December 31, 2009
That's probably the best news I've heard all year from the 'Skins camp.
As bad as 2009 has been, Orakpo is a bright spot for the future. I was very worried about his transition especially with him learning to play LB, but it worked out.
I think we learned that he isn't yet a starting caliber LB. In fact, I think the 'Skins should just abandon that idea, get a real SAM 'backer, and go with Orakpo at DE. He's an absolute monster rushing the passer, and has shown an ability against the run too.
However, I really felt Andre Carter should have been given a spot at DE.
Carter had 11 sacks, but still was terrific against the run. Despite being a smaller DE, he was still able to seal his edge consistently, and could also work his way down the line of scrimmage to stop the ballcarrier.
Matt Mosley from ESPN's NFC East blog thought Carter deserved one too. I would have replaced Julius Peppers with Carter.
December 25, 2009
Albert Haynesworth showed up late for a team meeting and was told not to dress for practice.
He did anyway. Coach Jim Zorn then had an "animated conversation" with him on the practice field. Haynesworth left the complex after the exchange.
Another bad sign that things aren't going well with Haynesworth. The guy will need a monster 2010 to overcome the criticism he's facing this year.
More on this as it breaks.
Jason Campbell told Kelli Johnson that he thinks some of the players have quit on the season.
Here's the interview.
And here's an article on it from the Free Lance Star's Rich Campbell.
Given the way the 'Skins played last week, Campbell's statement doesn't surprise me. Something was wrong on Monday night.
As for the positives last week? The only one I could come up with was the play of TE Fred Davis.
Also, though Campbell played poorly, I think he's gaining the respect of the fans and his teammates. The guy has undergone so much pressure the past two years behind a terrible offensive line and yet he comes back every week to play.
Last week's game summed up Campbell's tenure as starter. He gets hit a lot and still manages to improve upon his numbers every year. The toughness both physically and mentally he showed coming back in the second half was impressive. I think the team would readily accept him as a leader for next year.
The wins haven't been coming, but with some protection, Campbell could be everything the Redskins have hoped for. He actually seems to be getting more and more comfortable as a leader. Next year, the 'Skins must try and keep him.
At the very least, Campbell would bridge the gap until the 'Skins solidify the offensive line, making it suitable for a new franchise QB. Although, I believe the 'Skins will come to realize that Campbell is a franchise QB once the line is in place.
December 22, 2009
But I've written plenty for blogblitz.nfl.com, and now I'm switching venues over to my most casual outlet.
So I'm going to let loose.
Aside from a pummeling at the hands of Kansas City Chiefs in 2001 (the score was 45-20 or something like that; I'm in no mood to look it up and yes, I just used a semicolon while writing in parentheses), I have never seen a more embarrassing loss in my life.
The Redskins were in front of a national audience and came away not only looking incompetent, but downright stupid. The Giants beat them in every facet of the game and then they shoveled the dirt on top of their own coffin with an idiotic fake field goal attempt.
It was an ugly game. But then the 'Skins made it laughable when they trotted on the kicking unit only send them in motion out to the left side of the field. At first I had to wonder, what does special teams' coach Danny Smith have up his sleeve?
After all, the 'Skins do have two special teams scores on trick plays this season.
However, this wasn't a calculated risk. It was the death rattle of the Jim Zorn era in Washington. Punter Hunter Smith lobbed up a duck, which was intercepted. Cue the subdued guffaws by Mike Tirico and Co. in the booth.
Exit Zorn. Stage left.
Albert Haynesworth summed it up afterwards: "I mean, the score, the record, they'd say that we're horrible, that we don't know how to play football," Haynesworth said. "But I've been around these guys a lot. I think they know how to play football. I think we're all just going different directions, and we need somebody to lead us in the right direction."
Truer words were never spoken.
Zorn was doing a good job this past month getting his players focused and ready. However, any good will he had merited was quickly snatched away with this performance.
How can the Redskins bring back a guy who had his playcalling duties stripped midway through the season? How can they bring back a guy who turned in his three of his worst losses on Monday Night Football (Pittsburgh in 2008, Philly and New York this year)?
Zorn had certainly impressed me as a facilitator, but that won't carry him too far when players and the owner start to mention change. It also won't carry him to far since the big name of Mike Shanahan is lurking.
I want stability for this franchise; I really do. However, keeping Zorn only guarantees consistency in losing. Maybe he hasn't been given a good chance because he has lacked personnel on the offensive line, but the fact of the matter is that the Redskins have flopped too many times in many different situations.
They have failed in big games. They have failed in winnable games. They have failed as the favorite and the underdog. They have failed in close games. Clutch isn't a term they recognize.
All of that adds up to too much failure.
Exit Zorn. Stage left.
December 19, 2009
We all know Snyder is going to make a coaching change. However, we also know etiquette dictates you don't interview potential replacements until you've fired your current coach.
However, Snyder has already interviewed secondary coach Jerry Gray according to an nfl.com report.
Snyder can talk to candidates all he wants, but why is he rushing into the interview process before the season is over?
Jim Zorn has handled this rough season with class. The least Snyder could do is fire him before interviewing replacements.
That's not a good way to do business and can be a huge turn off to some people. Snyder likes the big splash and he loves to make moves quickly (sometimes without thinking), but this style makes him hated by some.
Why else did he have trouble landing a coach after Joe Gibbs left? Because Snyder is heavy-handed. People don't like working with him.
You can't quite put a finger on it, but there's something about Snyder's methods that just don't ring true. He does everything so quickly that he doesn't seem to realize what the full consequences of his actions could entail.
We see it in countless FA signings that kill cap space, we see it when he throws away draft picks, we see it when he sues season ticket holders, we see it when bans sign from FedEx Field. All of that stuff doesn't give Snyder the makings of a good businessman.
This latest news only strengthens my belief.
I have no problem with hiring a new head coach (although I think a case could be made for keeping Zorn). However, I do have a problem with actively interviewing for one when the reigning head coach is still in DC.
December 17, 2009
We just didn't think it would be this soon. We also didn't think it would be Vinny Cerrato doing the departing.
With Cerrato tendering his resignation from the VP of football operation position, the 'Skins hired former Bucs' and Raiders' GM Bruce Allen. And most importantly, Allen's title will actually be GM rather than VP of football operations (what the hell does that even mean anyway?).
In all seriousness, Allen is a legitimate hire. He has a good track record with both the Raiders and Bucs and is the son of former Redskins coach, the great George Allen.
However, is this just a continuation of "celebrity football?" as Michael Wilbon so deftly put it. Or has Snyder really learned his lesson?
Should Snyder entrust the team solely to Allen, things could move in the right direction. Allen will see the progression of the Redskins over the past month and will most likely give serious consideration to retaining both Jim Zorn and Jason Campbell.
But that will only happen if Allen is, in fact, in charge. He can't be another yes-man to Snyder.
Snyder has already tipped his hand as to what he wants for the offseason.. He wants a bigtime coach like Jon Gruden or Mike Shanhan and he craves one of the star QBs entering the NFL draft.
It's up to Allen to preach some patience at Redskins Park. The 'Skins have arguably played some of the best football in the NFC East since last month's Denver game. They are only several plays away from being 7-6 rather than 4-9 and with another year under Zorn, Sherm Lewis and Campbell, those close games could end up as victories.
The franchise is in desperate need of continuity and Allen has the football sense to realize this. However, he may see the need to put together his own staff and start from scratch. Zorn's win-loss record is underwhelming, and Campbell, despite his improvements, has yet to take that last step.
