Another Coat of Burgundy & Gold Paint Not Enough To Fix The Redskins

By Carla Peay
Updated: December 31, 2006

WASHINGTON—The season couldn’t end soon enough for the Washington Redskins – known here in our nation’s capital as the Burgundy and Gold.

The team finished the season at 5-11 after losing to their NFC East Division rival New York Giants 34-28 in the final regular season contest for both teams on Saturday. The 8-8 Giants secured the final wildcard spot in the playoffs.

Picked by many pre-season prognosticators as a team that would go deep into the playoffs, the Redskins are easily among the NFL’s most disappointing teams this season, along with Pittsburgh and Carolina. One of the game’s few bright spots was the play of quarterback Jason Campbell.

Campbell was 21 for 31, passing for 220 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. The Redskins were down by as many as 20 points before Campbell led a comeback to close within six points.

“I felt like our game tonight (Saturday), our guys came out and fought hard”, said head coach Joe Gibbs. “They wanted to make a statement. There were a lot of things we could have done to give us a chance to win the football game”.

“But our guys showed up and they showed a lot of character. I think we have a tight core group of guys to build around for next year. I’m proud of the way they fought tonight (Saturday).”

Some of the ugly numbers: The Washington Redskins set franchise and NFL lows in several categories. The defense forced only 12 turnovers, beating the previous NFL low of 15, set in 2004 by both Green Bay and St. Louis.

The team recorded only 19 sacks on the season, beating the previous franchise low of 25. The team had only six interceptions, beating the previous low of 11. The 5-11 record is the worst of Gibbs’ career, mirroring the mark of the final year of the failed three-year Steve Spurrier experiment.

“You never want to finish the season like this”, said running back Ledell Betts. Hopefully we’ll have something to build on for next year. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve been inconsistent all year.”

This is the third year into the second tour of duty for Hall of Fame head coach Joe Gibbs, a move that was seen by the rabid fans in this town as the best move free spending owner Daniel Snyder ever made. But with an overall record of 21-27 since his return, it is safe to wonder if the fault lies with Gibbs.

Then again, it could be the players, the owner, the glaring absence of a legitimate general manager, the free agent over draft philosophy, or the 500 assistant and associate head coaches that seem to prowl the sidelines.

“From my standpoint, I have to find a way to do a better job”, Gibbs said. “I’ve already started thinking about the off season. I have to find a way to win. That’s my job. It will start with me and Dan [Snyder] and then move on. We’ll take a god hard look at ourselves.”

Gibbs has just completed the third year of a five year deal, and despite his claims that the past five months have been among the most miserable of his career, Gibbs said he has every intention of sticking around in an attempt to right the ship.

He and his players said all the right things after Saturday night’s loss, referring to the team’s character and the positives to look forward to for next year, but the team’s basic philosophy could stand some scrutiny.

The Redskins have long been an organization that places more emphasis on signing high priced free agents than trying to build a winning team through the draft.

One prime example of this shoot-for-the-moon philosophy that will likely bite the team in the salary cap this off season was last season’s signing of safety Adam Archuleta.

Archuleta became the highest paid safety in league history, inking a seven year, $35 million deal, with $10 million in bonuses, but was reduced to a special teams player halfway through the season.

It seems that assistant head coach (defense) Gregg Williams wanted to use Archuleta differently that the St. Louis Rams did. The experiment has been a complete failure.

The Archuleta example is just one of many instances when an expensive, big name free agent signing has not panned out for the Redskins, when doing a little scouting at the college level just might lead to finding that fourth or fifth round gem that may not be on everyone’s radar, but is the ideal fit for your offensive or defensive schemes.

From that standpoint, perhaps a 5-11 season is exactly what the Redskins needed – crystal clear evidence that they are not one or two top players away from going deep into the playoffs, but a flawed team that needs some rebuilding. Slapping another coat of burgundy and gold paint on the house isn’t going to cut it this time.

It’s time to fix the foundation.