Another catchable ball squirted through another open receiver’s fingers Sunday, and Yahaira Stewart was tapping nervously on the table with one hand while pressing her other hand to the tip of her nose.
The Redskins were scrambling to overcome a two-score deficit late in the fourth quarter and miscues were becoming a hallmark of Washington’s offense. With each passing one, the Dumfries resident grew less optimistic about her team’s chances to win this game and, more broadly, deliver the long-awaited turnabout to the franchise she thought was nearly certain with the arrival of quarterback Robert Griffin III.
The dawning of hope that coincided with the arrival of RGIII has been snuffed out. The trials of Robert Griffin III have taken its place.
“It’s dead,” Stewart, 31, said as she watched the Redskins lose at home 21-13 to the Carolina Panthers. “We’re halfway through the season and we’re no better than we were last year.”
The pronouncement of death wasn’t supposed to happen. The Redskins (3-6) picked an electrifying talent in this spring’s NFL draft who was supposed to once again lift the franchise to glory. Expectations soared. Now the Redskins have lost three straight headed into their bye week and, like that of many Redskins fans, Stewart’s confidence over Washington’s ability to keep pace with the other teams in their division and make the playoffs has all but sunk.
“I’m prayerful for a turnaround but right now it’s like this,” said Stewart, shrugging with her palms to the ceiling. “How does RGIII feel about being on a team like this? We’re not going anywhere.”
Griffin finished the game completing 23 of 39 passes for 215 yards. He handed off with under two minutes left to running back Evan Royster, who scored on a touchdown from two yards out that kept alive Washington’s streak of recording at least one touchdown in every game this season.
But Stewart didn’t know whether to feel excited about the team’s determination or appalled that one of the NFL’s high-octane offenses — the Redskins average 26.6 points per game — was suddenly dysfunctional. Fans at Grand Slam were unequivocal in their belief that Griffin III is all they expected him to be, even greater. The pieces around him are the problem. Instead of the Heisman winner applying his cologne of winning to the team, its stink has gotten on him.
With Washington trailing 14-3 midway through the second quarter, Richard Myles was hopeful as Griffin marched the Redskins down the field to the Panthers’ seven yard line. But the Skins turned the ball over on downs after four straight running plays got turned back by the Panthers (2-6). Myles took off his black Redskins cap and pressed his fingers to his temples before going table to table inside Grand Slam and barking his disgust.
“The play selection was terrible,” said Myles, a Northwest resident who is chairman and CEO of the Minor Football League. “That’s a disgrace.
“The Redskins are running three plays. That shows that [offensive coordinator] Kyle Shanahan should be fired. You’ve got a premiere dropback passer, and they won’t open the offense up to him.”
Redskins receivers didn’t drop as many of Griffin’s passes on Sunday as they did last week at the Steelers, but they had some late in the game that made a key drive stall. At the end of the third quarter, with Washington trailing 14-6, wideout Josh Morgan missed on a routine short pass that could have helped extend the drive, and the Redskins punted on the next play.
On Carolina’s next possession, quarterback Cam Newton hooked up with Armanti Edwards for an 82-yard pass. Three plays later, Newton scored on a one-yard touchdown run up the middle and pushed the Panthers’ advantage to 21-6. A Washington fan who identified himself as Free slipped on his burgundy and black Redskins coat that listed on the back of it the date of every Washington victory over the Cowboys, finished his drink and headed for the door. “Ridiculous,” he said
A ray of confidence emerged from the back of the sports bar, almost lost among the groans of long suffering fans.
“Everybody has to be patient and not think they’re going to be great right away. It doesn’t work like that,” said Will Brown of Northwest. “This is the second year they’ve had a real general manager, and that’s the most important thing fans need to realize. Considering everything they gave up to get RGIII, they’re going to have to piece it together. It’s just going to take some time.
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