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The Redskins are gone, but the team is here and the future is bright

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In January nobody thought this would happen. 

By June, there was no chance. 

In August, it looked like a train wreck was coming, and by early October, the train wreck arrived. 

It's damn near impossible to fathom that Washington rebounded from a terrible 2019 season and an awful start to 2020 and would march all the way back to win the NFC East. 

Well, it happened, and it happened with an impressive show of moxy and guts. 

Let's not confuse Washington's 7-9 division-winning campaign with some of the best teams in organizational history, but let's celebrate the improbable NFC East title run and the incredible characters involved. 

Ron Rivera took over in Washington back in January, and even then, the new head coach said the rebuild could take time. Years, not months. 

Early on it looked like Rivera's rebuild was going to take a decade. 

Washington limped to a 1-5 start and had to bench their starting quarterback. While this was happening, Rivera was diagnosed with cancer. The head coach was visibly shaken from the chemo treatments, and at times, it was highly questionable that he should be coaching an NFL team instead of resting and recovering at home. 

Still, Washington persevered. 

It didn't start to click until mid-November, but by that point, veteran QB Alex Smith was starting and rookie defensive end Chase Young was starting to dominate. 

Smith stabilized the offense, and Young energized the defense.  

Washington pulled off four wins in a row - including impressive road victories in Pittsburgh and San Francisco. Rivera's team took over the top spot in the NFC East.

 

But then Smith got hurt - again - and Washington had to go all the way back to Dwayne Haskins. The starter early in the year that got benched in October, Haskins got a chance at redemption. 

He blew it. Badly, both on the field and off, and got released just after Christmas.

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No matter though, that was just one more piece of adversity for Washington to overcome, in a year where somehow Rivera's squad just kept pushing.

Smith came back to guide the win in Philadelphia and claim the division title. In some ways that's the most incredible story in the NFL, considering the scope of Smith's compound fracture from 2018 and the infections and setbacks and the guts and will required to just keep pushing. 

Rivera came back too - from cancer and a rough opening half of the season. 

This Washington team. It's a hard bunch to describe. 

They have some star power - Young, Terry McLaurin. They have a ton of glue guys - Daron Payne, Jon Allen, Logan Thomas. They got great offensive line play, even with injuries, from Morgan Moses Brandon Scherff and Chase Roullier. 

In a year where Washington lost its iconic nickname and was referred to simply as the football team, Washington might have actually morphed into a complete football team. 

There was no infighting. Outside of Haskins' selfishness, there was no drama.

There was a team - built with young players that improved over the course of the season. Think about Kam Curl and Antonio Gibson. 

That's what Rivera does. 

In his 10th season as a head coach, Rivera wins more than 60 percent of his games in December. When it matters most, when the playoffs are in sight. 

Now, the playoffs are here for Washington. 

Nobody - NOBODY - expected this. 

The Redskins are gone. The team is here, and the future is bright.