- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2003

A second-string quarterback. A fourth-string running back. And a team that seems destined to play backup in the game of life.

This is what Washington Redskins’ fans plan their autumns around? This is ridiculous. C-Span probably had higher ratings yesterday. The Redskins slogged around in nasty mid-winter conditions but couldn’t put a chill in the Dallas Cowboys, who went up early and didn’t have to worry about looking back.

The Monday Morning Quarterback considered getting into a fourth-quarter snowball fight just to get the blood flowing again. The few disheartened fans who lingered took care of it instead. Oh, well. Happy days are just two weeks away. Soon enough it will be the offseason, when the Redskins always go undefeated.

Q: That does it. We’re calling DirecTV this week so we can watch some real football games. We always thought we’d look good in Cheeseheads. Any good news for the dozen Redskins fans left in Washington?

A: Yup. Saddam Hussein was captured yesterday in Iraq. Word is he might have information about where the Redskins hid their offense. Seriously, the Redskins’ punchless “O” set a world record for tedium in the second half. Fans would have been entertained just as much if they had shifted their gaze and watched the FedEx Field grass grow.

Q: Was there really any chance of Washington beating Dallas, though? The Cowboys are a playoff team and the Redskins are a punchline.

A: Actually, we thought Washington had decent odds. The team has kept a fairly positive attitude in recent weeks; Dallas came in playing like stink-ola; and the rough weather seemed suited for an afternoon in which Rock Cartwright was starting at running back. The X-factor was Tim Hasselbeck’s total inability to get anything done on offense. The Redskins played with heart for about three quarters, then realized their efforts were futile.

Q: This has got to do it for Spurrier, right? Can we possibly deal with another season of this?

A: That’s up to you. It’s a free country, and you’re welcome to pick up stamp-collecting or ornithology. In fact, we think we saw a few birds flipped yesterday. As for coach Steve Spurrier, he ain’t going anywhere, for the reasons we’ve discussed ad nauseum, owner Dan Snyder has too much invested, in terms of both money and pride, and the coach has too much cash on the table to walk away.

Q: Give us some hope. What’s a scenario that splits up this doomed marriage?

A: Management is starting to turn the screws on Spurrier’s assistants, and the coach has shown every sign of remaining loyal. He’s got the call, and something’s got to give. Management’s only method to force change on the staff (and there is a firm belief veteran assistants could turn this club around) is to threaten Spurrier with his job. The coach must decide whether saving a few of his guys is worth scrapping the whole experiment.

Q: What happened to the run defense? The GW Parkway at 3a.m. offers more congestion.

A: We were disappointed with how the unit came out. To give up such a quick, easy scoring drive was critical in a game in which every touchdown felt like two. Spurrier was right, though, in not blaming the unit for Dallas’ 94 rushing yards in the fourth quarter. Think about it: the D was playing from 17 points down for a team with no hope for the playoffs and an offense that wouldn’t have scored at a sorority mixer. Sometimes you just wave the white flag.

Q: Did Tim Hasselbeck really have a QB rating of 0.0? We didn’t know they made them that low.

A: Hasselbeck endured a disastrous afternoon. The guy doesn’t have much zip on his throws to start with, and yesterday’s conditions had the ball fluttering every which way out of his hand. Hasselbeck must prove in the final two weeks that yesterday was an aberration.

Q: Will the Redskins at least secure their future and sign one of their stars long-term in the last few weeks?

A: Expect a new deal for LaVar Arrington the same time pigs fly out of agent Carl Poston’s you-know-what. Arrington is set to make $15.5million over the next two years — then become a free agent in the spring of 2006, at age 27, the prime of his career. He could figure on more than a $20million signing bonus at that point or a one-year franchise number of nearly $15million. There is virtually no reason for him to accept a new deal. And Washington doesn’t want to deal with Champ Bailey without leveraging the franchise tag. The Redskins have some interesting contractual issues to sort out this offseason.

Q: There’s still some good guys left, though. What does Bubba Tyer’s enshrinement in the Ring of Fame mean?

A: That the Redskins are open-minded enough to include a trainer. Tyer never caught a pass or scored a touchdown for the club, but he was as dedicated and loyal as an employee could be for so many years. He was, indeed, one of the good guys.

Q: We plead guilty to watching the game from the Barcalounger. Did anyone show up for this one? And how come Tony Siragusa is the sideline reporter for every Redskins game?

A: The announced attendance of more than 70,000 seemed pretty accurate. It was a heck of a turnout given the conditions and Washington’s season. Of course, more than a few of those spectators came dressed in Cowboys blue. As for the Goose, the Redskins might need to issue a restraining order. He seems to show up every week. Perhaps he wants in on the Funky4.

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