- The Washington Times - Monday, October 12, 2009

CHARLOTTE, N.C.

Andre Carter tried to come up with an explanation before just giving up.

“We’ve had this conversation before,” the defensive end said after the Redskins squandered a 15-point lead in a 20-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Carter is undoubtedly right. Just when the Redskins appear poised to rally in the face of a chaotic week, they give the Panthers life with a long kickoff return, stop doing anything on the ground (3.1 yards a carry) and finally let a win slip away on an unfortunate bounce off Byron Westbrook’s leg.

All in all, it’s hard not to agree with the players who said the sting of falling to 2-3 Sunday was a little more severe than the Detroit Debacle.

Q: Leading 17-2, how in control were the Redskins?

A: They were in control for one play. DeAngelo Hall’s interception set up Clinton Portis’ 1-yard touchdown run, and the Panthers were on the brink of having their season end with another Redskins touchdown.

Instead, the normally sound Redskins special teams allowed Kenneth Moore to scamper 55 yards on the kickoff. Four plays later, the Panthers made it 17-9, and it was game on.

Q: On the game-deciding play, was there anything Westbrook could have done to avoid touching the punt?

A: Probably not. By rule, the officials got it right, saying the punt hit Westbrook before he got blocked into Antwaan Randle El. It was just bad luck on Westbrook’s part.

And as Reed Doughty said afterward, “We’re good on special teams but weren’t today.”

Q: Did the Redskins’ defense hold up its end?

A: It was one takeaway from playing a flawless game. Carolina’s power running game averaged 2.7 yards a carry, the pass rush sacked Delhomme three times and Steve Smith was held in relative check (five catches).

The Redskins’ two touchdown drives were 13 yards and 1 yard off takeaways, and there was the goal-line stand in the second quarter in which the defense hammered the Panthers on four straight possessions.

An area of concern is the cover ability of rookie Brian Orakpo. The Panthers more than anybody took advantage of his inexperience, chiefly on Jeff King’s double move that resulted in a 17-yard touchdown catch.

Q: Once the Redskins held at the goal line, they allowed a safety two plays later. What should be made of the playcall?

A: It was an interesting second-down call - Clinton Portis on a sweep to the right side. It was asking a lot to rely on Mike Williams and Stephon Heyer to crack open enough breathing room for Portis to get back to the line of scrimmage, much less the first-down marker.

Julius Peppers blew up Heyer at the snap and fullback Mike Sellers sort of just went on a stroll, resulting in the safety.

Q: Offensively, Chris Samuels suffered a stinger and missed all but the first two plays. What did you make of the performances by Williams and D’Anthony Batiste?

A: Marginal. Everybody in the Redskins’ locker room admitted - except for Batiste, who incredibly declined to comment - that just about everything changed when Samuels went down with a neck injury. With Williams already a newbie in Chad Rinehart’s place (the Plan B at right guard lasted two games), there already was an adjustment.

The need to keep extra blockers for protection eliminated Chris Cooley (no catches) and Santana Moss (four receptions). The Williams Guard Experiment bears watching because that’s where a guy of his size (330 pounds) and lack of mobility belongs.

Q: Zorn is 10-11 in one-plus season, the offense has yet to reach 30 points in his tenure or 20 points this year and it blew a 15-point lead to an 0-3 team. How tenuous is his job status?

A: If Dan Snyder fires a coach after losing a game like this - the final straw coming on a fluky play to give Carolina a short field for the winning score - then the Danny is more out of touch than most fans believe.

It is interesting though that the birds are starting to chirp around the league. On the Fox pregame show, Jay Glazer said every general manager and coach he talks to expects Mike Shanahan to be with the Redskins next year.

Zorn looked in shock during his postgame news conference. He knows time is running out to make any kind of charge this year, and he’ll have to do it with a flawed roster he didn’t have much of a hand in constructing.

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