Murder Of The Washington Redskins

Keith SmoothCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2009

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 18:  Washington Redskins head coach Jim Zorn watches from the sideline as his team loses to the Kansas Chiefs October 18, 2009 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. The Chiefs won the game 14-6.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Yesterday, my buddy Anthony texted me after the Washington Redskins further continued their march to oblivion by losing to the feeble Kansas City Chiefs:

“The Redskins are pathetic. You should be embarrassed.”

This is the text I sent back to him:

“I’m not embarrassed.  The Redskins are a disgrace, and I’m not allowing this team to bring down my self esteem.”

I’m no longer embarrassed by my Redskins. I pity them. They are what I like to refer to as “train-wreck TV.”  When I’m watching them play, I want to look away from the TV because what I’m watching is so morbid and depressing.  But no matter how hard I try, I can’t.  I am equally fascinated and frightened. And that’s because the Redskins are as chaotic and dysfunctional as the loony people who appear on the Jerry Springer Show .

I won’t bore you to death with the stats from yesterday’s game.  Just know that Head Coach Jim Zorn, desperate to save his job, benched his starting quarterback Jason Campbell at halftime. Campbell had a quarterback rating of 46.5 in the first half. 

Thirty-seven-year-old backup Todd Collins wasn’t much better.  The Redskins simply could not move the ball against the worst defensive team in the league.  It was astonishing.  I kept looking at the Chiefs' defense, wondering if the late great Derrick Thomas had returned from the dead and was now somehow blitzing from the left side.

Six points, 140 yards passing, and seven first downs. That’s it. That's all the offense could muster at home to a win-less team with a rookie coach.  

Just when you think this team had hit rock bottom and couldn’t possibly go any further, they find new and imaginative ways to humiliate themselves. The front office stripped Zorn of his playcalling duties after yesterday's game.  It felt like a mercy killing.  And in Zorn’s place is Sherman Lewis, the well-respected ex-offensive coordinator, who owner Dan Snyder snatched away from a game of bingo a couple of weeks ago (I wish I was joking).

The Redskins are an 0-6 team posing as a 2-4 team.  Their two wins over two terrible teams, St. Louis and Tampa Bay by a combined five points, actually felt like losses . And the actual losses themselves came about primarily due to a toxic mix of dreadful red zone playcalling, dumb mistakes at critical times, and a baffling inability to score points. 

Consider this:

The Redskins just completed the single most unlikely stretch of games in NFL history.  They became the first team to play six straight games against win-less teams.  They lost to the New York Giants on the first Sunday of the season.  Then they played, with the exception of the Oakland Raiders (who they play later in the season), the five worst teams in the NFL.  This is the easiest stretch of games in the history of the league.  Their last five opponents have a combined record this season of 4-25!


I promise you, Redskin fans will be talking about these last five games for the next 50 years.  The losses have taken on a historic quality.  After defeating the Redskins, the Detroit Lions snapped a 19-game losing streak, Carolina won their first game of the season, and Kansas City won for just the third time in their last 31 games.

The Lions, Chiefs, Bucs, Rams, and the Raiders have terrible offenses, but at least with those teams you could make the argument that they just don’t have the talent.

What can possibly be the Redskins' excuse when they have Pro-Bowl caliber talent?

How bad is the offense?

Yesterday, the New England Patriots turned back the clock to 2007 and scored 59 points in their game against the Tennessee Titans.  The 59 points they scored in that one game were just 19 points fewer than what the Redskins have scored in six games!

When you combine the insane amount of money Dan Synder has spent on this team, with its putrid play on the field, and its softer-than-toilet-paper schedule, what you have is an NFL franchise that has completely fallen off a cliff and into the abyss.

But who’s to blame?

Looking at the wreckage of this franchise, I feel like I’m Laurence Fishburne on C.S.I .  A murder has been committed.  Yellow police tape is in the process of being wrapped around FedEx Field.  The Redskins are officially the Deadskins.  Someone has killed this once-proud franchise. 

I’ve dusted for prints, and I’ve collected a list of suspects.

The Owner: Dan Snyder

Good God, where do I start?  How about charging insane prices for a fatally flawed product, his insatiable need for overpriced and over-hyped free agents, his aggravating need to trade draft picks, and his constant meddling make him easily one of the worst owners in the league.  Redskin fans don’t care that Snyder has made the team one of the most valuable and profitable teams in professional sports. That’s a hollow accomplishment when you compare Snyder’s success at making money with his (lack of) success on the football field.

