Redskins losses are always difficult to stomach in a town as football-crazed as DC. NFC East losses are even worse -- you hear it from your family, your co-workers, your other East Coast (or Texas) friends. I know how it is -- you can't watch Sportscenter the next day. You can't look at your Facebook because all the statuses seem to be from depressed 'Skins fans or hatemongering Cowboys fans. But we live through losses, we suck it up and support our team the following week.
Losses are tough, occasionally heartbreaking. Blowouts are worse.
However, unprofessional, pathetic, nationally-televised embarrassments in the biggest game of the season are intolerable.
The Redskins had fifteen days to prepare for Monday's game, after losing to a Lions team that just lost to winless Buffalo. Mike Shanahan had fifteen days to scout that Eagles offense, to design plays according to their $78-million-dollar man's skill set against his former squad, whom they had beaten weeks previously on the road. Jim Haslett had 15 days to watch the tape for a game he had already prepared us for once.
But our team that, with one big win, would be essentially in control of its own destiny in a division that's up for grabs, might as well have stayed home last night. This team continues to embarrass a loyal fanbase that, if the overcompensated and underperforming organization is not careful, is going to continue to dissolve.
You know the story, I don't need to rehash it. Michael Vick threw for 45 touchdowns and ran for 10 more -- something like that. He beat us with the deep ball, gimmicky play-calls, quick out passes and his legs -- surprise, surprise, right?! (Maybe someone should tell Jim Haslett that the Titans have Chris Johnson and are likely to run the ball once or twice.) Our offense went three and out when it absolutely needed first downs in the first quarter. Our special teams didn't have one big play, with the exception of Lorenzo Alexander's big hit.
The Redskins coaches and players should be embarrassed, not us. But this city has worn a football albatross for too long, and if we learned one thing from last night, it is this:
There is a culture of big-money, overrated, underperforming pieces in Washington that cares more about making a living than playing pro football. There is a losing culture in Washington, despite the positive influence of a few character guys. It's time that Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen grab the cajones to jettison the players who are holding this team back. And I plan on calling them out after the jump.
I'd like to make two points here to shock us back to reality.
First, an entirely too long rant about the dreadful quality of the Redskins roster. Second, a fire-breathing rant about how terrible Jim Haslett is.
Okay, part 1. There are a few kinds of players on the Redskins roster.
1) The irreplaceable. Yes, even a team that laid out the biggest stinker of the 2010 season at home on MNF has a few of them. Some are among the best in the league: LaRon Landry (who played his worst game of the season by far last night, coincidentally), Brian Orakpo, London Fletcher, and Chris Cooley are truly great football players. Trent Williams is on his way. DeAngelo Hall? Borderline -- the guy can't really cover but he's a gamebreaker. Put him on a great defense and he's a beast. Not irreplaceable, to me. Seems a little like Gilbert Arenas or Andray Blatche -- a player that helps you win, but never the kind of player you'd see on the Celtics or Lakers (or in our case, the Patriots or Steelers).
2) The good ones. Good players, NFL starters, but not elites. For instance, Santana Moss ain't what he used to be, but I hope dearly he retires a Redskin.
Donovan McNabb, if for no other reason than his leadership ability, belongs in this category. Though he isn't helping his case lately.
I'd probably put Hall here, but I'll definitely put Carlos Rogers (who was not the victim of any of the bombs last night and is easily better than Hall in coverage) and Andre Carter here -- guys who are real team players and good players in the NFL.
(By the way, the all-knowing Mr. Haslett seems to think Andre doesn't fit in the defense despite him having a career year last year and him being our most consistent pass rusher aside from Orakpo. More on the leader of the NFL's worst defense in a few paragraphs.)
I'll accept arguments for Mike Sellers here.
Who else do you put in there? (Don't say 92 until you read on.)
Total: 4-5 -- ~ 11 total (!)
3) The upper-middle-class, solid guys: Guys like Brandon Banks, Anthony Armstrong, Phillip Daniels, Rocky McIntosh, Kedric Golston, Lorenzo Alexander -- you want to hold on to them as well. All those guys bust their butts, stay out of trouble and make plays. Who else can you really say does an above-average job on this football team? None of those guys will be a pro bowler anytime soon (Alexander maybe at special teams), but they're the kind of guys you want to have filling out your roster.
