- The Washington Times - Monday, December 28, 2009

Ever since Vinny Cerrato was separated from employment — as they say these days — the Redskins have been in a weightless state. This is what happens when a vacuum has been created at the top of an organization, when the coach has essentially been neutered and the Guy Who Drafted Everybody suddenly disappears. The entire franchise becomes unmoored.

Just call them the Zero Gravity Redskins. Their cleats are so far off the ground now that they can’t offer opponents any resistance at all, even on their own turf. The Giants came into FedEx Field a week ago and mauled them 45-12, and the Cowboys had a similarly easy time Sunday night in a 17-0 snoozer. For those of you scoring at home, that’s Visitors 62, Snydermen 12 since Bruce Allen moved into Cerrato’s office.

Or as Brian Orakpo put it: “It can’t get no worse. It can only get better.”

So much for the idea that having Allen take over with three games to go would give him a head start on next season. In his first 10 days on the job, the new GM has yet to see the Real Redskins — or anything close. What he’s seen, mostly, is a club so unsettled by the upheaval at Redskin Park that it would have trouble beating the 1983 Washington Federals, never mind two teams fighting for playoff berths.

And when Albert Haynesworth popped off last week about his dissatisfaction with Greg Blache’s defensive system, well, what better sign could there be of the Redskins’ dysfunction? You couldn’t have picked a worse person (e.g. the club’s highest-paid player) or a worse time (e.g. Merry Christmas) to deliver such a message. But then, Albert has always been an all-pro in the piling-on department.

You wonder what Allen could possibly take away from these last two games. I mean, the Redskins are bad — 4-11 bad — but they’re not this bad. They’re not 33 points worse than the Giants (who, by the way, got killed 41-9 by Carolina earlier Sunday), and they nearly beat the Cowboys in Dallas last month. In fact, they should have beaten the Cowboys in Dallas last month. Alas, Shaun Suisham got a case of the yips — a case that became so severe that he soon was an ex-Redskin (and on a plane to the Big D to rescue the Cowboys from Nick Folk).

“If you go off these last two games, we look like a college football team,” DeAngelo Hall said. “There aren’t too many guys making great plays. If you’re trying to determine what’s good money [on the salary cap], what’s bad money, who stays, who goes, there hasn’t been a great case being made by anybody on this 53-man roster.”

Getting back to the whole “weightless” theme, is it just me, or do the Redskins seem almost disembodied now? By which I mean: They’re there, but they aren’t there. Once the Giants got up on them, they quickly capitulated. After the Cowboys scored on their first possession, driving 36 yards following a Terence Newman interception, it was pretty much the same story. The final score was closer, but at no time did you get the sense the Redskins were going to mount a comeback — as they had so often in Cerrato’s Final Weeks.

Oh, Blache’s defense showed some backbone in the second half, stuffing Dallas twice on fourth-and-1 in Washington territory. But we’ve seen that before, haven’t we? Make those plays in the first half, when the game is still up for grabs, and you might impress somebody. Make them in the third quarter with the score 14-0 and… whoop-de-do.

So it goes with the Zero Gravity Redskins. About the only thing they’ve accomplished in the first two games of the Allen Era is to move up in the drafting order. It’s now possible they could pick ahead of the Browns, who began the season 1-11. Think about that. (But, please, not for too long. It’ll spoil the holidays.)

On the plus side, Jason Campbell lived to play another week. This was no small feat, given how Jay Ratliff and Co. were using him for a trampoline. But for the second straight game, the offense’s tag-team play calling operation of Sherm Lewis, Sherman Smith and Chris Meidt had virtually no answers and appeared, like the rest of the team, to be lost in space.

“I can’t even remember getting in the red zone,” a wrung-out Jim Zorn said.

(It was a great gimmick while it lasted, though — kind of a Rock-Paper-Scissors Attack).

The stadium was almost empty as the final seconds ticked down. Even the Dallas fans — and there are plenty of them — had left, confident of the outcome. It was a scene that no doubt registered with Allen, whose father George did much to stoke the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry when he coached the club in the ‘70s.

There isn’t much left of the rivalry anymore, just as there isn’t much left of the Redskins any more. Bruce Allen will have to address both issues — and right soon. But first, he has to decide on a coach… at which point the clock will start ticking for him.

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