Another Set Of Black Eyes

By Tracee Hamilton
Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The second-worst news for the Redskins on Sunday -- after their 20-17 loss to Carolina -- was Kansas City's overtime loss to Dallas. That leaves the Chiefs still without a victory, and as we all know, the Redskins are the amuse-bouche of choice for the winless.

It'll be hard to top last week at Redskins Park -- bickering backfield mates, a new offensive consultant, a suddenly silent defensive coordinator, all capped by a loss to an 0-3 team -- but if any team can put the fun in dysfunctional, it's this one.

If Sunday's offensive performance is the result of "another set of eyes," then quick, where are the blindfolds? Perhaps this could be Washington's take on the Terrible Towel: Issue a black scarf and a cigarette to every fan brave enough -- or angry enough -- to attend Sunday's game.

Don't get me wrong: I don't think Sunday's offensive, uh, performance can be laid at 67-year-old Sherman Lewis's door. He's been "another set of eyes" -- is that what it says on his business card? -- for less than a week (roughly the same amount of time on the job as half of the Redskins' offensive linemen). But when the Fox TV cameras panned up to the coaches' box Sunday for a shot of "another set of eyes," I half-expected to hear that thumping bass and see that stack of money from the Geico commercials. (Update: Dan Snyder just called Geico to check on the money's availability. Or the gecko's.)

Lewis has rings; he's the Sauron of the NFL, for heaven's sake. But he's been away from the league for five years. He probably thinks the Wildcat offense is something Goldie Hawn drew up for Woody Harrelson. (Update: Dan Snyder just diverted Redskins One to California to meet with Hawn.) I have to think that Lewis spent his flight back to D.C. on Sunday evening thinking, "I gave up delivering Meals on Wheels for this?"

God knows what Zorn was thinking. He was as down Monday as I've seen him this season. "I feel bad," he admitted. "I'm hurting." He's employed for at least another week, but at this point, he's hanging on like a guy trying to win one of those free cars at a dealership. His arm's gotta be getting tired.

I know Lewis is an expert on the West Coast offense, but what the Redskins are running these days isn't really a West Coast offense, is it? The Redskins' offense is to Bill Walsh's 49ers as "Mystic Pizza" is to "Mystic River." Truthfully, I don't think there's a name for what the Redskins are running. Or maybe there is, but not a nice name. Not a name I can repeat.

Maybe, given time, Lewis will be able to help. Zorn describes the relationship, after less than a week, this way:

"It's still early, but I am working on some assignments for him. He's very willing. He's trying to get up to speed; he's really devoting a lot of time to playbook and video to do that. And as he gets the terminology down, then he'll be able to speak on it more freely. He certainly will be utilized in many different ways."

According to wide receiver Malcolm Kelly, Lewis is sitting in on meetings but not speaking at them. "Not yet at least," said Kelly, who did have a little one-on-one with Lewis.

"I talked to him just because he was out there when Jerry Rice was out there" in San Francisco, Kelly said. "He was giving me little pointers and things like that, little things to work on. Just, you know, another set of eyes looking at everybody."

It always comes back to the eyes. My original set was just hoping to see some improvement Sunday, something between what we saw against, say, St. Louis and the "All the Single Ladies" dance number from "Glee." (Fox is missing some great synergy by not requiring all NFL teams to add that routine to the playbook. It wouldn't be any worse than forcing players, coaches and officials to wear those ridiculous throwback costumes.)

Instead, when we had a picture at all -- thanks, Fox! -- we saw 74 yards rushing, 124 yards passing and 2 of 9 third-down conversions. The offense did score on two of three red zone opportunities, but in both instances, the defense handed them the ball inside the 20-yard line. So the Redskins are no longer having trouble scoring in the red zone; they just can't get to the red zone. That seems to be a step backward. And with Chris Samuels out for Sunday's game, that's not going to get any better.

"It's our offense, we've got to get going," Antwaan Randle El said. "Our defense did real well setting us up down there but we didn't sustain enough drives to go down and score later on."

Clinton Portis looked energized early in the game, but faded -- he took oxygen after a half-yard touchdown drive. Albert Haynesworth is still taking a knee more often than a priest during Lent. Why don't they just go ahead and replace the benches with Victorian fainting couches and haul the players to and from the huddle on Rascals?

And speaking of Portis -- we have to speak of Portis, not to him, because in addition to making himself available only one day a week at Redskins Park, he also refused to speak after Sunday's loss -- I'm sure he didn't want to answer questions about his dust-up with Mike Sellers, who also refused to speak. So did D'Anthony Batiste -- D'Anthony Batiste? Please. Two of the team's biggest talkers, Chris Cooley and Fred Smoot, are mum. So is the defensive coordinator. A siege mentality is developing, with the media playing the role of scapegoat. That's hardly surprising.

What was surprising: At least one player didn't go radio silent Monday.

"Things ain't working," Carlos Rogers said. "When things don't work, it there comes about change. Maybe it's good. Maybe it's bad. . . . We've got a lot of things we need to iron out. It's a lot of problems. . . .

"Until we address those issues and turn them around, we're going to be the same, going up and down. It starts not only with the players and the coaches. It starts with the ownership. They bring everybody in, and they've got last say-so of everything, so that's where it starts, I guess."

Expect Rogers to be muzzled by midweek. But it was nice while it lasted.

Meantime, thank God there is another set of eyes on this team -- because on Sundays, most people have theirs squeezed tightly shut.

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