Washington's Woes Have Skins Fans Seeing Red

Brandan PfeiferContributor IOctober 14, 2009

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 11:  Head coach Jim Zorn of Washington Redskins watches on against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on October 11, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

How do you spell disappointment?  R-E-D-S-K-I-N-S. 

The Washington Redskins are 2-3 to start the season, which could possibly be stomached if they lost to, say the Vikings, or the Saints.  Nope. Though the Redskins lost a close game against the Giants in the first game of the season, their other losses are cause for shame. 

One of those losses came against the win-less Panthers, who have talented receivers but a QB in Jake Delhomme who executes about as often as California.  The other, an embarrassing loss to perennial "gimme-game" Detroit Lions.  

As if that wasn't sad enough, the Redskins' two victories feel about as good as kissing your sister.  The Skins put on a clinic for offensive ineptitude against the win-less Rams and then pulled out a narrow victory in a snooze-fest against the (you guessed it) win-less Bucs. 

Kansas City, Christmas has come early and you've been good. Sooooo...Maybe the Redskins will leave your very first victory in your stocking.  It's the least they good do. And I mean LEAST.

With so much going wrong with one team, it's hard to find out where to start.  Should I begin with the terrible play-calling?  Maybe the defense's lack of effort, emotion, or production (save London Fletcher, who seems to make every play on defense)?

Or maybe the injury-plagued offensive line that is about as deep as $10, plastic, kiddie pool?  Or maybe I should take Carlos Rodger's advice and "start with the owner."

Well here's a list, in no particular order, of issues that are hurting the Redskins:


Play-Calling (I'll group coaching in with this one)

Jim Zorn calls offensive plays like a girlfriend playing Madden.  Hmmm, this play looks nice...I'll try this.  What do those lines and arrows mean?  Oh, the running plays worked... let's run some more.

It's like the guy has a one track mind; run the ball til they stop it, then throw in a passing play (to keep them guessing).

What's worse is this isn't a habit that is confined to the course of one game; it carries over week to week.  The numbers 21, 33, 14, 35, and 24.  What do they mean?  Well, they aren't the winning Pick Five numbers (If they were, I would take my winnings and buy the team from Mr. Snyder). 

Those numbers are the number of Redskin rushing attempts in each game, in order.  The two numbers in the 30s...both Redskin W's.  The other three...BIG L's. 

One can almost get inside Jim Zorn's head (be careful) by analyzing these simple numbers.  It's as if he cant can't decide what kind of team he wants to present.  Are we a running team with a few receiving threats, a passing team with a few solid backs, or both? Please Jim, pick a team strategy and stick to it. 

I am quite aware that you bring different game-plans against different teams, but that doesn't come at the cost of a team identity.  


Defensive futility

The defense this season looks utterly uninspired. You can exclude a few players, like London Fletcher, who plays every game like his last. You can even excuse Brian Orakpo, who is a rookie that has shown a lot of potential.  But for the rest of the lot, there is no excuse. 

The team might want to contact the Washington Post and run an ad in the missing section of the classifieds for DeAngelo Hall.  He has been missing tackles all season. 

Albert Haynesworth, I dub thee $100 Million Baby.  I have never seen a defensive tackle get "hurt" as much as Mr. Haynesworth.  I know you play games on Sunday, but that doesn't mean you have to kneel down so much, save that for church. 

Albert has shown that he is about as physically fit as a Metrobus driver.  Dan Snyder bought the pro-bowl D-tackle for about $3,000 a pound expecting Fillet-Mignon, too bad he got rump-roast.

The Redskins ranked in the top five last year in total defense; they haven't played like it yet this season


Injuries/Offensive Line

The offensive line has had a hard time producing so far this season.  Injuries have played a part of that problem not because there have been so many, but because the Skins just don't have anyone to replace an injured starter. 

Case-in-point, Sunday's game against the Panthers.  After losing Chris Samuels to a stinger early in the game, the Redskins were forced to replace him with RG D'Anthony Batiste.  Batiste had zero previous game experience at tackle, and Zorn even hinted after the game that he hadn't even gotten any realistic reps in practice at the position.


You're telling me that after losing a pro-bowl tackle early in the game, the best replacement you could come up with was a guy with no previous (recent) experience at the position?  And you're going to ask him to block who?  Julius Peppers?  Oh, whew.

For a second there I thought he was going to have to block Osi Umenyiora.  But since it's just Peppers, that's a great decision.  Sorry, the Sarcasm Lock button was stuck on my laptop keyboard.

A banged up and/or struggling offensive line forces an offense to do a few things to compensate. 

1. More two-back sets and less spread sets.  

The Redskins ran a lot of I-formation in Sunday's game against the Panthers.  What this does is gives them two more blockers to protect the QB, but it also lets the defense pack it in close to the line of scrimmage, gives them fewer options in the passing game, and makes the offense more predictable with the running game.

2. Keep the running backs in the backfield to block in passing situations.  This hurts the passing game because it gives the QB fewer options.  If the backs have to stay in and block, they can't release on their routes, giving Jason Campbell fewer check-downs if his primary receivers are covered.

3. Use your tight ends to block.  Chris Cooley is a great blocker.  But he is a better receiver.  Cooley had the second most receptions among Tight Ends last season with 83, behind only Tony Gonzales. 

If you keep Cooley at the line of scrimmage to add an extra blocker, you not only take away another option for Campbell, you take away his most reliable option.  Not only did Cooley not catch a pass in Sunday's loss against the Panthers, he wasn't even thrown to.  Not once. 


The Ownership

Jimmy Johnson summed up the ownership problem in Washington best when he said on Sunday that Daniel Snyder "builds his team like its fantasy football."

He throws his money around and picks up overpaid former pro-bowlers and high-priced superstars, then tries to build a team around them. 

Chris Samuels is a pro-bowl tackle, his backup is...well...who knows who his backup is from week to week.

Albert Haynesworth made a pro-bowl, got paid $100 million, and doesn't produce while surrounded by average position-mates. 

These are just two examples of how Daniel Snyder has unsuccessfully tried to buy himself a Lombardi Trophy.


Will the Redskins find a cure for what ails them?  Who knows?  The entire organization has a slew of deeply rooted problems that need to be addressed.  The question to ask is whether or not they address them the right way. 

Given the teams track record lately, I'm hoping the cheers coming from the Verizon Center can muffle the sound of collapse in Landover.


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