The founding fathers never envisioned anything like this.
The Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins, teams from the nation's first and current capitals, are both 0-5 and in turmoil heading into their game Sunday at Veterans Stadium. Both teams desperately need a victory to get the fans off their backs, and both coaches just might need one to save their jobs.
If they gaze into the notoriously rowdy stands at the Vet, coaches Ray Rhodes and Norv Turner will see plenty of paper bags -- thus the most obvious nickname for this contest of ineptitude, the "Paper Bag Bowl."
"It's the Bagel Bowl, the Battle of the Bums, whatever you want to call it," Redskins receiver Leslie Shepherd said. "You lose to a team that's 0-5, you're the worst of the worst. Hopefully we can get the fans booing them and cheering for us."
Fans in D.C. are screaming, "Impeach Norv!" There are so many things wrong with the Eagles that it would take a Third Continental Congress to sort them out. Hey, Independence Hall still looks in pretty good shape.
A victory for the eagles in front of their angry fans would be good cause to haul the Liberty Bell out of its glass pavilion and let that baby ring! Despite playing at home against an 0-5 team, the Eagles are 2 1/2-point underdogs.
Can anyone imagine the consequences for the coach who loses this one?
"It's a just-win, must-win, yo-have-to-win game," Redskins quarterback Trent Green said.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the first matchup of 0-5 teams in NFC East history. It is the sixth NFL meeting between teams with at least 0-5 marks (two were between 0-6 teams). The most recent was in 1984, when Cincinnati and Houston met with 0-5 records.
| Washington coach Norv Turner has the look of a man fighting to save his job and his 'Skins. (AP) |
Of the 126 games between the Redskins and Eagles, the most memorable might have been a Monday night game eight years ago at Veterans Stadium. Eagles coach Buddy Ryan's kamikaze defense knocked nine Redskins players out of the game in a 28-14 Philadelphia victory.
This time, the losing coach might incur the knockout blow.
"Each week, a different coach's job is on the line," said Redskins defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield, who snubbed the Eagles to sign with Washington last summer. "But each coach seems to walk in the building each day and prepare for work."
The Eagles, who have lost eight straight dating to last season, are coming off a demoralizing 41-16 loss at Denver last week. Although Rhodes proclaimed this week, "I'm not going to quit," he looks more haggard and frustrated than ever.
"I'm sure there are some people around here who would love to see him go," said cornerback Troy Vincent, who signed with the Eagles two years ago specifically to play for Rhodes. "He's hurt. He's done everything he can possibly do to try and rally us. But when Ray's through with his talk, when the game starts, it goes in our hands."
Following the Redskins' 31-10 loss to Dallas, Turner pledged to stay the course, too. Turner invoked what has become his battle cry: "What we do works."
Washington's start is especially galling because of a $57 million spending spree that added Stubblefield and Dan Wilkinson to the defensive line.
"You look at them on tape and wonder why they haven't won a game," Rhodes said. "Then again, I'm sure they look at us on tape and say, `That's why they haven't won a game.'"
If it is ugly on the field, it will be even uglier in the stands. Philadelphia fans are some of the nastiest in all of sports.
"It could be scary," Redskins linebacker Ken Harvey said. "They've got to deal with their fans as much as we do."
How bad are these teams? Very bad. The Eagles have scored the fewest points in the league, and the Redskins have allowed the most. They have combined to allow an unconscionable 47 sacks. And both coaches are under fire for their handling of the quarterbacks.
A rift between Turner and Gus Frerotte led to Frerotte's benching n the season-opening loss to the Giants. Enter Green, an eighth-round draft choice by San Diego in 1993.
Rhodes will have a different starting quarterback for the fourth consecutive week. Bobby Hoying began the season as the clear No. 1, but struggled and was hurt in the third game at Arizona. Backup Rodney Peete started against Kansas City, and Hoying was back as the starter against Denver.
Peete gets the nod against the Redskins after veterans like Vincent and Irving Fryar openly lobbied for him.
"It's not about the future," Vincent said. "That's my attitude. I can't wait. I'm not getting any younger."
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