In honor of the presidential debate I am inviting you into The Spin Room, where after the debate the candidates' peeps get busy spinning straw into gold. The more obvious the loss, the more furious the spin. So I stand before you, spinning as fast as I can, to suggest that the Redskins' current pathetic condition may be the best thing that could happen to them.
Yes, the best thing.
Excuse me, Tony, have you lost your mind? Been inhaling too much Bandwagon exhaust? The Redskins stink. What possible silver lining are you seeing that nobody else is?
Bear with me. We're taking the long way home.
Yes, the Redskins stink. On offense anyway. The defense is actually really good; this guy Gregg Williams seems to know what he's doing. You think they miss Williams at all in Buffalo, where if the Bills lose at home to Miami this week they have a chance to go 0-16? Can you believe that two legendary powerhouses like the Bills and Dolphins can be so bad? They're a combined 0-9. A couple more losses and Dave Wannstedt might finish out the season working on Jimmy Johnson's boat. The Dolphins players are saying they don't want Ricky Williams back. Really? It's not like Ted Williams is going to help them. Ricky Williams appears to be the specific reason Miami has capsized. I'd take him back, swallow hard and hand him the ball.
But, yes, the Redskins' offense is awful. Mark Brunell looks like he's run out of gas; he can't complete a pass down the field. Clinton Portis can't hold onto the football, and can't bust a move. (Memo to Mr. Portis: It's fine if you don't want to talk to the media. Just so you understand it isn't the media's fault that you're fumbling. And it isn't the media's fault that you're getting less than three yards a pop the last two games. You're one of the highest-paid running backs in the NFL. Justify it. Did you see what Alex Rodriguez did for the Yankees over the weekend against the Twins? He won an extra-innings game by himself: hit a double, stole third, came home on a wild pitch. And he didn't complain that the other team knew what hole he was trying to hit into. By the way, if you see the defenders stacked in the hole you're running into, run into a different hole, okay?)
Where was I?
Oh, right. Yes, the Redskins' offense stinks. What makes that even more discouraging is the fact that Joe Gibbs runs the offense. Gibbs coming back was supposed to save the team, not stifle it. But now, rapidly, the Redskins are spiraling down into Plan B territory -- where a coach ought to do something dramatic to change the course his team is on. (You never want to get to Plan C territory, where all you can do is hold up a lucky little man, like Pedro does.) But after being away from the game for 11 years, maybe Gibbs didn't bring a Plan B. Maybe Gibbs assumed (as we all did!), quite justifiably, that he would use the same methods he'd used before, because they had worked before, and they would work again. The last time Gibbs had to go to a Plan B was when he told Theismann to stop passing 40 times a game, and try handing the ball off to Riggins more. Want to take a guess how old Clinton Portis was at that time? Anybody guess one month? Ding-ding-ding!
So where's this good news, Tony?
Ah, I was afraid you'd eventually ask. Let me answer that by recalling another famous spin. Remember a few years back, when Rick Pitino was coaching the Celtics, and they were getting crushed because they had no players, and Boston fans were bemoaning how wicked bad the Celtics were? And Pitino told them to get real -- these guys were the Celtics now; all the changes had to come from within, because Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish weren't walking in that door anymore. And even if they did, they'd be 45 years old. Remember that?
Well, Joe Gibbs may have come back, but he didn't bring Theismann and Riggins and Jacoby and Grimm and Monk and Clark and Green with him. They're not walking in that door anymore. Even if they did, they're 45 and 50 and 55 years old now. Joe Gibbs and the Redskins are going to have to work on this themselves. This time there is no magic bullet. It's got to be about hard work and getting better a little bit at a time. Finally, the Redskins have a chance to get better the old-fashioned way -- by working hard and pulling together. But the cavalry ain't coming. Joe Gibbs is the cavalry.
This is brand new for the Redskins under Dan Snyder, who has been Mr. Quick Fix from the day he bought the team. Snyder has always acted as if he could purchase a championship on QVC. If it wasn't a famous pass rusher, it was a famous cornerback. If it wasn't a famous linebacker, it was a famous running back. If it wasn't a famous quarterback, it was a famous wide receiver. If it wasn't a famous defensive coordinator, it was a famous head coach. Snyder has operated this team with one philosophy: "I can bring in the one guy who will turn this around. And turn it around quickly. And I will spare no expense to do it."
From Deion to Bruce, from Jeff George to Jeremiah Trotter, from Marty to Marvin Lewis to Steve Spurrier, that's all over now. Joe Gibbs is the last and best move Snyder had, the trump card. It's on the table, and the Redskins are 1-4. Now what the Redskins need most of all is continuity in their coaching staff, continuity in their key personnel and the time to get better by inches. Stop trying to turn it around quickly. It's a big boat. Just try to turn it around at all.