Whether you consider it irony or tragedy, Redskins season has come in Washington and has given D.C. sports fans no solace from the bad taste of 100 loss baseball. From as early as April of the 2009 Nationals season, the cries echoed throughout Washington that people had already had enough baseball and were calling for football season.
Be careful what you wish for.
The Skins have started their season with a miserable thud. The team stands 2-5, but that doesn’t even begin to do justice to how frustrating this year has been. The Skins have become the first team in NFL history to have their first six opponents come into the match-up without a win, but despite that incredible step up they could only muster two wins. The club managed to neuter their head coach, Jim Zorn, by removing his play calling abilities, and their owner Dan Snyder has looked like a maniacal dictator after censoring the signs fans could display at Fed-Ex Field.
I guess that’s a little different than just losing a lot of games.
While there was a strong fallout when the Nationals opened to a 26-61 record that resulted in the firing of Manny Acta, none of the frustration or humiliation from the Nationals season compares to the uproar we are feeling in Washington today over the Redskins. Is this due to the way we perceive the Redskins? Or is it just possible that the Redskins really are more pathetic than the lowly Washington Nationals.
To find out, we will first today look into what those who closley follow and cover the Redskins are saying, and tomorrow we will look at the Nationals side:
If the question is which franchise has a better chance to win in the near-term, I’d vote for the Redskins. Fortunes can change incredibly rapidly in the NFL, and teams can go from out of the playoffs to the Super Bowl in a single year. While the Lerners have talked a good game, Daniel Snyder has shown that he’ll actually shell out real money in an effort to be competitive. And the Redskins have won under his regime, going to the playoffs two of the past four seasons before this disaster. On wins and losses, this isn’t even close.
But from the fan’s perspective, I think the Redskins supporter is, on average, far more disillusioned than the Nats supporter. For one thing, the Redskins have a tradition of excellence that hasn’t been fulfilled recently; the Nats have no such expectations. But more than that, Redskins fans feel abused, and the abuse has been going on for years. The game-day experience is awful, the feeling of constantly being attacked by salesmen is unmistakable, and the covenant between the front office and the fan base is significantly eroded, if not actually shredded into bits.
Nats fans, remarkably, still have hope, and many still have feelings of goodwill toward their struggling franchise. Redskins fans? Good luck finding that. Which is why even though I’m convinced the Redskins will make the playoffs again well before the Nats do, I’d still say their franchise is in worse shape
It is obvious to me that the Redskins are the bigger embarrassment by a LONG SHOT. The Nationals have qualified people and though the wins have been fewer than expected, they are building something. Stan Kasten was President of the World Series Braves, which built a dominant franchise in the 90s, and Mike Rizzo, who saw success as the Director of Scouting with the Diamonbacks, is making all the right moves. The Nats have a lot of youth they are developing in the minors, so it’s only a matter of time before that translates to the big league.
Compare that to the Redskins’ internal process is laughable. We have a maverick owner and a sidekick GM trading away their draft picks for players on the wrong side of their prime. It took 3 years for Joe Gibbs, who demanded full control, to clean up Spurrier’s mess, and it took all of 6 months for Cerrato and Gibbs to return it to shambles. They hire an unqualified QB coach, who has never called a single play in his life, to install his West Coast offense on Joe Gibbs’ run-first offense. They use all three of their 2nd round draft picks on WRs, none of whom have contributed in any capacity. As I predicted, the OLine did not hold up and now all hell is broken less. As bad as the Nationals have been, Kasten is always available at the games to chat with fans, and the Nationals continue to put out a fan-friendly experience. Compare that to the Nazi-esque rules at Fedex to prohibit, which prohibit anti-Redskins verbiage while at the same time flooding us with non-stop advertisements is appalling.
It’s very difficult to decide between these two franchises. Each seems to be in shambles, and it’s quite possible that neither will make the postseason for quite sometime. However, I think you have to say that the Redskins are actually in worse shape. Their once rock-solid fan base is starting to jump ship (and justifiably so), while the Nationals have no major group of fans to disappoint. That being said, the Redskins could turn things around tomorrow and pack FedEx Field the following week. I think you have to look at potential here. The Nats have Stan Kasten, a guy that has reached considerable levels of success in building a baseball team, while the Redskins look like a bunch of one-uppers with too much cash. The Nats have a beautiful new stadium in the city, while the Redskins play in a monstrosity out in no-mans land. Between Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman, and hopefully Bryce Harper, the Nationals are looking to build a team the right way. The Redskins have too much money invested in the current roster, and no solution in sight. Based on those things, the Redskins have to be considered in a less-favorable position right now.