Before heading West, The Washington Times’ Ryan O’Halloran and News 4’s Lindsay Czarniak review the loss to Dallas, how to fix the Redskins‘ offense, whether the pass rush will improve and make a pick on Redskins-Seahawks.
1. The Redskins have their first losing streak of the season. Is it uh-oh time or oh-they’ll-be-fine time?
Ryan: This question will be answered in crystal clear fashion by late Sunday after the Seattle game. This is absolutely the first crisis of the Zorn Administration and the Dallas loss can’t be blamed on injury issues or bad luck or just facing a great team. No, this is about an offense that isn’t holding up its end of the bargain. They move the ball and then commit a drive-ending mistake. The last five games has been a debacle for the Redskins offense. If they control a bad Seattle team, it’s oh-they’ll-be-fine (for a few weeks); if they lose to the 2-8 Seahawks, the Redskins are in big-time trouble.
Lindsay: You could write a great country song with either of those phrases as the title but for the Redskins, it’s not yet “tear in my beer” time. I agree with Ryan that this game is going to show a lot. I don’t, however, think that this game is the end of the line should the Redskins lose. There is so much emotion around Zorn’s homecoming and so much past history between these teams that I don’t expect the Seahawks to play like a 2-8 team. I think the question hinges squarely on the ability of Jason Campbell and the offensive line to hold up both their ends of the bargain.
2. A few weeks ago, the Redskins’ offense was averaging more than 20 points and 350 yards a game. Now they’re 27th in points. Put on the headset and offer Jim Zorn some suggestions.
Ryan: To use a John Madden-ism from the other night, I’ll first-guess and not wait for something to happen Sunday before second-guessing. It’s time to put two tight ends on the field to help the offensive line in protection. That would, ideally, allow Jason Campbell more time to throw down field. I would ration Clinton Portis’ carries and get Ladell Betts into any kind of groove. And I would forget about working the second-round draft picks into the mix. At 6-4, it’s time to win, not develop talent.
Lindsay: Clone Santana Moss. Just kidding. Give Betts more carries to spread the wealth as well as give Portis a little bit of a rest. If things start to go downhill, they’ll need every ounce of his ability. I would use Mike Sellers more for short-yardage situations.
3. The Redskins’ pass rush returned to their impotent ways against Dallas, failing to sack Tony Romo. Is there any reason to think improvement may be forthcoming?
Ryan: The fact they couldn’t get to Romo shows just how bad Pittsburgh’s offensive line is – the Redskins managed to post five sacks against the Steelers. Take out that game and the Redskins have only four sacks in six games. The only thing to improve the rush is by blitzing more players than the opponent has blockers. I’d really consider this when Shawn Springs returns. That would be the Redskins four solid man coverage corners, freeing up safeties LaRon Landry and Chris Horton to blitz.
Lindsay: Not really, but right now, does it matter for the Redskins defense? Besides the Cowboys’ 29 sacks on the season, the Redskins are the only team in the division with less than 30. If you really look at that stat, it kind of makes Greg Blache look like a genius as far as what he’s gotten from his defense without that number. I think sacks are for a number to pump up the ego as Blache says, his defense is a bunch of “Joes” but these Joe’s are doing pretty well collectively.
4. Jim Zorn makes his return to Seattle on Sunday as the Redskins coach. How fired up with the Z Man be to stick it to his former team?
Ryan: The Z Man will never admit it but he has every reason to really want to stick it to the Seahawks. Remember, when Seattle’s front office created the plan to replace Mike Holmgren with Jim Mora, Jr., Zorn was still on the staff. Evidently, he wasn’t considered for the head coaching job or even a promotion to offensive coordinator, meaning there was a chance he could have been out of a job after this year if he stayed there. Seattle is a place where Zorn played and coached and should receive a rousing pregame ovation and he’ll want to re-pay the Seahawks with their ninth loss in 11 games.
Lindsay: It’s going to be very hard for Zorn to stay “medium” this week. However, I think he’ll find a way to do it. Even more so for his own interest, he is looking at this as a challenge to get the Redskins, who have struggled in Seattle so much, to get the win at Qwest Field. I think that would mean just as much to them. Knowing how emotional he gets, even in press conference settings, I’d expect that he’s not drinking much caffeine this week.
5. It seems like the Redskins go to Seattle every year. Both of you will make the cross country trek to the Pacific Northwest on Sunday. Who wins and why?
Ryan: For me, this is trip No. 4 since January 2006 (three playoff games, this regular season game) and it’s one of my favorite cities to visit. Anyway, the Seahawks can get to the quarterback but that’s about it. They’re 28th in yards allowed and second-to-last against the pass. The weather is always an issue in Seattle but this is a chance for Zorn to air it out and let Jason Campbell, Santana Moss and Chris Cooley beat up the Seahawks secondary. The Redskins win 31-21.
Lindsay: This will be my second trip to Seattle and my first since last year’s playoffs. I love Starbucks and Sushi and Greys Anatomy (which takes place at Seattle Grace Hospital) so this is a pretty exciting trip for me, too (besides the opportunity to watch good football, of course). I think the Redskins have a chance to take advantage of the Seahawks defense, but I think the Skins will do it again with the ground game. The Redskins win 24-21.
BONUS 6. Thanksgiving is next week. You can invite four local sports figures to dinner. Who are they?
Ryan: 1. Bruce Boudreau. The Capitals coach is a breath of fresh air in this market and I’m guessing he would have some great minor-league hockey stories. 2. Ted Lerner. This would provide the group an opportunity to have a candid, off-the-record chat with the Nationals owner to advise him on how to fix his team. 3. Fred Smoot. I’ll need a ride and Fred can give me a lift in his Rolls Royce, shown recently in Lindsay’s very cool Ch. 4 story. 4. John Thompson. I’ve been on his radio show several times and I’m sure he would be able to match Boudreau in the Hilarious Story Dept.
Lindsay: 1. Caron Butler. Anybody that stops by a child’s house as a surprise for a birthday party is bound to bring a lot of excitement to a dinner party. 2. Sergei Fedorov. The 3-time Stanley Cup champ from Russia has great stories and would probably bring good Grey Goose vodka (kidding). 3. Fred Smoot. If anybody gets groggy from the turkey, don’t worry – Fred will do the talking, and like Ryan said, he can give the guests a ride home. 4. Michael Phelps. I heard in Beijing that he eats an unbelievable amount of food each day so if I screw up the turkey, chances are, someone will eat it.