Monday, December 28, 2009

"I want to punt."

... and ye shall be punted

Takeaway Drill:
Another primetime humiliation, a complete zero on offense and death by short play on defense; I would cancel the last game if I could to spare Jason Campbell further injury and LaRon Landry further embarrassment.

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Monday Walkthrough :: Soapbox :: Chattering Class :: Omnibus Spotlights :: Recaps and Stats

Monday Walkthrough: Say thank you Dallas fans, the Redskins got your team into the playoffs in their one hundredth meeting as the Redskins lay a complete goose egg in the final home game of the 2009 season, losing 17-0 to the Cowboys to drop the Redskins to 4-11. Jim Zorn literally gave up at the end, please put us out of our football misery.

Dallas kicked off to Washington to start the first quarter, the Redskins first possession shows some life, then on the fifth play, third and three in Redskins territory, Jason Campbell throws an off balance pass to Fred Davis, it tips off Fred's hand and is intercepted by Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman, Dallas ball. The Cowboys first possession starts with a short field, they go about 30 yards easily, on second and goal from the Washington four yard line Tony Romo moves in the pocket, avoids a sack and finds Roy Williams in the back of the end zone for a touchdown, Dallas takes an early 7-0 lead and it is looking like a replay of last week. Washington gets the ball for the second time, Jason Campbell goes right back to Fred Davis, Santana Moss commits an offensive pass interference, two plays later Jay Ratliff moves right around right guard Mike Williams for a sack and the Redskins are punting. Dallas' second drive starts with pressure on the quarterback, Phillip Daniels gets his first sack of the season, two plays later the Cowboys are punting on a three and out. The Redskins third possession starts on their own seven yard line after a penalty on the punt return, only a holding call on DeMarcus Ware preserves Washington's drive, Marcus Mason would see action, as would Malcolm Kelly, who would catch a ball short on third down and that is where the quarter would end with the Cowboys leading 7-0. [Quarterly summaries: Washington Post :: Washington Times :: ORB]

The Redskins punted to start the second quarter, Dallas gets the ball for the third time, LaRon Landry does not embarrass himself, on third and eight Jason Witten catches a pass for seven yards and the Cowboys are punting. Washington gets the ball for the fourth time, it starts with a throwback receiver screen to Santana Moss for 29 yards, nothing else doing on that drive and the Redskins are punting. The Cowboys get the ball for the fourth time, on first and ten in Dallas territory Tony Romo finds Jason Witten who beats LaRon Landry badly for 69 yards, on the next play Marion Barber goes in for the touchdown and the Cowboys are up 14-0. Washington gets the ball for the fifth time, an unoriginal three and out and the hometown fans are booing. The Cowboys fifth possession looks like it might be a three and out but Tony Romo dances in the pocket and finds Miles Austin for the first down, luckily the Cowboys succumb to the temptation to run a wildcat play which Chris Wilson sniffs out for a thirteen yard loss. On the next play Tony Romo tries to get it all back, Tony passes to Roy Williams, Carlos Rogers bumps Roy at the point of contact, the ball bounces off Roy's hand and is intercepted by Reed Doughty who gets up and returns the ball twelve yards, Redskins ball. Washington's sixth possession almost starts with a turnover on a Jason Campbell fumble, Jim Zorn wins the challenge and Washington retains possession, there is no downfield passing game and the Cowboys crowd the line, three plays later the Redskins are punting. Dallas gets the ball for the sixth time with less than two minutes left in the first half, they move slowly but steadily, Roy Williams has one bounce off his hands, the Cowboys scramble and get within field goal range but there is not enough time and the half expires with the Cowboys leading the Redskins 14-0. [Quarterly summaries: Washington Post :: Washington Times :: ORB]

Dallas gets the ball to start the third quarter, it is the Cowboys seventh possession, Dallas starts with great field position after a short kickoff and good return, Dallas moves 24 yards to the Washington 35 on six plays, on third and one Albert Haynesworth stops Marion Barber short, then on fourth down Albert was in on the fourth down stop of Marion again, Redskins ball on downs. Washington's seventh possession MY GOD IT IS ALIVE as the Redskins find an ability to block for Jason Campbell, Santana Moss and Malcolm Kelly are on it before cornerback Orlando Scandrick in unblocked on third and eight, he gets one of the highlight type blind back arching hits on Jason Campbell, Stephon Heyer is also down on that play, fourth down and the Redskins are punting. Dallas gets the ball for the eighth time, the Redskins almost hold the Cowboys to the three and out but do not as Tony Romo finds Jason Witten for fifteen on third and six, two plays later it is third and three, pow Tony Romo finds Miles Austin, it is still a festival of Dallas offense until fourth and inches five plays later, for the second time in this game the Washington defense stops Marion Barber on fourth down, Redskins ball. Washington's eighth possession starts with less than a minute left in the third quarter, Santana Moss catches one for seventeen yards, then a two yard Quinton Ganther run and that is the end of the third quarter with the Cowboys still leading 14-0. [Quarterly summaries: Washington Post :: Washington Times :: ORB]

The Redskins start the fourth quarter still in their eighth drive, two plays later, including an intentional grounding on Jason Campbell, the Redskins are punting. The Cowboys get the ball for the ninth time, it is a long long possession, covering nearly seven minutes, nearly half the fourth quarter, thirteen plays and only three third downs before former Cowboy, former Redskin and current Cowboy Shaun Suisham kicks a 3 yard field goal to put the Cowboys up by three scores, 17-0. Washington gets the ball for the ninth time, four straight passes, then two incompletes, then fourth and eleven and the Redskins DO NOT go for it, instead punting in a case of a condemned man choosing his own end. The Cowboys get the ball for the tenth time, it is all academic as Dallas moves twenty yards on five plays, there is no life left in this game, Dallas punts and one gets the sense they could have scored if they wanted. The Redskins get the ball for the tenth and final time, the Cowboys give up lots short and quick, in eight plays the Redskins only manage twenty yards, Jason Campbell's former Auburn University teammate Jay Ratliff scores his second sack of the game to put the Redskins out of field goal range, Jason Campbell's fourth down pass to Marko Mitchell is short and Washington turns the ball over on downs. Dallas gets a one play eleventh drive, a victory formation kneeldown and that is the game, Dallas shuts out Washington 17-0, and the Redskins fail to win a single NFC Beast division game in 2009. [Quarterly summaries: Washington Post :: Washington Times :: ORB]


Soapbox: I am resisting the urge to be darkly comical about this game, it was a complete embarrassment, do not let the score fool you, this game was as bad as last week's prime time home debacle against the Giants, last week the Redskins mustered some effort only when the game was no longer in question, tonight the game was never out of reach until the very end, and thus the team never could bring themselves to perform.

The offensive line was once again decimated by injuries and exposed for lack of talent, and perhaps poor coaching or an inability to adjust. The Cowboys threw all kinds of edge rushes and changed up their blitzers all night and there was little in the way of pass blocking in the backfield. That is one area in which the team misses Clinton Portis.

No running game to speak of, never more than two touchdowns down for three quarters and the best the Redskins could muster on the ground was thirty yards on fourteen carries; Jason Campbell had as many yards in four busted play scrambles as starting tailback Quinton Ganther had on all seven of his carries. There may be a place on this team for both Quinton and Marcus Mason though at this point no one that makes decisions is thinking about them.

Santana Moss finally got into the game, he had his most receptions with eight and most yards with 92 since game three at Detroit. Jason Campbell was a trooper, though as I wrote last week, he is declining with injury, his teammates are a million miles away in their minds and I do not doubt even Jason is having a hard time concentrating.

When the highlight of the game is back to back fourth down stops of Cowboys tailback Marion Barber, we know there is a problem, and it is with Wade Phillips' playcalling.

Of course the irony there is that the field position on those two fourth down plays would have set up 53 and 48 yard field goals respectively for former Redskins kicker Shaun Suisham. Coach Phillips wisely did not trust Shaun with those kicks.

