|Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins and head coach Jay Gruden. USA Today|
The thought is hilarious. Here are some of my favorite excerpts from the piece, which you can read in full here:
And so fine, more data. As I type, the Redskins are 14-point underdogs this weekend. Since 2011, NFL road teams that are at least 14-point underdogs are 0-23. Since 2007, the Patriots are 17-0 when favored by at least 14 points. And since Daniel Snyder bought the Redskins, they’re 1-10 when double-digit underdogs, with the only win coming as a 10-point underdog, which is an awful long distance from the full 14.
I mean, the Redskins have topped 35 points once in Jay Gruden’s 23 games. The Patriots are averaging more than 35 points a game. Heck, when Clinton Portis was asked on the team’s flagship station to lay out the blueprint for a Redskins win, he declined. “I just don’t see it [as] possible,” he said.
And consider the advantages of my plan:
* An extra bye week. Sure, the Redskins already are coming off a bye, but they won’t be against the Saints — unless they innovate. NFL teams are 9-5 coming off the bye week this season, and 243-200-3 since 2003, if you count the playoffs. Why not give yourself that bye-week bounce? (Yes, counting top-seeded home playoff teams in that stat is total bunk, but if you’re expecting rigorous statistical analysis in this particular item, you probably also believe The Onion needs to beef up its regulatory coverage.)
* Health. DeSean Jackson is finally ready to play. Jordan Reed seems relatively okay. Kerrigan and Chris Culliver are plucky, but banged-up. These are all key pieces, and they’re all currently fragile. Why waste any of their health points in a lost cause? Is Bernie Sanders going to pour precious resources into Alabama? Is The Washington Post going to spend marketing money hawking print subscriptions to millennials? And seriously, can you imagine the agony if Jackson or Reed gets injured during a 14-point loss to the Patriots and then can’t play against New Orleans?
* The real goal of this season is in the final record, not some underdog triumph. You can lose by 45 points in New England and still make the playoffs — just ask the 2007 Redskins. There’s no shame in conceding a sure loss, especially if it gives you a better chance to beat the Saints, which is the real point. The next five games — Patriots, Saints, Panthers, Giants, Cowboys — will tell the story of this season. Surrounded by two road games against undefeated foes, the Saints game is thus crucial to a second-half run. All resources must be consolidated for that contest.
* Innovation. I heard my friend Kevin Sheehan argue on ESPN 980 this week that the Redskins should use an onside kick for every kickoff this weekend, and should attempt to convert every fourth down. He was joking. Sort of. But the fact is, in dire situations, teams are rewarded for thinking outside the musty, mud-filled box of conventional NFL thinking. Be bold. Be different.
And it’s not like the expected result here is a secret. Even Gruden has been talking to his players about the point spread, telling them Wednesday that it was 14.5.
“You’ve got to know where you’re at,” Josh LeRibeus explained. “Put a little extra fight in the dog, you know? It wasn’t like ‘Oh ,we’re going to get our [redacted] kicked,’ nothing like that. It’s, ‘We’re going to play harder and kick the [redacted] out of them.’ “
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