9News Now's David Elfin is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame
LANDOVER, Md. (WUSA) -- Only one Redskin who was part of Washington's last three playoff teams: the 1999 NFC East champions and the 2005 and 2007 wild-card qualifiers still wears the burgundy and gold uniform.
That would be fullback Mike Sellers, whom then-general manager Charley Casserly signed out of the Canadian Football League in January 1998. Mostly a special-teamer during his first three Washington season, Sellers left for Cleveland as a free agent in 2001 only to be brought back by coach Joe Gibbs in 2004 after washing out with the Browns and being out of the league for two years.
In his 12th season in Washington, the 36-year-old Sellers senses something special about the current Redskins that's akin to the positive aura that surrounded the 1999, 2005 and 2007 editions.
"It's just a vibe that you can feel," Sellers said in an exclusive interview with WUSA9.com. "In 1999, it was about the quarterback (Brad Johnson, who passed for 4,005 yards, second-most in franchise history) and guys like (third-down back/return specialist) Brian Mitchell, who knew how to win. In those other years, it started with Coach Gibbs. Now it starts with Coach (Mike) Shanahan. Guys are playing together, playing for each other. No one's complaining about his role."
Chief among those good soldiers is Sellers, along with receiver Anthony Armstrong, defensive end Kedric Golston and outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, one of four starters from the train wreck that was Washington's 6-10 season of 2010 who have been supplanted this year.
"When they told me that (24-year-old Darrel Young) was taking my job, I could have been upset," said Sellers, who has had his moments of volatility over the years. "I could have asked for my release. But I had seen too many guys react that way, making it all about them. I want to be a role model, show guys what it means to be part of a team instead of a bunch of individuals. You could tell back in training camp that this team had a totally different vibe from last year. My football career's treading on thin ice and I want to win a Super Bowl now."
Forecasting these Redskins to be playing on the first Sunday of February in Indianapolis is a major stretch at this point. Quarterback Rex Grossman can be counted on for a turnover or two every week and neither the receivers nor the offensive line are top-notch. Washington might not have a true No. 1 back who can stay healthy. The much-improved defense isn't forcing many turnovers despite its formidable sack numbers and stout play on third downs. The field goal unit had gaffes in each of the first three games before the punt coverage team committed consecutive personal fouls in Week 4.
And yet, if the Redskins can continue Philadelphia's rapidly mounting woes on Sunday in the House that Jack Built and that Dan Over-Expanded, they'll drop the defending division champion Eagles virtually out of the NFC East race. The New York Giants, whom the Redskins have already beaten by two touchdowns, and the Dallas Cowboys, who rallied to deal Washington its only defeat in the final minutes, face serious challenges on Sunday from the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots, both of whom are 4-1.
In sum, a Washington victory and losses by Dallas and New York would leave the NFC East standings looking like this on Monday:
Improbable, sure. Unlikely, not so much. What's more, just four of Washington's remaining 11 games are against teams with winning records (the Bills, Patriots, Giants and the San Francisco 49ers).
In any case, Sellers is certainly a believer in these upstart 3-1 Redskins, who've already topped the victory total predicted by ESPN The Magazine and matched Sports Illustrated's forecast.
"When Coach Gibbs was here, you just had confidence that we would get the job done even if it didn't always work out that way," Sellers said. "It's the same way with Coach Shanahan. There's just confidence with him."
And who am I to argue with the 6-foot-3, 272-pound tough guy?
By David Elfin
9NEWS NOW and wusa9.com
9NEWS NOW's Redskins Insider, David Elfin, has covered sports since he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1975. He is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is the author of five books on the Redskins including the new "Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History."