Redskins Year in Review: This One Really Stings

Now that we’ve had a little time to reflect upon the season, it’s time to consider a few things. As Redskins fans, we’ve endured endless years of Norv Turner-induced mediocrity.  We went through the Shottenheimer experiment that was aborted before it even got a chance to yield any positive results.  We endured years of Steve Spurrier’s folksy “Gonna coach ‘em up!” speeches.  So why is it that this season hurts so much more than those others?  We should be used to 8-8 seasons.  Heck 8-8 is pretty good compared to some of the years we’ve been through.  And yet…and yet…we’re going to remember this one longer I think.  Why is that?

The answer, I believe, is hope.  Norv Turner never really managed to win us over.  Osaka Pre-season game aside, Steve Spurrier never gave us any reason to believe in him.  Marty Shottenheimer never really was given a chance.  Joe Gibbs, on the other hand, had our complete faith, so we were more than willing to suffer through a few off years if our hero would stay on board.  But Jim Zorn had us believing in the now.  He had us believing that he was going to be the next coaching genius.  He defeated our two hated rivals back to back on their own turf and gave us a 6-2 start.  Jason Campbell was going to break records on the most games without a turnover.  Clinton Portis was the best back in the game and his name was being mentioned in MVP discussions. The team was a juggernaut that just kept winning,  and then we came back to earth and suddenly our original limited expectations tasted like ash in our mouth.  Suddenly 8-8 is no longer good enough.

Painful though it may be, I think this is a good thing.  We shouldn’t be content with 8-8 seasons.  We should learn to expect more and we should learn to be disgusted with disappointment rather than jaded and cynical the way we’ve been for the last decade.  I want to believe.  I want to feel what I felt after we defeated the Eagles and Cowboys.  I want the Redskins to be a real contender, not just some team that may barely make the playoffs and calls that a win.  And the price of being a contender is that sometimes it’s going to hurt like hell when you don’t make it.

Just think, Cowboys fans have gone through this sort of high and low for TWELVE YEARS now.  I’m amazed they haven’t slit their wrists the way their team falls apart every December.  I’d rather go into the season believing, really believing that the Redskins could win it all than never believing we had a chance in the first place.

Mediocrity should never become commonplace.  It should never be the standard and for too long Redskins Nation has lived with diminished expectations and vague feelings that a winning record is somehow a win.  An 8-8 season is somehow acceptable.  One and done in the playoffs was a good year?  The hell it was!  We want more.  And dammit, for a few weeks we believed we could have more.  Even the pain and misery of a disappointing season is better than the numbing acceptance we’ve grown used to.  It’s better to feel pain than to feel nothing at all.

There’s a trap that comes with this pain and these expectations however.  As fans, when we’re disappointed, it’s natural to want to fire the coach or replace the quarterback and make sweeping changes.  But change for its own sake is not going to get the Redskins any closer to a superbowl.  This team, if anything, has lacked stability.  It needs to give the players and coaches a chance to put something together.  Jim Zorn made us believe again, if only for a little while; that alone gets him a second year in my book.

And then there’s Jason Campbell. Has he lived up to expectations? Hell no.  And his stats make him look better than he has been because his completion percentage doesn’t show all those 3rd and 8 plays that he threw for 4 yards.  But before we chase him out of town, we need to consider our other options.  Colt Brennan? Is he really ready?  I think we’re kidding ourselves if we throw him out there to the wolves.  What happened to Atlanta doesn’t happen often, and trying to hit the QB lottery like that is risking our entire season.  Todd Collins?  I love how he stepped up for us when we needed him, but he’s a career journeyman who’s biggest asset is that he has mastered an offensive system that the Redskins no longer use.

I suppose we could go out and sign another big free agent.  Because, you know, that’s worked so well for us in the past. We could draft someone new and put our season in a rookie QB, but as with Colt Brennan I don’t like our odds of ending up with some miracle pick that can immediately jump in and play well.  When have the Redskins EVER been that lucky with their draft picks?

No, I think we’re probably going to be forced to stick with Campbell for another season.  And if that’s the decision the team makes, I think we should support them.  We can’t call for his head just because we didn’t like what he did.  If you’re stuck in a desert, you don’t toss out your last canteen of water because it tastes nasty;  it still might be your best option in the end.  Mediocre as he has been, he might be our best chance to succeed, and I trust Jim Zorn to make that decision more than I trust anything we might be able to see here from our Barca-Loungers and HD television sets.

