It all comes down to one game.
If the Washington Football Team can get a win against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, they will win the NFC East. This would be the first time Washington has made the playoffs since 2015. With everything this team has had to overcome, THEY ARE STILL HERE with a chance to play for the division. A chance to not just play for a division championship, but for a Super Bowl Championship. The thing is, once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen. You just have to be better than the team you are playing against for that one day. You need things to work in your favor and next thing you know, you are playing for a Super Bowl trophy. I know a lot of you reading this are saying "Super Bowl??!! Washington is not coming anywhere close to a Super Bowl team", and that may be true, but if they win Sunday, that impossibility turns into a possibility whether people want to admit it or not.
What if Washington loses Sunday? Does that make this season a failure? I don't believe that to be so in the least. If Washington loses, they will finish 6-10, a mark many considered to be on the high end prior to the season's start. It will not be a failure if they do not win, but it will be a tremendous disappointment. It would be a let down to the players and coaches involved, and even more so to the fans who are starving to have a reason to cheer for the team. A division championship would be a power step in the right direction even if it's only with a 7-9 record. They would finish the season 5-2 with a couple of statement wins along the way if they are able to indeed clinch. That's a building block towards sustained excellence.
Today, it was reported that Washington is planning to start quarterback Alex Smith on Sunday. The team went 0-2 in the games Alex did not start in, but were 4-1 with him as the starter prior to that. Washington hopes it can recapture its winning ways with Smith under center. This will be Smith's first game playing since being named a team captain a couple of weeks ago along with Chase Young. Smith embodies everything this team should represent because he has exhibited resilience, toughness, intelligence, discipline, consistency, and above all, the ability to be a leader of men. Smith's comeback story has already been a complete success because he is able to walk, but if he leads this team into Philadelphia and comes away with a victory on Sunday, it will become something you only see in the movies ladies and gentlemen.
The recipe for Washington isn't any different than it has been in order to win:
Don't turn the football over.
Eliminate unforced errors including penalties.
Maintain balance on the offensive side of the football.
Score points early in the game.
Be the beast defensively that they are built to be.
Sunday is not the time to hold back anything. Sunday is not the time to be conservative. Sunday is the time you play as if you have everything to lose. You empty the proverbial clip in Philadelphia and you worry about how you are going to reload later. Washington has to be able to look back at this game and say "we did everything we could to win this game and we left everything out on the field". If they do that, talent alone is going to beat the Eagles. If Washington plays as hard as they can, and as smart as they can, there are a select number of teams that can beat them. Problem is, we haven't seen that team I speak of for four quarters all season. We have seen them only in the second halves of games when they have to fight their way back and can't afford to make a mistake; especially defensively where they seem to be almost unable to be scored on in the second half of games.
It will be nice to see if the team can put it together this last game from all facets; special teams, offense, and defense for four straight quarters and ride that wave right into FedEx next week against whoever their challenger would be, but first thing's first. If they handle their business on Sunday, this team becomes part of the elite group that gets to play for the ultimate prize. That's all you can ask for...a chance...but they have to take care of the obstacle in front of them. The circumstance is simple to understand...they win, they in...they lose, they out. No getting around it and hoping somebody else helps them out. Bottom line, GET IT DONE...no excuses...no remorse. As you were...
Photo Credit: Elijah Walter Griffin Sr./Washington Football Team