All right, Redskin fans, all together now. Say the words out loud. Face the worst.
Oh and 16.
Oooooh and 16.
Zero for '81.
First in war, first in peace and last in the NFC East.
Foul words, but no fouler than the Redskins' work Sunday when mediocrity paraded naked. Error so closely followed error these Deadskins seemed the Tampa Bay of the '80s. From his Memorial seat, Abe Lincoln covered his eyes.
A farsighted optimist might say ooooh and 16, while terrible, yet is bearable because it will give the Redskins the very first pick in the '82 draft.
No it won't. The Redskins traded that No. 1 to get guard Russ Grimm on this year's third round, the 69th player chosen.
If, to imagine the worst, Herschel Walker turns pro . . . or if Marcus Allen accepts the Heisman saying he wants to play in the nation's capital . . . the Redskins can't draft either.
Bobby Beathard, the general manager, took a left guard instead.
Imagine. No Marcus Allen because you wanted this year's 69th player. To get a No. 1 next year, the Redskins must trade -- and which Redskin will bring a No. 1?
Nobody. Most NFL teams don't trade No. 1s, especially for a guy off an ooooh-and-16 outfit.
The Redskins' next draft includes Nos. 2, 3 and either 4 or 5, depending on compensation due St. Louis for Terry Metcalf.
As long as we're imagining, imagine Joe Gibbs in a padded room staring at the latest Redskin horror movie. Imagine Gibbs screaming, "Didja see that bozo dunderhead play?" One does not need great imaginative powers to imagine this.
Look at three plays of Sunday . . .
Mike Nelms, a defensive back, failed to notice a pass had been thrown. The receiver passed him even as Nelms maintained his ready stance, wondering where the play would go. The 49ers already led, 24-3, but the meaningless play worried fuddy-duddies who believe a pass defender should notice passes.
Still at 24-3, Tony Peters threw his body onto a punt rolling dead at the feet of several 49ers on the Redskins' eight-yard line. By that leap, Peters gained nothing and risked fumbling. Some NFL teams fine a kick-returner if he catches a punt -- catches it! -- inside the 10-yard line; yet Peters dove on a rolling-dead punt.
At 30-3, Joe Lavender ran 85 yards with a fumbled extra-point snap. The defense can't do that. Officials blew the play dead, yet Lavender tried to wrestle his way to the end zone. Such spirit is praiseworthy, for sure, but Lavender's dash was farcical, as if he were carrying a teaspoon of water to put out a great fire.
By themselves, these plays are inconsequential. But they all happened in one day. They happened the same day a rookie quarterback admitted a ton of mistakes in relief of a veteran who was worse. The Redskins also gave away the ball six times on fumbles and interceptions. They had seven penalties. And the 49ers scored twice on defense, making it five touchdowns these Redskins have given up on interceptions, punt returns and fumble returns.
When they see this film in Chicago, where the Redskins play next week, the Bears will laugh their socks off. One man's catastrophe is another's comedy, and the Redskins are catastrophically comical.
They have 19 fumbles, one more than all last season. They show no pass rush, no running game, no deep threat and no gifted big-play men anywhere. When behind, they play worse. Most melancholy, they show confusion as to which players should be where when. Again Sunday, they called time to avoid a 12-man penalty. Again Sunday, they waited while Joe Theismann hand-signaled a back to his proper slot.
What did they do at Carlisle all summer? Play pinball?
Frank Herzog of WDVM-TV-9 is the first inquisitor to ask The Inevitable Question.
"Two, three more games like this, Joe, and does Mr. Cooke say that's it, good-bye?" Herzog said to Joe Gibbs.
"That's up to Mr. Cooke," Gibbs said, smiling brightly. "You'd have to ask Mr. Cooke that."
Jack Kent Cooke, a reasonable man, will not fire Gibbs so quickly. He believes the rookie and his high-priced assistants will succeed in time. Besides, Gibbs is Cooke's selection, not a Jack Pardee handed over by Edward Bennett Williams, and so has a patron's protection and patience as he and Beathard remake the Redskins. Twenty-two of 45 players are new to the Redskins this year.
"You pay a price for that inexperience," said Tex Schramm, president of the Cowboys, adding of the five returns for touchdowns the Redskins have allowed, "I don't like to say 'luck,' but those are the things that kill you when things are going against you."
"It takes time," said George Young, general manager of the Giants and a close friend of Beathard's from their days together with the Dolphins.
"The Redskins have a good coaching staff and Bobby Beathard has an excellent eye for talent. But when you're changing as many people as they are, it takes time. The Redskins lasted a little longer than I thought they would under Pardee. They finally ran out of gas, and you can't just wave a wand and work a miracle."
A farsighted optimist will say this, too: Joe Gibbs isn't the first NFC East coach to lose badly his first season. Jim Hanifan was 5-11 and Ray Perkins 6-10, while Dick Vermeil was 4-10 and Tom Landry 0-11-1. graphics: WP photo by Richard Darcey. Redskin quarterback Joe Theismann climbs to his feet after being sacked in second quarter by 49er defense.