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First You Win . . . Then You Get Good

It has almost become a cliché . . .

“First you win . . . then you get good.”

A wise man once said that about teams in the NFL. Despite a significant amount research, I can’t find out for sure who said it first (I want attribute it to The Tuna but can't prove that) but he was a sharp dude to put into such simple words the complex evolution we see teams follow on the road from doormat to dangerous.

What we are seeing our Redskins do right now, in fact.

This is not a good football team. I think most of us can sort of agree on that in some form or fashion. The defense gives up way too many yards, the QB has been anything but the potential future HoF guy we all thought we were getting in that April trade, the offensive line is better than last year but seems to have trouble putting together a complete game, and any number of other things that concern serious football fans.

Maybe the biggest concern is too many games coming down to the very last play.

And yet these Redskins are 4-3 with two Division wins, four Conference wins and three victories having come over teams in last years playoffs, all of whom were expected to at least be in the hunt for the playoffs this year, if not the Super Bowl itself.

In fact, if my math is right and my grasp of the NFL’s playoff tie breaking rules is even close to firm, our Redskins would be the #5 seed in the NFC if the season ended today.

Granted, this team is still 48 hours short of kickoff to the game finishes the first half of the season so it is way early yet. But still, not too shabby when you consider that this time last year we were 2-5, having completed the “easy” part of the schedule, and sinking fast into the quicksand of despair for which the only recovery is the hope of a high draft pick.

Now, does any of this mean this team is "good"? Hardly.

But it means we are winning and with winning comes the hope of being "good" someday.

That someday isn’t tomorrow. It really isn’t even this season, even if the team makes the playoffs. That happened twice under Gibbs II and few of us would have labeled those teams "good".

You see, “good” is something you earn. “Good” is something you prove. “Good” is something people figure you are after the fact.

The ’81 skins were not a good team at the time we were watching them. They started the season 0-5 and Gibbs was a couple of Jack Kent Cooke stogies away from being run out of town. Even after finishing the season 8-8 almost no one would have considered them “good”.

I can hear you asking, “So Neo…when did that team get good?”

That team got good after it went 9-1 in the strike shortened ’82 season. It got good after beating 3 opponents in the playoffs by average margin of over 17 points. And it got good after running over a favored Miami team 27-17 in Super Bowl XVII, a game that wasn’t as close as the score might suggest.

After all that, we looked back to the preceding year and realized that the guys in burgundy and gold who started 0-5 but finished 8-3 had been pretty good. They were building something.

Am I saying we are seeing a team right now that will win Super Bowl XLIV in roughly 15 months time because this team has a better record than the ’81 team had at this point? No, not at all.

What I am saying is that we are winning more than we lose right now and we as fans should enjoy that fact. But until this team sustains that trend and makes some post season noise, we are not “good”.

Only time and wins make a team good. Just ask the Vikings and Cowboys.
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