Sunday’s game against the Rams proved one thing—the Skins are back. This is exactly the kind of bumbling, shoulder-shrugging, excuse-making team that has tormented its fans for the last eight years.
Once again, the underdogs come out smelling like roses. Once again, opposing teams break old records and set a few new ones. Once again, the team and its coaches do not respond in any viable way after the fact.
Granted, there were some stellar moments. McNabb’s 26-yard run was a crowd hit, as were Karem Moore’s interception, Devin Thomas’ run backs, and Moss’s spectacular catches. But they were too few and too far between.
I think we all agree that what happened on Sunday was unacceptable. Unfortunately, nobody seems to know what to do about it. I’m not going to pretend that my opinion will get noticed by anyone in the front office, but I’m going to put it out there anyway.
From one lifelong fan to the team she loves—here are the five things the Redskins need to improve if they want to get back to a .500 season.
1) Focus. Perhaps the most sickening moment of the game for me (and this is truly a tough call) was when DeAngelo Hall slipped and fell without being touched and without getting anywhere close to the receiver.
In recent interviews, Haynesworth claims the team didn’t prepare, Fletcher sounds uncertain about how many points the Rams actually scored, and Portis suggests that the team wasn’t familiar with all the Rams’ personnel.
After the heartbreaking loss to the Texans, preparation should have been much more strenuous. And absolute mental focus is a MUST both before the game and during it, the entire four quarters, whether you’re in the game or not (Portis).
2) Tackle. Everyone has commented on Kareem Moore’s missed tackles from Sunday. But he’s not the only one. Part of the problem is that every player has his eye on the marquee instead of on his assignment. Both our defense and our offense need to get their opponents on the ground and out of the mix.
Hopefully, the Skins were watching MNF. The Bears’ D-line showed everybody how you wrap a guy up. And the Packers were a negative example on how to avoid penalties.
3) Run. More controversy among the players is the last thing this team needs right now. Off-season deals have proven that we don’t have a better option than Portis. Make him the definitive starter and get that chip off his back. His teammates have confidence him. The coach (DC code for owner) needs to share it. Torain looks like a good backup, but don’t make the mistake of trying to train up a new guy in the middle of the season, again! Speaking of which…
4) …get consistent. Haynesworth or Kemoeatu? Portis or Torain? Landry, Doughty, and / or Moore? Pick a roster and develop it. When Portis sits on the sidelines with his baseball cap on and his knees crossed, when Portis later says that he did what they told him to do, that doesn’t sound like the Portis we know and love, the Portis who does what needs to be done without being asked, as many times as it takes.
Yeah, Stephon Heyer makes false starts. So did Chris Samuels—he was good for at least 5 yards per game. But if Heyer were playing regularly, I don’t think we’d see those types of errors. He’s a good player who can be consistent when he’s given the chance.
Speaking of Heyer, let’s talk about injuries. They happen: witness the Rams, who lost four key players, including their running back, Steven Jackson and their two safeties. But like the Rams, we need contingency game plans, we need backups to FOCUS (see #1), and we to pay more attention to training and conditioning throughout the week.
5) Develop the Red Zone. The Redskins scored one touchdown in the entire game, from 21 yards out (thanks Moss!). We were in the red zone three times and were not able to convert that position once. Sound familiar? Like in the home opener last year against the Rams when we were only able to score three field goals and Campbell was forced to take a knee on the five yard line in the fourth quarter rather than risk turning over the ball.