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Could the Redskins really be 7-2 like Jay Gruden said?

Could the Redskins really be 7-2 like Jay Gruden said?

Yesterday at his first news conference after his team returned from the bye, Redskins coach Jay Gruden talked about how they are not too far from having a better record.

“When you go back and you look at what’s going on, being 3-6, you look at the six losses and there’s a play here and a play there and we’re just so close to being 7-2 as opposed to being 3-6,” he said. “That’s the way the NFL is right now.”

This comment drew some fire from fans on Twitter.
.@Rich_TandlerCSN Close?!? To 7-2? Get 2 Ss, 2 OL starters, starter at OLB... Then we can talk close to winning. #RedskinsTalk #Redskins

— Steve in TN ™ (@sdo1) November 10, 2014
 
@Rich_TandlerCSN That type of thinking is why we're not 7-2. http://t.co/SPCxSTs04a

— Chris (@cdawgRVA) November 10, 2014
Should Gruden talk about his team being close? Or should he talk about the areas of the team that need to be shored up and about how much work needs to be done before the Redskins are good enough to contend for a Super Bowl?

You can make a case that what Gruden said is true, that just a couple of plays in some of their losses would have flipped the result.

—Against the Texans, if they pick up the blocking on that early punt and it doesn’t get blocked for a touchdown and fumble the ball away just once inside the Houston 10 instead of twice they could have won 14-10.

—In Philadelphia, just one first down after they get the ball in Eagles territory in the final minutes gets them in tying field goal range and the could have won in overtime.

—In the fourth quarter in Arizona, the Cardinals led by seven when Carson Palmer threw a pass right into the hands of Brian Orakpo, who had some running room. If they get the pick six there it’s a tie game and the Redskins have the momentum.

—Against the Vikings the defense had multiple chances to make a stop as Teddy Bridgewater rallied the Vikings from behind three times in the second half. You could also look at the Redskins’ last meaningful play on offense where Robert Griffin III could have kept the drive alive with either an accurate pass to Pierre Garçon or perhaps by turning on the jets and running for the first down.

One problem with playing the “what if” game is that you could just as easily say that if the Titans and Cowboys had made a play here and there they could have changed the result of the Redskins’ two close wins.

The Redskins do need an upgrade in talent if they are going to join the ranks of the best teams in the NFL. But there are plenty of teams out there that are managing to stay competitive despite having holes in their lineups. Just look in the Redskins’ own division. The Eagles are 7-2 despite having issues at safety, a shaky offensive line, and a linebacker corps that wasn’t very strong to begin with and then weakened by injuries. The Dallas defense has absolutely nobody that scares anybody but they are 7-3.

Bottom line, there really isn’t anything wrong with Gruden stepping up to the podium at midseason and presenting the rosy scenario. Yes, the Redskins do need to upgrade their talent on both lines and at safety but there isn’t much they can do about that in the middle of November. Gruden has to work with what he has. There would be no point in him railing on the work that needs to be done when the season is over.

At the same time, it’s easy to understand fans who do not want to hear it. The team has been 3-6 after nine games for four years in a row now and it’s always been a play here and there that made the difference between reality and an imaginary winning record. Only once, in 2012, did the Redskins start to make the plays and turn the season around. The other three years there were only the “what ifs” and the cycle started again.

For Gruden’s part, he’s just trying to make the best of a bad situation. As far as the fans go, they’re just tired of getting into that bad situation year after year.

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Week 6's Redskins game marked another successful celebration of the THINK-PINK! campaign

Week 6's Redskins game marked another successful celebration of the THINK-PINK! campaign

During the Redskins-Panthers Week 6 matchup, the FedEx Field end zones ditched their usual gold trim for some pink instead. As it turns out, burgundy and pink go quite well together.

The reason for the change was to celebrate the Redskins Breast Cancer Awareness game as well as the 20th anniversary of Tanya Snyder's THINK-PINK! campaign.

Mrs. Snyder started the movement two decades ago by passing out 8,000 handmade pink ribbons at the team's stadium meant to remind people that early detection of breast cancer can make a major difference.

Now, her campaign has gone league-wide and is the reason you see so many players wearing pink in October, fans waving pink towels in the stands and other awareness-raising initiatives throughout the NFL.

"Very, very, very proud," Snyder said while handing out ribbons before the Washington-Carolina game. "We're not finished, but we are making a difference with early detection. So I'm beaming." 

For more information on Snyder and the NFL's breast cancer efforts, head to redskins.com/thinkpink. And for more details about the events held at FedEx Field during Week 6, check out the video above.

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Redskins need a winning streak to convince legion of skeptics

Redskins need a winning streak to convince legion of skeptics

If you want to, you can find plenty of things wrong with the Redskins’ 23-17 win over the Panthers. The home team was up 17-0 in the second quarter and yet had to hang on as the Panthers reached the red zone with a chance to win in the last minute. The game got tight because the Redskins continued their second-half scoring problems, putting up just six points. Alex Smith passed for just 153 yards. 

But you can’t poke holes in the fact that the Redskins are 3-2 and in first place in the NFC East. Sure, there is a long way to go. But consider this—a Redskins schedule that looked rough at the beginning of the season doesn’t look quite as tough. In fact, right now the Redskins have a better winning percentage than any team they will play in their remaining 11 games. 

Yes, that’s right. They have six games to play in the division, two each against the Cowboys and Eagles, both now 3-3, and the 1-5 Giants. Their two remaining games against the NFC South are against the 2-3 Bucs and the 2-4 Falcons. The schedule is rounded out with games against three AFC South teams, the Titans, Texans, and Jaguars. All three of those teams are tied atop the division at 3-3. 

Of course, you can’t expect all of these teams to still be wallowing around .500 when they face the Redskins. It looks like the Eagles and Falcons are on the upswing and in today’s NFL any team can get hot at any time. 

And, as the Redskins demonstrated in their Week 2 loss to the Colts, they are capable of losing to a weak team. They still have plenty of issues they have to correct if they plan on maintaining their winning record and staying in contention for the division title. They won’t survive if they continue to have difficulty scoring in the second half (their only second-half TD this season came in garbage time against the Saints). They need to get more sacks from Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith, who have one combined. Plenty of details need to be ironed out. 

But the fact that they are a flawed team doesn’t take away from the fact that they got a quality win over the Panthers. Carolina was 3-1, coming off of an 11-5 playoff season. On top of that, the Redskins had not beaten the Panthers since 2006, a stretch that included an 0-4 record against Cam Newton. They didn’t commit a turnover for the first time this year and they got a season-high three takeaways. Christian McCaffrey came into the game averaging 83 yards per game and left it averaging 70 after picking up 20 yards on eight carries. 

With all of that said, the Redskins still have to overcome their inconsistency. They have won two games in a row just twice since the beginning of the 2017 season. Nobody is going to believe that anything is different about the Redskins until they can string together three or four wins in a row. Until then, skepticism will abound. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler is locked into the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler