The Washington Redskins have long been one of the marquee franchises in the NFL, but two decades of futility have finally caught up to a franchise that has five championships (three Super Bowls, two NFL titles). 2020 has been a bizarre year as the Redskins will not have a primetime game for the first time since 1982 (per the Washington Times).
No matter how poor Washington has been, the Redskins always managed to get one primetime game per year. Those days are over, even though the NFL did pin the Redskins against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving (where they are the only game played in that time slot). That's the only time the whole nation will get to watch the Redskins in 2020, showcasing how far the franchise has fallen over the past 20 years.
This isn't a coincidence the Redskins aren't playing on a national stage, even though it's been a long time coming. There are plenty of reasons why the Redskins aren't in primetime this year and we'll break down how a franchise that plays in the NFC East can't appear in a single night game.
1. Lack of star power
Before jumping down my throat here regarding Chase Young, the No. 2 overall draft pick unfortunately doesn't draw the same eyeballs to a television as Tua Tagovailoa or any other quarterback drafted high in the first round. The Redskins did not make the wrong pick in selecting Young, who makes their defensive line arguably one of the best in the league.
There just isn't much to sell with the Redskins outside of their defensive front, even though teams should be terrified of Young, Jonathan Allen, Da'Ron Payne, Montez Sweat, Matthew Ioannidis and Ryan Kerrigan. Adrian Peterson isn't at his MVP level anymore and Terry McLaurin isn't established enough to be a feature on a primetime telecast (he's still a very good wide receiver). New head coach Ron Rivera can't even get Washington a night game.
The Redskins made the right coaching hire in Rivera and the right decision in drafting Young. They just don't have enough to warrant a primetime date.
Haskins was the Redskins' first-round pick in 2019, but he was far from franchise quarterback material in his rookie season. He did improve as the Redskins season went on, but struggled for the majority of his rookie campaign. Haskins completed 58.6% of his passes and threw for 1,365 yards, seven touchdowns, seven interceptions and finished with a 76.1 rating.
The Redskins pass offense was one of the worst in the NFL, averaging 175.8 yards a game (last in the league) and 5.9 yards per pass (29th). Washington was last in points per game (16.6) and 31st in yards (274.7), which spoke to Haskins' struggles early in the year. It's not just Haskins, but he didn't exactly make the Redskins offense better either.
There's no guarantee Haskins is going to be the starting quarterback in Washington. Are networks going to take that risk and broadcast a primetime game if Kyle Allen is starting? Highly doubt it.
3. The Redskins just haven't been good
Looking back at the past two decades, it's amazing how the Redskins actually won three Super Bowls. That was before Daniel Snyder bought the team and sentenced them to oblivion. Washington has 12 losing seasons, only three NFC East titles, and just two playoff victories (the Redskins haven't won a playoff game since 2005) since Snyder bought the team in 1999.
The Redskins were decent over the past few seasons, having back-to-back winning records in 2015 and 2016 followed by a pair of 7-9 campaigns in 2017 and 2018. Sadly that 31-32-1 stretch is better than the four-year run the Redskins had when Joe Gibbs came out of retirement for his second stint as head coach, when they went 30-34 with two playoff appearances from 2004 to 2007.
Washington has just been an embarrassing franchise that somehow got on the primetime stage because of its prestige from a dominant run in the 1980s and early 1990s, which was 30 years ago.
Added to their rivalries with the Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants in the NFC East was an easy draw for primetime, but these matchups have been one sided over the past few years. The Redskins haven't beaten the Eagles since 2016 and are 1-7 against the Cowboys in their last eight meetings, making it hard to pin them against the division's best in a primetime slot.
Doesn't help the Redskins are 1-7 in their last eight primetime contests either, being outscored 232-134.
4. Tom Brady
Brady is with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who tied for the NFL lead with five primetime games this season. Tampa had just 17 primetime games total over the past 15 seasons, showcasing the appeal of Brady's star power in the NFC.
Every network is curious to see how Brady fares in his new destination (and in a new conference). Doesn't hurt Tampa has plenty of high-profile matchups and Brady is in. Brady's presence in the NFC impacted the Redskins not getting a primetime game.
Perhaps if the Redskins played the Buccaneers (like the New York Giants are in 2020 thanks to finishing third in the NFC East), Washington gets a primetime game. Blame Brady and his new team for shuffling up the primetime schedule.