When the Redskins were in deep denial, sometime in August, the goals were winning the NFC East, getting to the playoffs and perhaps more. As the injuries to the offensive line and the losses mounted, as Jim Zorn's headset was all but turned off, Washington's woeful football team began to reassess, and the talk among management and players became of getting back to .500, of clicking both schematically and emotionally before the midway point of the season.
Now it's pretty much purgatory, an excruciating eight-week waiting period to answer only the largest questions a franchise can ask itself: Who's going to be the quarterback next season? Who's going to be the coach next season? And will the owner truly entertain thoughts of firing his longtime confidante who put the team together?
Now, after the most embarrassing and poorly executed first half of this increasingly depressing season, there is one goal dovetailing into one not-altogether bizarre question: Can the Redskins win another game this season?
Given how well the offense played in the second half against Atlanta, asking that might seem harsh and brutal. But then, so is the remainder of the schedule.
The Redskins' worst detractors never imagined 4-12 or, who knows at this point, 3-13? Really, it's not unfathomable anymore to see Washington finish 2-14, loser of 12 straight. At best, how can anyone make a realistic case for anything more than five wins after what they saw on Sunday?
Maybe the most dangerous development for the Redskins was how good the offense actually looked after the Falcons stormed to a 24-3 lead.
Yeah, it had to feel good to see Jason Campbell rolling right forever, finding Todd Yoder cutting across the back of the end zone, almost the way Joe Montana found another No. 87, Dwight Clark, in the 1981 NFC championship game. While not exactly the Catch, it was a catch, and it happened inside the 20-yard line in a big spot to get the Redskins to 24-17.
But that kind of anomaly tricks players and coaches searching for anything hopeful into believing that they're not the sorry team that had the exact same amount of yards in total offense as they did in penalties (69 yards) in the first half.
Mike Williams was a turnstile on an offensive line that gave up five sacks in the first half, a line so bad Campbell could have retained a personal-injury lawyer at halftime to sue his own teammates and nobody would have blamed him.
That kind of comeback in the second half gives people amnesia about LaRon Landry's dirty hit on Matt Ryan, or his go-for-the-legs tackle attempt on a run by Michael Turner that looked as if he was afraid of getting trucked by another tailback lowering his shoulder and that ended with Turner running away into the end zone.