Monday, Nov. 17, 11 a.m. ET

Redskins Postgame: Washington vs. Dallas

Cindy Boren
Washington Post NFL Editor
Monday, November 17, 2008; 11:00 AM

Post NFL Editor Cindy Boren will be online Monday, Nov. 10 at 11 a.m. ET, and she knows you will have plenty to ask her about after the Sunday night Redskins-Cowboys game.

Submit your questions and comments before or during the show.


Cindy Boren: Good morning...time to re-caffeine up, people, and do some evaluating, prognosticating and, probably, plain old venting. Thanks for joining me. Let's go.


Chicago, Ill.: I am a true Red skins fan and have flown a number of time to see them all over the country.

Can someone tell me why you never hear about how dismal their pass rush is?

Cindy Boren: Hmmm...I would suggest that, if you do not do so, you begin reading the Redskins Insider blog immediately. That's often a topic of conversation and has been for, oh, a couple of years now. The team has addressed this by adding Andre Carter, Erasmus James and Jason Taylor -- among others. You can ask whether Carter has delivered based on his salary; James has done little and Taylor has been a disappointment (Rule: you can't officially be a bust until you're on the field for significant stretches of time). Evans has played well, but overall the lack of a rush (who doesn't like sacks?) is a problem. The defense is playing well, but a rush is what causes turnovers and we like those even more than we like sacks.


Laurel, Md.: They can't score. Maybe next year?

Cindy Boren: They're 6-4 and you're writing off the offense until next year? They're in the hunt for a playoff berth and you're writing off the offense until next year? No, no, no. Sure, they have to figure out a way to fix this, to develop a killer gunslinger mentality with the dinged-up offensive people they have--and pronto, pup. Granted, it won't be easy with Moss the only real WR threat, Portis hurting, and the offensive line making like matadors. But, just as it wasn't over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor (see: Blutarsky, John), it isn't over yet.


Washington, D.C.: The Redskins need the Offensive and Defensive line to perform better. The Offensive Line does a terrific job for Clinton Portis, however a lousy job for Jason Campbell to throw the ball during passing plays. The Linebacking and Secondary is the key that offset the Defensive Line.

Cindy Boren: What's not to agree with here? The offensive line is struggling -- Ratlif had a great game -- but Samuels is playing on one leg. That puts a little more on every single lineman. They can open the holes on first contact, only long enough for a quick guy like Portis to burst through or a wider body like Betts to break through.


Depressed in Pittsburgh: Thanks for taking my question. I feel the Seattle game is the defining game of the season. For the last five games play has dropped but an excuse went along with each game: Rams -- let down after 2 huge wins, Browns -- they had just beat the Giants and had great momentum, Detroit -- starters sat out to rest up, Pittsburgh -- the team was beat up and ready for the bye. Last night there was no excuse, if they don't win handily this week, then it seems to me the team that has shown up lately is the real team, and the one that beat Dallas and Philly was the exception. Thoughts?

Cindy Boren: It's the defining moment today, isn't it? With six games to go and a playoff berth right there in exchange for a swaggerly little winning streak, this really is where it begins. In two weeks, it'll be the first of December, the time of year when you want to see a team improving a little every week, refining its game, gaining confidence and rounding into shape. I think everyone shares the small, nagging concern that the Redskins may have put together their best stretch at the beginning of the season.


Anonymous: Is it me or is Zorn the only person who does not realize that this team is struggling in pass protection? Any reason he continues to throw twice as much as he runs the ball.

Cindy Boren: It'll be interesting to get Zorn's take on what happened and the mix of run-to-pass, not that they've lost two in a row, at home, in prime-time. Particularly troubling is that this game came after a bye, a week in which the coaches looked at what they are doing and reconsidered some things. Zorn has done very well -- let's keep in mind the fact that they're 6-4 -- but he seems to be prematurely having a sophomore slump. Or perhaps it's that there's game tape on him now. He needs to throw some sort of new wrinkle out there, mix it up. Tough to do, though, with pass protection problems.


Columbia, S.C.: Why has Zorn's play calling changed from imaginative and fresh the first couple of weeks, to predictable and conservative lately?

Only two passes over 15 yards last night? That won't stop the 8 defenders in the box, or corners standing less than 5 yards from our receiver, taking away slants and screens.

Cindy Boren: The person I really want to answer this question is Jim Zorn. He might say that injuries have been a factor and you'd have to agree. But you're right that he isn't keeping defenses honest with the vertical threat. I would see a way to bolster the line, get Campbell unloading quickly and put in fresh young legs at WR. Right now, the only threat there is Moss.


Virginia: Would it really be such a bad thing if the Redskins don't make the playoffs? After all, this is the first year with a new head coach and let's face it, this team just isn't good enough to be a threat in the playoffs (they've been outscored 182 to 181 so far this season) Missing the playoffs would expose the reality that this team needs to improve in a number of aspects from both a personnel and coaching standpoint.