Total: 6 -- 17 total... out of 53 players, we'd be happy keeping 17 of them. That's IT.
4) The slightly below-average. Exactly how it sounds: guys that should be played to play football, but not to be heavily relied upon, let alone starters. A whole team of them? That's how you get blown out by good teams.
There are a disturbing amount of players that play regularly for the Redskins that fit this description. To name more than 10 quickly: Ma'ake Kemoeatu, Artis Hicks, Adam Carriker, Kareem Moore, Reed Doughty, Casey Rabach, Vonnie Holiday, Chris Wilson, Graham Gano, all of the corners behind the starters (possibly Buchanon, definitely Westbrook, Barnes).
Would we miss any of these guys? Really, would we? Not saying we should cut all of them -- some have had nice games -- but who among them is really a player you'd hang your hat on?
5) The garbage. There are some inexcusably terrible football players on this Redskins roster. Joey Galloway and Roydell Williams are the favorites for this category. They just aren't good enough to be playing meaningful NFL downs anymore, sorry. I've yet to see Coach's reasons for playing Kory Lichtensteiger as a starter, but he's perhaps not the only reason for the line's failings. Tough to see why he's starting over Derrick Dockery or any of the Redskins draft picks this season. Hunter Smith has been absolutely, indisputably dreadful this season.
Those dudes suck. But those guys offend me less than the next type of garbage -- the insidious, greedy, selfish players that have defined this organization for years.
6) The Worst Kinds of Redskins. The walking metaphors for an overindulgent, shortsighted and poorly run franchise. The Adam Archuleta's, Brandon Lloyd's (or not, right Denver?), Deion Sanders', Jeff George's.
For instance, Albert Haynesworth.
You've all seen the .gif file splattered on this website from last night. The guy couldn't care less about this franchise. He couldn't care less who wins the game. He is a selfish prick who is here because he got paid $21 million to get his fat ass to Ashburn this season. He needs to be cut the second the season ends. He brings the defense down and is a metaphor for selfishness and recklessness that this team needs to shed immediately. He infects a team. Cut him tomorrow and not one team sniffing the playoffs would even come close to touching him (excepting maybe Tennessee, for obvious reasons).
Next, Fred Davis. I don't care that the guy has ability. He's been lazy since day 1, sleeping through training camp right at the outset. He doesn't know the offense well enough to make an impact despite Chris Cooley clearly not being at 100% the last few weeks. He drops a wide-open touchdown against the Eagles in Philly. He dropped two two-pointers against Detroit. He runs all the way down the field on Monday, gets caught, and despite being down 28 points, decides to celebrate like he just won an Oscar. Get him out of here immediately. Untapped talent isn't an excuse three years deep in the league. It's laziness manifesting itself. He's on the team because he was a high draft pick by a guy who couldn't run a Papa John's franchise. Give me one reason to keep him.
Many of you will think I'm being too tough on Davis, but it's clear that guys like him have more of an impact than guys like London Fletcher on this franchise, or we wouldn't have given up 59 points last night. And you don't think that when all you have is Chris Cooley and Santana Moss to throw to, that the Shanny's wouldn't have found a way to get Davis the rock if he was worth it? Fred Davis is the Redskins' Martellius Bennett. Actually, send him to Dallas, he'd fit in perfectly. He's very "talented," just like Albert.
For the record, the recently-canned Devin Thomas fits this description perfectly.
The rest of the guys you can include in your own subcategories (Torain, Williams and Portis certainly are worth a discussion) but my point is this:
The Redskins have maybe 17 unequivocally good players.
How many do the Ravens have? How many do the Patriots have? How many do the Steelers and Saints have? How many do the Eagles have? There's a reason all of those teams passed on all of those "mediocre" guys this offseason.
