Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Redskins Season Preview 2008/Congrats to Monk and Green/Skins 7 - Giants 16 (Puke)

I have had no time to write because I have been launching a business. I probably would not have written much anyway because I do not know what to make of this team.

This team is talented. It is clearly a playoff-caliber team. Even Peter King, no Skins fan, wrote in his training camp notes that the Redskins have the best skill players in the division. He wrote that Campbell had the best camp that he EVER saw a quarterback have and he has been to many of these camps over the years including nineteen this year. They had multiple injuries to key players last year and the second-and third-stringers stepped in and the Redskins still reached the playoffs. Those second- and third-stringers are now back on the bench providing depth, but now they have significant experience. That is quality depth, which is absolutely essential to be considered a playoff team in the violent NFL.

Key players that missed significant time last year: On Defense: Sean Taylor (RIP), Carlos Rogers, Rocky McIntosh, Shawn Springs, and Marcus Washington.

On offense: Campbell, all three wide receivers, Jon Jansen, and Randy Thomas;

These were all starters. That is a significant amount of talent to get back: half of their defensive secondary, two-thirds of their linebackers, their quarterback, all three receivers, and the right side of their offensive line and they still made the playoffs.

First Game
But, what can I say about a team that seems leaderless? Jim Zorn looks completely out of his league. In the Giants game, with six minutes left and in need of two scores, he ran one rushing play after another or called short passes in the middle of the field and had the offense huddle after each play. He burned over four minutes off the clock. In a close, winnable game, that was unacceptable.

To make matters worse, when they got the ball back again with 1:30 left and still needing two scores, Campbell drove them downfield quickly into field goal range. Their only chance to win the game was to kick the field goal and try for an onside kick. Inexplicably they tried to convert the first and failed. Even if they had converted, the game would have been lost. What was he thinking? Every coach in the NFL would have kicked the field goal. My kid's high school coach would have kicked a field goal. Speaking of which, Madden said that Zorn should have the no-huddle offense in place by next week. My kid's high school coach had the no huddle down in mid-August.

Then, in his two follow up press conferences, he threw Campbell under the bus. He basically said he saw some good things, but then went on to criticize many things that Campbell did wrong. It sounded as if he was saying that if campbell played better, the Skins would have won.

The Skins should have won anyway, and if they had held on to the four interceptions that Manning tried to place in their hands, they would have. But, to say Campbell's play was not good enough to win is just plain wrong. It had the ring of a guy who has been a quarterback and then a QB coach his entire career, has been prematurely thrust in to the head coaching job because of the ineptitude of the Redskins front office, and feels so out of his depth that he can only fall back on what he knows well.

The Redskins are not young on either side of the line of scrimmage anymore, but the depth they have would have allowed them to rotate players and stay fresh. The Skins have great skill players and this should be Campbell's breakout year, but in the age of parity, a head coach matters a lot. Gibbs seemed to always find a way to lift this team up into the playoffs by winning close games in close races. They are young and talented at many positions, but not at the line of scrimmage. The Skins are built to win now. They are a playoff team, and after the Giants improbable run last year, it is clear that anyone with this much talent can win it all. I can only hope that Zorn figures it out before it is too late.

I like Jim Zorn. I think he is a stand up guy who would never want to be perceived as someone who threw his players under the bus. I think he would make a great quarterbacks coach and it is not his fault that he is in this position. Would you turn down that offer? The fault lies with Cerrato and Snyder, who inexplicably derided the importance of continuity in the NFL and dismantled Joe Gibbs program.

Eight of the Redskins sixteen games last year were decided by seven points or less and in three more games the difference was within one scoring drive (with a two-point conversion). In the all-important division games, the Redskins were 3 - 3, but in all three losses they were within one scoring drive of tying or winning the game. Perhaps the most memorable of those losses came in week three when the 0 - 2 Giants were nearly buried for the season by the Skins. Down by seven, Jason Campbell drove the Skins 64 yards to the Giants one-yard line. With 53-seconds left in the game and a first-and-goal at the one, the Giants saved their season by stopping the Skins.

In games that were decided by eight points or more, the Skins were 6 - 2, including wins against all three division opponents.

Prediction:If Zorn does not figure it out, the Skins will have trouble winning six games, so let's call it 5 - 11. If he does, the sky is the limit. He already as the horses.

Hall of Fame:
What can you say about the reception that Monk received at his induction ceremony in Canton? No one receives standing ovations at these things in part because the attendees are usually diverse with players from several teams inducted. This year Redskins fans took over Canton. Why? Well, for one thing there were two Skins inducted at the same time--Darrell Green and Art Monk. For another, all Redskins fans and just about every NFL commentator in the media felt it was an injustice that Monk was not inducted much earlier.

Congratulations to two great and deserving Redskins players, who also happen to be outstanding people with great character.


At September 17, 2008 11:49 PM, Blogger Joshua said...

Well, I missed your posting over the summer.


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