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COMMENTARY: For the Redskins, It's the Same Old Song

Charles E. Sutton | 11/11/2013, 11:55 a.m.
As we travel through life, sometimes we arrive at certain places and a familiar feeling comes over us — déjà ...
Courtesy of the Washington Redskins via Instagram

As we travel through life, sometimes we arrive at certain places and a familiar feeling comes over us — déjà vu, if you will. I've got a hunch that the Washington Redskins are experiencing a bit of déjà vu right about now.

The Redskins dropped to 3-6 after losing to the Minnesota Vikings 34-27 on Thursday, a sharp blow to the team's already-slim playoff chances. But despite the shaky start, players and fans alike believe that the Redskins can turn things around and make a run.

But why such optimism? After all, the Redskins, coming off a big victory at home against the San Diego Chargers in Week 9, had a chance to get to 4-5 if they defeated Minnesota — which had won only once this season — and couldn't do it. At one point in the third quarter, the Redskins led 27-14, but were outscored 20-0 the rest of the way.

Nevertheless the team's confidence hasn't wavered — largely because the other NFC East teams are playing just as poorly. In fact, Washington trails the division-leading Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles by only one game in the loss column.

But even factoring in the general mediocrity of the rest of the division, the Redskins still may have to run the table in their last seven games just to make the playoffs. That scenario ring any bells?

It should, since it's exactly where they were a year ago. Washington did indeed win their final seven last season to claim the NFC East crown and roll into the playoffs, so it certainly can be done.

The Redskins must have the proper mindset to do the same this time around, though. Their immediate focus has to be on the next contest against the Eagles in Philadelphia on Sunday. The Eagles beat the Redskins in the opening game of the season, but have been similarly up and down since.

Additionally, Washington still has two games against division foe New York Giants and one against Dallas, so the opportunity to make up lost ground is there. However, they also have remaining games against the reigning NFC champion San Francisco 49ers, the currently-unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs and the Atlanta Falcons — not the most favorable schedule for a team likely needing to win at least five, if not all, of their last seven games.

Of course, that's easier said than done, especially for a wildly inconsistent team such as this one. Their next two-game win streak this season will be their first one, and while their focus, intensity and play have at times been very good — particularly in wins over the Chargers and the Chicago Bears — putting it all together for extended stretches has been the team's biggest problem.

They'll have to find a way to play at a high level on a consistent basis if they have any chance of returning to the playoffs. But does anyone truly believe they will?

Yes, last year the Redskins did manage to get hot at the right time. But it's not easy to do and no one should assume that it'll happen again. They still have what it takes to make it to the postseason, but the team has dug itself a fairly deep — and familiar — hole. It'll be interesting — and probably, at times, agonizing — to watch them attempt to climb their way out of it.