If any Washington Redskins fan just came out of the mountains of Tibet or from a three-month sojourn into the wilderness and wanted to know what's wrong the team, all that person would have to do is watch today's game against the Panthers and learn all that's needed to be known.
In no particular order, here are the maladies that were on display.
--The offensive line—If D'Anthony Batiste is Plan B at left tackle you have serious problems. When Stephon Heyer is Plan A at right tackle, you have serious problems. When Mike Williams is Plan B at multiple positions, you have serious problems. When those three comprise 60% of your offensive line, all together now, you have serious problems. The Panthers came into the game near the bottom of the league in both sacks and rush defense. They held the Redskins to just 74 yards rushing and sacked Jason Campbell five times.
--Clinton Portis—I don't necessarily think that Portis should be benched. Marcus Mason's poor blitz pickup on one play that Portis missed indicated that Portis is needed. But at least twice during today's game announcer Thom Brennaman said that Portis "was just a step away" from breaking a long one. What Brennaman apparently didn't know was that Portis lost that step about a year ago, maybe longer, and it isn't coming back. The Redskins need to find a running back rotation.
--Stale play calling—I know that both of the above makes it difficult for the Redskins to move the ball. And I know that it limits play calling. But I think that the weaknesses make it all the more important that the play calling keeps the other team off balance. When you have the physical advantage you can just run the same play over and over and dare them to stop you. That's not the case here. So why do you run the same stretch running play over and over without trying some counter action or a reverse off of it? Why, after Malcolm Kelly, a younger member of your offense makes a nice catch and fights for a first down do you not direct any more passes to him? How often do you go to the well with the quick slant to Moss on short yardage?
--Defense can't get the big stop--With time running out the Redskins had to get the ball back to have a shot to tie with a field goal or win with a touchdown. The Panthers took possession with 5:16 left and killed the clock, converting two third downs along the way. Like all of these other problems, this goes back to last year. The defense plays well for 55 minutes but when they need a stop they can't get it.
These hardly are original thoughts here. I hate being Captain Obvious. But if they're obvious to me and they're obvious to you why aren't they obvious inside the walls of Redskins Park? I rarely claim to have knowledge that is superior to that of men who have worked at it all of their lives and spend untold hours a week looking at such things. But I'm baffled here.
Ever since things went south after last year's 6-2 start, Jim Zorn has refused to change anything. The players are the same, the plays are the same, the lack of urgency is the same, the key mistakes are the same.
It's the very definition of insanity.