By now you've heard what many consider the nonsensical rantings of an obviously insane Rex Grossman:
“We’re just waiting in the wings ready to take over the NFC East. Nobody’s talking about us, it’s right where we wanna be. You look at us from top to bottom out here, there’s a bunch of great players. And we don’t need people saying we’re the best right now. But when it’s all said and done, I really feel like this team’s gonna win the [NFC] East.”
Congrats, Rex. That makes you the only one picking the 'Skins to win the East.
But before you full belly laugh at Rex, there are a few things to remember about these Washington Redskins:
--In the Snyder Era, the Skins have made a nasty habit of turning conventional wisdom into loud wrong. When the team carries high expectations, they don't live up to them (see the 2000 and 2006 teams). When nobody gives them a chance, they post a winning record and sneak into the playoffs (see 2005 and 2007). I haven't heard anyone predict anything beyond an 8-8 season for the 2011 Redskins, so winning a game or two more and snatching a wild-card berth wouldn't exactly rank as the craziest thing we've ever seen.
--The NFL has seen Tom Brady go from unheralded sixth round pick to three-time champion and cinch Hall-of-Famer. Kurt Warner went from bagging groceries to bagging MVP trophies. With rags-to-riches tales like that living in NFL lore, I don't see why it's so laughable to think a former 2nd round pick like John Beck can thrive under a coach with a track record for getting the most out of QBs like Mike Shanahan.
--The lower profile free agent pickups tend to work out. Think about it: best free agent pickup in the Snyder Era? Far and away that's London Fletcher. Not many heard of Marcus Washington before he came to D.C. and he became the first high-priced Redskins free agent to make the Pro Bowl. Ryan Clark played well enough for the playoff-bound 2005 team that he earned a fairly nice pay-day from Pittsburgh the following year. There wasn't as much as a ripple in the NFL landscape when the Skins signed Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen, and Josh Wilson--but I'd be willing to bet they'll perform well in this 3-4 defense.
--The Redskins' schedule isn't exactly the toughest in the world. Bottom-feeders like Buffalo and Carolina could potentially pad their win total, and I'm not sold on anyone in the NFC East as a real world-beater (no matter how many free agents Philly signs). Aside from a murder's row of games down the stretch (at Seattle, NY Jets, New England, at NY Giants, Minnesota, at Philly), the Skins don't appear to be totally outmatched by a daunting overall schedule. A fast start and a .500 record after Thanksgiving could be enough to make Grossman's words look more prophetic than pathetic.
Now, that said, I'm not outright predicting any of this will happen. As a Skins fan, I obviously hope that it does even if I think it's unlikely. All I'm saying is that if the 2010 Bucs can jump from 3-13 to 10-6 in a division as hard as the NFC South, the more experienced Redskins could win just 4 more games to hit the 10-win mark in a vastly overrated NFC East.
So as inclined as we may be to have a hearty laugh at Grossman's expense, his words may not be as insane as we might think.