And more hilarious than ironic is Shaun Suisham's fourth quarter field goal. Leading 14-0 with nearly eight minutes left in the game, Shaun lined up for a 23 yard field goal. The same distance as the field goal he missed in game twelve against the Saints. That cost Shaun his job here. From the same side of the field. And the same right side hashmark. And this time he made it.

But the real sad story of this game? The coach gave up. He packed it in, he said enough is enough, sayonara, bring on the axe.

Seriously, I am not kidding. With more than six minutes left in the game and trailing by seventeen points, Jason Campbell threw an incomplete pass on third and eleven from the Washington 40 yard line to Rock Cartwright, it being fourth down and all and the Redskins having no points, Al Michaels and everyone at neighbor Bill's where I watched the game said, and the Redskins will go for it on fourth down.

And then they did not. The camera cut to Jim Zorn saying very clearly into his headset, I want to punt. The camera cut back to a visibly disgusted Jason Campbell running off the field, Jason and coach Zorn had an animated discussion on the sideline, coach Zorn's postgame explanation of the decision was wholly unacceptable.

What it was was the final concession: We are done here.


Chattering Class: John Keim of the Washington Examiner reviews studs and duds, up with Santana Moss and HB Blades, down with LaRon Landry and pretty much everyone on the offensive line. Also, John does this for a living and see more and from better angles than I do, I thought Albert Haynesworth had a better game than did John. Maybe John is discounting Albert's performance against his big mouth, which pissed off London Fletcher by the way.

John also reviews what we learned this week, even if LaRon Landry moves to strong safety next season he will still be a liability against the pass, as we have learned the past three games since LaRon has moved to play closer to the line, points out that the tight end position on this team is producing consistent results, Fred Davis and Chris Cooley have nearly identical stats which I think makes Chris trade bait, he is perhaps the only player on the Redskins roster that could rate a first round pick, more on this in the offseason.

Rick Snider also at the Washington Examiner wishes good riddance to this awful decade of Redskins football and has an alarmingly long offseason wish list. Of note in that second piece is also a good summary of how the offseason changes if a new collective bargaining agreement is negotiated, or not.

David Elfin at the Washington Times grades the Redskins, nothing higher than a C and that was special teams. Dan Daly, also at the Washington Times wonders what good new actual general manager Bruce Allen could possibly take out of these past two games. And finally the Times' Mike Fratto writes that a bad combination of slow start on offense and defensive struggles doomed the Redskins last night. This is a column that sort of writes itself.

Rich Tandler at Comcast SportsNet thinks this game perfectly summarized this deadful 2009 season.

John Pappas at Warpath Confidential writes this Redskins team may be worse than they look and the best analogy to them may be the 2003 team, the awful second season with Steve Spurrier, see also my final comment in the Omnibus section.


Omnibus: Broadcasters: The Sunday night team of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, count me among the football fans that wanted to see Cris fall on his face in the footsteps of John Madden because I kind of think of Cris as a buffoon. Boy was I wrong, the guy is good and does his preparation.

Uniform watch: I cannot figure this team out, after going heavily with the burgundy jersey and white pants at home, what I think of as the road uniform, the team chooses tonight to go with the traditional home uniform of white jersey and burgundy pants… which of course allows the Cowboys to wear their preferred uniform of blue jerseys and white pants.

Saw a great promo for the New Year's Classic NHL game, this year at Boston Fenway Stadium, it is amusing and ironic that we cannot have a Super Bowl too far north because of the frozen weather, and cannot have an outdoor hockey game too far south because of the warmer weather and possible rain. I am not sure we could see a game at Redskins Stadium, simply because there is a fifty percent chance the weather is either warm and sunny or pissing cold rain.

Before the game we learned that because Carolina laid a smackdown on the New York Giants, if the Cowboys win tonight, they are in. Further, if they win tonight against the Redskins and beat the Eagles next week, the Cowboys win the NFC Beast division and host a playoff game. Let's play spoiler.

