What would George Allen think? Here it was, Dallas Week, once deemed high holy days by Allen, and the Redskins get a citywide cold-shoulder.
The bye week gave the locals an excuse to ignore the woeful Redskins, but boy-oh-boy, they took that ball and ran full-court with it. The gridironeers’ flowering irrelevance was all over Friday’s Washington Post, if only between the lines. Just two days before the Dallas game, Abe Pollin’s acquisition of the Fab Two dominated not just the paper’s front page, but also Page 1 of the sports section. The first Redskins story was relegated to page C7.
The media-related indignities continued Saturday, when George Michael wasted a portion of his all-football show, Redskins Report, on the Bullets. (John Riggins, bless his burgundy-and-gold soul, righted the wayward discourse with a terse admission: “I don’t know a thing about basketball.”)
Given the turning tide, it’s surprising that Sen. Dick Shelby (Turncoat-Ala.) has yet to formally proclaim that his loyalties are heretofore with the Bullets.
Sadly, the Redskins lived up to all the indifference come gametime.
Even if David had been hurling for the Redskins, the team still wouldn’t have had more than a puncher’s chance of prevailing over the Super Bowl champs. The fact that four different players—Gus Frerotte, John Friesz, Heath Shuler, and Brian Mitchell—threw passes for the Redskins in the same game is evidence enough of the team’s sorry state. A more damning piece of trivia about nadir’s raiders: All four threw interceptions. (Shuler’s turnover on the Skins’ final drive was negated by a penalty.)
The offensive deficiencies weren’t exclusive to the QBs. Season-long dud Reggie Brooks had been a bench warmer since fumbling three times on five carries against Dallas at RFK. Reinserted into the lineup by the too-merciful Norv Turner, Brooks quickly showed that the long layoff didn’t affect his play at all: He fumbled on just his second carry, while attempting the very same, very ineffective spin move that put him on Turner’s short shit-list in the first place.
The box score from the Dallas game shows that career-long dud Desmond Howard set personal records for catches (7) and yards receiving (107) in a game. Those stats would only fool a fool: He also had several dropped balls, and his poorly run patterns killed a handful of early drives and led to at least one interception. Howard’s end is still imminent.
“What are they doing going to Howard so much today?” Redskins color commentator Sonny Jurgensen unamusedly mused in the second half of the trouncing. “It looks like they’re setting him up for a trade.”
Sorry, Sonny, but with Howard’s much-publicized and uniformly horrendous three-year stint here, GMs around the league wouldn’t part with a Seals & Crofts eight-track to obtain him. They all know he’ll be cut before long.
The Redskins’ protracted run of wretchedness (which includes a string of 13 losses in a row to NFC East opponents) has also rankled Jurgensen’s normally jovial broadcasting partner, Sam Huff. That became clear as play-by-play man Frank Herzog complied with a listener’s request to read a marriage proposal over the air. Huff offered some hilariously bitter counsel to the potentially betrothed female.
“Say no!” he implored, to the horror of his partners in the booth. “Make him wait until at least the Tampa Bay game!”
The rarely articulate Huff also provided an epitaph to this year’s squad that couldn’t have been more concise: “Inexperience and no talent is a terrible combination,” he said.
Much of the apathy D.C.’s now directing at the Redskins, and much of Jurgensen’s displeasure with the goings-on, would have been prevented had Frerotte been able to maintain his grasp on the brass ring. The consummate underdog, Frerotte’s ascension to the starting lineup for the Colts game got about the same amount of hype as Chris Webber’s recent procurement.
Jurgensen, who had paid special attention to the Redskins’ less-publicized rookie QB beginning in training camp, carried on like a proud papa.
He’s probably ordering DNA tests about now.
Since the auspicious debut in Indianapolis, the seventh-rounder has been performing like, well, a seventh-rounder. Turner, true to his word, let Frerotte play himself out of a job, though his hook came pretty quick against Dallas. With the San Francisco debacle still weighing heavily on the head coach’s mind, veteran mediocrity Friesz was sent in after Frerotte had thrown only six passes. Just one was completed.
It took Friesz less than two quarters Sunday to play himself out of the lineup for the second time as a Redskin. Re-enter Heath Shuler.
All of a sudden, it’s preseason again: The Redskins’ remaining opponents (New York, Tampa Bay, Arizona, and the L.A. Rams) have dismal won-lost records, rendering the contests as meaningless as the exhibitions in terms of winning and losing. And the salary cap means the competition for jobs will be far more intense in the last few weeks of this season than in years past. After the roster cleansing that took place in Washington last year, no veteran can be certain he’ll be invited back next season.
Neither can the rookies. Turner will give Shuler, who played himself out of the lineup in just three games, plenty of room before yanking him a second time. If Shuler doesn’t show some flashes of brilliance against the increasingly ghastly Giants or in the two upcoming turns against Tampa Bay, the Redskins will be praying that Charlotte picks Shuler (a native North Carolinian) in the upcoming expansion draft.
If, however, Shuler justifies his status as a high first-round pick in his first crack against subpar defenses (his three starts came against Dallas, Philadelphia, and Arizona), this could be the beginning of the end of Frerotte’s hayride. Who could have imagined Gus ForReal would be recast as Gus ForNaught so quickly?
Then again, who could imagine “Bullets Fever” ever replacing “Hail to the Redskins” as the city’s favored team theme…in November?