Redskins

With three NFC East games to go, don't tell Bill Callahan that the rest of the Redskins season is meaningless

Redskins

When December ends and a new decade is upon us, the Redskins will be doing something that's become far too familiar for the franchise over the past several years: watching the NFL playoffs from home. 

For all intents and purposes, since Washington has been officially eliminated from playoff contention following their Week 14 loss to the Green Bay Packers, the final three games of their 2019 campaign are meaningless. 

But don't tell that to interim head coach Bill Callahan.

While Callahan is likely on his way out the door after 2019 -- the team will almost certainly hire a new head coach and potentially make changes in the front office -- he still has plenty he wants to prove. And that starts with winning games in the division.

"I want to see us compete in the divisional games. We haven't been good," Callahan said. "I think we're 0-7 in our last divisional games. That hits hard. We're 0-5 against Philly in our last five games. So I'd like to see a competitive effort against the division. This is a chance to redeem ourselves in a lot of ways."

Part of the reason the Redskins have struggled to put together winning seasons over the past few years has been their struggles within the NFC East. Echoing Callahan's comments, the Burgundy and Gold have dropped seven straight divisional contests, including an 0-3 record this season. They finished 2-4 within the division in 2018 and 1-5 in 2017. The last time they finished with a division record above .500 was 2015, which was also the last time they won the division.

 

That record looks even worse when the NFC East is in the conversation for one of the worst divisions in NFL history. Currently, the 6-7 Dallas Cowboys hold the tiebreaker over the 6-7 Philadelphia Eagles for the top spot. 

During Washington's three divisional losses this season, it's been outscored 87-51, including an embarrassing 24-3 loss in Week 4 to the currently 2-11 New York Giants.

"These three divisional opponents, we didn't do well at the beginning of the year," Callahan said. "We've got a challenge. We have a chance to rectify that and make it right."

In what has turned into a disappointing and lost season for the Redskins, there are still a few bright spots and building blocks for the future. Rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin has emerged as a legit NFL wide receiver. Running back Derrius Guice has struggled to stay on the field but has been a force when playing. Dwayne Haskins has had his fair share of growing pains but also gave few glimpses of what he's capable of down the line.

Callahan wants to use the final three division games as a way to demonstrate to his young core that divisional games are one of the most critical things to succeed in the NFL.

"[I want to] really set the tone for next season. We have a lot of young players, players that are going to be here," Callahan said. "They've got to realize that the divisional games are the most critical games. Just because it does tie into your playoff factor initially. You're going to see these teams twice a year. It gives you a catalyst if you win those games and then begin to compete."

This week poses an opportunity for the Redskins to play the spoiler role. If they beat Philadelphia, the Eagles' playoff chances look bleak. Washington hasn't beaten Philadelphia since 2016.

Many current Redskins remember the image of FedEx Field in Week 17 last year. The stadium was a sea of people sporting Eagles' green and black as they shut out the Redskins, 24-0. While defeating the Eagles would not mean much in terms of the Redskins' 2019 season, a victory over Philadelphia would go a long way moving forward.

"I think our guys are all playing for something: pride," Callahan said. "Division games are always great battles. You never know how those are going to end. They're always tight, close games. This will be a lot of fun, and we're looking forward to the challenge on Sunday."

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