The stat you are about to hear… is real. The Washington Redskins are now 1-16 on Monday Night Football at FedEx Field since 1998. That’s a “straight up” number, not even one against the spread.
Last night’s humiliation – and it was, expressly that: a humiliation – at the hands of the packed-it-in Panthers is just another masterpiece of “meh.”
How, why, whaaaaaaa? Why are they so bad in these games, and how come it keeps happening?
The stat nerds might say it’s still a “relatively” short run of data. That you can throw 17 coins in the air, and get “heads” 16 of them. The same nerds will say that past results have no bearing on future results.
But I think they are missing something. FedEx Field IS a genuine home-field DISadvantage on Monday Night. A battle through weekday beltway traffic. A midnight finish on the far side of the market for much of the metroplex.
Plus, you are going to draw a good opponent. The Jags, Browns, Titans, Bills etc. aren’t likely to show up. So it’s either a big time national opponent, or a division rival.
But there’s more to it than that. The venue is a cold, dark mildly depressing place. It was Jack Kent Cooke’s final mistake before he died. To construct a lifeless, oversized concrete shell out in the middle of this market’s nowhereland, has been an albatross from the moment it opened.
It’s been dressed up in the last 10 years, but FedEx Field has the constant reminder of failure. The ugly scars of missing seats in the upper decks, remind the fans who still show up of the emergency surgery that was necessary to avoid home TV blackouts.
You sit there and stare and think: “There used to be fans that sat way up there! Happily. Willingly. And they did so with hope, and energy and true zeal for the Burgundy and Gold.”
As Moe Syzlak once said: “Not no more they ain’t.”
And so you begin with these two things going against the home team, and what’s left? You have to have a great team, that is focused and committed to winning at home on national TV. You need a team with an edge.
These Redskins lack any real edge to them. The quarterback tries to get edgy, but only after the safe glow of a comeback win, or a massive statistical night. I love Kirk, and I want him paid… but the last highest level of holding this job is to be able to carry an edge from Monday through Sunday that energizes and focuses the entire building.
He’s so nice. Too nice. We’ll work on it.
More importantly the coach has no edge. Jay Gruden’s style won’t change. He gets pissed periodically when the team plays bad, but then by Thursday he’s letting an often injured wide receiver titty-twist him for laughs at practice.
Now I’m not advocating a change. I’m just counting the cards on the table. And when I say a coach has no edge, don’t mistake that for being either a rah rah guy (i.e. Gus Bradley, Rex Ryan) or a tough-guy coach (Tony Sparano, Greg Schiano). There have been plenty of failures of both types, who look and sound good, but still don’t move the needle on their team’s ability to focus and get up for big games.
I’m talking about coaches – some of them the quietest types – who set an edge so sharp in their buildings that people are almost afraid to ask them if they want a cup of coffee after a loss.
And this season, the organization forfeited multiple chances to “set an edge” in words or in action.
There was a legitimate case to be made, to fire DC Joe Barry in mid-season. They chose not to. Could it have made the defense any WORSE? Impossible to imagine. More importantly, it might have help set a tone: “We’re not fucking around, people.”
There were guys like me who said Trent Williams should have lost his “Captain’s C” after his 4-game suspension for a missed/positive marijuana test. Symbolic? Of course. But I thought appropriate. Again, message: “We’re not fucking around here, and we don’t care WHAT exactly happened on your missed/positive test.”
When Josh Norman committed a jumbo-pack of penalties in the London game, then acted like a 10 year old by saying “That ref sucked!” there was no pushback at all from the coaches. In fact, Gruden said he would “never” want to change Norman’s style.
And so, a soft-cornered and sanded down team trotted out last night as 7 point favorites against a team that was just ready – and waiting – to get their cue to pack it in…. and got manhandled.
Make it 1-16 now, fellas.
The last part of this inconceivable stat, is the current team/staff’s unwillingness to OWN it. There seems to be a thinking of… “well…. most of those losses, weren’t on MY watch.”
That’s why they KEEP losing, though. Even though you weren’t here for them… guess what… WE WERE as a fanbase. What part of “you guys OWE us something better than a horseshit effort on Monday Night” don’t you get?
I think a great Tuesday press-conference rant this past week, would have been Jay spending 5 minutes looking at that 1-15 record and saying: “This is unacceptable! It’s inconceivable! We have to treat this game like we’ll never get another prime time game again if we don’t win. The whole league knows that coming here on Monday night is like a late-night drive thru at Taco Bell. That’s gonna change if I have anything to say about it. I’m embarrassed for us an organization.”
I guarantee that kind of soundbite would have lit some social media fires, and lead SportsCenter and all of the usual yakking-head-debate shows. And it would have been a bit un-nerving because.. hey… you STILL might lose!
But I guarantee it would have put the building, the coaches, and the players… on edge.
Until some current coach, or current players care to take ownership of a record that is not of their making, but IS in their power to start changing…. I’d say expect more of the same.