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Posted at 10:34 AM ET, 11/18/2011

The Redskins and bad offense: a history


(Hans Deryk - AP)
The Redskins, as you might have heard, have scored 20 points over their last three games. League sources, in private conversations, have indicated that that stinks. In fact, it’s a virtually unprecedented stretch of awfulness in recent Redskins history.

Also, 22 NFL teams are currently averaging more than 20 points. Like, per game. The Redskins aren’t one of them, if you’re curious.

Because it’s Friday and I have nothing but time, I went back through the archives to find similarly anemic scoring stretches, and how they were covered by The Post. It’s not pretty. In fact, the Redskins have failed to score 21 points over three games just three other times in 50 years.

2001

During the first three games of Marty Schottenheimer’s tenure, the Jeff George experiment flamed out and the Redskins notched 16 points in three blowout losses to teams that had missed the playoffs the year before. Without knowing that the season would eventually turn around, the home fans were already booing, and the press coverage was brutal. From Mark Maske’s third gamer:

Schottenheimer said he will not resign, and sources indicated that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder will not fire Schottenheimer no matter how bad things get for the team this season. The Redskins only can hope it does not get too much worse. They have been outscored, 112-16, and Schottenheimer’s first 0-2 beginning as an NFL head coach has become his first 0-3 start.
“I’m as disappointed as I have been at any time in my coaching experience,” Schottenheimer said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been through anything like this. It just deepens my resolve, to be honest with you. It really does. It’s going to be a lot of hard work. But if that’s all it takes, then we’ll get it done.”

That was my first month at The Post, and I remember how badly Marty was being bludgeoned. He took it worse than Mike Shanahan ever has. Mike Wilbon wrote that week that he had already lost the locker room. His lede:

Even though his team has been outscored 112-16, even though his team is becoming less competitive each week, Marty Schottenheimer said yesterday that simple, old-fashioned hard work will solve what ails the Redskins. “I believe if we keep working at this diligently, it’ll resolve itself favorably,” he said.
He’s wrong.

Even the humorists, or whatever, took their shots. This was from Gene Weingarten, in the same week:

Crank up the Bandwagon. Our Redskins are on a roll, and maybe -- just maybe -- they can go all the way to a perfect losing season....
With the Redskins’ record now at 0-3 after having withstood repeated skunk-whuppings and compound-noogie head fractures and head-in-the-toilet-with-repeated-flushings at the hands of some of football’s skankiest teams, I decided to haul this buggy out of storage. It’s got a little more rust, and a brand new name. Call it the Badwagon.

Dan Snyder, meanwhile, said he was staying out of it:

“You all didn’t want me to meddle, did you?” Snyder told a luncheon gathering at the National Press Club, responding with a laugh to a question about whether he plans to take a more active role in football-related decisions. “You got what you wanted.”

What happened next? The offense continued to sputter for a few games but gradually got on track. The Redskins scored 35 and 40 points in games that season. And, of course, they closed with an 8-3 stretch to finish at .500. Wasn’t enough to earn Marty a second season, though.

1980

Led by Jack Pardee, the Redskins started the year a fairly middling 3-5, before it went much further south. The Skins were blown out by the Vikings and Bears, and then imploded in losses to the Eagles, Cowboys and Falcons, getting outscored 48-16. That ran their record to 3-10.

In the last loss, Mike Kruczek started for an injured Joe Theismann; The Post’s beat writer was not impressed.

Washington’s pop-gun offense was even more inept. With Kruczek playing, the Redskins all but eliminated any plays that even remotely could be considered daring. They were content to play for field position, run the ball often and try an occasional short pass. Washington finished with 193 total yards, its lowest output of the season.
“Mike isn’t used to reading keys and delivering the passes,” Pardee said. “But we were still playing to win, not just to keep it close.”...
The Redskins have scored only 51 points during the five-game losing streak.
And for the fourth time this season, they were held without a touchdown. It now seems as if Pardee almost has given up on trying to get into the end zone with any regularity. If Washington is to win again this season, it apparently will be on the strength of Moseley’s kicking.

Pardee didn’t use the “disappointed as I’ve ever been” language favored by Marty. Indeed, his response sounded more like the current boss.

Pardee says he is convinced the offense, which has scored only 51 points in the last five weeks, is ready to break out, as long as Theismann can hold up and provide some passing yardage. The Redskins have struggled through the air ever since Theismann was first injured, against Philadelphia three weeks ago.
What perturbs Pardee is that his team has wasted two outstanding efforts by his defense, which played well enough for the club to win against Dallas and Atlanta.
“We are finally where we want to be on defense,” Pardee said.

The columnists weren’t convinced, even those — like Ken Denlinger — who were arguing that Pardee deserved another season.

The Redskins have been dreadful most of the season, sometimes classically so, to the point even where Cooke must have considered calling some cronies in New Orleans and saying: “Ah, got any extra blank paper bags?”

And before the next game was played, The Post ran one of those “Uh, what happened?” stories that we seem to run so frequently about the Redskins. From the top:

The Washington Redskins, the Cinderella team of the 1979 National Football League season, are one of the major flops of 1980.
Jack Pardee, coach of the year in 1979, is in danger of losing his job. His team, which came within two minutes of winning the NFC East last year, goes into today’s game against San Diego at RFK Stadium with a five-game losing streak and a 3-10 record.
Instead of dreaming about the Super Bowl, as the owner Jack Kent Cooke did in training camp, the Redskins are wondering when their next touchdown might come. Instead of talking about being contenders, there is talk of rebuilding. Instead of cheers, there is criticism of everything from their lack of emotion to their postgame habit of shaking hands with their opponents.
What happened?

Well, what happened next? Theismann returned for a home game against Dan Fouts and the Chargers. Despite being 6.5-point underdogs, the Redskins walloped San Diego, scoring 40 points. They also won their final two games to finish at 6-10, scoring 31 points in the season finale. But it wasn’t enough to save Pardee’s job, and he was replaced by Joe Gibbs the next season.

(If you’re scoring at home, that means the last two times the Redskins failed to top 20 points in a three-game stretch, their coach wound up unemployed.)

1961

In what was possibly the worst season in franchise history, the Redskins started 0-9, including one three-game stretch in which they were outscored a remarkable 75-7 against the Browns, Steelers and Cardinals. The final two games were shutouts, the first time in franchise history Washington had been blanked in consecutive outings.

In the last game of that stretch, the Redskins were shut out at home, losing more yards attempting to pass (62) than they netted (48), gaining 41 yards on the ground, and never advancing past the Cardinals’ 33-yard line. Fans were not pleased.

For rookie quarterback Norman Snead of the Redskins, the catcalls were a new experience and served notice that the fans were less than fascinated by him.
George Izo replaced Snead in the third quarter and he, too, ended up hearing the bleats of long-suffering customers who paid a minimum of $6 for the right to vent their displeasure.

Shirley Povich let the team have it in his unique way that Monday, with lines like these:

* The finest compliment to the Redskins was their mere 7-0 deficit at the end of the first half.

* The designers of the new stadium had made the field 33 yards too long for the Redskins.

* The Redskins surpassed the Cardinals in only one department. They were the most kicked-off-to team on the field.

* There was a sonic discovery, too. In the design of the beautiful new stadium, the boos came out clear and unmuted.

What happened next? After their three-game streak of misery, the Redskins were 16-point underdogs to Sonny Jurgensen’s Eagles, but they only lost by three. Still, they failed to reach 10 points in eight of their 14 games, and finished 1-12-1. The next year, Bobby Mitchell arrived.

By  |  10:34 AM ET, 11/18/2011

Categories:  Redskins

 
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