TheDC OP-ED: 53 Clifford Franklins

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The Washington Redskins lost to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night not because of their gameplan, not because of their repeated insistence on punting every time Indianapolis turned the ball over, not because of their mid-game adjustments, but because of one solitary fact: Nobody on the team can catch the damn ball.

Oh, sure, they’ll often catch the ones that would require an almost blind refusal to catch anything at all to drop. But any sort of catch that requires even a little bit of effort, and frequently any sort that doesn’t, is beyond the Redskins. They can’t do it. And they displayed this inability to make catches on national television.

The Skins’ difficulty with catching is not very dissimilar to the catching prowess of one Mr. Clifford Franklin. Franklin was a character in the movie “The Replacements,” which showed, among other things, the very funny fact that Franklin played wide receiver yet couldn’t catch anything. An example of this problem can be viewed here.

Oddly enough, after using stick-um to make a catch in a game, Franklin made this statement: “The ball’s a one-man cold to Clifford Franklin. Clifford Franklin’s the only one catchin’ it, and Clifford Franklin’s the only one comin’ down with it.” As long as Clifford Franklin could cheat, that is.

The Redskins’ roster is made up of 53 players, and apparently each and every one of them is the living embodiment of Clifford Franklin. Coincidentally, Franklin happened to play for a fictional Washington team. Truth has become just as strange as fiction. On Sunday, Carlos Rogers, a Washington cornerback, dropped a ball that was in his hands. (This was not surprising to Redskins fans, who understand that, as was written in the blog “A League of Her Own,” Rogers is so bad at catching that he couldn’t even help Chris Hansen of Dateline NBC catch a predator.) Later, Rogers dropped another ball by fumbling it. Luckily for the Redskins, he had already dropped it a split-second earlier as he tried and failed to make a catch. Kareem Moore, a Washington safety, dropped two balls. Joey Galloway, a Washington wide receiver, dropped a ball that was admittedly thrown low, but he happened to be on the ground at the time and the ball hit him in his hands. That came after multiple attempts and failures in previous weeks to catch balls that were thrown roughly 40 yards down the field when Galloway was 39 and a half yards down the field. Chris Cooley, a normally reliable Washington tight end, dropped two balls that he got his hands on—or at least one hand. Inexplicably, when he dropped the ball a second time, after it was thrown slightly further away from him than he would have liked, he only used a single hand to try to catch it. Meanwhile, one of the Colts’ receivers made what was one of the best catches of the weekend. Using that information and that information alone, which team do you think won?

The ball is a 53-man cold to the Redskins. They’re the only ones catchin’ it, and they’re the only ones comin’ down with it—when they start using stick-um.

At least they can find some solace in the fact that they’re not the 1-4 Dallas Cowboys.