The list of indignities and insults suffered by the Philadelphia Eagles this season, and by extension their faithful supporters, is not a brief one. Chip Kelly's strategy for taking the league by storm as both coach and general manager became a tornado that reversed its course and leveled a 10-6 team that appeared to be on the verge of achieving something greater.
Free-agent signings were busts. Trades were unproductive. Injuries piled up. Peevish personnel decisions aimed at players who bucked the system failed miserably. Opponents cackled that the Eagles offense is the football equivalent of "Dick and Jane," and as difficult to decipher.
Despite it all, the Eagles are still alive to make the postseason. If they can beat a 7-7 team and a 6-8 team in their final two games, the Eagles will be NFC East champions, which is the NFL's equivalent of a participation medal. Nevertheless, it is still there for them.
Also still there, however, is the greatest insult of them all. If the Eagles lose on Saturday night, they are eliminated, and not eliminated by the Dallas Cowboys or the New York Giants, those hated but usually respected rivals, but eliminated by the Washington Redskins, the perennial laughingstock of the division, an organization so perpetually befuddled that it can scarcely defend its own nickname. Yes, the Redskins. Put that at the top of the insult list.
Washington has made just three playoff appearances since Daniel Snyder purchased the team in 1999 and began his reign of terrible ownership. Even beyond that, the Redskins have been in the postseason only four times and haven't won a game beyond the wild-card round since a Super Bowl win in the 1991 season. How long ago was that? The passing combination of Mark Rypien and Art Monk is now a combined 111 years old.
It isn't that the Redskins have just been bad on a regular basis, they have been spectacularly stupid in their methods. With the help of a previous general manager named Vinny Cerruto, whose claim to fame was a role in the movie Kindergarten Ninja, Snyder and the Redskins adopted a scorched-earth policy of trading away draft picks to acquire jaded veterans and doling out huge contracts to free agents of the same ilk. This led to such a stop-and-start quality of play that, during Snyder's 16 years of ownership, the team has had 16 starting quarterbacks (Brad Johnson, Jeff George, Tony Banks, Shane Matthews, Pat Ramsey, Danny Wuerffel, Tim Hasselbeck, Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell, Todd Collins, Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman, John Beck, Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy, Kirk Cousins) and eight head coaches (Norv Turner, Terry Robiskie, Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier, Joe Gibbs, Jim Zorn, Mike Shanahan, Jay Gruden).
Can it be after all their previous wanderings, the Redskins have finally found the path at the very time the Eagles were supposed to be the team separating itself from the pack? Well, maybe. With much of the praise going to new general manager Scot McCloughan, Washington has at least stabilized. (Although even the general manager situation has a very Redskinsesque tinge to it. McCloughan left previous jobs with San Francisco and Seattle due to personal reasons, has admitted to a sporadic drinking problem, and in September his wife took to Twitter to accuse a female reporter of obtaining information in exchange for sexual favors bestowed on her husband. Let's see you top that for potential dysfunction, Chip and Howie.)
It could also be that Washington is only afloat because the pool is so shallow. Cousins leads the league in completion percentage, but the Redskins offense is really no better or worse than that of the Eagles, and certainly no more explosive, despite the presence of receiver DeSean Jackson. Washington has 24 completions of 25 yards or more this season, the Eagles have 26. Both teams have a defense ranked among the bottom quarter of the league. It is a matchup of mediocrities who would be scuffling around the middle of any other division.
What the Redskins have done well enough this season is to pick the low-hanging fruit on the schedule. In their three games against teams that currently have a winning record, Washington was 0-3 and was outscored, 46-105. So how good are the Redskins, really? Not very, in all probability, but plenty good enough to beat the Eagles on a given Saturday night.
So, there it is, the ultimate indignity. Not only does it seem Chip Kelly is unable to outsmart the league, his team could be expelled by the perpetual dolt of the classroom. That is what faces the Eagles in this game.
They already know disappointment. They already know embarrassment. What they don't know is how it might be possible to lose a third straight game to the Washington Redskins for the first time since the Reagan administration. But if there is one more searing insult remaining in this season, they will learn that answer.