Redskins’ lore is filled with faces of the team: Baugh, Battles, (both before my time), Jurgenson, Huff, Lombardi, Mitchell, Allen, Taylor, Hanburger, Fischer, McDole, , Talbert, Brown, Kilmer, Riggins, Theismann, Houston, Green, Gibbs, Monk – you get the idea. Through the years, the Washington edition of the Redskins (Pro Football Inc.) has had three majority owners: George Preston Marshall, Jack Kent Cooke, and Daniel Snyder.
Mr. Snyder has overseen an era where the team has had no consistent on-the-field identity. Sometimes LaVar Arrington was the face of the franchise, sometimes Clinton Portis has been, and sometimes Joe Gibbs was. I’m referring specifically to who people outside the DC metro area picture when they think of the team. In other words, who is the glue of this conglomeration of executives, coaches, and players? At this time, I assert nobody is, unless you grant that status to Snyder and Vinny Cerrato. I shutter at the thought of that image, though I personally believe the past few drafts and free agent signings have been decent or better.
The Redskins have the players needed to compete in the NFC East, and therefore could be competitive in the league at large. Sure, Jason Campbell is still proving himself, but you can’t knock his performance against the Rams. But alas, I digress. Even with that internet phenom named Chris Cooley, they don’t have an identity which overshadows the occasional internal issue which surfaces in the paper or in front of the camera. And, of course, there’s Jim Zorn’s personal favorite, Twitter.
Given the Redskins’ grand tradition, the images of RFK’s lower foundation shaking up and down, and the money Snyder has spent, winning is an imperative. It may not be everything, but losing sure sucks. As much as we love our team, we’re just plain tired of the mediocrity (and worse) largely displayed since Joe Gibbs retired the first time. Are the Redskins poised to restore our faith? We’ll know soon enough. But, even if they do and even if they make the playoffs, who is the face of this team? Who will loom large enough to overshadow the occasional issue, like the comments of a rookie linebacker whom Mike Greenburg told in front of a national TV audience to ‘just shut up!’
Let’s face it, some players’ hearts are bigger than their minds. They want the fans to love them. They want one more week to show real improvement. And, their egos are fragile, regardless of their salaries. They see what we see, but can’t stand to be reminded of the obvious. Of course, if players stick their egos out there for the world to see while the team is still trying to live up to very reasonable expectations, their ears are going to burn.
This edition of the Washington Redskins may make the fans happier this week. Losing Randy Thomas doesn’t help matters, but they just might. The Skins will have to surprise us some weeks and meet our expectations in others to make the playoffs. That’s the reality in which the team finds itself. Along the way, this team needs desperately to establish its identity. Someone needs to step up and be the face of the franchise. In the meantime, a few suggestions …
Jason Campbell: nice game last week; keep it up.
Jim Zorn: stop bristling on camera when Sonny Jurgensen makes a point (right or wrong). You’ve done so the past two weeks; your tone (right or wrong) needs to be dialed back.
Dan Snyder: if Campbell does keep it up, don’t wait until Christmas to show some faith in him.
Jim Zorn (again): if your team can’t score from inside the red zone by halftime against Detroit, have the offense throw the ball into the red zone as soon at it gets to the Lions’ 20. What do you have to lose?
Robert Henson: give a pair of tickets to a family struggling to make ends meet.