Redskins fans entered 2019 on a low note, after the team collapsed from Weeks 10 to 17, when they won only a single game and fell from first place to third place in the NFC East, but a measure of confidence was restored following a mostly positive free agency period and a draft that was widely praised by NFL commenters.
The confidence, like the plan of a Mike Tyson opponent, didn’t survive for long.
Three successive losses, each at least as ugly as the one that preceded it, have left the fan based befuddled, enraged and frustrated, with many of them lashing out on radio talk shows, internet blogs and across cold mugs of beer in many a bar.
The deep disappointment and sense of bafflement was reflected in the latest FanPulse survey, where the confidence of Redskins fans sets a low mark for the NFL at just 8%.
The fanbases of the NFC East, in fact, are a study in contrasts. Look at the rising and falling confidence levels of four fanbases that are experiencing very different seasons.
Cowboys fans who entered the season a bit unsure about the team, with Zeke’s holdout, a lot of questions about contract extensions, and a very good Eagles team inside the division, are feeling awfully good about things after seeing the Cowboys rack up wins against the Giants, Redskins and Dolphins — three opponents with a combined win-loss record of 1-8.
A look at the Cowboys schedule, even at this early stage, gives one a sense of inevitability that the Cowboys are headed for the playoffs, and likely a second consecutive division title.
The Giants spent the off-season reeling from the OBJ trade and the criticism that came with selecting Daniel Jones #6 overall. Now that Jones has had a successful outing in his first-ever NFL start, picking up the 1-point win over the third place Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2), Giants fan confidence is soaring, up 49 points this week to 66%, and they are fitting the former Duke Blue Devil QB for a gold jacket already.
The Redskins are facing these same Giants this Sunday in a game that many Redskins fans had circled on the calendar all off-season, expecting it to be an easy win — and possibly the first of the season. The tables have probably turned, with Giants fans, after seeing Eli benched in favor of the rookie, now licking their chops at the thought of parlaying their 0-2 start into a 2-2 overall record (and 1-1 in the division) as they reach the quarter-point in the season.
We go from circling games, to the realization that when other teams are looking at their schedule, they’re highlighting us— Clinton Portis (@TheRealC_Portis) September 25, 2019
The other team in the division is Philly, and many NFL fans — not just Eagles fans — entered the season with the Birds as a favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl that will follow the NFL’s 100th season. So far, the team has failed to impress, having to rely on a second half comeback to beat the Redskins before losing the next two games to the Falcons on the road and the Lions at home.
Fan confidence has fallen from 99% before and after the Week 1 game against the Redskins, to just 39% following the latest loss. The talk of Doug Pederson’s “genius” has been conspicuously absent on Bleeding Green Nation this week. It doesn’t get any easier for the Eagles, who have to travel to Green Bay this week to take on the Packers at Lambeau Field. With the Vikings, Cowboys, Bears, Patriots and Seahawks all on the Eagles’ schedule by Week 9, the Eagles could be teetering on the edge of being out of playoff contention before they reach the final 5 games, in which they face the Dolphins, Redskins, Cowboys and Giants (twice), which may give them an opportunity to salvage what should look like a ruined season by mid-November.
The Redskins are the only 0-3 team in the NFC, and the discontent in the fan base is exploding. Fans are calling for players to be cut, coaches to be fired, Bruce Allen to be tortured and Dan Snyder to be forced to sell the team. The two home games have seen at least as many opposing fans in the stands as Redskins supporters, and the franchise appears to be reaching the lowest point it has seen in two and a half decades that have been measured in low points.
Expectations that the Redskins defense would improve from a decent 2018 performance to become an elite NFL unit have been shattered, and the loudest cries have been for defensive coordinator Greg Manusky to be fired. With his defensive squad tied with the Giants for the 2nd-most points given up (behind only the tanking Miami Dolphins) there seems to be no defense for Greg Manusky and his defense.
The Dolphins offense has scored only 16 points in three games this season, while the Redskins and Giants have — improbably — identical results for both points for and points against.
Two games in the next three weeks come against the Giants and the Dolphins. Two wins against these relatively weak NFL opponents won’t stop the screaming, but it may mute it a little bit.
Conversely, if the Redskins lose to the Giants this week, the volume will get turned WAY up in DC — especially the voices calling for Jay Gruden to be fired, for Dwayne Haskins to take over as the starting quarterback, or both.
But, the fan base would go absolutely nuclear if the Redskins lose to the Dolphins in Miami in Week 6. An 0-6 record, or a 1-5 record with a loss to the Dolphins might be enough to trigger the apocalypse, at least for Redskins fans.
Dan Snyder and Jay Gruden are out of moves. The only answer left is winning.