Less than 24 hours later, there was still no way to put a positive spin on what happened to the Washington Redskins on Saturday night.
Still, on a day when a division rival found out its top pass rusher was lost for the season, Redskins coach Jim Zorn had comparatively better news to report on his star defensive end.
Recently acquired Jason Taylor, who left the 47-3 loss to Carolina in the second quarter, has a sprained right knee and is expected to miss between 10 days and two weeks. Taylor underwent an MRI on Sunday morning, and it revealed no ligament damage.
Losing Taylor, who was acquired to replace Phillip Daniels after Daniels blew out his knee on the first day of training camp, could have been a crippling blow to the defense.
“We are just waiting to see what kind of healer he is going to be, but the doctor talked about him having a little bit of a contusion there,” Zorn said. “We’re very fortunate there.”
The injury does put Taylor’s status in jeopardy for the team’s regular-season opener Sept. 4 in New York against the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, who will be without defensive end Osi Umenyiora because of a knee injury.
“I’m not ruling him out of the opener,” Zorn said. “It will be based on how he improves, but he definitely won’t play this Thursday. We’ll be cautious. If we had the choice [of him playing] between one game and 15, we’ll take the 15.”
Zorn only had reviewed game film of the offense before meeting with members of the media Sunday afternoon, so a critique of the defense will have to wait until Monday when Zorn and coordinator Greg Blache are likely to weigh in.
The defense did keep the Redskins in the game early on, but eventually it wasn’t just offensive ineptitude hurting the team. Zorn placed much of the blame for the porous offense on the play of the line, which was overmatched by Carolina’s defensive front.
“On offense, there are a lot of words we can use,” Zorn said. “One is I think we were very soft in our pass protection and in our run game. We had a lack of sustaining one-on-one blocks. To me it was the pass protection, and the way Carolina played very good, tight man coverage. We had to have good protection so our QBs could focus in on the tight man coverage, but we didn’t do that.”
Quarterback Jason Campbell had his second straight subpar outing, completing six of 10 passes for 39 yards. But he also had no time to throw because of the relentless pressure from the Panthers.
Campbell’s first five pass attempts went as follows: completed screen pass, near interception, sack, sack, sack/lost fumble.
“We have to look at it and help ourselves. It is our problem,” Zorn said. “It wasn’t anything they necessarily did other than play aggressive football, and we didn’t match that intensity. … We’ve got the guys - I can’t send them all away and get a whole new group and all is set and go. We’ve just got to keep working as to our techniques. We’ve got to keep showing them what violent football is all about.”
Notes - The Redskins needed to cut five players by Tuesday, and they dropped three of them Sunday. Most notable was veteran safety Vernon Fox, who was signed as a special teams standout in 2006 and ended up starting six games that season.
Fox sprained a wrist against the Panthers, so he may be leaving with an injury settlement, but it would appear the additions of rookies Kareem Moore and Chris Horton - as well as Shawn Springs becoming an emergency option at the position - were part of his undoing.