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Sizing Up the Redskins’ 2018 Schedule

Galdi gives his likes and dislikes from the Redskins’ 2018 schedule

Let’s begin by acknowledging that analysis of NFL schedules in April often looks comical by December.  We have no idea who will be hurt and when.  We have no idea who will be playing well and when.  Each NFL season is filled with teams that were supposed to be good but aren’t and vice versa.  Look at the Redskins’ 2017 season.  Nobody thought in April that a Christmas Eve game against Denver would be easy, and yet it was (27-11 win), and that was despite the Redskins being absurdly injured at that point.  But conversely, how many people thought last April that the Redskins would lose two games to Philadelphia by a combined score of 64-41?  As Jim Mora once said, “You think you know, but you don’t know.  And you never will.”  And that goes for all of us.

All of that said, there’s nothing wrong with a little over-analyzing.  So here are some overreaction likes and dislikes on the Redskins’ 2018 schedule, which came out on Thursday night.

I like that the Redskins’ Week 1 game is a road game and at Arizona – Jay Gruden is 0-4 as Redskins head coach in Week 1 games: loss at Houston in 2014, loss to Miami in 2015, loss to Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football in 2016, loss to Philadelphia in 2017.  Three of those losses were at FedEx Field.  I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the Redskins being 0-1 under Jay and usually with that loss having happened at home.  The Cardinals don’t figure to be good, so this would seem to be a beatable opponent.  And if it’s not, at least you haven’t already burned a home game on your schedule.

I like that the Redskins’ lone trip out west comes in Week 1 – NFL teams hate traveling across the country.  The Redskins last season played three games out west, though the Skins did go 2-1 in those games (wins at the Rams and Seattle, loss at the Chargers).  Better, though, to get the trip out west out of the way early.

I do not like that the Redskins’ bye week is Week 4 – This doesn’t seem fair, as the Redskins also had an early bye week last season (Week 5).  To me, you always want a mid-season bye.  How nice would a bye week last season in Week 8, Week 9 or Week 10 have been given the Redskins’ absurd amount of injuries?  Teams normally aren’t that injured in Week 4 or Week 5.  The Redskins did have mid-season byes from 2014-16 (Week 10 in 2014, Week 8 in 2015, Week 9 in 2016), so you could say that the Redskins were due to have early byes in back-to-back seasons.  But still, this is not good.

I like that the Redskins get a mini-bye week late in the season – The Redskins are playing on Thanksgiving for a third consecutive season (at Dallas on Nov. 22), but their next game after that is at Philadelphia on Monday Night Football on Dec. 3.  Yes, that’s a rough back-to-back run having to play at the Cowboys and then at the Eagles, but having 10 days between those two games should help.  By the way, the Redskins will become just the third team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to play on three consecutive Thanksgivings, joining the St. Louis Cardinals (1975-77) and Chicago Bears (1979-81).  And there’s no mystery as to why we’re getting Redskins-Cowboys on Thanksgiving.  Redskins-Cowboys on Thanksgiving 2016 was the most-watched regular-season game in FOX’s history with an average of 35.1 million viewers.

I do not like that the Redskins don’t play an NFC East game until home to Dallas in Week 7 – I’ll grant you that this could prove to be a positive, as maybe it takes a while for Alex Smith to truly click in Jay Gruden’s offense (as it took a while for Kirk Cousins to truly click in Jay’s offense in Kirk’s first season as Redskins starting quarterback in 2015).  But, in general, I like for the Redskins to be able to accumulate some division wins early in seasons.  I like for the Redskins to be able to, as Eddie Jordan once said regarding the Wizards, harvest their nuts.

Newly signed Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith, left, poses with Doug Williams, the NFL football team’s senior vice president of player personnel, during a news conference Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

I like that the Redskins have a chance for a hot start – Yes, every team has a chance for a hot start.  But four of the Redskins’ first six games and five of the Redskins’ first eight games are at FedEx Field.  The Redskins’ first two games are at Arizona and home to Indianapolis – the Cardinals and Colts went a combined 12-20 last season.

I do not like that the Redskins would seem to be in trouble if they don’t get off to a hot start – From Week 10 through Week 16, the Redskins play five of seven games on the road.  And how about Redskins-Eagles in 2018?  The Redskins don’t play Philadelphia until December, during which we’ll get the Redskins taking on the defending Super Bowl champions twice over the final five weeks.  Again, who knows what will be going on for each team at that point, but given that Carson Wentz is coming off a torn left ACL suffered last December, facing him early this coming season would appear to be more favorable than facing him later.

I like that the Redskins have just two primetime games – Jay has said that if it was up to him, the Redskins would play nothing by 1 p.m. games on Sundays.  I agree, and not just because I do a weekday-morning show that begins at 5 a.m.  I’ve got to think that most coaches and players don’t like waiting around all day to play a game that won’t begin until past 8 p.m.  The Redskins played five primetime games last season, including a stretch of three in four games in five weeks (the win over Oakland on Sunday Night Football on Sept. 24 followed by the loss at Kansas City on Monday Night Football on Oct. 2 and then the loss at Philadelphia on Monday Night Football on Oct. 23).  That was too much.  Having two primetime games is more reasonable.

I do not like that the Redskins’ two primetime games are two games on Monday Night Football – The games are at New Orleans on Oct. 8 and at Philadelphia on Dec. 3.  The Redskins are 2-13 on Monday Night Football since the start of the 2008 season and 4-18 on Monday Night Football since the start of the 2001 season.

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