With the Redskins’ 2013 regular season opponent already known, tonight’s NFL schedule release merely lets fans and teams know when the games will be played.
Three opponents that comprise more than one-third of the schedule are the Redskins’ long-time NFC East rivals: the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.
The Redskins had tremendous divisional success last season, going 5-1 for the first time since 2005. That success included five straight wins over division opponents in the seven-game streak to the playoffs.
With so much at stake in these interdivision matchups, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan has been keeping an eye on his NFC East neighbors this offseason, especially the flurry of activity in Philadelphia.
“What I do, is I go back and I looked at [new Eagles’ head coach Chip Kelly’s] whole season last year,” he told Redskins.comTV earlier this offseason. “You go back and always study the Giants, you’re always going to study the Cowboys, [with new defensive coordinator] Monte Kiffin coming into Dallas.”
With Kelly’s arrival in Philadelphia, the Eagles are expected to embrace a more mobile offensive attack, following in the footsteps of the Redskins under
Michael Vick, who at one time looked to be on the outs with the Eagles, has been retained and could find new life under Kelly’s system that worked so well at Oregon.
Kiffin’s arrival in Dallas following the departure of former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan could signal a move to the base 4-3, Tampa-2 defense that Kiffin ran so well with the Buccaneers.
Shanahan admitted that moves like these are taken into account with regards to how the Redskins approach the NFL draft and free agency during the offseason.
“That’s part of our job, to keep on getting better,” he said. “What you try to do is upgrade your personnel as much as you can, and what you’re doing is you’re looking at the opposition and making sure that you do match up.
“It’s an ongoing process. It’s something that I enjoy. It’s not easy but it’s a lot of fun.”
Shanahan Accepts 16-Game Format
One thing that we do know going into tonight’s schedule release is that there will only be 16 games on the docket.
While discussions have been ongoing for several years about the possibility of an 18-game format, Shanahan has decided not to get mixed up in hypotheticals.
“It’s one of those things that you adjust [to],” he said of the current format. “Some things you’ll really like, others you’re not really sure of. What you have to do is you have to get your mind set on whatever they decide. Sometimes they ask you your opinion. Most of the time they don’t, but they do it for the right reasons.
“They’re trying to do what’s best for the National Football League [and] sometimes we find out the decisions are very good and other times maybe ‘hey we shouldn’t of made those decisions.’ At the end of the day, as a coach what I think you’ve got to be able to do is adjust. Whatever it is, we’re excited to keep on working and getting better.”