You'd think rock bottom would be a feeling you would just know and recognize. I thought we were there. I was wrong. Being at rock bottom means you can only go UP from here. Losing to the Chiefs was a new low, and with our eyes a little more wide open now, we should all recognize this elevator has a few more floors to hit on its way to "rock bottom."
We have officially concluded the "easy portion of our schedule." Awesome. Has it occurred to anyone yet that we are the "easy portion" of EVERYONE'S schedule? I am betting it has occurred to all of you. We are 2-4 against six teams that had not won a game prior to playing us. I know, I know...throw out the Giants but still, this might be the lowest point in franchise history. How many times has an NFL team played six straight teams without a win? ZERO. NEVER. The Redskins have sponsored more sideline water jug baths than Gatorade this season. And that was before we started playing teams that really know how to stick it to a struggling team like the Redskins.
I sat in my seat and watched every play. The one thing that kept popping through my head: The Chiefs are a really bad team. They made mistakes all over the place. They missed plays on offense and defense. AND THEY SHUT US DOWN. It was a very sobering reminder that we aren't just a player or two away from winning meaningful games in December and January. We are not even a player or two away from beating teams that have no business winning games.
I'm dying to know what the announcers said during the telecast after the 10th or 11th time Cassel threw an out pattern to the sidelines to a receiver that had yet to make his break. I'll tell you what I said from my seat, "Someone on the Chiefs coaching staff figured out a way to beat our corners for guaranteed yards whenever they want it." The worst part of that was that it wasn't even a crazy diagrammed play with various intricacies and complexity. It was a freaking 10-yard turn-around!! The receiver ran to the spot and by the time he turned around, the ball was hitting him in the numbers. And it wasn't just thrown once or twice--it was their primary means of moving the ball. Hell, on one play, the receiver forgot to turn around and Cassel hit him (wide open of course) in the back. Can anyone please tell me I have that wrong? Was there a point later in the game where DeAngelo Hall or Carlos Rogers made an adjustment? It looked to me like they were simply incapable of defending that play. You think Donovan McNabb won't be able to throw that pass--25 times?
Once again, our defense played well enough to be on the winning side. Notice I didn't say the defense played well enough for the Redskins to win. Because they did not. For our defense to play well enough for the Redskins to win, they would have to score points and hold the other team to single digits.
I will not be breaking down our offense in this column. The Chiefs did that for us yesterday. And the Panthers and the Lions and the Buccaneers, too. I will say this though, and this goes against every Clinton Portis-loving bone in my body: How did he not score on that run? It was as if he ran 75 yards like he was running for his life in the open field and then at the end he ran 3 yards like he runs every other carry he gets--straight at the ground. And when the referee spotted the ball at the 10 yard line, leaving us with only 3 chances to get the ball into the end zone, well...we have all seen that movie before.
Back to the issue at hand: we are not built to win it all...we are not built to win much. Key words: we are not built. The sad truth is that these are organizational losses. The offensive line was old and battered at the end of last season. The owner and Vinny decided that our offensive line was in good enough shape to go forward. They were wrong. Our secondary lacked coverage skills. DeAngelo Hall was signed to fix that. They were wrong. Our young wide receivers lacked opportunities to develop on the field and so they kept/re-signed Antwaan Randle El to occupy space we needed to use for that purpose. They were wrong.
A little bit of credit goes to Snyder for opening his wallet to bring guys in the way he does. I will never overlook this or discount it. I don't believe for a second Snyder wouldn't do whatever it took to get a quality player in the door to help the club. But he continues to rely on an average to below-average football mind in Vinny Cerrato to help him identify players and to guide the direction of this team. And he continues to hold on to and cling to players for reasons that escape me. For example, has ANYONE ever seen a team be more loyal to a kick returner than the Skins are to Randle-El? Here's a guy who seems to be out there these days purely based on his ability to not fumble the ball on punts. Yesterday, he fumbled/bobbled/muffed a catch. I grant you this rarely happens, but when he is not giving you ANYTHING else, isn't it time to move on? And not just for a punt here and a punt there to Santana Moss. We need a new punt returner. Don't any coaches/team officials in this organization have the guts to live up to the legacy of guys like Mike Nelms and Brian Mitchell? Punt returners are not just for fair catching and playing it conservatively. They are supposed to be finely tuned, dangerous weapons. We're not even throwing rocks back there.
So Cerrato and Snyder took away Zorn's play-calling status. Big deal. That is not admitting you have a problem. Firing Zorn would not be admitting you have a problem (though if I was Zorn, I would not take much more of this before resigning). Terminating Vinny Cerrato and deciding that the franchise is now going to go in another direction with a proven, credentialed football mind would be both admitting you have a problem and honestly working to correct it.
Only then will we know we have reached rock bottom. And only then can we all be confident that we will indeed go up from there.