Well, it's Dallas Week. It really doesn't have the same luster as years past because the Redskins are so -- shall we say bad? How about horrendous? -- horrendous this season. But that said, wouldn't it be great to pull one out in the smokin' hot new stadium down in Big D? Indeed it would. NBC4's Lindsay Czarniak and the Washington Times' Ryan O'Halloran break down last week's win and this week's game against them Cowboys...
1. The Redskins broke their four-game losing streak by beating Denver. What was the most surprising aspect of the victory?
Ryan: Just the complete-ness (to make a up a word) of the win. Offense gained nearly 400 yards. Defense held up after giving up two big pass plays. Special teams scored a touchdown. But it was more than surprising – think stunning – to see how the offensive line played. I fully expected Jason Campbell to a.) run for his life, b.) get hurt or c) both behind the latest line combination, but they held up. The Redskins actually looked like a functional offense although they have yet to reach 30 points in Jim Zorn’s tenure.
Lindsay: The “unbreakability” (my made up word) of the offensive line. I couldn’t believe that the Redskins were able to sustain that kind of protection with yet another personnel swap on the o-line and I was surprised that Betts and Cartwright were able to have so much success. I found it interesting that players talked about the chemistry that is easy to develop when there is more practice time with players ie: Betts. I think it was huge, too, considering they’ve got the Cowboys this week.
2. Carlos Rogers lasted four plays before he was benched for the remainder of the game, replaced by Justin Tryon and Fred Smoot. Is this a minor blip on the radar or a major development?
Ryan: It’s time for Rogers to start calling realtors and secure a “FOR SALE” sign. And he knows it. Rogers’ contract is up after the season, so his latest benching is a major development. When they re-signed DeAngelo Hall for such big money last off-season, it became clear Rogers wasn’t in the Redskins’ future plans. Rogers hasn’t popped off just yet, but I could tell after the game he was peeved. But here are the facts -- he’s been beaten on double moves twice in the last three games.
Lindsay: It was the minor blip made in hopes of avoiding the major development. Carlos has made mistakes that were adding up and this is one that cost the team, so when the move was made to send a message and give the team a spark, I think in a way it was also made to save his confidence. I don’t think he needs to get a realtor because I don’t think he’s out of the Redskins future plans – I think he’s got to show more commitment, but I also think if he doesn’t get a better deal in his eyes, he will be back with the burgundy and gold.
3. Ladell Betts got his first start in nearly three years and helped the Redskins produce a season-high 174 yards rushing. When Clinton Portis returns from a concussion, how should the carries be divided and does Portis return in 2010?
Ryan: This is a “what should happen/what will happen situation” because of Portis’ stature with ownership. What should happen – Portis and Betts should either split the workload 50-50 or Betts, if he continues to produce, should be the starter. He gives them the Redskins the best chance to win. What will happen – Portis will come back and return to his role as a starter (Z Man said as much on Monday). Portis is clearly on the decline but he’ll be back in 2010 if there’s a salary cap. And that doesn’t mean I think Betts is the long-term answer either. It’s time to start looking forward by using a second-round pick on a back.
Lindsay: I think the Redskins should split the carries if Portis comes back. I would like to say Betts should start as long as he continues to play to this level (look at when he rattled off five 100-yard games in a row starting for the injured Portis in 2006). If Portis comes back, I expect it to be for the last five games of the season and I will not be surprised, despite the hit, if he is not with the team next year.
4. Even with the win over Denver, this season is still over and there’s a long way to go. What are you guys looking at over the final seven weeks?
Ryan: First off, whether we can find enough fresh topics to debate without shifting gears to the Capitals, Wizards or, gulp, college football, will be the biggest challenge. The Groundhog Day aspect of this season hasn’t really changed. That said, I’ll be tracking Zorn’s involvement – at times, he looks bored on the sideline since he doesn’t call the plays anymore. On the field, it’s Audition Time for the offensive line because the Redskins can’t fill every open spot. Is Levi Jones the 2010 left tackle? Is Chad Rinehart the right guard? With only five draft picks, management has to likely choose one offensive line spot to find a ready-now starter.
Lindsay: I still want to see how this team responds “character-wise” and I’m not going to fully hang up the hope that until they lose one more game (which statistically, will likely come this week or next). As we look down the line, I’m going to look for how the offensive line stacks up and I think we will have plenty to talk about if, for some reason, the team goes on a losing streak, because I don’t think team management would be scared to make a coaching change with only a few games left in the season.
5. The Redskins make their first visit to Cowboys Stadium Sunday. Both of you will be in Big D – do the Redskins make it two in a row in Dallas?
Ryan: I can’t wait to see the new stadium and hope The Danny walks around thinking, “Wow, this place is great. My stadium really is a dump.” The Redskins should like several matchups, chiefly their pass rush against a Dallas offensive line that will have a new right tackle and has a left tackle (Flozell Adams) that was victimized against Green Bay. The Redskins would have a better chance had Dallas blown out Green Bay and returned home with their collective chest puffed out. The Cowboys need this one to stay atop the NFC East and they’ll play like it. The point-spread is too big (12 points) but Dallas wins 27-20.
Lindsay: Ryan performs every Wednesday night at the DC Improv -- great point – I was laughing out loud at that one. Here’s my thinking – once again, the Redskins were blessed with a little more opportunity here because of right tackle Marc Columbo being out with an injury. I’m not saying that’s it, but if the Redskins defense can confuse Tony Romo like Green Bay did, a chance is there. It's going to be very important for the Redskins to be ready for a punishing defense, so I want to watch the line closely. I am very superstitious so I am going to pick as I did last week thinking the opposite may take place by choosing against. And if it works, I’m going to Vegas. Cowboys hold them down 20-13.