- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The goal for every offensive line is to be together long enough to become cohesive, leading to sound pass protection, efficient run blocking and an ability to create consistent scoring opportunities.

And then there are the Washington Redskins.

“We’re trying to patch,” coach Jim Zorn said Monday.

He might as well be talking about the entire organization.

As the Redskins try to forget about their 2-6 first half, the realization is beginning to set in: They will have a difficult time conducting full-pads practices, much less winning another game this year.

Everywhere on the field, Band-Aids are being applied to the ever-changing offensive line and, because of Chris Horton’s long-term injury, the secondary.

Everywhere off the field, tourniquets are being applied with the offensive playcaller change and the general tumult produced by owner Dan Snyder’s treatment of Zorn.

But even after losing Horton (toe) for four to six weeks and possibly being without running back Clinton Portis (concussion), Zorn remained undeterred Monday even though his major talking point - “We’re moving forward” - has been struck from his stump speech.

“We’ve absolutely had our share [of injuries], but one of the things we’ll do is we’ll be competitive,” he said. “We will go out and compete and put out the best guys we can get in this program, and they’ll give their best effort. These guys want it. Just based on what we did in the second half [Sunday], we didn’t have any kind of doubt that we didn’t put people on the field who didn’t want to play hard and go for it.”

That the Redskins scored on two second-half possessions to crawl within seven points shouldn’t push under the rug the memory of a first half marred by penalties, a turnover and a sideline brouhaha caused by LaRon Landry’s hit on Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan.

In their current form, the Redskins enter the second half of the year with an offense that is 29th in scoring and a defense that is being exposed after padding its stats against soft competition.

Things aren’t bound to get better. The seven teams last year that started 2-6 or worse finished with a combined 24 wins, including 4-11-1 Cincinnati, 2-14 Kansas City, 2-14 St. Louis and 0-16 Detroit.

“All I can tell you is you don’t worry about what’s going on. You’re just trying to win,” receiver Santana Moss said. “Every week, you have to lace them up and try to win. You’re not going to play just to play. Therefore, I hope every guy in here regardless of the situation at the end of the season, their main focus is to win.”

Said defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander: “We have to go out and play for pride, for the fans and for ourselves to get some respect around the league and really try to finish out strong.”

A strong finish at this point only would hurt the Redskins’ draft stock. If the season finished today, they would draft somewhere from No. 6 to No. 8 - they’re tied with Oakland and Tennessee.

Players like Alexander want to have a strong finish before they hit free agency. That group also includes center Casey Rabach and potentially quarterback Jason Campbell, cornerback Carlos Rogers and linebacker Rocky McIntosh. If they put some good performances together, they could increase their open-market value.

“You try to play for yourself and play for your future, but you also have to play for other guys,” Alexander said. “Anytime guys start to showboat and play for themselves, that’s when things really fall apart.”

Said Rabach: “Seriously, I’m not worried about free agency. I’m worried about winning games for the Washington Redskins, and that’s first and foremost. If I do my job, everything else will take care of itself.”

While the defense is just beginning to hear criticism because of big plays allowed, Rabach has been part of an offensive line that has been under constant fire. The group will feature its seventh starting combination against Denver - Stephon Heyer will move to right tackle (Mike Williams is out two to four weeks with an ankle injury), and Levi Jones will start at left tackle.

“We understand the criticism,” Rabach said. “Five sacks in the first half, six sacks in the last game [Philadelphia] - that’s not how you win in football. Each and every one of us has to look at that tape and understand that’s who we are and figure out a way to fix it. Without that, things aren’t going to get better.”

Another reason the Redskins are 2-6 is because they do squat in the first halves of games; they have been outscored 45-10 in the first quarter and 58-26 in the second quarter. Sure, they hold a 49-10 third-quarter advantage, but that’s primarily because opponents have enough of a lead to play a defense to avoid the big play. The Redskins needed two 13-play drives to score touchdowns against Atlanta.

The Redskins’ first-half drives: 41 possessions, 11 turnovers, five field goals, three touchdowns and one safety.

“It’s tough as an offensive core to be out there and get something accomplished if you don’t have a rhythm going or you’re climbing the ladder to get back into it when we let them get up two scores or we give them a turnover,” Moss said. “Just by being a part of it for the last month or so, it’s hard to be yourself or play the kind of game you set out to play as an offense when you have to get something going quick.”

Even if the Redskins’ offense ignites, it’s probably too late. Being 2-6 is new territory for Snyder, some veterans and certainly rookie Brian Orakpo. At Texas, he was 45-7 in four years.

“It’s a way different feeling,” he said. “I wake up depressed. I’m mad. I’m irritable. Being 2-6 is not a good thing. Never been 2-6 in my whole career. We’ve been losing week after week after week, and it’s not good.”

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