one off to help his Redskins win. The Saints were in position to kick a game-clinching field goal, but their tackle Jim Dombrowski took a swing at Manley and the ensuing 15-yard penalty put the kick out of Morten Anderson's range. It turns out that Manley had spit (he says he "sneezed", but we know better) in Dombrowski's face to provoke the punch and the Skins won 27-24. Some would say that the Willie Horton ads were the political equivalent of Dexter's expectoration as it helped George H. W. Bush roll up a 426-111 win over Michael Dukakis.

1992—The New York Giants had possession for nearly 40 minutes and ground out a 24-7 win over Washington. The Redskins, the incumbent Super Bowl champs were on their way out as was President Bush the elder. Bill Clinton won as convincingly as the Giants had 370-168.

1996—The Redskins ran their record to 7-1 with a 31-16 win over the Colts. The early returns from the season had them projected as the winner of a playoff spot but they would later collapse and finish out of the money. Clinton also won easily over Bob Dole, 379-159. He would encounter some rough sledding later on, too.

2000—The Tennessee Titans built up an early lead and held off the Redskins for a 27-21 win. Tennessean Al Gore rallied from behind and took George W. Bush into overtime before losing by one fewer than the Redskins did, 271-266.

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Accentuating the negative leads to positive results for Chris Thompson

Accentuating the negative leads to positive results for Chris Thompson

Some NFL players ooze confidence. They thrive on emphasizing what they do well and not speaking about weaknesses. In a game as tough and physical as pro football, some players need to feel bulletproof to survive.

Chris Thompson is not like that. He was one of the stars in the Redskins’ 27-20 win over the Rams on Sunday. He rushed three times for 77 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for 29 yards. And while he enjoyed the win, he did not revel in his performance as he made a glaring mistake.

RELATED: JAY GRUDEN NOT INCREASING THOMPSON'S WORKLOAD

In the third quarter, quarterback Kirk Cousins threw him a perfect pass over the middle. The speedy Thompson had nothing but green grass and white stripes in front of him. But he dropped the pass, turning what likely would have been a 62-yard touchdown into an incompletion.

That play stuck with him despite his touchdown runs of 61 and seven yards.

“I’m not going to lie to you,” he said. “On the plane ride, getting dressed after the game, this morning watching film, when I was outside at practice, I was thinking about that one play. My first thing I wanted to do when I got out there in individuals with the quarterbacks was to run that route again and catch the ball.”

FANTASY: TO START CHRIS THOMPSON OR NOT?

Instead of reliving his glory, he went to work to correct one mistake.

This is not a lone instance of Thompson focusing on negative plays that he made. He said that mistakes stick in his mind more than good plays. During a few minutes talking to reporters on Wednesday, he recalled going the wrong way on a choice route against the Dolphins in 2015, costing a possible touchdown, making a similar mistake against the Browns last year, and errors that led to sacks of Cousins last year and of Robert Griffin III a few years ago.

“All of those things that I look back at that I did wrong, it helped me become a better player this year,” said Thompson. “I’ve been able to go back and look at that and see what went wrong and fix it now. As of late as I’ve become more confident in what I’m doing and more confident in my abilities I’m able to play better.”

Whatever Thompson is doing to become a better player is working. He signed a two-year contract extension earlier this month. Jay Gruden sings his praises whenever he’s asked about him. His teammates almost universally admire and respect him. In his fifth NFL season, many analysts around the league are starting to recognize him as a main cog in the Redskins’ offense.

It is unlikely that he will change his approach.

“I had to mess up a lot in order to get where I am now,” he said. Thompson will continue to perfect his game by putting his imperfect moments under the microscope. 

MORE REDSKINS: FIVE UNDER PRESSURE VS. RAIDERS

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Redskins Playbook: Cousins, Gruden remain quite confident in offense. Maybe they're right

Redskins Playbook: Cousins, Gruden remain quite confident in offense. Maybe they're right

One of the best offenses in 2016, the Redskins early returns so far in 2017 rank somewhere between underwhelming and underachieving. That does not mean good games aren't coming in the future, however, at least according to head coach Jay Gruden and quarterback Kirk Cousins. 

"I would like to think that as the year goes on the offense gets better and better," Cousins said Wednesday. "Hopefully we take those steps going forward and we just hit our stride and play much better than we have the first two weeks."

RELATED: FIVE REDSKINS UNDER PRESSURE VS. RAIDERS

In the first two games of the season, a loss at home to the Eagles in Week 1 and a win in Los Angeles over the Rams, Cousins hasn't played particularly well. Against Philadelphia, he played poorly, accounting for three turnovers and completing just 57 percent of his passes. In LA, he showed progress. No turnovers and his completion percentage jumped up nearly 10 points. 

More importantly, Cousins shined on the final drive of the game, going 3 for 3 and throwing the game-winning touchdown. It was that drive, and a number of near misses in both games, that has Gruden optimistic. 

The coach called the Redskins passing game "very, very close" to hitting on all cylinders.

"There is a lot we can improve on in the passing game, from Kirk to the routes to the protection. It’s a work in progress, but we will get there," Gruden said Monday. "We have total faith that we will get it done and his numbers will get better."

Considered in a certain way, he's right. 

In Week 1, the Redskins offensive line struggled and Cousins was sacked four times. The run game got nothing going, generating just 64 yards on the ground. Cousins was able to throw for 240 yards, and despite all the turnovers, the offense still had a chance to steal a win late in the fourth quarter. 

In Week 2, the Redskins line blocked better and the run game produced at a high level. Cousins' yardage total was quite low, only 179 yards, but a big gainer got dropped and a few other opportunities were missed. 

Cousins supporters will scream about passes being dropped in Weeks 1 and 2. Cousins detractors will scream about passes missed in Weeks 1 and 2.

READ MORE: KIRK COUSINS' HITS AND MISSES FROM WEEK 2

The truth is likely in the middle. There is a solid baseline of production from Cousins from the last two seasons, and clearly Gruden expects that to come. Perhaps Week 3 against Oakland will be the opportunity. 

"We’re just going to keep sticking with the plan, getting these guys open the best way we can and hopefully we give Kirk the protection and he sees the throws and makes the throws," Gruden said. "But we’re right there, really. I like the group that we have."

The 2016 Redskins finished third in the league in total yards gained. Obviously the team lost a ton of production with the exits of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. Don't discount that, or the departure of former offensive coordinator Sean McVay. 

Despite all that, Cousins still has weapons. And talent. He knows he can be better, and knows he needs to be better.

"We have still done some really good things the first two weeks and have moved the ball, but I think there is more in the tank there that we have got to bring out,” Cousins said. 

To beat the Raiders, the Redskins will need to bring everything out of the tank. That likely means a 300-yard passing game from Cousins along with multiple touchdowns. 

The quarterback and the coach think the offense is ready, and close to a breakout game. Maybe they're right. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!