Redskins Can't Finish What They Started
It's one thing for the Washington Redskins not to register a sack, much less lay a finger on Tony Romo. Or to let their quarterback, Jason Campbell, go down 10 times in the past two home games. Zero pass rush plus lousy protection, after all, usually equals a loss.
But to give a tin-man franchise like the Dallas Cowboys its heart back, to not keep down their rivals right when they appeared ready to fold early on national television? That borders on inexcusable.
The Redskins didn't merely lose a pivotal NFC East game on a chilly Sunday night -- they lost the cocksureness of knowing people were wrong about them when this season began.
Remember all the questions posed about Washington in August?
How successful can Jim Zorn, a quarterbacks coach who never held an NFL coordinator position, be in his maiden season following Joe Gibbs?
Will Jason Campbell have ample time and protection to not just develop into an elite passer, but also be the first guy under center in Washington since Brad Johnson in 1999 to last a full season as a starting quarterback?
And, are Greg Blache's defensive schemes going to have the same kind of hell-raising, bring-the-house effect that panicked quarterbacks who faced Gregg Williams's defenses?
After Sunday night, after Dallas seized momentum from Washington like it seized this game, the debate on each of those questions lives anew.
The Redskins took a set-the-table game against the Cowboys -- a victory would have kept them within striking distance of the Giants and dumped Dallas to a depressing 5-5 -- and left knowing they had not engineered any real change in the NFC East.
Contrary to all the incredible optimism over Zorn's 6-2 start, Dallas is still Dallas when Romo is healthy, has plenty of protection and establishes his rhythm, and the Redskins are going to have to scrap and claw to win their second straight playoff berth.
The harsh truth is that with less than two months left, the Redskins have to prove themselves all over again.
Now that Zorn is no longer the newbie who shows up at the World Series of Poker without any history of his tells, now that he's been dissected in at least a dozen NFL film rooms, he's got to come up with the same ingenuity that got his team six wins in its first eight games. And what better time to start than Sunday in Seattle against his struggling mentor, Mike Holmgren?