Monday, September 24, 2007

The State of the Redskins

Yesterday's 24-17 loss to the New York Giants was the perfect example of what has been wrong with the Washington Redskins ever since Joe Gibbs returned to the team in 2004.

  • Halftime Adjustments - During his first reign as the Head Coach of the Redskins, Gibbs was known for his excellent halftime adjustments and his team was always better in the second half of games. Since his return to Washington, that has not been the case. Yesterday's game was just another example of this, as Gibbs was thoroughly out-coached by Tom Coughlin in the second half. Les Carpenter from the Washington Post described exactly what happened, "the New York coaches figured out what the Redskins were doing during halftime -- both on offense and defense, which had been equally as dominating -- and then came up with a quick solution to stop it. He would not be specific as to what those adjustments were. Only that they had been made. And he seemed to note, with about as much of a smile as the often irascible Coughlin could muster, many of them had worked."
  • Confusion - Once again when the game was on the line, the Redskins coaches seemed confused and indecisive about what to do. And in response, the Redskins players played confused. Take the games final moments as an example. The Redskins failed to convert on 3rd and goal from the Giants 1 yard line, as Ladell Betts was stopped short on a sweep play to the left side of the line. After that play, the clock was moving and the Redskins players were looking around trying to decide what to do. They hurried to the line and, having not called a play at the line, everybody in the stadium knew that they were going to run the same play. They did, and Ladell Betts was stopped once again. There were a couple things that were particularly disturbing about this last series at the Giants goal-line.
      • The Redskins ran the last play with 20 seconds still remaining in the game. They had plenty of time to call another play and confidently come to the line.
      • Clinton Portis was on the sidelines when the game was on the line. Gibbs has praised Portis for his ability to lead the Redskins power rushing attack, yet when the team needed one yard to tie the game, Portis wasn't even on the field. What was the reasoning behind that?
      • Coming into the season the Redskins re-signed tight end Chris Cooley to a new 6-year $30 million dollar contract with a $14 million signing bonus. Yet with the game on the line, the team failed to run a play designed to get him the ball. How it is that the 'Skins did not utilize their best weapon in the red zone is just puzzling.
  • Personnel - Besides Chris Cooley, the team has no receiving threats in the red zone because all of their receivers fail to stand higher than 5'11". In a goal-line offense you need to have a receiver that stands 6'3" to 6'5" tall with leaping ability in order to be able to throw a fade pass. When was the last time this team has had a player like this? Can we say Darnerien McCants anybody? He was a stud at catching touchdown passes during his stint in Washington for this very reason. Of course this gets back into the argument as to why this team will never succeed until it hires a general manager. Let's face it, head coaches can not be trusted to perform this role because of the nature of the business. It is the job as a head coach to do everything in his power to win and win now. While at the same time it is the general managers job to acquire personnel that will assure that the team has long term success. These two jobs almost directly conflict with each other. That is why a team will always struggle when they try to fill these positions with the same person.
  • Optimism - Despite all of the problems with this team listed above, they are still 2-1 and after their bye next week, they'll have home games against Detroit and Arizona sandwiched around a road game in Green Bay. Wins at home over these traditionally weak teams would give the 'Skins at least 4 wins if not 5 before going into a road game at New England.
So in the end, the fact that the Redskins lost a game yesterday that they were in complete control of is not that important. What is important is how the team adjusts in order to right the ship and stay on pace in the NFC East with the 3-0 Dallas Cowboys.

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