What's Wrong with the Washington Redskins? Well, I'll Tell You...

Craig Garrison SrSenior Analyst IDecember 8, 2008

As the last six weeks of NFL football have passed by, we have watched a very promising season for the Washington Redskins pass right on by along with it.

After putting together one of the NFL's best rushing teams, the NFL's best team in regards to turnovers, a quarterback with a rating over 95, and a defense in NFL's top five, the Redskins have absolutely imploded.

Sure there have been injuries, but they had injuries last season as well and still finished strong. Sure, there is the whole "defenses have caught up to Zorn" thing. Jim Zorn is the Redskins rookie head coach, rookie play caller, and aside from the title, he's the head man on offense.

There were harbingers of this collapse of course. Everyone saw it coming. Some of us hoped that "the corner" they would turn was the one towards the road upward rather than the one downward.

The offense's scoring was lacking significantly even when they were dominating every other phase of the game. And offense is certainly the root of their problem now. But what exactly is THE issue with the offense?

Is it quarterback Jason Campbell? Maybe. But he has thrown the ball well and handled heavy pressure pretty well. He has thrown the ball to his "play makers" at wide receiver.

Santana Moss is supposed to be the "go-to" guy. The guy your quarterback can just throw it up there and finds a way to come up with the catch. Well, it hasn't worked out that way.

Moss has largely disappeared from the offense over the last five to seven weeks. Where did he go? He suffered a minor hamstring pull against the Detroit Lions and hasn't been the same since.

How about the guy who was the league's leading rusher only two weeks ago? Clinton Portis had carried the ball more often through 11 games than any other back in the NFL, and at five yards per carry, he was easily the best back in the league. But the pounding, not just from carrying the ball, but also from how physically he plays the game without the ball in his hands, have taken it's toll. Portis hasn't practiced more than parts of the Friday "walk through" in over a month.

Speaking of missing practice, the Redskins have had as many as 13 starters sit out practice during the week recently. That number included three offensive linemen, two running backs, a starting wide receiver, two starting defensive tackles, the starting middle linebacker, a starting safety and a starting corner back. Maybe that had something to do with the problems?

Maybe not. What stands out the most is this: the Redskins starting offensive line entered the NFL as one of the most experienced and they have become simply one of the NFL's OLDEST.

In a matter of only a couple of weeks, the long and physically taxing season of NFL football rendered the Redskins' offensive line just plain old. At least three of the five starters have looked slow off the ball, slow to adjust, slow with their feet, and most disturbing of all, just plain TIRED.

The Redskins' offense hasn't played with "energy" in six weeks. With the offensive line not opening spaces for Clinton Portis to run through, defenses have done things the easy way, attack the line of scrimmage on every down, and, if it's a run, make the tackle, and if not, hit Campbell.

The problem is that this simple game plan has been too easily carried out.

Pro-bowl left tackle Chris Samuels has loose cartilage in his knee. It's painful, makes the knee very stiff, and generally hinders one's ability to move quickly, and to "drive" with the effected leg.

Left guard Pete Kendall has two bad knees and never was the best run blocking guard in the NFL anyway.

Center Casey Rabach has actually had a pretty solid year. But even with that, his mental errors have been easy to see and come far too often this season.

Right tackle Jon Jansen has come back from a serious lower leg injury to play "relatively" well. But he has also shown the signs of slowing down, and his pass blocking skills have been eroding for years before his last major injury.

Right guard Randy Thomas has also achieved a come back from significant injury. Last season Thomas tore his left tricep, tried to return late in the season, and re-injured it. The arm injury didn't hurt Thomas, but apparently, the year off did. Thomas was once one of the best "pulling" guards in the NFL. Not so anymore. In fact, Thomas has been largely removed from the "pulling" portion of the Redskins' running game.

So there is my answer, the issue is that the offensive line, the same line that perhaps as many as 75 percent of all Redskins' fans had been "beating the drum" to upgrade during the offseason, the same offensive line that for about seven weeks to start THIS season was one of the best offensive lines in the entire NFL, grew old in the matter of a couple of weeks.

There is no cure for "old" in the NFL any more than there is for you or me, but there is such a thing as "play someone else". Make a change. If for nothing else, just for the h*** of it.

Make it look like there is some accountability, even from the veterans. And play some younger guys, the guys who can practice all week, the once who know the plays, the protection adjustments, all the audibles, and most of all, maybe they're just little bit hungrier.

So there it is: what's wrong with the Washington Redskins.

Don't you feel better now!