Wednesday, November 10, 2010 11:45 AM
By Rich Tandler
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For the past decade, the Washington Redskins have been miserable in the second half of the season. They are hoping that their new coach can bring some of his past success in November and December to Washington. Mike Shanahans Broncos went 42-30 in the last eight games of the season from 2000-2008. Can his success closing out the season convey to the 2010 Redskins? Here is an in-depth look. From 2000 through 2009, the Redskins have been respectable in the first half of the season. In 80 first-half games they are a .500 team, going 40-40. They have continued that break-even trend this year, going 4-4 in the first eight games of 2010. The Redskins have been all over the board in the first half. Their best record was 6-2, in 2000 and 2008. Washingtons worst was 2-6, in 2000, 2003, 2008, and 2009. They have been 5-3 twice (2005, 2007), 4-4 one other time prior to this year, in 2002, and 3-5 four times (2001, 2003, 2004, 2006). Usually a team at .500 or within a game of it at midseason is on the fringe of playoff contention. However, making the playoffs under those circumstances requires a strong second-half finish and that is where the Redskins have come up short year after year. Washington is 30-50 in the second half of the season since 2000. Im sure that you can do the math and figure out that is an average finish of 3-5. That is not what a team hovering around .500 needs for a playoff push. As noted above, four times the Redskins have finished the year 2-6, in 2000, 2003, 2008, and 2009. As the sharp readers will note, two of those years are the ones in which they had their two best starts to seasons at 6-2. Norv Turners 2000 Redskins went into the season with high expectations. They had finished 2000 with their first NFC East title since 1991. New owner Dan Snyder went out and signed Deion Sanders, Jeff George, and Bruce Smith in an attempt to buy a push to the top. They stumbled out of the gate at 1-2 but they right the ship and tore off five wins in a row. But the expected playoff appearance never materialized. The killer was a four-game losing streak in November and December. The first two losses, at home to the Eagles and Giants, cost Turner his job. The last two came under interim coach Terry Robiskie. The 2008 collapse from 6-2 to a .500 finish is fresh enough in everyones mind that it does not need to be recounted here. The Redskins best finishes were 5-3 marks recorded in 2001 and in 2005. In 01, Marty Schottenheimers Redskins started the year 0-5 and then won five in a row to get to .500 after in games. After a brief flirtation with a longshot opportunity for a playoff spot, they went 3-3 the rest of the way. The 2005 season was the Redskins best of the decade. They were 5-3 in both halves of the season, earning a Wild Card spot in the playoffs. The second half was very uneven. They lost games 9, 10, and 11 at Tampa and at home to Oakland and San Diego, respectively. At 5-6, it looked like a promising season was going down the drain. But they rallied and win their last five, capping off the streak with smashing home wins over the Cowboys and Giants before clinching the playoff spot in the season finale in Philadelphia. They finished 4-4 in 2007 and they did so in similar fashion to the way they finished in 05. After starting the year 5-3 they went into a tailspin, losing four straight. Then in the first half of their 13th game of the year, against the Bears, Jason Campbell went out with a knee injury and Todd Collins came in at quarterback. The Redskins won that game and the next three to get a Wild Card spot at 4-4. Washington had 3-5 records in the second half of the 2002 and 2004 seasons. Only once, in 2001, did the Redskins post a better record in the second half of the season than they did in the first half. Shanahans finishes shine in comparison Mike Shanahan was the head coach of the Denver Broncos from 1995 through 2008. Looking just at the comparable years to those discussed above, 2000-2008, Shanahans Broncos went 42-30 in the second half of the year, a winning percentage of .583. His worst finish was 3-5, in 2006 and in 2002. Twice, in 2000 and 2005, the Broncos put the pedal to the metal and roared to 7-1 marks in the last eight games. Just twice did the Broncos finish at worse than .500, posting 3-5 records in 2002 and 2006. Shanahans Broncos posted a worse record in the second half of the season compared to the first half three times, in 2002, 2006, and 2008. Shanahan doesnt fare quite as well when we examine his what have you done for me lately numbers. In his last three years in Denver he had the 3-5 record in 2006 and then he went 4-4 in 07 and 08. Still, that comes to 11-13, a winning percentage of .458. If the Redskins had performed at a .458 winning percentage in the past decade they may have snagged another playoff spot or two. Is light training camp the key? One thing jumps out when trying to figure out why Shanahans Broncos were better than the Redskins in the second half of the year. Its that the Broncos were just better than the Redskins, period. Overall the Redskins went 70-90 (.437) from 2000-2009. In Shanahans nine years with the Broncos last decade the team went 85-59 for a .590 winning percentage. So it would make sense that Shanahans Broncos would have a better second-half record since they were, by nearly any measure you choose to examine, the superior team. But there may be something else at work here. At Denver and this year in Washington, Shanahan ran a camp that was very player friendly. Translated, that means that was not very physically demanding. The coach believes in saving the players strength for the regular season. Perhaps this will help the Redskins in the second half of the year. If they have fresher legs than the teams that they are playing, it could make a difference in December. We will have to see how it plays out. If Washington has a Redskins-like second half of 2010, they will finish with a losing record and well out of the playoffs. Should they have a Shanahan-like conclusion to this year, they may well be in the thick of the playoff chase. Denver Broncos 2000-2008 Season 1st Half 2nd half Final 2000 4-4 7-1 11-5 2001 4-4 4-4 8-8 2002 6-2 3-5 9-7 2003 5-3 5-3 10-6 2004 5-3 5-3 10-6 2005 6-2 7-1 13-3 2006 6-2 3-5 9-7 2007 3-5 4-4 7-9 2008 4-4 4-4 8-8 9 yrs. 43-29 (.597) 42-30 (.583) 85-59 (.590)
Washington Redskins 2000-2009 Season 1st Half 2nd half Final 2000 6-2 2-6 8-8 2001 3-5 5-3 8-8 2002 4-4 3-5 7-9 2003 3-5 2-6 5-11 2004 3-5 3-5 6-10 2005 5-3 5-3 106 2005 3-5 2-6 5-11 2007 5-3 4-4 9-7 2008 6-2 2-6 8-8 2009 2-6 2-6 4-12 10 yrs 40-40 (.500) 30-50 (.375) 70-90 (.437)
Made playoffsJoin Rich Tandler for an in-game chat from the press box at FedEx Field during the Redskins-Eagles game on Monday night. Things will get underway onwww.CSNwashington.comshortly before kickoff and continue all game long.You can reach Rich by email atRTandlerCSN@comcast.netand follow him on Twitter@RealRedskins.