Snider: RIP 2019 Redskins
The impossible dream of somehow winning the final six games and taking the NFC East at 7-9 ended with a 20-15 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
RIP 2019 season.
For a few days, fans wondered if the team could replicate another impossible late-season comeback like two past years. But, those teams were near .500 when pushing through four or five late wins to make the postseason before a swift first-round loss. Asking a 1-9 team to win six straight was too much even if taking the first two games.
Instead, the Redskins are officially eliminated at 3-10 and working hard on 3-13. It won’t be easy to lose to Philadelphia, New York Giants and Dallas over the final three weeks, but so far Washington is 0-3 against fellow NFC East teams so a top five overall pick is still in play.
At least Washington is showing some life in the final weeks. The Packers might have blown out the Redskins earlier this season, but after allowing a quick 14-0 deficit, Washington’s defense dug in despite losing cornerback Quinton Dunbar and linebacker Ryan Kerrigan to injuries. Matt Ioannidis seems to have emerged as the best lineman and leader despite playing with two first-rounders aside him.
The offense is where your eyes always lie, though. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins displayed some toughness by playing with a sprained ankle in the second half despite badly limping. Haskins’ arm is still erratic, but he seems to raise his play late in games and that’s promising. Haskins’ touchdown throw to Terry McLaurin was more on the receiver’s brilliant one-handed grab, but Haskins grew up in that huddle in his teammates’ eyes, the same eyes that rolled in disgust just a few games ago when the passer came upon his lineman on the sideline.
Yes, Haskins grew up on that famed frozen tundra that seemed thawed and slick on Sunday. He was no longer a wide-eyed rookie woefully unprepared just one month ago despite picked 15 overall in the spring draft. Instead, Haskins is learning to lead comebacks. It would be nice if the team wasn’t regularly trailing, but no matter.
Rookie receivers Kelvin Harmon, Stephen Sims and McLaurin are learning to produce, too. On days when receptions were about as rare as campaign promises, the trio shook off a bad first half to give the team a late chance. One day, that experience will lead to victories.
And where would the Redskins be without old reliable Adrian Peterson? Next year seemed an unlikely afterthought when signing a two-year deal before the season. Yet, Derrius Guice was lost once more with a knee injury and Peterson carried the load, even scoring a touchdown. There’s no reason not to expect “AP” back in 2020. It merely delays his entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame until 2025 after a five-year minimum wait.
Maybe it seemed like another dull loss for the Redskins in another wasted season. The 16th time in 21 seasons under owner Dan Snyder of missing the postseason. And yet, there is some hope rising from the ashes. That’s why you keep watching.
Rick Snider is an award-winning sports writer who has covered Washington sports since 1978. He first wrote about the Redskins in 1983 before becoming a beat writer in 1993. Snider currently writes for several national and international publications and is a Washington tour guide. Follow Rick on Twitter at @Snide_Remarks.