Typically, a 1-4 start from the Washington Football Team would eliminate almost any consideration of a run at the NFC East title. All eyes would turn to marginal improvement and the NFL Draft.
2020 is not a typical season, at least in terms of the play in Washington's division. The NFC East is bad, and wide open.
In first place sit the Dallas Cowboys, who are under .500 at 2-3. Even with a win on Sunday, Dallas took a major hit on Sunday when quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury. Even with Andy Dalton, the Cowboys offense won't be the same and the defense just gave up 34 points to a Giants team that hadn't scored more than 16 all season.
Looking around the rest of the NFC East, things are not much better. The Eagles are 1-3-1, decimated with injuries and looking like a shell of their 2017 selves. The Giants are 0-5 and the stat mentioned above pretty much tells says everything one needs to know about how their season is going.
Then, you have the Washington Football Team at 1-4, struggling to find consistency at the quarterback position and filled with holes on offense and defense.
If that doesn't paint a picture of just how poor the play is, here are some numbers to further prove it:
- The combined record for the NFC East through five weeks is 4-15-1. The next-worst division win total is eight for a few groups (AFC East, AFC South, NFC South) but they have teams still waiting to play games in Week 5 or makeup games due to the coronavirus.
- Those four combined wins are equal to or less than nine SINGULAR NFL teams through five weeks.
- Entering Week 5, teams in the NFC East only ran 14 plays in the fourth quarter while leading. The Eagles had three and Washington had 11 (against the Eagles). The number only increased because the Cowboys and Giants played one another and someone had to win.
There are other numbers that show how dismal the division has been, but that is enough to paint a picture. So, what does this mean for the Washington Football Team? It means that a chance at the playoffs still exists.
Despite the product on the field not showing it, Washington *could* be a postseason team in 2020. They have five games remaining against divisional opponents and one win already under their belt. None of the matchups seems like guaranteed losses. More likely than not, it will be the NFC East head-to-head battles that determine the division winner.
The amount of parody -- bad parody -- in the division so far has shown Ron Rivera that there is still a path to success. It's the main reason he felt comfortable making the switch from Dwayne Haskins to Kyle Allen at quarterback. The campaign isn't just about growing, yet. Someone has to win the division, why not Washington?
Additionally, besides the Eagles, Washington has played opponents with a combined record of 15-5. Rivera noted on Monday that they understand the competition has been stiff, and that there are chances to win and improve coming.
“Disappointed. But, let’s look at who we lost to. Everybody that we lost to has a winning record. We’re playing good football teams. That’s the big thing, and that’s what we’re working to be is one of those kinds of teams. I think there’s huge disappointment because we had some opportunities," Rivera said. "Defensively, there were some third downs that we didn’t stop them on. The players know that. Offensively, we had some plays where we didn’t quite make it and we didn’t convert. That’s the disappointment. We didn’t play up front as well as we would’ve liked to offensively. There are some things that we have to work on, we have to get shored up, and we have to get better at. Again, the disappointment is that we didn’t play better. That to me is a positive because the players know that.”
Next up? The Giants, Cowboys and Giants again. Not to mention the Lions and Bengals to follow. Schedule-wise, things do get easier in the coming weeks.
Washington will need to play better if the thought of competing for the division wants to become a reality, but the opportunities are there due to the ugly NFC East. Last year the division sent a team to the playoffs at 9-7. In 2020, seven may do the trick.