For Redskins, pervasive skepticism comes with the territory

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 01: Head coach Jay Gruden of the Washington Redskins looks on against the New York Giants in the third quarter at FedExField on January 1, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 01: Head coach Jay Gruden of the Washington Redskins looks on against the New York Giants in the third quarter at FedExField on January 1, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The Redskins’ last two seasons have each seen them accumulate winning records. But ask any fan, and you’ll know that they aren’t winners yet.

If one were to conduct a study on which NFL team produces the most stress in its fan base, the Redskins would likely be somewhere near the top. The Lions would also be pretty high up (I should know), the Patriots might as well, just for the amount of sheer big games they play, and the Falcons very well could’ve produced the most fan stress in history in one game after their Super Bowl defeat.

Football is surprisingly stressful to watch. And the Redskins haven’t been kind to their fans over the years. Go to D.C. and you’ll find at least one or two baby boomers who can attribute some of their gray hairs to a missed field goal or an interception. The Redskins haven’t simply lost a lot in the last two decades. The losses have been plentiful, painful, and amazingly unique and different with each occurrence.

For this reason, it’s easy to see why skepticism remains pervasive in Washington, despite the Redskins’ sudden contention in the NFC East. When the team went 9-7 in 2015, winning the division title, fans were ecstatic, receiving a taste of succulent success that seldom came to the capital. However, now in 2017, where the Redskins remain on the doorstep, fans are skeptical.

“I mean, obviously, it’s doom and gloom if we lose, and we’re going to go undefeated if we win.” – Jay Gruden

Jay Gruden joked of the fanbase’s bipolar nature during a press conference, but it’s true. Redskins fans don’t have the luxury of foresight. Patriots fans know what to expect from their team. And Jets fans this year, as sad as they may be, know what to expect from their team as well.

But with the Redskins, all predictions are void. Pundits were higher than high on the team before the 2013 season, and we all know what happened then. And in contrast, Washington was expected to be a bottom feeder in 2015. And in the end, they conquered the embattled NFC East. With the Redskins, no one knows what will happen after the coin is flipped. It’s not as simple as heads or tails.

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It’s been like this for years and years. Too long for most to remember that there was a better time once. The team today flaunts its enriching history without hesitation, but they’ve yet been able to make their own history in the present day.

This team has had their moments. Kirk Cousins‘ win against the Buccaneers in Week 7 of 2015 was the burgundy and gold’s greatest comeback of all time, and his words ‘You like that’ will forever be immortalized in Redskins lore. Whether Cousins is remembered as a hero or a deserter by Redskins fans in the years to come, his play, his energy, and his words will never be forgotten. That day was a good day for Redskins fans. But days like that haven’t come around often enough.

Today won’t be one of those days. And neither will tomorrow. Redskins players signed autographs at Andrews Air Force Base after practice, and tomorrow, they’ll ready up for gameday at FedEx Field, taking on the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3 of preseason. A simple glorified practice, if you will. But nonetheless important for a team such as the Redskins, who need a rhythm by season’s beginning if they wish to stay in the hunt.

Redskins fans are devoted. No one can slight them from recognition. And we may get a bit excited, whether it’s “doom and gloom” after a loss, or “the Super Bowl’s ours” after a win. But that’s what’s so great about football. There’s room for unabashed excitement week in and week out.

Fans will have plenty to get excited about in the team’s preseason matchup on Sunday, but one would be wise to take any season predictions, both optimistic and pessimistic, with a grain of salt.

Next: 5 bold predictions for Redskins in preseason Week 3

After all, skepticism comes with the territory in Washington. It’s best to just accept it, and embrace it. So when the team does well later on, you can be pleasantly surprised.