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Posted at 11:08 AM ET, 12/13/2010

The fate of the Redskins

By LaVar Arrington

For whatever reason or reasons, it seems clear that losing has become a seemingly unbreakable trend for the Washington Redskins. Some have said it's the curse of the team's logo. Some blame it on the owner. And then there's always the coaches and players to point the finger at.

I am not sure what the reason is, but it's clear that there is something -- and the Tampa game sold me. Sunday was a game where the Redskins were actually the more superior team. Nonetheless, they still managed to find a way to lose.

It was a rainy and cold day, so the team that could run the ball would certainly be the team with the best chance of winning, right? Wrong. The offensive line opened up holes for the first time all season. It was by far their most impressive showing run blocking all year. Yet, on a day on which Ryan Torain ran for 172 yards the Redskins lost.

The defense played harder and with more passion than I have seen all year. Despite so many positives, this team still lost the game. If a football game had judges and scorecards the Redskins would've won by unanimous decision. Unfortunately for the Redskins, games are won and lost by who puts the most points on the board.

On the last Redskins' drive, the amount of downs were mixed up. People watching the game on TV thought it was fourth down, but it was only third down when Fred Davis dropped the ball in the end zone. So the Redskins got one last shot at tying the game and Donovan McNabb finally delivered the pass we've been looking for all season, the clutch pass to Santana Moss to send the game into overtime.

Extra points are almost automatic for NFL placekickers. Graham Gano comes on the field, ties the game up and the Redskins have a chance to win in overtime. A simple snap, then hold, then kick for the extra point. Well, the snap was muffed. It went off the hands of Hunter Smith, the holder, dashing any plans of an overtime victory by the Redskins.

I'm not a big believer in luck. I believe luck is just a way of being humble about preparation. However, I do believe in fate, and it seems that fate plays cruel games with the Washington Redskins. In my opinion, fate is one thing that a person can work to alter. But sometimes it just seems to be what it is. I can't help but wonder why the fate of this team has been the same for so long. When something can go wrong for this franchise, it does -- on and off the field. I would imagine that being too much for one single entity to shoulder the blame for it.

So what is it? Why has this franchise struggled like this for so long? Wish I had the answer, especially when I was a player. But I don't and I find myself wondering how a team goes from being so good not that long ago to being what it is now. How long will this continue to play out?

Here's the harsh reality. In sports there's always a possibility we may not live to see it change. I always reference that I was born and raised in Pittsburgh. Well, what the Redskins are going through reminds me of the Pirates. They had such a rich tradition with players and championships a long time ago. But even growing up with teams that boasted the likes of Barry Bonds, Andy Van Slyke and a legendary skipper by the name of Jim Leyland they couldn't win it all like those late '70s teams with Willie Stargell.

Then there's always the teams that have never won -- like the Detroit Lions or the Philadelphia Eagles. It's just not a given to expect another title to come anytime soon -- or even ever.

By LaVar Arrington  | December 13, 2010; 11:08 AM ET
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Its the Curs of JKC. Not happenstance that when he died the team started to suck.

Jack Kent Cooke built a stadium, named it after himself, then the naming rights go to FedEx Field and the team starts to blow.

Burn the thing down, and build back in DC, and the team will start to win again.

Posted by: alex35332 | December 13, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

It appears we suffer the curse of immature ownership. We change coaches every 2 or 3 years so all the players here have to learn new systems continually. We acquire free agents based on previous stardom with no regard to the system they have played in. We put large emphases on skill positions and forget about the importance of the trenches. When the team won (I have been to all their Super Bowl games)the team had outstanding offensive and defensive lines. Marty Schottenheimer had the right idea and the only .500 record as coach since Dan has owned the team. He was rewarded by being fired.
Until the owner matures to a point where he gives control to football personnel and as the owner does not allow nepotism I think the results will remain the same.
I would love to see this turned around but it appears we are in for a few more years of the same.

Posted by: mhughesconst | December 13, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

"It appears we suffer the curse of immature ownership."

Why does Dan Snyder constantly get blamed for the Redskins losing? Let's take this for example, Joe Gibbs is the coach, Jack Kent Cooke is the owner. All of that can't make Hunter Smith catch a snap! Whether it's curse like Lavar is saying or not, stop blaming Dan Snyder. The guy wants to win, and whether or not he has finally figured out you can't win with FREE AGENCY I think he is on his way. Another thing, what was the expectation for the Redskins this year? A playoff appearance? No. A super bowl appearance? Hell No! Nobody expected the Redskins under a new coach and front office to finish better than 8-8. But this is typical Redskins fans. Let them win a couple of close games and then crucify them for not living up to something you didn't expect them to attain in the first place. Stop being hypocritical and have some patience. Whether or not anyone wants to admit it they are better off this year than last and they are a better team with Mike Shanahan. If you are a Redskin fan stop complaining about stuff you have no control over (like Dan Snyder) and move on.

