Hey, guess what, Redskins fans! Your team is no longer considered to be among the very worst in the NFL.
Almost anywhere you looked before Week 1, pick your power ranking and you found the Redskins to be at or near the bottom of the barrel, anywhere from about 29th to 32nd and dead last. Fast forward to now and quick look around at the Week 6 power rankings around the web shows the Redskins ranked somewhere around the middle of the pack.
Here is a look at some of the major site power rankings this week:
ESPN.com, 21st (+3 spots from last week)—“The Redskins are 2-3 despite leading at the start of the fourth quarter in four of their five games. The 44 fourth-quarter points allowed are tied for fourth-most in the NFL.”
Pro Football Talk, 21st (+1)—“Despite the loss in Atlanta, they need to be taken seriously. Especially in a division that shouldn’t be taken seriously.”
NFL.com, 17th (+3)—“Washington moves up only based on the injuries and failures of the Chiefs, Cowboys and Ravens. Kirk Cousins simply can't make that last throw. Like the guy, but ducking a blitzer and slinging the pigskin outside the numbers where a corner is expecting the throw, in that kind of situation, is asking for a loss.”
Mark Maske, Washington Post 19th (-4)—“Perhaps the game-losing interception for a TD in Atlanta was not completely the fault of QB Kirk Cousins. But the fact remains that the timing as well as the volume of Cousins’s interceptions are a major problem, and the Redskins wasted a chance for a victory that would have established them as something more than a wanna-be.”
Power rankings are good Internet fodder and all, but if you’re like me you’d prefer to examine some cold, hard facts rather than a compilation of opinions. One simple way to judge a team is by scoring differential. Last year, the Redskins were outscored by 137 points, the third-worst performance in the NFL. They are still in the negative but just at minus-7, right in the middle of the league at 16th.
A more complex method for ranking teams is with the DVOA metric used by Football Outsiders. They derive the number by comparing a team’s performance against the NFL average on a play by play basis, taking into account such factors as the quality of the opposition. A DVOA of zero is average, a positive percentage is above average and a negative means a team has performed worse than average.
Last year the Redskins finished with a dismal -26.7%, 28th in the leage. Through Week 5 the Redskins stand a slightly above average +2.7%, 15 in the NFL.
Nobody should be throwing a party for the Redskins being towards the lower part of the middle of the pack. They still have major flaws and still appear to be capable of losing to any team at any time. And it’s we’ve only about a third of the way through the season so sample size is still not very large. But they do appear to be headed in the right direction and coming into the season that’s really all a reasonable fan could ask.