What a way to end the season for the 2009 Washington Redskins.
A 4-12 record marks the teams worst since 1994 (first year under Norv Turner). So much scrutiny has followed the team since the beginning, from the Jason Campbell replacement talks, to the firing of Jim Zorn, all the way to the end in the reports of Mike Shanahan. With all this circus hoopla, how could you of expected for this team to of been successful?
But regardless of the distractions from the media off the field, the Redskins still couldn't produce on it.
Quarterback Jason Campbell seemed to shine in all of the somewhat insignificant games and couldn't lead the offense consistently enough to keep us in games or put us over the top. He did have a career year with 3,618 YDS and 20 TD, but he also added a career-high 15 INT.
Jim Zorn seemed to sum up Campbell best in his last post-game press conference, saying that Campbell is not a franchise quarterback, but should be a starting quarterback in the league. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see what Washington does since Campbell will be a free agent this offseason.
Of course, Campbell wasn't helped by the inconsistency around him. Five different starting running backs and seven different offensive line combinations, with eleven different lineman. Need I say more?
As far as the defense was concerned, where do you buy hands? So many dropped passes by the secondary and linebackers this season could have easily changed the outcome of a few games. If you turn those dropped balls into interceptions and normally immediate scoring chances, we only lost six games by seven points or less. Now I'm not pinpointing that as the sole reason the 'Skins struggled, but one that should not be overlooked.
The sacks did improve from last season, with Andre Carter and rookie Brian Orakpo leading the way with eleven sacks each. However, Albert Haynesworth wasn't the key contributor as was once thought before the season began. Haynesworth also missed countless snaps and four games in total.
As I digress, let's go to the end of the season awards:
Please comment and give your own input on the awards.
This was a tough choice made easy by one simple point. Campbell was virtually the only offensive starter to survive the season. That is surprising for a guy who got put on his back on just about every dropback and was sacked a career high 43 times.
I did mention his inconsistency earlier, but you have to congratulate Campbell on having a career season under the circumstances that were put in front of him.
Campbell was and has been a classy guy in the locker room, which does catch him some flack. Again though, moving forward, what do we do with Campbell? Let him test the market, or snag him back immediately because there are no worthy free agent or college quarterbacks?
Personally, if I were him, I would jump ship and say thanks for nothing.
Stat Line: 3,500+ yards, 20 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 200+ rushing yards with one touchdown.
Runner-ups: TE Fred Davis, WR Santana Moss, TE Chris Cooley, WR Devin Thomas
Yet another tough call, but I decided to give it to Carter & Orakpo, who are among the league's best with 22 sacks as a tandem (11 each).
I mentioned early that I find it hard to give Albert Haynesworth credit for their numbers—seven of those sacks came in games Haynesworth was out. Regardless, Carter is among the top five in tackles by a defensive lineman, and Orakpo was voted to the 2009 Pro Bowl and led all rookies with 11 sacks.
I gave them the nod over London Fletcher because I feel that Fletcher's numbers aren't surprising: He is always a 100+ tackle middle linebacker. But it was Carter & Orakpo that brought back a little fear to opposing offenses with their pass rush capabilities. Sure, Orakpo was darn near embarrassing as a coverage linebacker, but we all know he is really just a defensive end.
Stat Line (combined): 88 tackles, 28 assists, 22 sacks, 6 passes defended
Runner-ups: MLB London Fletcher, OLB Rocky McIntosh, DT Albert Haynesworth, CB DeAngelo Hall
For a guy who couldn't wake up for practice and didn't understand the playbook and his assignments, who knew that when he would be forced into action, he would grab the attention of the league with his abilities?
Davis only had three catches and 27 yards in his rookie season and was a part of a disappointing trio of rookie receivers who seemed unfit to play in the NFL.
But the first game he was forced to start (Week 7 on Monday Night Football after Chris Cooley broke his leg), Davis surpassed his career total and then some. Eight catches for 78 yards and his first NFL touchdown was only the beginning for the athletically gifted tight end.
The only issue moving forward is how to balance Davis and Chris Cooley once he returns. I'm sure whoever the next coach is, he will find a way to use both.
Stat Line: 48 receptions, 509 yards, 10.6 yards per catch, 6 touchdowns
Runner-ups: WR Devin Thomas, WR Malcolm Kelly, S Reed Doughty, QB Jason Campbell
This argument is simple. Entering Week 17 against the Chargers, punt returner extraordinaire Antwaan Randle El had just 58 return yards. In one return Sunday, he ran for 43...wow!