That would be all well and good. It normal for a new GM to get his own ides and philosophies in place before establishing continuity.
No matter which approach Allen takes, Cerrato has left him with gaping holes along the offensive line. Cerrato made a litany of errors in both the draft and free agency and it has left Washington shorthanded at several positions.
Snyder acknowledged that "it was time for a change." The question begs: has Snyder learned his lesson? Will he practice moderation and avoid, "celebrity football?" Or has he simply redirected his failures onto Cerrato to throw fans off the scent?
Only time will tell. Snyder could very well be playing us. He does it often. A telling sign will be who the Redskins draft this year with their first round selection. Everyone with a half a brain realizes the need for an offensive tackle, but Snyder has made it clear he would prefer to take a QB. Which side will win out, Snyder the businessman or Snyder the football owner?
And if Allen is here to create a winning franchise rather than serve as a the next yes-man, then he'll make sure he gets a tackle rather than a QB.
We don't know what the Allen hiring entails. It could be the turning point for a franchise mired in mediocrity. Then again, it could be a hire to get an angry fan base off an embattled owner's back.Either way, it just made things that much more interesting.
December 14, 2009
Lewis has led the Redskins offense to more points and yards since taking over in late October. The last three out of five games, the Redskins have set a season high for points without much of running game as Campbell has taken the team on his back and distributed the ball to a number of targets.
Lewis has really opened up the offense for Campbell. And as the offense has progressed, Lewis has given a number of different looks in terms of formations, shifts, and motions. The offense has looked comfortable with everything they have attempted these past few weeks.
Look at the screen pass to Santana Moss inside the ten in the fourth quarter today. The Redskins shifted the formation and then pulled the running back, who was in the slot, into the backfield. Campbell, in the shotgun, then delivered a quick pass to Moss. Moss had good blocking in front of him and took it inside the the three to make it first and goal.
That is a play where the Raiders were looking run after seeing the back go in motion into the backfield. The 'Skins knew this and came back with a safe pass to Moss in space.
That kind of stuff is brilliant and keeps a defense on their heels.
So do the 'Skins keep Lewis? They would be wise to keep in place the same offense in 2010 should it continue to roll for the remainder of 2009. If they do keep the offense, then Lewis should be kept.
Jim Zorn has learned how to facilitate. He struggled to find his niche playcalling, but settled nicely into the role of overseer. However, I think the 'Skins FO will be enamored with the big names of Cowher and Shanahan. This will lead to a Zorn firing.
But is that a good thing? Why clean house if a team appears to be getting into a groove with the present leadership?
This is why the Redskins struggle to stay consistently successful as a franchise. There is no sense of patience in Redskin Park. Big names that fill seats are all that matters to management.
Obviously, it would have made sense to fire Zorn earlier in the year. No one could have anticipated this kind of a turnaround from a team who seemed so terrible in the first half of the season.
However, Zorn has brought the team together without one of the higher paid, underachieving stars. Clinton Portis was bringing no fire to the football field on Sunday. Hell, the guy wasn't even practicing.
Zorn certainly deserves another season as head coach. He has adapted well to his new duties, and the team has really improved on offense. A renovated offensive line and a new running back would give the 'Skins a fantastic offense if they kept their offensive philosophy intact and continued to develop what they presently have.
December 13, 2009
Gano went 2-2 on the day, banging home field goals of 46 and 41 yards on a slick and muddy field. He looked comfortable replacing the enigmatic Shaun Suisham, but we won't really know what we have until he lines up for an important kick.
Meanwhile the star of the show in Oakland this afternoon was rookie DE/LB Brian Orakpo who picked up four sacks, a forced fumble and three tackles for a loss. The entire defensive line dominated as the unit picked up seven sacks (safety Reed Doughty also added one), but Orakpo was the brightest star.
Orakpo now has 11 sacks on the year putting him four shy of breaking the rookie sack record of 14.5 set by Jevon Kearse. Orakpo has been a bit shaky at linebacker, a position he is adapting to, but at defensive end he has shown the ability to not just get to the QB, but to contain him.
Several times this year Orakpo has been able to keep the QB in the pocket and force him to run up the middle only to corral him as he passes by. In addition, Orakpo has also shown he can work his way down the line to make stops against the run.
He'll be in the running for defensive rookie of the year along with Clay Matthews and Brian Cushing.
And today should have resolved a big question for Dan Snyder. Jason Campbell should be the guy in 2010. Campbell has played extremely well the past month in a lot of different situations. His line has been patchwork and yet he has adjusted his game in order to make things operate more smoothly for the offense.
Campbell isn't a classic WCO QB, but he has shown he can make quick throws and his ability to progress through his reads has increased tenfold as of late. Of course there is still concern regarding his struggles to make big plays in key situations, but as Campbell continues to grow, expect him come through on potential game-winning drives.
December 10, 2009
Backup tight end Todd Yoder will fill in for Sellers. Personally, I think Yoder might be a better option for next year anyway. He's a reliable pass catcher and is good sealing the edge as a blocker. How he'll work out as a second man in the backfield will bear watching this week.
Right tackle Stephon Heyer was limited in practice today.
On the Raiders side, DE Greg Ellis didn't participate in practice today. Same story for WR Darrius Heyward-Bey and G Robert Gallery. C Samson Satele was limited in practice.
And here's some analysis from it.
Overall, it was a heartbreaker, but I think we learned something about these 'Skins. When Washington really gets up to play, they can play with almost anyone.
Jason Campbell is very close to becoming a legitimate starting QB. The guy can throw. Now the question is: can he overcome his own head and lead the 'Skins on a game-winning drive? That INT late was inexcusable.
Campbell is a good player. He could be more than a good player if he learned how to make plays in big situations.
In addition, totally agree with the release of Shaun Suisham. The guy has missed important kicks throughout his career. I wouldn't trust him after missing that chippy late. That wasn't even pressure-packed. I would just question his focus.
Disappointing game. Now for the Raiders.
December 5, 2009
He's the best option short-term and drafting a QB in 2010 would be premature considering the need for quality offensive linemen.
Campbell has looked decent this year with little help. I broke down why he should remain the starter in 2010 on blogblitz.nfl.com right here.
My buddy Rich Tandler at CSNwashington.com gives a little input on the negatives in Campbell's game right here.
No doubt Rich hits on some key points. Campbell has yet to really make his mark with Washington. He doesn't have a signature drive or moments, but for next year he really might be the best possible option.
I have definitely heard some chatter regarding a Campbell return in 2010. He isn't viewed by many teams as a good QB, which could make it difficult for Campbell to start anywhere else. However, given the tenuous relationship between Campbell and management, a new contract might not work out.
December 1, 2009
Mason, always overlooked, had three carries for 10 yards and a catch for 11 yards.
The offensive line was inconsistent on Sunday, but when they got their act together, there were several solid runs that benefited from a good push up front. One particular sequence, Mason ran for about six yards and then ripped off a nice 10-yarder that was called back for offensive holding.
Mason needs to get an extended look before the season's end. Rock Cartwright is a scrappy player, but with Devin Thomas emerging at kick returner, he could be nearing the end of tenure as a Redskin. Meanwhile Quinton Ganther has been a decent midseason pickup, but either he or Cartwright will have to go.
With five games left to go, the 'Skins will have to sort out the RB situation. Mason has put forth a great effort in all of his stints with the 'Skins, but he has never been given a legitimate workload in a regular season game.
