Sunday, October 11, 2009

Week Five: Impressively Unimpressive

Washington 17, Carolina 20

Another week, another winless team earns its first win at the Redskins' expense. As a fan, you really have to take your hat off to a team that can consistently be inconsistent. It takes work. Sure, there are teams like the Browns and Raiders who perform poorly every time they take the field. There's no fun in watching a team that just stinks. But there really is magic to a team like the Redskins that can, week to week, look better on paper than their competitor, underachieve just enough to lose, yet leave a sliver of hope that they won't do it again next week.

To look this impressively unimpressive, you need an intense week of distractions, squabbles, and general tomfoolery. Take a look at the last seven days in Washington Redskins history and tell me they didn't meet that requirement:

Sunday (Oct. 7): After watching embarrassing play all season, ticket-holding fans are prohibited by FedEx Field staff from bringing paper bags to the stadium to wear in protest. That same day, it is revealed that benched strong safety Chris Horton blasted his defensive coordinator and other teammates on his blog. The post mysteriously disappears pregame.
The Redskins lose--excuse me, barely win--at home against a rookie quarterback-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Wednesday: Owner Daniel Snyder and vice president of operations, Vinny Cerrato, think it a good idea to bring in a "consultant" to help Currently Coach Zorn and his offense.
("Snydely Whiplash" will henceforth be the reference for the owner of the Redskins due to the way he's ruining the team, like Dudley Do-Right's arch nemesis. It's only a matter of time before he grows a mustache, installs train tracks on FedEx Field and ties the players to it.) So where might Snydely and Cerrato locate this Savior of the Offense? Were they currently employed by a successful franchise? Might they be at home, preparing for work by concocting creative NFL strategies?

No, silly rabbit, these are the Redskins. They get their help from guys five years removed from football and currently calling Bingo at a senior center.

Sometime midweek: Reports surface that fullback Mike Sellers looked to attack Clinton Portis after Portis' public criticisms of Sellers' lack of blocking. The players need to be separated to avoid an altercation. In the following press conference, Zorn states that he has no problem with the possible fight between his number one running back and his number one lead blocker...apparently because there was only "nudging and posturing." In fact, he kind of liked it. Against Carolina, Sellers barely blocks on the play which results in the Panthers tackling Portis for a safety. Hmm...

Thursday: Defensive coordinator Greg Blache meets with the press for his weekly news conference to discuss the defensive game plan for the Carolina Panthers. Instead of meeting as usual near the player lockers, he conducts it outside in the sun. Total time of the conference? One minute, twenty seconds. Currently Coach Zorn's explained the change.
"For Greg, he's really needed a break," Zorn said. "And so from his standpoint, we've talked about it. I actually have talked to the league about a break for him, and they've agreed, so I would put it as personal reasons. ... It's something that is important and he's doing it for the right reasons, but it is a needed break for him so that's why I've allowed it." Well, then. Next question.

You know these be dark days in Washington when even the Hogettes have to post a public cease and desist against impostors. You remember the Hogettes: grown men celebrating the stout, championship-winning offensive line from the 1980s by dressing like pig snout-sporting Mama from Mama's Family. Frankly, I can't see why any fan would bother trying to imitate such an outdated football reference; the Skins haven't had a worthy offensive line in more than a decade. It's like arranging a group of dedicated middle aged men to recreate the Fun Bunch high fives in the parking lot before each home game.

Sunday (Oct.11): With guru Sherman "B-20, I-85" Lewis observing and reporting on ways to make the offense better, the Redskins manage a paltry 22% third down completion rate and 74 rushing yards on 24 attempts against one of the worst rush defenses in the league. The offense never adjusts its scheme after losing Chris Samuels to injury and it can't sustain second half drives to ice a winnable game. The offensive line allows five sacks and the team's best receiver, Chris Cooley, has zero receptions.

There you have it. Seven days, whether intended or not, to further cement the Redskins in the Hall of Mediocrity. Let's see what the next seven days bring. I'm hoping for a full page apology in the Washington Post from ownership.

Now that would really be impressive.

OFFENSE: D If I were Campbell, I'd seriously begin looking into reputable cross-country moving companies. His numbers may look good, but the on-field product is still lackluster.

DEFENSE: B My Pops and I agree that if a defense can keep its opponent under 20, they've earned a satisfactory grade. Given the two points and general ineptitude offered by the offense, the defense earns an even higher mark this week. Remember earlier this year when I faulted DeAngelo Hall for tackling like Deion Sanders after a manicure? Not so funny now, is it?

Sp. TEAMS: C- Don't punt returners practice yelling "ball!" or "pepper jack cheese!" or something to alert their blockers that the ball is coming their way? Does Randle-El know any of these code words?

COACHING: D- Currently Coach Zorn has managed to take a team at 6-2 (from last season) and rally off just four wins in his next thirteen games. Wow.

OWNERSHIP: F+ Snydely manages a "+" on the pure unintentional comedy that is his management of this team.

Allow me to pat myself briefly on the back for being oh-so-close predicting the scores for the last two games. Last week I predicted a 20-17 Redskins win on a defensive touchdown and before that I predicted a close game against Tampa Bay.

What has this team come to when you are nervous about the winless Kansas City Chiefs sauntering into FedEx Field? Even after their narrow loss to the Dallas Cowchips, there isn't a single reason to fear this team. Nor is there a single reason why the Skins should lose this game. The Chiefs lost to the Oakland Raiders, the universally agreed worst team in all the NFL. For crying out loud, how could it possibly be that I'm fearing yet another upset?

Redskins win. Heaven knows I want to give the Skins offense credit for more than two touchdowns, but I can't bring myself to do so in good conscience. Redskins win, 17-14.

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