Monday, November 17, 2014

Sad Times Again For A Redskin Fan

I've been a Redskins fan since the early 1980s.  That means I've seen the glory days of the franchise with their trio of Super Bowl titles from 1982 to 1991 ... and the tundra that has been the last two decades.  I've seen the amazing Hogs, Doug Williams' brilliant second quarter of Super Bowl XXII and that dominant season on 1991.  I've also watched the team I love turn into a laughingstock on and off the field.

Joe Gibbs.  John Riggins.  Timmy Smith.  Art Monk.  Darrell Green.  Charles Mann. Ricky Sanders.  Gary Clark. Mark Rypien.  Brian Mitchell.  RFK Stadium. Jack Kent Cooke.

Heath Schuler.  Jason Campbell.  Desmond Howard.  Patrick Ramsey.  Trading away Champ Bailey.  Steve Spurrier.  Albert Haynesworth.  Sean Taylor's murder.  FedEx Field.  Dan Snyder.

Well, there was Joe Gibbs again.

It makes no sense, really.  Sports teams do go into funks, but this is rather ridiculous.  Since 1992, the January of the Skins last Super Bowl victory, the NFL has added the Panthers, Jaguars, Texans and the Browns again.  The Rams and Raiders left L.A., the Oilers left Houston and the original Browns turned into the Ravens.  Those Ravens, which play up the street, have won two Super Bowls since becoming a franchise while the Redskins have only won just three playoff games since they won Super Bowl XXVI.

Why, after 23 years, am I venting on my blog that I've run since 2004 right now?  Because yesterday's game just felt differently than most of the 219 regular season losses we've suffered since beating the Bills in 1992.  Losing to the abysmal Tampa Bay Buccaneers ... at home ... after a bye week ... seems like a bottom.  I mean, it is one thing to just be a bad team with a slim ability to win NFL games and playing this bad.  It is another when you were wins over Minnesota and Tampa Bay (very winnable games) from being 5-5 right now and in a playoff chase.

In my Redskins fandom lifetime, the most frustrated I have ever been at the Redskins was easily the night of November 23, 1997.  That was the Sunday Night Football game that ended in a 7-7 tie against the Giants.  You know the game ... especially if you are a Redskins fan.  That was the game where quarterback Gus Frerrotte celebrated a touchdown run by slamming his head into the wall and injuring his neck.  That was also the game in which receiver Michael Westbrook caught a pass for a first down in overtime that put Washington in a position to win the game with a field goal.  Westbrook, whose NFL career was noted for this play and beating up Stephen Davis in practice, was so stoked about picking up the key first down that he took off his helmet and slammed it on the field.  The 15-yard penalty for the celebration pushed the Redskins out of field goal range and cost the team a key win.

The Redskins finished the season two games back of the Giants for the NFC East title and a half-game back of the Vikings and Lions for a wildcard spot.  Since Washington beat Detroit during the season, the tie against the G-men did cost the Redskins a playoff spot.

Sunday's game against the Bucs may not stick in my memory like that one did, but it stings.  While there were tempered expectations entering the season, fans still had to like the fact that the offense seemed to have a bunch of nice weapons.  Plus, RG3 had a full offseason of health ... and there's a new coach ... and the NFC East didn't look that daunting.  No big expectations, but there was a chance if things fell right.


Not only has this season been one big egg, but the future that once seemed so bright now seems so murky.  Is Jay Gruden the right coach?  Is Robert Griffin III the right quarterback?  Is it time for Brian Orakpo to go?  Is there anything worth saving from this roster?  Will it ever change?  Add to this to entire dark cloud of the team's nickname hanging over the franchise for, maybe, ever and this isn't a proud time for the Skins.  Really, will the fortunes ever change?

It seemed so two years ago.  Then, a rookie Griffin took this franchise, along with fellow rookies Alfred Morris and Kirk Cousins, and rode a 7-game winning streak to an NFC East title.   A franchise that laid dormant for most of two decades finally had some young studs that not only were talented, but the envy of the league.  Their playoff game against the Seahawks that season seems to be the day it all changed.  Not only was that the game that RG3 shredded his knee, the Redskins were winning that game before he left the field.

It has been all downhill since then and, unlike the 20 years prior, this was sinking fast.

No luck.  Pun intended.

See, Andrew Luck was the pick right before the Redskins selected RG3 and he's the toast of the future of the NFL.  Now the Redskins, have one QB who is labeled injury-prone and that was just booed off the field against the Bucs and another in Cousins who just showed the league that he can't take care of the football.  What was once viewed as an area of strength may now need to be revisited.
After all, Griffin is only signed through the 2015 season with a team option for 2016.  That option will have to be picked up after this season and will pay him at least the average of the top ten salaried QBs.  Considering what the Redskins paid for RG3 (which ironically saw the bill fully paid this offseason when the Rams got the Redskins' No. 2 overall draft pick), it would seem they'd pick up that option.  But who knows.

If not, then it would be just another in a long line of gaffes from this franchise.  Not only did you bust up your franchise quarterback, but you gave up so much to get him that you lost guys who you could build around.

In a division where every team is uber rich and has their own cache, it isn't that easy to quickly move up the ladder.  And frustration just festers.

Happy Thanksgiving.

No comments: