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If the Redskins truly believe they're 'close' to winning, then they won't ever start winning

If the Redskins truly believe they're 'close' to winning, then they won't ever start winning

Over the last four seasons, the Redskins are 31-32-1. 

Mediocrity defined.

Problem is, the team believes they're on the verge of something grander.

"We're in the middle of the pack," Bruce Allen told reporters Tuesday at the Senior Bowl. "It means you're close, it means you're close to being better."

"Yeah, we were two games out of a playoff," Allen added later while reviewing the 2018 campaign. "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."

Four years. One forgettable playoff appearance followed by three misses.

If Washington truly thinks that they're legitimately close to breaking through, then they will never break through.

Think back to this past weekend, where four elite groups battled it out for Super Bowl spots in two epic duels. Can you imagine this iteration of the Burgundy and Gold ever reaching that level of football?

Sure, if you ignored the many flaws, perhaps you felt the 6-3 'Skins who led the division back in November could do some measure of damage in the postseason. Allen, Jay Gruden and others in Ashburn point to that stretch whenever they can.

But even that group, when it was still mostly healthy, felt at least a level below top contenders. They came out totally flat in their home opener, suffered a pair of 24-point losses and gave up 500 yards to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bucs during those nine contests.

You know the rest — multiple quarterbacks went down as did a slew of other contributors, and the Redskins' hopes went with them.

"We didn't finish strong," Allen said. "I'm not going to use injuries as an excuse because we had some opportunities to win some games at the end of the year that we didn't."

He's right in not wanting to use the battered roster as an excuse. But even then, he brought up the "heartbreaking injuries" again later on and mentioned hopefully having a "healthy team for the 2019 season" when answering a question about bringing Gruden back as coach.

And therein lies the issue.

Even when everyone's on the field, there currently aren't enough difference-makers to elevate this bunch out of the "middle of the pack." 

Plus, who cares about being one or two games out of a playoff spot?

That may signal something worth building upon in the much longer seasons of the NBA, NHL or MLB, but in the NFL, where you only play 16 times, one or two games represents a significant gap in quality.

Yes, there's something to the Redskins finding themselves on somewhat stable ground. That hasn't been the case for much of this century.

That said, Washington absolutely can't get comfortable with where it is and must avoid acting as if it's on the cusp of something special.

"If we can keep our team together," Allen said, "I think [the fans] saw a good football team."

As long as that's the thought process, the only thing Redskins fans will see are other franchises playing in January and February while theirs keeps coming up short.

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Best birthday ever? 107-year-old Redskins fan celebrates in Burgundy and Gold

Best birthday ever? 107-year-old Redskins fan celebrates in Burgundy and Gold

When Carletha "Nana" West was growing up, she began to take an interest in football. In particular, she took notice of a certain Redskins quarterback. 

"When Sammy Baugh was quarterback I liked him and I was just learning football at that time," West said. "I was young myself."

Baugh commanded the Redskins offense from 1937-1952 and became one of West's favorite player. With that, her fandom for the Redskins grew.

Decades later, her love for the Redskins remains. So for her 107th birthday -- yes, 107th -- she, of course, celebrated it with some Burgundy and Gold festivities.

Joined by Redskins GM Bruce Allen, West took in her birthday on Thursday, July 18, at Brandywine in Alexandria, Va. Not only was she given a customized Redskins jersey with the number 107 and the name "Nana", but West also got a day named after her. In Alexandria, July 18 will now be known as Carletha "Nana" West Day.

West spent some time reminiscing about her years as a Redskins fan, singing 'Hail to the Redskins' and even sharing her advice on how to live a long, fulfilling life. Besides loving football, she shared some simple words of wisdom.

"Make friends," West said. "And keep them."

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Josh Norman got a hilarious phone call from Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly before Redskins-Panthers

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Josh Norman got a hilarious phone call from Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly before Redskins-Panthers

If Josh Norman wasn't a cornerback for the Redskins, he could have become a world-class spy.

In a hilarious clip from the Amazon Prime show "All or Nothing" which documented the Carolina Panthers during the 2018 NFL season, Norman is heard talking on the phone with former Carolina teammates Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly, just days before the Redskins and Panthers faced each other on the gridiron. 

After Kuechly and Newton made fun of him for looking "fat," Norman asked the pair, "Hey is [Greg] Olsen playing this week?"

Olsen, Carolina's Pro Bowl tight end, had missed the Panthers' previous three games due to a foot injury. 

"Nope," an unsuspecting Kuechly immediately replied. Oops! 

"Come on, bro. You can't tell. That was stupid," Newton said before the three burst into laughter over the slip-up. 

"Now you've got to tell us something about y'all," Newton said to Norman after they had finally recovered. "You starting at cornerback this week?"

Ouch! Norman had just been benched in the second half of the Redskins' Week 5 loss to the Saints, Newton showing no mercy to his ex-teammate.

However, Norman got his revenge that Sunday, picking off Newton in the first quarter of a 23-17 Redskins win. And ironically Olsen ended up playing, catching four passes for 48 yards.

Maybe Norman wouldn't make that great a spy after all. But in any case, it was he and the Redskins who got the last laugh that week. Newton, Kuechly, and the Panthers will get a chance to answer back when Washington and Carolina square off on Dec. 1. 

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