Welcome to the best NFL offseason series you'll ever read -- that is, if you're like me, and you want nothing more than the blissful lie that your team will be good in 2019. How Your Team Won Super Bowl 54 will take you through each NFL franchise with one goal in mind: convincing you that there's at least one universe in which Your Team wins it all. I'm Doctor Strange, you're Tony Stark, the Avengers are Your Team, Thanos is...Bill Belichick? I've lost the metaphor.
One thing's for sure:
You'll die in the end. Your Team is going to win Super Bowl 54.
How quickly can we blow it all up?
It usually looks different, for a team in desperate need of a hard reset. They typically don't have the young quarterback worth building around -- just middling first-round picks that must be packaged, parceled, and parlayed into a Top-5 selections for a franchise-saving arm. But Washington got Dwayne Haskins to fall into their lap in the 2019 NFL Draft -- and while they don't yet have the proof that he is franchise-worthy, they're ahead of schedule.
But that could prove dangerous. With a promising season from Haskins, the Redskins could make the mistake of prolonging the tenure of their coaching staff and their current offensive weapons, for the sake of stability. But if you have something legit in Haskins, why tag him with infrastructure that almost certainly doesn't have the goods? Whereas, with the young QB in place, high-caliber GM and HC candidates might find your job openings more attractive than those that still need to find their guy.
Haskins is the future, and accordingly, everyone else should be up in the air -- only those who support Haskins and his development get to remain.
Now, raise your hands if you think owner Dan Snyder is equipped to pull something like this off.
Ownership is bad in Washington, and when ownership is bad, it seeps into every fold of the team. Washington had one of the best draft classes of 2019, off of many experts' analysis -- including those here. But that success just circles back to the chaos of the NFL Draft far before it highlights any sort of stability in Washington. Yeah, we like the players they picked -- but with much the same front office in place last year, they took Da'Ron Payne at 13 and Geron Christian in the third round.
I don't know if the Washington Redskins scouting department is bad -- but I do know that this team has been generally unsuccessful for the last five years. Part of that goes on the front office -- especially when you consider that they're paying a combined $37.7M to Josh Norman, Jordan Reed, Paul Richardson, and Vernon Davis in 2019. That doesn't even include Alex Smith's unavoidable, but still unfortunate $20M burden as he rehabs.
And coaching-wise? Gruden has been unable to coach Washington above the talent of Dallas or the aggressiveness of Philadelphia for his entire tenure. Maybe he isn't bad, but there's no reason to believe he's good.
And yet, everyone remains in place as Washington is mired in mediocrity, scandal, and drama. We all know that the biggest advantage in pro football (not named Bill Belichick) is the cost-controlled quarterback -- Washington had Kirk Cousins on a fourth-rounder's contract through 2015, franchised him twice, never attracted/drafted enough talent to build a competitor, and eventually lost him and Kendall Fuller for Alex Smith.
There is no reason to expect Washington to be good, because they have been bad-to-middling for a while, and nothing has changed between now and then.
The only path to Super Bowl 54 is a franchise shift, a franchise whiplash, a franchise quantum leap. Sell the team, get an aggressive owner, drag yourself out of the analytics cellar, shed some of these woeful contracts, and build around Haskins. (All by September, thank you very much -- you've got a Super Bowl to win.)
How the 2019 Washington Redskins became the Army Black Knights
With a shockingly quick franchise reload and Super Bowl 54 victory comes, of course, the copycats. And what will they be copying from Washington -- what's the one thing on this godforsaken roster that went well for Washington?
In the sweet name of Clinton Portis, it's the running backs.
When Washington won Super Bowl 54, it was because they ran the ball 35 times a game. They rotated Adrian Peterson, who sold 10 years off the end of his life in exchange for one more year of 2012 spryness, with Derrius Guice, who spent his redshirted rookie year making enough money as an online gamer that he can carry the ball 1600 times on his rookie deal. They sprinkle in Chris Thompson and Bryce Love and Samaje Perine and holy smokes this team really has five running backs that actually matter.
Okay, so now you have to evolve fully into Army football. Go wishbone, full house, and run every snap out of the pistol. Convert Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat to blocking tight ends -- you're gonna possess the ball for 43 minutes a game, might as well let them see the field. Put Landon Collins in at fullback and trade all of your receivers except for Trey Quinn, who will see 23 targets (all on 3rd down) and catch 21 balls for 21 conversions. The league is getting smaller, faster, spread-i-er -- and it's leaving you in the dust. So zig opposite the zag, Washington, you hopeless and forsaken team.
Run the ball. Up the middle and with a grinder's mentality. Passing is for cowards who can't protect a three-point lead.
How The Redskins Won Super Bowl 54
In an effort to complete their option package, the Redskins trade for RGIII again, and by Week 14 he breaks the single-season rushing record for QBs. The Redskins beat the Rams in the NFC Championship Game 7-0 -- the Rams get two offensive possessions all game, and McVay's left frothing at the podium at 2:30 A.M., demanding all the blame for the loss -- before facing Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in Super Bowl 54. They let Kansas City score on the first drive before lifting their brush and palette and executing the longest drive in NFL history: 56 minutes and 24 seconds. With :00 on the clock, they attempt a 2-pt conversion -- as was recommended by their now robust analytics department -- and win 8-7.
How many universes does this happen in?
None out of 1000. The Redskins are bad.
How does it all go wrong?
By starting the season strong-ish (again) only to face legit opponents by midseason and watch everything come crashing down. Just this time, their QB won't get injured.