Sunday’s game against the undefeated New Orleans Saints at FedEx Field could have been validation for so many in the Washington Redskins organization.
It could have been validation for Jason Campbell, who has played well of late and gave one of the most productive performances of his career, completing 30 of 42 attempts for 367 yards and three touchdowns.
It could have been validation for the three second-round receivers previously derided as busts; Devin Thomas, Fred Davis and Malcolm Kelly combined for 14 catches, 166 yards and all three touchdown receptions.
And as painful as this may have been for Redskins fans, it could have been validation for Vinny Cerrato, the beleaguered Redskins executive vice president of football operations who drafted those three and patched together the workable offensive line unit that protected Campbell for most of the game.
But it wasn’t validation for Campbell or Vinny’s trio or even for Vinny himself. It was just another loss, this one a 33-30 overtime defeat.
You could have tried to warm yourself on this cold Sunday afternoon with Campbell’s statistics or the numbers of Thomas and Davis. And it probably worked, just as it probably worked the two weeks before, when the Redskins seemingly played well and came close to defeating the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. They lost those games as well.
You might be lamenting the number of replays that went against the Redskins or the 23-yard missed field goal by Shaun Suisham with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth that would have given Washington a 10-point lead.
Just think, the Redskins were so close to being a 4-8 team instead of a 3-9 team.
Or you could be like Campbell, who lamented following the loss, “The last three have been disappointing. In Dallas, we could have had that one. If we could have gotten all three of those games… we’re fighting for a playoff spot.”
Yes, if the Redskins had defeated three playoff teams in a row - the Cowboys, Eagles and Saints - they indeed would be fighting for a playoff position. If not for a combined total of seven points in all three losses.
This is not a young team learning how to win. This is not a coach and his players all coming together and finally clicking according to “the plan.” This is a combination of some proud veterans, some overachieving backups and a handful of talented youngsters playing better than the roster of highly paid starters that opened the season. That is validation of nothing. It is, in fact, a repudiation of how the Redskins organization builds teams.
The better performances have happened purely by accident, through injuries to starters and a convoluted playcalling system designed to keep the coach out of it as much as possible.
You could make the case that Sunday was the best performance by the Redskins all season. It was the first time they scored 30 points since Zorn got here, and they held the most powerful offense in the league under its average, even if the Saints did score 33 points. But it was a loss just like the eight others this season and the 17 overall under Zorn over the past two years.
“This game I felt like our team had played really well,” Zorn said. “We had some great coverages, kicks and defensive stands. We put points on the board and had over 300 passing yards. We really connected on a lot of things, but they did as well. They took it to us like we took it to them, and it was a great game. It just feels awful to stand up here and be the losing head coach again.”
At least he didn’t say they are close, because they are not. The only validation to be had Sunday is that the Redskins are a losing team and remain a losing organization despite Zorn’s denial at the end of his press conference Sunday that his team is in the habit of losing.
“No, each game is unique,” he said. “There’s no psycho stuff going on here, no habit.”
Just another loss.
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