Only in sports can fortunes change so dramatically, so quickly.
A few weeks ago most Redskins fans, and perhaps even
the Redskins coaches, were convinced
that 2012 was yet another wasted season. After losing at home
to the dreadful Carolina
Panthers, surely the wheels had fallen off. It was goodbye to
the playoffs and hello
to the dreaded “player evaluation” period. Regardless of
whether Washington head coach
Mike Shanahan meant to wave the white towel on the 2012
campaign, it sure seemed
like he did.
And then, poof, all that is gone. Today, all Washington can talk about is Cool Hand
and the Giants game on Monday night.
In just three weeks, fortunes change, and suddenly the Redskins are right back in
What happened to flip the script? Two games against division rivals, and two wins.
The first was a convincing drubbing of the suspect Philadelphia Eagles. The second
win—well, for Skins fans—was an all-timer: a 38-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys,
in Dallas, on Thanksgiving. The second quarter saw such an explosion of Redskins offensive
firepower that the playoffs no longer seemed like such a ridiculous thought.
Though still performing well behind the offense, the Washington defense also seems
improved since the embarrassing loss to the Panthers. Maybe Shanahan re-emphasized
hitting over the bye week, because against the Eagles and the Cowboys the Skins secondary
brought the wood.
Still, despite the encouraging results of the past two
weeks, the Skins sit under
.500 on the season at 5-6. But with the rest of the potential
NFC Wild Card teams
bumbling along, a Wild Card playoff berth remains
If the season ended today, the Redskins
would be on the outside looking in at the playoffs. Only it doesn’t. Sitting in front
of the Skins playoff dreams are the Seahawks, Bucs, and Vikings.
Considering the way Washington played the past two weeks—and the caliber of teams
in front of them—the Redskins certainly have a puncher’s chance. Add in a favorable
schedule down the stretch, and a playoff game seems like a true possibility for the
This week, however, no Redskins fan is focused on a Wild Card berth.
Next Monday night the New York Giants come to FedEx Field. The game will be packed,
and the crowd will be riled up. Monday Night Football, division game. This is the
game Redskins fans dreamed of when the team mortgaged its future to obtain Robert
The rookie quarterback now makes all things seem possible in the Redskins universe.
Beating the defending Super Bowl champion Giants will be a tall order. Vegas set the
early line with the Giants as three-point favorites, even on the road.
Few outside of Washington think the Skins will win this game. A few weeks ago, even
fewer people thought the Skins had a chance of making the playoffs.
One game at a time, RG3 forces more people to believe in the Skins. Monday night is
his next chance, and his biggest opportunity yet.
Find JP Finlay on Twitter @jpfinlay.