Not much changed for the Redskins during the offseason. Sure on paper maybe, but not on the playing field.
Playcalling was a nightmare. Offensively, Jim Zorn pushed the panic button after a pair of first half gaffes by Jason Campbell. Apparently no one told him you have to be aggressive when trailing.
Zorn seemed content to play it safe and run the ball on first and second downs repeatedly. Of course that set up a ton of third and longs, putting Campbell in more difficult passing situations than had he been throwing on first and second.
I don't think Zorn comprehends that his job is on the line. Playing conservatively when down ten points doesn't save head coaching jobs in the NFL.
Zorn has two weeks worth of cream puffs to get down and dirty. He can't play it close to the vest against Detroit and St. Louis. He needs to get the offense in motion and they need to steamroll these teams.
If the offense squeaks out victories against the Lions and Rams (or worse, loses) they will have failed to gain some much-needed confidence. These two weeks can provide the shot in the arm the offense requires.
The checklist should read as follows:
1. Use the passing game to set up the run. The 'Skins had a lot of success with this scheme last year as it kept extra defenders out of the box.
2. Find a possession receiver. Malcolm Kelly deserves another shot, but it's beginning to look like the 'Skins might have missed ona ll three of the 2nd round draft picks in 2008.
Kelly has the size to be dominant, but his effort last week was lackluster. He didn't show much burst and his route running was not up to par. He'll need to get open if he wants to put up numbers.
3. Win the time of possession battle. The offense can do nothing if it doesn't get on the field and find its rhythm.
In the first half against the Giants, Washington controlled the ball for under ten minutes. You can't establish your gameplan if you don't touch the ball. By the time the 'Skins got a decent shot, they were down 17-0.
4. No early turnovers. Obviously, the turnovers played a factor. Back-to-back drives early in the game ended in turnovers and that really ruined any shot the Redskins had at establishing themselves.
Turnovers are never good, but if they occur in the opening stages of the game, they can be devestating. Zorn must stress avoiding them so the team can preserve time of possession and field position.