A Tale of Two Seasons Part 1: The Best of Times...

Monday February 5th, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS - Super Bowl LII MVP, Kirk Cousins, just can't catch a break. After leading the Washington Redskins to their first championship in almost 30 years, the highest-paid player in NFL history created a mini stir at the postgame podium when he gleefully declared he was "ecstatic" to meet with President Donald Trump at the White House when his team was invited. This drew the ire of fellow teammates and social media almost immediately--including a 5,000 word thinkpiece from The Undefeated's Mike Wise titled, "Players Should Only Listen To Me About Social Issues"-- but, heavy weighs the crown for the new king of the league. After one of the most impossible and improbable runs in recent memory, let's take a look back at just how the hell the 2017 Redskins managed to pull it off.

Week 1 vs Philadelphia - Washington began the season at a blistering pace, with the new-look defense dominating second-year Eagles quarterback, Carson Wentz. Defensive Rookie of the Year, Jonathan Allen, bullied the Philly offensive line all afternoon, while fellow first-year starter, Ryan Anderson, led the team in tackles. Cousins put up video game numbers, assisted by multiple highlight grabs from Josh Doctson and Pro Bowler, Terrelle Pryor. Coach Jay Gruden deflected multiple questions after the game inquiring why the team only managed to run the ball 15 times, despite leading comfortably the entire contest. 106.7 The Fan's Grant and Danny quickly went on record that "led by Kirk Cousins, THIS is the year." 

Week 3 vs Oakland - In what would turn out to be a Super Bowl LII preview, the Redskins were massacred at home by the aerial assault of Derek Carr and the Raiders. Josh Norman set an NFL record by committing 11 penalties. Not to be outdone, signal caller Kirk Cousins managed four interceptions and a meager 180 yards through the air on 40 attempts. The Redskins home, primetime, nationally-televised record dropped to 2-189 at FedEx Field (numbers approximate). Nationally accredited, recognized and premier Redskins blog, Fifty Gut, called this the "lowest point in the post-Shanahan Era." 

Week 8 vs Dallas - After suffering a disappointing loss to the rival Eagles the week before, the Redskins limped into the first Cowboys matchup as a team looking for its identity. That personality was discovered in the form of rookie running back, Samaje "The Machine" Perine. With incumbent RB "Fat" Rob Kelley unable to generate a consistent ground attack and Cousins throwing his league-leading 13th interception, a flustered Gruden rode the rookie like Seabiscuit. A late Josh Norman pick-6 off of sophomore-slumping Dak Prescott sealed the victory and placed Washington above .500 again on the season. ESPN radio personality, Clinton Yates, dubbed them "the best 4-3 team in the league." 

Week 12 vs New York - Trent Williams made his triumphant return to the lineup after serving a two-game suspension for body-slamming pesky Seattle CB Richard Sherman in the Redskins week nine matchup vs the Seahawks. With the balanced attack of Perine contributing his fourth straight 100-yard performance and TE Jordan Reed catching his 10th and 11th touchdowns of the year, Washington broke the primetime home game curse and ate turkey with dressing all night long, in a Thanksgiving night beatdown of their division foes. 

Week 15 vs Arizona - Fighting for a first-round bye at 9-4, the Redskins headed confidently into a monster late season game with the NFC West-leading Cardinals. Despite an impassioned plea via an extremely long and in-depth column from Washington Post writer, Dan Steinberg, to not flex the game to primetime, the league moved the kickoff to 8:25pm anyway. The FedEx Field fans became intoxicated with the performance of wide receiver, Jamison Crowder, who put on a show scoring on a reverse, a receiving touchdown and a punt return touchdown. Pass rusher, Ryan Kerrigan, who had been playing possum most of the season with only five sacks, managed a game-clinching QB takedown in the final minutes.

Divisional Round vs Green Bay - Seeking revenge from the lashing taken in the playoffs two seasons earlier, the Redskins survived an otherworldly Aaron Rodgers performance by completing the first postseason Hail Mary in team history. Josh Doctson leapt above all defenders as the underthrown and wobbly Cousins pass fell from the sky. Fox announcer, Joe Buck, was left in shock on-air, as color commentator, Troy Aikman simply mumbled "dammit" over and over again. The game would quickly receive the moniker of the "FedEx Fairytale" by the national media. 

Conference Championship at Carolina - Vegas oddsmakers had Washington as  9-point underdogs versus the overwhelming attack of Cam Newton and the Panthers. That line was quickly proven to be inaccurate, as the Redskins raced out to a 28-3 lead by halftime. D.J. Swearinger and Zach Brown led the defense with an interception and touchdown each. Michael Jordan crying memes were plastered onto Newton's face on twitter at a blistering pace. However, a third quarter injury to Perine slowed the offense of Washington, placing pressure back to Cousins, who responded with three second half picks. Only a last-second missed field goal by Carolina was able halt the collapse. Regardless, any pessimism was quickly dismissed, as Washington was finally headed to...

Super Bowl LII vs Oakland- Returning to the city of their last Super Bowl victory 26 years prior, the Redskins charged into Minneapolis looking for payback from the throttling received from the Raiders in week 3. LB Preston Smith stripped Oakland RB Marshawn Lynch on the first play from scrimmage and Washington never looked back. With Norman blanketing Amari Cooper and Derek Carr locking eyes with DE Jonathan Allen all night, the silver and black constantly sputtered on offense. Conversely, the Washington offense and Kirk Cousins were unstoppable, as if he sucked the powers from Newton and Rodgers in the previous weeks and unleashed them on Oakland. Television ratings in the D.C. metropolitan area were the highest in history, mostly from Washington playing, but also because a blizzard crippled the area and made all travel impossible.

The 2017 Washington Redskins were full of unlikely heroes, who reaped the benefits of unlikely results and flourished to become unlikely champions. In the tale of this city, it was the best of times...

(Ah, fiction. Wasn't that great? Be sure to read next week's "The Worst of Times..." to hear the alternative side).