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Doom and gloom from the Post

Sep 5, 2008, 8:27 PM EST

I expect the message board community and the postgame show callers to overreact after one season-opening loss. After the Washington Redskins’ loss to the New York Giants on Thursday, the knee-jerk brigade is led by the bench Campbell contingent and running close behind with torches lit and rope in hand are the fire Zorn mob, the Portis stinks gang, and the throng that wants to send the Redskins’ entire O-line on a one-way retirement cruise immediately.

What astounds me is how many sky-is-falling pieces we see in today’s papers. The pros are the ones who are supposed to bring some perspective to the situation.

Apparently the editors at the Washington Post believe otherwise.

Sally Jenkins believes that she can come up with “inescapable facts” about the Redskins after one game, 6.25% of the first season under a new head coach. The Skins will have to “claw mightily to be better than a .500 team”, says Jenkins, who reached this conclusion by halftime, or after 3.125% of the season.

Elsewhere in the Post, Les Carpenter had this reasoned analysis of the Skins’ first play. It was a sack, the Giants’ only one of the game, in fact.

Still it was a harbinger of the calamity to come, one in which the Redskins only had 11 first downs, 1 touchdown and 133 passing yards with an offense that was supposed to make everyone forget previous coach Joe Gibbs and his conservative, run-first game plans that had grown stale to many Redskins fans.

Did anyone really expect the offense to hum like a well-oiled machine on the road against the Super Bowl champs? It was a “calamity”? I’m no pro writer, but I would suggest to Mr. Carpenter that he save such words for actual calamities. In 2005, 36-0 in the Meadowlands was a calamity, at least in football terms. Last night, 16-7, even though the game wasn’t that close, was not cataclysmic.

And one game, 27 passes into Jason Campbell’s adaption to Jim Zorn’s offense, and into Zorn’s real-life experience as an NFL play caller, Jason LaCanfora found a guy who said that Campbell was doomed to fail. Quoting an NFL personnel executive (someone who, by the way, has a vested interest in seeing the Redskins fail):

When I watch that team, I think something’s going to have to give. Is it the scheme or the quarterback? At some point either the coach is going to have to change what he does to fit the quarterback, or they’re going to need a different quarterback. . . You can trace it all back to that, and if that doesn’t work then your team is in trouble. It could take four years to dig out of something like that. If the coach doesn’t have the right personnel to run his system, then you’re starting over again.

So we have a season’s that’s over, depending on which Post scribe you want to believe, after either the first game, their first half of that game or even the first play of that game.

I’d call that static analysis, but that gives it credit for being analysis.

Why do Jenkins, Carpenter, and LaCanfora have to rush to judgment? Are they afraid that the Redskins will be 1-8 and the Post will be out of ink and paper for them to blast Snyder, Cerrato, Zorn, Campbell, Justin Tryon and Durant Brooks then?

Don’t get me wrong, the Redskins and Zorn deserve all the criticism they are taking for what happened on Thursday night. They were tentative, they blew a boatload of opportunities, they were whipped on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and were thoroughly outclassed by a team that is very good, but not great.

But to think that things will stay this way, that Zorn won’t adjust, that Campbell won’t learn, that the quality of the opposition will stay the same, is lazy journalism at best.

Unfortunately, in these days of the Post-Redskins feud, it’s what I’ve come to expect.

  1. Anonymous - Sep 5, 2008 at 9:20 PM

    Rich,

    Dead on, The articles are so terrible the only thing worth a damn is the Redskin Insider and really that’s barley legit.

    Phil

  2. Skudge - Sep 5, 2008 at 9:40 PM

    The Washington Post embarrasses itself and diminishes its overall reputation with its shoddy, bitter Redskins coverage, and especially LaCanfora’s.

    I thought holding the Giants to 16 was remarkable, considering how the game began.

    If Campbell simply threw the ball beyond the first down marker on all the Skin’s long 3rd downs, that game would have been different. And if Zorn had called a slightly better game with better clock management, things could very possibly have been different.

    I think both are indicative of nerves, being out of rhythm, and not having a deep grasp of all the moving parts of the game. And that’s all to be expected given the new system, the new (very new) coach, and the enormity of the opening game, away, against the Super Bowl champs. If they settle down, practice up, and get some time in, it seems obvious that it’ll go more smoothly.