Cindy Boren: Sorry, for the quick break -- had to post that Marcus Washington is out indefinitely with his high ankle sprain.

Now for your question...

Yes, it would be a bad thing. This was a playoff team a year ago; not getting back with the same personnel -- even with a rookie head coach -- is a step backward given the strong beginning. The schedule suddenly seemed pretty favorable with a 2-1 mark against NFC East teams on the road and the prospect of November-December rematches at FedEx. The NFC looks parity-licious after you get past the NY Giants. This is right there for the taking for a team that can get on a roll and maybe catch NY on an off-night. In September, the Skins looked like they might be that team. But there's been no progression.


Jersey City, N.J.: Is it me or has Jason Campbell gotten less mobile since Zorn came to town? With the porous O-Line we need a QB that is a little more mobile.

Cindy Boren: Jason Campbell is getting beat up back there. I've said it before, I'll say it again: what is this kid made of? He seems to be pretty indestructible. Remember the preseason knee injury that turned out to be a bruise? And what looked like a catastrophic injury last fall and was "just" a dislocation? That doesn't mean that he isn't getting battered, though. He is. I'll say you need a more mobile QB after I see what he can do behind some pass protection.


Newport News, Va.: Long time faithful Redskins fan here. Good teams relentlessly put other teams away -- you know, killer instinct? It seems the Redskins' identity for the past 5 years or so has been to play to the level of their competition. They never seem to dominate teams they should beat and they often play up to teams with great talent -- so vastly different than the Gibbs I era when they punished the opposition. So what gives? Is this an issue of mindset? No killer instinct? I believe this week is a gut check. For this team to succeed they need to not just win, but dominate the Seahawks. It will help if all that experience we have the O line pays off this week.

Cindy Boren: I was discussing this with a certain scribe this morning. Say what you will about Gibbs (and we've killed a vast forest or three documenting the shortcomings of Gibbs 2.0), but he had the ability (maybe it was the rings or the 'Bardi trophies) to get these guys on a roll. Stay medium was a great mantra for 6-2, maybe not for 6-4 in late November. Time to dial up to medium-high. It's more than a gutcheck, it's an I.D. check.


Anonymous: Breaking News! The Sky Is Not Falling! Let's take a step back and ease our fingers off of the panic button. At 6-4 we are still in great position to control our own destiny for the balance of the season. 3 games SHOULD be sure wins (Seattle, Cincy, SF) and 2 of the other 3 are winnable (Philly & Baltimore). 10-6 should be strong enough to get the final wildcard spot.

Cindy Boren: It didn't fall and knock over the pitcher of delicious, refreshing Kool-Aid? Whew. You are absolutely correct; the issue is whether you think this team, physically and mentally, is capable of getting to 10-6. Can it win four in a row? It certainly should be good enough to get to 9-7, but do you think that will be enough for an NFC playoff berth? The Redskins are in great position; do you think they can rekindle the personality, the hunger, the pride to take advantage of it? I'm not saying they can't; at this point, I don't know and that shouldn't be at issue in Week 11.


San Francisco, Calif.: For yesterday's game you have to give credit to Marion Barber. He was spectacular. Skins need to find a way to stop backs like him, or they will be one and done at BEST in the playoffs, if they even get there.

Cindy Boren: Good gravy -- mmmm, gravy -- yes, he was a one-man wrecking crew. The Skins have to find a way of preventing others, particularly a Mr. Jacobs, from doing that.


Charlotte, N.C.: Any word on Malcolm Kelly and potential for it? Why do we continue to carry a receiver who can't get on the field while cutting Torrence? Every spot on the roster is precious.

Cindy Boren: Not yet. This week they seem to really mean it when they say they might IR him.


Anonymous To me the Redskin Rally Rags didn't show well on TV (i.e., very few people waved them). Can you give some perspective?

Cindy Boren: I wouldn't have gone with white because of its connotation with, you know, surrender. Why did no one wave them? Because these things have to be spontaneous, not handed out.


Alexandria, Va.: Thanks for the twitter updates, Cindy!

Do you think the only reason Jason Taylor is even playing is because he's making 8 million? He deserves to be riding the bench -- he is a shell of his former self and almost useless. In fact, our entire D-line is useless in getting to the QB. Can we have any kind of playoff expectations with no pass-rush?

Cindy Boren: You mention the twitter feed, you get an answer! Jason Taylor is hurt and has been twice since his arrival here and, face it, the NFC East isn't the AFC East. I'm not ready to say he's a bust, though. Bringing him in was the right thing to do in July. His minutes should start increasing significantly and, if he isn't effective, then it's bust city. This team needs a pass rush and now.


McLean, Va.: With are injured, will D. Hall get a chance to return punts? He took several punts to the house while playing for VT at college.

Cindy Boren: I would think so. That had to be one of the key reasons for bringing him here.


Cindy Boren: I can't believe my hour is up. Jim Zorn is up shortly with the media and we'll have updates on Redskins Insider and the twitter feed all afternoon. Thanks, as always, for your smart questions! See you here next week.


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