Redskins

Redskins

Often times Redskins fans will ask why their team can't be more like the Patriots. 

There are a lot of reasons Washington isn't like New England, but the two biggest are named Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Those two are the best ever at their positions. It's no longer a debate after the Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl on Sunday evening. 

And let's be crystal clear: The Redskins are miles away from the Patriots. Hundreds of miles. On a map, the two teams are about as close as Mexico City and Toronto. 

Still, maybe Washington can learn something from New England. 

The Patriots have Brady and Belichick, Gronk and Edelman. A tremendous coaching staff too. 

But watch New England win games, especially late in the year, and the victories come with a grinding style. They play smart defense with brilliant schemes, and Tom Brady hands the ball off to a host of running backs that move downhill. 

In the Super Bowl, the Patriots ran 32 times for 154 yards, good for 4.8 yards-per-carry. The game was ugly, but New England moved the ball on the ground and controlled time of possession.

There were plays in the passing game too, especially on a pair of fourth-quarter throws to Gronk and a number of third down connections with Edelman, but in the end, it was running and defense that won the Super Bowl. 

Well, think about the Redskins formula for winning games early in the 2018 season.

 

It was ugly, it was built on the run game, and it relied on winning the time of possession and limiting turnovers. 

It's much too simplistic to suggest that those three things are all that matter.

Strong defense and winning at the line of scrimmage are just as important. But the 'Skins did that pretty well too in 2018, at least early on.

For the last month, Redskins players, coaches, and front office personnel suggested that Washington was close to competing at the highest level before Alex Smith and Colt McCoy got hurt. Largely, that mindset was mocked. 

Just last week, Redskins cornerback Josh Norman claimed that if Alex Smith stayed healthy, the Redskins might have gotten to the Super Bowl. 

That sounds absurd. C'mon. 

But, it's probably not a coincidence that the Rams finished the regular season as the third best run team in the NFL. And the Patriots finished fifth. 

In the playoffs, the Rams and Patriots took the top spots in the run game, and that's with both teams getting first-round byes. 

The point here is not suggesting that the 'Skins could have made a Super Bowl run if Alex Smith stayed healthy. Norman is flamboyant and is entitled to that belief, but it's not shared here. 

Is there some point in reminding fans that completely dismiss the talk that Washington was a real contender that it might not be that crazy? By the end of the season, absolutely not, but midway through? Maybe. 

The big point, however, the one lesson for these Redskins to take from the Patriots: Football doesn't change. Run the football. Control the clock. Win games.

It's worked for 50 years, probably 100 years, and the way Brady and Belichick did it this year, it might keep working for years to come. 

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