Posted by: jsw6380a | December 13, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

If anything thinks things are changing around here because of Shanahan and Allen, look no further than the Donovan McNabb trade. We gave away a second that turned out to be a pretty good pick (on the Eagles part). And for what? For some pipe dream of making the playoffs? Even if we did, is that REALLY what we should be shooting for, the playoffs? The Skins are one of the oldest teams in the NFL. That would be fine if they were talented. But I think we can realistically say the Skins are in the bottom 1/4 in the NFL in terms of talent. So we're old and lack talent. On to the draft, right. Welp, we only have a first and a second this year. That's a product of years of depleting our picks for worthless veterans that succeed in stealing big paydays. Not that I'm blaming the players too much. Vinny and Dan shoulder most of that blame from their fantasy football years together. So while we probably need to replace 11 of 22 starters, we might net 2 out of 11 starters from the draft. And where will the rest come from? Oh boy, here we go again... free-agency. Will you be shocked when Dan spends on two or three big names when we really should be dropping a 1-2 and 2-3 million on numerous players? Will you be shocked when we don't trade away ANY of our veterans for draft picks yet again? Shoot, why would we do that? Only the successful NFL teams do those sorts of things. Look, change takes time. So while Var and Dukes constantly point their finger at Shanahan for not building an offensive line like he had in Denver, they're forgetting that we're one year into a four or five year plan. Power lines can't be built overnight. So I'm not ready to jump off the Shanahan bus just yet like those two are. This is all painful to watch. The first two years of the Caps rebuilding plan was too. But change takes time. New systems takes time. Players gelling takes time. Changing a culture takes time. I'm personally waiting for this off-season to withhold judgment. If we're REALLY investing $70 million in an aging and declining QB for the next four years, well, that tells me all I need to know. If that happens, it's still fantasy football time here in DC.... we're paying for names not results. We'll see folks... we'll see this off-season.

Posted by: Matt252 | December 13, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Let's face it: The entire DC sports scene seems to be cursed, not just the Redskins. I feel particularly bad for my 19 and 21 year old sons. At least at 53 I have experienced championships by the Redskins, Terps and Bullets.

Posted by: collegedad | December 13, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

In defense of Dan Snyder:

Snyder knows how to make lots of money. If he didn't care at all, he wouldn't be using his moneymaking skills to help the team. But what does he do consistently? Year after year, he brings in high-profile people. He doesn't control whether the team wins, but it looks like he is maximizing the public support for the team. So he is doing what he knows to help the team.

The downside? First of all, the Skins already had lots of public support before he arrived. Second of all, some Very Good Players (probably including Haynesworth) are strong believers that it doesn't matter what people think about you, it matters how you play.

Posted by: Kboainim | December 13, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Just to follow an earlier comment. mhughesconst said that Schotty was the only coach to go .500 since Dan bought the team. That is far from true. We have made the playoffs twice since schotty left. And Zorn went .500 too.
Anyway, we need time to make this team right. It is not going to be overnight that we go from 4-12 to the superbowl. That would be great but extremely unrealistic. We have a good set of speedy young talent (Banks, Armstrong) and hopefully this offseason we will upgrade the O line. Of course we need plenty more players to get where we want to be, but it HAS to start with the trenches. I do agree that Gano needs to go. He is less than 70% of all kicks and even lower under 30 yds. That is horrible.
The only thing we can do is keep hope. This is something that we have been doing for a couple of decades now but what else are we going to do. I have faith that Shanny will get some great talent in the next two seasons and we should be competing for the NFC East crown in 2-3 years. Anything sooner will be an unlikely surprise

Posted by: SkinsTigers | December 13, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I think that we should try to rebuild instead of reload.

I think that we should hire a young INNOVATIVE coach like Jim Harbaugh.

Trade all our players who can fetch future draft choices. This would include Cooley. Cut the rest. Never trade draft choices away for players. Always be willing to trade down the draft board for more picks.

Get good scouts and personnel people and a young outstanding GM (like Bobby Beathard)

Be willing to go 0-16 for a couple years. Be patient. Three years is better than Twenty.

Change the team name. Used to stand for a winning tradition. Now it just represents a decade of futility.

Complete fresh start. No more false hopes.

