I was recently in a debate where the topic was what will it take for the Redskins to make the Super Bowl. It's a common topic for any team in any sport. So, what's the right answer? Who the F knows. Of all the answers I hear, the Family Feud #1 response....SAYS.....
(ding) "If they stay healthy, they can win."
Ah yes. The ole' , faithful "stay healthy" line. That line is actually not entirely true. Who remembers the 2010 Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers? Week one they lost starting RB Ryan Grant for the season. Week five vs the Redskins, at Fedex Field, the Packers lost stud Tight End Jermichael Finley for the season, Clay Matthews got hurt, and Aaron Rodgers got concussed. By the end of the season, the Packers had 16 players on injured reserve, including the following seven starters: Ryan Grant, Jermichael Finley, LB Nick Barnett, Safety Morgan Burnett, LB Brandon Chillar, tackle Mark Tauscher, and LB Brad Jones. Dear Lord.
The key factor in the "stay healthy" debate to me really comes down to two positions: the team's QB and Left Tackle. How many Super Bowl winners are there that won with a backup QB? Of course there was Doug Williams who started five games in the 1987 season after Jay Schroeder was benched and went the distance throwing five TDs in a single quarter. The 1987 season, however, was Williams' seventh year in the NFL and second with the Redskins, but a backup QB did get the job done.
In terms of the 2013 Redskins and winning the Super Bowl, RGIII needs to be healthy when the playoffs start. He can be hurt for six games or whatever during the season, but as long as the Redskins are in the playoffs and RGIII is healthy, they can win. Kirk Cousins is a fine QB, but realistically, it's hard to imagine he can win three or four straight playoff games this early in his career, especially with a defense that is not elite.
We've had many debates this off-season as to what would happen if Trent Williams went down. Even that year Green Bay won it all, the pairing of Chad Clifton and Aaron Rodgers went the distance. I went digging through the list of Super Bowl champions that had a Left Tackle get lost for the season and to my surprise there are at least two:
The 1996 Packers had Ken Ruettgers as their long-time starting LT but he injured his knee early in the season. He did come back later in the year but wasn't effective enough and was placed on IR. Rookie 1st-rounder Jon Michels took over for much of the year but was inconsistent. Veteran Bruce Wilkerson then took over in week 17 and started throughout the playoffs, including in the Super Bowl XXXI win. (h/t Acme Packing Company)
Giants won two years ago with Will Beatty going on IR after 10 games with a detached retina. They moved David Diehl to LT -- of course, that is a position he played for years before that. (h/t Big Blue View)
So you're telling me there's a chance!!! Of course, in both of the scenarios above veteran tackles took over. Diehl was originally a fifth round pick, so that's quality value there. The Shanahans can scheme all they want to make up for the deficiencies in starting a backup, young Tackle, (we saw it a lot last year with weak link, Tyler Polumbus) but winning three or more consecutive playoff games with such a scenario has about the same odds as Jeff George and I opening a fashion line of cutoff jean shorts together (my fingers are still crossed).
Would or should we feel better if the Redskins had kept a veteran Tackle on the roster? I would. Surely the Redskins would add a veteran Tackle if the unimaginable happened. Food for thought: in the five games Trent Williams has missed in his career, the Redskins are 1-4. Shanahan kept the best 53 players on his roster and I do respect that. I'm a "We'll cross that bridge if and when we get there" myself guy, too.
Regardless, as I see it for this 2013 Redskins team, two players must make it the distance for the Skins to run through that snowy tunnel come February 2014:
- A healthy RGIII
- A healthy Trent Williams
What do you think? On the road to MetLife Stadium, are there any other scenarios that can get us there?