Nov 29, 2005, 2:47 AM EST
You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
It’s situation normal among the Redskins faithful, which means a state of near hysterical overreaction. The complainers are saying that coaches, including Joe Gibbs, need to be fired and that players such as Robert Royal should be cut immediately. The lack of a first-round pick to tank games for is a particular irritant to many. The franchise is doomed, doomed. A period of incompetence of Cardinal-like proportions is inevitable. Those who don’t normally complain are, of course, complaining about the complainers.
That’s what three straight close, gut-wrenching losses will do to the high-strung Redskins Nation. Patience is not a virtue under such dire circumstances. Punishment for those deemed responsible for the losses must be swift and extreme.
Patience, of course, is exactly what’s called for here.
Progress is being made. Let’s take a walk down memory lane all the way back to 2004. After 11 games, the Redskins were 3-8. They were coming off of a three-game losing streak. The losses were to Cincinnati at home by 17-10 and to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on the road by 28-6 and 16-7 respectively. None of those games were as close as the final score indicated.
In fact, there is this mythology floating around that the Redskins lost close ones last year, they are losing them this year, ergo there has been no progress. That’s just silly. It is true that seven of their 10 losses last year were by seven points or less. However, you can’t tell me that the Giants game at the Meadowlands, a six-point loss, was the same as yesterday’s game, also a six-point loss. They lost to Dallas by three at home but in the end it would have taken a miracle for them to win. It would have taken just a few first downs for them to beat Oakland in that three-point defeat.
Of those seven “close” losses, only two were truly competitive at the end. Only in those last two close losses, vs. Philadelphia at FedEx and at Dallas, did the Redskins have either a possession deep in the opponents’ territory with a chance to win in the late going (as they did against the Eagles) or a late lead that was snatched away (as was the case in Texas Stadium).
OK, losses are losses and it’s not a great situation if you have to compare the quality of one variety of loss to another. So let’s talk wins. The Redskins have won four close games this year. It’s not unreasonable to predict that, given their upcoming schedule, the Redskins will improve their win total from last year by at least two games, perhaps even three. That’s progress in wins as well as in the “quality” of the losses.
The point here is not to say that being critical of the performance of players or questioning the plays called by a coach, even those of Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs, is out of line. It is done in this space on a regular basis. What the doubters need to keep in mind, however, is that Gibbs is constantly evolving. He’s not going to huff, “What we do works!” and that is that. He will examine the way he is doing things and if it’s not working he will change it. If a particular player isn’t producing, Gibbs will put him in situations where he can be successful.
Those who would cut multiple players and/or fire coaches need to learn the virtues of sticking to a plan. Suppose your lawn was a mess and you worked on it and worked on it until it looked pretty good except for this one patch of crabgrass that just wouldn’t go away. Would you bring in a bulldozer and dig up the whole yard to try to get rid of the one problem area? Or do you stick with what you’ve been doing and, since it’s gotten you this far, have confidence that it will be able to take you the rest of way?
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