Schrödinger's Season

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

The Redskins, despite themselves (and a 3-6 record), seem to be alive. But are they? Can we even tell anymore? Tom tries to make sense of a frustrating, vexing year.

Can someone please let me know if the Redskins' season has a pulse? Maybe we can hold a mirror under its nose or something. But I have to know how to proceed as a Redskins fan.

Fish or cut bait.

Poop or get off the pot.

Pick a lane.

Nine games and ten weeks into an NFL season, you would think we'd be able to figure out whether this team is dead or alive. Yet, we can't. Normally, I would say a 3-6 squad that really hasn't played well overall should be thinking about the draft. Then, at certain points, Washington shows flashes of its 2012 form. And, by "2012 form," I mean the form the team had during a seven-game stretch run after that group started 3-6.

On the other hand, Washington just suffered a horrific loss to Minnesota. Minnesota! It's one thing to implode in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos, perhaps the best team in the NFL. It's another to give up 20 straight points to end a game you led 27-14 against a 1-7 team.

The Redskins managed to lose to the Vikings despite a decent yardage advantage, zero turnovers, a 95 percent win probability at one point, and two "bonus" timeouts on the final, potentially-game-tying drive, courtesy of Leslie Frazier. As a result, the Skins have absolutely no momentum coming into this week's game against Philadelphia.

On the other hand, the dreadful NFC East exists in a state of Verschränkung mediocrity. Washington, even being in last place, is just two games back of those same Eagles, who have a share of first. The two teams would be deadlocked in the loss column if the Redskins could win the rematch against Philadelphia. Washington is also coming off of a "mini-bye" week thanks to playing a Thursday night game. Meanwhile, the other first-place team, the Dallas Cowboys, looks like it has perhaps the worst defense in the NFL. A win here would catapult Washington right back into the thick of things in the NFC East.

On the other hand, haven't we been here four or five times already this year? That's kind of the point. The season opener against the Eagles was a chance for the defending divisional champs to set the tone early against an untested head coach. Washington lost. The game against Dallas on Sunday Night Football had "turning point" potential with first place at stake. Washington lost. The game against 1-7 Minnesota was a shot to take a big step forward, winning twice in five days. Washington lost.

On the other hand, the Redskins are running out of weeks. There's more of a sense of urgency now. All it would take would be wins over Philly and the rest of the NFC East, plus an upset somewhere along the way, and Washington would probably still win the division. Somehow. It starts this week with the Eagles, a so-so team that isn't exactly on the level of the Chiefs, 49ers, or Broncos.

On the other hand, Nick Foles is suddenly a very effective quarterback, as indicated by his ten touchdowns over the past two games. Chip Kelly's offense sputtered for a time, but seems to have rebounded. The Eagles are able to put up great numbers against bad teams, and decent numbers against decent teams. Philadelphia boasts an offense that has crept back up to #11 in the NFL in scoring.

On the other hand, Washington's defense hasn't been terrible. Just inopportune. The Redskins held Adrian Peterson under 100 yards (although he did score twice), and kept the Vikings to 307 yards of total net offense, the third-best showing of the season for the Skins. They haven't fared well against good quarterbacks (except Tony Romo), but the sample size on Foles is still small. Maybe he'll come back to earth this week. Or perhaps Washington has a lock-down performance in its collective back pocket.

My supply of "other hands" long since exhausted, hell if I know what to expect from these guys anymore. Either I'll be writing a "THE REDSKINS ARE BACK IN IT!!!" column for next week, or a "FIRE EVERYBODY, SEE YOU IN 2014" eulogy. Basically the same position the Redskins have been in for weeks. Their circumstances (read: being in a bad division) have kept Washington's season from crossing over to the other side for longer than is natural. Without a win against the Eagles on Sunday, we can probably start digging that grave.

On the other hand . . .

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