Amid Nickname Controversy, Washington's NFL Franchise Struggles

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Washington isn't home to the worst team in the NFL, but its squad does have a losing record, quarterback troubles and a federal fight over its nickname. Oh, and the team is getting ready to play the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.

Liz Clarke covers the team for the Washington Post and joined Bill Littlefield to discuss Washington's outlook.

BL: Liz, Washington took four days off from practice this week. Will that help or hurt them for Monday's game?

[sidebar title="'South Park' Weighs In" width="630" align="right"]Comedy Central's 'South Park' has taken aim at the NFL franchise in Washington, D.C.[/sidebar]LC: You know, I'm not sure anything is going to help many teams against Seattle. They are just terrific. But surely the Redskins were beat up physically. They had some injuries to some key starters, and I think a mental break might have been a good thing after getting completely throttled by the New York Giants.

BL: Of last Thursday's 45-13 loss to the Giants, coach Jay Gruden said, "Guys were playing hard, they were competing until the final whistle and that is something to be encouraged about." Were you at all encouraged?

LC: No. I was really crestfallen for the team, and the quarterback in particular, who is really a hard-working guy. Kirk Cousins wants so well to leave the team in good standing when Robert Griffin III returns, and it was just a debacle. Who knows, I am not sure they played with absolute effort. If the coach saw it, that's terrific.

I guess I'm sort of confusing effort with discipline. They were penalized 11 times for 88 yards. You could see points where there were miscommunications, routes not run with great precision. So to me, if you play with terrific effort you don't make mental mistakes.

BL: Your Washington Post colleague Tom Boswell wrote that QB Robert Griffin III "breaks easier than the Waterford crystal that some fans sent to him when he got married." How badly does Washington need Griffin to recover quickly from his most recent injury, a dislocated left ankle?

To me, if you play with terrific effort you don't make mental mistakes.

Liz Clarke, Washington Post

LC: I love Boswell. He has such an artful turn of phrase. This dislocated ankle that Griffin suffered early in Game 2 was his third quite serious leg injury in the past four years. So that's a pretty bad record, a pretty concerning record. What we know about Robert is he heals quickly. He tends to beat timetables set for him. He is needed as much for his charisma and energy and the spark he brings to the team, as what he can do on the field.

And what he can do on the field, that was a bit of an open question in the early going of the season. He didn't look particularly sharp in training camp. But certainly he is the positive face of this team. It'll be great for everyone to have him back.

BL: Meanwhile, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said this week that the agency would consider not renewing the broadcast license of WWXX-FM, a station owned by team owner Daniel Snyder, because broadcasters routinely use the team's name on the air. How is the controversy over the team's name playing in Washington?

[sidebar title="The FCC And The NFL" width="630" align="right"]This week, the Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to eliminate the so-called blackout rule.[/sidebar]LC: The fanbase is divided. To be honest, at the very moment, with the Washington Nationals opening their playoffs, it's almost as if the city's attention is completely fixated on baseball. And maybe for some time, the woes of the Redskins are to the back burner.

And then I think, in quite a serious way, if this name issue is to be resolved, or if the name is to be changed, it would be done at the NFL level. The Redskins issue, while deeply important to many Native Americans and other people as well, has certainly taken a back seat to issues of domestic violence, to issues of concussions. So the NFL has some very serious issues that it seems to be at least trying to confront at the moment, and the Redskins name issue is not at the forefront right now.

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This segment aired on October 4, 2014.


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