By Tim Klapac, Senior Editor
On Monday, Oct. 7, following their 33-7 loss to the New England Patriots, their fifth straight loss to start the season, Washington relieved head coach Jay Gruden of his duties. Gruden had been the coach since 2014, finishing his tenure with a record of 35-49-1.
Gruden’s dismissal is another moment in the dark history that this franchise has endured under Dan Snyder’s ownership. Since purchasing the franchise in 1999, Snyder has overseen five playoff appearances, including two playoff victories, three division titles, seven head coaches, and the most important stat, zero appearances in the NFC Championship. During this time, the Baltimore Ravens have captured two Super Bowl titles, two division rivals, the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, have combined for three championships.
Washington’s most productive player in recent years, offensive lineman Trent Williams, is refusing to report to the team because of concerns regarding the team’s medical staff. Williams doesn’t trust the team to keep him healthy and would rather not play than risk his body another game.
The quarterback issue surrounding the offense has been a conversation since the team selected Dwayne Haskins in the first round of the NFL Draft in April. Case Keenum was named the starter for week 1 and struggled mightily before being benched for Haskins in week 4. Colt McCoy, who just healed from a broken leg suffered last season, started the loss to the Patriots and didn’t play much better.
Washington continues to finish near the bottom of the league in fan attendance, placing in the bottom five in stadium capacity each year since 2013. Last season’s attendance averaged 61,028 fans, which was one of the lowest in the NFL.
Every game at FedEx Field this season has essentially been a road game for Washington, with more fans sporting the visiting team’s colors than burgundy and gold. Personally, I have multiple friends who have chosen to not renew their season tickets.
Fans are showing their frustration with the on-field performance, but the issues off of the field have turned Washington into a punchline in the NFL.
After hiring Scot McCloughan, who was the architect of the Seattle Seahawks championship team, Bruce Allen, the team’s president, clashed with McCloughan and this resulted in McCloughan’s departure.
The controversy surrounding the team’s name and mascot, and Snyder’s refusal to consider changing either, shows his inability to see how out of the loop he really is.
Snyder has expressed interest in leaving Landover, Maryland and moving the team back into Washington, D.C. but the logistics are a different issue entirely. If fans are no longer attending games, the appeal of moving the team back into the District, where traffic is already a nightmare, would be a great way to alienate fans even more.
With the old RFK Stadium being torn down soon, memories of Washington’s football history have brought more attention to the disappointing seasons a once-devoted fan base is being forced to deal with.
Whomever Washington chooses to hire as their next head coach will need to understand they are inheriting one of the most self-sabotaging franchises in sports. Good luck.