Redskins hope to escape win-one, lose-one pattern

Washington Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams (71) advances a fumble as Carolina Panthers defensive end Mario Addison (97) attempts the tackle in the fourth quarter.Photo: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Mediocrity has defined the Washington Redskins throughout Jay Gruden's five-year tenure as head coach.

Yes, the Redskins have an NFC East title and a playoff berth during that time. They also have been stuck at or near .500 for almost the entirety of that stretch other than Gruden's 4-12 rookie season in 2014.

This year things are no different: A win, a loss, a win, a loss, a win. That has Washington at 3-2 and in first place in the NFC East by half a game. The Redskins also know they haven't played well enough to think about a division title or playoff berth - yet.

"It's hard to explain. I think if we could put a stop to it, we probably would've put a stop to it a long time ago," left tackle Trent Williams said. "It's one of those things in football it's hard to answer. No matter what you come up with during the week and what you talk about and think that it's going to change, the only thing that is going to matter is what happens on Sunday."

Washington is 27-25-1 since the start of the 2015 season. At this time last year the Redskins were 3-2. The year before they were 2-3. They won two games in a row just twice last season and never three.

They had a four-game win streak in 2016. They also had two two-game losing streaks and a loss and a tie in consecutive weeks that year.

Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys gives the Redskins a chance to be two games over .500 for the first time since they were 8-6-1 after Week 16 of the 2016 season. That gave them a win-and-you're-in finale against the New York Giants. They lost at home 19-10.

"We've been hovering around .500 the last three years here, or four years, I guess it is," Gruden said. "That's something we have to do, we have to handle success equally as well as we handle adversity. These guys have to come in and prepare and understand what's at stake here every week. Every team is a different opponent with great challenges and Dallas is no different."

SERIES HISTORY: 115th regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead series, 70-42-2 and have won four in a and row six of the past seven. The Redskins are 2-0 in playoff games between the two teams.