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Tags: Jason Campbell Jim Zorn Redskins

  • Norm

    I’m a lifelong Redskins fan, I just wrote a post for my blog that might add a little perspective to this season.  Here’s the link…

  • Connor Bailey

    I totally agree with you man. Every year I come into the season thinking that we are $H1T and then we start doing good. Then, I somehow trust my Skins and it never works out. Going along with what you are saying is that we have to believe and somehow we have to become a contender. I know Campbell has reached expectations, but if we had a decent avereage offensive line then he wouldn’t be on his A$$ the whole game.

  • Redskins Guy

    Exactly!  Experience has shown us that an Exciting offseason tends to lead to a crappy season.  Boring or crappy offseason translates to improvement.  Stay the course and let’s build on what we have.

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  • BigRedskinDaddy

    Mediocrity should never become commonplace.  It should never be the standard and for too long Redskins Nation has lived with diminished expectations and vague feelings that a winning record is somehow a win.  An 8-8 season is somehow acceptable. 

    Very well put,  brother.  I’m putting together a Year in Review myself right now and touched on this very subject in my opening remarks.  The catchphrase of the Burgundy & Gold used to be Pride.  Teams were made up of 53 Joe Lunch-Pails,  decidedly un-glamorous but guys who rolled up their sleeves and got to it,  no matter how hard the work or difficult the task seemed tp be.  That Gibbs attitude coupled with the players he cultivated during 1.0,  got results that were unmatched with the possible exception of the 49′ers during the 80′s and early 90′s.

    No matter what may happen with Zorn and this team in the future,  the single most important must-do is to somehow regain that pride,  that work ethic.  No matter what it takes.  Everything else will follow,  I think.

    Well done.

  • Redskins Guy

    Thanks BRD. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’d love to read your review when you write it up. Make sure you send us the link!

  • Kenboy

    I agree completely with your philosophy in reviewing the season.  I have to disagree a bit regarding JC, however.  You need to have a quality number 2 receiver option for him before you judge those 4 yard passes on 3rd and 8.  He can’t run their patterns for them.  Our past succesful QB’s have had guys like Monk and Ellard who got open on 9 yard patterns on 3rd and 8, as well as multiple smurfs and fun bunchers swirling all up and down the field driving secondaries crazy.  They also had the Hogs to give them a skosh more time than JC has been given against the better pass rushes in the league.  It was no coincidence that Mark Rypien was sacked, I believe, on average less than once a game during that stellar season in his superbowl year.

  • Redskins Guy

    The receivers are not the ones making his throws inaccurate.  Half the time he throws way over their head so they have to jump up to get it, or five feet in front of them so the receiver has to dive to catch it.  If he could hit a receiver in stride once in a while, Moss’s numbers would go through the roof.

    That said, I will conceed the point that the Redskins need a #2 receiver.  And they need to beef up the aging offensive line to protect him better.  I’m not giving up hope completely, but at the same time I have to admit that he has not realized his potential and it’s not all due to circumstances beyond his control.   We can talk about the number of offensive systems and the wide receivers and o-lines until the cows come home, but the fact is that a great quarterback would still find a way to overcome that sort of adversity.  That’s what makes them great.  We need to stop making excuses for him and start expecting more.  The one time he started to feel real pressure, he went on to have the best streak of his career, defeating the Cowboys and Eagles and nearly breaking a turnover record.

    I won’t use the “B” word yet, but if he doesn’t do something next year the Redskins need to look for another option.

  • perrin gower

    Jason Campbell simply doesn’t have the leadership potential – - expect several years of painfull  8 and 8  till he and Zorn get the boot – - thankfully, it appears the season ticket backlog is breaking up and that may force Snyder back to reality – you sports dummys never seem to get it -  serious WINNING in team sports takes brains and LEADERSHIP and brains and LEADERSHIP  go  way past raw athletic ability – you’d think in FIFTEEN years somebody would notice and LEARN

  • Redskins Guy

    I don’t see how anyone can credibly claim to know what the future has in store for the NFL after last weekend’s events.  THE CARDINALS ARE IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME.  That’s gotta be one of the seven signs of the apocalypse.

    So when you say that we’re destined for 8-8 year after year, I can’t help but wonder how you can say that today.  Are you just that pessimistic?  Are you actually not a Redskins fan and just someone quietly hoping we’ll tank?  Do you just hate Dan Snyder that much that you want to see him fail?  You can’t possibly know that we’ll go 8-8.  Leadership?  Eli Manning won a superbowl trophy and I wonder how many Giants fans said the same exact thing about them.

    I’m not really supporting Campbell too much.  I do think he needs to step up or step aside.  But at the same time it’s arrogant and overly pessimistic to claim that we’re just doomed.  Especially in light of recent events.