As a receiver, even when moved to the slot, he is just mediocre at best with some shaky hands.
But I can't solely hate on Randle El; I am dissapointed in the coaches who trusted Randle El for so long as the punt returner. Special teams can quietly win a game for you, but when you don't even seem like you want to try by having Randle El back there, it is just embarassing.
Stat Line: 17 returns, 19 fair catches, 102 return yards, 50 receptions, 530 yards, 0 touchdowns
Runner-ups: K Shaun Suisham, CB Carlos Rogers, S LaRon Landry, RB Clinton Portis
This wasn't too difficult of a decision. It was between a young rookie who played every snap relentlessly and played with passion, compared to an overweight pusher who just moseyed on and off the field.
Orakpo clearly made his presence felt around the league, as he was voted to the 2009 NFL Pro Bowl and is considered in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year. He finished just 1.5 sacks away from a tie for third among all-time rookie sack leaders. I believe if he was used more at defensive end, he would have likely ended up with the record of 14.5 set by Jevon Kearse in 1999.
Stat Line: 50 combined tackles, 37 total, 13 assists, 11.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 passes defended
Runner-ups: DT Albert Haynesworth, G/C Edwin Williams, RB Quinton Ganther, P Hunter Smith, T Levi Jones
Wait, our best game was a loss?
I know it's crazy but it was hard to choose between four wins against the Rams (1-15), Buccaneers (3-13), Broncos (8-8), and Raiders (5-11).
But on Week 13, we had the whole nation watching our OT thriller against the then 11-0 New Orleans Saints. We had 455 total yards of offense against former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, including Jason Campbell having a career best game in which he threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns.
Our defense held their own for as long as they could against arguably one of the most prolific offenses in the league. It came down to one kick missed by current traitor and kicker for the Dallas Cowboys, Shaun Suisham.
This game showed that we were going to fight and play hard...for at least one more game.
Runner-ups: 34-13 Win vs. Raiders (Week 14), 27-17 Win vs. Broncos (Week 10), 24-27 Loss vs. Eagles (Week 12)
Yeah...whenever you allow an NFL team to break a 19-game loosing streak against you, that is undoubtedly your worst game of the season. Considering the Detroit Lions just added one more victory on their season, you know that they weren't a worthy opponent.
But when you can't run the ball (just 65 yards) and convert third downs (2/10), along with 97 penalty yards, you're not going to win in the NFL.
The worst part of this game was that this started the fire under the coaching seat of Jim Zorn, a sideshow which plagued the team all the way up until today.
Runner-ups: 12-45 Loss vs. Giants (Week 15), 6-14 Loss vs. Chiefs (Week 6), 0-17 Loss vs. Cowboys (Week 16)
I was going to have a slide about the best trend, but nothing came to mind. So moving on to something easy: the worst trend.
Okay, the circus started before the season did, when management clearly made attempts to acquire both Jay Cutler via trade or Mark Sanchez through the draft. This created questions about Jason Campbell which followed him all season.
Next, after a Week 3 loss to the Detroit Lions, the Jim Zorn hot seat began, something that would draw attention until seasons end.
Shortly after Week 4, owner Dan Snyder pulled Sherman Lewis out of a bingo game (now that is just asking to be mocked) to make him an offensive consultant. Adding wood to the Jim Zorn fire.
Then after a Week 6 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Jim Zorn was informed he would no longer be calling plays. Sherm Lewis would be taking over, now creating a very confusing system for which the plays would be called. Even Chris Cooley made a mockery of it on his blog.
Management wasn't done there though. Shortly before the Monday Night Football game against the New York Giants, it was announced that Vinny Cerrato was let go.
The circus continues with the rumors that have gone on for weeks about Mike Shanahan replacing Jim Zorn, who at the time was just trying to focus on winning the last few weeks of the season.
Also, players such as Albert Haynesworth decided to stir up the pot by calling out the defensive scheme and coach Greg Blache. Even Jason Campbell, for the first time ever, publicly complained about the offense and scrap offensive line, calling it "unfair."
My only question is how can you ask a coach or players to be successful with a circus like that?
Runner-ups: The offensive line shuffle, 20 ft. cushion by defensive secondary, Albert Haynesworth sitting out, LaRon Landry and Carlos Rogers biting on the double move