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SB Nation readers were asked last week to predict which NFL team would go from worst to first in 2019. Of course, with eight divisions, there were eight choices.
The voting was overwhelming.
The Jacksonville Jaguars scored 52% of the vote in an 8-way split.
No other team garnered more than 9%.
It seems that the nation is buying what Doug Marrone is selling!
Meanwhile, NFL fans and analysts have mostly ‘tapped out’ on the Redskins. Pre-season Power Rankings put the Redskins between 22nd and 31st. Personally I see the team much closer to a 13th to 18th squad, myself, but — honestly — even Hogs Haven readers aren’t feeling a lot of good vibrations about the team.
Looking from the FanPulse poll taken ahead of the first preseason game to the one taken this week, the confidence of poll respondents (all of them HH readers) rose minutely from 35% to 36%.
Interestingly, in the post-draft poll, the confidence level of Washington fans had seemed to be on the rise, jumping from 23% pre-draft to 61% after the fans had heard the names Dwayne Haskins, Montez Sweat, Terry McLaurin, and 7 others called over the three days of the draft.
But the Trent Williams holdout, in particular, seemed to suck the life out of the fan base. The inability of any offensive linemen playing to the left of Chase Rouliier to distinguish themselves in pre-season only added to that funk.
With Dwayne Haskins (probably wisely) being kept on the sidelines for the start of the Eagles game on Sunday, and probably for several subsequent weeks at least, there’s a palpable lack of buzz about this Redskins team from NFL fans, and, indeed, Redskins fans themselves. The thought of Case Keenum behind center isn’t inspiring many people, though I think he and the team will be a pleasant surprise once we get the Week 1 game in Philly out of the way.
Still, confidence has come a long way from the initial poll, taken in the wake of the Redskins’ disastrous November and December games, when confidence measured a mere 9 percent!
However, right now, the only team in the league with less confidence in the direction of its team is the Houston Texans (who could blame them?). Cardinals fans, at 47%, and Dolphins fans, at 58%, both feel a lot better than we do. I can understand the excitement level in Arizona with a new young offensive-minded coach, Kyler Murray and the “air raid” offense, but Miami fans feel better than we do? I guess it’s because of the 73 first-round picks they scored for shipping off Laremy Tunsil and a third-tier receiver to the aforementioned Texans, who may start burning Bill O’Brien in effigy if his team can’t get some early wins.
Interestingly, those with the highest confidence level at the moment are fans of the Philadelphia Eagles — Washington’s opening week opponent. They registered a hefty 99% confidence rating in the direction of their favorite team.
I think Redskins fans will have more to cheer for this season than they or anyone else seems to think. Gabe Ward just published an article expressing his personal excitement about the team’s talented corps of young receivers. It may take some time, but there’s a very good chance that they will blossom into a strong unit that can grow with quarterback Dwayne Haskins as the Redskins move into the new post-Alex, post-Kirk, post-RG3 era.
Derrius Guice has been named the starter in the offensive backfield. That means that the Redskins are so deep at running back that future Hall-of-Fame player Adrian Peterson is in a backup role after rushing for 1,000 yards last year, and the impressive Stanford running back, Bryce Love, has the luxury of spending a full season on IR where he can rehab and get ready for next year.
Landon Collins looks set to reignite a talented defense that has no starters in a contract year, meaning that the already-intact 2018 squad that returned 7 starters this season should be even stronger in 2020.
And, of course, the world’s all-time best punter, the left-footed Tress Way, is set for a repeat performance, pinning opposing offenses deep in their own territory, and forcing them to have to march the length of the field against Jon Allen, Daron Payne, Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, a pair of brand new starters at inside linebacker, Dunbar & Norman and Collins & Nicholson. Tell me that doesn’t sound like a challenging task to set for our opponents!
There’s been a lot of gloom in DC of late. Having to open the season in Philly with a new QB, only one wide receiver with more than 3 NFL games to his credit, a running back with no regular season NFL snaps, an offensive line with two question marks on the left side and the very real possibility of no Jordan Reed at tight end doesn’t seem like a recipe for success, but 16 games is a long season, and we all know that NFL footballs take strange bounces.
Hang in there Redskins fans. It might be a slow start, but sooner or later, we should get something to cheer for.