The Eagles are looking to break that streak as they open their 2017 season with a road game against the Washington Redskins.
Bleeding Green Nation already took some time to chat with Bill-in-Bangkok from Hogs Haven on Wednesday in order to preview this Week 1 tilt.
Today, we're back with three reasons why each team might lose. This format forces us to consider each own team's weaknesses, rather than just think of why each team is awesome.
So here are three reasons why Washington could lose, as written by Bill. Stay tuned to Hogs Haven to see why I think the Eagles could lose.
Reason 1 — 36.5%
Thirty-six point five percent… that’s the result you get when you divide 19 by 53.
Nineteen players. Out of 53. Thirty-six and a half percent of the players on the Redskins final roster have never lined up for a regular season snap as a Washington Redskin before.
Just think of that number for a moment. This past weekend, right after roster cuts were finalized, I can imagine the ice-breaker in the first team meeting. Jay Gruden stands up and says, “Fellas. Look at the man on your left. Now look at the man on your right. Chances are, one of the three of you has never been in a regular season game for this team before. I’d like you to shake hands and introduce yourself to that guy.”In reality, it’s even worse than that. Three of the returning players make up the ‘special teams’ portion of the Redskin roster, so the percentages for the team’s offensive – and especially defensive units – are obscenely high.
In fact, 42% of the defensive players on the squad have never played in a regular season game wearing Redskins burgundy and gold, while exactly 1/3 of all the offensive players are new to the team. At practice, they’re still wearing “Hi, my name’s…” stickers on their jerseys. There’s no way these players will be in sync come Sunday afternoon. It takes time to come together as a unit. Timing, communication, trust… basically, the ability to play ‘instinctual’ football… it’s all built on familiarity. The Redskins don’t have it, and aren’t gonna get it before Sunday. The late disappearance of Su’a Cravens – one of the few returning defensive players – didn’t help the situation, either. Neither did the season-ending injury to Phil Taylor in the third preseason game. Nor did the loss of starting OLB Trent Murphy in the first preseason game. Same for safety Deangelo Hall, who was injured last year and is starting 2017 on the PUP list.
More than a third of the team is new. As a fan base, we don’t really know our own team. Hell, the starting center versus Philly is gonna be a 6th round draft pick who played center for only one season at Wyoming. He’ll be holding down the fort while starter Spencer Long recovers. Yes, you’re right; the Center does call the protections for the offensive line. The guy doing that for the Redskins is 24 years old and taking the field for his first regular season snap as a professional this Sunday afternoon.
The Redskins lose because they just don’t know each other very well.
2. Regression to the mean and opening week blues … it’s science
There are two trends that are in play here. First, I think we all know that the Redskins have won 5 straight games against Philadelphia, dating back to 2014.
Let’s face it; that kind of streak can’t go on for very long in today’s NFL (outside the AFC East where the Patriots own the Bills & Jets, or the AFC Central where the Browns make anything possible). Philly has to break through at some point, and there’s one key trend that says that this is the week when they do. Significantly, the Redskins have lost every season opener since Jay Gruden became the head coach (and even 2013 when Shanahan was still here), and playing at home doesn’t help:
- 2013 (home) Philly 33 Redskins 27
- 2014 (away) Redskins 6 Texans 17
- 2015 (home) Dolphins 17 Redskins 10
- 2016 (home) Steelers 38 Redskins 16
Under Jay Gruden, the Redskins are slow starters; Jay just doesn’t seem to know how to prepare a team to come out of the gate snarling.2017 will look just like Jay’s first 3 years as a head coach: Redskins start 0-1.
Redskins lose because the odds and trends say they will. It’s science.
3. The Running Game
Let’s look at the pedigree of Washington’s 4 running backs:
- Rob Kelley – Lead Back; 2nd year undrafted free agent – Tulane
- Chris Thompson – 3rd down back; drafted 5th round 2015 – Florida State
- Samaje Perine – backup (expected short-yardage back); Rookie - drafted 4th round – Oklahoma
- Mack Brown – backup – Undrafted (2015) – Florida
In 2016 the Redskins, with largely the same group of runners, tied for 7th place in Yards per Attempt, but only 21st in total rushing yards. The problem for the Redskins rushing attack last year wasn’t so much that the plays themselves were failing, or that the running backs were ineffective, or that the OLine didn’t do its job; the main problem was that the coaching staff didn’t commit to or believe in the running game.
Well, our play caller from last year, Sean McVay, is the Rams head coach now, so there’s a chance that Jay Gruden shows more commitment to the run. His history as OC in Cincinnati suggests that he may just be able to do that, but the running game was anemic in this preseason, with the Offensive Line looking distinctly weak in run blocking. In fact, it was significantly worse than it had been in 2016. The Redskins tallied just 3.3 yards per carry in the preseason, with Rob Kelley – our lead dog – averaging 3.1, and Samaje Perine – our new bruiser – averaging a measly 2.8 yards per carry. Ouch.
Meanwhile, the Redskin defense finished the 2016 season ranked 24th against the run, giving up 119 yards per game, and 19 rushing touchdowns (good for 4th worst in the league). Obviously there’ve been a lot of changes in the Redskins run defense; most notably the additions of Zach Taylor (ILB), Jonathan Allen (DT) and Ryan Anderson (OLB), but until they start making real tackles on real players in real games, these are all just paper improvements.
The Redskins lose because, when it comes to running the ball, our offense can’t do it, and our defense can’t stop it.
There you have it… three reasons why the Washington Redskins – for the fifth consecutive year – put a pin in the hopes of the fan base by dropping the season opener. This year will be a triple-blow: (i) the loss, (ii) inside the division, and (iii) in front of the home fans (and if history is any guide, probably an equal number of Philly fans). What a gut punch! Traveling to LA to play the Rams in Week 2 will be a welcome getaway from the embarrassment.