Struggles Continue for Redskins, Maryland

By John Feinstein
Monday, September 28, 2009; 5:40 PM

Remember back in school when you were doing footnotes for a term paper and you would simply write: "ibid," when you were referencing the same source material and didn't need to repeat that which you had already written.

That would probably work well today, re: Redskins, Washington and Terrapins, Maryland.

Except now full panic has broken out.

A week ago, the Redskins got booed en route to a less-than-impressive victory over the St. Louis Rams. The Terrapins received similar treatment while somehow losing for a second year in a row to Middle Tennessee.

Both coaches -- Jim Zorn, after 18 games, and Ralph Friedgen, after 103 -- were being questioned and doubted.

Zorn continues to get hammered after Sunday's loss to the Detroit Lions, a team that had lost 19 straight games, has a rookie quarterback and does everything in its power to give away games. Zorn certainly has to shoulder blame for his team somehow falling behind 13-0 and 19-7. The play calls at the very end shouldn't have mattered because the Redskins never should have been in that situation.

But how can the apparent mediocrity -- and that may be a kind word -- of this team not fall on Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato, the men who have been making the personnel decisions for most of the past 10 years?

The past two years, the crying deficiencies on the offensive line the past two years have been ignored. Ask anyone -- anyone -- who knows anything about football what the most important unit is, and they will tell you it is the offensive line.

Why did Joe Gibbs win Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks? Because of the Hogs, pure and simple. When Tom Brady was putting up all those ridiculous numbers two years ago, it was because he had all sorts of time to pick out receivers and throw downfield. When the Giants' defensive line outplayed the Patriots' offensive line in the Super Bowl, Brady suddenly looked human.

And yet, two years ago, the Redskins drafted three receivers -- none of whom has made a serious contribution yet -- long before they even looked at an offensive lineman. Even this year, they waited until later in the draft to pick up offensive linemen. And the ones they have picked up in recent years hardly remind anyone of Joe Jacoby or Mark May or Russ Grimm.

Yet Zorn and Jason Campbell will be the fall guys for the current struggles, and you can bet the Mike Shanahan-Bill Cowher talk will be in full blast this week. Here's the problem: No big-name coach is going to come here without receiving control of the team. Snyder did that once before with a proven coach -- Marty Schottenheimer -- and even though Schottenheimer had the team headed in the right direction during the second half of the season, he got dumped at the end of the year.

Joe Gibbs had some but not total control. What's more, if Gibbs II proved anything, it was that Bobby Beathard played a key role in the success of Gibbs I. The guy was such a good coach that he was able to overcome some of his personnel mistakes.

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