Posted by: supattapone | December 13, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: pooftah2 | December 13, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

supattapone, sure, if you believe that nobody on the team now knows how to play.

Posted by: Kboainim | December 13, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

"Too often we... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought"...

Posted by: mazbar | December 13, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Hope springs eternal... if you want to see a winning team, come to the Verizon Center in January and February: I'm talking about GEORGETOWN BASKETBALL - GO HOYAS!!!!!!!!

Posted by: mtp456 | December 13, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Its Jack Kent Cooke man. He's out there on the field every game, poking receivers in the eye when the ball is coming their way. Sticking his foot out for the QB in the back step. He's completely possessed Carlos Rogers' hands and he's holding the back of the d-line jerseys when they rush the QB. Those aren't whiffed tackles by our's a ghostly stiff arm out of the blue.

It's the only explanation. Why do you think we beat Dallas? Even he isn't that vindictive.

Get'em Jack!

Posted by: 20yrskinfan | December 13, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Hey pooftah2, you're a freaking lunatic. Donte Stallworth hit and killed a guy who was walking to work when he played for Cleveland. Was that because the helmets were brown? That's life, you moron. People die, people make mistakes. Millions of people see the helmet as an honor to an indian warrior. A few hundred are offended. Get over's the best helmet in the league.

Posted by: Riggo2 | December 14, 2010 1:54 AM | Report abuse

Somehow the fact that Tampa's defense twice stopped the Redskins inside the 20, somehow the fact that two out of three times McNabb did NOT throw the clutch pass, has escaped your attention. Somehow that fact that two times "gimme" field goals were missed, one off the upright and the other wide left.

In the second half Tampa outplayed the Redskins, and they put up points when the Redskins could not.

This has nothing to do with fate and everything to do with poor special teams and inferior players.

Posted by: krush01 | December 14, 2010 4:54 AM | Report abuse

To heck with a title, just get in the chase.

Posted by: outsourced_in_va | December 14, 2010 6:32 AM | Report abuse

Obviously the core problem is Snyder. He is the one who picks the coaches and the directors of personnel. They are like McNabb. Men out of the past who are not available for a reason. Read the ecstatic reports when Shanahan was hired. Even they said he had a bad reputation for selecting personnel as did Gibbs.

If we were like Detroit and were giving signs of building, there would be hope. But the Redskins are deteriorating with the oldest team, and it is the Patriots who accumulate draft choices and use them wisely. Hire someone from the Patriots.

Posted by: jhough1 | December 14, 2010 6:49 AM | Report abuse

This is a very interesting article and a bunch of tongue in cheek comments. The WP's Sally really hit the nail on the head when she said we have a very thin veiner of 1st string players. When we lose 11 players as doubtful for this week and how many on the disabled list. It means we are playing with a team of anything but pro bowlers. Give it a rest, or if you are too impatient then its time you sacrifice a chicken on the 50 yard line to get rid of the hex.

Posted by: kutzintl | December 14, 2010 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Let's show our support for the Redskins and everyone go vote for the redskin's players to go to the Pro Bowl instead of sitting there and grousing about their rebuilding process. Show the team your support them.

Posted by: kutzintl | December 14, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

the world is not coming to an end. We are rebuilding! Lets work together and vote some of our favorite Redskins into Pro

Posted by: mazbar | December 14, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse


No other explanation...

Posted by: kahlua87 | December 14, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Really pooftah2? You must have forgotten about the Broncos. This year, their WR, Kenny McKinley took his own life. They also lost cornerback Darrent Williams and running back Damien Nash in 2007. Just last year, the Bengals' Chris Henry was killed.

Stop acting like a loon.

Posted by: Rahwaj | December 14, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

So true, and at least for me. Not only have I suffered every season except for a couple since Synder bought my favorite team.

I grew up a Pirates fan as well. So now I add suffering for the last 18 years with the Buccos to my list of burdens to carry. Lol.

I have friends that tell me to jump off the bandwagon. But that's not a true fan.

Since 1970 I have bled burgundy and gold during football season and black and gold during the summers. I keep the faith...but wonder when or if this losing will ever stop. I see hope despite Sunday and the many Sundays of the past decade...that Shanahan and Allen will turn this ship around. As for the Pirates...well at least I was around in '71 and '79.:) And don't ask how someone growing up in Kansas became a Skins and Pirates fan. Long Story, GO SKINS!!