It would be foolish not to give him a bigger piece of the action in one of the next few games. Mason looks like a special find and the 'Skins need to see if he is one.
It certainly wouldn't hurt to see which of these three role players fits into the team's plans for next year.
For some reason the Redskins are enamored with giant underachiever Mike Williams. So much in fact, that they are trying to reinsert the injury prone OL into the starting lineup.
Williams has been a bust ever since entering the league. He struggles to keep his weight in check and he is never healthy. Plus, his performance this year has been far below average.
Despite all this, the Redskins seem determined to give Williams time and plenty of opportunities to show what he can do.
I know Vinny is desperately searching for that one lucky break. That one "project player" who will pan out and make him look like a genius, but Mr. Cerrato, this guy isn't it.
Still is appears Mike Williams will replace rookie Edwin Williams at RG this Sunday against the Saints.
As far as I saw, Edwin played well on Sunday with the exception of one false start penalty (which didn't matter because there were three other false starts on other members of the offense plus two holding penalties on RT Stephon Heyer). For his first start, I thought Edwin played solidly in both run and pass protection.
There has been talk of moving Edwin to center next year in place of Casey Rabach and it would make sense to get him as much playing time as possible. Mike has no future with the team and Edwin has actually outplayed him from what I've seen.
The season is over and yet Jim Zorn, or whoever is calling the shots, refuses to get the young guys in there. How can these guys be expected to succeed when the only playing time they get is when the guys in front of them go down with injuries?
This franchise just doesn't understand the concept of long-term.
Jarmon tore his ACL in Sunday's loss to Philadelphia while Cooley's hopes of returning from a broken ankle suffered in October came to an end.
Jarmon was drafted with a supplemental third rounder in July. He played sparingly in 11 games, registering nine tackles and a forced fumble.
Jarmon's best game was against Tampa Bay earlier this year when he stripped Bucs RB Clifton Smith with 48 seconds to go in the game. This preserved the 'Skins three point lead and gave them their second win of the season.
Cooley broke his ankle in the 'Skins monday nighter against Philly on Oct. 25th. He initially expected to return, but with Washington out of the play-off picture at 3-8, management saw no reason to rush the star TE back from a serious injury.
Also, both Albert Haynesworth and Deangelo Hall are questionable for this week's game against the New Orleans Saints.
November 28, 2009
November 27, 2009
Taylor was shot by several men who broke into his Florida home, and died the next day from complications of his wounds.
Taylor was one of the up-and-coming greats in the NFL. He possessed incredible athleticism, and was feared throughout the league for his big play ability.
My most vivid memory was of Eagles receiver Todd Pinkston ducking for cover when Taylor came up to hit on a deep pass. Some receivers were that scared of Taylor.
Taylor was more than just a hitting machine. He possessed an uncanny ability to read defenses. In 2007 he was playing at an unbelievable level before an injury and the subsequent tragedy that followed. He had an NFL high 5 INTs just four games into the year.
Fans can pay their respects to Sean by visiting FedEx Field today.
RIP #21. You are still sorely missed on the field and in the community.
Albert Haynesworth is also doubtful and will be a gametime decision with an ankle sprain.
TE Todd Yoder is questionable and, I as far as I can tell, so is LB HB Blades.
Rogers is in a contract year, and hasn't played well enough for any team to give him a big deal. The 'Skins season is all but over, and it would make sense to work in rookie CB Kevin Barnes and second year CB Justin Tryon.
And yet the Redskins remain committed to playing the veterans even when those veterans don't appear to factor into the team's long term plans. I mean I love winning, but I'd rather see the team prepare to win games in the future by giving young guys experience now.
I dig deep into Jim Zorn's reluctance to play young players and how it hurts the organization's future on blogblitz.nfl.com.
Here's the link to my article.
November 26, 2009
Nine different players have started on the offensive line for the 'Skins this year. If Edwin Williams starts at RG against Philly he'll be the tenth different starter.
Deangelo Hall and Albert Haynesworth are both questionable for the Eagles' game. HB Blades and Todd Yoder are as well. Jim Zorn made it sound like Hall's status is more in doubt than Haynesworth's.
Haynesworth could play regardless of whether he practices on Friday or not. Hall would be more likely to miss the game should he miss Friday's practice.
Mike Shanahan met with the Bills for seven, count 'em, SEVEN hours yesterday. I know that's a standard amount of time for a head coaching interview, but wow! That's a lot of time.
Anyway, Bill Cowher and Marty Schottenheimer already declined the Bills advances. Shanahan has been linked to DC in some reports. He is friends with Vinny Cerrato, which have led some people to assume Cerrato would push for Shanahan in order to try and save his job by working alongside Shanahan in a front office capacity.
Either way, Shanahan is a name Dan Snyder would pursue, and so his interactions with the Bills bear watching.
Eagles' defensive coordinator Seth McDermott has had a rough time taking over for the late Jim Johnson. Eight of the opening day starters have missed time and the Eagles will be without their nickel and dime backs this week (Joselio Hanson and Ellis Hobbs).
Also, Philly's top two CBs, Asante Samuel (neck stinger) and Sheldon Brown (hamstring strain), will return this week from injuries, and won't be 100%.
Linebacker Akeem Jordan is expected to miss this week as well. The 'Skins must take advantage of all these injuries, spread the field and control the clock. The Eagles like to rotate players as they usually have a lot of depth on defense.
So if the 'Skins can stay in the game early, establish the run, and experience some success with playaction, they could really exploit their injury ridden defense.
But of course our secondary has to continue what it started last week and shut down the explosive DeSean Jackson this week.
November 24, 2009
Roy Williams scared of LaRon Landry? You bet.
Matter of fact, the whole secondary played really well. I had been saying the 'Skins weren't playing up to their ranking as the number one pass defense, but on Sunday, they stopped the big play Cowboys from making any big plays.
And they did it in zone with an inconsistent pass rush. The 'Skins have gotten to opposing QBs remarkably well this year, but last week Romo had time to throw. The secondary just made sure he had no one to throw to.
D Hall played well, Landry played well, Smoot played well. Even Justin Tryon looked comfortable out there. Maybe the secondary is good. This week, they face a big test in the McNabb-to-Jackson connection.
My friend Ed Sheahin from CBS Sportsline is a big Brian Orakpo fan. And so am I. What a play he made to force Romo to throw an INT on Sunday. The guy is only getting better. Double digit sacks?
Here's Sheahin's take on Orakpo.
Probably a safe move. Fred Davis has been looking good and his continued development would give the Redskins two quality tight ends for next year.
Hopefully this move will finally give Mason an opportunity to make a regular season impact as he has never been given much of a chance in meaningful action.
Playoff aspirations all but ended on Sunday against Dallas so it would make sense for Jim Zorn to give his youngsters a shot. Marko Mitchell has been impressive in limited reps while Mason has shown good vision complemented with tough running during his several stints with Washington.
Also, to provide depth at offensive line after Chad Rinehart went on the IR, the 'Skins have brought in guard Paul Fanaika from the Philadelphia Eagles' practice squad. Fanaika was a seventh-round pick by the Eagles in April out of Arizona State. He's 6-foot-5 and weights 327 pounds.
Here's his pre-draft bio.
November 23, 2009
Secondly, this game was the first game in 2009 since week one that I have been excited for. And for three and a half periods, it appeared that my excitement may have been validated.
