After today’s win over the Buffalo Bills, the Philadelphia Eagles are currently tied for first place in the NFC East. Keep in mind that they aren’t in first place because they’re a good team; they’ve actually lost more games than they’ve won. But thanks to the rest of the teams in the East being similarly awful, the Eagles are in the thick of the playoff hunt.
I’m not especially optimistic about the Eagles’ chances of making the playoffs. Even taking the weak competition into account, I don’t know if they are capable of stringing together more than two good games in a row. If the Eagles do fall short of the playoffs, my hope is that the Washington Redskins are the team that emerges from the pack.
This may come as a surprise, since I have admitted on several occasions that I take great pleasure from the misfortune of the Redskins. You’d also think I wouldn’t want to deal with the local Redskins fans who tend to become insufferable when their team achieves even the most minor of successes.
My desire to see the Redskins make the playoffs comes from remembering the team’s recent history. Whoever emerges from the East is almost assuredly not going to make it to the Super Bowl. If the Redskins are the team who wins the division, it could potentially set the franchise back a few years.
My reasoning is that Redskins owner (and awful human being) Dan Snyder will continue to be one of the worst owners in sports and not learn from his many past mistakes. In the past, when Snyder-owned Redskins teams have qualified for the playoffs, the owner becomes emboldened. He reportedly becomes convinced that the team is only a few moves from the Super Bowl and begins to make rash, win-now moves which end up hurting the team in the long run.
Over the past 15 years, the Redskins have made the playoffs only four times: 1999, 2005, 2007, and 2012. Each time, the team made some very poor decisions the following season.
When the 2000 team struggled, the team decided that they needed to switch quarterbacks. Brad Johnson – who would go on to win a Super Bowl a few years later – was benched in favor of Jeff George. George was subsequently benched the following season.
After earning a wild card berth in 2005, the Redskins added a bunch of “big name” offensive talent for the 2006 season. But T.J Duckett, Antwaan Randle-El (Squinty, please feel free to add commentary here), and Brandon Lloyd weren’t able to prevent the team’s win total from plummeting to 5.
In 2007, the Redskins (supposedly motivated by Sean Taylor’s death) rallied to make the playoffs. For some reason, they thought that Jim Zorn was the right coach to build upon that playoff berth. They also traded a second round pick to the Dolphins for defensive end Jason Taylor who managed only 3.5 sacks before returning to Miami in the offseason.
After the Robert Griffin III-fueled division title season of 2012, the Redskins didn’t make any big moves. The team’s primary goal should have been for Griffin to concentrate on his rehab, and make sure he was fully healthy. Instead, bolstered by Snyder’s constant stroking of his ego, Griffin basically forced the team to start him in week one whether he was ready or not.
Would a 2015 division title – even one earned with a losing record – cause the owner to sabotage his franchise yet again? Here’s a possible scenario:
Current starting quarterback Kirk Cousins is about as mediocre as a quarterback can get. If the team makes the playoffs, could they become convinced that he’s the right guy to lead the franchise for the next few years? If so, they’d likely offer him a sizable contract which could take up a large chunk of the salary cap and hinder the effort to build a solid team around him.
Who knows what other bad moves they’d make? Go after an expensive free agent who isn’t necessarily a big fit? (Never rule out the Redskins going after a big name free agent.) Trade a draft pick or two for a veteran player?
Obviously, my best-case scenario is that the Eagles are the team that makes the playoffs. But if they don’t, I’d be okay dealing with some short-term unpleasantness if it results in the Redskins being lousy for years to come.