Posted by: kansaskinfan | December 14, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

JKC brought this on the team by leaving the door open for it's sale to outside investors rather than his own son. When this happened, all continuity ceased to exist in this organization, from the top down. Continuing this trend, the Redskins have shown an inability and unwillingness to develop young talent both in coaching and player personnel. They do not reward those who have dedicated themselves to this team with loyalty and in contrast, they seem intent on spiting those who dedicate themselves to the Redskins and then seek fair compensation in return. This also applies to the fans of this team. The Redskins have proven time and time again that the bottom line and the almighty dollar are more important than the fanbase. This is not only a poor way to run a football team, it is a poor way to run any business. Without proper business ethics, loyalty to the workforce or dedication to doing things right for the long term as opposed to the "slash and burn" practices that have been employed during the years of Snyder's ownership, this team is left to wallow in mediocrity or worse every season.

Posted by: N07H4NX | December 14, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Hey, it's Dallas week and we don't want to be in a tie with them for last place when the final whistle blows. This is a must win for pride and all that rubbish. Don't we want braging rights during the off season so we can at least say we went 2-0 against America's team? What do we have to do to beat Dallas this week?

Posted by: DeployedFan | December 14, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I am not sure where the thought process left the Redskin main office. How come we continually sign players the caliber of Haynesworth? There has to be a reason Tennessee let him go, it wasn't a long drawn out deal!! they did not want that pile in Tennessee either, but we thought we can convert this into a 100 million dollar player? Even a person who does not watch football would know that won't work!!
Why do we have an over aged team, no depth and a Defensive co ord that can't get the team out of the cellar? What really irks everyone is the guy looks like he care less that we are in the bottom as far as defensive capability. Come on Dan Grow a set and replace him!! Get someone that will give us a defense , and will take pride in what he has accomplished. If I was your current defensive man, I would be embarrassed to cash my pay check!! Grow a set, get the right deal together or give it back to someone who cares about a winning season. Instead of big bucks up front, how about a pay plan for coaches and players that is based on production, wins and off field character? Novel idea to reward someone who actually works and stays out of trouble, off the front pages
and not in the gossip column.

Posted by: crben | December 14, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

When you played , did you just do enough to keep under the radar or did you just hang it out and do everyhting possible to try and win? Come on, no bull just the facts!! I know there were some moments that you and the Skins did not see eye to eye, but really, what is your honest take on those guys that profess to be Redskins( I know there a few that should hold their head up, Cooley for one0 but lets face it there are a few that could be replaced by a top notch high school player.

Posted by: crben | December 14, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

If you look at the history of the Skins you have to wonder if there may be validity to the curse. Except in the very beginning and for a brief window in the Gibbs era we have been pretty much a joke. We have nothing on the Skins of the 60's For years I have kind of laughed at it but when you list out all the crazy plays like the recent missed extra point you start to wonder. Here are just a few recent ones. Last year if Randel El can fair catch a punt, (which is the one thing he is good at) against the Panthers we win the game, instead he takes it off the facemask. Against the Saints last year Moore intercepts a pass at the end of the half and instead of getting a very possible 3 or 7 points for us it is stripped from him and ran back for a TD. Against the hapless Rams, end of half, we are inside the 20 a ball is deflected and our lineman catches it and decides to run, he fumbles and they return it for a touchdown. That is just a couple last year, there is not enough space here to write everything. Anybody remember the fumble by I think Davis running into the endzone untouched not only do we not get a TD they get the ball. Betts and Cartwright had horribly timed fumbles. Or the Titans Rolle on MNF weaving through our entire team running an interception back 80 yds with no time on the clock.All they had to do was get him down. The Kickoff against the Seahawks in the playoffs where it looked like Sean Taylor was looking down and we get it and we come away with no points. There really are too many to talk about but the greatest evidence is Sean Taylor. I don't think there has ever been a star player killed in the middle of the season, and he was where he was supposed to be, at home and in bed. And he was shot in the leg. That just doesn't happen. Yes, there is truth to what everybody is saying in these posts. Dan Snyder has made a boatload of mistakes that has destroyed the foundation of the team but I think the Shanahan/Allen team can get us turned around if they are allowed enough time. Haynesworth is just one of long line of overpaid free agents that we have invested in. It just seems that there is something bigger going on and I wonder if it is the name. It is an outright racist name and if you have any real relationships with Native Americans they will tell you what it means to them. I have been a diehard Skins fan for over 40 years, had season tickets, watch every single game every year and it kills me to say it but I think we should consider a change. I know it sounds crazy but when you go through this year after year after year. You have to wonder.

Posted by: dnljsf | December 15, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

The owner needs to GO he treats his emplolyees and staff like crap and hes abraisive towards everyone around him, he needs to treat ppl with some respect and then they will start winning

Posted by: 4evaskinsfan | December 15, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

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