- The Washington Times - Monday, September 14, 2009


The defense had just held the defending NFC East champion New York Giants on third-and-1 at the Washington 11. Clinton Portis had just raced 34 yards on the Redskins’ first offensive snap of the year.

On the next play, coach Jim Zorn called for slot receiver Antwaan Randle El to throw an option pass. The former college quarterback, swarmed by three Giants players, took an 11-yard sack that turned first-and-10 at the New York 37 into second-and-21.

By the time the Redskins next penetrated that deep into Giants territory, they trailed 17-0.

Q: Is the Jim Zorn-Jason Campbell era over after just 17 games?

A: That’s a little premature, but the Redskins certainly didn’t look any better than the team that lost its 2008 opener 16-7 to the Giants here. The avowed improvement in the second year of Campbell directing Zorn’s offense wasn’t apparent. Nor did ballyhooed newcomers Albert Haynesworth and Brian Orakpo change a defense that has struggled against the Giants since Greg Blache and Co. arrived in Washington in 2004.

Q: You mean I shouldn’t panic?

A: Right. It’s hard to beat the Giants in their own place. The Redskins did so with Todd Collins at quarterback on a windy night in 2007 while riding the emotional wave after the death of safety Sean Taylor. Otherwise, the Redskins have lost five of their past six games at Giants Stadium.

Q: How come Haynesworth and Orakpo didn’t do more? I thought they looked great when they played together against Pittsburgh in preseason.

A: Orakpo didn’t look like a lost rookie in his first pro game, but he didn’t flash his athletic gifts. Haynesworth, who rotated in and out of the lineup, wasn’t much of a factor in his Redskins debut. Haynesworth probably could have used more work in the preseason. That wasn’t a performance worthy of $4.1 million guaranteed, let alone $41 million.

Q: I thought this was a good time to get the Giants, with Tom Coughlin still sorting out his receiver situation and the secondary without cornerbacks Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery?

A: You weren’t off-base. However, Mario Manningham embarrassed Fred Smoot and DeAngelo Hall on a 30-yard touchdown catch during a first half in which the second-year man from Michigan and Steve Smith combined for 102 yards on seven grabs. On the other side of the ball, Randle El got free for a 35-yard catch-and-run that set up Hunter Smith’s touchdown on a fake field goal, but otherwise the Washington wideouts managed just 20 yards on three catches before halftime.

Q: Where was Malcolm Kelly before the game became one-sided?

A: Nowhere to be seen, but the second-year receiver from Oklahoma did show toughness by holding on to the ball on the third play of the second half after getting thumped by New York’s Terrell Thomas.

Q: What does it say about Zorn’s offense that two of the Redskins’ three best plays came off a fumbled snap and a fake field goal?

A: Handing the ball to Portis on three straight plays from the Washington 3-yard line didn’t display any imagination, but the coach used Randle El creatively. And it wasn’t Zorn’s fault that Campbell held the ball like a loaf of bread before the sack and strip by Osi Umenyiora.

Q: Is safety LaRon Landry ever going to be worthy of the sixth pick in the draft?

A: He wasn’t in his first three seasons, and he certainly wasn’t Sunday. Landry was beaten for 25 yards by Mario Manningham on the third-and-7 completion that set up New York’s first score. And Landry’s late hit on Brandon Jacobs put the Giants in the red zone on their next drive before the run defense bailed him out.

Q: Thankfully, the annual excursion to Giants Stadium is history. Where do the Redskins go from here? Can they pick up the pieces?

A: Remember Zorn, Campbell and Co. laid a similar egg here in the 2008 opener but rebounded to reel off four straight victories over the Saints, Cardinals, Cowboys and Eagles - all pretty serious opponents. Washington’s next three foes - St. Louis, Detroit and Tampa Bay - were all smacked around Sunday, as was the seemingly stronger Week 5 opponent, Carolina. The loss to the Giants doesn’t change anything for the Redskins.

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