As the Redskins’ 2015 season starts to fade into the distance there is some revisionist history going on out there.
“If only the Redskins had pulled out those games they should have won, the close losses to the Cowboys and Dolphins at home and at the Falcons, they might still be playing,” some fans and other observers are saying.
Certainly, they had the upper hand against the Cowboys, about to get possession late in a tie game, before DeSean Jackson decided that he had to make a big play and ended up fumbling. In the season opener the Dolphins were begging to be beaten until they finally won on a punt return for a touchdown. And it sure looked like the Redskins were driving for a winning touchdown in overtime in Atlanta when Ryan Grant slipped and Kirk Cousins’ pass was picked off and run back the other way to give the Falcons the win.
The “if only” crowd adds these games to the Redskins’ win total and all of a sudden they are 12-4 and a top contender for the NFC title.
But let’s pump the brakes here. In fact, let’s slam them. The 2015 Redskins were what their record said they were. The notion that they were really a 12-win team does not stand up under scrutiny.
If you’d like, you can say they were unlucky to lose to the Dolphins, Cowboys, and Falcons. But they had some pretty good fortune in at least three of their wins, too. In Week 4 at FedEx Field Caleb Sturgis of the Eagles missed a 33-yard field goal and an extra point in a game the Redskins rallied to win by three. The Redskins deserve a lot of credit for rallying from a 24-0 deficit to beat the Bucs but Tampa Bay gave them some help along the way, particularly the six personal foul penalties they committed. And Robbie Gould of the Bears missed a 50-yard field goal in the late going to help the Redskins avoid overtime in their win in Chicago. And they needed a kind of fluky bounce and catch by Matt Jones to convert a third down and continue to kill the clock (never mind that Jones almost lost the ball).
Looking at the individual games is the micro picture. For the macro picture, let’s look at the point differential. The Redskins outscored their opponents by nine points. That is the mark of a team within a game of .500. There were 11 teams that won 10 games or more and the lowest point differential among those teams was the Packers at plus-45. On average the 11 teams with double-digit wins outscored their opponents by 115 points.
So Redskins fans should set aside the “if only” when discussing the 2015 season. Be happy for a solid step in the right direction, a nice turnaround, and an unexpected playoff berth. It turned out the way it should have.