Keeping Tabs on Washington's Team

Running the Numbers: Stats Don't Smile on Redskins

No one skewed the numbers like Mike Zorn, so who really knows?

By Janie Campbell
|  Thursday, Aug 26, 2010  |  Updated 7:46 PM EDT
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Ah, fall. That magical time of year when a young man's (or woman's) fancy turns to preparing his inmost being for the upcoming disappointments of Redskins football.

If alcohol is relative to losses, exactly how big a shopping cart is necessary? With a loose variable like Mike Zorn last year, how skewed is the historical data? And at what point should he turn to Kleenex or Kool-Aid?

It's an emotional time, and it's best to be prepared as much as possible. Enter WaPo's Thomas Boswell with some cold, hard numbers that all but tell us to abandon hope:

In the last 20 years, 18 teams that went 4-12 switched coaches. Their average record the next season was 7-9. Since '90, there have been 54 teams that lost 11 or more games, then got a new coach before the next season. How many made the playoff the first year? Ten of 54, or just 19 percent...

In the last 20 years, 115 NFL teams have changed coaches after the season. Just 17 of them - or 14.9 percent - improved by five wins. That should be sobering. But it gets worse. Of the 17 teams that showed big jumps, how many went backward in the new coach's second season? Answer: 13 of the 17.

So prepare yourself....Washington plays seven games against teams that won 11 to 14 games last year and four more against .500-or-better teams.

The stats would be extra disturbing were he not speaking to Redskins fans, who now resemble those small and formerly communist countries that continue suffering corrupt governments out of habit. They're your team, so you love them, even if there's just a miniscule chance entropy reigns and a monkey types Shakespeare all the way to the Super Bowl.

Considering this monkey is Dan Snyder, well, Zorn's variable might have had the gravitational pull of a black hole, but there's a very terrible and very constant mean at work here. And the man on whom the defense rests -- Albert Haynesworth -- is the very embodiment of Snyder's bad averages.

There's also a problem of depth, fewer good targets than Donovan McNabb is accustomed to, a harsh schedule, and a ground game on its last, old legs. But some team has to take the high line, and if the Dolphins have beat the odds, why not Washington? Numbers, after all, don't play football, and they can be ignored at both peril and mental well-being.

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