What in the world is wrong with the Redskins? When I left town for a couple of weeks, they were interesting and at times exciting, if not precisely good. Now they are unwatchable — or so it appeared Sunday, when they were “Matrix” sequels-unwatchable, Katherine Heigl rom-com-unwatchable, Honey Boo Boo-unwatchable. They were epically unwatchable.
So they finish the first half of the season — the “easier” half, I remind you — with a 3-5 record. That fact may move them from unwatchable to scary — and just in time for Halloween. Which is appropriate because Sunday they had more Butterfingers than your kid’s trick-or-treat sack.
There were 10 drops, bobbles, muffs, whatever you want to call them, on passes thrown into the receivers’ hands. Or rather, into intended receivers’ hands. Or onto their hands. Or against their hands. The culprit wasn’t just one receiver; the greased pigskin went through a lot of different hands Sunday in a 27-12 loss to the Steelers. And the absence of Pierre Garcon is no excuse; he has been injured so often this season that the Redskins receivers have gotten more than enough work.
And if that horrible performance didn’t ruin your pre-Sandy preparations, the sight of DeAngelo Hall taking off his helmet and screaming at an official — earning one automatic penalty and another just because he’s special — put a damper on what was already an ugly afternoon. The defense struggles enough without giving away yardage, although at times it seems to be running a charity devoted to just that. And in a season with a lot of defensive injuries, Hall needs to be a leader, not a hot-head. He’s been in the league far too long for such foolishness.
There was a fleeting moment or two when I wished I would just go ahead and lose power already, so I didn’t have to watch any more. I can’t remember feeling that way about a Redskins game in a long time — “long” being a relative term in Washington. Redskins years tend to resemble dog years: One season feels like seven.
Even Robert Griffin III looked like a merely decent quarterback playing in his rookie season Sunday, a far cry from some of his eye-opening shows of previous weeks. His performance won’t stop area children from donning No. 10 jerseys and single sleeves before going door to door Wednesday night — assuming Halloween isn’t canceled due to Frankenstorm.
Either way, Redskins fans have been wearing masks of pain for a long time. This season had showed some promise, some breakthrough performances, some surprising players. Sunday, however, had to have dampened those flickering sparks of optimism.
Any positives? Well, Washington has the Panthers on Sunday at FedEx Field, followed by the best weekend of all: the bye weekend. Carolina is that rare team, one that has a record worse than the Redskins, although records aren’t always a good predictor of results. After the bye, the Redskins face a blitz of NFC East opponents, plus the Ravens and the Cleveland Browns — not a good team, but one that has to look at results such as Sunday’s and think, “Hey, we could beat those guys.”
So Mike Shanahan has some time to fix things before that final run. (Need a quick Halloween costume? Paint your face red, put on a Redskins jacket, a set of headphones and a very angry expression and go as the Redskins coach.) The problem is how to make the necessary fixes, and even where to start. The Steelers had an answer to Griffin’s magic Sunday, and the Redskins’ staff wasn’t able to counter it. And defensively, the Redskins just continue to backslide. Letting Victor Cruz get behind coverage last week was dreadful; letting the Steelers run roughshod up and down the field Sunday was no better. Special teams? Try a blocked extra point attempt and a 12-yard punt by Sav Rocca.
Was losing the game the most embarrassing part of the day for the Redskins, or was losing the game to a team dressed as escaped cons in a silent movie? (Another Halloween costume idea: Steelers throwback jersey, black mask and bag with “$$$” printed on the side.)
Some aspects of life have improved over time: medical care, sanitation, electricity (when you can get it) — and sports uniforms, in general, make the list as well. I’m a tremendous fan of nostalgia, but NBA players used to wear the equivalent of hot pants and no one seems to be pining for those days.
Beige football pants? Not a good look. White would be okay; black would be much better — they don’t show dirt, and so slimming! And with those striped jerseys and the giant black numbers in white squares, the Steelers looked like they were competing in a prison marathon. It certainly seemed like they gained 26.2 miles of yardage against the Redskins’ defense, which now ranks second all-time in passing yards allowed through eight games. Kudos!
Nope, no contest: That performance was more embarrassing than the Steelers’ uniforms. And that’s saying something.
For previous columns by Tracee Hamilton, visit washingtonpost.com/hamilton.
More Redskins and NFL coverage :
Game summary: Steelers 27, Redskins 12
Analysis: Redskins’ defense undermines offense
Photos: Scenes from Heinz Field
Couch Slouch: Football cliches a dime a dozen