1. It was a stress free bye week for the Redskins - nobody got fired or cut or stripped of any duties. What’s the next big thing that will happen?
RO: I don’t think anybody is going to get fired in the near future because that won’t serve any kind of purpose and I don’t want to predict injuries because that’s just cruel. Therefore, a couple of lineup changes - Levi Jones will soon be the new left tackle and be on addition to take over the job full-time in 2010 and Jeremy Jarmon will soon see more and more time at defensive end in place of Phillip Daniels. Not major stuff but at this point, the only HUGE things would be the removal of individuals from the front office and coaching staff.
LC: Great question. I predict we will hear from Snyder again, that that would be the next big thing that would happen. I was floored by the fact that both he and defensive coordinator Greg Blache spoke out this week. I think the fans want to hear more of that and I don’t see any firings remaining this season.
2. Chris Cooley is out at least a month. Chris Samuels and Randy Thomas are out for the season. Is there any hope for this offense?
RO: It’s tough to come up with a solid reason why the Redskins will soon get out of their offensive funk. They simply have trouble making plays that gain a chunk of yards and their once-reliable running game isn’t providing much. The only way the Redskins will break 20 points in a game is with the help of a defensive touchdown or blocked punt. Watching the games on Sunday showed just how few playmakers - young playmakers especially - the Redskins have on their roster.
LC: If the Redskins can get the running game going effectively, then I think there’s hope. Also, how about getting some of your draft picks involved to see where you stand in o-line depth. I still find it so hard to actually believe that those injuries have occurred being that if you had asked in the beginning of the season what the biggest blow to this team would be, no question in my mind, it was offensive line. My question is: is Stephon Heyer banged up as well?
3. The Redskins defense ranks fourth in fewest yards allowed and fifth in fewest points. Where do they need to get better?
RO: They have to better at stopping the run, where they rank 23rd in the NFL and have allowed 100-plus yards in six of seven games. What the Redskins do best right now is rush the passer but that goes out the window when teams have big run gains on first down. If it’s a second-and-9 or a third-and-7, Brian Orakpo and Albert Haynesworth can plow forward knowing a pass is coming. If it’s second-and-3 or third-and-2, they have to play the run first. That makes a difference.
LC: How about 3rd down? The Redskins have improved but overall have struggled in that category. I am encouraged by Albert Haynesworth and I like that he’s being more vocal - maybe like rattling the cage of the giant. I agree with Ryan that rushing the passer is the positive but my number one hope would be to see more turnovers.
4. This week, Mike Holmgren joined others such as Herm Edwards, Steve Largent, Mark Schlereth, Bill Cowher, Ron Jawrowski in ripping the Redskins for stripping Zorn of the play calling. Regardless of the record it produces, how much could this decision backfire during the offseason?
RO: It could be huge - a huge negative, in securing a new coach if the Redskins do as expected and give up on Zorn after two years. Let’s say you’re a proven coordinator looking for his first opportunity. You see the Redskins situation and the front office set up and think, ‘I’m doomed to fail.’ And this is before you take a look at the flawed roster. And if you’re one of the Super Bowl-winning coaches on the market, why touch this job?
LC: To be honest, I don’t think its gonna matter because I expect wholesale changes in the offseason. I will not be surprised to see a new GM and a change at the title of Executive Vice President of Football Operations. I think that whoever would come in here if the Redskins do get a new head coach, would have their own conditions that at this point, the Redskins would not be able to refuse.
5. Prediction time. The Falcons are playing off a short week and the Redskins have had 13 days off. Who wins and why?
LC: The Redskins win because defense will keep them in the game. Matt Ryan can move but I feel the unit can handle it. I worry about offense but with a defense ranked 29th, I think if the Redskins can get the ground game going and this could be their sleeper win with such a tough road schedule ahead. I turn the tables and say Redskins 24-17.
RO: The Redskins’ next four games are against teams with winning records - no other team has that imposing of a schedule in November. Every indication - Matt Ryan, Tony Gonzalez, Michael Turner, a fast defense - suggests an Atlanta victory. But one of these weeks, the Redskins will steal a road game (like 2006 in New Orleans). The Falcons have a short week, but even though they’re 11.5-point favorites, they won’t cover. Atlanta wins 24-17.