How could such a promising start to the season turn south? Where did it all go wrong? Who’s to blame? How do we get back on track?
Then things took a turn for the worst. What happened? Week six happened.
The Rams entered FedexField at the time searching for their first victory of the season. The Skins believed they could just show up on the field and would get the victory. Safe to say that didn’t happen.
Facing a 1st-and-10 at the Rams’ 16-yard line, Campbell's pass was batted in the air, and Pete Kendall grabbed it. Instead of going down, Kendall proceeded to do his Clinton Portis imitation and tried to run with the ball only to cough it up. The Rams recovered and returned the fumble 75 yards for a touchdown.
Big momentum change; instead of the Redskins going into halftime with a 14-3 or 10-3 lead they trailed, 10-7. A team they no doubt should have dominated the entire game was now in a fight and eventually lost the game 19-17 on a 49-yard field goal as time expired.
Next up was Cleveland and Detroit. Both games were winnable and they managed to win each, but for whatever reason these were games where Zorn decided to be extra conservative with the offense. Not allowing Campbell to throw downfield, Zorn relied on big games from Portis to pull them through. And that he did; Portis was named NFC Offensive Player of the Month for October.
All was well in D.C. with the Skins sitting at 6-2, a game behind the Giants for the NFC East lead. At the time you may have thought so, but the Skins went into their next game in primetime on Monday night against the top-ranked defensive team in the league, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Just what the doctor ordered for a reeling offense.
The Redskin attack totaled just 221 yards and was only 3-of-15 on third down conversions. Campbell was intercepted twice. Portis was held in check all game, rushing for only 51 yards on the night. The Washington defense played their hearts out, sacking Steelers quarterbacks five times, only to have D.C’s own Byron Leftwich lead the Black and Gold to a 23-6 victory.
Coming off a much needed bye week, you would have hoped the Redskins battered and bruised forms had healed up a bit and were now ready to take on the much hated Cowboys in their second meeting of the season.
A beat-up Dallas team entered FedExField needing a win desperately, and they showed they wanted it more, beating the Redskins 14-10.
Once again, Zorn being Zorn showed no imagination on offense. Washington didn't stretch the Dallas defense all night, content to just dink and dunk their way down the field, allowing the Dallas defense to stack the box all night.
Memo to Jim Zorn:
Slants and screens won’t work if you don’t loosen up the defense. Throw the ball down-field for crying out loud. Three times you enter Dallas’ territory and come away with zero points? That is ridiculous!!!!!
You had the crowd into it from the start with the celebration of Art Monk and Darrell Green being elected in the Hall of Fame. You take that momentum and wasted it.
In the last five games the Skins are averaging 14.4 points a game. That’s not enough to get the job done if you consider yourself a playoff caliber team.
What must be done to get things back on track? For one, coach Zorn has to reestablish the passing attack and get the ball downfield. The offensive line must protect better, as age is starting to show, especially in the game against the Steelers. Campbell must read the defenses quicker and get rid of the ball faster.
Even though the Skins' defense has played well this season, there is still a need to get pass rushes going. The Skins are not getting enough pressure on opposing team quarterbacks, sacking them a total of 15 times all season. The corners need to stop playing so soft on defense. Too many times have I witnessed the corners playing too deep, allowing the receivers to kill them with slants and screen plays.
Change is definitely needed in Washington. Change in the offensive style of play, change in attitude from players (especially the o-line) to dominate the line of scrimmage, change in all the coaches’ attitudes to get this team focused and back on track.
The Redskins are now in a must win mode for the rest of the year if they want to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy in February.
Starting this Sunday in Seattle the Redskins must play with a sense of urgency. It’s time to change your attitudes fellas. IT’S TIME TO MAN UP!!!!!!