SNIDER: Skins schedule not fit for a rookie passer


The NFL schedule makers just gave Redskins veteran quarterbacks Case Keenum and Colt McCoy a big edge over any potential rookie passer.

Washington plays four 2018 playoff teams in its first five games. That’s not the time for a learning curve. If the Redskins can’t emerge at least 2-3 after opening at Philadelphia before hosting Dallas and Chicago, then traveling to the New York Giants before returning home against New England then the season is shot and the Jay Gruden countdown clock begins.

Gruden all but held up a sign recently when saying it wouldn’t be easy for a rookie to start right away and the schedule confirmed it. If the Redskins are serious about their typical band-aid approach to staying near .500, they can’t push all chips in on a rookie passer against this schedule.

Not that it gets any easier later, but McCoy or Keenum need to shoulder the early going. If the team sinks by midseason, then a rookie can take over.

That may be the plan anyway, though owner Dan Snyder likes to market his first-round passers right away. Nobody buys a new jersey for later.

The season’s final weeks are also interesting. After playing at Green Bay on Dec. 8 (Week 14) in what’s sure to be the coldest game of the season, Washington finishes with home games against Philadelphia and New York Giants before ending at Dallas. Three straight division games give the Redskins the chance to earn their destiny, but unless this new quarterback is the second coming of Dan Marino, the Redskins will go quietly into the night.

At least there’s no Thanksgiving game for the fourth straight year. Indeed, NFL execs obviously don’t expect much from Washington given no Sunday night game and only a required Thursday nighter at Minnesota (Week 8) and a Monday nighter versus the Bears (Week 3). That’s good news for a team that nearly always plays its worst after dark.

Overall, it’s a fair schedule. There are no extended road trips or West Coast games. The bye comes at nearly midseason in Week 10. It allows the Redskins to become what they’re capable of regardless of limited expectations. But, it also has the potential for a bad beginning and worse ending if Washington suffers massive injuries for the third straight year.

Meanwhile, Gruden must be thinking how he might have to prepare a rookie passer for opening weeks against some of the NFL’s tougher teams if the Redskins draft one in the first round on April 25. There will be no grace period nor any mercy shown. To anyone.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks