There is no argument that every Washington Redskins game from here on out is a must-win situation for the team to stay alive in the NFC playoff race. Everyone from the head coach and staff to players and fans realize it starts with a win against the Cleveland Browns Sunday afternoon. It is that simple.
With the playing status of rookie QB Robert Griffin III hanging in the balance and an able and talented backup QB Kirk Cousins prepared to start if called upon, the rest of the team needs to do what they have been doing. That has been pressuring opposing QBs, giving the ball to rookie RB Alfred Morris and limiting or eliminating turnovers and dropped balls. That formula has led to a winning streak dating back to Week 11.
Whether in a blowout against the Eagles to start their four-game win streak, or their overtime and coming from behind win against the Ravens last week, the 'Skins as a team have been playing inspired football.
The fans want the winning streak to continue and the prospect of snapping a six-year postseason appearance to become reality. There are other teams in the NFC that if they lose and the 'Skins win, things fall into place nicely to their advantage.
Without question the Redskins organization from the top down wants this to occur as well. What the 'Skins need is to continue playing like a team on a mission to make the playoffs.
On November 28 after consecutive wins against the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys in the span of five days, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan told the media that making the playoffs is not what's on the team's mind. "That's your goal...Our focus right now is to play our best football. Our goal is to win the NFC East and to do that we have to play very well."
Since that press conference the 'Skins went on to beat the Super Bowl defending champion New York Giants and perennial AFC playoff contender Baltimore Ravens. The team is playing at a different level since Shanahan's comments just two weeks ago.
The 'Skins need to continue their winning ways and dismiss the naysayers who have said they aren't a playoff caliber team. They need to continue the role rookie RB Alfred Morris has played in the offense. They need to contain opposing running backs and shut down any attempt of an opponent to run the football. This defensive statistic alone has allowed the 'Skins to remain atop the NFL in rushing yards allowed.
Most importantly, the Redskins need to keep their playoff hopes alive and it begins with who starts at QB Sunday against the Browns. The fans want the best possible QB on the field to give the team a chance at winning the game. The best possible QB is undoubtedly RG3.
However, do the Redskins want to protect their star QB and have him available if needed in the game? What would be wrong with starting Cousins and see how things progress against the Browns? If the offense responds to Cousins and continue to move the ball and score points, let him play. Why not be cautious?
This scenario could lead to a win-win situation. RG3 plays it safe and allows the extra time to ensure his right knee heals to its fullest. And as long as the 'Skins don't fall behind in the game and the Browns defense doesn't overwhelm Cousins or force him into making poor decisions, let him play. The 'Skins can bring in RG3 if it gets to be too much for Cousins and they find themselves losing.
The official word from the Redskins is a decision on RG3's playing status will be a game time one. This plays to an advantage for the 'Skins so the Browns can't prepare exclusively for one or the other.
After all, the Redskins not only want to win but need to win Sunday. The Redskins play on the road against Cleveland Sunday, Dec. 16 at 1 p.m. ET on FOX.