Then Shaun Suisham happened. Suisham came into the game perfect on all 12 of his field goal attempts. He left the game having missed two; a big reason as to why the 'Skins found themselves on the losing end of a 7-6 score to the Cowboys.
Now don't get me wrong the offense wasn't exactly piling on the points, but they controlled the ball in the second half with the scrubs in the game.
Think about it: in a defensive battle, the Redskin offense had four scoring opportunities to the Cowboys' two. The 'Skins were solid punting the ball, and moved it enough to keep field position balanced.
They played a sound game with the likes of Rock Cartwright handling the ball. Jason Campbell was being protected by Edwin Williams, Levi Jones, and Stephon Heyer. That's not exactly starter material.
With those guys, the Redskins gave up just one sack. Sure they couldn't protect well enough for Campbell to open it up downfield, but they gave him time to make big third down throws as Campbell went 13-13 on his third down attempts.
Overall, Washington went 7-15 on third down conversions, but it was a big third-and-two with around five minutes left in the game that they wished they could have back.
Campbell lined up in the shotgun with Cartwright next to him on the Cowboy 32. He handed it to him on a draw, which was stuffed, forcing Suisham to come out for a 50-yard FG. Suisham missed and the Cowboys scored on their ensuing possession to take the lead.
The playcall was questionable, but a good kicker would have made that kick. It was indoors and it wasn't even with the game on the line. And Suisham missed it.
Zorn was criticized by fans for not taking a shot to the endzone with 15 seconds left in the first half. He went for the 39-yarder instead of taking a chance. I liked that call and so did Redskins Insider front man, Jason Reid.
Quarterback Jason Campbell probably had one of the best performances of his career while dealing with constant pressure. He made many impressive throws on the move, but the pressure was there. Zorn simply did not want to risk Campbell being sacked, which could have knocked the Redskins out of Suisham's range. And Suisham had made his first 13 attempts.
So considering the shaky pass protection and Suisham's accuracy until Sunday (he also missed a 50-yard attempt), I didn't have a problem with Zorn's decision.
Not a banner day for the offense, but considering the personnel on the field, I'd call it a great effort spoiled by a pair of botched kicks.
November 19, 2009
“I went through this last year, and I never got an (explanation),” Rogers said. “This year, I do know (why). I gave up a double move to Philadelphia (receiver DeSean Jackson on Oct. 26) and gave up this double move.”
“He’s not done,” Jim Zorn said. “He’s got to find that confidence. As we work through this week, he may very well be the guy out there. Then again, it may be just a rest. Take a breather here and then work back in. We did that with (strong safety) Chris Horton earlier in the year.”
Redskins.com gave this update earlier today:On Wednesday, Rogers was on the practice field and split first-team reps with Fred Smoot and Justin Tryon. Rookie Lendy Holmes also saw action at cornerback.
Head coach Jim Zorn indicated that no decision had been made who would start opposite DeAngelo Hall at cornerback.
"He worked very hard in practice, he had his mind right on the practice and right in the game planning," Zorn said. "He didn’t skip a beat. He wasn’t pouting at all...He responded like a real professional. I know I appreciate that."
Secondary-cornerbacks coach Jerry Gray was asked if he expected Rogers to play on Sunday.
"Of course," Gray replied.Meanwhile, Clinton Portis is "very doubtful" for the game according to Zorn. Portis suffered a concussion a week and a half ago against Atlanta and is still experiencing some blurred vision.
With Ladell Betts playing well, it shouldn't matter that Portis will miss more time. Portis just hasn't had it this year and Betts has really kicked the 'Skins running game into gear.
Albert Haynesworth's sprained ankle might keep him out this weekend. “I saw his ankle and it was swollen,” Zorn said. “We are just trying to get the swelling out. I will tell you this, Albert will work as hard as he possibly can to get to this game and play 100 percent in it.”
I would bet Haynesworth misses the game, which will actually really hurt the 'Skins already shaky run defense. I just don't think Haynesworth will risk it. There's a lot of money invested in him and his ankle.
And finally it's looking like the starting O-line won't deviate at all from last week's lineup. Let's hope it stays healthy because this combination has been the best of the year.
Mike Williams might return this week and would come in off the bench.
November 18, 2009
But hey don't chuckle. The 'Skins are coming off a big win over Denver, and now they get to travel down to Texas to visit the new Cowboys stadium.
First, let's clean up some loose ends from last week's Broncos game (hey we have to hold on to such a fun win).
How about those two big hits in the first half that definitely made an impact on Washington's intensity? Major credit to Rocky McIntosh and Lorenzo Alexander.
Here's some video of Alexander's hit. Couldn't find any on Rocky's.
Also, make sure to vote Brian Orakpo for the Rookie of the Week after registering five tackles and 1.5 sacks against Denver.
Orakpo set the Redskins rookie sack record after last week. He has seven on the season, which surpassed the previous mark set by Andre Collins (six sacks). Considering there's seven games left, Orakpo could make this record tough to beat out. Great start for this youngster.
Naturally, Hunter Smith won special teams player of the week after the punter threw a 35-yard TD pass and had a 38-yard net punting average. Congrats to him (could he be the best pickup the 'Skins made last offseason?).
I was impressed with the gutsy play from Reed Doughty last week. With Chris Horton on the IR with a toe injury, Doughty moved into the starting SS role. He didn't disappoint. Doughty notched 10 tackles and had one pass defensed.
You have to love his attitude on the field. He hits well (something this secondary needs to see) and has improved drastically in pass defense. Fred Smoot played some SS as well on some passing downs, but Doughty appears as if he'll get the bulk of the reps there.
Shaun Suisham is perfect on FG attempts this season. I constantly hate on him so I owe him some praise. Granted,Suisham has yet to attempt a FG of over 48 yards, but he is 4-4 from 40-49 yards out. A big improvement from last year's 11-16 from that same distance.
Now it's time to move on to Dallas.
November 17, 2009
Then, they took over.
You can say what you want about the Kyle Orton injury, but there was more to it than simply an ugly performance from Chris Simms. The offense controlled the ball for most of the second half and ran it down Denver's throats.
Sure Simms' was unable to lead the Broncos to any points, but a big reason for that was that Washington never let them get into a rhythm. That's a surefire way to beat a team.
As bad as the secondary was, the 'Skins offense will have to play ball control again this week against the Cowboys. They have made it a habit to give up big plays, and Dallas has been a big play team over the past month.
I really think a big reason the 'Skins struggled to keep Brandon Marshall in front of them was the fact, that Denver hasn't been much of a vertical passing team this year. They gameplanned well, and caught the 'Skins sitting on the playaction.
This week, Miles Austin is a known downfield threat. The 'Skins will obviously work extra hard to prepare for him and correct the errors from this past week.
But will they?
Greg Blache has hardly impressed me with his passive schemes this season. The D-line has been much better than usual against the pass, and yet the secondary has been average at best. A lot of soft zone coverage and poor tackling in several games.
However, the biggest concern is the run defense. Teams have been running away from Albert Haynesworth, and it's working.
The Redskins get decent penetration in the backfield, but they miss tackles or a linebacker fails to plug up the last gap. This has led to the NFL's 24th ranked rush defense, which allows 125.7 rushing yards per game.
Not good with the Cowboys 8th ranked rushing attack on the horizon.
That means the 'Skins will have to duplicate their time of possession dominance from last week. I'm just praying last week's success will carry over because after all what Redskins fan wouldn't want to christen Dallas' new stadium with a beatdown from the Burgundy and Gold?
