- The Washington Times - Monday, December 2, 2013


A deep voice carried through the locker room’s gloom.

“It hurts. It sucks,” Brian Orakpo said. “What else can I say?”

Used training tape, bits of turf and an orphaned white sock decorated the faded gold carpet under his feet.

Late Sunday night, the locker room at FedEx Field emptied as fast as Redskins could shower and dress after the 24-17 loss to the Giants. No one said much. A couple blamed referees. Players offered the requisite sound bytes about frustration. No anger. No lashing out. Just resigned looks as they hefted backpacks and tugged suitcases through the debris of a lost season.

“There are no positives,” Orakpo said.

No answers, either.

The last-minute controversy over an errant down marker didn’t matter in a game that mathematically eliminated the Redskins from playoff contention. That was another excuse, an easy target to deflect attention from the three and a half hour advertisement on national television for a franchise that discovers new ways to lose each week.

By the dumpster-diving standards of these Redskins, nothing particularly unusual happened Sunday.

They blew a two-touchdown lead in a second half that could charitably be described as cornea-searing and, afterward, some players couldn’t do better than intimate that referees have been against them all season.

Redskins football. Live it.

We’ve seen this game week after week this season. That’s why you could pick up a ticket on the secondary market for $7 before Sunday’s kickoff, why the sprawling parking lots resembled those at a preseason game. Sure, the Redskins announced their 383rd consecutive sellout. But empty seats, thousands of them, gashed the stadium.

That’s the sorry state of a franchise in free-fall.

In the days before the Sunday’s game, players and coaches insisted the team’s myriad problems were fixable. The cliche-ridden boasts about the team being better than their record, about showing character, about fighting out of the hole they’ve dug disappeared under a flurry of yellow flags and dropped passes.

The shoddy discipline that’s dogged the Redskins all season returned as they had opportunity to put away the Giants and begin the long process of making this season something less than a unadulterated debacle.

Instead, veteran Santana Moss drew a flag for holding in the third quarter, told an official in no uncertain terms he didn’t care for the call. That earned a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct that Moss didn’t much care for after the game.

Instead, the special teams reverted to their NFL-worst form when long snapper Kyle Nelson four-hopped the ball to punter Sav Rocca, whose punt fluttered 18 yards after being tipped. Nelson, for good measure, got a flag for holding on the play.

Instead, Pierre Garcon, another veteran, found an outlet for his frustration after an incomplete, uncatchable pass from Robert Griffin III in the end zone on third down. Garcon kicked the football out of bounds. A 5-yard penalty for delaying the game followed.

Instead, defensive end Justin Tuck threw Griffin around like a dog introducing himself to new a chew toy. Four of the Giants’ five sacks came from Tuck. The pass-protection, another season-long problem without answers, led to Griffin being knocked down 13 times. During one four-quarter sequence, Griffin took hits on five of eight plays.

Instead, Redskins receivers dropped four passes in their final two series.

The gaffes ended when Garcon actually hung onto Griffin’s fourth-down pass, only to have Will Allen wrest the ball from his hands to end the game.

Even the traditional blow-up helmet used during pregame ceremonies wouldn’t inflate on the field that, once again, resembled a Slip N’ Slide.

Is this progress? Is this a fix?

These are games, corroded by fundamental mistakes and offering little hope for the future, that cost jobs.

Four meaningless games remain. Soon, answers will emerge. Do the Redskins extend Mike Shanahan’s regime that hasn’t shaken off the franchise’s rich tradition of mediocrity in almost four seasons? Or do they commit to rebuilding with another coach, another personnel czar and further draw out the unending search for a cohesive on-field product?

There isn’t a painless, pretty answer.

But one thing was clear Sunday night: This isn’t working.

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