The Cowboys are without their special teams coach, Joe DiCamillo, he underwent an emergency appendectomy tonight. Youch.

One play into the game and Mike Sellers is already blowing assignments. Anthony Spencer stunted inside then went outside and tackled Quinton Ganther for a loss.

Jason Campbell's interception in the Redskins first possession was mainly due to poor blocking, Jason had to roll out and made a bad toss. Get him better protection and that does not happen.

During the Redskins second possession Al and Michael in the booth went into how Jason Campbell is in the middle of the NFL pack in most major NFL statistics, while some may think of that as quote average unquote, I think of it as a guy you can build on, you need better talent elsewhere.

Phillip Daniels' first sack of the season? Really? In the fifteenth game of the season?

Laying wood: London Fletcher just put a hurting on Dallas receiver Patrick Crayton in the Cowboys second possession, first quarter, a forearm to the neck slash facemask. It may have been an illegal hit.

Marcus Mason made his first appearance in the Redskins third possession, following the DeMarcus Ware penalty first down. Three straight runs. Later in that drive Jason Campbell would drop a good one in on Malcolm Kelly, Malcolm would get up for it but flail on the way to the ground and not get feet in.

DeAngelo Hall muffed his first punt return of the game, after Dallas' third possession, as Wilbert Montgomery would ask me via text message, what is up with all the butterfinger Hokies?

An oldie but a goodie: On first down in the Redskins fourth possession, second quarter, Jason Campbell went to Santana Moss in a play that was a staple of the Joe Gibbs II era, the receiver screen, Santana took it all the way back across the field for 29 yards.

LaRon Liability: On first and ten at the Dallas 38 in the Cowboys fourth possession, second quarter, Tony Romo found Jason Witten, he beat LaRon Landry badly in coverage, I mean badly, LaRon let Jason catch the ball then run with it, then LaRon fell trying to tackle Jason. Only Reed Doughty saved the touchdown, which happened on the next play because the Redskins defensive set had both safeties too far off the line. Chumps.

Unoriginal: The first two plays of the Redskins fifth possession, second quarter, were a trap screen to the tight end and a straight up receiver screen to Santana Moss, both of which had each been called exactly the same at least once previously in the game.

Will Montgomery went in at right guard for the Redskins fifth possession, second quarter, Mike Williams went out with a toe injury. Will was beaten immediately on third down in the Redskins fifth possession on a Rock Cartwright run. Poor.

In the Cowboys fifth possession, second quarter, after the thirteen yard loss on the wildcat play, Tony Romo tried to get it all back on one play, it was tipped to Reed Doughty who intercepted the pass and returned the ball twelve yards, Reed went down hard and was grabbing his ankle, it completely rolled under his body, I would expect we lose Reed for the rest of the night and final game of the season. That was Tony's first interception in the past 168 attempts. Reed paid the price for it.

Thirteen minutes into the second quarter and the Redskins appear to have no deep passing threat in this game.

Working titles for gamewrap: Lost All Division Games, Could I Get A Deep Threat One Time?, For Witten They Got Nuttin, I Want To Punt

Interesting stat: This is the second time kicker Shaun Suisham has played for the Cowboys and Redskins in the same season, the other being in 2006, and he went the opposite direction, from Dallas to Washington.

Anyone else sick of Bob Costas' relentlessly holier than thou halftime diatribes?

Coming to play: Albert Haynesworth was crucial on both short yardage stops in the Cowboys seventh possession, third quarter.

Ditched the banana yellow vest: Third quarter shot of the Redskins owner's box, Dan Snyder with former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan behind him eating something out of a plastic container.

Literal and figurative black eyes: After giving us a couple of camera angles in the second half spotlighting Jason Campbell's black eye suffered last week against the Giants, on third down we see Jason Campbell creamed with a back arching hit by Orlando Scandrick, Jason was very slow to get up.

LaRon finally got one: To start the Cowboys ninth drive, LaRon Landry put a helmet on Felix Jones, the type of hit LaRon goes for and misses so many times.

