COLUMN: It’s the plays they didn’t run
© Prince William TimesOf all the horrifically awful plays Washington ran on Sunday, two stand out in my mind, though they are both plays that were not run. Would that Washington had not run a lot of others, too.
The first came fairly early in the second quarter. Already down 24-0, Washington faced fourth and about a yard deep in its own territory. Surely, despite the field position, but taking into account a game and season already lost, the Shanahans would go for it. What’s to lose?
They didn’t. Dexter McCluster returned the ensuing Sav Rocca line drive 74 yards for a touchdown. Laughing all the way.
A little later in the quarter, RGIII hit Ryan Paulson in the back of the end zone for Washington’s lone TD to make the score 24-7 and making the game not entirely hopeless -- even if Washington’s play to this point had been.
With about a minute left in the half, I assured Kathy, who had long since resorted to an emergency stash of magazines in lieu of the slaughter, Washington will kick onside and try to get within hailing distance before the half. What’s to lose?
But Kai Forbath kicked it away. What’s to lose? Another seven points, thanks to Quintin Demps’ 95-yard return, over the river-like turf and through a passel of wooden and rooted defenders.
If there were any lingering doubts that the Shanahan era in Washington is over, Sunday’s game effectively eased them. Not only because of ESPN’s pregame story about Mike Shanahan’s increasingly shaky relationship with Dan Snyder, but also because of the play on the field. Or lack thereof.
Mike Shanahan will be gone, taking Kyle with him. Jim Haslett won’t be back, and if special teams coach Keith Burns makes it through game 16, that will be a reflection of the generosity of yuletide.
Who else won’t we see in burgundy and gold next year? Certainly, Tyler Polumbus won’t be back, and Fred Davis is history. London Fletcher will retire, or so we certainly hope before more of his legacy is endangered. Bacarri Rambo is a complete bust, and will likely be playing in another uniform, if at all. Brian Orakpo will be a free agent, and we ought, I believe, to give him his freedom.
We need an entirely new offensive line, Trent Williams perhaps excepted, though he has not had a good year, either. We need a couple of linebackers and a new defensive backfield. We need a punter. We need Forbath to either strengthen his leg for kickoffs, or sign a specialist for that duty. We need receivers who can get open and catch the ball when they do.
The list of those whom we must retain is a good deal shorter. Griffin, of course, but also Alfred Morris, Jordan Reed, Pierre Garcon, Perry Riley, who has really stepped up his game, Ryan Kerrigan, Darrell Young, whom we have missed of late, and…Santana Moss, who continues to play with skill and enthusiasm and is the spark plug of a team that otherwise lacks fire.
All we want for Christmas is a brand-new team.
Washington goes to Atlanta on Sunday, the meeting of two 3-10 teams. Despite the opposition, I can’t see them winning. Against Dallas and New York in subsequent games, there is no hope. The season started like a Christmas morning, all the shiny new packages organized around the tree. It ends with crumpled paper, toys without batteries, a tree knocked askew and the best ornament in shatters. We will likely finish at 3-13, 4-12 at the most optimistic.
All we want for Christmas is a brand-new team. And a brand-new name.