Redskins vs. Giants: Where Did the Time Go?

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Redskins vs. Giants:  Where Did the Time Go?
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
The Washington Redskins opened up the 2009 NFL season in familiar fashion…with a loss to the New York Giants. As a diehard Redskins fan the most troubling aspect of Sunday’s game was not the loss, but the mental mistakes that were consistently made.

For the second straight year the Giants’ coaching staff composed a game plan that left the Redskins without any answers.

I try not to put too much blame for losses in one place, after all, football is the ultimate team game. I don’t like it when fans actively root against a player or a coach just because they would prefer somebody different.

After yesterday, however, Jim Zorn is making it very hard for me to stay on his bandwagon.

In the third quarter of Sunday’s game, the Redskins were faced with two difficult third downs. Each time they broke the huddle, they had let too much time run off the clock in order to make the necessary adjustments.

As a result they were forced to use two timeouts before the fourth quarter even began.  As a result, they gave themselves no chance in the final minute of the game.

Now, burning a timeout in the third quarter is always a sickening event. But when it is coupled by an inept and ineffective play call following the timeout, this act becomes unbearable. The first situation came with 4:22 to go in the third quarter.

After handing the ball off on two useless runs the Redskins were faced with a third-and-seventh on their own 34 yard line. When they broke the huddle, the play-clock had run low and not liking what he saw, quarterback Jason Campbell called a timeout.

This is where things get ridiculous. Coming out of the timeout, the Redskins had wasted so much time that when they broke the huddle again, Campbell had to scramble to change the play at the line of scrimmage. The audible he called was a handoff to backup running back Ladell Betts who was promptly tackled after a loss of two yards.

Just to recap…the Redskins wasted a precious timeout on a third quarter possession in their own territory, changed the play they called during the timeout, and then lost two yards on the audible.

They would have been better off taking the “delay of game” penalty which would have only knocked them back five yards, needless to say, I was upset.

On the ensuing Giants possession, safety LaRon Landry and cornerback DeAngelo Hall combined to make a great play that resulted in an interception (for Hall) and gave the Redskins the ball deep in Giants territory.

After a negative run and a screen pass (both to Portis) the Redskins found themselves with a third-and-sixth at the Giants seven yard line. Again, Campbell and the Redskins took their sweet time getting to the line, didn’t like what they saw, and burned a timeout.

This one was more understandable than the first, since the intent for this timeout was to ensure everyone was on the same page so they could finally put a touchdown on the board. Instead, Jason Campbell took the snap, dropped back to pass, and was sacked by defensive end Justin Tuck.

The final result of those two third quarter timeouts was a two yard loss on a third-and-seventh run and a critical redzone sack. Of course, when the Redskins finally did score a touchdown to close the gap to six with 1:37 to go, they were helpless against the inevitable ticking of the game clock.

There is no guarantee that having those timeouts would have won the game for the Redskins. In fact, it’s quite doubtful that they would have. However, when a team makes such inexcusable mistakes and fundamental errors it leaves a lot of questions about the competency of the organization.

Would it really have been that terrible to take a five yard loss on a third-and-seventh early in the third quarter in your own territory? Was that the best pass play the Redskins could have run on a 3rd-and-goal from the seven?

The Giants have, arguably, the best defensive line in the league. This is not a secret. Why did it take so long for Zorn to abandon the run and go to a hurry-up style spread offense (in which the Redskins moved the ball with great effectiveness and scored their only offensive touchdown)?

All of these questions remain unanswered heading into a week two rematch with the St. Louis Rams. The same team that sent the Redskins season spiraling downward after their devastating loss last year. The reason for that loss…..boneheaded plays and mental mistakes.

Jim Zorn better fix the mentality of this team soon because if the ‘Skins start dropping more games in this fashion, owner Daniel Snyder has made no secret that he is willing to make a change. And with such accomplished coaches as Jon Gruden, Bill Cower and Mike Shanahan all sitting this season out, it would be naïve for Zorn to think otherwise. 

-Brad Vipperman

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