He Said, Se Said Week 16

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The Washington Times’ Ryan O’Halloran and News 4’s Lindsay Czarniak chat about Jim Zorn’s candor, the pathetic loss to the Bengals and make a pick on Eagles-Redskins.

1. In a huge turnaround, Jim Zorn pointed the finger at himself following the Redskins’ fifth loss in six weeks. What did you make of his Monday press conference?

R: It was certainly interesting. One of my criticisms of Zorn throughout the year is that he never made it seem it was his fault or that he was part of the problem. For the players, that can get old and fast, especially in tough times. I asked Zorn after the presser if doing the “it starts with me” routine was tactical. He said it wasn’t but I think he knew he had to change directions in order to prevent losing some of the locker room.

L: I thought Zorn, as usual, was very genuine. I felt like he seemed pretty drained and just felt honestly bad about the way things were turning out. It seemed like he was more frustrated and annoyed more than anything and that he was pretty honest in saying he needs to take a look at how he does things. I think it would’ve been better had he not used the “feel like the worst coach in America” line but know that some players found it refreshing that for once, he admitted needing to start with himself. If you think about it, it’s the first time he’s agreeing to take another look at how he’s running his West Coast offense.

2. Before moving ahead to this week, what about last week’s game in Cincinnati? How surprising was it to see the Redskins fall behind 17-0 and was this loss worse than the St. Louis defeat?

R: Much worse because the Bengals didn’t have Marc Bulger and didn’t have Steven Jackson. Plus, the Redskins needed to win in Cincinnati – the Rams game was only Week 6. It was stunning to see how inept the Redskins were for most of the first half. There were careless penalties, missed tackles, missed blocks, bad passes. It was as if they checked out mentally. That said, they were able to rebound and should have still won.

L: I think it is worse because I thought the Redskins didn’t appear prepared and they did seem like they weren’t even playing to match the Bengals intensity when they should’ve used the opportunity to a get a win to give them momentum to battle through these final two weeks. What surprised me more than anything was that 79 yard catch and run that led to the touchdown. Are you kidding me? Greg Blache put it on himself, but I was disappointed that the defense suddenly looked like Swiss cheese when they’ve been bailing out the offense time and time again.

3. Somehow, someway, the Redskins’ offense had four players – Clinton Portis, Mike Sellers, Chris Cooley and Chris Samuels – selected for the Pro Bowl. Were all four deserving? Any Redskins get snubbed?

R: Portis and Cooley are legitimate choices – they’re both at the top of their positions in the NFC. A case can be made for Sellers because he’s a good blocker and Samuels because of his reputation. But four offensive players from a team that is 29th in scoring? That’s unbelievable. Nobody on offense got snubbed. On defense, it was surprising nobody was chosen off the fifth-ranked team. London Fletcher has a million tackles but he had a couple of takeaways for touchdowns, it would increase his visibility, and increase his chances of getting player and coach votes.

L: Good Lord – how about the snub of the century in London Fletcher! Someone said it best and London followed up saying he is the “Susan Lucci of the NFL.” Time and time again, he is ignored. I found it very telling and poignant that London, who is the kind of player that when he speaks, you listen, got uncharacteristically worked up in the locker room Wednesday and said it was “B.S.” He’s right – the guy plays the game the way it should be played, is the biggest leader this team has on defense and is fifth in the league in tackles. It stinks. But I think the four who did make it are deserving but I was especially pleased for Sellers and I think this nod is going to pay dividends for the Redskins in their final two games of the season.

4. Now that the playoffs are all but a miracle, how should the Redskins treat the final two games: As usual or as a chance to evaluate some young players?

R: Depends on what the status of Zorn is. That’s why Snyder should have said this week – even if it’s leaked on his own radio station – that he wants Zorn back for 2009. That would allow Zorn to not push some injured players and would allow him to take a look at guys like Chad Rinehart, Kareem Moore and, of course, the three second-round picks. But in his current situation, Zorn – who said as much – will play the final two games as if they playoffs are on the line.

L: I think they should use this time to play like their lives depend on it. At least until they are “mathematically eliminated”. But still, Ryan’s right – it is important to get a look at these younger guys but the way the situation is right now, a win over Philadelphia (no matter how tough that may be) is far more valuable than admitting failure – after all, I feel like they’re still proving that this system “can” work with the group they’ve got.

5. The Redskins have lost three straight at home and have lost to the Eagles at home two straight years. What happens Sunday?

R: The Redskins have stunk at home this year, which just confirms what most of us in the media think – there is no home field advantage at FraudEx Field. There are too many seats available, period, and too many fans that paid too much for the seats can’t wait to unload them for a tidy profit. The losing streak will reach four on Sunday. The Redskins will play hard and play a little better but Philadelphia is rolling right now (reminds me of the Redskins last December). Philadelphia 27-21.

L: It’s going to seem like I just downed four Crown and Cokes but I think the Redskins are going to win this one. They need this win to avoid adding further embarrassment to their home record. I know Philly is rolling but you’ve got a charged up London Fletcher (Pro Bowl snub) who can get to his defense better than anyone else on the team, you’ve got an offense that’s ticked off, tired of playing stiff and Zorn, who has hopefully found some success with his Dr. Phil approach of re-evaluation. That combination could be what they need. I understand on paper, this seems idiotic, but I say the Redskins shutdown the Philly offense and get the win 20-17.

BONUS 6. Does Jim Zorn need to win one of the final two games to save his job?

R: Not necessarily but the Redskins do have to show a pulse in the final two games. If they get blown out at home by Philadelphia and the fans are chanting “We Want Cowher” and the other half is wearing Eagles colors, that’s not a great sign. If they travel to San Francisco and get routed, that’s not a great sign. But if the Redskins are competitive and show some passion, I expect Zorn to be retained. If Snyder was serious about making a move, then these infamous press conferences wouldn’t be cut short, they would be extended in the hope Zorn would hang himself out to be removed.

L: I think he should stay regardless, but if he does not win one of these last two, he is in trouble. I think they are probably considering it even now. The bottom line is that you can’t hold it against him when earlier this year, if anyone had said 7-7, some might be pleasantly surprised. That’s why he really still needs to send them out like the playoffs are on the line. He needs to prove to management that he can adjust and get this thing turned in the direction of the light at the end of the tunnel. Getting rid of Zorn would be a huge mistake because the Band-Aids just keep wearing off. The Redskins need consistency.

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Ryan O'Halloran

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