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Blognostications

2016 Week 10 - Vikings @ Redskins

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Blognosticator - Fear the Spear


We are now essentially looking at “halftime” of the season. Not only are we at the mid-point of our 16 games, but fittingly and fortunately for the Skins, they get their bye week exactly at the season mid-point, making this essentially a halftime for the season, in which they can figuratively return to their locker-room and regroup, make adjustments, and recover from their wounds.

From the outset of the bye, though, things didn't appear to quite work that way. During the “break”, the team lost 2 key players for an extended period of time : Niles Paul to injury, and Trent Williams to suspension, both of whom are captains of their units ; Special Teams and Offensive Captain, respectively. And to seemingly compound matters, their opponent Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings will have an “extra Captain” on the field, in Captain Munnerlyn.

Now in reality, none of the above is expected to have a major impact on the game outcome. However, it does lead to my main point, which is really the storyline of the Redskins this season, and throughout their history : their amazing resilience when faced with adversity, such as the loss of the above players. This is especially true in the McCloughan era. In the offseason, and even mid-season, the Skins have focused on quality depth, with the signing of inexpensive players who can step in, when the man in front of him is removed from play.

Just this season alone, we've seen it time and again. In no apparent chronological order : Lichtensteiger gets badly hurt, and enter Stephen Long, who has done admirably. Matt Jones, due to injury and probably performance reasons as well, is removed from the equation, and an un-drafted rookie named Kelly, who no-one gave a chance, shows up and shines. Jordan Reed goes down, and Vernon Davis, who many had written off, is suddenly renewing his youth. We've also seen it at Safety, and Cornerback, and Offensive Line. Men go down, and while it may seem reason to panic, an unheralded or under-rated player steps in, and we seem to not miss a beat. We should expect the same with the latest 2 replacements : Ty Nsekhe in for Williams, and Derek Carrier in for Niles Paul, if Carrier is healthy. We've seen enough of these guys to know that there's no reason to panic about these substitutes. And dare we say, Maurice Harris could be the next Josh Doctson ? Well the team gives us reason to hope for such a case.

Now, let's look at this “resilient” factor from another angle. The Skins have a habit of starting out the season slow, with an impressive or poor record about half-way through the season. Many people tend to judge them half-way through the season, and predict their final record will mirror the percentage of wins they had through the half-way mark. In other words, if the Redskins are playing “average” football half-way through the season, as they are this year, many observers resign themselves to believe they will end up with an equally average record at the end of the year. But the NFL doesn't work that way. And the Skins, especially, don't work that way. The second half of the season, is rarely a symmetrical version of the first half's record. Teams make adjustments mid-season, just like they do at half-time of individual games. This Redskins team is known to put on a “surge” at the end of a season, and make a last minute blitz into the playoffs.
To prove this, let's look at the last 4 times the Redskins made the playoffs.

2015 Playoff Year : Started 4-6, then ended the season 5-1
2012 Playoff Year : Started 3-6, then ended the season 7-0
2007 Playoff Year : Started 5-7, then ended the season 4-0
2005 Playoff Year : Started 5-6, then ended the season 5-0

See a pattern here yet ? This is not a team you can write off, when they have an average, or even losing record at the mid-point of the season or even later. Just when you think they're down for the count, they rise up and say “You Like That ?” So, both the team, and its individual players are known to get knocked down, and get right back into the fray again.


So, what about these Vikings ? After winning their first five, they may have been exposed, and on a downward spiral, losing their last three. With this 3-game streak of losses, they seem far less likely to put together a surge than the Redskins. Matchups of our offense vs their defense, and vice versa, could arguably each go in our favor. Expect the Skins to put on their late-season “Surge”, and keep the Vikings on their current path of that spiral downward. The last I checked, Kirk Cousins vs. Sam Bradford in 2015, ended up with Cousins and the Redskins winning both of those matchups. So get ready folks, a resilient Surge is coming, and General McCloughan is sending in backup to strengthen the forces !
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