WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- It's beginning to look likely that the Redskins have begun the early process of becoming the 2000's Philadelphia Eagles -- a franchise who dominated the NFC East and were legitimate Super Bowl contenders for 10 straight seasons.
After we all realized how gifted Robert Griffin III was -- not only in terms of talent, but contagious leadership -- we knew this day would eventually come. But this wasn't supposed to happen this early.
Not with a secondary on pace to become one of the worst in NFL history. Not with a typical makeshift Redskins offensive line that supposedly went unaddressed in free agency or the draft. Not with this outlandish college-style pistol offense. Not with one of the least explosive wide receiving corps in the league.
Not with a 37-year-old linebacker as your best defensive player. Not when your offensive coordinator and wide receiver cost you games for taunting penalties -- or how about not when you're close to leading the league in penalties. Not with the loss of Brian Orakpo, Adam Carriker, Fred Davis and several players who violated the NFL's drug policy.
Not in a division with the defending Super Bowl champs. Not in a division with some of the most dynamic passing games in the entire NFL. Not in a division with veteran experience at critical positions.
This extreme transformation from a franchise who is used to firing employees the day after the season instead of wearing NFC East title hats was supposed to happen in 2015. Mike Shanahan was supposed to gracefully step aside as the head coach to hand the reins over to his son Kyle, taking a less stressful position in the front office. At least that's what every single one of us thought in mid-October.
ESPN's Dan Graziano hit the nail on the head with his Mike Shanahan column. This excerpt was my favorite.
"We've cut 150 players since I've been here and only one is starting for another team -- Carlos Rogers in San Francisco. We've got a whole new team."
The myth that Mike Shanahan is not good at making personnel decisions is officially dead.
The Redskins late round gems sparked this preposterous/dazzling/city uniting playoff run. Without them, half the Washington roster is booking tee times in Florida this week or exotic vacations in the Barbados.
Sixth-rounder Alfred Morris may actually end up garnering more rookie of the year votes than Robert Griffin III, after officially posting the best season a running back has ever had in D.C. Fifth-rounder Niles Paul's kick return in the fourth quarter was essential to victory over Dallas. Who would've thought undrafted free agent Logan Paulsen could do more than block? Sixth-rounder Aldrick Robinson's speed duped Philadelphia and Dallas in back-to-back weeks, stretching out the offense (especially for upcoming teams watching film), literally making it totally unstoppable.
Seventh-rounder Richard Crawford won the Baltimore game with his legs and prevented Dallas from taking a dreaded early 7-0 lead with his hands and instincts on a Tony Romo interception. There were multiple people in the stands Sunday night sporting Kai Forbath jersey's -- yes the undrafted kicker. And most of you know where I stand on Kirk Cousins.
That's not even mentioning the fringe guys tons of NFL coaches would've cut, like the now famous seventh-rounder Rob "Jack City" Jackson, or Reed Doughty, who has stunned hardcore fans with his newfound abilities in the second half.
And how about the most glaring in-season personnel change that many thought was inevitable: firing defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. Shanahan stuck by his guy, even with a capable Raheem Morris patiently waiting in the bullpen. In turn, Haslett resurrected the defense from the ashes, disguising their weaknesses, and put them in positions to make turnovers.
The Redskins may dump Seattle and Atlanta like they have their seven previous opponents, and advance to the NFC Championship game -- not even that extravagant of a prediction at this point. Or they may finally fizzle out on what has become an even more unlikely dream season than the 2012 Davey Johnson-led Nats produced.
Regardless, the Washington Redskins are only in their infancy stages as contenders. Mike Shanahan's personnel prowess has been vindicated, and should be worshiped and unquestioned from here on out by fans, media and front office people in the business.
You better believe the rest of the NFL is nervous with how good this franchise can potentially become.