As painful as it may be to play (and to watch), the Redskins' season will continue. There is no mercy rule in football. NBC4's Lindsay Czarniak and the Washington Times' Ryan O'Halloran break down the first half of the season and look ahead to Sunday's game against Denver.
1. It was another week, another loss for the Redskins, who fell to Atlanta for their seventh straight road defeat and 12th in the last 16 games. What can be gleaned from the awful first half, and did the second half provide any positive vibes?
Lindsay: I think the offensive line showed that when they really commit to playing at a high level they can at least be better than the miserable first half they put together. In the end, I still think the Redskins main issue is a lack of depth on the line, and there is just nothing they can do about that now. But at least they didn’t continue the embarrassment. The only real positive vibe is that the team finally played with a little urgency -- even if it was too little, too late.
Ryan: Nothing positive can be taken from that game. Period. The first half was one of the more pathetic displays of football I’ve seen recently, and the fact that Jim Zorn said it took Joe Bugel getting in the grill of a couple linemen to trigger a better performance is a sad commentary. Regardless of a “comeback,” Atlanta knew that if it had to score again, it could – and it did – to make it 31-17.
2. It’s halftime in the Redskins season. Offensive awards – A.) MVP, B.) biggest disappointment, C.) biggest surprise; D.) second half prediction?
Lindsay: A.) Santana Moss. If he were not a part of the receiving corps, the Redskins would have no passing game. I was going to say Chris Cooley, but since he is no longer playing, it seems cruel. B.) biggest disappointment – Malcolm Kelly. What happened? I know he can be a dominant player but injuries have set him back; C.) Todd Yoder’s hair (the Mohawk that he now will not shave because he scored a touchdown); D.) The Redskins go 2-6 and finish the season 4-12. I predict Cooley does NOT come back and that Fred Davis gets three more touchdowns.
Ryan: A.) Shaun Suisham. Obviously by default. He hasn’t missed a field goal and he produced all nine points in one of the Redskins’ two wins (St. Louis); B.) I agree on Kelly, but let’s go with left guard Derrick Dockery. Does anybody really think Pete Kendall wouldn’t be better? Of course not; C.) Clinton Portis’ ineffectiveness. Not only has the tread come off his tires, it’s like he’s running on the rims and now he’s likely out this week with a concussion. His six-year run as the alpha back may be ending; D.) The Redskins go 1-7 to finish 3-13, but the offense breaks 20 points at least twice.
3. Now on to the defense. A.) MVP, B.) biggest disappointment, C.) biggest surprise; D.) second half prediction?
Lindsay: A.) London Fletcher. He is always consistent and the player that makes the biggest difference both on the field and in the locker room (which with this group is critical); B.) This is a tough one. I’m doing a collective group – cornerbacks. The Redskins need more turnovers; C.)That secondary coach Jerry Gray isn’t the head coach by now. D.) The Redskins get six turnovers the rest of the way and that LaRon Landry moves back to strong safety and that makes a marked difference.
Ryan: A.) Agree on Fletcher but to mention another player, I’ll go with Andre Carter. He has 6.5 sacks and is consistent against the run. B.) Landry. I’ve been hammering him all season but facts are facts – the former first-round pick has two interceptions in 40 regular season games. It’s time for Greg “Doesn’t Take Questions” Blache to devise a way to put Landry in better position to make plays; C.) Brian Orakpo. I thought there would be more of a learning curve but Orakpo has 5.5 sacks and hasn’t looked too lost in coverage. D.) The Redskins’ defense finishes in the 12-15 range in yards allowed (they’re currently sixth). The upcoming opponents have strong offenses.
4. The offensive line continues to be re-shuffled. The Redskins have allowed 28 sacks. Is the team record of 61 (1998) in jeopardy?
Lindsay: I hope Jason Campbell puts on ear muffs, but I’m going with “Yes.” I don’t care how prepared Levi Jones is to start at left tackle. It is incredibly unlikely that the line will have the time to gel together as it needs. If Jason Campbell got sacked on a three-step drop last week, look out.
Ryan: I hope Jason Campbell listens to Lindsay just so he has one last warning. He’s going to be hammered a lot over the final half of the season because teams are going to be constantly testing the always-in-flux offensive line with stunts and twists and blitzes. Sixty-one sacks is a ton, so I’ll say the Redskins come up short and allow “only” 53.
5. The Redskins host Denver before traveling for consecutive road games in Dallas and Philadelphia. Do the Redskins break their four-game losing streak or does the misery continue?
Lindsay: The Redskins best chance for a win is this Sunday against the Broncos. However, it will be an uphill battle. Can they do it? Defense will have to win this game if the answer is yes. I just have to think that the biggest weakness is going to be the offensive line. If Jason Campbell can stay upright – I don’t care if you have Joe Montana in there, it’s getting dangerous. Broncos 23-17.
Ryan: The Broncos are a desperate team because they have lost two straight after starting 6-0 and San Diego is only a game behind them in the AFC West. Campbell should be motivated to win because Broncos coach Josh McDaniels basically chose Kyle Orton over Campbell during the Jay Cutler Saga. That said, the Broncos have a strong defense with old friend Mike Nolan. Denver jumps out early and hands the Redskins their fifth straight loss. Broncos 34-24.
BONUS: Let’s talk about some winners. The NASCAR season has two races remaining and Jimmie Johnson’s lead has shrunk to 73 points over teammate Mark Martin. Who ends up winning the championship?
Lindsay: Jimmie Johnson is the Tiger Woods of NASCAR, but Mark Martin is my sentimental pick to win. I sat in the garage with Martin this year and he told me how he never thought he’d be doing this; be back driving for Rick Hendrick with a true shot at a championship. There is no one who deserves it more than him, and if the way he treats his crewmembers had anything to do with it, he’d already have the championship.
Ryan: Johnson will hang on for the very reason Lindsay mentioned – he’s the Tiger of NASCAR. Nothing motivates Woods like a missed cut or failed comeback, which was what Johnson experienced last week in Texas when he was wiped out early and finished 38th. The 48 team is guaranteed to bounce back with two good efforts. The key for Johnson is qualifying well and staying away from less-experienced drivers who are more crash-prone.