Redskins can’t be satisfied with coming close

Tracee Hamilton
September 27, 2011

At some point soon, probably this season, maybe this week, Washington Redskins fans are going to have to decide: Are they going to continue to pay the mortgage on their nice three-bedroom, two-bath ranch in Moral Victory Town, or are they finally going to move to I’m Mad as Hell and I’m Not Going to Take It Anymoreville.

Your choice.

This is what happens when your team begins to show signs of life again after a lot of treading water, a lot of missed playoffs, a lot of coaching changes and quarterback changes and just changes, which tend to pile up and make us squirm.

So just to find some stability in life, you move to Moral Victory Town. It’s a nice place. Life is easy; the positive in everything just shines through. It’s a particularly nice town when the Redskins play Dallas. It’s easy to find the happy stuff, even in Monday night’s 18-16 loss. The team is certainly better than a year ago. LaRon Landry came back. And Washington very nearly won. I mean, the Redskins were really, really close to winning. On Monday Night Football. In Dallas. Time to go to the pumpkin patch!

I grew up in Moral Victory Town; I understand the allure. Come within 20 points of Nebraska: Moral Victory! Come within 20 points of Oklahoma: Moral Victory! (If my alma mater comes within 20 points of Oklahoma this year, I may move back to Moral Victory Town, maybe just find a nice timeshare to rent for a few weeks.)

But at some point, even the most patient Redskins fans — whose loyalty I admire greatly, don’t get me wrong — need to get out of Moral Victory Town before it’s too late. It’s a tough place to leave, like Hitchcock’s Bodega Bay. Still, Monday night’s loss might prompt a few “For Sale” signs.

Leaving MVT is not a sign you’re giving up on the Redskins. Just the opposite — it’s actually a sign of respect. It means you’re finally going to hold their feet to the fire. You know they can do better and you expect them to do better.

Start with that botched hold on Graham Gano’s field goal attempt in the first half. They don’t teach math in Moral Victory Town because numbers hurt, but even I can tell that field goal would have made the final score 19-18, Redskins. There should never be a botched hold. All the time the offense spends learning, apparently, 70 new plays a week? The kicking team spends that time . . . kicking. And snapping. Then kicking some more. The rest of the guys who play special teams may have other duties; the kicking team doesn’t. Unacceptable, outside the city limits of MVT.

And then there was that two-minute drill to end the first half. At the time, failing to get in the end zone may have seemed like no big deal, but I would swear we were told last season that Rex Grossman invented the two-minute drill, that no one ran it better, that he gave seminars in the offseason. Of course, that hot mess might not have been Grossman’s fault, but the coaches’. There seemed to be confusion about play calls, too many substitutions . . . just messy. A touchdown there also would have meant a win. Happy with settling for a field goal? That’s so Moral Victory Town.

That wasn’t the only failure for the Redskins. Grossman had a very costly fumble. The red zone may be the most controversial piece of real estate for Washington since the Louisiana Purchase. The Redskins lost Anthony Armstrong to a hamstring injury. The running game couldn’t get going, although part of the blame goes to a strangely slick field. There were more slip and falls than a greased pig roundup at the Texas State Fair.

Don’t worry; a higher bar is the price the Redskins must pay for improving. Expect more, and don’t feel sorry for them. Professional athletes don’t want your pity. They’ve already bought a big fixer-upper in I’m Mad as Hellville. We’ll see in the coming weeks whether they can flip that house.

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