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.