The Washington Redskins hope to establish some sort of home field advantage this season, but lately FedEx Field has not been much of an asset to the club. Washington has lost three straight home games after an opening day victory and six of its past seven games at home dating from last season.
RFK Stadium used to be feared by opponents, but the Redskins have not maintained that winning tradition in recent years. They have lost three straight home games four times under owner Daniel Snyder, including in four of the past five seasons (2000, '01, '03 and '04), but had lost three straight home games in a season only five times between 1979 and 1999.
Cornerback Shawn Springs, a Silver Spring native whose father visited RFK regularly as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, said he could not believe the club had lost six of its past seven home games.
"Wow," Springs said. "I didn't even know that. It's kind of weird, because it's so loud at FedEx and it seems like it's a hard place [for opponents] to play, but I guess we're not intimidating enough. I don't know what it is. I know when I came in last year [with Seattle] they played us tough here, so I would have never guessed that."
Many former Redskins have commented in recent years how the atmosphere at FedEx Field is far different than it was at RFK despite the seating capacity being nearly double. They point to a more blue-collar feel at the old locale; rising ticket, parking and vending prices making it more difficult for some of those same fans to afford season tickets today.
"The people at RFK embodied what the 12th man is all about," said Rick "Doc" Walker, a former tight end for the Redskins and now an NFL analyst and local radio talk show personality. "Now it's become such a suburban thing and it seems some people are more involved with the tailgating and all of that stuff than the actual game."
The Redskins are 5-16 since opening 2003 with consecutive victories, which is also the last time they won two straight games.
Team Signs J. Doering
The Redskins worked out a handful of players to fill vacancies for a safety and kick return specialist following season-ending injuries to Andre Lott and Chad Morton, but signed only one of those free agents yesterday.
Safety Jason Doering, who has excelled on special teams for Indianapolis, was added to the roster, and another role player could be signed today.
The Redskins placed Lott and Morton on the injured reserve list and thus have one roster vacancy remaining.
Doering, 6 feet and 201 pounds, spent three seasons with the Colts and was released by the New York Giants during the preseason. He was drafted in the sixth round from Wisconsin in 2001 and played in all 16 games last season.
Lott will undergo surgery for a torn pectoral muscle today and Morton will have surgery on his torn knee ligament shortly as well. Morton showed signs of breaking through with a few big returns Sunday before getting hurt, and said he plans to stick around Redskins Park to work with other special teams players.
"Hopefully, the guys will keep improving," Morton said. "It's my job now to help guys get a touchdown [on a kick or punt return] and to get some good field position, so I'll play coach a little bit."