- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 21, 2001

The Washington Redskins already have lost the "Toilet Bowl" and "Gutter Bowl" in an 0-5 start. Coach Marty Schottenheimer's job is in jeopardy. Five starters are injured. Fans booed the team in its only home game.
"Rock bottom," said center Cory Raymer, repeating a term that was used weekly during an 0-7 start in 1998.
Now comes the "Basement Bowl" when the Redskins meet the Carolina Panthers (1-4) today at FedEx Field. The Panthers are 31/2-point favorites despite losing four straight, and this might be the last chance for the Redskins to avoid an 0-10 start.
With playoff contenders in the New York Giants (Oct. 28) and Seattle Seahawks (Nov. 4) also coming to FedEx before the Redskins' Nov. 11 bye, followed by trips to Denver (Nov. 18) and Philadelphia (Nov. 25), Washington could be 0-10 before getting another chance at the Dallas Cowboys (Dec. 2).
Hello, high draft pick. No wonder Redskins owner Dan Snyder is scouting college quarterbacks.
There were no team meetings after Monday night's 9-7 loss to Dallas and no accusations of spying. In fact, there was singing in the locker room. Some players even played checkers anything to take their minds off a sense of desperation.
It's a different dynamic than last season's end, when many players let down over the final weeks after the team's early Super Bowl hopes had been dashed. Coaches accused players of quitting during a 2-6 slide. The staff was later fired and 31 players replaced.
A new locker room relationship has been forged under Schottenheimer, though not the one intended. Players don't love the coach; many don't even like the micromanaging Schottenheimer with his stringent rules. Maybe that has helped them bond. When defensive end Bruce Smith accused some of Schottenheimer's former Kansas City players of being "Five-Os," an angry backlash swept the Redskins' roster. They don't want petty backbiting with 11 games remaining.
"Pointing fingers gets you nowhere, like crabs in a barrel," defensive end Kenard Lang said.
Cornerback Darrell Green reworked the numbers, saying the Redskins are really 0-2 and ignoring the first three blowout losses.
"The first three weeks coming out of training camp is something I would like to forget. I would like to think of ourselves after having the meeting [Oct. 1]," he said. "I feel stronger about the future right now. Players can turn around in one year, and they can turn around in the middle of the year."
The Redskins believe they're a decent team no matter that the offense is ranked last and the defense next to last. With a number of talented young players who could start elsewhere, the team believes a turnaround is possible like the one in 1998, when the team finished 6-3.
"I believe we have a better team than we did then," Raymer said. "[Whats happening is] beyond frustration. I don't know if it's being scared or mad at losing. The first couple weeks we moped around, but now we're trying to figure it out. Get a little fire. Get a little taste. That's all we need."
Said receiver Michael Westbrook: "We're always looking for that game we can win and then put two together. We're getting closer. We're getting better. You wait for the day you can turn things around."
Fortunately for Washington, Carolina is little better. The Panthers' offense and defense are both floundering. Injuries are sprinkled through the lineup. And Carolina is 0-5 against the Redskins since 1995, losing four games by three or fewer points.
"Both [teams] are reeling," Carolina coach George Seifert said. "Both know how difficult it is to win in the league. I don't know that either one has a psychological edge."
Both are coming off last-second defeats, with Carolina losing to New Orleans 27-25. The Redskins might have the edge in forgetting losses, though. They've rarely appeared down during midweek workouts no matter the past score.
"We're getting a lot of experience putting things behind us. That's all you can do," Schottenheimer said. "There's a frustration level that's a part of what you're doing, but our practices this week have been high energy. The only way out of this is together."
So the Redskins enter the game knowing this could be their last stand. Another rout and the season descends into a race for the No. 2 overall draft pick behind expansion Houston. A victory continues hope for a handful of wins this season.
"We're working so hard I know we can't be that bad," linebacker LaVar Arrington said. "We have to just keep moving."


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