News & Politics

Washington Redskins 2015-16 Season in Review

Photograph by Flickr user Keith Allison.

When sports historians chronicle the NFL of the second decade of the 21st century, they will not look kindly upon the Washington team’s 2015 season. While the other 31 teams begin their attempts to capture the Super Bowl 50 title this weekend, Washington will watch in envy, saddled with the realization that its season ended before the first dropped pass. Still, 2015 provided fans of Dan Snyder‘s club many memories they’ll be talking about for years. Here are a few of the highlights:

June 2: FedEx Field Downsizes

Although the team claims every home game for the last 47 years has sold out, visual checks of FedEx Field in 2013 and 2014 suggested otherwise. Less than ten years after topping more than 88,000 spectators per game, Washington’s attendance dropped to an average of 68,776 in 2014—still better than most of the NFL, but not quite what you’d expect from a team that claims a 200,000-person waiting list for season tickets, and small enough to expose large, empty swaths of the upper bowl. So, in early June, the team removed huge clusters of seats from the stadium, reducing its capacity to about 75,000. Team president Bruce Allen said the renovation was based on feedback from season-ticket holders wanting a better stadium experience. But, as one former season-ticket holder told the Washington Post, “It’s just more fun to watch at home.”

July 22: Sharknado in Ashburnistan

Offensive lineman Tom Compton and linebacker Ryan Kerrigan delivered their best performances of the year with appearances as a television reporter and NASA employee, respectively, in the much-anticipated television movie, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! Former Washington special-teams player Brian Mitchell also appeared as a NASA specialist. (Not to be outdone, wide receiver DeSean Jackson had a cameo in the debut episode of HBO’s Ballers, which is actually just Entourage with football players.)

August 8: Fight!

A joint practice in Richmond with the Houston Texans uncorked some heated emotions, spiraling into several nasty brawls. Both teams appeared to have players at fault, though at least one of the scrapes was triggered after Washington wide receiver Pierre Garçon told Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, “I do whatever I want to do, fuckboy.” Unfortunately for the teams involved, but fortunately for the rest of us, the Texans were featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks, so the fights were televised:

August 17: Robert Griffin III declares himself the best quarterback

“I feel like I’m the best quarterback in the league,” Griffin told WJLA as training camp wound down. OK, so not many people agreed with the assessment, or even if Griffin is the best quarterback in Washington. It was a pretty bold statement from a passer who started only seven games in 2014 and threw four touchdowns and six interceptions. But self-confidence, no matter how divorced from reality, isn’t the worst thing, right?

August 20: The best quarterback in the league sustains a concussion

Or was it a shoulder injury?

And according to Joe Theismann, who was calling the game for the team-owned broadcast, Griffin might have been cleared to return to the game.

Wait, no. It was definitely a concussion:

August 30: The Griffin Era finally ends…

With team doctors dithering on when Griffin would be able to suit up again, ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini reported that Washington might finally be ready to bench the once-vaunted quarterback in favor of Kirk Cousins.

August 31: …and the Cousins Era begins…

Yeah, that didn’t really cheer up anyone.

September 3: …followed by the Jessica McCloughan era

A few tweets from general manager Scot McCloughan‘s wife accusing her husband of having an affair with Russini—followed, confoundingly, by the team’s denial of their authenticity followed by a confessional apology—completed Ashburnistan’s metamorphosis from regionally embarassing sports team to TMZ-worthy tabloid fodder.

September 3: Stadium experience insufficiently unpleasant, made worse

OK, who had “mess with will-call tickets” on their Dan Snyder Bingo card? Without warning, the team slapped a $50 “envelope fee” on tickets left the FedEx Field will-call window by fans who do not hold season tickets. After some outrage, the team decided will call will only be available to season-ticket holders. For the record, envelopes do not cost $50. For $50, you can buy more than 1,500 envelopes at Staples.

September 5: What’s the deal with Griffin’s doctor?

This team can’t even suffer a concussion without turning it into a scandal. Robert Keurtzke, the neurologist who handled Griffin’s case following his August 20 injury, was replaced as Washington’s head-trauma consultant after the Washington Post reported that he cleared Griffin to play nine days after the hit, then changed his mind just in time for head coach Jay Gruden to name Cousins the starter.

September 9: No more rodeo

The Original Americans Foundation, the charity the team established to distract people from the fact that its name disparages Native Americans, was kicked out of the Indian National Finals Rodeo after participating tribes “decided that [they] cannot in good conscience accept resources” from Dan Snyder.

And so ended Washington’s 2015 season. There were no memorable on-field peformances (unless you count Garçon calling Watt a fuckboy), more confusion over injuries, and backlash from fans after changes to the stadium. In other words, a typical year for the team, although perhaps the first one in which it was kicked out of a rodeo.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.