  • http://landryhat davedallasfan

    you are right, the giants proved you can be a champion with 2 old reliables; a running game and a great defense. look at philly, wesrbrook and a D, look at arizona as of late, the running game is back for them and they are playing great D. baltimore, the running and of course that D. pitts dispite rothlessgroundburger, they run and play D. so if your washington, you run with portis and company, draft D help and maybe campbell starts to fit better? it’s the formula and system. that takes coaching though, so thats what it is all about. good coaching

  • http://landryhat davedallasfan

    that is my preach this year to the cowboys. when barber went down, we had choice really step up and contribute as a rookie. so with barber, felix, and choice next year, i’d like to see us become a 3-headed running machine and take the presseure off of romo. this ultimately would open up the passing game to wide open proporsions? the safeties would have to boot up to the line and with witten, owens and roy EW running the praries of the secondaries,??? i like it……we already play good D. so to me, if the cowboys do that, they will be tough to beat. the redskins need to do the same.

  • K T

    The Redskins are actually a well-positioned team.  A good core of talent, a draft pick that can immediately fill a non-skill position with a beast, and they cut Jason Taylor because he’s worthless.  I hate Parcells, but if he doesn’t want him, there’s a reason for that.  That frees up some money to fill in the gaps.  Protect Campbell+Run Portis= Touchdowns!

  • Tom W.

    Just taking a first look at these comments from my favorite people: Redskins fans.

    The Dan Snyder era has been a disaster for one main reason: Vinny Cerrato. He is the single worst player-personnel exec in the league (ok, Matt Millen is close). But starting with his mentor, Charlie Casserly, who after a championship season with a high number one draft pick, took Desmond Howard, a small receiver, when the ‘Skins had two terrific small receivers, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders, Cerrato has continued that tradition of ineptitude that fly in the face of basic team building philosophies. So the first thing to do would be to fire Cerrato.

    Here are my feelings on some other basic questions.

    1. Keep Jim Zorn. Yes, he was inept at play calling and time management but that can be improved. I think he can restore a sense of discipline to a team that is lacking in it.

    2. Trade Clinton Portis for real value. I love Clinton but he dominates the team’s psyche too much, he’s taken too much physical abuse and yet he can still garner high value if he’s dealt now. One more year and he won’t. There are many other terrific backs ready to step in and give you a running game (Michael Turner is a perfect example of a player moving from the shadows to  the spotlight–there are others).

    3. End the Jason Campbell experiment. I liked that pick when we made it. But I was seduced by the fact that Campbell had done well in college with the support of not one but two great backs in Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams. If Jason doesn’t have a great team around him he won’t be good. He is not a true playmaker, which you eventually need to win a championship, Trent Dilfer being the one exception to that rule. Colt Brennan is a true playmaker. Yes, he could be another Jake Plummer but I think he’s got something that Zorn could really work with.

    3. Build a team the Madden way: quarterback, offensive line, defensive line. Our o-line is old and we haven’t had a pass rush since Dexter Manley. (Another Casserly/Cerrato blunder: we could’ve had Simeon Rice not once, but twice in his career). Quit drafting safeties and get some big bodies to handle the trenches. You can always get good recievers and tight ends.

    4. Once you do that, get some speed at linebacker. Our guys are not bad, but they aren’[t quick enough for the demands of today’s NFL.

    That’s it for now. I look forward to more conversation in  a few months.

  • Redskins Guy

    It’s great to hear from you Tom!

    Interesting ideas. I tend to agree with most of them. I think saying that Cerrato is worse than Matt Millen is a bit harsh, but I do think he’s average to below average.  

    I think your comment on Casserly was very valid and I think people like to forget that.  He used to drive me crazy every year because our first round picks were ALWAYAS busts.  People want to remember that era as roses and goodness, but not everything was perfect and this is a perfect example.

    I’m with you on Zorn. However, I’m not convinced that the team can actually get real value for Clinton Portis.  He’s getting older and is known to be outspoken, and (most importantly) most teams view the running back position as the most easily replaced position in the game.  I just don’t see us getting that many offers for him.  And if we go shopping him and don’t get a good deal, then we’re going to have a very disgruntled Portis. 

    I sort of agree with Jason Campbell. Certainly he’s on the end of his rope. But if we dump him this year, we’re basically admitting that we’re rebuilding this year.  Brennan may get good some day but he won’t be good NEXT YEAR.   Campbell may be our best option for next year while we let Brennan develop.

    I’m totally with you on building the team.  Offensive and defensive lines are so important and the Redskins so regularly seem to ignore it or to address it as an afterthought. This needs to change.

    Great ideas. Keep them coming!