Redskins team president Bruce Allen famously described his team as “close” multiple times during the last few years.

Close? Close to what?

Allen never really answered that, but in some alternate universe, there was often talk about a 6-3 record midway through the 2018 season and coulda-beens and shoulda-beens. 

“It means you’re close. It means you’re close to being better. We have to find the right ingredients and right chemistry to do that,” Allen said last January. “We were two games out of the playoffs, and no matter how you want to look at the season, we were two games out of it. And the year before we were one game out of it, and the year before we were one game out of it. So we have to find the right ingredients to get over that hump.”

Of course, none of that mattered in the real universe. Ever. 

In the time since Allen’s infamous close comments, the Redskins are 1-9, fired head coach Jay Gruden and seven-time Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams has made clear he will never return to the organization. 

Now, however, in a fit of honesty, a top Redskins official has admitted that the team is, in fact, not close. 

"I don’t think we’re close today. I have to be honest with you,” Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan said after his team lost 34-17 to the New York Jets on Sunday. 

Callahan provided the unnecessary qualifier that the Redskins weren’t close in the Jets game, but the reality is the Redskins aren’t close in any capacity. On Monday, the Redskins coach expanded on his comments.

 

"The translation is what really gets to me, taking plays from the grass to the game," Callahan said. "Nobody wants to hear it and I understand that. No one wants to hear how hard you practice and how hard you prepare because everyone does in the National Football League. You’ve got to come to the game and you’ve got to make plays. When that doesn’t translate, yeah there’s disappointment."

The coach deserves some level of credit for the honesty, but the reality absolutely backs up his sentiment. This Redskins team just don't make enough plays to validate much conversation around their proximity to real competition.

The team is not close to a competent defense, particularly after going down 34-3 to the Jets before a late two touchdown rally. 

The team is not close to an explosive offense, particularly after getting just three first downs in the entire first half against the Jets. 

The team just isn't close. 

The Redskins are 1-9 and on a solid path to a 1-15 record. It would be the worst mark in Washington since 1961. Jack Kennedy was president then. 

Even if rookie QB Dwayne Haskins improves and can lead this team to a few victories, the Redskins still won’t be close. The team lacks playmakers on offense, the offensive line has struggled much of the year, and the defense has been a mess most of the season. 

Players recognize the conversation about competing and being close isn’t accurate, and simply isn’t good enough anyway. 

“The message can't keep being, 'We're close, we're close.' The message can't be 'I'm proud of your guys' effort, get ready for next week'. We have to put points on the board, put touchdowns on the board. That's what wins at this level,” Redskins WR Paul Richardson said after a Week 9 loss in Buffalo. 

Richardson is right. Pro football isn’t about participation trophies. It’s about wins. 

For years the Redskins’ brass has talked about effort as a panacea to bad football. Effort alone won’t change anything. Effort needs to be met with capable players, and capable players also need to exert maximum effort. There’s a legitimate question how much of either the Redskins are getting. 

The only thing the Redskins are close to is their worst record in nearly 60 years. 

Close to what? Close to nothing. 

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