The Skins & their fans are feeling all right. Photo - Larry French/Getty Images North America
Accustomed to seeing their favorite team correctly regarded as doormats, Redskins fans can be forgiven for blinking in surprise to find the team suddenly the talk of the football world and soaring up the assorted power rankings. [DC Pro has them at 8th overall. See 32 other rankings here.] As Bruce DePuyt of News Channel 8 writes, it isn't just us at DC Pro that are ranking the Skins in the "top tier."
In fact, of the nearly three dozen power rankings compiled by the DC Pro Sports Report, the vast majority – 25 of 33 – put the Redskins eighth. Others have the club between ninth and 13th (except for the Baltimore Sun which, remarkably, thinks the ‘Skins are the seventh best squad in pro football). ...
Why are the Redskins gaining respect? Blogger Tom Threlkeld says a lot of teams that played well early – like the Ravens, Steelers and Giants – have stumbled.
In addition, folks took notice of how the team played without its star QB last week. “A lot of people were particularly impressed by the Cleveland win,” Threlkeld says.
As for the remainder of the regular season, Threlkeld – a Redskins fan since childhood – admits he’s a bit nervous. “We’ve seen how the Redskins handle adversity – quite well. What we don’t know is how they’ll handle prosperity.”
I think that's the question foremost in the minds of most Redskins fans right now. [And perhaps a few Redskins players.] The Skins have shown brief flashes of ability before, only to sink back into mediocrity or worse, betrayed by a perennial lack of elite talent. This time seems different, though. Washington has the best rookie passer in the league [apologies to the terrific Russell Wilson], who is, in fact, one of the top quarterbacks overall. The Redskins also have the NFL's second-leading rusher, two top offensive linemen [Trent Williams and Will Montgomery], a stud wideout in Pierre Garcon who is finally healthy, and a defense that scares no one, but has clearly improved in the last month or so.
Just as importantly, the Skins are one of the healthier teams in the league. Washington lost top players like OLB Brian Orakpo, DE Adam Carriker and TE Fred Davis earlier in the season and have had weeks and months to adjust. With Montgomery, RT Tyler Polumbus and QB Robert Griffin III all apparently making quick recoveries from their injuries -- and with a more than competent backup QB waiting in case he's needed -- Redskins fans can be forgiven for feeling something unfamiliar to them -- optimism.