- The Washington Times - Friday, October 30, 2009

When the Washington Redskins return to work Monday for the final nine games of the season, London Fletcher hopes “the preparation, focus, all those things” remain a constant despite a 2-5 record and little reason to think things will be turned around.

“The goals never change - you’re always striving for the goals,” he said. “Now whether they’re still realistic…”

The goal of making the playoffs likely is not. A schedule that features Atlanta (4-2), Denver (6-0), Dallas (4-2), Philadelphia (4-2) and New Orleans (6-0) presents too many problems for a lack-the-necessary-pieces team like the Redskins to overcome.

With a trip to the postseason not in the cards, why not mix it up a little bit? The Redskins should try something different because what they’re doing now clearly is not working. Here are five suggestions:

Helping Haynesworth

Albert Haynesworth’s arrival has done exactly what the Redskins said - opened things up for Andre Carter (6.5 sacks, tied for sixth in the NFL, and 34 tackles) and Fletcher (league-leading 71 tackles).

But what about opening things up for No. 92? He’s playing 71 percent of the snaps but has 21 tackles and three sacks.

Part of it is how much attention is being paid to Haynesworth. Philadelphia double- or triple-teamed him on 21 of 42 snaps.

The goal should be to get Haynesworth into as many one-on-one matchups as possible. The Eagles’ defense blitzed the A gap - between guard and center - several times. If the Redskins rushed a linebacker and/or safety, that could create a favorable situation for Haynesworth.

Moving around

When Al Saunders called the plays in 2006-07, the Redskins kept busy before the snap, shifting and going in motion on nearly every snap.

From the start, Zorn has opted not to conduct a pre-snap orchestra. But with the offense broken, it’s time to consider everything.

Against Philadelphia, the Redskins used motion or a shift only 14 times in 72 snaps. Santana Moss was put on the move only twice and never across the formation.

Any chance to get Moss in man coverage - which occasionally can be deciphered if he is put in motion and the cornerback follows him - would provide Jason Campbell with an additional idea of what the defense has planned. And, it gives the speedy Moss some momentum at the snap so he can just turn up the field.

Unbalanced line

With his eight catches against the Eagles, Fred Davis proved he can get open, albeit not as far downfield as Chris Cooley. But what Davis isn’t ready for is prime-time pass protection; he was beaten for two sacks in the second half.

Davis’ deficiencies made him part of a pass protection group that was overwhelmed by Philadelphia’s defense, whether it was on a blitz or a simple four-man rush.

An unbalanced line could coax more production from Clinton Portis on first down so Campbell isn’t constantly under siege, which would cut down on his jitters in the pocket.

Cincinnati has used two formations to help Cedric Benson break free for 4.4 yards a carry. The Bengals have used a TE-LG-C-RG-OT-OT alignment and, even more radical, a WR-G-C-G-T-T-TE-TE setup.

One word: Wildcat

If Zorn ever employs the Wildcat, the move will have been dictated from the owner’s box because Zorn has voiced his opposition to using the formation, saying the time to practice it doesn’t produce enough of a result.

But when the quarterback is hit like a pinata like Campbell was Monday, the every-so-often curveball is in order even if it means a gain of 4 or 5 yards on first down.

While Antwaan Randle El is the natural choice to run the Wildcat since he played quarterback in college, the Redskins should try it with Rock Cartwright. The way he ran the lead draw against the Eagles for an 11-yard gain shows he can hit the hole. Put him in the shotgun and let him improvise.

If the Wildcat isn’t used, Zorn and his staff have to create plays that create some production, be it by spreading the field with four- and five-receiver formations or more bootlegs by Campbell.

Play the kids

Seven of the Redskins’ 2008 draft picks remain on the roster. The final nine games of this season should be used to ascertain whether they get a third chance to make an impression next preseason or if the team has another position need.

The second-day defensive picks have found roles - safety Chris Horton is basically a starter, Justin Tryon is the nickel cornerback and safety Kareem Moore is a core special teamer.

The bill has to come due at some point on the offensive picks: receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly, Davis and guard Chad Rinehart.

If the season continues to dissolve, play that quartet often for a real-game evaluation opportunity. Davis will get his shot because of Cooley’s broken ankle. If Thomas and Kelly don’t produce in the second half and Rinehart collects dust on the inactive list, add two more needs to the offseason shopping list.



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