- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 27, 2006

As this disappointing Washington Redskins’ season mercifully winds down, most recent missives to the mailbag have been comments on the year rather than actual questions.

The loss to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday in which the Redskins allowed 579 yards prompted readers to demand changes in personnel during the offseason.

No one at Redskin Park is immune to being ripped by the fans — not even the play-by-play broadcaster.

Q: If only they would have started Jason Campbell sooner, but I think the offense is on the right track. What do you think they should do with the porous defense? — J. Motlasz

A: I agree about Campbell. The Redskins should have made the move after the New York Giants game. They would have been 2-3 entering the Tennessee game, and the addition of Campbell would have sparked a victory. The offense is moving in the right direction, but patience is required in evaluating Campbell.

Defensively, where do I start? The Redskins won’t be able to fill all the holes through free agency and the draft. They need to add a cornerback, keep Shawn Springs, figure out the linebacker situation, decide if Troy Vincent can make it through a 16-game season at safety and make decisions on defensive ends Phillip Daniels and Renaldo Wynn.

Q: Mark Brunell took more than a year to justify his contract. Do you think Brandon Lloyd ever will live up to the expectations? — Gibbs fan

A: I don’t think Brunell ever justified his seven-year, $43 million contract. The Redskins made the playoffs last year, but it wasn’t because of him.

As for Lloyd, he was shut out in the St. Louis game and enters the season finale with 23 catches for 365 yards — obviously a disappointment considering his seven-year, $29 million contract and the two draft choices it cost the Redskins to acquire him. But it appears he will return next year and get another chance to meet those expectations.

Q: The Redskins use kickers who cannot put the ball into the end zone consistently. It makes no sense to kick a ball that comes down on the opponent’s 10- or 15- or even 5-yard line. And it isn’t necessary to use a kicker, a valuable player who risks injury, for kickoffs, just someone who can kick the ball deep. Remember Michaels, Groza, Blanda, etc.? — Pete

A: There were more touchbacks back in the day because kickoffs took place at the 35-yard line. Now the kickoff is at the 30. It’s tougher to kick the ball 70 yards than it is 65.

The Redskins forced one touchback this season, the fewest in the NFL. Denver leads with 19, and Jason Elam benefits from kicking at high altitude. The Redskins’ 60.3-yard average distance is tied for 29th in the league.

Derrick Frost tried kicking off earlier this year, but that seemed to affect his punting technique. Shaun Suisham appears to have a strong leg, but there aren’t any kickers who regularly hit the end zone.

Q: After reading your article about the personnel mistakes the Redskins have made, I cannot believe they could be so inept. They obviously do not care about draft choices, and that’s why they don’t have quality depth. Is Vinny Cerrato the principal reason for this ineptitude? And I read that one “insider” said it will take at least five years for the team to recover from all these mistakes. Is it true? — John M.

A: There’s plenty of blame to go around, which is part of the problem when criticizing the Redskins’ front office structure.

Most fingers are pointed at Cerrato because he’s in charge of the scouting and personnel departments. But Gibbs and assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams, who wield much influence, also should be held accountable.

I disagree that the mistakes set the team back five years. The depth chart was in bad shape when Gibbs arrived in January 2004, and the Redskins managed to make the playoffs in his second season. Smart salary cap moves and more hits than misses in the draft will speed the building process.

Q: Is there any way we can get Frank Herzog back as our play-by-play man? Larry Michael is absolutely horrible. Frank was the voice for so many of the great years. Michael has no personality and brings nothing to the table. I miss hearing “Touchdown … Washington Redskins.” — Will

A: Larry’s not going anywhere. He is in third year as the play-by-play man and is the team’s primary mouthpiece on the radio network.

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