- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Carl Casey fondly remembered the Redskins’ glory years, recalling how he’d go to watch parties every weekend and how the team would regularly go to the playoffs. But these days, the 60-year-old graphic designer is so frustrated with the franchise that he stood on Constitution Avenue earlier this month at the Nationals’ championship parade with a self-made banner that cheered the World Series winners — while taking a dig at the football team.

From left to right, the sign contained the Nationals’ logo and an image of the Commissioner’s Trophy, the Capitals’ logo with the Stanley Cup, the Mystics’ logo with the WNBA Finals trophy before including an altered version of the Redskins’ logo, which shows the American Indian mascot face palming.

“They’ve just been a disappointment,” Casey said. “I’ve lived here 50 years and I used to love the Redskins. Everyone did. … Now it’s just depressing. I don’t even turn the game on Sunday. It’s terrible.”

Casey’s disappointment prompts a simple question: Is this the worst Redskins team in the franchise’s 87-year history?

Heading into Sunday, the Redskins are just 1-8 with a minus-111 point differential — the third-worst rate in the league. Washington ranks 29th and 24th in offensive and defensive efficiency, according to Football Outsiders. FedEx Field, for another year, has been invaded by opposing fans. Through nine games, the Redskins haven’t given their fan base a lot to cheer for.

The case for: If you recall, months ago, the NFL Network’s Adam Rank predicted the Redskins would go just 2-14 in 2019. USA Today wasn’t much better, projecting Washington to finish 3-13. The predictions drew criticism from fans and even the players themselves.

“I laugh at that,” Redskins safety Landon Collins told NBC Sports Washington in July.

3-13, however, might be a success at this point.

The Redskins are on pace to finish with just two wins this season — which would be their lowest total since the NFL expanded to 16 games in 1978. Just twice, Washington has finished 3-13, doing so in 1994 and 2013, the latter of which led to Mike Shanahan’s firing.

These Redskins, though, are losing by a greater margin than those teams did. Pro Football Reference, an online football encyclopedia, tracks “Margin of Victory,” or points scored subtracted by points allowed and divided by the team’s number of games. This season, Washington’s margin of victory is minus-12.3 points per game — the team’s worst in the 16-game era.

Only three other Washington teams have a worse differential than that: The 1954 Redskins (minus-18.8), the 1961 Redskins (minus-15.6) and the 1959 Redskins (minus-13.8).

If the Redskins don’t win another game this year, they would become just the third team in franchise history to finish with only one win — joining the teams from 1960 and 1961.

The offense shoulders a lot of the blame. This season, the Redskins are averaging just 12 points per game, which would be an all-time low since the team moved to Washington from Boston in 1937. Washington hasn’t scored a touchdown in three straight weeks, a team record.

According to ESPN’s Stats and Information, the offense has gone three and out on 42.6% of their drives, which trails only the New York Jets’ 47.4%. (Get ready for a barnburner Sunday when the Jets visit FedEx Field.)

The case against: The Redskins have time to claw their way out of being regarded as the one of the worst teams in franchise history. The best-case scenario for Washington would be replicating what the franchise was able to do in 1998. That year, the Redskins started 1-8, but won five of the last seven — including a four-game win streak — to finish a relatively respectable 6-10.

Even if there is no second-half surge, this year’s club faces some steep competition in terms of being labeled the worst Redskins team ever.

The 1961 Redskins went 1-12-1 and lost nine of their 14 games by double digits. Five of those resulted in defeats of 21 points or more. Likewise, the 1960 Redskins (1-9-2) lost eight games by double digits. So far, this year’s team has “only” lost by double digits six times. Progress?

Washington’s defense, too, might keep it from giving up the most points in franchise history. In 2019, opposing teams have scored 219 points against Washington. While that’s still the 14th-most in the NFL this year, it ranks far behind the 2013 Redskins who gave up a franchise-worst 474 points.

Beyond statistical measurements, there are also anecdotal factors to consider. As much as this year’s team has disappointed — coach Jay Gruden was fired after an 0-5 start — at least this squad wasn’t seen as a Super Bowl contender like the 2013 Redskins were.

Coming off a division win in 2012 and Robert Griffin III’s thrilling rookie season, expectations were high for the Redskins the following season. But it turned out to be a disaster with friction between Griffin and the coaching staff, an eight-game losing streak and multiple reports each week signaling dysfunction.

This year has seen its share of drama between Trent Williams’ holdout, a coach firing and a debate of when to start rookie Dwayne Haskins on a full-time basis. But none of it seems to reach 2013’s level of chaos. Yet.

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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