- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Washington Redskins conclude their 2008 season Sunday in San Francisco in much the same place as they have ended most of their previous 13 - in the middle of the pack.

From 1995 to 2008, Washington has compiled a 105-117-1 record in the regular season. Year after year, no other franchise has been so consistently humdrum. All 31 other teams have had at least one season with 11 or more victories or 12 or more losses. Many have had both. The Redskins haven’t had either.

Washington has neither been good enough to induce fear in opponents nor bad enough to force management to blow up the roster and start over. On average, the Redskins have won 7.5 games and lost 8.5 each season.

Guess the record of Norv Turner, who coached the most Redskins games during that span? Try 46-46-1. Marty Schottenheimer, a winner in Kansas City, Cleveland and San Diego, was 8-8 in his lone season in command of the Redskins. The mark of the current occupant of the job, Jim Zorn? 8-7.

“I have wondered what we have to do to get past eight, nine, 10 wins,” said right tackle Jon Jansen, who in his 10th season is the most senior Redskins player. “What can we do to get 12 wins and home-field advantage? It’s frustrating because we’ve had the talent. We just haven’t put it together, and I’ve never really been able to figure out why.”

Snapper Ethan Albright, who came to Washington in 2001, is equally baffled.

“I feel like ownership is trying,” Albright said. “Every year they evaluate where we need help. It seems like they bring in the people that are supposed to help, but there’s always something missing. It’s hard to figure out what it is. If you know, you should be the GM.”

And though the Redskins haven’t had an official general manager since owner Dan Snyder fired Charlie Casserly in July 1999, that change hasn’t appeared to change much. Casserly’s final five teams finished 39-40-1.

But as Albright said, the Redskins’ failure to achieve major success isn’t due to a lack of effort in the offseason. In addition to bringing Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs back, Snyder hired big-name coaches in Schottenheimer and Steve Spurrier. But none of them - even Gibbs in his second stint - left with a winning record.

“There has been a lot of always adjusting to changes,” Jansen said. “That’s been hard.”

Snyder has also spent as much as any other owner on free agents. In 2000, there was the Over The Hill Gang of Deion Sanders and Bruce Smith, while 2003 featured the Jetskins of Laveranues Coles and Randy Thomas, and 2006 the busts of Adam Archuleta and Brandon Lloyd?

“There [have] been so many Marches and Aprils where we’ve had with all the hoopla and fanfare that you’d think there would be huge dividends for the season,” Albright said. “There’ve been some productive guys brought in, but it hasn’t put us over the top.”

Cornerback Fred Smoot, who was with the Redskins from 2001 to 2004 and returned last year after two seasons in Minnesota, thought Washington had finally gotten over the top with its run to the playoffs last season. Then Gibbs retired for the second time.

“You look at the Patriots, the Colts, the Steelers, they win year after year,” Smoot said. “Last year was a great transition for us to go to that level. What tore that down was Coach Gibbs leaving. This year we doing the thing we did in the past, losing a lot of close games, not beating the teams we supposed to beat and that comes with family atmosphere and coaches trusting players and players trusting coaches. That’s the place we got to get to.”

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