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The 'Skins Have Become A Vomit-Inducing Mess

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Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images.
Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

On a busy sidewalk in the heart of Washington, D.C. late Thursday night, an apparently intoxicated man had vomited all over himself. Wearing a now well-soiled white Robert Griffin III jersey, it was hard to discern burgundy and gold from stains and foodstuff. Most people observing the grotesque scene were offended. They condemned the man who returned semi-digested fluids and solids to the external world. He made them feel better about personal flaws and vices. Dinner was all over his shirt. A “forty” of once-consumed malt liquor had pooled around his slumped being. “Is that a chunk of a Texas-style french fry or a bile-soaked bite of a dinner roll on his lap?” they wondered (don’t answer).

The narrow-minded critics missed the point. He is not a degenerate drunk ending this particularly night as he had so many before it. He’s an artist. His body is an abused canvas covered with brilliant expression. He ate and drank until his body returned the evening’s deposits in inglorious fashion with a profound purpose in mind. With the night’s oral intake saturating his being and the fouled scent detectable within 20 feet of his body, his work was complete; his intentions had been accomplished. He had become the physical representation of the ‘Skins’ meltdown in the second half of Thursday’s game against the Vikings.

Team A was a football statisticians dream. They won the turnover battle one to zero and dominated time of possession 36 to 24 minutes. The quarterback threw for three touchdowns and nearly 300 yards. The star running back gained 139 yards on the ground; the star receiver added 119 yards through the air. They out-gained their opponents 433 to 307, tallying five more first downs in the process. They knocked their opponent’s starting quarterback out of game and held their future Hall-of-Fame running back to a ho-hum 75 yards on the ground and less than four yards per carry.

Still, somehow, someway … Team A (the ‘Skins) lost. 

The answer is in the vomit. The left-for-dead, 1-7 Vikings were begging for their misery to continue. In a lifeless stadium they received the opening kickoff.  After only a few plays the Vikings returned the ball to the ‘Skins — via a horrible interception — at midfield. The ‘Skins promptly drove the ball down the field and got a fortuitous pass interference call in the end zone that yielded a first and goal from the one-yard line. Three unimaginative and unsuccessful plays later, the kicker was on the field, the scoreboard read 3-0 and the Vikings remained compelled to compete. 

The errors and missed opportunities got much, much worse.

Two heinous, after-the-whistle personal foul penalties — one by LB Perry Riley Jr., the other by last week’s hero Darrel Young — greatly aided two Vikings scoring drives. I’ve seen more self-discipline in first graders. The offensive line made the Vikings’ creaky DL Kevin Williams resemble Jim Marshall in his prime. Robert Griffin III resorted to playing in a reckless, unsustainable manner (disaster awaits if it continues: see Baltimore and Seattle games last year), and still shows no ability to slide. The pass protection was so bad and Griffin was physically beaten up to such an extent that his endorsement of various over-the-counter pain medications is inevitable. The defense made Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel look adequate. And all the while Mike Shanahan, Washington’s befuddled $7 million per year “leader” and head coach, sported his permanent saucer-eyed, dazed and confused look. Perhaps he is mentally disassociating from the product (can’t blame him, we all need to cope).

The owner added to the mockery (something he’s always done so, so well) by being caught on camera with a ‘Skins logo Crock-Pot in his suite. Snyder’s Ricky Schroeder-Silver Spoons-like persona continues to amaze. Jerry Jones is a meddling disaster, but at least he acts his age. Snyder, from his obnoxious belt buckle, tone deafness to the broader issues facing the franchise and now a traveling Crock-Pot, reminds me of a teenager someone made king. At least there’s this: the next time I’m wallowing in self-misery while grinding at my nine to five, I’ll think of the poor soul whose job description is to pack and transport the “official kitchenware of the Washington Redskins” for road trips. Zygi Wilf, your luxury sweet appliances are beneath me … so said The Dan.

