- The Washington Times - Monday, October 19, 2009

What, you were expecting Todd Collins to morph into the Magic Quarterback again and save the Redskins from themselves? If Sunday’s harrowing 14-6 loss to the Chiefs told us anything, it’s that nothing can rescue the Redskins this season. After consecutive losses to previously winless Carolina and Kansas City, they’ve begun their free fall into the abyss.

Look out below.

Yes, friends, Jim Zorn finally did it. Trailing a crummy K.C. club 3-0 at halftime and running out of options and patience, he finally switched channels on his radio transmitter from WJC (Jason Campbell) to WTC (Collins). The move was well-received by the sparse FedEx Field crowd, which enthusiastically cheered the entrance of the QB who had saved the 2007 season.

Right away - as he did two years ago in a similar situation - Collins made something happen. On his second play, he cocked his 37-year-old right arm and lofted a 42-yard completion to Santana Moss to the Kansas City 27. This got the (estimated) 65,000 who braved the lousy conditions - and even worse football - that much more excited.

Soon enough, though, reality set in - the reality that has been whacking Campbell in the helmet since that Monday night game against the Steelers last November. On first down, Mike Sellers was called for holding, forcing the Redskins to settle for a field goal. In the next series, Clinton Portis broke a 78-yard run, but three incompletions resulted in yet another field goal.

“Todd comes in and hits a big pass to Santana… we get three points out of it,” Casey Rabach said. “Clinton has a big run… we get three points out of it. It’s like a rerun.”

Exactly. Readers have wondered why I haven’t come down harder on Campbell, haven’t laid more of the offensive blame at his feet. The reason - as I keep e-mailing back - is simple:

1. He isn’t the biggest problem.

2. What quarterback on the roster could do a better job with this motley crew - in particular, with such a cut-and-paste line?

After the beginner’s-luck bomb to Moss, Collins completed five of 13 throws for 33 yards. See what I mean? He also was subjected to two sacks, the first of which produced a fumble (which, fortunately for him, Sellers recovered), and the second of which produced a safety that sealed the deal for the Chiefs with 26 seconds left.

We won’t even talk about the two passes he had batted.

In other words, it isn’t possible right now for any QB to function effectively in this offense. Why? Well, you have a street free agent, Mike Williams, starting at right tackle. You have a street free agent, Will Montgomery (seven career starts), starting at right guard. You have Stephon Heyer, who was undrafted coming out of college, filling in for Pro Bowl fixture Chris Samuels at left tackle. You have a group of wideouts that, beyond Moss (when he’s healthy), sends no shivers up any defensive coordinator’s spine. You have, basically, one of the four or five worst offenses in the league.

There won’t be any miracles from Collins this time - if, indeed, the coach decides to stick with him. After all, when Todd was thrust into the lineup in ‘07, he had the comfort of running a system he’d been running for years: Al Saunders’ system. Now he’s running Zorn’s West Coast attack - and is no more experienced in it than Campbell is.

Then, too, Collins had Samuels protecting his back when he led the Redskins on that improbable ride to the ‘07 playoffs. He also had a 26-year-old Portis to hand off to. What’s the difference between Clinton Then and Clinton Now, you ask? Clinton Then would have scored on that 78-yard run Sunday. Clinton Now, on the other hand, hit a wall around the Kansas City 20 and got driven out of bounds.

Two years ago, Collins was Earl Morrall reincarnate. Now he’s just Todd Collins, trying to wring one more season out of his tired body. Which isn’t to say Zorn shouldn’t have made the switch. A coach owes it to his team, when it’s teetering, to explore every conceivable remedy, and no remedy is more dramatic than a quarterback change.

Besides, Campbell has been regressing of late. Everybody could see that. His confidence looks shot, and he’s had a tendency to rush things - much of it, in my mind, attributable to shaky blocking and predictable playcalling.

When he isn’t rushing, he’s doing what he did Sunday - being “a little late, hesitating,” as Zorn put it - and then misfiring. At any rate, the coach said, “this offense is better than six points - 100 percent better.”

OK, so it’s a 12-point offense. That still ain’t good.

More from the Z-Man’s “it’s awful, and it’s my fault” mea culpa: “Third down is a terrible down for us. That’s where we’re really poor.”

To which I reply: Hey, first and second down aren’t so hot, either. How could they be when you’re averaging 13.2 points a game? The whole offense, really, has been an unmitigated disaster.

In summation, it was another sad day at FedEx. Tens of thousands of fans, voting with their feet, cast their ballots for Staying Home, and the Redskins lost to an 0-5 team for the third time in four years - all of the losses on their own turf.

Worst of all - from the standpoint of many wishful thinkers - Todd Collins didn’t turn out to be The Answer to the offense’s ills. No one man could possibly be.

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