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LOVERRO: Winless Redskins not passing the smell test

- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 22, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Washington Redskins face the Raiders next Sunday at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, a dump of a stadium that is falling apart and literally stinks, with sewage coming out of the faucets last week after a rainstorm during an Athletics game.

It may be the perfect setting for the Redskins' 0-3 season.

Yes, it's now 0-3, with the 27-20 loss to the Detroit Lions Sunday at FedEx Field. We'll hear all the statistics. about the chances of coming back to make the postseason after an 0-3 start – three since 1990, five since 1978, whatever numbers you want to use.

You can simply size up the Redskins chance of making the playoffs this season like this – about as good as the plumbing at the Oakland Coliseum.

"No one wants to be 0-3," said Robert "SuperBob" Griffin III, who threw for 326 very ordinary yards (though it's the second-highest total of his career) Sunday, along with one interception and one fumble. The latter came when, looking to slide after a 21-yard run deep into Detroit territory, he opted for the Pete Rose headfirst slide instead of the smooth and slick Maury Wills slide, and lost the ball.

"We made too many mistakes at crucial times," SuperBob said, pointing out his fumble and the interception he threw at the Detroit 19 on a Redskins drive early in the second quarter as two of those mistakes at crucial times.

Too many mistakes. It's been a common thread of the Redskins' 0-3 start, from the penalties to now four interceptions for SuperBob, who had five all of last season. Too many mistakes for a team that was supposed to be prepared to defend its NFC East title after a Steve Spurrier-like 4-0 preseason.

Why? What is so different about the team Mike Shanahan thought was taking the field for the Monday night opener against the Philadelphia Eagles compared to the team that is now 0-3? I asked Shanahan in the postgame press conference, "What has surprised you the most about the team that ended training camp to this team now?"

"Being 0-3," he eloquently answered.

Before SuperBob took the field last year, I predicted "shock and awe" from the rookie quarterback. On Sunday, when asked about the 0-3 start, he responded that, "If you told us we would be 0-3 now, we would all be shocked."

Fortunately for the Redskins, they play in what Redskins general manager Bruce Allen referred to as the SEC of the NFL – the NFC East. Allen may have been referencing the Securities and Exchange Commission, since the New York Giants, like the Redskins, are 0-3 after a 38-0 beating by the Carolina Panthers. The Chip Kelly 22nd century Philadelphia Eagles are 1-2, and sitting on top of the division are the Dallas Cowboys, with a 2-1 record after a 31-7 victory over the St. Louis Rams Sunday.

It would seem 0-3 in the NFC East is not the worst place to be, though Shanahan said Sunday that "anytime you start 0-3, that's as tough as it gets."

No it isn't. 0-4 going into a bye week is tougher. Much tougher. Season-ending tougher. Smelly sewage tougher.

Bye weeks in Washington are a land mine. It was a bye week when the Redskins, in 2010, benched Donovan McNabb, gave him a contract extension and then helped Michael Vick earn his $100 million contract extension with a 59-28 demolition of the Redskins on Monday Night Football.

Washington was 3-1 going into the bye week the following season, and then lost to the Eagles again 20-13, with Rex Grossman throwing four interceptions, and John Beck became the starting quarterback.

Strange things happen during bye weeks, and the Redskins, after taking the field against the Raiders next week, will come out of the bye week facing the Cowboys in Dallas on Sunday Night Football.

So right now the Redskins need to hold their nose and go into Oakland next Sunday to do all they can to avoid an 0-4 record, leaving two weeks to dyfunctionally dissect their winless season.

"No one sitting at 0-3 is going to say, 'Hey, you know, if we go 0-4, it's all gravy,'" SuperBob said.

I don't think it will smell like gravy.

Thom Loverro is co-host of "The Sports Fix," noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and espn980.com.

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