Monday, October 19, 2009

The Misadventures of the Washington Redskins


So the way sports work is that someone has to win and someone has to lose... but if it were possible for both teams to lose, Sunday's Washington Redskins versus Kansas City Chiefs would be a shining example of this. I actually went to the game at DC's FedEx field, and can report that when Shakespeare wrote "Never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo", it was because he hadn't lived to see this game.

I'm pretty sure neither team even made it past the fifty-yard line until about six minutes remained in the first quarter. In the end, Kansas City pulled off a 14-6 victory, but, frankly, I'm surprised there were any points on the scoreboard for either side. All points scored by both sides were the result of field goals because neither team possessed the ability to score a touchdown or even come close. Oh, and +2 for the Chiefs on a safety.

Highlights of the game? ...scratch that. Lowlights would be more appropriate. Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell lead a desperate drive at the close of the first half, comprised of the majority of the abysmal 89 yards he threw in the game. From about the 40-yard line on fourth down, they had to decide whether to attempt what would be about a 55-yard field goal, or to go for a touchdown. In another spectacle of poor decision-making, the Skins went for it. It resulted in an interception by Chiefs' cornerback Brandon Flowers with no time on the clock. And, of course, they didn't get any points out of it either. The boo that erupted from Skins fans filled the stadium for what was probably at least 10 seconds, and what, to the team, must have seemed to last an eternity. The score? 0-3, Chiefs leading.

Skins Coach and fan scapegoat Jim Zorn benched Campbell to start the second half and continued through the end of the game with backup Todd Collins. His name sounds like a mixed drink, and, honestly, Washington fans would've been better served with a glass of the hard stuff than by this QB.

Zorn claims to have made the replacement decision at some point in the second quarter, but I think he did it to appease fans who were filing out in droves after the halftime boo-fest. Collins had an early flourish in his first drive of the third quarter, completing a long pass and taking the team within field goal range. This allowed the Skins easy access to 3 points and finally got them on the board, tying the game 3-3.

Through a series of equally unimpressive plays by each side, the Chiefs found themselves ahead 12-6. With a little over 9:30 remaining in the fourth quarter, Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali sacked Collins in the end zone for a two-point safety. 14-6. And that score would stick the rest of the game. The desperate Skins even attempted an on-side kick from their own half as a last ditch attempt to come back with only seconds remaining in the game. Like almost everything else either team attempted, this too, failed. The Chiefs took a knee to burn the remaining seconds off the clock, and took their first win of the season.

After the game, Zorn was stripped of his play calling abilities, Campbell stripped of his confidence, the Redskins stripped of their dignity, and the fans stripped of their patience with all of the above.

The Redskins have now lost to the 0-19 Detroit Lions (who are bad beyond criticism... suffice to say "bless their hearts...") and the 0-10 Kansas City Chiefs. The team is just surrounded in failure, having even played every single game this season against teams who have yet to win a single game since the season start... winless, that is, until they play the Skins, which has given most of these teams their first win of the season.

Specializing in Pittsburgh sports knowledge, I can't profess to know how the Skins franchise should fix this. I don't think, however, it should be remedied with finger pointing and replacing productive changes to the game with the blame game. Everyone hits a rough patch and you can criticize and switch some things up, but you don't abandon hope. The way to dig yourself out of a hole in sports is to have faith and rally around and build on the positive. Skins fans recently had to have paper bags taken away from them at one of the games when they were planning to wear them on their heads as a symbol of their embarrassment. These same fans, no longer "Horny for Zorny" and instead hit with a case of ED as far as love for their second season coach goes, are calling far and wide for Zorn to resign or be fired.

The difference between winners and losers is that winners don't give up. You can constructively criticize your team, coaches, and players, but you don't turn on them. You don't threaten to wear paper bags to a game as a fan. You don't strip your head coach of play calling ability. You don't remove your QB and replace him mid-game to appease booing fans. You find a way to work with what you have, rather than belittling, minimizing, or sidelining it. You stand by your team, you stand up for them, and you can stand and voice your opinion if you do it constructively. And you keep standing.

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