Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2009 Redskins Report Card: Week 17 vs. San Diego Chargers

Chargers 23, Redskins 20

And like that, the Jim Zorn era comes to a close in Washington. I'll give ratings, but you know what happened. The Chargers played their starters for a less than quarter, and their second team beat the Redskins.

Instead, we'll spend this blog looking back on the past two years and how Washington lamented, then embraced, then skewered Zorn. I'll draw from Redskins Report Cards from 2008 and 2009 for content and context. Don't worry, links will be provided...URLs, not sausage links. But you're right, we should go to IHOP after this.

Offense: C-
Defense: C-
Special Teams: C
Overall: C-

2008, Week 1: Giants 16, Redskins 7
Report Card

Zorn's first game looked a lot like every other game the Redskins played under him as head coach. Decent defensive performance (with the classic Greg Blache bend-don't-break mentality), good kickoff returns, an offense that couldn't capitalize. You can blame a hundred people for the Redskins' difficulties over the past two years, but high on that list have to be Zorn, Jason Campbell, and the guys who put those two together (Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato). When you manage just 209 yards of total offense, don't expect to win. Like, ever.

2008, Week 2: Redskins 29, Saints 24
Report Card

The Redskins gained 455 yards of total offense, and allowed just 250, but they won by only five points. We probably should've known something was wrong.

2008, Week 6: Rams 19, Redskins 17
Report Card

Following back-to-back victories against the Cowboys and Eagles, the Redskins lost to the lowly St. Louis Rams, a team that would win one other game all season, and only three games total in Jim Zorn's coaching career. The victory over Philadelphia the week before had me thinking about a deep playoff run, but most Redskins fans will remember this as the loss that reaffirmed all of our negative instincts about this era. Correctly, I might add.

2008, Week 9: Steelers 23, Redskins 6
Report Card

This is where the Redskins were exposed, and they went 2-5 after this game to miss the playoffs and disappoint fans throughout Washington who had thought that maybe, just maybe, we had something to root for.

By the way, if you're a Washington sports fan and you don't yet like the Capitals, get your head together. They're one of the best teams in hockey, and with their young nucleus, it's going to be that way for a while. Get on the train now, so you can enjoy some good years. Between the Nationals, Wizards, and Redskins, the Caps are the only chance we've got for a while.

2008, Week 17: 49ers 27, Redskins 24
Report Card

The way you play when the games don't matter says something about the character of your team. Perry Fewell was as good as gone when he coached Buffalo's meaningless game on Sunday against the Colts, but he guided the team to a 30-7 victory. That says something to me. The Redskins' performance in meaningless end-of-season games, though? Not so hot.

2009, Week 2: Redskins 9, Rams 7
Report Card

In retrospect, how on Earth did I look at this game and see an eleven- or twelve-win team? The defense must've looked astoundingly good, because the offensive stats would suggest something more like, I don't know, a 4-12 team?

2009, Week 6: Chiefs 14, Redskins 6
Report Card

This game was the most eye-opening experience of the season for most 'Skins fans. This was the worst we'd ever seen our team play, and considering the Detroit loss earlier in the season, that's saying something.

It was also the week that I discovered Reby Sky. Yum.

2009, Week 13: Saints 33, Redskins 30 (OT)
Report Card

This game was named by Yahoo as the 6th greatest game of 2009, and I'm sure it was...for people in every other city. For the Redskins, it was a crushing defeat that was symptomatic of the entire Jim Zorn era. It's all one big tease that makes you think you've got something going on, but in reality, she's inevitably going home with that muscle-head wearing a silk button-down and no undershirt.

Bon Voyage

Listen, there's probably not a Redskins fan out there who's distraught over the firing of Jim Zorn. It wasn't even really news when it happened, just the culmination of a season's worth of rumors. Zorn didn't do himself any favors by running this team to a 4-12 record after not really losing any key pieces, and adding the $100 million man, Albert Haynesworth. While Haynesworth had his ups and downs this season, I still see him as a solid signing. The problem comes with the lack of depth you afford your team by tying up so much money in one player, and that was particularly apparent when Washington's offensive line started to go down.

The good news is that the potential of an uncapped year can be of great assistance to the Redskins. Many people see this as an opportunity for Daniel Snyder to attempt to "buy" a championship, but more logically, it's an opportunity to rid this team of the albatross contracts that pinch the team's cap flexibility. Clinton Portis and Antwaan Randle El (among others) have contracts worth well more than their actual contributions to the team. The opportunity to cut those players without taking the standard cap penalties should make new general manager and cap specialist Bruce Allen salivate. It's not often you get to undo your mistakes, and the Redskins must take advantage.

So ends another season of the Redskins Report Card. Let's try to enjoy watching other teams succeed, if we can. Hopefully my #2 team, the Vikings, can stifle the disappointment brought on by my #1.

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