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Redskins rising: fans seem to like what they’ve seen from the franchise as the off-season has progressed

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The confidence of Redskins fans started low, but is rising steadily with each stage of the off-season

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Redskins Photo by Larry French/Getty Images

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Think back to the end of the 2018 season

At the end of the 2018 season, the Redskins fans were broken — I mean broken as in tired, fatigued, apathetic.

They had good reason to be. The ‘18 Redskins finished 7-9, with 28 players on injured reserve, and they looked like they couldn’t have beaten a decent college team in Week 17.

The news didn’t get any better. The only Redskins team executives that lost their jobs at the end of the season were in the marketing department.

Washington Redskins Press Conference Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

A lot of troubling things were happening around the franchise yet again. D.J. Swearinger was cut near the end of the season after Montae Nicholson had been arrested following a drunken brawl, reducing the safety unit to unsafe levels. The quarterback room looked more like an emergency room. The team “consulted” with multiple high-profile defensive-coordinator types, but insisted that Greg Manusky’s job was never in peril. Jay Gruden stayed in Ashburn when major scouting events were taking place.

Many fans talked about this possibly being the lowest point in a twenty year history of low points.

The SB Nation FanPulse survey pegged the confidence of Redskins fans at just 9%.

Jeez.

After free agency frenzy

Free agency seemed to bring a small spark of life back to fans. Landon Collins was a popular signing, though not everyone was happy about the size of his contract, seeing shadows of Albert Haynesworth (or, at least, Josh Norman).

The team otherwise seemed to keep their wits about them in the frenzy (aside from a moment where they gave Ereck Flowers a $1.5m guarantee to play for the team in 2019, presumably at left guard).

When the dust had settled, the confidence of the hard core fan base that reads Hogs Haven had risen a bit — from 9 to 19%. Not a lot, but a noticeable twitch in the needle.

Prior to the draft

Heading into the draft, fan confidence edged up again slightly. It’s hard to pinpoint specific factors, though I think there may have been a feeling that the draft was lining up well with team needs, and that the tea leaves indicated that the Redskins weren’t planning to repeat the 2012 RG3 trade - they weren’t going to panic and jump to the top of the draft chasing a quarterback in a class filled with limited signal callers.

Another promising sign was that the whole Reuben Foster thing looked like it might work out okay.

Fans were also reminded that the team had been awarded 4 compensatory picks, so they had a lot of draft capital, and that — barring anything unexpected — they seemed to be on track to grab another free draft pick in 2020.

I think there was just a bit of relaxation among the fans about the expected stupidity level of the franchise, though, to be sure, a rise to 23% confidence is only positive when seen in relative terms.

Post draft

Analysts and fans have praised the 2019 draft in glowing terms, with many people declaring it to be the best Redskins draft in the past 20 years - maybe ever!

Kyle Smith has been praised widely as the architect of this fine effort.

The collection of ten new young Redskins has been hailed as a group that will make the team better, stronger, faster.

Fan confidence level, measured via SB Nation surveys, has surged to 61% — a result that I doubt many people would have predicted back in January.

What a difference 4 or 5 months can make. People who were predicting a Redskins apocalypse at the start of 2019 are now (some of them anyway) making quiet noises about the possibility of a winning season, or at least being ‘set up for the future’.

Has Dan Snyder done it again?

You know the old saying: “Fool me once shame on you; fool me 20 times, shame on me”.

I don’t really care.

I am an unabashed Redskins fan. I don’t see my sports fandom as a part of my life where I have to make conservative predictions so I’m not proved wrong or so that I’m not disappointed.

For me, being a fan is about being irrationally enthusiastic. I can get away with that because, if the team doesn’t live up to my hopes, I don’t really lose any sleep over it. I’m pretty phlegmatic that way.

So, that’s the Redskins - is there anything to report about the other NFC East teams?

I’m glad you asked.

I took a few minutes with the aid of a Microsoft Excel Chart Wizard to prepare this graphic image for you.

Philadelphia

You’ll see that Eagles fans, still on an irrational sugar high from the team’s post-2017 season championship, are riding the good feeling into 2019. To be fair, they have an only-slightly-damaged quarterback still in his rookie contract, and a GM who likes to trade veterans like a salesman in a bad suit at a used-car lot. There seem to be different players on the Philly roster to ignite fan interest annually.

The Bleeding Green Nation readers started out the calendar year with an 83% confidence level, despite limping to a second-place division finish and being one & done in the playoffs. In the wake of Howie Roseman’s usual wheeling & dealing and a draft that has been praised by expert analysts far and wide, Philly fans’ confidence has hovered in the mid-90s for a while now, and currently sits at 96%.

It’s gonna be fun to watch the Redskins go into Lincoln Financial Field in Week 1 and slap the silly grins off of their collective faces.

Dallas

It’s an odd time for Cowboys fans who know anything about football, not that there are many of those.

The ones that know enough to understand what goes on are aware that Dallas won the division title last year, but then failed in the playoffs. They traded away their #1 pick in this year’s draft for Amari Cooper, which appears to have paid off with that division title, but means that the fans had to sit on their hands on the 25th of April and watch everyone else have fun.

Redskins fans remember that feeling well; it used to be an annual tradition. Kind of like watching other kids sit around opening Christmas presents while your mom reminds you that she bought socks and underwear for you just last week.

The confidence question in the SB Nation survey is a tricky one because it asks about a fan’s confidence in “the direction” of his or her favorite team. The Cowboys are in that awkward situation where Dak’s rookie contract is coming to an end at the same time as Zeke wants an extension. Amari Cooper’s contract is due along with the QB and RB. They just paid Demarcus Lawrence. There are other contracts that need to be dealt with.

The Dallas Cowboy fans could feel pretty good about their chances in the 2019 season, but, if they pay attention to how salary cap affects roster-building, they might still be a little twitchy about what lies ahead, and how prepared Jerry Jones is to make sound contract decisions for the Dallas roster. I suspect Stephen Jones may try to keep Jerruh locked in the closet for the next 3 months.

But 76% of Blogging the Boys readers seem to feel okay about it all.

The Giants

Will any NFL fan have it harder than a Giants fan between now and the start of the regular season?

Dave Gettleman has been painted as a clown in a business suit, or a GM in a clown suit, or something like that. He got gaslighted by Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen, panicked, and made a hash of his own first round pick. The bank that holds the mortgage on the Gettleman home is hoping that Daniel Jones proves all the analysts wrong.

Gettleman traded away Odell Beckham for Dexter Lawrence, Oshane Ximines, Jabrill Peppers and Kevin Zeitler. I guess there’s a question about whether you want to go into battle with one big rock or 4 smaller ones. John Dorsey and the Cleveland Browns seem to think that 10 big rocks is the answer; Gettleman’s view is tough to figure out.

Dave Gettleman and the NY Giants may yet have the last laugh. But for now, the fan base confidence, as measured by the SB Nation survey, has fallen to the lowest in the NFC East. Giants fans are gonna have to hang in there through a long off-season and hope for some good news in September.

At least Giants fans are getting a lot of practice at waiting for good news. Their team has only 2 winning seasons in the past seven. They are 47-65 in that time, and 0-1 in the playoffs during those seven seasons.

They should be ready for a little good news any time now.