Sunday, January 03, 2010

Game 16: Redskins (4-11) at Chargers (12-3)


Out of the box: The fat lady is soundchecking as the Redskins head out to California for the last hip hip hooray, 4:15pm ET on FOX, 2009 is history after this game, a meaningless affair except to a dedicated few.

Quick jump to

The Story So Far :: Curly R Aside :: Oppo Research :: Trainer's Table Gameplan :: My Take in 60 Words or Less :: Preview Generalia


The Story So Far: This is it. Game over for 2009, the Redskins are battered team dragging lame duck coaches across the country for a meaningless game to end a forgettable season, Michael Richman, author of Redskins Encyclopedia and one of the guys I respect the most in the pantheon of Redskinsland, thinks this is the worst Redskins season in fifty years.

I generally agree, though the awfulness of this season had little to do with the win loss record. Redskins fans have struggled through awful seasons in recent memory, in 2006 as Joe Gibbs was struggling to a 5-11 record, no one was calling for him to be fired, and even in the 3-13 1994 season fans were disappointed but still looking forward to the emergence of sure to be superstar quarterback Heath Shuler.

Where Michael is correct, where this season really went off the rails is in how poorly adversity was handled. The team promised great results, then faltered, then began to eat itself. The losses were simply a by product of all that led to this season.

But that is a story for the 2009 Season in Review to be written in the offseason.

The week started with London Fletcher doing his best Susan Lucci as he awaited word on whether he would make the 2009 Pro Bowl (ibid.), alas he did not though teammate rookie hybrid defensive endbacker Brian Orakpo did, the only rookie to do so for the NFC. I am very happy for Brian, I still think a tackle like Michael Oher or Phil Loadholt would have been better for the team, we cannot unmake the Brian Orakpo pick so let us go with it and see him become another DeMarcus Ware or Michael Strahan. As for London, this is getting ridiculous with him not making the Pro Bowl and I feel bad for him getting stuck on such a bad team while still performing personally so well, for the record I think London's public concern that his lack of post tackle celebratin means he does not draw enough attention to himself is nuts. London is an alternate and can still make the Pro Bowl if Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma is playing in the Super Bowl (op. cit.), London maybe the first player ever to make the Hall of Fame without going to a single Pro Bowl. Actually I have no idea if there is a player that already did that.

There was a strange series of events that began in the immediate aftermath of the Dallas game fifteen shutout, with quarterback Jason Campbell admitting to Comcast SportsNet's Kelli Johnson that Jason felt he had been hit so many time this season that it was quote not even fair unquote. In the latest sign that this team is rudderless and it is every man for himself as the ship sinks, Jason's head coach, Jim Zorn, who still says he wants to return as head coach next season, offered no comfort (op. cit.), then as if to pile on, refrained from calling Jason a franchise type quarterback (op. cit.).

Rick Maese at Redskins Insider speculated that this was possibly a result of Jim Zorn remembering how many times he was hit, toss in a bit of the old when I was a player we had it rough attitude there you have it. I think it is really because Jim Zorn has become bitter on the inside if not the outside, very much like Vinny Cerrato blamed Jim Zorn for making him look bad, Jim Zorn blames Jason Campbell for the same.

No on can disagree Jason Campbell has not been tough as hell this season, he has stood in there and taken the hits and still managed to improve this season despite no receivers and a terrible and revolving door offensive line. When asked directly on a radio show on Tuesday whether he wanted to come back with the Redskins in 2010, Jason was evasive and did not answer (op. cit.).

I would like to remind Redskins fans that Jason Campbell, playing with little in the way of a receiving corps and a bullshit offensive line, set career highs in passing yards, touchdown passes and passer rating. Jason may not be Peyton Manning, new actual general manager Bruce Allen should take a hard look at the numbers before he tosses Jason in the offseason. Coach Zorn change in attitude toward his quarterback is another thing not to like about him here at the end.

Hands down though the craziest story of the week was how the Redskins have managed to pre comply with the Rooney Rule on minority candidate interviews, the head coach position is not actually open yet but at some point since late October both defensive coordinator Greg Blache and secondary coach Jerry Gray interviewed for the Redskins head coach position. The story is somewhat complex with subplots about plausible deniability and also involves a pre emptive interview by director of professional personnel Morocco Brown for the not yet vacant general manager position that ultimately went to white guy Bruce Allen, here is everything you need to know: Jerry Gray has almost certainly killed his career and Dan Snyder has managed to mock and kill the Rooney Rule.

