- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Statistics don’t tell the whole story, but sometimes they can help you get a foothold. Check out, for instance, this list of the lowest-scoring teams in the NFL over the last 15 games (or, to put it another way, since the Redskins came back from Philadelphia last season and began having trouble locating the end zone):

The Rams are averaging a league-low 12.9 points a game, followed by the Browns (13.3), Redskins (14.1), Bengals (14.3) and Raiders (14.9).

Now here’s another list - of the clubs that have scored 20 or more points the fewest times in that span: the Redskins and Rams (three times each), Bengals and Raiders (five) and Browns and Seahawks (six).

And those three 20-point explosions by the Redskins, by the way, have come against the Lions (0-6 at the time), the Seahawks (2-8) and the 49ers (6-9).

There’s no getting around it. The Redskins have one of the most horrid offenses in the league. And they can’t even fall back on the excuse, like all these other teams, that they’ve been going through significant personnel and/or coaching changes. They’ve had the same quarterback for all 15 games (Jason Campbell), the same offensive core (Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, Chris Cooley) and the same play caller (Jim Zorn). Yet they continue to evoke memories of Martyball 2001.

When you go through a three-week stretch against the Rams, Lions and Bucs, the absolute pits of pro football, and put up only 39 points, well, it kinda hurts the argument that the Redskins’ scoring issues are “somewhat misleading” because they play in “the toughest division in the NFL.”

Not that anybody should be surprised by this. Back in training camp, a guy I know said, “Make no mistake: This is a club that’s built around its defense. … The Redskins are probably looking at a bunch of grind-it-out, 20-17/17-14 games this season.”

Wait a minute. I said that.

But anyway, unless Malcolm Kelly or Devin Thomas turns into Jerry Rice - and right quick - nothing is likely to change. Indeed, the offense’s main function these days seems to be to give the ‘D’ an occasional breather. A year ago, Campbell at least took care of the ball (six interceptions in 506 attempts); Sunday against the bumbling Bucs, he had three passes picked off and lost a fumble.

Surely, Dan Snyder is processing this information. Surely, the Redskins owner isn’t happy. I mean, he must have wanted to hide under a lampshade during the Detroit Disaster - what with Tom Cruise, his good buddy, being there and all.

Snyder must also be starting to sense that the Jim Zorn Experiment is looking more and more like, uh, Mission Impossible. Still, as is his wont, he makes no public pronouncements, so we can only guess what he’s thinking.

My hypothesis (to be taken with a grain of salt and a stiff chaser): Snyder, seeing no tangible improvement in his team, has already turned his attention to next year… and who the next coach will be. Given his track record, he figures to go after one of the big names available - Mike Holmgren, Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden, even Tony Dungy.

So how does he get his man? Answer: By keeping his emotions in check between now and the end of the season. By not doing anything impulsive (e.g., firing Zorn and appointing an interim replacement). By reinforcing the notion that he has matured in the past 11 years and wouldn’t be a bad owner to work for.

Besides, there are benefits to doing nothing, to letting the season simply take its course. For instance, if the Redskins go into a free fall as the schedule gets harder, they could wind up with a high draft pick - in a year when several intriguing quarterbacks are coming out. Imagine being able to tell, say, Holmgren, “You can start over with your own QB if you want. Who would you like to go after, Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow or Sam Bradford?”

Also, we’re looking at the possibility of 2010 being an uncapped year (that is, if no deal is struck between the players and owners). So it would be a lot easier this offseason - a rare opportunity, really - to blow up the roster, eat a bunch of contracts and reshape the Redskins to the new coach’s liking. No joke: In an uncapped year, you could swallow Albert Haynesworth’s contract if you wanted. Granted, it would be an expensive meal, given Albert’s $41 million in guarantees, but maybe Holmgren/Cowher/Whoever would prefer to spend his dollars differently.

Thoughts like these go through your head while watching Hunter Smith pull a groin muscle and Shaun Suisham pinch-punt. The Redskins are again buckling under the weight of their own unrealistic expectations, and when all that’s coming from the owner’s box is silence, the mind races.

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