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Flashback Friday: The 1986 Redskins

Flashback Friday: The 1986 Redskins

It's one thing to climb the mountain and win the championship once. Many teams have done that.

The hard part is getting knocked down and then winning it all again.

In 1986, Joe Gibbs and the Redskins showed that they could get back to the top. No, they didn't win the Super Bowl; they had a Giant obstacle in their way. But they set the table for their Super Bowl XXII championship the following season. And that's why the 1986 squad is one of my favorite Redskins teams.

After winning the championship in 1982, the Redskins started a slow roll downhill. They lost the Super Bowl the next year, lost in the first round of the playoffs in '84 and missed the postseason in 1985.

The Redskins went into 1986 without two of the mainstays of their Super Bowl teams. John Riggins was released in March and Joe Theismann, unable to recover from the horrific broken leg he suffered the previous season against the Giants, flunked his physical.

There was some incoming talent to compensate for the losses. The United States Football League folded and the Redskins bolstered their receiving corps with USFL refugees Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders. Multitalented running back Kelvin Bryant also came on board along with quarterback Doug Williams. The acquisition of Williams would not become significant until 1987, when he finished the season as the Super Bowl MVP.

The starting quarterback was Jay Schroeder and although he had led the team to a 5-1 finish after Theismann went down the Redskins still weren't quite sure what they had in him.

As it turns out, Schroeder was pretty good, at least in 1986. He passed for 4,109 yards, a team record that still stands, and earned a Pro Bowl invitation.

The job of filling Riggins' shoes fell to George Rogers, who the Redskins had acquired from the Saints a year earlier. He turned in a solid season with 1,203 yards on the ground.

Most of the original Hogs were in place on the offensive line with Joe Jacoby, Russ Grimm, Jeff Bostic and Mark May starting most of the games. The strength of the defense was the defensive line with Dexter Manley and Charles Mann at end and Dave Butz clogging things up at tackle.

The Redskins started off 5-0 but kicker Mark Moseley was on shaky ground, hitting less than half of his field goals. Although his missed extra point in a 30-6 loss to Dallas didn't have an effect on the outcome, Moseley was waived the next day.

Two weeks later they lost to the Giants, something that would become an all-too familiar happening. The next week the Redskins rallied from 12 points down in the final seven minutes to send a thriller against the Vikings into overtime. A touchdown pass from Schroeder to Clark won it in OT.

That sparked another five-game winning streak that thudded to a halt at the hands of, you guessed it, the Giants.

Despite winding up with a 12-4 record, the Redskins were relegated to a Wild Card spot as New York won the division with a 14-2 mark.

A home playoff win against the Rams set up a trip to Soldier Field to face the defending champion Bears. Schroeder threw two touchdown passes to Art Monk and the Redskins outscored Chicago 20-0 in the second half to shuffle out of the Windy City with a 27-13 win.

The dream season ended when the Redskins faced their worst nightmare in the NFC Championship Game. The Giants were much more dominant than the 17-0 final score would indicate.

Still, the 1986 Redskins proved that they were in the class of teams that could retool rather than rebuild. They would make it all the way back in 1987.

My upcoming book The Redskins Chronicle has a detailed account of every game of the 1986 season. In fact, you can read about every game the team has played since it came to Washington in 1937 through the 2008 season. The book also has a unique scrapbook woven throughout that recalls what was happening off the field a well. For a preview and to sign up to get notified when the book comes out go to RedskinsChronicle.com.

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Need to Know: A random walk through the Redskins past for edition No. 2000

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Need to Know: A random walk through the Redskins past for edition No. 2000

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, January 21, 52 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 44
—NFL Draft (4/26) 95
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 231

Need to Know No. 2000

This is a special edition of Need to Know. It was 2,000 days ago, on July 31, 2012, that this post designed to give Redskins fans the news and views they need to get their days started was posted for the first time. And it has gone up every single morning since that day, 2,000 mornings in a row.

There is no reliable way to measure how many have read the post since site redesigns and name changes have made reliable tracking difficult. But NTK page views are estimated in the tens of millions. Thanks to all of you for reading and commenting, both on the site and on social media. It’s the passion of Redskins fans that makes the job so enjoyable.

