Season Is Slipping Away For Redskins
Monday, October 16, 2006
As the last desperate pass of another lost afternoon wobbled into the hands of Tennessee Titans safety Lamont Thompson for an interception, some 88,000 people rushed for the FedEx Field exits at once. Loyalty was a casualty of the Washington Redskins' ineptitude in the second half, and as a sellout crowd made its way to the parking lots, the home team in last place in the NFC East, the sound of protest came in the form of loud and prolonged boos.
How had things gone so wrong? After marching to within two games of the Super Bowl last January, this was supposed to be the season Washington's NFL team finished the charge. With a new offensive coordinator, two new wide receivers and two defensive stars, the Redskins were supposed to walk through games like yesterday's with the Tennessee Titans.
Instead they are 2-4 after being overrun by one of the worst teams in the league, 25-22 losers to a club that until yesterday hadn't won a game this year.
"Obviously this was a huge, bitter disappointment for me," a grim Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said after the game. "It's all of us together and certainly that starts with me."
This was a theme he would revisit several times in a 10-minute postgame news conference. In fact, he said some variation of "all of us together" three times in his opening statement alone.
But in trying to assess how a season of so much promise could fall apart, Gibbs might be right. The Redskins have not done anything particularly well this year. Yesterday, their floundering offense produced only three strong, sustained drives. Their defense -- considered a strength -- allowed a running back, Travis Henry, whose career has been in decline, to run for 178 yards. They even had a punt blocked into the end zone for a safety.
Sometimes, the worst place to find perspective on a struggling football team is in its locker room after a loss. Yesterday, the Redskins' was no exception as players grasped at reasons for a seemingly inexplicable defeat and their poor start.
"The biggest thing is we need to find guys who want to go out and whup somebody," said cornerback Shawn Springs, who played in his first game after missing the first five weeks of the regular season with groin and abdominal injuries.
When asked if this meant he thought the team was too soft, he shook his head. "Softness isn't the word," Springs said. "You have to be able to do something good, you've got to explode and go make plays."
Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd was asked by a television reporter what he thought was the most frustrating aspect of the offense.
"Losing," he snapped.
Perhaps no one took the defeat as hard as defensive end Phillip Daniels, who was the last player to undress and shower. He stalked around the room, clad in towels and wearing a scowl on his face.