November 13, 2009
Manning is, in my opinion, the greatest passer of this decade. I mean the guy is on pace to break the single season records for completion percentage and passing yards with an average offensive line and a depleted receiving corps while calling his own plays.
The man is a genius.
Meanwhile LaRon Landry isn't so masterful on the field. I have long thought he tackled with poor form. When you you leave your feet as much as Landry does, you're bound to miss some tackles. Landry criticized himself for a poor tackling performance last week.
The great Peter King gives us his midseason awards and All-Pro Team on SI.com. Can't argue with the selections. Ryan Clady is getting love everywhere and why not? The guys has given up one sack in 24 games.
Funny thing is that King threw rookie Michael Oher in the right tackles spot. The same Michael Oher that the 'Skins passed on in favor of Brian Orakpo. I know Orakpo is looking good, but the 'Skins needed a reliable young tackle and Oher looks like he is just that.
I'll be evaluating that move for the rest of their respective careers.
This week, Hunter Smith is going to return at punter against the Broncos. The position was in flux as Smith recovered from a groin injury, but hopefully the position will stabilize now that he's back.
Ladell Betts will start this week at RB despite a foot sprain.
Joe Bugel said guard Chad Rinehart, "deserves another shot." Rinehart is expected to start at right guard after failing to impress the coaches in two previous starts this year. I thought Rinehart's performance was decent, but the coaches don't ever seem to like the effort he gives. He bears watching this week.
Will Montgomery will most likely see time at RG too.
Prediction for this week: The Broncos needs this to get back on the winning track. The 'Skins have packed it in.
I'm hoping to see some of the young guys step up. Rinehart, Marko Mitchell, Orakpo, Jeremy Jarmon, etc.
I know the 'Skins will eventually one game of inspired football this year, but this won't be it.
Broncos win 27-13.
November 10, 2009
Orakpo notched two first half sacks on Matt Ryan last week. That ups his total to 5.5 sacks on the year leaving him on pace for 11 total. Orakpo also has 26 tackles.
That would be an impressive count for a rookie. Orakpo has definitely made his mark a pass rusher and is working into the OLB role as well.
Personally, I think Orakpo should stay at DE, and if he ends up with the double digit sacks, the 'Skins might end up doing that.
Orakpo is playing at OLB mainly because the 'Skins no one else athletic enough to play there. Chris Wilson gets some time there, but overall, Orakpo was the most gifted at the spot. Still, if Washington can get a replacement at OLB this offseason, Orakpo should be moved permanently to DE.
Think about the sack total if he was a full time pass rusher. That's something to drool about for next year.
Hall accused Smith of "putting his hands on me," and, "cussing me out" following the game.
It doesn't get much more pathetic than this, but then again the 'Skins find ways to sink to new lows every week.
Hall hasn't been one of the better acquisitions the 'Skins have made this decade. Considering their horrible track record, that's saying something. Hall is soft in coverage and lax in tackling, and this incident will undoubtedly make him a laughingstock.
A once promising young corner who has lost his ability and is now spiraling towards the end of a disappointing career. Hall may be under 25, but his shelf life is drying up with each passing game.
This scuffle doesn't help matters. Hall made this past week all about him and his emotions concerning his return to Atlanta. The scrum wasn't even his battle, but he got into it just the same. Then to whine to the NFL because there was some pushing, shoving, and...gasp...cursing?
Now I've been to my fair share of sports events, and heard my fair share of swearing. Colorful language and sports go hand in hand. Hall is just looking for something to gripe about, but it will backfire.
Washingtonians don't want to see sensitive football players. They just want winners. Hall certainly doesn't play like a winner and his latest comments make him appear pretty damn sensitive.
Hall isn't making any new fans these days and neither is his team. Hall's play reflects the effort put in by the whole team, which isn't positive.
Coming off a bye, the 'Skins put up three points in the first half against the 31st ranked pass defense in the NFL. They tried to make it interesting in the second half, but the defense was unable to stop Michael Turner.
The Redskins have consistently been in the top five against the run, but this season they are ranked just 25th and on Sunday, they surrendered 6.7 YPC and 181 total rushing yards.
The tackling is woeful, and the basic defensive fundamentals are lacking. The 'Skins have seemingly lost their will to play.
Don't let the number one pass defense fool you. The 'Skins have faced a string of mediocre QBs, and success on the ground has made it pointless for opposing teams to throw.
And can one blame the defense for struggling? The offense has given up two defensive TDs early in the last two games, and put up just 13 first half points in the process of those two games. That doesn't inspire aspirations of greatness.
So needless to say, things aren't pretty in DC. The team doesn't seem to have much of a core group and the coaching situation is bleak. Dan Snyder is doing his best Darth Vader impersonation and the Redskins are well on their way to a 2-14 season. Good times in our nation's capital.
November 5, 2009
"This is a bad guy," said Riggins to show host James Brown. "[The franchise] is driven by his ego. It's not a climate where people can succeed. It's just a circus and a joke."
Riggins unleashed a firestorm in a seven and a half minute interview with Brown. Great stuff that anyone who is frustrated with Snyder and the 'Skins needs to listen to.
You can tell Riggins desperately wants to see the Redskins return to the glory years. You can also tell he hates his former boss with a passion. Riggins undoubtedly had plenty of interaction with Snyder while working in the studios of ESPN 980, which the Danny owns. That interaction was likely what allowed Riggins to be so in tune with the "dark" side of Danny Boy.
I personally think it's the best piece that has come out against Danny and a must-see for any Redskin fan. I agree with the statement at the end where Riggins says his criticism of the organization will eventually enhance his legacy.
Here's the link.
Update: Greg Blache has defended Snyder since Riggins' outburst. Blache broke his media silence to announce to Snyder haters: "enough's enough." Wow. Thanks for the input, Greg. Now go teach your secondary how to cover.
Here's that link.
November 3, 2009
Thanks Dan. We appreciate the sentiment. Now prove you're sorry and just sign the checks. No more football decisions for you buddy.
Also, it's funny that he wouldn't address his ban on signs at Fedex Field. Fans are pissed over the state of the team and Snyder's underhanded treatment has further angered them. You would think Snyder could do a little more to quell the fury.
And I won't believe he really cares about this team, this city, and these fans until he starts to make some serious changes. The fans aren't treated to a good in-game experience from the poor quality of the game to the high prices of merchandise and food. And the team has been a disorganized mess for the past decade. I won't believe he's sorry until I see some stability and structure.
Here's CBS' report. Rich Tandler also gives his perspective.
Samuels suffers from a condition called stenosis, a narrowing of the spine. He aggravated his neck in the Carolina game and there have been worries that the injury might be serious enough to force Samuels to hang up his spikes.
The dismantling of a solid Redskin offensive line is underway. Jon Jansen was just released during the offseason and it appears Randy Thomas' career is close to being over. That leaves Derrick Dockery and Casey Rabach as the only linemen that have anchored the line for much of the decade.
In other injury news, linebacker HB Blades and corner Byron Westbrook are both unlikely to play against Atlanta this week as they underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. Both players suffered meniscus tears against the Eagles.
That means we will be seeing rookies Kevin Barnes at CB and Robert Henson at LB. Neither have dressed thus far.
And the biggest change this week will be at punt returner. Antwaan Randle El's role will be diminished and Deangelo Hall is now the primary punt returner. Those two and Santana Moss will all go back for returns in the future.