This is a huge problem. The Redskins have finally, indisputably found themselves staring at their terrible roster choices over the years. The 'Skins have had some fine top draft picks -- since Taylor, Landry, McIntosh, Rogers, Williams, Orakpo and a few others have been good -- but rarely have the Redskins found a contributer later in the draft. Take this year -- the Redskins drafted 6 players and one of them has made any impact at all.
To be fair, Shanahan and his staff discovered, revitalized or acquired Banks, Armstrong, Alexander, Landry, Williams and McNabb. Not bad for only having one top pick in the draft. The management deserves some credit for that.
But after they pat themselves on the back for finding 6 competent professional football players, they need to completely overhaul this team. They need to carefully scout talented players who fit into categories 2 and 3, and draft them. They need to target the category one guys and get them in the draft or free agency -- only if they are young and not category 6 guys -- at whatever Mr. Snyder is willing to throw at them.
The Redskins are a bad coach away -- maybe a holding call way-- from being the same team as the Cowboys this season. Some talent, some hype, some swagger -- no results.
But maybe that day is coming. Because the Redskins do have one really terrible coach.
We heard the excuses at the beginning of the season -- they ranged from a new system, to the fact that we were playing a bunch of good offenses, to the fact that we didn't have the personnel to execute the system.
However, there is no excuse for a defense with some of the best players in the league being dead last in the rankings. None.
Fletcher, Landry and Orakpo could start and excel on any NFL team, including potentially this year's NFC Pro Bowl team. Andre Carter is a prototype speed defensive end for a team that can't get any pass rush. Carlos Rogers, DHall and Landry is a murderous secondary.
But Michael Vick (and really, Andy Reid, he deserves many accolades) picked apart every single weakness on the defense with ease. Lazy tackling? Yup. Soft zone coverage that gives up yards on the sidelines? Yup. The deep ball? I think Jeremy Maclin is still running from last night. A non-existent pass rush in non-blitzing situations? Vick had enough time to individually roast each member of the Redskins coaching staff each time he dropped back to pass.
Jim Haslett has, by any measurement, failed as the defensive coordinator in Washington. I understand the reasons for the 3-4. I understand the reasons for the "amoeba" defense, which now has gotten torched by both Manning and Vick. But THEY DON'T WORK HERE. Give your players a chance to succeed! Let Hall play man coverage on deep passes, don't make LaRon play DeSean Jackson one-on-one -- have Landry BLITZ or play tight ends! Don't make London Fletcher take on a guard -- get four linemen up there so Fletcher can go out and hit people! Don't make Lorenzo Alexander have to try and tackle Mike Vick one-on-one -- get a passrush in there and have your speedy ends/linebackers (Orakpo/Carter/Wilson) flush him out!
The answers are stunningly simple. Watch tape of last year -- that defense wasn't great, but it certainly was the better unit on the team. Even with a terrible offense that converts third downs like Shaq converts freethrows, the offense is the more statistically effective unit at this point. (Really, we're not 32nd in offense too somehow.)
Look, the 3-4 works in theory -- watch Pittsburgh play -- but it doesn't work here yet. Cut your damn losses! If it's a passing down, have Carter on the field, not Kemoeatu and Carriker. If you play coverage, don't play zone so soft that receivers can run freely. If you spy on Mike Vick, do it with Landry, not 290 pound Lorenzo Alexander!
Jim Haslett is an abomination. The Redskins defense went from above average to the worst in the league in one off-season where they lost no significant players. That is inexcusable. He needs to go -- or his scheme from this year needs to go -- after this season, because the Redskins have the personnel to run a 4-3 effectively. They absolutely do. And they have too many holes on offense to remake the entire defense in Haslett's image. An adjustment is needed, especially when every season "The Future is Now."
But the future is never with this franchise. The past is all we've got these days. For many readers, the best memory they have with this team is beating Tampa Bay in the playoffs in 2006. Yeah.
Dan Snyder, Bruce Allen, Redskins -- beware. The brand name is disappearing. The fanbase is going from one of the best in all sports to dispassionate -- FedEx was laughably empty last night.
The Redskins aren't a good team. They haven't been for almost 20 years.
They have no one to blame but themselves.