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HELLER: As the leaves fall, so do our football teams

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Just when you thought sporting matters couldn't get worse hereabouts ...

Let's see, the 3-4 Redskins have lost three straight, many key players are injured and the rest seem largely incompetent. John Beck was sacked so many times Sunday in Toronto that even Rex Grossman sent him a sympathy card.

Maryland is 1-5 since its seemingly miraculous opening defeat of Miami, and Randy Edsall looks like the worst Terrapins coaching hire since Ron Vanderlinden (15-29 from 1997 to 2000). Or maybe since Bob Ward (2-17 in 1967 and 1968).

And even 2-6 Navy, a consistent winner recently under Paul Johnson and Ken Niumatalolo, is playing like collective castaways. The Midshipmen have lost six straight, which should make even Davy Jones turn over in his watery locker. Next month's Army-Navy game at FedEx Field might be shown on the Comedy Channel rather than CBS.

How gloomy are things? Heck, we don't even have a chance to watch the Wizards lose games hither, thither and yon since commissioner David Stern has called off the November schedule because of the lockout.

Of course, there's always hockey and the Capitals. Until the playoffs anyway.

The only encouraging news this week is that the Nationals have "exercised their option" to bring Davey Johnson back as manager. This was about as surprising as "announcing" that Stephen Strasburg would return as a starting pitcher. Or maybe that Ted Lerner would return as managing principal owner.

Getting back to the Redskins, you might recall I picked them to finish 4-12. When they started 3-1, I got a lot of guff. Now we have to wonder where that fourth win will come from. After all, they don't play those hapless and winless Indianapolis Dolts. And if they did, Peyton Manning undoubtedly would recover in time for the game.

But let's look at the worst worst-case scenario. If the Redskins can manage to go 3-13, it would be their worst record since 1994 when Norv Turner was pacing the sideline. Remember how Mike Shanahan was regarded as a genius when he won two Super Bowls in Denver (albeit with a little help from John Elway)? Today Shanny is merely Kyle's dad, and you have to wonder how much misery one coaching family can endure.

Over at Maryland, meanwhile, they must be wondering if there's a way to return Edsall to Connecticut and AD Kevin Anderson to Army for full refunds. You know you're in trouble when your football team's variously garish uniforms are the most notable thing about your program. Back in August, we rapped Edsall for zapping players' names from the back of their uniforms. Now it turns out he might have been doing them a favor. Mediocrity, you see, deserves anonymity.

Edsall turned off more than a few loyalists when he benched quarterback Danny O'Brien, the ACC's rookie of the year in 2010, in favor of freshman C.J. Brown. There has been wide speculation that O'Brien might transfer, but I have a better idea. Couldn't the Redskins use him in lieu of Messrs. Beck and Grossman?

Ralph Friedgen, all 350 or so pounds of him, never looked so good - not even when his teams were going 31-8 and decorating the Orange and Gator bowls his first three seasons (2001 to 2003). A few weeks ago, the Fridge said he might burn his diploma in view of the Terps' early struggles. At first, I thought he was kidding. Now he might have lots of company, at least emotionally.

So here we are without much to look forward to until April 5, when the Nats start their prospective drive toward contention against the Cubbies at Wrigley Field.

That's 156 days from now. Why does it seem so much longer?

• Read more of the author's columns at dickheller.wordpress.com

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