I hate this move. It's just too pansy. This is the vibe I get:
"Well we have finally realized that Antwaan sucks at returning, but we don't want to give up on him so he'll still get some returns. And we don't want Santana to get hurt so he'll only get in there as a change of pace return guy. So we'll let Deangelo handle most of the punt return duties. But not all of them."
Make up your damn minds.
Here's the take on Redskins Insider.
October 30, 2009
Dan Snyder is banning all signs from Fedex Field for the rest of the season.
Danny Boy is getting tired of the criticism so he just pretends it's not there. Good move. Things are getting ugly here.
Apparently those bringing signs will be forced to throw them out before entering the stadium, and those who sneak them in will be kicked out of the game. 1984 anyone?
Anyway here's Charles Robinson's piece on the situation.
"The Redskins are the worst franchise in football...They have become a punchline."
Smith went on to describe how the other bottom feeders have it better than us.
While I believe we have the talent to regroup and be a contender in a few years (if we stick to a solid plan that relies on the draft), Smith is right about one thing.
This year, there might not be a team as bad as the Washington Redskins. Nothing goes right for them. Momentum is never sustained; they don't play well with the lead; and they don't know how to bounce back from adversity. The list is endless.
Still I look at the front seven on defense, and there is hope. This front seven is really good. They are beginning to establish a strong pass rush, they control the line of scrimmage, and they hit well.
That's something to build around. Unfortunately, that's the only bright spot, and it doesn't hide the poor play from the rest of the team.
Yet Smith might have gone overboard by proclaiming the 'Skins to be in the worst shape of any team in the NFL. The Rams and Buccaneers both lost to Washington and have looked downright awful. In fact, they have even fewer prospects than the Redskins do.
Conversely, the 'Skins have a payroll that dwarfs those of the other NFL doormats. They have signed big name players and given fans big time expectations in the process. The results haven't lived up to the yearly hype.
Just three play-off appearances in ten years and only one postseason win (17-14 over Tampa, savor that 'Skins fans). That isn't exactly good.
This is a dark year for DC football, and finally the fans have had enough. They want blood. Not just Jim Zorn's blood, they want Vinny Cerrato's; they want Dan Snyder's.
Smith saw it plain as day on Monday. The Redskins were unmasked to the nation as a bunch of clueless, uncaring clowns in cleats.
Until the 'Skins shake off the stench of mediocrity, that's all they'll ever be.
October 22, 2009
Update: PFT just discovered that a Gibbs return appears doubtful according to a source close to Gibbs.
After further browsing, I have here another link on Gibbs becoming team president from Redskins Insider. Bobby Beathard gave a resounding endorsement of Gibbs, saying he would do well as team president.
This story appears to be making its way through the media, and so I'm going to see it as a possibility. In the very least, I would bet Snyder approached him about it. And why not?
Gibbs would be perfect for damage control and he would be perfect for the job of finding the new head coach. His charisma would help lure in talent while his football sense would actually mold the talent. And he could possible do it as a part time consultant.
Sounds better than a lot of other options.
And the sad story of Chief Zee unfolds courtesy of the Washington Post's Courtland Milloy. This guy really hasn't been given the comforts he deserves. The Ultimate Superfan.
How's this for another glimmer of hope. Adam Schefter actually thinks the 'Skins head coaching job is, and I quote, "desirable!" It's all about the uncapped year, baby.
Finally, Albert Haynesworth and Clinton Portis missed practice again. Portis is really banged up and I don't know if he'll be at 100% again this year. Haynesworth could be one of the most talented bums ever.
Chris Horton and Kareem Moore both missed practice as well with an illness. As far as I'm concerned I didn't like seeing so little of the dynamic Horton last Sunday. I don't get why he's in the doghouse. He's a great tackler and is reliable in pass coverage (with the exception of that pass interference call in Detroit, which could be why he's been benched).
October 21, 2009
My question is: Then why the hell did they make the final roster in the first place. OK, only Mason made it, but Alridge was cut and then BROUGHT BACK. Does the front office have any clue?
I'm assuming they kept them around for a purpose other then cutting them six weeks into the season. Or maybe I'm wrong.
Point is, teams need to make sure they are utilizing every spot. They can't waste spots by keeping the wrong players or just leaving good ones on the bench. Training camp should give you a good idea of who to keep. Unless you're Vinny.
At least the 'Skins signed Levi Jones who has a lot of much needed experience at tackle. The other signee was unknown RB Quinton Ganther.
I was emailed a great link on John Kent Cooke who opened up to Mike Wise of the Washington Post. Makes you think about what could have been if Danny Boy had been beaten out by the rightful heir.
There still would have been plenty of tradition left. Instead it's all gone and it's much like starting from scratch.
And finally I stumbled upon a nice little Snyder bashing site entitled Impeach Dan Snyder. It's riddled with sarcasm and Snyder mockery. Hell yeah.
That's it for now. Let the negativity continue.
October 20, 2009
Just as I expected. Campbell will keep the job until his contract expires at the end of the year. It's a good move (can't believe I'm saying this) and really the only move. Todd Collins isn't the answer and the 'Skins have no other young QB (thanks to Jim Zorn's general retardedness).
As much as the prospect of drafting Sam Bradford or Colt McCoy sounds good, I firmly believe we should make a play for someone like Jeff Garcia or another veteran who can keep things together while the 'Skins put an elite O-line in place.
Think about it, McCoy or Bradford wouldn't last a second with our current blockers. Why waste a pick on a tackling dummy?
Build the trenches first and you'll find that many more passers will succeed in your offense.
In the mean time, why is Jim Zorn still on the payroll?
October 19, 2009
Reports came in minutes ago from Ryan O'Halloran from the Washington Times via Twitter. According to a team source, Lewis will be calling the plays.
It's to be expected as there was really no one else to give it to. However, I don't expect much improvement as Lewis has only been here for a few weeks. In short, this yet another move that won't get the team even remotely close to the right direction.
And the disaster continues...Will anyone want to coach here?
October 18, 2009
Losing 14-6 to yet another winless team doesn't inspire any confidence. Jim Zorn shook things up, benching Jason Campbell, and it made no difference (unless you count the one deep pass to Santana Moss).
Clinton Portis was benched/injured and being on the bench lit a fire under him, for one play.
So two positive plays were just about all the offense could muster, making it another painful day of football in our nation's capital.
So Zorn made some changes, but what's to come of them? Will he be fired this week? Will Campbell remain the starter?
Well, the 'Skins' front office has already made a move. Zorn was stripped of his playcalling duties an hour ago according to Redskins Insider. It is unknown who will replace him.
My guess is either Sherm Lewis or Sherman Smith. Lewis was recently brought in as an offensive consultant while Smith has been the offensive coordinator since Zorn's hiring.
Lewis is unfamiliar with the roster, but has an impressive resume in comparison to Smith's.
This move indicates that Zorn is most certainly on his last legs. If there were a suitable replacement option, Zorn would have already been gone. Smith isn't the answer and Greg Blache is too inept to even speak to the media much less run a team, leaving Lewis and offensive line coach Joe Bugel.
Bugel has been a head coach before, but in reality, this season is over and the 'Skins will likely hold off on making changes until season's end when Mike Shanahan comes calling.
As for Campbell, his fate was sealed today when Todd Collins entered the game. Campbell is in the final year of his contract and has shown no signs of consistent improvement during his tenure here. He may very well remain the starter this year, but there is no way the 'Skins will spend the money to resign him.
