- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 11, 2009


At midseason 2008, Clinton Portis had 944 yards and was the NFL’s top rusher. This year, Portis has barely half that total and a concussion. That defines the drop to the 23rd-rated run game. Injuries to linemen Randy Thomas and Chris Samuels hurt badly, and Stephon Heyer is no Jon Jansen.


Chris Cooley is hurt for the first time in his six seasons. Santana Moss is on pace for 13 fewer catches than last year. Jason Campbell has eight interceptions compared to six for all of 2008. The second-year receivers continue to struggle. But the big problem is protection. Campbell has been sacked 25 times, including 17 in the past four games.


The addition of Albert Haynesworth to the middle of the line and the return of end Phillip Daniels from a knee injury were supposed to stiffen an already-solid run defense. That worked early, but Washington allowed four long runs the past two games, three for scores. London Fletcher is hanging in there; Andre Carter has been surprisingly strong.


The Redskins have just four interceptions, three by DeAngelo Hall. Opposing quarterbacks have an 81.9 rating against Washington even though six of the eight are ranked 20th or below. However, those negatives are outweighed by an NFL-low 159.9 yards a game and 21 sacks (12 combined by Carter and Brian Orakpo).


Shaun Suisham, who had to fight for his job in camp, is 10-for-10 on field goals. The coverage units, led by overachievers H.B. Blades and Reed Doughty, are the NFL’s best. Rock Cartwright is average on kickoffs. New punter Hunter Smith can’t stay healthy. Antwaan Randle El and the rest of the punt return unit have been dreadful.


Being stripped of his playcalling duties was embarrassing, but several of Jim Zorn’s calls in critical situations were curious. Replacement Sherm Lewis has produced only after defeat already was a certainty. The near-weekly poor starts are partly on the players and partly on Zorn and defensive coordinator Greg Blache. Changes are coming in January.

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