Who's who: Two more fourth quarter owner's box shots, both principally featuring Dan Snyder talking to Bruce Allen. In the first shot, ABC's Sam Donaldson, in the second, Alan Greenspan again, this time with his wife, NBC journalist Andrea Mitchell.

Revealed: During the Cowboys ninth possession, fourth quarter, NBC's Andrea Kremer confirmed one thing we knew and one thing we suspected: Jerry Gray interviewed for the head coaching job, which we all knew but had been denied, then no commented, and Redskins director of player personnel Morocco Brown interviewed for the general manager position, both Jerry and Morocco are black, Dan Snyder called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who then called the head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance who said even though the head coaching job was not yet open that Jerry's interview satisfies the Rooney Rule for the 2010 offseason. There are two serious tidbits of news in this reveal.

Pathetic irony: Shaun Suisham's first field goal, to end the Cowboys ninth drive, fourth quarter, in Redskins Stadium was 23 yards to put the Cowboys up 17-0. The missed kick that sealed Shaun's fate in Washington was a 23 yard miss in game XX against the Saints that would have put the Redskins up by two scores with less than two minutes left in regulation. I am pretty sure these two kicks were into the same end zone.

Hurrying the end: After the Redskins ninth possession, fourth quarter, Jason Campbell missed Rock Cartwright on fourth and eleven, Al Michaels rightly said the Redskins would line up to go for it on fourth down, the sideline camera then caught head coach Jim Zorn saying into his headset, I want to punt. And that was his fate.

Awsum statistic: Third lowest scoring team in the decade at 18.2 points per game.

Again with the awful slide, Jason that play needs some work.

Predictive stat: Steve Spurrier finished two seasons at 12-20 before quitting under pressure, leaving fifteen million dollars on the table. Jim Zorn is now 12-19 with one game to go. We are back in 2003. I will no doubt make this analogy again and again after coach Zorn is gone.


Shooter: Quarterback Jason Campbell stood in there again, and got his clock cleaned again. It was pretty clear all night that he had no blocking, judging from the hits and sacks, of which there were only three, but more importantly how short Jason's attempts were. He completed 24 passes for 199 yards, that is less than nine yards per completion, the Redskins had only one play longer than 20 yards, a pass to Santana Moss. Jason's first quarter interception was a bad throw to Fred Davis, who still looks bad by tipping another incomplete into an interception, though Jason would not have made that bad throw if he had not been forced to move out of the pocket because of poor blocking. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick had a highlight reel blindside back arching sack of Jason (op. cit.), Orlando came unblocked right past left tackle Levi Jones, there was no one in the backfield to pick up the rusher.

Fat Contract Albert: After a week of controversy in which defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth said publicly the team has no leadership then was late and got booted from practice then went into much greater detail about how he cannot work with these coached next year then had to defend himself against allegations that he was trying to organize players for a practice walkout in protest of... the practice schedule? Yes after all that Albert was back in the starting lineup and made his presence known, he was disruptive along the defensive line, culminating in Albert coming up big on back to back running plays in the third quarter, the second one being the first fourth down stop of Marion Barber. After that though Albert pretty much disappeared.

OH CRAPPO: Prized rookie hybrid defensive endbacker Brian Orakpo was not much of factor tonight, the Redskins were unable to get a sustained pass rush on Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, the only sack of the night was by Phillip Daniels, oddly enough his first of the season, and Brian's name appears in the play by play only on passing downs.


Washington Post recap, photo gallery. NFL recap, box score, full play by play, Gamebook (PDF), photos, video highlights.

Other recaps: Mark Newgent at Redskins Examiner; Kevin Ewoldt at Hogs Haven; Marion's Crackpipe at DC Landing Strip.

Next up, the Redskins travel across the country for the last gasp of the 2009 season against the San Diego Chargers, a team that has already clinched second seed in the AFC playoffs and have nothing more to play for, except maybe an easy win over a barely there Redskins team.

Jim Zorn leaving Redskins Stadium for the last time as head coach: AP Photo from here. Chargers head coach Norval Turner: Reuters Pictures from here.