Initial thoughts: Week 15 (Giants 45, Redskins 12)
This is my stream of consciousness after the Redskins embarrassing 45-12 home loss to the New York Giants last night:
*Such an ugly defeat was long overdue. For five games, the Redskins admirably competed despite no hope of making the playoffs. They successfully ignored distractions and managed to use their pride to fuel some competitive performances. Well, that can last only so long. And you have to look at the timing of the blowout: four days after the team replaced Vinny Cerrato with general manager Bruce Allen, followed by damning reports about assistant coaches interviewing for head coach Jim Zorn’s job. As far as distractions go, those are way, way up there.
*The Giants aren’t leading the division this year. Heck, they wouldn’t even make the playoffs if the season ended today. But to me, they serve as the model that Allen should follow in rebuilding the Redskins. (And yes, a moderate-to-full-scale rebuilding process is required.) New York completely owns the Redskins. They’re a terrible matchup for Washington because they’re built the right way-with outstanding offensive and defensive lines. New York has dominated the Redskins in the trenches for the better part of the last four years. Eli Manning isn’t an ultra-elite quarterback, but he’s better than what the Redskins have because he usually has time to throw. And did the Giants have trouble replacing their best receiver in Plaxico Burress? Nope, because a quality offensive line helps every skill position player. Steve Smith is now ninth in the NFL in receiving yardage.
*To add to the last point, just take a look at what the Giants did in the draft last April. They had five-yes, five-draft picks in the top 100. On their roster, they have second-team All-Pro left tackle David Diehl. But Diehl is 29, so what did they do in the second round? They drafted left tackle William Beatty. Beatty started at right tackle last night and did well. And when Diehl breaks down in a few years, the Giants can simply plug Beatty in not miss a beat. That’s how a top franchise operates.
*All the pretense about head coach Jim Zorn possibly keeping his job was just that. We all knew he was lame duck after he was stripped of his play-calling responsibilities after the Kansas City loss in Week 6, and maybe Daniel Snyder determined Zorn’s fate after the Week 3 loss at Detroit. But the team’s recent frisky run at least lent itself to the notion that there was a case to bring Zorn back. Last night, however, blew that out of the water. When the Redskins came out of their second-quarter time out and decided to stick with the "swinging gate" formation, I thought it was a bit reckless. Gosh, that was one of the ugliest Redskins-related sights I can remember. How farcical. And poor Hunter Smith. What did he do to deserve that?
*Along those lines, why keep Zorn for the last two games? Unless there’s some sort of contractual incentive for the organization to keep him through the season, just get it over with. Why humiliate the man further? There have been multiple reports that members of Zorn’s own staff are interviewing for his job. Is it really necessary to make him squirm for two more weeks amid this reported subterfuge? Do reporters that cover other teams have occasion to use the word "subterfuge"?
*And speaking of those reports, secondary coach Jerry Gray’s refusal last night to deny it spoke volumes. If he didn’t interview for Zorn’s job, why not say so? Gray has long been a media favorite known as a good coach and a good guy. But if these reports are true-and again, he’s not denying it-he comes off as selfish and disloyal to Zorn, who he publicly supported earlier this season. What a soap opera.
*I was a bit shocked by QB Jason Campbell’s awful game. You knew he was going to get hit hard and often by the Giants, but Campbell had done so much better in recent weeks against the rush. He admitted that the current distractions are difficult to ignore. I’ll give him points for honesty. However, it wasn’t a good first impression on Allen, to say the least.
*Remember when the Redskins’ pass defense was ranked No. 1 in the NFL? Yeah, me neither.
*Not that it matters much, but the playing surface at FedEx Field has been a mess all season. Remember that they hosted a pair of concerts there this summer/fall. If they want to host concerts, change the surface to FieldTurf. It has always seemed like a waste to me to have such a huge, expensive stadium and use the playing field only a dozen times a year, or so. If they want to make it a multi-purpose facility, get the fake stuff. It’s a fine alternative.