Here is a look back at some of the “landmark” editions of Need to Know. I can’t like to all of them because of the aforementioned changes but it’s an interesting, random walk through Redskins history.

No. 1, “Hits to the depth chart”, 7/31/12—The Redskins were trying to deal with the losses of LB Jonathan Goff, who had suffered a season-ending knee injury, and G Kory Lichtensteiger, who was out after getting his knee scoped. Also, the Saints, who were the Redskins’ opponent in the opener, were complaining about the Bountygate penalties. A lot. See, even during training camp in 2012, NTK was able to look beyond RG3 hysteria to get you to the other important stories of the day.

No. 500, “Nickel coverage—Jordan Reed misses practice”, 12/13/13—Yes, the more things change the more things stay the same. The talented tight end, then a rookie, was still trying to a recover from a concussion he suffered a few weeks earlier. Reed ended up going on injured reserve, missing the last six games. Also, Mike Shanahan said that didn’t pay any attention to all of the negative talk about the team in the media and Kyle Shanahan said that didn’t have any input into the decision to bench RG3 and play Kirk Cousins. Both claims were greeted with skepticism.

No. 1,000, “Can the Redskins draft an immediate O-line starter?”, 4/27/15—This was just a couple of days before the draft. Brandon Scherff, who ended up being Redskins’ top pick at No. 5 overall, is not mentioned but he did indeed become the team’s selection. This was Scot McCloughan’s first draft and the identity of the Redskins’ first pick was still a mystery. Although Scherff’s name often came up, most mocks had them going with edge rusher Dante Fowler, who ended up going to the Jaguars at No. 3.

No. 1,500, “Redskins searching for back to back playoff spots”, 9/8/2016—This was a “By the numbers” look at the team as it approached their season opener against the Steelers. They were coming off of a playoff berth in 2015 and, as we know now, their streak of consecutive seasons without going to the playoffs at least two straight years would continue. In 2016 were able to stop a 19-year streak of not having back to back willing seasons, just barely, by going 8-7-1. One more interesting number from the post—Kirk Cousins’ pass completion percentage at home in 2015 was 74.7 percent, the highest in NFL history.

Again, thanks for reading. See you tomorrow for edition No. 2,001.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 20, 53 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 45
—NFL Draft (4/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 232

The Redskins week that was

Jags big win could spell bad news for Kirk Cousins—If the Jaguars’ accomplishment of getting to the AFC championship game does indeed make Blake Bortles’ job safe, the laws of economics say that the amount of money that Cousins can command in a free agent contract should go down. It’s the demand part of supply and demand and if demand goes down, prices should, too. But the NFL quarterback market doesn’t follow the laws. If the Lions see fit to pay Matthew Stafford, a quarterback under whom they have had very limited success, a contract with an average annual value of $27 million without any team bidding against them, that sets the price.

Setting the odds on what happens with Kirk Cousins—Despite his happy talk at the 106.7 The Fan event earlier this month, the possibility that Cousins will play in a Redskins uniform in 2018 does not warrant a large bet of imaginary casino chips. If you missed the post, take a look and let me know what you think of my assessment.

Don't freak out about latest Zach Brown tweet—It’s that time of year. A player sends out a tweet with no context and fans assign the worst possible meaning to it. In Brown’s case, a tweet about not getting respect was interpreted as a sign that contract negotiations with the Redskins were not going well. But JP Finlay found out that the tweet was about Brown being upset that another alternate getting selected to the Pro Bowl and not him. It still is unclear if Brown will return to the Redskins but at least there are no indications of rocky negotiations at this point.

Bang for the free agent bucks for the Redskins? Brown was a solid free agent acquisition for the Redskins last year. Terrelle Pryor, not so much. Take a look at the post for the other hits and misses in free agency.

Tweet of the week

Even though the draft is over three months away there are plenty of opinions out there as this tweet drew a ton of reaction. On the offensive side of the ball, the suggestions ran towards quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield although some want a running back. It will be interesting to see how those two non-conventional quarterbacks look after they spend the next few months under the microscope of the NFL draft process. The defensive name that kept coming up was Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea, a large specimen who could play the nose in base defense and move to three-technique in nickel.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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