Better late than never, right? It took us a few extra days to get things figured out, but here’s the Week 10 debate between The Washington Times’ Ryan O’Halloran and News 4’s Lindsay Czarniak.
1. The Redskins signed two-time Pro Bowl cornerback DeAngelo Hall after he was released from the Oakland Raiders. Are you surprised at the Redskins decision to cut cornerback Leigh Torrence to make room for Hall and how does his addition change the scope of the Washington secondary?
Lindsay: I’m surprised the Redskins chose to cut someone that was so vital on special teams. I would have expected that they would choose to put Malcolm Kelly on injured reserve to clear a space or part ways with an unproven player like Justin Tryon. I know Leigh had his struggles but I know a lot of people were surprised at that decision. As for Hall’s role, this is going to be very interesting. I hope the Redskins are careful of how they proceed as to not shake up the chemistry the secondary has found. If Hall gets back to form, he should be a starter. But what then? Shawn Springs at safety?
Ryan: Cutting Torrence to make room for Hall was a surprise only because Tryon has done nothing to merit a roster spot but draft picks usually get the edge over free agents like Torrence. We’ll find out pretty quickly how big of an addition Hall is to the secondary. Dallas comes calling next week with Roy Williams and Terrell Owens. The signing of Hall is no-risk – it didn’t cost the Redskins any draft picks and only $500,000 or so in salary. And it gives them a chance to evaluate him up close and time to decide whether they want to sign him to a long-term deal. I would be surprised if we see Springs at safety because they’re happy with LaRon Landry and Chris Horton. But I do see a dime package of Landry, Horton, Springs, Hall, Carlos Rogers and Fred Smoot. That’s a pretty formidable six-pack.
2. Looking back at the Pittsburgh game, does the 23-6 loss and the seven sacks allowed give you pause about the Redskins’ playoff hopes?
Ryan: This is a tricky one that I’ve self-debated since Monday night. If the glass is half full, the Redskins should tell themselves that Pittsburgh’s defense gives fits to just about everybody and doesn’t really allow anybody to run the football. If the glass is half empty, it should raise concerns about the offensive line’s ability to win a fist-fight against a physical defense and the Redskins’ secondary’s ability to continue playing without Shawn Springs (although that changed with the Hall addition). I’m still in wait-and-see mode about this team.
Lindsay: It doesn’t make me worry about playoff hopes. I still think the Redskins’ defense is extremely strong and that the offense, especially the offensive line, had a humongous task against the black and gold. If Pittsburgh didn’t boast the best defense in the league, and if Chris Samuels was playing at 100 percent, I would be a little more concerned but I think the Redskins got into a bind even with communication because it was so darn loud, and with the repetition with which the Steelers just battered them.
3. Various estimates had nearly 30,000 Pittsburgh fans at FedEx Field Monday night. How surprising was that and how embarrassed should the Redskins be?
Ryan: Not surprised. When the Steelers came here for a preseason game last year, the Terrible Towels were out in force. But I was stunned in that so many lower-bowl seats were sold to Steelers fans. Dan Snyder should be embarrassed. The Danny’s stadium is too big and his tickets and parking passes cost so much that fans with regular incomes don’t hesitate to abandon their team to turn a profit. It was hilarious to see.
Lindsay: My family lives there so I’ve grown up around that passion all my life. My grandmother emailed me before the game that she hoped the Steelers had overcome their injuries to beat the Redskins, if that gives you any indication. I’m not surprised at the passion, but I’m disappointed that fans are able to have that kind of impact in someone else’s house. The Redskins need something of their own like the “Terrible Towel.” I have a suggestion: You know how some people have created the slogan “Horny for Zorny”? I think the Redskins should create a “Zorn-Horn” — sell them, pass them out, make them the big plastic horns with the rubber balls on the end that you squeeze like a clown nose. That would make the opposition shut up.
4. The Redskins took a back seat in the area this week because of the election. Who in the locker room would make a perfect VP for Barack Obama and some other key positions?
Ryan: I’ll go with Pete Kendall for VP. He seems interested in politics, is quick with a quip but also politically correct in his analysis. He would help Obama put a hold on the northeast. Fred Smoot would be the Press Secretary, London Fletcher the Secretary of Defense and Clinton Portis the Secretary of State – who wouldn’t want C.P. representing us on foreign soil.
Lindsay: I think the perfect VP would be Clinton Portis. He would be able to take control if something happened plus, he’s proven that even when he’s not in the limelight, he’ll lay it on the line for Obama’s back. Chris Samuels would be Obama’s chief of staff. My choice for Press Secretary would be Mike Sellers — he’d always keep the interviews interesting, throwing towels and making jokes. I’m with Ryan, London Fletcher for Secretary of Defense and as for Secretary of State, I’d want Chris Cooley. He can get along with anybody.
5. Who will the eight NFL division winners be?
Ryan: NFC: Giants, Carolina, Minnesota and Arizona. AFC: New England, Tennessee, Pittsburgh and San Diego. The only two teams not currently leading their division now are Minnesota and San Diego. The Vikings will beat Green Bay this week to forge a tie in the NFC North. San Diego will win the AFC West by default because Denver is awful.
Lindsay: NFC: Giants, Tampa Bay, Green Bay and Arizona. AFC: New York Jets, Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Denver. I like what Aaron Rodgers is doing in Green Bay and I think the team continues to improve. I think Denver is better than awful. Jay Cutler just had a monster game against the Browns. I haven’t given up hope.
6. BONUS Prediction time: Seven weeks from now, what is the Redskins’ final record, where do they finish in the NFC East and do they make the playoffs?
Ryan: When they fly home from San Francisco on Dec. 27, the Redskins will be 11-5 and finish tied for second in the NFC East. That will qualify them as the fifth seed in the conference and send them back west for a first-round playoff game in Arizona.
Lindsay: The Redskins are going to be 12-4 and finish second in the NFC East behind the Giants. Yes they make the playoffs and take it at least to the second round. I predict another Seattle matchup but this time, think about the storyline with the return of Zorn in the post-season? Time to break out the “Zorn Horns.”