The Washington Times - September 11, 2008, 05:17PM

Ryan and Lindsay review the Giants game and look ahead to the New Orleans game 1. The Redskins opened with a whimper last week at the Meadowlands. Two-part question: A) what was the most concerning part of the loss? and B) can anything positive be taken from the performance? Ryan: A) The run defense was horrid and the Giants went right after new DE Jason Taylor and succeeded early and often; the passing offense was out of sync for the entire game; and the cornerbacks made it too easy for Plaxico Burress to run curl routes without being jammed at the line. B) The only real positive is that the Redskins escaped any serious injuries and the defense rose up a little bit when the Giants marched into the red zone. Lindsay: A) To me, the most concerning part of the loss was the lack of a quick tempo that is supposed to be the “west coast offense.” That’s what I was most surprised about – I expected growing pains, but I didn’t think the offense, at times, would look as overwhelmed as I thought they were. I was really surprised Cooley didn’t have more than one catch and I did expect that we would see some things that they had “held back” in the preseason. There wasn’t anything that left me saying “wow.” A positive is that they were able to find a way, at least, to get the score just before halftime on the heels of a very solid return from Rock Cartwright. 2. The Redskins, at least since 2004, have never had a reliable receiver with size. But they drafted Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly in the second round. Can anything be expected from them this season as well as tight end Fred Davis? Ryan: Entering training camp, I selected Kelly as the one who would make the biggest impact because of his size and how the Redskins planned to use him in the red zone. But he has been out since early August after knee surgery. Thomas was a non factor in the opener, catching one pass. And Davis was in active. The Redskins’ receiver of choice for years as been speed over size. That’s fine if you have Santana Moss. But complimentary pieces with size need to be added. The Redskins think they’ve done that in the draft but my guess is we’ll have to wait until 2009 to see this trio make a big difference. Lindsay: I think Coach Zorn summed it up laughing when a reporter said that Malcolm Kelly said he was ready to practice. Zorn mocked surprise and said “Really? That’s great!” I would have never expected that Kelly would still be out of commission right now, but I do, however, expect that we will see him in game action within the next couple weeks. As for Devin Thomas, I hope to see more out of him in the coming weeks. I want to know if all of these guys have straightened out the work ethic. 3. Jim Zorn admitted to mistakes in the Giants game. How would you grade his first game as an NFL head coach and play caller? Ryan: Overall – D. He coached and called plays like a guy who was making his NFL regular season debut. No surprise there. I agreed with his first-half clock management – he didn’t want the Giants to get the ball back so he bled as much time as possible. The second-half clock decisions have been well documented and Zorn has copped to screwing up. My beef with the play-calling is not putting Jason Campbell into enough positions to be successful on third down. The Redskins ran on eight of their first 11 second-down plays. Third-and-long is poison to a quarterback in a new system. That said, I liked how Zorn laid out some of his decisions in the day-after presser and I expect him to improve his managing skills as the season goes along. Lindsay: Overall – C because in his debut as an NFL head coach, he made it clear what he would’ve done differently as far as the second-half clock management and I felt that when Jason was struggling with locking in on his receivers and taking too much time, that Zorn adapted and was forced to go to the run much more than he wanted. I got the sense that he was calling for damage control — keeping it simple as to more likely give Jason a chance to redeem versus succeed. 4. Granted, it’s only one game but should there be a sense of urgency within Redskin Park this week because of the Giants, Eagles and Cowboys all starting 1-0 and Philadelphia or Dallas guaranteed to be 2-0 after their Monday night game? Ryan: I haven’t sensed any urgency in three trips to the locker room (post-game Thursday and open locker room sessions on Friday and Monday) and that’s been a little surprising considering the Redskins are in the NFC’s toughest division and know a slow start will quickly derail their season. There should be a sense of urgency to get wins the next two weeks before heading to Philadelphia and Dallas. Center Casey Rabach was one of the few players to admit this week that it’s time to get things going sooner rather than later. Lindsay: No, no, no… get your little hand off the panic button. Now, ask me again in two weeks and the tune may change but here’s the deal: This should not be any surprise that the other division teams are 1-0 based on the talent we know they have. What should be surprising is not that the Redskins lost – they are learning a brand new system after all, but the fact that they, offensively, didn’t seem to have moved in a positive direction. That being said, Jason Campbell needs to improve. If things implode and we are talking about any sort of quarterback controversy in the coming weeks, I’m going to throw my shoes at the TV because how many new systems has this guy had to learn in how many years? We’ve been over and over it and it takes consistency to find success. I give the Redskins two more losses and then it’s time to panic. 5. Jim Zorn’s regular season home opener is Sunday. Both of you will be at FedEx Field for Redskins-Saints. Who ya got and why? Ryan: This is a really tough matchup for the Redskins because New Orleans presents so many problems offensively. Although the Redskins shut down the Saints two years ago at the Superdome, this team is probably more prepared scheme-wise for the Redskins. Drew Brees, Deuce McAllister and Jeremy Shockey are excellent players. The Saints should be able to withstand the absence of an injured Marques Colston. And the New Orleans defense has been re-tooled with LB Jonathan Vilma. I don’t see the Redskins’ offense keeping up. The Saints win 27-20, dropping the Redskins to 0-2. Lindsay: I really want Zorn to succeed and get his first win as head coach. I don’t think it’s going to happen this week. I think the Saints are too talented offensively and Reggie Bush looks like he’s back to performing as he did in his glory days at USC. The question mark is, how much does the absence of Marques Colston give the secondary a break? Shawn Springs said it’s times like this, when the starting powerhouses go down, that you have to game plan for the hungry bunch — the backups that are chomping at the bit to prove themselves. We’ll see if the Redskins can take advantage. Before I saw the Saints defense play Tampa Bay, I would’ve thought the Redskins offense had a sizeable chance to turn it around against them, but they made pointed gains in free agency and addressed defense in the draft and end up with a gaggle of new starters. Cornerback Randall Gay and linebacker Jonathan Vilma are just a couple. Saints 24-17. BONUS 6. How wide open is the NFL in general and the AFC in particular now that New England has lost league Most Valuable Player Tom Brady for the season? Ryan: The conference is a complete crap-shoot now that Brady is out for the year with an ACL injury. I had picked San Diego to reach the Super Bowl but had the Patriots and Colts right up there. Now, Brady gets hurt and the Chargers and Colts look bad in home losses. The team that caught my eye in Week 1 was Lindsay’s family’s Pittsburgh Steelers. They were dominant in a win over Houston and if the offensive line can protect Big Ben, you know they’ll be able to rush the football. Losing Brady is a huge blow for the league. It’s like LeBron James going down in the NBA opener or Sidney Crosby missing five months. And I loved watching Brady play in person – the Patriots game is so precise, so methodical and so dominant. Lindsay: In other words, Ryan is saying that Tom Brady operates like a surgeon. Without him able to use his scalpel this season, I think the Pats are done. I was impressed, as was my grandma, by the Steelers performance but what I really had fun watching was the Denver Broncos. I think they’re a team that could sneak up and take advantage of the lack of Tom Brady in the AFC. On the other side, I’m not getting crazy, here but the Green Bay’s Aaron Rogers was very impressive. (And I know that hurts considering the O’Hallorans are Vikings fans). I think the absence of Brady gives every team an extra shot of “maybe just maybe”