To me, Campbell is still the starter. There's no future with Collins, and Campbell has more physical tools. Quite frankly, it's a moot point with the way this team plays, but Campbell should be the guy for this year.
So it's all about next year. Despite the mediocrity in past years, we've never had to say that this early in a season.
October 11, 2009
Dan Steinberg, the mastermind of the Washington Post's DC Sports Blog gives the rundown of all the haters who have Zorn on their hit list.
Of course it's easy to bash a coach for losing a game, but when you watch the 'Skins games in full it becomes even easier. This team could easily be 0-5 at the moment. Credit the Rams and Bucs for being that much worse.
The offense had scoring drives of 13 and one yards. They scored three points without the help of turnovers and failed to move the ball much anywhere.
The defense played its best football of the season until the fourth quarter when the time of possession differential allowed Carolina to control the line of scrimmage.
Again, no effort, no heart, and no win.
2010 never looked so good.
Here's the scoop.
It's sad that Snyder is so hungry to win with big names that he's wasted an entire season waiting around for Shanahan. And now we add the Holmgren rumors...
There's a reason why Bill Cowher has denied interest in the 'Skins. It's because he has no interest in this dysfunctional franchise.
It's also funny that even though it appears Snyder gave up on the season before it even started, he still paid big bucks to stars. Doesn't make sense. If you have no faith in your team, why kill your salary cap by signing two players?
Now that's rebuilding Snyder style.
Anyway, Panthers will pull this one out. Sherm Lewis won't help much and Clinton Portis will stab Mike Sellars in the back. OK, I was lying about the last part.
October 8, 2009
Some of the stats are misleading. The 'Skins are fourth against the pass, but they haven't been nearly that good. And the have yet to play a good QB after Eli Manning dissected them in week one.
The offense is ranked 15th in total offense with 325.2 yards per game, and yet when it comes to scoring points they rank 27th with just 14 points per game.
The defense only gives up 16.8 first downs per game (only eight teams are better). However, they have surrendered first downs on 43% of all third down conversions (eighth worst in the NFL).
The 'Skins are also losing the time of possession battle. They allow opposing offenses to control the ball for an average of 32:17 per game.
The time of possession battle is a big one for the Redskins. Their offense needs the ball a ton in order to generate scoring. Without establishing a rhythm, most offenses sputter. This one is non-existent.
Two things kill momentum and rhythm more than anything else. Turnovers and not possessing the ball. The 'Skins have struggled in both areas. They have turned the ball over seven times through four games, and Jason Campbell has fumbled the ball a total of seven times (two lost).
So to improve their fortunes, the 'Skins have to make the following adjustments:
1. Get The Defense Off The Field
The defense isn't playing up to par. They aren't aggressive enough and they don't play with much swagger. They show a lack of discipline in zone coverage and haven't controlled the line of scrimmage consistently.
Look no further than their 22nd ranked run defense. They have given up 512 yards at 4.3 yards per clip well above last year's average YPC. For those of you keeping score at home that's 128 rushing yards per game.
That kind of run defense isn't going to allow you to control the football. The front seven has some work to do.
2. Protect The Ball And QB
Jason Campbell is in a shaky state right now. The coaching staff has little confidence in him, and every mistake just makes the playcalling that much more conservative.
Campbell hasn't been great with the ball in his hand this season. His seven fumbles are an NFL high and in 2007 he had the same problem (eight fumbles lost).
Even if the 'Skins can recover the fumbles, the play is still wasted; yards are still lost. That's unacceptable considering the offense has enough moving the chains from ten yards away.
Part of that is due the offensive line. The line is beat up and several players are new to the starting lineup. This leads to some issue in protection as the line has given up eight sacks on Campbell.
Still the line isn't as bad as last year, and I see this line as a group of overachievers thus far. So the emphasis is really on Campbell to protect the ball.
If the 'Skins continue to turn the ball over you can say goodbye to any shot at winning the time of possession battle let alone getting into a rhythm. Things are just too uneven, and that leaves little margin for error.
3. Create Sacks And Turnovers
Coming into the year, many thought our offense was bad, but no one criticized the defense. Little did we know the 'Skins defense wasn't going to live up the hype.
Fortunately, defensive coordinator Greg Blache has 12 more games to pull it together. He has a lot of work.
For starters the defense is ranked 12th (and that's only due to the inflated pass defense ranking). That might seem ok, but the defense made upgrades after finishing fourth last year. So it isn't so good.
Now I'd settle for a top 15 defense if it meant we were flying around, creating turnovers, and generating a consistent pass rush. We aren't.
This little stat says it all. Just 7.38% of opposing team's pass plays end in a sack or INT. That's 20th best in the league. That's not what Dan Snyder was hoping for when he inked Deangelo Hall and Albert Haynesworth.
So that's what the 'Skins need to improve. Trust me there's more (like scoring in the red zone, establishing the run, fixing up playcalling, and scoring in general), but we've been over it quite a bit.
What about the positives you ask? Well there's a young nucleus forming on defense.
Bookends at DE. Brian Orakpo and Jeremy Jarmon both have been great the past few weeks. Orakpo has a pair of sacks while Jarmon has one and a forced fumble. If Haynesworth sticks around a full four years, that defensive line might shape up.
Also, the 'Skins have seen solid play from Chris Horton at SS. I know he has been inconsistent in pass coverage, but it's just his second year. And he's a great tackler.
Rocky McIntosh, Hall, Carlos Rogers, and Laron Landry might all turn out to be core players as well, but I really think a more aggressive approach would suit them. Landry has big play capability, but Blache's schemes limit that. I know I hate on Hall, but he gets INTs which is something the rest of the Redskins secondary doesn't do.
Justin Tryon and Kevin Barnes are two other young CBs with potential. Tryon finally had a big game last week, notching a sack at nickel corner while Barnes is a rookie who will be a physical CB in a few years.
With the defense showing some promise, the pressure is on the offense. What is there to salvage as a positive?
Antwaan Randle El has been solid from the slot with 13 catches for 158 yards. Most his production was from the first two weeks (ARE was held without a grab last week), but he has still shown an ability to get open and gain some yardage after the catch.
However, the lack of a true number two is plaguing Campbell. Santana Moss has stepped it up, but we all know he is an inconsistent receiver at the number one spot. Malcolm Kelly has been a big disappointment and Devin Thomas doesn't fit either.
So what about Marko Mitchell? The guy was the best player in the preseason and he has size, speed, and toughness. With the lack of production we are seeing from Kelly, I don't see how Jim Zorn has anything to lose by playing Mitchell.
But getting back to the positives (hard to find them on this offense), Chris Cooley is yet again the only solid threat week in and week out. And still, the coaching staff fails to pick up on this and use him often in the red zone.
Cooley, in the seam, from 15 yards out. We saw in New York and we saw it last week. It works.
Another thing I like is the 'Skins trying to establish the short to intermediate passing game to set up the run. They did it in Detroit and it worked well save for the fact they couldn't finish in the red zone and didn't run it enough in the second half when the box was opening up. But that's a start.
If the 'Skins can control the clock in the first half through the air and keep it close, the running game will be there in the second half. That is when the box opens up and defenses wear down.
Through the first quarter of the season, the football hasn't been pretty, but somehow Washington sits at 2-2. They have a few more soft opponents and then embark on a rough journey through the NFC East and NFC South.
I'm not expecting much from the 'Skins. They haven't played well yet and both wins were against the dregs of the league by the skin of their teeth.
