Boswell: Odds Are Against Redskins; I Say They're Not

If you're a regular to DC Sports and the Washington Post, then certainly you know Tom Boswell, a sports journalist I highly respect and frequently follow.  He's primarily known for his baseball insight, but he brings up a lot of good numbers from history when trying to predict analyze the Redskins likely 2010 record:

In the last 20 years, 18 teams that went 4-12 switched coaches. Their average record the next season was 7-9. Since '90, there have been 54 teams that lost 11 or more games, then got a new coach before the next season. How many made the playoff the first year? Ten of 54, or just 19 percent.

In the last 20 years, 115 NFL teams have changed coaches after the season. Just 17 of them - or 14.9 percent - improved by five wins. That should be sobering. But it gets worse. Of the 17 teams that showed big jumps, how many went backward in the new coach's second season? Answer: 13 of the 17.

[This season], Washington plays seven games against teams that won 11 to 14 games last year and four more against .500-or-better teams.

All good numbers, but I exit off the Boswell Highway when he states, "The Redskins don't look different from dozens of losing teams in the last 20 years that switched coaches." Luckily, I poured my Kool-aid into a Thermos today, so there will be no spilling of mine this glorious summer afternoon. The Redskins were 4-12 last season on paper, but they were NOT a 4-12 team. A few key notes: Jim Zorn's offense was as predictable as morning sunrises, he got as much respect as Rodney Dangerfield, and he was neck-in-neck with Cerrato on who knows less about football operations. My point? Boswell is comparing apples and oranges. If we were to take ANY of the other 31 NFL coaches from last year and put them as the Head Coach of the Redskins, we're at worst a 6-10 team. How's that?

It's impossible to forget that the Redskins first SIX opponents last year were all winless. The final score in all those games were decided by 1 score or less - 4 of which were losses - PATHETIC. Any half-competent coach would have won half those games and that puts the Redskins at 4-2 instead of 2-4. What do the historic numbers say for a team coming off a 6-10 record? Mike Shanahan agreed as much that the Redskins he received are not a 4-12 team at the Welcome Home Luncheon last week:

Shanahan: You take a look at a team and people say you're 4-12. And I said, 'Well, I thought I was going to get a 4-12 team. There's too much character in this room.'     

The mismanaged 2-minute drills, the swinging gate, the poor red zone play-calling, it goes on and on. When Zorn was publicly castrated  forced to hand-over the play-calling duties, many things improved over night. The arm-band was given to Campbell and the offense was finally able to score 20 or more points in a game. From right then, we knew the Redskins were not playing to their potential pre-BYE week.

Having said all that, Boz's 7-9 analysis does carry some weight for other reasons he mentioned - primarily the ridiculously difficult schedule the Redskins face. When/If injuries hit, this tough schedule will outweigh any game-plan that is being executed by Grossman or backup running backs. If the Redskins somehow manage to stay healthy along the OL and QB...look out - these fore-mentioned stats will be a footnote and the Redskins will be in the wild card hunt. If Gibbs can manage a playoff run two years out from Spurrier's over-flowing toilet, surely Shanahan can this season with this many Pro Bowlers and established locker room leaders he has to work with.

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