The Washington Times’ Ryan O’Halloran and News 4’s Lindsay Czarniak review the Detroit Debacle and make a pick on Sunday’s Bucs-Redskins game.
1. The Redskins fell to Detroit last Sunday and are 1-2. You were both inside Ford Field. What was the worst part about the loss?
RO: It wasn’t the fact the Redskins actually lost – the Lions were going to beat somebody this year and Washington just happened to be the first. And sure, that’s embarrassing. But here’s the really scary part about the defeat – Detroit looked like the better team. That game wasn’t a fluke. The Lions had the better personnel at just about every position group, including offensive line, running back and defensive back. Maybe the Rams game wasn’t an aberration. If these last two games are a true indicator, we’re in for a loooooong fall.
LC: It was the salt in the wounds or the tease, if you will. I was hopeful after I saw the Redskins drive down the field with ease on their first series. But I think the worst part wasn’t that they fell short to actually get it “in” the end zone until the second half, rather that the defense seemed to fall unreliable and that was surprising to me. I expected them to be much better on third down and that was glaring.
2. Although no player has come out publicly to question coach Jim Zorn’s competence, are the locker room vultures circling Redskin Park?
RO: The Redskins are about one loss away from all H-E-double hockey sticks breaking loose at the Park. When talking about whether Zorn has lost the team or the locker room, it deserves a preface – the defensive players shouldn’t have a huge opinion one way or the other. They play for Greg Blache. But if the players on offense begin to publicly question the play calling (we’re all waiting for Clinton Portis to start whining), then Zorn has a big problem because he’s the head coach/play caller/offensive boss. That’s when this team will start to come apart at the seams.
LC: I’ll be looking for vultures outside my car at Redskins Park if the Redskins lose this Sunday but right now, I’m saying no. I know a backup plan is likely being put in place , maybe even talked about long ago but I think there is nothing that will spark this team right now until this group, collectively, makes an attitude change. I don’t mean that negatively against players but they’ve said it too. I think this is the time to reset and look yourself in the mirror and if they can weather this storm and come out swinging (which I know is tough to do), they could still salvage a season.
3. The Redskins finally got Santana Moss involved with 10 catches for 178 yards against Detroit. Who’s next on the list of offensive players to get going?
RO: There are at least three guys but I’ll go with running back Clinton Portis. Through three games, Portis has 47 carries for 183 yards and no touchdowns. The Redskins falling behind early in the Giants and Lions games limited his work and he got kicked in the calf late against Detroit and didn’t finish the game. If I’m Jim Zorn, there are two choices – really try to get Portis involved to see if he still has 30-carry endurance or start working in Anthony Alridge and/or Marcus Mason to see if they can provide a spark to what is the 24th-ranked running game.
LC: I hope its Malcolm Kelly because I hate that the Redskins have him there but have been unable to use him to much success. He has the best hands on the team and it’s a waste that he hasn’t been able to hit the end zone yet. The fact that the Skins are obviously going through the air much more should mean Kelly can be established as another serious threat for teams to plan against but it has yet to be seen.
4 What’s going on with the defense? It seems like something is missing, right?
RO: Plenty of issues have cropped up since the end of the preseason, when we all thought this would be the strength of the team. But the big one is third down stops. Lindsay and I endured the game side by side in the Ford Field press box and every time Matthew Stafford calmly converted a third-and-long, we would just shake our heads. In the two Redskins’ losses, the defense has been on the field for more than 36 minutes. That can’t continue or else the offense won’t be on the field long enough to attain their desired tempo.
LC: The problem is guys not being where they are supposed to and details. I have confidence this unit will tighten up – you can’t argue that at times with Albert Haynesworth, they’ve shown their stuff against the run. I just think, as Ryan said, that the third down conversion rate is startling but no matter what kinds of things are changed to help iron out the kinds moving forward, I know Greg Blache is not going to let this unit continue to make these kinds of mistakes without serious consequence.
5. Prediction time. The Redskins host Tampa Bay. You both struck out last week, not believing in the Lions. Who wins and why?
RO: I choose to believe the Redskins hit rock bottom last week in Detroit and the team can only go up from this point. But don’t expect a thrill ride despite the Bucs being 0-3, dismal offensively and are starting a second-year quarterback. I’m going to put the onus on defensive coordinator Greg Blache. His game plan simply was too conservative against Detroit rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford, whose mobility should invited steady blitzes. Next up is Bucs quarterback Josh Johnson. He may be more mobile, but the Redskins should test him early and often with corner blitzes, safety blitzes – whatever it takes. The Redskins eek out a 20-16 win.
LC: Rookie head coach and a quarterback making his first head start = Redskins have the perfect opportunity to turn this thing around NOW. If they can’t do it this week, then this team does not have as much potential to be good in the first place as players believe. I’m going with the Redskins defense to come out with fire and the offense, hopefully to leave the end zone repellent at the team hotel. Redskins win 23-13.