Despite this gloomy outlook, I desperately want see some intensity. The team is going through the motions right now, and that reflects on the entire franchise. The coaching staff needs to find a way to be more motivational so these guys will play with some pride.
If that happens, we could end up pleasantly surprised come January.
October 1, 2009
With a veritable firestorm surrounding head coach Jim Zorn following the Redskins 19-14 loss to the Lions, it's time for him to take a long, hard look at his formula because something is obviously not clicking.
The offense has stalled at all the wrong times while the defense isn't even close to being as good as advertised. Special teams? Well at least Hunter Smith is punting.
The coaching staff hasn't been very prepared to say the least. Their psyche is anything but stable at the moment and you can see it with their conservative approach. They are so scared of blowing opportunities that they don't even create them. One thing goes wrong and the team packs up for the day.
That kind of gameplan may keep things close, but it doesn't lead to the play-offs. It leads to 8-8; or worse.
So Zorn needs to make a move and get serious. His back is against the wall, and now he knows it could be only a matter of weeks before he's shown the door.
Usually teams will rally during the toughest times, but the Redskins don't seem to fit the prototype. They remind me of a team that gets slammed through the wall.
Zorn isn't winning any popularity contests with his most important players (Jason Campbell and Clinton Portis) and that won't help the lethargic locker room. He needs to find something to jolt this team out of its coma...and fast.
His defense, expected to be the anchor, has been floundering all season. They are ranked 15th, giving up 325.7 yards per game. In addition, they can't get off the field early in games, which cause two problems.
First, it keeps the offense from establishing its gameplan early; something that happened in the Giants game. With the way this offense has struggled, the defense can't let opposing offenses sustain so many first half drives.
Secondly, it leads to a deficit in time of possession, which wears out the defense late in games. We saw this in the Lions' games as the defense couldn't come with key stops on Detroit's final two drives.
Opposing offenses have converted 51% of their third down opportunities against the Redskins, which is a league worst. And Washington's defense has been on the field for an average of 32:41 a game (good for seventh most in the NFL).
Individual play hasn't been much better on defense. Albert Haynesworth has freed up London Fletcher, but other than that has done very little. In fact, the entire front four has struggled to stop the run on first down.
The 'Skins are 22nd against the run, and have surrendered 100-yard rushing games to two backs in the past two games. That a huge dropoff from the top-five run defenses of the past few years.
The secondary is 11th against the past, but they have left plenty to be desired. Deangelo Hall has been beaten routinely while aside from Chris Horton, the other defensive backs have been lackluster.
The defense has been incredibly disappointing thus far and yet I see it as being the fault of Greg Blache.
Blache's gameplan has failed to utilize the Redskins strengths. They don't blitz off the edge and they fail to shoot the gaps. Tackling is non-existent while the coverage schemes are soft.
Defense has been the Redskins' bread and butter for years. For a solid turnaround, Zorn needs the defense to play more aggressively, and Blache needs to be the one to make that happen.
Offensively, Zorn simply has to go for broke.
He is scared to let Campbell run the offense in the redzone. And it shows.
Two 4th-and-goals from inside the five. Two stretch plays? That's the worst play in the book in a short yardage situation. It takes light years to develop and the blocking must be flawless.
If you don't want Campbell to throw it, at least give the running game a chance up the middle. Better yet, throw it.
Zorn might be scared to throw because of dropped passes, but it's worse getting stuffed on 4th-and-short multiple times.
So the offense can move the ball at will, but if they can't get over the hump in the redzone, that's not much of a positive.
They have strengths. They do a good job establishing the short to intermediate passing game at some points. However, they don't utilize the running game once the passing game starts clicking.
Throughout the second half the the Lions were respecting the Redskin WRs. The box was less cluttered, meaning there was running room for Clinton Portis. However, the 'Skins only handed him the ball 12 times on the game.
Portis isn't the back he once was, but with just seven in the box, he can wear down defenses while taking pressure off of Campbell. Zorn failed to realize this last Sunday.
As far as the passing game is concerned, the 'Skins have done a miserable job getting the ball consistently to Chris Cooley. He disappears in long stretches, and they never use him in the redzone (aside from that one halfback option pass...yuck).
So things aren't too hot for the 'Skins as they prepare to host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. However, Zorn has caught a break as he is taking on a team with even more problems than his Redskins.
Still, he can't breathe easily, another loss will up the pressure that much more.
Time to dig deep. Time to just win.
September 29, 2009
This little Dutch Boy plugging up the dam act has got to stop. It's time to get serious, make a plan and stick to it.
If a loss to the Lions doesn't convince the little Dutch Boy (Danny) to reevaluate his strategy, nothing will.
Can you smell that fresh springtime atmosphere? I sure can and I like it.
I know a lot of you are probably willing to stay patient because you think we have a lot of good players who we can keep together for a few more years. You might be attached to Clinton Portis or Fred Smoot, but let's face it: this is far from a Super Bowl winning team.
This team was never going places. The offensive line has been plagued with injuries for the past four years, the defensive line has been non-existent. Receivers, what are they? Chris Cooley has been underused while Portis has been worn out.
We should have known Joe Gibbs was milking the full potential from this group. Instead, we criticized him for limiting it. It took 19 games with Jim Zorn for me to realize this team just isn't that good.
The coaching staff has been incredibly bad. The team, as I said, isn't a Super Bowl team, but it could definitely win nine or 10 games. With Zorn, they look like they might win six.
So assuming Snyder axes Zorn and his entire staff (as he should), the 'Skins get new life with a new staff. Now comes the tricky part: Will Snyder hire another puppet or someone who will be able to fully insert his philosophies on the team?
That will be the most critical juncture. It will determine what the 'Skins will look like in five years. If Snyder lands a Cowher or a Shanahan, he must give them the reins. They have built winners before and they can do it again.
Snyder just needs to sign the checks. Period. If he can find the right coaches who can get the most out of the team, then he will have done his job.
Hiring new coaches is a no-brainer. The big thing will be deciding who belongs in the nucleus of the "new" Redskins and who gets the boot.
I'll give you that next.
September 22, 2009
Sonny Jurgensen openly criticized Jim Zorn's playcalling on the 'Skins live postgame show and Dan Steinberg covers it here.
Sonny comes right out with it and I like that. He points out what everyone wants to say and Zorn bristles at it. Definitely not your run of the mill postgame press conference.
As far as Zorn's excuse, I don't buy it. "We called it to work." Well obviously. But there's such a thing as a feel for the game and a feel for what your offense can give you.
Twice now Zorn has killed drives with busted trick plays. The way the offense struggles to run its bread and butter why on earth would Zorn complicate things. He lacks a basic trust in Campbell and you can tell it affects his playcalling in important situations.
Campbell can't grow with what Zorn calls. I was especially disappointed with his decision not to pass on the fourth-and-one. That was a big play in the game that I wish Zorn would have put on Campbell's shoulders.
However, I don't know if Zorn is in touch with his offense. He is very conservative and it shows on big downs. He has no problem dialing up plays between the thirties, but whenever the 'Skins are close to either endzone it seems like he gives up on the drive altogether.
But I digress because Robert Henson also had some verbal assaults yesterday. Via Twitter, he trashed half-hearted 'Skins fans, calling them "dimwits."
There was some booing on Sunday, but in my opinion, it was merited. Henson is a rookie who isn't familiar with the organization. We have been seeing this for years, Robert, and unlike you we don't see an end in sight. So sorry you find us to be pessimistic.
We aren't half-hearted, we're just smart.