In 1814, Washington D.C. burned to the ground. Important United States government buildings disintegrated into ashes. James Madison—the sitting president of the United States—had to flee for safety. It took half a decade for the U.S. Capitol building to be fully rebuilt after the devastation.
If you’ve ever wondered what a reenactment of that destruction would look like in 2018, you finally got your answer on Sunday.
The New York Giants—who came into today with a 4-8 record and nothing to play for—went down to play a Washington team who could have found themselves in a first-place tie at the end of the day if things went right.
New York had a 40-0 lead at the end of the third quarter. Washington fans were leaving at halftime. Their quarterback completed eight passes, and two of them were to the other team. It was truly disgusting football.
What happened Sunday at FedEx Field was beyond anything even within realistic expectations. Washington was always going to have issues with Mark Sanchez at quarterback, but they at least put up a three-quarter fight with Sanchez under centre against a tougher in Philadelphia on Monday.
Nothing to that extent should be happening when you’re playing at home against a 4-8 team with your season effectively hanging in the balance. Normal franchises don’t get mortified on this level. But this isn’t a normal franchise. Normal franchises aren’t run by Dan Snyder.
This franchise has had a lot of embarrassing moments in the last quarter century. Sunday was just the next stop on a train that has been rolling on since Snyder took over the team in 1999. We’re coming up on 20 years with this man in charge of a team that had a legitimate dynasty not long before he arrived, and the only thing they have to show for his tenure as owner is a series of disappointments and scandals.
If you are reading this article, you have won 11 football games in a season the same number of times as this team has since Snyder took over. Yes, you. Congratulations! Washington is the only team in the NFL without 11 wins since 1991, and the franchise has a 138-178-1 (.435) since Snyder took over. For context, a 7-9 season is a .437 season. This team is about to finish two decades of averaging 7-9.
Washington re-hired 65-year-old Joe Gibbs to be their head coach in 2005 because he won them Super Bowls in the 80s and 90s, only to find out that in a shocking turn of events, he probably wasn’t the man to get them back to glory. Did anybody think to maybe hire a younger, more progressive coach to maximise a roster that had enough talent on it to get to the playoffs twice in spite of their coach? Who knew? Everybody but them, apparently.
Snyder was the mastermind behind this team poaching Donovan McNabb from the division rival Eagles with a $70 million dollar deal. When he faced his old team in prime-time, Washington let Michael Vick hang a 59-28 win on them in his first year back in the league in a famous 2010 Monday Night Football meltdown.
They effectively snapped Robert Griffin III’s knee by shoving him into action during a playoff game he obviously wasn’t healthy enough to play in. His career has never recovered.
This franchise lied about the attendance of their games for decades, and is finally seeing the results of that a little bit this season.
The front office decided to let Kirk Cousins walk away from the team in free agency, only to decide that Alex Smith of all people would be their franchise quarterback. They paid a check-down master who has won 2 playoff games in 13 seasons 94 million dollars over four years.
Their home games are in a small run down stadium the fans hate the game-day experience in, and it’s not even in Washington D.C. Snyder is using that as an excuse to get the United States congress to work funds for a new stadium into a spending bill. Because as we all know, a billionaire who has done nothing but throw the team he owns into the garbage can for two decades needs more free things.
They signed Reuben Foster off waivers without skipping a beat, but they were more than willing to go into a season-defining game with a man who hasn’t thrown a pass in the NFL since 2011 as their emergency disaster plan at quarterback.
And finally, they fell down 40-0 to a divisional rival at home, and they were lucky it was only 40. If the Giants hadn’t of put rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta in for some experience, who knows how bad that could have gotten.
You can argue that if Alex Smith had stayed healthy, the trajectory of the season might be different. But the Cincinnati Bengals went on the road with their backup quarterback to play the team fourth-best record in the NFL—the Los Angeles Chargers—and had the ball in the last minute with a chance to win the game. They lost 26-21, but there was no 40-point beat down involved.
You could also say the Giants are playing better football now. It doesn’t change the fact that the Washington defense held them to 13 points when they met at the Meadowlands, and looked dead as a doornail today.
There are no excuses and there are no outs when you lose like that. It’s impossible to look at next season with bright eyes. You can’t stare at the 2019 Draft and say that a great pick is going to fix this when it’s clear that the issues with the organisation are so systematic from the top down.
In some ways it’s trivial to blast the owner for this, because Sunday was on the players for the most part. He’s also not going anywhere, because he’s only 54-years old and won’t sell the team anytime soon. But it at least has to be said that Dan Snyder created a mess that is only getting worse and worse by the year. There is no light at the end of the tunnel.
Writing off this game as just a one-off or a fluke is ignorant with everything that came before it. Decades of poor roster management, coaching decisions, and mistreatment of fans culminated in one soap opera level disaster of a game. I can’t think of a better metaphor for this franchise than what happened to them on Sunday.
It was rock bottom.