During the second half yesterday, several hopeful Washingtonians paraded about RFK Stadium with a large sign that read: "Baseball in '87."
From the mezzanine, Larry L. King, the professional writer-fan, huffed: "Football in '85."
Sadly, astonishingly, the playpen off Benning Road quickly is becoming The Best Little Snorehouse in Sport. The Redskins are dull and lifeless, several defensive players away from being pathetic, the toughest 1-2 team in the NFL that probably ought to be 0-3.
And that's the good news.
The bad news is that matters can get worse.
Because, beginning this week with the Bears in Chicago, the Redskins hit a succession of very good teams. Soon they will be playing the Giants instead of the Spoilers, and the more vicious of the NFC East birds: the Cardinals.
Yesterday was not quite a sun-rises-in-the-west sort of bedazzlement, although 13 points is a massive spread in the NFL. Make the headline: Eagles Claw Corpse.
Their first venture into the end zone this season was enough to lift the Eagles to a 19-6 victory. They had been touchdownless in two games, 15 times as impotent on the scoreboard as the Bears, twice as bad as another winless bore: the Bills.
The Eagles' owner has promised each player a $10,000 bonus if the team makes the playoffs. Jack Kent Cooke could offer the same incentive for the Redskins' offense to execute five straight pass plays.
And feel his money was CD-safe.
Joe Gibbs blames his signature as a coach, the passing game, same as just about everyone else. His offense may not be predictable, but what happens after nearly every series is.
Each time quarterback Joe Theismann misses one of his open friends, each time Calvin Muhammad or Art Monk mistakes the ball for a grenade or somebody else blows a pattern, Gibbs calls a meeting by the lemonade stand near the bench.
Usually, he and Theismann chat. Sometimes Muhammad is asked to join. Once yesterday everyone who dares call himself a skill player was included.
They go over what went wrong, what the assistant thinkers upstairs figure the other guys will do next series and how a once-formidable offense might muster a touchdown.
What all these great minds come up with often gets muddled shortly after the defense does something heroic. In coachspeak, the Redskins figured they had a great "package" to counter the Eagles' nickel defense. Maybe so, but dynamite plays in the wrong hands are as touchy as the real stuff.
"It's all of us," said Gibbs, classy enough to point a finger at himself.
The last meeting of coach and quarterback yesterday was the longest, and most poignant. The two Joes sat for ever so long as the Eagles milked the final two-plus minutes.
"We talked about the day," Gibbs said, "about what it takes to be a good football team. Right now maybe we're not. We talked about how to get there."
The only reason there is no quarterback controversy perking is because few believe the Redskins have anyone -- at the moment -- better than the erratic Theismann.
There was one Jay Schroeder enthusiast among the startled and angry fans who remained until the end -- and that was enough to ask Gibbs if he would consider a quarterback change.
"No," he said. "Joe and I've been together a long time. It takes a lot more than this to shake our relationship."
Some sort of shakeup clearly is needed. What seems correct may not be.
"We're not on the same page often enough," Theismann keeps saying of passes that are closer to customers than catchers.
Well, pass out some pages in the huddle. Say: "Calvin, I'm on page 23. If they press you, go deep. And please keep both feet in bounds when the ball arrives."
Also, lousy practices might be a good idea. Over and over, clearly mystified, Gibbs talks about how well preparations have gone each week -- and especially how pleased he was with the preseason.
Why not dust off Rocket Screen? Surely, nobody expects it. Most vexing for Gibbs is how essentially the same players who produced 968 points in 1983-84 have gotten just 36 in 1985.
But Malcolm Barnwell, who cost a second-round draft choice, has been about as active for the Redskins as the traded Charlie Brown. "We're trying to work the other guys," Gibbs said.
One series yesterday illustrated three weeks of offense: on first down from the Redskins' 30 after the Eagles took the lead at 9-6, Theismann passed 17 yards to tight end Don Warren. Hooray!
Order was being sifted out of chaos. Finally.
On the next play, Muhammad dropped the ball on a medium-range comeback pattern. On the play after that, Muhammad and Theismann misread each others' thoughts and misconnected by 50 yards. On third down, an open Muhammad tried to catch a slightly overthrown pass inbounds -- and couldn't.
Early in the fourth quarter, a reporter close to snoozing scratched this on his notepad: "Rogers running well -- and remembering to take the ball along."
Almost immediately, George Rogers fumbled, the Eagles recovered and Theismann made a touchdown-saving tackle. For whatever it's worth, the defensive statistics chart had Theismann with as many tackles as Dexter Manley and three special teams players.
"Gotta work it out," said Gibbs, as if there were any other way. "It's a good chance for me to observe everybody (during extreme adversity)."
"The key," said Pete Cronan, looking about a somber dressing room, "is to be tougher on thyself than the coaches will be."