The Director of Player Personnel: Vinny Cerrato 

Snyder must think he’s Superman and a General Manager is his kryptonite because he refuses to hire one. Instead of having a competent GM, he has an incompetent yes-man who is basically nothing more than Snyder’s public-relations mouthpiece.  Cerrato seems to be good at only one thing, and that is answering to his Sith Lord’s demands. 

The Head Coach: Jim Zorn

He won’t be coach much longer.  The question is not if Dan Snyder will fire him, the question is if Zorn will make it through the season.  Zorn isn’t just sitting on the hot seat, he’s sitting on a hot seat that’s been dipped in lava.  But here’s the ugly truth: This is not his fault.  

Well, it is because he’s the head coach, but the reality is that he never should’ve been hired in the first place.  Never mind the fact that Zorn had never been a head coach before, he had never been an offensive coordinator before, and he didn't have any real nor quantifiable experience when he was hired.  

And no, "quarterbacks coach" doesn't count!  It was a shocking hire made even more suspicious by the fact that Snyder tried to sell Zorn as an “offensive wizard.”  Twenty-two games into Zorn’s coaching career and he’s not exactly an “offensive wizard” but Redskin fans surely do find him “offensive.”

The Quarterback: Jason Campbell

Jason is a likable, affable guy.  He also is not very good.  Campbell has passed for 1,197 yards in six games.  That’s less than 200 yards passing per game, and that’s just not going to pass mustard in our nation's capital.  I’m afraid we’re looking at the next Patrick Ramsey, a nice guy with southern hospitality and a strong arm but not quite ready for primetime.  Even his most ardent supporters are (finally) turning on him.  

Campbell’s a restricted free agent after the season and it’s all but impossible to imagine a scenario in which he returns to this team.  The next coach may not want him and even if he did, why should Campbell even want to come back?  Snyder publicly dissed him by trying like hell to trade for Jay Cutler and Mark Sanchez this past spring.  His biggest ally (Zorn) just stabbed him in the back. The fans are merciless.  This has evolved into a no-win situation for Jason.

The Offensive Line:

Allow me to paraphrase the great Rick Pitino quote from when he was coaching the Boston Celtics:

“Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby, and Mark May ain't walking through that door!”

Even if Snyder had successfully traded for Cutler or Sanchez, the Redskins' offense would still be in the witness protection program.  This is because ownership has willfully neglected the aging offensive line. 

Remember when Clinton Portis actually had holes to run through?

The line was a problem before the season started.  Now guard Randy Thomas is out for the year and tackle Chris Samuels is out indefinitely.

The High-Priced Free Agent: Albert Haynesworth

One hundred million dollars sure doesn’t buy you what it used to.  Haynesworth hasn’t been terrible but he hasn’t been particularly good either.  Fans were cautiously optimistic to start the season. But what they’ve seen so far is a guy with $41 million guaranteed who is not an every down player (when he’s healthy) and who hasn’t made a big impact. Why, oh why was so much money spent on a defensive tackle who is not an every down player when the offensive line is old and tattered?

Last week, cornerback Carlos Rodgers shocked the Washington sports world when he publicly criticized the owner. It is very rare to see a pro athlete publicly criticize the guy who signs his checks.  It was a bold move, and a truthful one too.

In fact, as I was watching the Redskins' Postgame Wrap Up on Comcast SportsNet yesterday, former Redskin great Brian Mitchell, who co-hosted the show, had this to say:

“The problem with the Redskins is that they are more concerned with bringing in guys who sell jerseys than bringing in guys with heart!”

He’s right.  And who do you think he’s talking about?

Now that I’ve compiled a list of suspects, who do you think is guilty of killing this once-proud franchise?

Here’s a hint:  His name has appeared in this article more times than anybody else.

That’s right. Dan Snyder is guilty of killing the Washington Redskins.  I blame him TOTALLY!  This is his fault. He refuses to hire a GM. He refuses to draft young players. He refuses to stop wasting money on over-hyped free agents.  He refuses to stop meddling. He refuses to create a strong, structural hierarchy, and he refuses to hire competent people to make sure that hierarchy is solid.  

Instead, he hires incompetent people, and he seems to revel in the fear and paranoia that runs rampant inside the team headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia.  And because of that, Redskin Nation continues to suffer.

So congratulations, Daniel Snyder. You are the proud architect of this steaming pile of horse manure. You are the pilot of this Hindenburg, and you are the captain of this Titanic.

And in a perfect world, you would be sentenced before a court of law and you would be sent to jail.


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