Monday, December 28, 2009

Week Sixteen: You've Earned A Trophy!

Dallas 17, Washington 0

If the 2009 Redskins' season were played on PlayStation, it would have achieved all the trophies required to earn the platinum Season Fail status. To reach this dubious level, a team must do more than simply lose their games; they must run the gamut of scenarios designed to humiliate, embarrass, and outright shun their loyal fan base. This effort is beyond being impressively unimpressive, it must descend into historically abysmal depths of pure disappointment. Best (or worst) of all, the Redskins have gotten there with one week still left in the season. Here's the checklist:

  1. Lose every game in your division. Remind your rivals of the joy of kicking around the Cardinals. Check.
  2. Lose a game against a rookie quarterback or quarterback getting his first start. Check.
  3. Lose to a team whose fans habitually wear paper bags to the games (and management has no problem with it.) Check.
  4. Win but play so badly that your own fans boo you off your home field. Check.
  5. Beat any team led by Jamarcus Russell and celebrate "turning a corner." Check.
  6. Lose a virtually-won game by doing any of the following: miss easy field goals, allow a touchdown of 30+ yards, or playing for the tie when you're ahead. Check.
  7. Beat a team led by a spleenless man. Check.
  8. Lose two or more games without scoring at least ten points and without scoring a touchdown. Check, check, check.
  9. Lose. Don't even threaten to score, as if there's an invisible, anti-you barrier constructed near the red zone. Check.
  10. Lose back to back games and be outscored by fifty or more points. Check. Additional achievement if done before national audiences. Ding!

I'm sure there's an additional hidden trophy the Redskins will acquire for losing to a team playing its entire second string. That comes next week against the San Diego Chargers.

All of this, topped off perhaps with Sunday night's public whipping at FedEx Field by Dallas, is evidence that perhaps the only solution left for the franchise is to pull a Tobacco Road by detonating the team and startin' all over again. Washington's coaches and players had their second, home-base, prime-time audition for new GM Bruce Allen and again showed that few deserved to be employed come January.

After posting a mere twelve points against the Giants, the offense actually took a step backward on Sunday, never getting further than Dallas' 23-yard line. Jason Campbell, though protected by men who couldn't make Dallas' practice squad, still made the same errors that contributed to last week's black eye. The running game was nonexistent, and the feel-good Quinton Ganther story dulled considerably. He ran seven times...for thirteen yards. The 218 yards earned by the offense are hardly much to cheer about, and most of those came during garbage time. ("Garbage time" for the 2009 Redskins may include up to seven minutes in the fourth quarter.) Perhaps this stat details the futility of the offense: following the interception on their first possession, the Redskins punted on eight of their final nine drives.

The defense didn't play all that poorly--they held a diverse Dallas offense to 17 points. But credit falls to the Cowchips coach Wade Phillips. He had two odd calls on fourth-and-short where he ran the ball up the middle and failed. Then Dallas tried a bizarre Wildcat reverse that lost fourteen yards, erasing a long completion on 3rd and 8 that had gotten them into Redskins' territory. Furthermore, Dallas mismanaged their two minute drill at the end of the first half and likely left three points on the field.

Nonetheless, the defense played stout, certainly well enough for even a mediocre offense to take advantage of. Alas, the offense in Washington is far less than mediocre. NBC's Chris Collinsworth called it "borderline unwatchable."

The analysis in the coming weeks will be to predict the outcome of an interesting game of professional-level Whack-A-Mole, as Snydely will begin the dirty, necessary task of cleaning house. For now, enjoy the unfortunate trophy collection earned by the current personnel


OFFENSE: F. The other point of analysis for the near future is whether Campbell's mediocrity is justified by the multiple offensive systems and porous offensive lines he has had to work with. ("It isn't fair," he finally vented on Comcast SportsNet Sunday night.) Then again, his backpedaling into sacks, inaccuracy, and intentional grounding habits have yet to be self-corrected. Hmm...

DEFENSE: C. Another game, another scene with Laron Landry chasing a receiver 20 or more yards down the field because he just can't play the pass. This week it was tight end Jason Witten outrunning Landry for a 69-yard completion on a simple crossing route.

Sp. TEAMS: C-. Punter Hunter Smith averaged just over 37 yards per punt, and the longest return by a Redskin was 24 yards.

COACHES: F. I'm not sure which is worse: that Zorn didn't know whether his team had reached the red zone in the game (they didn't) or that he thought that the Redskins' record was 4-13.

OWNERSHIP: F. I missed it, but quite a few post-game commenters noted Bruce Allen and Snydely enjoying a laugh while the final moments of the shutout commenced.


In the Washington Post post-game chat, it was noted how ironic it is that the Redskins will end their season, and likely the coaching career of Jim Zorn, against the first coach Dan Snyder ran out of D.C., San Diego's Norv Turner. The Chargers have nothing to play for, having secured the number two seed in the AFC and a first-round playoff bye by winning ten straight games. If I'm Turner, I'm keeping my starters' jerseys clean and seeing what backup quarterback Billy Volek can muster with the reserves. Washington decides to send its coach off with a win, 14-13.

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