Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2009 Season Review: The season in quotes
Much of a beat reporter’s existence revolves around quotes. We’re either getting them, plotting to get them, transcribing them or figuring out how they fit into a story.
The Redskins provided plenty of good ones during their five-month odyssey to 4-12, the franchise’s worst record since 1994. I figured it’d be a waste to spend all that time chasing and transcribing them just to let them wither away on my hard drive. So I’ve compiled a timeline of the best and most revealing Redskins quotes of the season.
Let the Redskins players, coaches, and executives, then, guide you through the 2009 season in their own words.
(Warning: These might cause die-hard fans to experience nausea, dizziness or light-headedness)
JULY 29 –Players report to training camp
Head coach Jim Zorn on the start of the season: "I am excited about starting 2009. We are looking forward to an outstanding year. We’re on our way. We have a lot of healthy players this year. We are not starting out with an injury report this year. We’ve got all the guys are ready to participate the first day of practice, so we are excited about that."
AUGUST 5 –One week into training camp
Offensive line coach Joe Bugel on pass-protection: "Against our defense, we’re having some problems when our first-string goes against their first-string and it’s a blitz. It gets a little hairy."
SEPTEMBER 8 –Five days before opening day
QB Jason Campbell on his outlook in his season under Jim Zorn: "I think when you play in the system for more than a year, you grow. Not just in the sense of knowing plays and everything, but in the sense of taking your game to another level as far as leadership and being comfortable with everything around you."
C Casey Rabach on QB Jason Campbell and the offensive line: "As an offensive line, we try to make Jason’s job as easy as possible, so he can make the plays. If we’re doing our job, it’s going to make Jason’s job a whole lot easier and hopefully keep that criticism off him."
SEPTEMBER 13 –Redskins lose to the New York Giants in the season-opener
Jim Zorn on what he can discern one game into the season: "I can tell you that we have a very good football team. I was very impressed with some of the things that happened on the field."
SEPTEMBER 20 –Redskins narrowly escape with a 9-7 win over woeful St. Louis
CB DeAngelo Hall on the collective feeling inside in the locker room: "It is quiet because we won in such an ugly fashion. You don’t even really take pride in the win."
SEPTEMBER 28 –The day after the Detroit Lions ended a 19-game losing streak by beating Washington
Jim Zorn on if there’s a problem in the big picture: "I think that in the big picture things are progressing. We’re getting better."
RB Clinton Portis on his uneven production: "It’s only a matter of time before I have a 200-yard game. It’s only a matter of time before I have a 150-yard game. It’s only a matter of time before I get two or three touchdowns. I know it’s coming, but when?"
Defensive coordinator Greg Blache, a week before instituting a media boycott: "Quite candidly, in 2009, things go bad, somebody has got to go under the bus. Being the leader of this defense, I should be under the bus. I’ll dive under it. If somebody wants throw me, I’ll dive under. Going under the bus, you get your feelings hurt a little bit, and at worst you might end up with skid marks on both sides of your shorts."
OCTOBER 4 –Redskins come from behind to eke out a home win over hapless Tampa Bay
QB Jason Campbell: "At halftime, I was like, ‘If we don’t pull this one out, I don’t know what I’m going to do on Monday. I might just hibernate, and you might not see me for the rest of the week."
OCTOBER 6 –West Coast offense guru Sherm Lewis is hired as an offensive consultant
Executive VP of football operations Vinny Cerrato on hiring Lewis: "All we’re doing is adding a set of eyes."
Sherm Lewis on the perception that he could undermine Jim Zorn: "I’m not looking for anybody’s job. I thought it would be a nice challenge, and I thought I might be able to help."
Sherm Lewis on when he heard from the Redskins about joining the organization: "I had just gone to the gym yesterday and I was home having lunch and I was getting ready to go to the senior center for bingo. I don’t play it I call it."
OCTOBER 9 –News breaks of Clinton Portis’ heated confrontation with FB Mike Sellers. It stemmed from Portis’s attempt to have Sellers replaced in the Tampa Bay game.
Jim Zorn on the confrontation: "These guys love each other. This is just how a team goes. I thought it was great. There was no fisticuffs. There was no shoving or pushing."
OCTOBER 11 –Redskins blow a 17-2 second-half lead in a 20-17 loss at Carolina
DE Brian Orakpo at his locker room stall to no one in particular: "F&#$@*!"
CB Carlos Rogers on the Redskins’ problems: "There’s a lot of things we need to iron out. Until we address those issues and turn them around, we’re going to be the same going up and down. Not only does it start with the players and coaches, it starts with ownership. They bring everybody in and they’ve got the last say-so on everything."
OCTOBER 18 –Redskins fall to 2-4 after losing 14-6 at home to winless Kansas City
C Casey Rabach: "It’s like a nightmare. You [reporters] are coming with the same questions week after week, and I don’t know what the answer is. I’m out of answers."
