Skins Openers: Is Losing Better?
This begins the D.C. Sports Bog's special seven-and-a-half hour kickoff show. Stay tuned for special updates from the New Jersey parking lots, where we'll see how the NFL new fan policies are doing.
"Season openers set a big standard for the team," Chris Cooley said last year after the dramatic season-opening win over the Dolphins. The thought would seem to make sense, and to be sure, we'll all pass plenty of judgment tonight. But the thing is, the numbers don't really back Cooley up, at least not recently. Quite the contrary, actually.
Since their last Super Bowl win--a mostly gloomy 16-year span of FedExile and Cerrotism--the Redskins have gone 9-7 in season openers. In the winning years, they've gone on to finish 54-80-1 in their remaining games, a .putrid 400 winning percentage. Following season-opening wins, the Skins have made the playoffs twice, winning just one game.
Like, the photo above? It's from 1993, a 35-16 Monday Night rout of the Cowboys. The caption? "Skins running back Brian Mitchell heads for a hole that you can drive a truck through by the blocking of Raleigh McKenzie (left) and Ricky Sanders (right)." Optimism must have been running similarly free, with truck-sized holes of hope and promise. But then came a six-game losing streak, a 4-12 last-place finish, and the departure of Richie Pettibon.
And as for the seven season-opening losses in that span? In those years, the Redskins have gone on to finish 50-55 in their remaining games, a .476 winning percentage, still bad but significantly better than their results after season-opening wins. Following season-opening losses, the Skins have also made the playoffs twice, winning two games. You could certainly argue that Washington's best team since the Super Bowl was Norv Turner's 1999 squad, which very nearly went to the NFC championship game after a season-opening home loss to Dallas.
So whatever happens tonight, don't despair. At least the game promises to be blessedly free of fake Greek temples or references to Sarah Palin's family.
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