Is it the end of the line for Redskins offensive line coach Joe Bugel? He has been coaching in the NFL for 32 years, including fifteen over two stints with the Redskins, rumors around Redskins Park have coach Bugel retiring after today's game. I will be sad to see Joe Bugel go, sadly the game has passed him by and he has lost his ability to coach objectively, he had scraps to work with this season and he could not tell the difference from New York strip.

At this point I am ready for the end and most definitely ready for Jim Zorn to go.


Curly R Aside: I quite sympathize with lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery, by virtue of his fanny being in Fredericksburg Virginia he will not be able to see his beloved Eagles play the Dallas Cowboys in what amounts to a one game playoff, although both teams are in, the winner of this game wins the NFC Beast division title and will host a playoff game. The loser must play all games on the road. Yes that is going to be a real football game and yes I wish I could watch it and I will tomorrow on NFL Game Rewind, the football gods have condemned us to Redskins football, the fans and everyone in the geographical area, we are all going down with the ship.


Oppo Research: The most significant thing about the Chargers as a team is that they have secured second seed in the 2009 NFL playoffs and have nothing to play for. Chargers and former Redskins head coach Norval Turner, who looks a little better in hindsight every year, has said that the team would prepare just as if the season was on the line. That said, expect San Diego will only play starters for a quarter, or even just a drive or two.

The most significant thing not about the Chargers as a team is that Norval Turner has been there with Dan Snyder and survived getting fired. Today's game and its expected aftermath with Jim Zorn getting fired represents a certain historical symmetry. Norval was fired in the middle of his second season under Dan Snyder, it was somewhat unexpected if not unwarranted, the team was 7-5 and still in playoff contention, after an ugly loss to the Giants Norval was fired after sitting in his Redskins Stadium office for two hours while Dan and Pepper Rodgers debated his fate.

Jim Zorn's fate will be the opposite, a long slog to the bottom of the FAIL bucket with the owner reserving judgment until the formal end of the season when the decision was actually made months ago.


Trainer's Table: The parade of injuries resumed this week, former 400 pound man and right guard Mike Williams tore a foot muscle in his toes, he was not going to play anyway so the team went ahead and placed him on injured reserve so they could bring in a couple of players to look at (ibid.). There was something they called a competition between Will Montgomery, Edwin Williams and former Eagles practice squadder Paul Fanaika for the starting right guard spot (ibid.), ultimately the team shrugged and said, Edwin what the hell you are in there (ibid.).

The same went for safety Reed Doughty, he suffered what looked like a gruesome ankle break, was actually a high ankle sprain (op. it.), Reed was going to try and fight through but it was hopeless, he was also placed on injured reserve Wednesday along with Mike Williams (ibid.).

LaRon Landry suffered a quote mild unquote concussion on Wednesday in practice (ibid.), at first it looked like nothing but it would up keeping him out of this game, frankly I think he benched, this is a meaningless game, the team knows what LaRon brings and what he does not, and wants to see what else they can do, with safeties Reed and Chris Horton both on injured reserve Kareem Moore and cornerback Fred Smoot will start at safety with undrafted rookie Lendy Holmes the third man in (op. cit.).

Receiver slash kick returner Devin Thomas, who missed his first game of the season last week, struggled to get back from an ankle sprain (ibid.), he did not practice Wednesday (ibid.) and did not make the trip to San Diego (ibid.). Last week with Devin out quarterback Jason Campbell tried to find fellow second year man Malcolm Kelly, there was nothing doing and Santana Moss was essentially the Redskins passing attack. I am not sure Malcolm Kelly can get open.

Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, still bothered by a hip injury, did not practice when the team hit the field Wednesday (ibid.).

Right tackle Stephon Heyer strained the patellar tendon in his right knee (ibid.), which is not the knee that has been bothering him all season, he was trying to play through it,


Gameplan: The Chargers have nothing to play for, win or lose their playoff seeding cannot change. For at least thirteen of the past fifteen games the Redskins could really have used the opponent to sit their starter and play the second and third teams. Finally, the Redskins get a break.


My Take in 60 Words or Less: Many of you will not be here next season. We will. Go to your football deaths with honor.


Washington Post interactive gameday, keys to the game, key matchups, Redskins roster. Broadcast coverage, jesus look at how small that is.

Other previews:

This is it for the 2009 Washington Redskins, sit yourself down and watch it, for better or worse, come high drama or disappointment in the 2010 offseason there will be no more Redskins football until August.

This is a gameday open thread.

NFL helmet logos from here.