Jim Zorn, immediately after the game, on whether he is questioning his abilities as a coach: "I question it because it hasn’t happened. But I don’t go in with less and less confidence that our game plan is right. I don’t go in with less confidence in calling plays. To have the things that go on during the game, some of the things that aren’t in my control, I’ve just got to keep moving on and keep helping our football team with the next call."
OCTOBER 19 –The morning after Vinny Cerrato stripped Jim Zorn of his play-calling duties in a late-night meeting. They were given to Sherm Lewis that morning
Jim Zorn: "My comfort level is somewhere between 1 and 10, it’s not at 10."
OCTOBER 23 –Vinny Cerrato quiets questions about Jim Zorn’s job security
Vinny Cerrato on ESPN980-AM: "Jim Zorn is the head coach of the Washington Redskins and will be for the rest of this season and hopefully into the future."
QB Jason Campbell’s reaction: "That should relieve a lot of tension and stress. We were the soap opera of the NFL for the last two weeks. Hopefully that calms down."
OCTOBER 27 –Redskins enter their bye week at 2-5 facing a lost season
Vinny Cerrato on whether he gave Jim Zorn a playoff-caliber roster: "Yes."
NOVEMBER 15 –Redskins upset Denver and end a 4-game losing streak
Jim Zorn: "We’ve had a desert experience–it has been very arid, if you will–for the last few weeks. To be able to come out with a win, you almost don’t know to feel."
DECEMBER 6 –Redskins lose in overtime to undefeated New Orleans, their third straight loss by a combined seven points
K Shaun Suisham, on the verge of tears, about the potential game-clinching 23-yard field goal that he pushed wide right: "The operation was perfect. I missed the kick. It’s about as difficult as it gets."
QB Jason Campbell: "It’s disappointing. It teaches you a lot about finishing."
DECEMBER 17 –Vinny Cerrato unexpectedly resigns and is replaced by general manager Bruce Allen within hours
Owner Daniel Snyder on the decision to replace Cerrato: "Obviously this has been a very difficult season, one where we have disappointed everyone-the fans, ourselves. It’s been difficult. When it gets to the point where you’re looking at what we need to do for the future, you look at change. And that’s what I decided to do."
RB Rock Cartwright on Cerrato: "It was kind of bittersweet. Vinny has been here my whole career, and there’s been times that he’s made decisions that a lot of people didn’t agree with. But he’s the head man, so you’ve got to do what he say to do. But I wish him the best, and hopefully I don’t see him down the road."
DECEMBER 21 –Redskins flop in a 45-12 loss to the New York Giants on Monday Night Football
DT Albert Haynesworth on how Redskins coaches are using him: "It’s totally different from what I thought. I looked at the film and thought it would be somewhat the same. They needed someone like me to go in there on the rush and open it up and get double teams and stuff, which we’re doing. But if they let us loose it would be a whole lot better."
"We’re all going in different directions. We need someone to lead us in the right direction."
Jim Zorn on whether he is seeking to know if secondary coach Jerry Gray interviewed for his job during the season: "I try not to be an investigative reporter. I try to be the head football coach and be open with our staff and players about the important things that are going on as they pertain to the game, as they pertain to our preparation and the strategies, the schemes, the health of our players. That’s really the focal point, and that’s what I’m called to do. Not go and try to figure out all the extras. And there are so many things out there, I don’t even know what’s true and what’s not."
Jim Zorn on his decision to use the swinging gate formation on a disastrous fake field goal against the Giants: "Had they not had a timeout, we probably would have fared better. Then they got it together. I wanted to try it again. I didn’t think they saw enough of it because they didn’t see the snap and what was actually going to happen. But they defended it very well. Looking back at it, I would have kicked the field goal."
Secondary coach Jerry Gray sidestepping questions about whether he interviewed for Jim Zorn’s job during the season: "The thing you’ve got to do is go to the source, let the source say yes or no, and then you go on."
DECEMBER 25 –Jim Zorn sends disgruntled DT Albert Haynesworth home from practice
Jim Zorn on his decision: "He wasn’t belligerent or nasty to me, and I wasn’t nasty to him. It’s just something that needed to be done."
DECEMBER 27 –Redskins suffer their second consecutive lopsided home defeat, this time to archrival Dallas
CB DeAngelo Hall on what Allen must be thinking after the two losses: "If you go off them last two games, man, we look like a college football team. If he had to go off those two games and evaluate this roster and determine what’s good money, what’s bad money, what’s going to go, what’s going to stay, it hasn’t been a great case made for nobody on this 53-man roster."
JANUARY 4 –Jim Zorn is fired before sunrise just hours after the Redskins complete at 4-12 season
Bruce Allen on the decision to fire Zorn: "We’re going to make sure that the status quo is gone."