We're getting to the point in this season where certain teams are making long-term plans while others are phoning up their college scouting departments to check out early first-round grades.
At 5-6, the Washington Redskins are one of those teams looking forward to the postseason. They are, after all, in first place after a 20-14 win over the Giants on Sunday. And while they are thinking about the postseason, they might as well be thinking about the Super Bowl, too.
Veteran Ricky Jean Francois said as much on Saturday night, just a few hours before Washington was going to take the field against the Giants. He was not being bombastic; he was just trying to convince everyone else in the room that they had a pretty good team.
"I was like, I don't know how many times we've got to hit our heads against the wall to know we have the team to actually win it all," he said on ESPN 980, via The Washington Post. "All we've just got to do is actually display it and actually believe in it.
"And I said another (thing): If you trust the man next to you, the job is gonna get done. If I can trust Jason Hatcher, I can trust Chris Baker, I can trust (Stephen) Paea, my job is easy because I know those guys gonna get that job done. We have the team to win it all. The only people that got to believe is the people inside this locker room."
This comment will get jumped on and probably mislabeled as some sort of Super Bowl guarantee. But if you actually listen to what Francois is saying, it's not that farfetched. Take the NFC East back in 2011 -- would any team have believed a member of the Giants if they said this was a collection of Super Bowl talent, especially after a four-game losing streak dropped them to .500 on Dec. 4?
Washington has a pretty good team with a very good offensive line, great offensive line coach and above average to very good wide receivers. Jay Gruden and Sean McVay have grown exponentially in their ability to call a game with Kirk Cousins behind center and defensive coordinator Joe Barry has had some strong performances too.
How far away are they from a team that gets universally accepted by pundits and analysts who bless certain teams Super Bowl contenders?
Francois is simply saying that it is up to the players around him to make that happen. And why can't they?