Opinion: Redskins Fans Need to BRING IT this Sunday at FedEx Field
The Washington Redskins fanbase is one of the proudest NFL fanbases nationwide but over in Landover, Maryland just outside of our Nation’s Capitol, the crowd at the home games have been sparse throughout the season. Not necessarily empty, although the team admitted that games don’t sell out anymore, but more filled with fans of the opposition no matter who it is the Redskins play.
Whether it was Indianapolis blue (Colts), a lot of cheese heads (Packers), a sea of Cam Newton jerseys (Panthers), a throng of blue and silver (Cowboys), or red that isn’t burgundy (Falcons), it was always a strong showing of those colors in the stands from the TV broadcasts and not as much burgundy and gold.
On the road, it’s a whole other story. Whether it was Phoenix, Arizona where the Skins began their season or Tampa Bay, Florida this past Sunday, Redskins fans created a home away from home for the players. So of course finding out they have to return home this Sunday in a big game against the Texans, it didn’t quite sit too well with Josh Norman or DJ Swearinger.
“I feel like we play better on the road. It seems like the true fans, they really be with us on the road and we feed off that… s— play all of the games on the road if you ask me,” Norman said after the win over the Buccaneers.
Norman would add, “We come back to our home and it seems like guys don’t really care. They just boo everything. They’re not really behind us. We don’t really feel that (homefield advantage). Tired of it, really.”
Swearinger was on Grant and Danny on 106.7 The Fan and somewhat reiterated Norman’s postgame comments.
“I would rather play on the road,” said Swearinger.
“You would?”, radio host Grant Paulsen asked.
“Most defintely,” Swearinger responded. “Because you can hear on the road. You can hear communications. You don’t have to worry about fans booing you. You ain’t got to worry about seeing the other team’s jersey everywhere – you know it’s going to be the other team’s jerseys because you’re away. Home games, that’s some of the worst things I’ve seen. I’ve played on four different teams. Never seen it that bad, you know with other teams’ jerseys in the stands, with the boos, whatever it may be. I’ve never been a part of nothing like that.”
Now there’s two sides to every story. You just read the player’s side but now let’s look at the fan side. Redskins fans haven’t had a lot to be proud about over the last two and a half decades. In their 26 years since winning the Super Bowl in 1992, the Redskins have only made it to the playoffs six times. In the Dan Synder era (1999-present) they’ve won the NFC East division three times in 19 seasons. Since the turn of the new centery in 2000, the Redskins have only won one playoff game in four trips. So it makes sense that some fans have mentally clocked out of going to games, thinking it’ll subject them to disappointment if they make that trek to Landover.
There’s also an issue about the area FedEx Field is in. It’s not like the newer stadiums with things to do around the place. FedEx Field is practically in the middle of a massive parking lot and the traffic to and from games is like traffic in the DMV times 10, it sucks.
You can’t change history and the situation of the stadium location but looking at the now, the Redskins currently stand at 6-3,first place in the NFC East. FIRST PLACE. On Thanksgiving while you and your family will be eating turkey, the Redskins will play the Cowboys. Big game in itself but this Sunday is also big. Like the Redskins, the Houston Texans sit at 6-3 for first place in the AFC South.
Washington is two games ahead of the second-place Eagles and they control their own destiny. A win on Sunday would put them in the driver’s seat at 7-3 before this epic Turkey Day matchup where anything can happen. Even a field goal attempt that hits the post. But the Redskins need that extra lift at FedEx Field, they need your voice.
Prior to practice Wednesday, quarterback Alex Smith talked about the importance of homefield advantage.
“The big thing, offensively, is communication that you can count on,” said Smith. “When we’re on offense, we have the ability to use verbal communicaton. It’s not a little thing. On the road when everything’s noise, signaling, going silent. To be at home and able to communicate, you can do more in the huddle and do more in the line of scrimmage so all those things play into it.”
What about the defense? Although Smith isn’t on the field likely either going over plays with offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh or supporting his teammates from the sidelines, Smith is aware that the defense feeds off of the energy from the crowd.
“It’s flipped for our defense (from silence to noise). Those guys are loving the crowd noise to make it difficult for the opposing offense but there’s an emphasis for them with that noise to communicate non-verbally at home,” said Smith.
Personal story, I attended my first Redskins game with my dad in 2004. My dad, a Giants fan, didn’t mind going so I could get my first live taste of an NFL game. I was in sixth grade and it was the beginning of the Joe Gibbs era act two. There was a lot of promise around town that the second coming of Gibbs would return the team to glory. It didn’t turn out to be the case. The Redskins went 6-10 that first season but the one thing I remember wasn’t the fact that the Redskins didn’t make the playoffs or even lost the game I was at. The thing I remember the most was how packed the stadium was. Beleive or not, FedEx Field at the time had 90,000 seats.
I remember hearing pins drop when the Redskins had the ball. I remember the noise being deafening when the Redskins were on defense. And I remember the stadium singing “Hail to the Redskins” in unison. That was something I would never forget. FedEx Field was a place opponents had feared even though there were some losing seasons. This has the potential to be a winning season so fans, now is the time to do your part in making it a winning atmosphere.
See you Sunday.
Photo credit: WTOP File Photo