For nearly half a season, LaRon Landry received a free pass from the various NFL analysts. Despite taking bad angles, rarely making anything happen in the passing game and generally playing below his draft status (sixth overall in 2006), he escaped criticism.
On NFL Network on Friday, Brian Baldinger said Landry is using poor technique, leaving his feet to try to make tackles. And during the Redskins’ latest loss - 31-17 to Atlanta on Sunday - Fox’s Darryl Johnston ripped Landry’s play on Michael Turner’s 58-yard touchdown run.
Upon analysis of a 2-6 Redskins start and a defense that has allowed 100 yards rushing in all but one game, it’s time to call Landry a part of the problem. He committed a late hit on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan that triggered a sideline melee and led to a field goal. And on Turner’s long run, he just made a poor decision.
“We gave up a lot of big runs, and we weren’t sound enough to get off the field,” Landry said. “It may be the same thing as it’s been every week, but we have to go back to the drawing board and see what happened.”
What’s happened with the Redskins during the first half is a record that could lead to an even uglier December and, gulp, a 2-14 record.
Q: Please tell me there wasn’t any of the “at least we hung in there” nonsense in the postgame locker room.
A: Only by Jim Zorn, who is grasping for any kind of positive element. The players weren’t asked about playing a better second half, and even more telling, they didn’t try to use that as spin. Anybody who saw this game in person or on television realized the deal - the Falcons knew they could score whenever they needed to, and when it was 24-17, they needed to and did.
The Redskins have trailed the Giants 17-0, Detroit 13-0, Tampa Bay 10-0, Philadelphia 17-0 and Atlanta 24-3. For all the veterans on the Redskins, Sunday was yet another sign of how they hit the snooze button and aren’t ready for 1 p.m.
Q: Back to Landry. The statistics have him with five tackles. How concerning is his play?
A: Asked specifically, Zorn said he would have to review the video before passing blame on Landry for Turner’s first two touchdown runs.
The first, a 30-yarder, Landry got turned into a pretzel but said Turner’s cutback was just a sign of a good running back. The second run, which sealed the Falcons’ win, should be concerning. Turner is 244 pounds and a load to bring down. Landry went low, and Turner simply jumped over him - a very athletic play. But the play exhibited that Landry may be afraid to get run over like Brandon Jacobs did to him last year in New York.
Greg Blache should start playing Landry closer to the line of scrimmage. Take advantage of what he’s supposed to be good at, making tackles in confined space and rushing the passer.
Q: Albert Haynesworth had two opening-drive penalties, and the Redskins’ 88 penalty yards were the second-highest total of the year. A bad day or an undisciplined team?
A: Some of both. When the Capitals’ Alexander Semin took three offensive-zone penalties last week, Bruce Boudreau benched him. Maybe it’s time for the Redskins to sit guys for a series if they take bad penalties.
Haynesworth admitted fault for his second offside, which came on a fourth-and-1 from the Washington 8. Landry, Justin Tryon and Lorenzo Alexander were also called for personal fouls. The Redskins aren’t nearly good enough to overcome giving up those free chunks of yards.
Q: Jason Campbell was battered by Atlanta’s pass defense. Is it time for Andre Woodson to get warmed up in the bullpen?
A: At the very least, it’s time for Woodson to be elevated from the practice squad to the active roster. The schedule doesn’t get any easier, and Campbell left the game twice because of chest and ankle injuries.
With the way the offensive line is playing, coming back from 14 points - much less 21 points - is nearly impossible. The Redskins were able to scratch to within 24-17, but notice the drive times - 13 plays/7:50 and 13/6:50. There simply aren’t enough big plays being made.
Q: Clinton Portis joined the extensive offensive injured list, and Campbell will be nicked up the rest of the year. Will the Redskins win again?
A: Yes, but it’s hard to project which game they’ll steal. The only game they might be favored in is Oakland, and the Raiders will be fired up at the chance to win.
Down the stretch, all of the division games are tough because the NFC East won’t be settled until the final weekend. The only chance is possibly San Diego on Jan. 3 if the Chargers are playing out the string for old friend Norv Turner.