Stoked to a comfy 27-14 lead after the opening drive of the second half, the ‘Skins seemed poised to cruise to victory. The win would have fanned hope’s flames for a consecutive NFC East title. Weren’t you feeling good? Perhaps even looking ahead on the schedule? Maybe you even mashed down a Subway sub and guzzled a Gatorade in homage to the quarterback that seemed likely to deliver another thrilling ride through November and December.

If you did, I hope the Gatorade was spiked heavily with vodka. Mine wasn’t, and it proved to be a terrible strategic failure. Apparently cruising to victory, the ‘Skins began throwing up all over themselves and didn’t finish dry heaving until the final gun sounded. The Ponder- and Cassel-led Vikings inexplicably outscored the ‘Skins 20-0 to close the game and, for all practical purposes, end Washington’s season. With everything on the line, the ‘Skins allowed Griffin to be turned into a human pinball by the “vaunted” Vikings defense, and Washington’s defense reverted to something I call “first half Philly form” to describe the worst of defensive football.

Down seven with just over three minutes to play, Washington’s final desperation drive was a microcosm of the 2013 season. The team skillfully moved the ball down the field and had a first-and-goal with adequate time for four shots to the end zone. Alas, after a couple of botched passes, a dubious running play and a prayer of a back-corner throw on fourth down, it was over. Close, but not good enough.

Like all those fancy statistics I presented before, the ‘Skins are a team healthy on style but shallow on substance. They do a lot of the basic stuff well, but their ability to consistently execute the minute details that so often decide games in the NFL is woeful. The stat sheet seems to indicate a good team; the eye test reveals the floundering 3-6 squad that the ‘Skins are.

The same issues — pass defense, lack of a consistent pass rush, pass-protection and special teams — surface every week. There is no improvement. Tear down the “growth charts” at ‘Skins Park, they are worthless. Josh Morgan continues to return punts. Why? No one in the defensive front seven appears capable of winning a one-on-one battle.

Griffin is getting abused weekly regardless of whether he’s running the read-option or sitting in the pocket. Which leads me to this question: when you invest three first round picks in a rumored franchise quarterback, wouldn’t it make sense to offer said franchise player some ability to alter the play at the line of scrimmage? How many times have you seen Peyton Manning or Tom Brady stand at the line of scrimmage, wait for the defense to expose its cards, pinpoint the location of the blitz, set the protection and call an optimal play? Those elite quarterbacks often know exactly what the defense is doing and where they are going with the ball before the snap. Griffin is forced to run what is called and read and react during the play. Griffin does no pre-snap manipulation. Can he? And would it help protect him and get the ball out a precious half-second earlier? Almost certainly.

Would Big (Mike) and Little (Kyle) Ego Shanahan ever dare to relinquish such control of their precious offense? Apparently not. Griffin is tasked to use his substantial but fragile athletic abilities to rescue the team from bad plays, but he’s given no authority to prevent doomsday scenarios in the first place. I don’t know if that’s part of his rub with the Shanahan’s, but it certainly should be. If you want Bruce Wayne/Robert Griffin III to be your superhero, at least give him full access to all the toys in the Batcave. Right now, Alfred (Mike Shanahan) decides when and if to deploy the offensive tools.

And to think this season’s detonation happened in the same building — The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome — where the ‘Skins won Super Bowl XXVI. My, my, what a hideous fall it has been since the franchise occupied the league’s pinnacle so, so long ago. Where have you gone Hogs, Mark Rypien, The Posse and the National Defense? The only remaining relevancy of the final seven games is how high of a first round draft pick will be forfeited to the Rams. Oh, stop … there will be no seven-game winning streak. Nine games into the 2013 season and 10 months after winning a division title, the ‘Skins are plagued with yet another lost season and face an uncertain future — one perhaps including the latest Dan Snyder-led franchise reset. Ugh, what a mess. I could use that Vodka now…

The artist coated in vomit makes sense now, eh? I bet he even has some copycats. I know I’m inspired. Bottoms up.