  3. Anonymous - Sep 5, 2008 at 10:12 PM

    rich

    i have no problem with the play of the defense who shut out the giants in the second half, and who made eli look like the eli of the first half of 2007. he actually threw 4 interceptions, but that is another story. and all this was accomplished with arguably the best defensive player (springs) smiling on the bench while his comrades were being beaten by the neighborhood bullies. they should have left him home because his demeanor was not fitting his position as elder statesman on the team.

    i have no problems with zorn’s growing pains as a head coach, because i can clearly remember joe gibbs growing pains in BOTH his tenures.

    on the other hand, i cannot get past the obvious lack of any significant progress of Jason Campbell as a starting QB. he has the same flaws he has shown for 4 years in the organization, and i dont care how many coordinators or systems he has been through. that excuse simply isnt good enough at this juncture. his flaws are his personal flaws and are not a result of the system he plays in. he locks onto his primary receiver, and if that is taken away from him he has great difficulty finding another.
    he takes too long to get the ball out of his hands and he has little trust in his receivers to make the disputed catch. he shows little pocket awareness and we dont even know whether he has learned to protect the ball better, because aside from the first play, he wasnt even sacked. he still throws underneath passes that have essentially zero chance of converting third down plays and keeping drives alive. more than any other single player, he was responsible for the sorry result of 7 offensive points last night.

    if zorn thinks that the fans are going to be tolerant of this kind of offensive output for 2 years, he is clueless. this is not a young, inexperienced team and with a steady effective qb, it is at least competitive for a playoff berth. with qb play like last night, this is a 5-11 or 6-10 team at best. he either needs to do something to get campbell settled into his offense, or he needs to pare it down to a level where campbell can be effective and focus on a power running attack. it took gibbs 5 games to figure that out. the clock is already starting to tick for both zorn and campbell. unfair or not, that is the way it is..

    shally

  4. LA Skins Fan - Sep 6, 2008 at 1:44 AM

    Anyone with half a football wit could predict a slow start for the Skins offense. Just look at the Charges last year with Norv’s new offense. Even with their talent, they got off to a slow start offensively, but turned it around by the end of the year. Not to say we will do that, but it will take 8 games b/f you can make any definitive conclusions about the offense and about JC. I agree that JC’s hesitancy is disconcerting, but this is his year. If he does not click in this offense, we will finish the year with Collins and be looking for a new qb next year. (We are not the only one in that boat either – See Minn). However, it is a long season and one cannot make any season long predictions (positive or negative) after one game (see Giants last year).

    LA Skins fan

  5. sdukes - Sep 6, 2008 at 8:25 AM

    I agree it is premature to panic. Good coaches adapt their systems to the players they inherit: Zorn is learning what his players can acutually do in real game conditions because this was his first real game with them. As I recall it took 5 games for Gibbs to become acclimated to his players and adapt his high powered passing game to what his Redskins were capable of actually doing.

    On the other hand… I completely agree with Shally. We havn’t had a quarterback here since Brad Johnson was run out of town. I wonder how many games Campbell has before Zorn runs out of patience

  6. Rich Tandler - Sep 6, 2008 at 10:10 AM

    Zorn’s comment about it taking 2-3 years for Campbell to learn his system has been misinterpreted. He certainly doesn’t expect 32+ games like we saw on Thursday. It may take that long for mastery. Competence, a level that will allow the Redskins to compete, is something that needs to come much sooner and Zorn knows that.

    Unlike you, shally, I will cut Campbell some slack while he’s learning a new system. I don’t care if it’s the first new one of his career (like, essentially, it is for Todd Collins) or his seventh in eight. New is new and it takes some real-life game action to adapt.

    Now, by the time the bye week rolls around, coach and quarterback need to have adapted to the level, like I said, of competence.

  7. Allen - Sep 6, 2008 at 10:49 AM

    I was impressed with how Zorn handled the interviews since the game. He actually takes the time to explain his thinking fully, especially when describing the last few drives of the night. Of course that doesn’t make how they used the clock any less painful, but it’s nice to at least appreciate the thought process he went through. As much as we all loved Joe Gibbs, his answers were always so vanilla, it was pretty much a waste of time to interview him. I like how Zorn approaches the game and I think he will ultimately be successful as head coach.

  8. Anonymous - Sep 6, 2008 at 9:25 PM

    adaption isn’t a word

  9. Rich Tandler - Sep 6, 2008 at 9:31 PM

    Yes it is.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/adaption

  10. LA Skins Fan - Sep 7, 2008 at 1:02 AM

    I also have no doubt that Zorn won’t take more than about half the season to figure out if JC is the right guy. Being an ex-qb and a stickler for details, he will be the first to figure out if JC is going to make it (or not).

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