If you woke up this morning still a fan of Washington football, you should give yourself a pat on the back. There was very little to take away from their 23-17 loss to the New York Giants that would suggest the team is close to competing for an NFC East title, which is what the squad probably needs to come close to for a playoff berth.
To begin, the play calling was confusing at best. Washington was consistently caught off balance with pressure from the line, and routinely forced into bailout plays and toeing the edge of the turnover cliff. Just as he did in last season’s home opener, Jim Zorn couldn’t decide if he was better suited running to the outside or looking for medium routes over the middle. Bad news was, the Giants seemed prepared for either circumstance.
Which brings up the point of Jason Campbell and the Washington passing game. When he has time, he can make plays. When he doesn’t, he will make tragic mistakes. If it sounds familiar to the folks in Baltimore, it should; Kyle Boller was the exact same caliber of player, and suffered changing coordinators and quarterback coaches in the same way.
All of this would be a forgotten point if the fourth-ranked defense of 2008 had avoided some flawed moments of execution. Missed tackles and miscues were the hallmark of DeAngelo Hall’s 2009 debut, while the $100 million man looked like he’d ingested 100 CCs of gravy prior to kick off. Just as we heard Albert Haynesworth would.
There is some room for hope, as Washington played far below its own talent and still managed to escape Giants Stadium with a margin of defeat that was far wider than the score would indicate. They ended the game with a close margin, but judging by the performances of the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and Giants, the gap between Washington and the rest of the division is as far as the eye can see.
Some things, at least through Game One, never change.