LANDOVER — Things are looking up.
It seems so simple to read. That tranquility also seemed so far away from the Washington Redskins in recent years, when the organization worked through rumor, behind-the-scenes grousing and poor play.
But now, on the Monday after a drubbing of the Green Bay Packers, the path of the Redskins appears stable almost no matter what happens Thursday.
Washington has won six of eight to move to 6-3-1. Along with the improved record come reminders from the calendar of dysfunction past. The Redskins have six wins through 10 games for the first time since 2008 (6-4). At 6-3-1, their .650 winning percentage is the team’s best through 10 games since 1996 (.700). They have not been this good at this stage in 20 years.
If the playoffs started today — yes, early; yes, fun — Washington would be the sixth seed and playing at Detroit in the Wild Card round. Dallas would be the NFC’s top seed, the Seattle Seahawks second, Detroit third and Atlanta Falcons fourth. The New York Giants would be the fifth seed. Washington and New York would carry better records than Detroit and Atlanta (both are 6-4), but be penalized by the league’s policy of rewarding division champions with a home game in the playoffs.
Of Washington’s six remaining opponents, only two, Dallas and New York, have winning records. The Redskins play at Dallas on Thursday. The Giants come to FedEx Field to close the regular season Jan. 1. The remaining four teams (Arizona, Philadelphia, Carolina and Chicago) are a combined 15-24. Three of those games are on the road. The Redskins are also assured of coming out of what looked like a brutal three-game stretch with a 2-1 record. They held off Minnesota, hammered Green Bay and will try their luck with a short turnaround in Dallas this week. That game wraps three games in 11 days before a 10-day gap between games kicks in.
With that in mind, coach Jay Gruden’s opening statement after Sunday night’s game was pivotal.
“Injury report is pretty clean.”
It was the second consecutive week Gruden was able to announce such information. The phrase is all the more important with such a crammed schedule and the team two games into the four-game suspension of Pro-Bowl left tackle Trent Williams. Washington is assured of being .500 or better without its best offensive lineman. As stated at the top, things are looking up.