Cheap Seats: The State of the Skins
By: Daniel Coleman 
Posted: 2006-10-30
Category: Washington Redskins News
My fellow Skins fans, these are tough times to bleed burgundy and gold.

The media has labeled this season a disaster for our Joe Gibbs-led franchise, and we've seen the return of hackneyed, big-spending-Snyder jokes. We are now into week 8 of having to endure the mockery aimed at Al Saunders' 700-page playbook. (Have you heard the one about Saunders' playbook? He says it's 700 pages, and we're waiting to see the other -- oh, you have heard this one before?).

Days like these can be dark. Indeed, our own players can no longer claim home-field advantage, as masses of frustrated fans stand ready to shout boos at the slightest sign of weakness.

What used to be a 90,000-seat pro-Redskins noise machine has turned into a cynical, ĎAmerican Idolí-style judging panel, with a particular dislike for Mark Brunell and Derrick Frost.

We hear stories of disappointed fans who, without hope and resigned to a losing season, are selling their tickets to the highest bidder -- even if this means giving a seat to the opposing team's fans.

Gone are the days when the Redskins had a notable failure for a head coach, where we might hope for the playoffs but in the back of our minds wonder it we'd even break .500.

We were supposed to be playoff-bound with Gibbs as our leader, but the further into the season we play, the deeper the wounds seem to get. This team is under-achieving, disappointing and frustrating.

A good showing against Jacksonville is met by a rout in New York. The Skins bounce back from losing a close Titans game to post a great first half against the Colts Ö only to be decimated in the final 30 minutes. These are truly tough times to bleed burgundy and gold.

It is hard to look at this season as anything but a big disappointment, but let's not allow past results to cloud our perception of future possibilities.

Remember that Saunders came to Washington, D.C., with an offensive system that has a tremendous track record. Players from Kansas City have said that the offense can take up to a year to master, so we should not lose patience with our offense as they find their identity.

In Saunders' first year with Kansas City, his offense ranked 16th in points and fourth in scoring. In the following season, they became the number one scoring offense and were fifth in yardage.

The season after that: first and second, respectively. Under Saunders, the Redskins currently rank 10th in points and fifth in yardage. (Sound familiar?) Saunders knows what he is doing, but it will take time for our players to truly settle into the system.

Gregg Williamsí highly touted defense has had its worst season yet. After two top-10 seasons, they are now ranked 31st in yards allowed. Furthermore, injuries have depleted our depth, making Mike Rumph a starter and forcing Adam Archuleta into more coverage thus restricting his ability to blitz.

Williams will do his best to maximize our effectiveness on defense, and we can only wait and hope that the unit improves. We know that Williams can lead a dominating unit: he did it in Buffalo and he took a 23rd ranked defense in Washington and made them top five material.

And then there is Brunell. You may hate him, but Gibbs and the coaching staff believe that Mark gives us the best chance to win next week. Campbell is being prepared to take over as our franchise's QB, but until this season is definitively over Gibbs will remain as competitive as he always has been Ö and this will likely include starting Brunell.

Gibbs said in his recent press conference: "I want to fix this. I'm going to come out swinging, and I want to fix it."

Winning cures all ills, and nothing breeds frustration like losing. Our frustration mounts because nothing seems to be clicking. We get angry when Gibbs has to say the same things in every post-game conference. Come Sunday, we donít have any confidence that our team will show up to play. All hope seems lost.

Yes, my fellow Skins fans, these are very tough times to bleed burgundy and gold.

But we must keep the faith. Facing a future that is uncertain, I'm going to place my bet with Gibbs as the man to figure it out for the Redskins. If, as fans, we support our team through the tough times, then we will be rewarded for our patience and our tolerance for pain.

The fickle bandwagon no-name feels no pleasure but the rush of a moment; it is only the fan who suffers deeply that can know the full weight of glorious victory.

I've got my ticket for the ride; make sure to come and join us here in the Cheap Seats.

-- Daniel Coleman
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