Reporting David Elfin
Let’s take a breath before everyone gets all worked up over Washington’s most lopsided triumph of the Mike Shanahan era.
Sure, the Redskins walloped the Eagles and neophyte starting quarterback Nick Foles by 25 points yesterday, ending a three-game skid against Philadelphia and the inexplicable eight-game string of defeats to rookie passers that dated back to 2006.
That streak was begun by Vince Young, then with Tennessee, who last year was the backup responsible for dubbing talent-laden perennial contender Philadelphia “The Dream Team.” The Eagles are 11-15 since and Young is holding a clipboard in Buffalo behind Ryan Fitzpatrick, the last rookie quarterback whom Washington beat before Foles.
Photos: Redskins Thrash Hapless Eagles
As laughable as the Eagles, losers of six straight for the first time in all-but-certain lame duck coach Andy Reid’s 14 years, have become, the Redskins weren’t much different before yesterday’s opening kickoff.
Washington had been embarrassed at home by lowly Carolina in its last game two weeks earlier that followed a listless performance the previous Sunday in Pittsburgh. Since starting 2011 with consecutive victories in Landover, the Redskins were an ugly 6-17, 1-9 in the House That Jack Built and Danny Expanded and Then Reduced.
In other words, whipping a reeling foe with a quarterback making his first pro start didn’t turn Shanahan’s team into his 1997-98 Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos just like that. Despite the 31-6 romp, only the Panthers and the St. Louis Rams, who edged the Redskins in Week 2, are below Washington in the NFC standings.
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Yesterday’s 13 penalties, albeit most of the humdrum five-yard variety, should help Shanahan keep his players grounded after a superbly efficient performance by a struggling defense which produced more sacks (four) and turnovers (three) than points allowed and by rookie quarterback Robert Griffin, who threw three more touchdowns (four) than incompletions while averaging 13.3 yards per pass and 7.0 per carry.
“You have to look at the things you do poorly, but it’s a lot easier to look at those things after you win,” said Shanahan, who improved to 15-27 in Washington. “You have to be very tough after a win on the things you did poorly.”
While Shanahan did give the Redskins – at least those not on special teams — today off to heal, they’ll be back on the field tomorrow for their one practice before Thursday’s game at Cowboys Stadium.
“That’s a great thing,” nose tackle Barry Cofield said yesterday about the quick turnaround. You get too up after wins like this. It doesn’t give you guys a chance to tell us how great we are. By the time your heads hits the pillow tonight, it’s Dallas time.”
Cofield, a seven-year veteran who won a Super Bowl ring with the New York Giants in 2007, was echoed throughout the locker room, which was happy and relieved, but not ecstatic, about thumping the Eagles.
“At this point of the season, every game is a must-win so to start off the second half of our season with a win is something we needed to do,” said third-year tight end Logan Paulsen, who finished yesterday’s scoring with his second career touchdown. “You feel optimistic going forward, but we need to get ready for Dallas. This was done when the whistle blew. My mind immediately went to Dallas because it’s such a quick turnaround.”
Paulsen has never been part of a winning season and is winless in Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ palace where the Redskins are 0-3. But three-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker London Fletcher has started two Super Bowls and captained Washington’s last playoff team in 2007.
“We don’t have any choice but to be ready,” said the 37-year-old Fletcher, who added an ailing left ankle to his previous hamstring injury and balance issues while playing in his league-high 234th consecutive game. “Your body may not be used to [playing twice in five days] initially, but once you get you in there, get the adrenalin going, we’ll be ready to play. Wins make things hurt a little bit less. You heal a little bit quicker. Food tastes a lot better. Everything looks a little bit better.”
Including being 4-6 since it means that the Redskins are out of the NFC East basement, can tie the mercurial Cowboys for second place by winning for the first time in seven Thanksgivings in Dallas, and can close within a game and a half of the division-leading Giants, who come to Landover two weeks from tonight after facing powerful Green Bay.
David Elfin began writing about sports when he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. He is Washington’s representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and the author of seven books, most recently, “Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History.” A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan the last two Redskins seasons, he has been its columnist since last March. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidElfin