A Team Stuck in Neutral Must Circle the Wagons Once Again

By Thomas Boswell
Monday, October 12, 2009


Six years ago, before Joe Gibbs returned to restore adult supervision, the Redskins were the joke of the NFL.

Now, just 21 months after his retirement, the team is once again headed down football's greased slope toward mockery. The Redskins aren't quite there yet. But, after blowing a 15-point lead to the sickly Panthers, you can see full-scale disaster from here.

As the Redskins lost, 20-17, to the previously winless Panthers, memories returned of the Redskins' 2002-03 horror flick, the one starring Steve Spurrier in "The Ol' Ball Coach Gets Massacred."

This time, Jim Zorn is reprising the central role of an inexperienced and out-of-his-depth NFL head coach. But it is the names at the top of the dis-credits that truly identify this B-movie product: Directed by Daniel Snyder, produced by Vinny Cerrato.

"That was chaos," said all-pro tackle Chris Samuels, recalling the meltdown in Spurrier's second year, when great things were predicted but the Redskins went 5-11. "These are just tough times."

With due respect to Samuels, chaos isn't far off -- not when you bring in a bingo caller from a senior citizens center to look over the coach's shoulder and help him with his offense. It doesn't look like B-10 or C-32 was the right call when the Redskins went for it on fourth and three late in the third quarter and failed to make it, setting up Carolina in good field position to drive for a field goal.

If anything, after a first-half injury to Samuels, the Redskins' offense -- and especially the line Cerrato neglected to bolster sufficiently in the last two offseasons -- made the Washington attack look almost hopeless. If not for two turnovers that gave them the ball at the Carolina 13- and 1-yard lines, the Redskins might only have generated three points.

Total yards for Washington on Sunday: 198.

Will Zorn keep his job long enough to have a 30-point game? Ever?

Snyder and Gibbs had dinner here in Charlotte on Saturday night, according to a Redskins source. Since this is Gibbs's home, is that irony, intrigue or just appropriate? The day he left Redskins Park, Gibbs said he'd always be available if the owner ever wanted to talk. Okay, don't all scream at once: "Sell the team to Joe for a dollar." What Snyder ought to consider is offering Gibbs a piece of the Redskins if he'd just come back, not as a 100-hour-a-week coach but as some form of team president. Here's the job description: Do whatever it is that Dan and Vinny do. But better.

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