Tandler's Take: How to Get to the Playoffs

The Washington Redskins have made the playoffs just once since Joe Gibbs left following the 1992 season. Here's what has to happen for them to return to postseason play in the first season of Gibbs II:

Get 1,500 yards from an offensive skill player—The obvious candidates here are running back Clinton Portis and receiver Laveranues Coles. Portis would just have to match the production of his first two years in the league to get to this mark. Such production would break the team record for rushing yardage in a season and keep the offense rolling.

Coles would have to improve on his total of just over 1,200 yards from last year to get to a buck and a half. Such a feat that will be made easier to achieve by the new emphasis on enforcement of the downfield contact rules and the fact that, unlike last year, the Redskins will be running an actual NFL offense coached by actual pro coaches this year.

Get double-digit sacks from a defensive player—Given the current defensive starters, it seems likely that if the Redskins are to get 10+ sacks from one player it would be from the linebacker spot, either from Lavar Arrington or Marcus Washington.

Get two dozen interceptions—This goes hand in hand with the sacks key above. Gregg Williams' gambling defense will certainly yield some big plays for the opposition. They will need to get some themselves to compensate.

Get some breaks—The team won't necessarily have to get lucky to make the playoffs, but the more that goes right the better the chances will be. Breaks can take many forms. The tipped ball falls into a Redskin's arms. The other coach's red flag gets stuck in his pocket when a call that would likely be overturned on replay goes Washington's way. What looks like a bad knee injury to a key player turns out to be just a mild sprain. A broken play turns into a big gainer at an important juncture of the game.

Get good seasons out of some unexpected players—This could be tight end Chris Cooley coming up with 40 catches and 8 touchdowns. It could be Derrick Dockery making the Pro Bowl. Perhaps Shawn Springs will play virtually every defensive down and get 10 interceptions. Career years out of several players on a team leads to magical seasons.

Get to a winning record in the division—NFC East play has been a huge obstacle for the Redskins in recent seasons. Given that the division is solid but not exceptionally strong this year, a 4-2 division record is realistic and would give Washington a leg up in the playoff race.

Get to being a dominating team at home—The non-division home schedule is stacked with solid teams. Washington will face the Buccaneers, just a year removed from their championship season, the tough Ravens led by Ray Lewis, the Favre-led Packers, the up and coming Bengals, and the dangerous Vikings at FedEx Field this year. The non-NFC East schedule on the road—Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco—doesn't look too daunting but it won't mean much if the Skins can't protect their own house against some tough invaders.

It's all there for the Washington Redskins. All they have to do is go out and get it.

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